Depression or manipulation?


New Member
My 20 year-old daughter has me confused and concerned. As a child, she was never naughty-EVER! She's never used profanity, never lied that I know of, always gotten good grades, never been a complainer, never used alcohol or tobacco or any other harmful substance, she's always been sweet and short, she has never done anything objectionable in her life. The problem lies in what she doesn't do, and she doesn't do much. She experienced some sort of anxiety or blow to her confidence right after high school graduation. Despite being a brilliant artist, said she wasn't ready to go to college, as she had no idea what she wanted to do careerwise. But I insisted since her uncle had saved a great deal of moneyfor her college education. She went for one semester to a private college that I now see wasn't right for her. It was a disaster. She began talking about how hopeless and frightened and overwhelmed she felt. She refused to go back to college. When I insisted that she at least get a job, she began working full time at a fast food restaurant, where she was quickly promoted to manager and was regarded as their most valued employee. It appeared to me that she enjoyed her job and had a lot of friends there. She'd had a good relationship with a boyfriend for 5 years, and although they broke up last year, she immediately found another nice guy whom she likes a lot. As a result of my urging, she has finally enrolled in a Community College, however she quit her job, insisting that she simply could not go to school and work too. I agreed to it for one semester because, more than anything else, I want her to have a college degree.
She does not, and never has, helped around the house nor do her age-appropriate share of chores. She's never refused, but she just doesn't do it. She's obsessed with toys and with purchasing them online, and she has quite a following on her blog. Her room is overflowing. She looks much younger than her age, and dresses in what I consider to be a childlike style although people constantly want to photograph her because of her fashion style. She almost always seems reasonably happy and cheerful to me, but about four times per year she breaks down and tells me that she feels life is hopeless, that she's terrified of the future and of adult responsibility. She's says that she's experienced depression since the age of nine or ten, and feels she has a minor hoarding problem as well. (I'll go along with that!) I'm concerned with her very immaturity and with her dependency.
She behaves more like child, albeit a very nice one. Because she has always been such a nice, easy kid, I'm afraid that, without realizing it, I have always been more concerned with pleasing her than with serving her best interests. Without realizing it, I think her uncle & I have always done too much for her without requiring her to reciprocate in any way. Now Ive got this big, sweet, 20 year-old baby who very much takes me for granted. And, although I very concerned about this depression, I also notice that she only seems to become depressed when I start asking her to do things that she doesn't want to do. I don't take depression lightly, but I suspect she may be partly manipulating me with it.


Well-Known Member
Hello Thenewday2 and Welcome

Your daughter is human, not more or less; she is trying her best to work with who she is, despite vulnerabilities which everybody has.

She may have tendencies towards depression and anxiety but most of us have tendencies towards something.

She has so much going for her that many of our children do not: her blog, her fashion sense and love of design and art; boyfriend; lots of friends; willingness to work and work well; willingness to try college despite earlier reservations; her kindness and sweet disposition; involvement with family and willingness to try to please you.

I am like you. Education to me was a primary motivator and the one thing that gave me any control in my life. When I try to impose this value on my son every. single. time it blows up in my face.

My son uses my valuing education, to motivate and manipulate ME. He ends up with fails or withdrawals on his record and unpaid tuition bills, and then I blame myself.

Whether she left a job where she had found success and esteem to pursue a route that already had plunged her into a place that was "disastrous" may have been to please you/or to try again to succeed at something that had overwhelmed her, time will tell. Maybe a bit of each.
more than anything else, I want her to have a college degree.
We as parents do learn hard lessons, including the fact that what we want matters not at all. These are adults. They will do as they want and they will fall or fail, ignore or sabotage, that which they do not value or want.

I have several college degrees. While I thought they would be the ticket to my happiness, they were not. They were useful but only one way to live a life. I question sometimes whether other ways would have served me better.

As far as the depression or manipulation question, I really do not know what to say. If she was truly depressed she would not have functioned so well, maintaining relationships, interests, activities, work, etc.

Manipulation? All of us manipulate. Could trying so hard to incentivize her to go to college, which she resisted and which proved disastrous, itself be from her point of view, seen as manipulative on your part?

I think your daughter sounds great and like she is doing great. She has so many qualities to be grateful for, I think. I would try not to focus on the things that really I think, do not much matter.

I am glad you posted. And I hope you stay. Take care.
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Perhaps she enjoys staying young because she doesn't want t o grow up. But she obviously can act in adult manner as a manager.

She may just need time to grow.

Keep posting, .more wise words will come!


Well-Known Member
I think her mental health should come first. Obviously she is very sweet and loving and able to work, but inside she is not happy. The hoarding is a symptom of a problem and needs to be addressed. Hoarding is usually caused by a loss, says this any rate hoarding can go on and on. Dont be in denial about her needing help.

College may not be for her. Why is it the most important thing she do? Many college kids are out of work with loans and she doesnt seem to want it. Is lt for her or for you? I ask this gently, not to be critical. She had a job where she was progressing and it could have launched her to better things.

None of my kids went to four year school. One, who has a long story with us, none the less is briiiant and the CEO of a tech company, well over a millionaire. He skipped college. "I'll be four years ahead of my friends." He still is. Some of them work for him now.

Another son started college, also very smart, but quit with serious mental health issues. He is also shy, but he almost makes six figures now.

My youngest is ready to join the police academy after this next semester.

Another went two years to become a pastry chef, won awards and taught at her two year college too until she had her baby.

I have an autistic son who works two part time jobs and is doing great.

College can be a great asset if one chooses a good major and is motivated, but it isnt a good fit or necessary for all.

My most important wish for all my kids was always just for them to be happy. College was an option for them, but we encouraged them to take their own.paths. My second wish for them was for them to be productive, independent adults with families, if they liked, so that they could self sustain after we are gone. None of us can guide them forever. There will be a time they have to stand alone, ready or not ready.

Please encourage your daughter to see a psychologist. It can really help her figure herself out!! She sounds amazing with many talents she can use and some things that hold her back. She needs to get past them. Perhaps you need to learn to let her grow up her own way. That usually works the best!!:) we can not count on our kids to live our dreams...its really not fair in my opinion.
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Active Member
Our daughters sound the same, although mine is 17 and is just now looking for her first job. She's also had a brother who has caused disruption and chaos since she was younger so that is also a factor in her 'depression'. She has these fits 2 or 3 times a year where she insists on 'getting help'. I think she's heard us and watched us drag our son to 'get help' that she uses this for manipulation. It's usually when she's had a fight with her boyfriend, failed a driver test, or some other crisis of confidence. By the time the 'help'(therapy) is arranged, she is 'better' and was just having a 'moment'. I don't have any advice but I can commiserate the frustration with this type of behavior. I heard someone say the stronger the bond with the parents the harder it is to break. I think that's true.
About education - I have preached that to my kids all my life. I am very successful in my field and I owe it to my education. I attempted to homeschool my son when he got kicked out of his second high school. When that didn't work, I demanded he get a GED at 17. My son dropped out of community college last semester, and continues to try to manipulate me with talk of going back. He even writes papers for other students for money and receives almost perfect scores and shows these to me as a way to impress/taunt me - sorry I digress. My daughter has learning and social problems so has been homeschooled throughout high school. I live education every day. But I know my daughter is not college material, so I have encouraged other dreams. But ultimately they are hers and all I've told her is that if he chooses to go to college, it will be much much harder on her than other people and it will be her full time job. I guess my point is that all kids are different, and we have to adjust accordingly. It's tough sometimes!