Help her? Let her sink? What's a mom of an 18 yr old to do?

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by recovering doormat, Nov 6, 2008.

  1. recovering doormat

    recovering doormat Lapsed CDer

    Hi, I mostly post on the General Board. My difficult child 1 is 18 and a freshman in a local community college. She has major depression which ramps up unpleasantly when she is premenstrual and for the first few days of her period.

    Over the past four years, since her dad and I separated and have since divorced (he lives two miles away with her brother, who has behavioral issues and can't live fulltime with me and the girls), her moods and behavior have been volatile. She's had five inpatient hospitalizations, more medication and combos than I can list, and although she went willingly to the same therapist for three years, I can't say there wasmuch improvement. She dabbles in marijuana but I wouldn't say she's a big druggie. First of all, she refuses to get a job and doesn't have any money. Not that she's really feeling the pain. College is already taken care of with a 529 account, she doesn't drive (failed her test and is too anxious to retake it) but takes the bus to college, but I have to pick her up from the bus stop....she has very few friends and she misses her social life from high school. It's more difficult to make new friends at a community college than a residential one, but she is in no shape emotionally or academically to go away to school right now.

    Okay, get to the point. Two months ago she stopped taking her medication, Prozac, 80 mg. (90 when she's PMSing) with-o telling anyone. She has done this numerous times in the past, cold turkey, and she inevitably crashes and ends up in the hospital after threatening to hurt herself. After geting off to a good start in comm coll, she is refusing to go to school and turn in projects (she wants to be an interior designer and the two prerequisite classes she is taking seem to be too difficult or tedious for her to concentrate on).

    I'm sure it's because she stopped taking her medications. She's irritable and exhausted, wants to sleep all the time, has gained a ton of weight from eatign and not moving and hates herself. Shortly after she stopped taking the prozac she assaulted me while I was driving her, slapped her dad across the face and complained tot he police that he had shoved her. She got a misdemeanor summons and we are still going to court. She is supposed to see a therapist at least 10 times before January 6, get a part time job, take her medications if prescribed, and not lay a hand on anyone. She hasn't done anything to help herself.

    I vacillate between wanting to help her fix it and wanting to wash my hands of her. Her depression and refusal to help herself are draining me (I have my own depression) but I feel guilty that I've created her dependence on me by permitting her to manipulate me with her illness. My therapist says let her go, but then she will fail school, get more depressed, not get a job, and if she doesn't complete the court requirements, she will have a misdemeanor on her record for life.

    I printed out a list of psychiatrists on our insurance plan (if she goes below full time student status her health insurance is gone) because I don't believe she can do anything to help herself until she is evaluated by a medical doctor. I told her to call the guy and make the appointment, I will get her to it any pay the copay. She hasn't done anything. I called her this morning and she is refusing to get dressed and go to school. I'm not going to her dad's house to coax her out of bed. Been there done that.

    Do I let her sink? My own anger and resentment towards her is coloring my view of reality. Her dad is worried about her but other than wringing his hands, hes of little help. He doesn't, however, give her money or other wise enable her. I stopped giving her cash for incidentals once she started school. She has gone through $1,000.00 in savings since August and doesn't even have bus fare anymore.

    Should I call her college and speak to her advisor and tell them that she is failing because she went off her medications? Do they care? I just don't know what to do anymore or how much to help her.
  2. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Welcome to PE :) by the way, I still love your user name. :D

    Bottom line?

    You can't help someone who refuses to help themselves.

    You can try when they're under 18, but once they hit that golden number.......there isn't anything you can do.

    But what you can do is decide what you will/will not do to improve the situation. First come up with a list of behaviors you simply won't tolerate if difficult child is to remain at home getting help from you and the family, such as the violence, therapy/psychiatrist treatment refusal, no job, ect. And in my opinion violence should be at the top of that list. This list would be causes for eviction from the home. Then set up a list of rules/guidelines that she needs to forfill in order to remain in the home and get help from you.

    You have to decide what your limits are. And then follow thru. Otherwise there is little or no chance anything is going to improve.

    Some examples of the rules I have for my grown difficult children still living at home:

    1. Violence is immediate eviction

    2. Must either be in school fulltime or working fulltime.

    3. If working, must pay rent each month. (Travis pays 50.00 a month)

    4. Must abide by house rules. (pretty much ordinary stuff)

    5. Must actively be taking steps toward independence.

    The last one was added for Nichole. She's been so scared to leave the nest and take steps toward adulthood. So far she's gotten her license, opened and maintaining a bank account, and is now doing well in college.

    I do not help them in following these rules. Didn't teach Nichole to drive, ect. They have to do it on their own. medications/treatment isn't included in their list right now as it doesn't need to be, although both kids know that is subject to change as needed.

    You have the right to have peace in your own home. You've done your job. I do very very little to help my kids now that they're adults. Need to learn is a great motivator to do just that.

  3. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    Hi, just wanted to welcome you and send you some hugs/support. I know exactly how you feel, as so many of us here do.

    Ditto everything Lisa said.
  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Usually for 18 year olds, I say give them a reality check and have them plan to leave. However, with your daughter there are a few concerns I have. First off, are you positive she is only "dabbling with pot?" We thought my daughter was doing that. In fact, she told us (after she quit) that she was so strung out on drugs she had almost died. She could really hide it well, except that she would have meltdowns. On Prozac: 80 mgs??? Are you kidding? I didn't even know anyone could be prescribed that much. I don't know if Prozac helps your daughter or not, but I'll tell you our three Prozac experiences and they weren't pretty.
    I took 10 mgs. and it made me so hyper I could barely sit. At first I was hypmianic and giggly, but then I crashed. I couldn't stay awake. I had violent nightmares. I got even more depressed, and suicidal and I finally weaned off of this medication. For me, I disliked it a lot.
    My daughter, at age 16, took Prozac, 20 mgs. She told me that it made her feel out of control and anxious. She quit taking it cold turkey (which nobody should EVER do, but I couldn't get her to wean). She got suicidal, pulled a knife on herself and ended up in a psychiatric ward. We found two other large knives under her mattress. At the time she was also abusing drugs so I don't know how much that had to do with it.
    My son was six and took one Prozac 10 mg. tablet before I tossed it in the trash. He was in first grade and had never been in trouble, but I got called that day because the teacher was scared. He kept laughing manically and jumping off his desk yelling "I can flyyyyyyyyyyyy!" This is a well-behaved kid.
    Before you throw her out, you may want to tell her that you want her to re-evaluate her medications. You can't just keep stopping and starting Prozac like will mess your body chemistry up. On top of that, *I* took Prozac the right way and did not add any recreational drug use (not even alcohol) while I was on Prozac. And it still made me crazy. It took me years to find an antidepressant that helped rather than hurt me. How much the medications have to do with your daughter's up and down behavior I don't know.
    If she all out refuses to see a doctor or get any help at all, I would give her a timeline to find a place to live. I wouldn't waste any more money on even community college until she is more stable.
    Been there/done that and wishing you all the luck in the world.
  5. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I have spent YEARS on prozac at 80 mgs and it didn't make me crazy. It made me able to cope, helped me not crave cigarettes (I smoke when depressed, in fact the craving for a smoke is often the first sign that I recognize that I am depressed), and helped me be a better mom. Though prozac is NOT the right medication for everyone.

    You really CANNOT do much for your daughter, other than push her into a situation where she HAS to fend for herself. Give her a deadline to either follow the rules (whatever rules YOU think are appropriate) or leave. After that, don't engage. If she gets violent, she leaves imediately. No if's ands or but's. Violence is simply not acceptable.

    You can't force her to go to school OR to get a job. You CAN force her to get a new place to live. And it might be healthy. There ARE services for adults with handicaps. If her depression is that bad, then maybe you need to have her see social services for some assistance.

    I am sorry things are this bad.
  6. mom_to_3

    mom_to_3 Active Member

    I too agree with what Lisa said. I pretty much feel that after 18 it is a great privilege to live in my home. The biggest way a child shows that they appreciate that privilege and want to continue on living here, is to show total respect for our home and the people that live here. That includes going to school and working, contributing to the house by maintaining your space and helping with other household chores.

    I personally think, as hard as it would be to do, is to set up some ultimatums for your daughter and then stick to them. I hear myself in your words so much from when my daughter was younger and especially living at home. You probably don't even recognize it, but in a way, I promise I'm trying to be nice here..... you're still coddling your daughter. I see it in the fact that you are so overly concerned with it sounds like every aspect of her life and YOU are having difficulty deciding what she should do, for example, calling her school, worrying, worrying, worrying. I know you love your daughter, but this should not be your worry. Of course you are concerned! Any mother would be, but the responsibility of school, her moods, her friends, her money, her life belong to your daughter.

    My therapist says let her go, but then she will fail school, get more depressed, not get a job, and if she doesn't complete the court requirements, she will have a misdemeanor on her record for life. Then that is what your daughter wants to happen, isn't it? She won't change her life, if her life never gets uncomfortable for her. If you continue to "fix" everything for her, she'll not feel the effects of her actions or lack there of and then you cripple her from ever learning how to deal with her own life. We all have to learn how to take responsibility of our own lives don't we?

    Hugs to you! I know this is sooo difficult. I was over involved in my oldest daughters, my difficult child, life and I realize now, that I did more harm than good. I thought I'd just share.......
  7. katya02

    katya02 Solace

    I am right where you are, except my difficult child is 20. But the same stopping medications/having reactions to medications, not working or losing jobs, not doing anything, eating and gaining weight, pending court case ... it's all there.

    My difficult child just had a bad medications reaction and I felt bad for him and have worried about him living on his own - what if he reacts like that again? But for the past few days he's been off medications and it's getting ugly at our house. I'm now reminded of everything I've been saying to others and trying to accomplish in my own life! In other words, HE has to fix his life, just as your difficult child has to. I can't make him get up and have a productive day, or somehow make him succeed at a new job, or anything else. I have to decide what I'm prepared or not prepared to do and tolerate, and live by that.

    For example, I agree that living at home after 18 is a privilege and complete respect for others and for the house is critical. This is becoming an issue with difficult child off medications. On medications, he's fine. So the item on my list of requirements to live at home is going to have to be that he must be on medications (in addition to showing respect).

    In your situation, if you can try to take a step back and let your daughter own her own issues, it will help both her and you. She needs to work out her medications with her therapist (20 - 80 mg daily is the usual adult dosage range). If she won't take them, you can't make her; all you can do is decide whether she may live with you and how much you're willing to do for her. But please, don't feel guilty over having done things for her!

    "I feel guilty that I've created her dependence on me by permitting her to manipulate me with her illness."

    That thinking will keep you running in circles. If you've realized she has manipulated you, try to think in terms of: "Ok, that's not good for either of us. Now that I see it, I won't continue the cycle." Her dependence will only go away if you stop doing things for her. For example, it's good that she rides the bus; but why do you 'have to' pick her up at the bus stop? Unless it's more than a mile or two away or there's some specific reason, she could walk.

    Like the others, I would suspect that drugs may be playing a larger role than can be seen on the surface. This is something your daughter's psychiatrist will have to look into. She may need rehab before anything else.

    Sorry, I'm not trying to lecture! I'm in the same boat. Hugs and encouragement!
  8. recovering doormat

    recovering doormat Lapsed CDer

    Lots of help for me here,and I thank you. In my mind, every waking minute, I'm doing that seesaw: let her own her problems/she's clinically depressed and can't help it. It's mentally, physically and emotionally exhausting, and I've got two other high-maintenance kids! Thanks for understanding.

    As far as the medications go, she did have a long period, almost a year, of high functioing and getting-her-act-together when she was taking Prozac. She completed high school and graduated with her peers despite missing over a year of classroom learning due to her many absences by attending a therapeutic day school. She joined a Christian-based youth group and attended a week long camp in North Carolina, came back happy and healthy and bursting with enthusiasm...but then something happens, she stops her medications, starts her pity -party (I'm fat, ugly, have no friends, no future, I'm dumb...) and it;s all downhill from there.

    It could be recreational drug use on top of all this as well. Several years ago she smoked a joint that was laced with PCP and got so depressed she ended up in the psychiatric hospital. We didn't know why her medications weren't working until she was hospitalied and the toxicology tests came back.

    The latest trauma was that I had to give up our beagle and cat to new homes due to my youngest's severe asthma. My difficult child 1 reacted very emotionally, as I predicted, but a month later she's still crying over their absence, despite not really helping out with the critters and living at her dad's. I feel badly that she no longer has that comfort,but she hangs on to thingst that hurt her for a very long time. I'm not saying they are not big losses but at some point you have to stop mourning the past.

    I feel better having posted. Thanks again.
  9. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful


    The medication thing isn't unusual, most especially with mood disorders, for the person to feel the medications are no longer needed once they begin to work properly. The person thinks that because the behavior has stopped they must not need the medications anymore or they forget (convince themselves) that it wasn't really needed to begin with. That they do need consistant medications in order to be "normal" (just like someone with diabetes) is something they eventually have to "get" on their own. It can be a long process.

  10. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    It might be helpful for you to go to narcotics anonymous or al anon meetings. They really can give you support through this. I think your daughter if more involved in drugs than you think, just based on her history. Pot really is a gateway drug, and if she got some laced with other drugs, well, she could be hooked on the other drug or drugs. With some drugs it really only takes ONE time to be hooked, or so I have been told by friends who have kicked drug habits.

    Please remember that until your difficult child hits bottom (HER bottom, NOT what would be YOUR bottom) she isn't going to change. If she doesn't have to face the consequences of not working, not doing what she needs to, of spending all her $$ on drugs or non-essentials, she isn't going to learn that she needs to stop that stuff.

    It may be a long process. I am NOT saying give up on her. I am saying set rules, insist she follow them or leave. Drug testing should be part of the rules. And not at specified times, at any time YOU choose.

    This is all so dang hard. I hate that for you. But you will get through it. It also might help to read up on codependency and boundaries. I know the book and workbook "Boundaries" by Cloud and Townsend is EXCELLENT.
  11. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    It definitely sounds as though she is depressed. One thing that the doctor explained to husband that has really helped him keep on his medications (and the fact that I put them in daily pill dispensers) was the statistic (can't site the source) that if a person is clinically depressed once, and they come out of it, they are twice as likely to become depressed again. The second time they are doubly so, and so forth until it becomes inevitable that the depressed person who stops treatment will be depressed and will be less likely to be helped by the same treatment that worked before.

    I hate to hear that your daughter is doing so poorly. I would probably make medication compliance (and therapy compliance, if you think that might be helpful with someone new) a condition of her continuing to live at home.
  12. recovering doormat

    recovering doormat Lapsed CDer

    Thanks for the book suggestion! I will check it out.

    I think God works in mysterious ways. A leader at the youth group she attended called her to say hello today, didn't like the way she sounded, and invited her out to lunch. They talked for two hours, and she sounded much better tonight. She had also phoned the therapist for an appointment. and called a new psychiatrist to get an evaluation. She did it on her own, without me nagging. I am so happy for her. I told her that I didn't care if she didn't finish the semester at comm coll, butshe had to get a job, and she agreed.

    I'm grateful that she at least made the baby-steps of calling the shrink and the psychiatrist on her own, instead of waiting for mommy to do it.
  13. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    That's good news. :)
  14. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Great news. :D I hope she follows thru.

    TYLERFAN New Member

    Daisylover has said it exactly!
    At 18, it's over.....I would try to get her back on her medications....let them kick in (2 weeeks), see if there is a change.....if she won't do it, then what choice do you have? I would make her staying there contingent on her going back on her medications, Now!

    Good Luck, I totally understand.

  16. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I like the Narc-Alon meeting for YOUR sake. You will get sooooooo much support and real time good ideas. Chances are she is using drugs and is far more involved with them than you can even imagine. Sadly, this happened to us. My daughter quit drugs and we hadn't even known that, beyond pot, she was using any. Jokes on us, huh? But that explained why she was acting the way she was. We also thought she had a serious mood disorder. Yeah, well, taking amphetamines, downers, over the counter medications in excess, and a little ecstasy and coke will make you act bipolar or depressed for sure. How did we not know? We were naive combined with her really being able to fake being sober. Plus she did most of the drugs at night when we were sleeping. She would often jimmy her bedroom window, leave the house, then be back and asleep by the time we woke up, window back in place. We knew very little about what she was doing, yet we thought we were right on top of her. We even kept her homeschooled. When we went out of town for an overnight and came home early to find a drug party going on, we finally got a clue. We gave her the choice of a drug rehab or leaving our home as our two minor children were horrified, and we knew we were NOT helping her by letting her live at home. She chose to leave and was lucky enough that her out-of-state straight arrow brother offered her a place to long as she followed his rules. She changed as soon as she got away from her bad influence friends, but it took a few years for her to get her driver's license back and a decent job. By her own admission, making her leave was the best thing we'd done. Her brother is a Born Again Christian and she knew for a fact he'd throw her out if she even smoked a cigarette in his house and she had nowhere else to go. Plus she wanted to straighten out but couldn't do it around her friends.
    I would have made her leave even if brother hadn't offered her a place to stay. I personally feel there is more drugs going on than you think. Under those conditions, Prozac won't help, nothing will help.
    If you keep her home, make sure you give her plenty of surprise drug tests. Also, remember that not all drugs show up.
  17. Star*

    Star* call 911


    You know a book that helped me cope with to do or not to do was Tough Love. Also there are a list of detachment rules here that I myself have been trying to put into part of our lives with our son (also age 18).

    Today I had to sit before a panel of people and tell them in FRONT of my son that should he NOT sign a contract to go to a place we ALL feel is not good for him - he can NOT come home and would therefore become homeless.

    I had to provide a list of shelters for him in case this becomes a reality -

    And I have also spent the better part of the last year - BUTTING out.

    It's a mix I think of Do I butt in and help or do I butt in and take over? Finding a balance with myself for my son has been incredibly hard for me because I'm a take charge person - a manager, an organizer, a do-er, a get it done NOW don't wait person.

    I hope you find your thin line and learn to like it there until you can move on. Not the greatest place to be I know.


    oh and by the way - I think when it comes to medications? I"M BUTTING IN - how can someone who is depressed KNOW things they should know when depression alters your mind and choices? UGH.
  18. Jena

    Jena New Member


    I have read the book Tough Love also and recommend it as well. It takes so much mental work and strength it truly does. I can't imagine, my easy child is only going to be 16 and i have already learned detachment in smalll ways, i'm gearing up for the big ones that will be coming very soon I can feel it.

    Wishing you all the best...
  19. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I can't add much that hasn't been said, but wanted you to know I was reading, and have also been inyour shoes. I'm so glad the youth leader called.. in fact, he/she might be a good ally for you, should things start to go downhill again. Kids always listen better to someone else, than they do to mom or dad.

    I did want to add that I, too, was on Prozac for many years with good results. I was on 40 mg. Like any medication, the results can vary widely by individual. I'm now on Cymbalta, which works even better for me (switched after going off the Prozac for a couple years, then crashing again when things got bad again). I've heard some people hate Cymbalta as well, but for me, it was a lifesaver.

    Hang in there. You've found a great, supportive group here.