My 13 daughter is in boarding school and not sure what else to do

Discussion in 'Substance Abuse' started by CRS, Mar 19, 2009.

  1. CRS

    CRS New Member

    We did make the major decision last FEB (2008) to send my daughter who is now 13 to a Christian Residential Treatment Center (RTC). After many years of dealing with her bad behavior and all of her emotional issues, it was the hardest thing I have ever done as a mother. She had been diagnosed as ODD, clinically depressed, and lots of anger issues. The term 'bipolar' was very loosely thrown around but she was too young to label her as that. This decision was not made lightly after years of researching different alternatives, medications, doctors, counseling, and praying about what to do.
    After her seeing around 9 psychiatric docs and none of them were ever able to get into her head, even to this day, the Director of the Residential Treatment Center (RTC) says she is quiet a challenge for him to be as young as she and he still has not gotten into her head yet to figure out what is going on with her. She is very shut down, stubborn, persistent, etc.
    A couple of weeks prior to her leaving last year, she had just started cutting, tried to committ suicide, searching for drugs to take, wrong crowd at school, she ran away a couple of times, she physically abused me and anyone who made her mad, would not accept adult authority, no one could not control her, and the list goes on. Basically, we got her into this facility in the nick of time before it got worse. I know that she would have ended up on drugs, pregnant, or dead if we had not made this decision.
    Basically, I saved her life and she even states that in her letters home to me and has even told me personally. But, a year later, she has not gotten much better. It seems she always takes one step forward and three steps back. She did do well for about six months and there was even talk about her coming home this summer, then all of the sudden she has taken a turn for the worse. She states she wants to die and does not care what happens to her. The place where she is is very strict and has major structure. She continually knows that she will get in trouble but she does not care.
    I just feel like giving up now. I feel like I am loosing my hope and faith in this situation that she will even get better. The place where she is is very expensive and insurance does not cover. I have to make a decision to bring her home after she finishes up her 8th grade year. Oh, she does do very well in her schooling which is a true blessing as she is very book smart. My ex-husband is not able to help me pay for this facility as he is unemployed (you can't squeeze blood out of a turnip) and can not find a job now so this has definately been a major financial burden plus I have two other daughters who are in college that my husband and I are paying for (just there necessities, they have to work for there extras). It is really hard to find a place to lend you money now and we even have perfect credit.
    Anyway, there are lot of decisions to be made in the next few months.
  2. maril

    maril New Member

    I am sorry to hear it has been a long hard road for you all. We have a child older than yours, who has had issues in school (not behavioral) for years that were not able to be well addressed; who, in recent years has the added burden of severe emotional outbursts and has become dependent on substances; a very nice but mixed up young man, who bounces back and forth between trying to cooperate and follow through with treatment then rejecting help and going off the deep end (his choosing to seek out friendship with other troubled peers only reinforces his lifestyle). We, too, are still on the path to try and help him and have not had much success at this point.

    It is very fortunate that your daughter does so well in her studies. Does she have the support of her older sisters, too? Does her treatment include medication, and, if so, has there been any success? If she did come home, would you consider looking into wraparound services for help for her? I am sure that as her mom it is distressing to see her struggle so after all the attempts to help; I am sending encouragement and hugs to you.

    Going through the normal changes teens experience (hormonal, etc.) probably makes it even more difficult; at least it seems so with my son.

    Best wishes to you in the coming months and I will cross my fingers that whatever decisions are made will be helpful for her.
  3. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi, sweetie. Well, you came to a good place. We all understand.

    Has s he ever been on medication? I'm not expert, but it sounds like she may have symptoms of bipolar disorder (which I have) and it often causes suicidal thinking. Without the right treatment, it can even happen. Do they have psychiatrists there? Cutting is serious. My own daughter used to cut. She was using drugs. I had no idea she was using drugs.
    My mommy heart hurts for you. (((Hugs)))
  4. toreapartwomanoftwo

    toreapartwomanoftwo New Member

    I am sorry that things are not going well. I think your daughter was using drugs. My son was selfmutilating and he was using drugs. When I sent him to a boarding school he told me all the drugs he was using, that was scary and I always suspected he was using just weed.

    Is your daughter on medication? I am not sure if she was evaluated and prescribed some medication, that probably will help.

    Sending you hugs
  5. dadside

    dadside New Member

    There is a wide range of boarding schools, and just because one says they take kids of a certain age, or with certain issues, or that use a certain philosophy in their program, means that they are effective with all the kids they take. That is true no matter how well meaning they may be, and not all operators are well meaning. The best places don't have 100% success, but they generally can get a pretty good "read" on a student in a short time.

    From what you wrote, my thought is that your daughter does belong in a therapeutic environment, but not the one she is now in. I suspect her current school is not therapeutically intense, and relies more on guided group behavior and activities. I think that may be appropriate for some kids who somehow lost their way, but is not the right mix for someone with the mental/thought issues you report she has.

    Frankly, I'd worry that bringing her home without time in a more therapeutically intensive program would be a big mistake. I don't know that I'd even wait until the end of the school year to make a change assuming credits wouldn't be lost. I know this sounds potentially unaffordable, especially with the commitments to your other children, but there are at least three possible funding sources to help. Sometimes, "scholarships" are available, and given the current economy some schools (maybe not ones suitable for your daughter, but I don't know) have offered some tuition reductions. Second, I hope you recognize that the tuition and some related cost is a tax-deductable expense, so that offsets some of the outlay. Also, it is quite possible that your local school district could be required to pay for her placement.

    The point on school district paying is not a "given" as you say she is doing well academically, but if you think she could be doing much better without the psychological (including behavioral) issues, a case might be made. [Also, have the good grades been just where she now is, or were they good before Feb 2008 as well?] At best, making that case would take a couple of months, and the process might drag for much longer. If you think there could be a chance, look at "IEP" eligibility. I'm sure there is info in the spec.ed. section (and/or archives) on this site.
  6. No program in the world can cure all problems. What your daugther need is an environment where focus is more targeted towards her problems.

    Down here in my town we had a wonderful program based on the model Lester Roloff had invented. It did wonders for many of the kids before bad press shut it down. But of course some of the kids did not do very well because they shouldn't have been there in the first place.

    Now a different program is run at the facility by a Utah coorparation. It is not the same approach they use, so the kids and their problems are not the same either. I cannot rate one program from another on general terms. But for some a religious boarding school work and for some other kind of special school works.

    Whether it was a bad diagnose or not I don't know, but programs have to base their treatment on what they are told for a start. I don't blame you for having not told the full story because what is important and what is not?

    Maybe her doctor did not recognize the symptoms and maybe the approach they take towards her are based on wrong basis.

    I would recommend to have her committed somewhere to have a second opinion. Just a little change in medication could do wonders.
  7. CRS

    CRS New Member

    Thanks everyone for all responses. I will read and really evaluate what needs to be done in the upcoming months in addition to continuing my research. Plus, continue my strong faith and prayers.
    She is not on any type of medications now. The place where she is does not believe in medications. They have a 100% success rate for getting children off medications. Prior to sending her I had spoken to three sets of parents who had their children placed there and they had great outcomes.
    I have already decided to have her committed to a very popular psychiatric hospital in the area to get her evaluated for the appropriate medications for her. I truly think she is bipolar. Unfortunately, on my side of the family she gets that honest thru heredity. My mother, sister, and my oldest daughter have to have medications to survive. Thank God it skipped me. I work off my stress and anxiety by eating properly and exercising. Dealing with this whole situation would have put any body on medications but I was determined not to let that happen.
    No, she definitely was not on any type of hard core drugs prior to sending her. She was definitely headed in that direction as the week before they came and got her she was trying to find some type of drug to try for the first time. She was drug tested and it was negative. Also, she was just getting started into the cutting prior to the weeks before she left. I truly got her out of here in the nick of time before she headed down several bad roads.
    Also, my decision on where she went is based on faith and lots of prayer. I researched many facilities for almost a year. I do not have any regrets on where she is today and her having to have the experience there. She has changed so much but she still has so far to go and I will just keep praying for the wisdom that I need to continue seeking the appropriate help for her. Behaviorally I do think she will be more controllable but emotionally appears to be the major issue now.
    Thanks again.
  8. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Sadly, bipolar, which I do have, can only be stabilized with medication or your life can be pretty rotten. Having a 100% rate of getting a child off drugs doesn't mean much. All it means is they wean the child off drugs. I am sure some kids are suffering and worse for being off of them. The school probably...maybe?...believes that prayers should cure the kids, and I wish it I personally don't believe that.
    I'm glad you're getting a medication evaluation because the suicide rate in bipolar is incredibly high in bipolars who are unmedicated or not complying with their medications the right way. THe substance abuse rate is also very high. So I sure wish your girl the very best! And you need a break too.
  9. CRS

    CRS New Member

    Midwest Mom, I know you are right. I truly believe in prayers for physical elements because I have seen it happen many times with friends and family, but as far as emotional issues, I have never seen that happen. I know we are in for a long hard battle and I am preparing myself for that. I am having this debate with the Residential Treatment Facility (RTF) as we speak. Thanks so much again.
  10. recovering doormat

    recovering doormat Lapsed CDer

    My heart goes out to you, because my two older kids have had a lot of the same issues as your daughter. My 18 yr old was cutting herself for months before I found out about it, around the same time she discovered marijuana as the perfect antidote to the stress of her parents' divorce and the first year of high school in a large, urban public school. She had also been diagnosis'd with major depression the year before, at 13. So I can identify with a lot of your problems.

    I think trying to find a residential program or school for a struggling child is the most difficult task. I've been trying to find an appropriate place for my 16 yr old son, and I hired an ed consultant for $1000. to help me find a place. Basically, all he could suggest were expensive wilderness programs and therapeutic type boarding schools, one of which was Christian-based (he knew of good outcomes for some kids there), one was a working horse farm with a school, and the third was part of a well-known chain of for-profit schools that use a lot of peer pressure and counseling to change behavior. We ended up sending him for six weeks to a clinical place in Penn. where he was diagnosed and given a battery of tests. He is anxious, mildly depressed, but not sufficient at this time to warrant going back on medications (we were never able to find a drug that controlled his anxiety without making him so blotto he couldn't keep his eyes opened in school). He is home now but I'm not sure how much longer we can keep him, because he is not cooperating and he's figured out how much weed he can smoke without triggering a positive on the drug testing he is getting.

    I would be very concerned about having a child who may be bipolar at a facility that frowns on psychiatric medication. I've never heard of anyone with bipolar who did well unmedicated, and I've seen plenty of dysfunctional families who walked on eggshells around an unmedicated bipolar member, to their detriment. I can relate to the expense problem (the diagnostic program cost us $750 per day, insurance refused to cover more than 11 of 45 days, and it is coming out of our retirement plans with enormous taxes and penalties). Some states, like Penn., have programs for state residents to help with residential expenses, my state does not, but if you explain your situation to the facility they might be able to point you to sources of funding. Perhaps a therapeutic boarding school with a clinical approach (one-on-one psychotherapy at least once a week and weekly check ins with a psychiatrist) would help stabilize her.

    If you must bring her home, you need to set up wraparound services for her, weekly or more frequent therapy, psychiatrist, a therapeutic half-day program for summer and afterschool program starting in the fall.

    Bless you, I will keep you in my prayers. This struggle is exhausting and you are doing it by yourself, it sounds like. You sound like a loving mother and I think that one day all your efforts will be rewarded.

    Keep us posted on how you are all doing.