How do I help my mentally ill 20 year old?

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by WorriedMum44, Nov 19, 2017.

  1. WorriedMum44

    WorriedMum44 New Member

    My daughter is 20, 21 in the new year. She's just come back from university (having already gone late) an absolute wreck. The university has encouraged her to defer her first year on mental health grounds and come back next September. She wasn't looking after herself at all in halls and it was really frightening the university staff. I also think that the university is awful for mental health care. Honestly I think she's had a bit of an epiphany in the two months she's been away at uni and she's realised the world isn't ever going to be as great as she thought it would be and she now needs to make responsible decisions for her future and rather than moving forward she's just broken down.

    She has always had mental health issues, even when she was very little, and I think we've coddled her because she's always been very fragile. When she first had to come home a few weeks ago she was excited to take a "real gap year" learn a new language, work, travel and go back to uni as a mature student but now all she does is cry and hide in her room. To be fair I didn't think the student life was ever going to be for her as she's not very social and has always preferred the company of her family.

    From what I can gather she's desperately upset as she's realised that she's very immature for her age and doesn't know how to be a "proper adult". She talks a lot about age and how she's only getting older and more pathetic and she doesn't know what she wants to do with her life or what she is capable of doing given her mental health issues. If I'm being honest she does act like a sensitive teenager rather than an adult, probably as she was in and out of hospital throughout her teens and was only able to finish her level three qualifications this year.

    We're happy for her to spend the year staying a home getting better and start her degree next year. The university she got into is very high ranking and she is incredibly bright and able. Otherwise she could always drive herself to our local university which is not amazing but she'd definitely get in. I'm just aware the longer she spends doing nothing the more unwell she gets. I woke up this morning to find her curled up on the floor crying about growing old and dying. She's 20! Before university she was very excited for her birthday in January but now when I broach the topic she just starts crying.

    I'd encourage her to get a job and earn some money this year but I don't think she's up to it. I don't even think she's doing things she enjoys as she hasn't been leaving the house, playing video games or seeing any friends. She's very clingy when I get back from work and just wants to sit with me and watch TV. I'm worried about her mental state alone at home all day as my husband and I both work and her brother is in sixthform all day. To her credit she's been booking and attending mental health referral appointments but she's on a two month waiting list.

    How can I help her to move on? I'm frightened she'll decide she doesn't want to live anymore.
  2. Sam3

    Sam3 Active Member

    Hi. And welcome.

    First year of university can be hard even for mentally healthy young adults. Struggling ones coming home in their first year seems to be pretty common, which doesn’t make it easier on her or you.

    It’s hard to give feedback without knowing more, but first, if you are truly afraid she is suicidal, she needs acute mental health services, crisis counseling or even psychiatric hospitalization.

    Does she have diagnoses? Is she medicated? Does she work with a therapist? What you describe could be anxiety, depression or even bipolar with the cycle of elation/depression.

    Hopefully you can seize on her own dissatisfaction with her life to get her to the support she needs. Even if it’s just a life coach or mentor, and not a mental health professional, in my opinion, it’s best for you to stay out of that role. Her world doesn’t need to get any smaller.
  3. WorriedMum44

    WorriedMum44 New Member

    She has Borderline Personality Disorder and she's been seeing mental health professionals since she was 13. However, there has been a gap in her care since she was 19 as we collectively decided to focus all our attention on getting her caught up in school (driving her to college ect as she didn't have her licence until recently). She's been hospitalised for suicide attempts in the past- it's actually the main reason she's behind academically and socially. In between different treatments, not having a driving licence due to her condition and living in a very secluded area she really hasn't been able to leave the nest at all before. This is the worst she's been in years but if we hospitalise her again she could easily lose her deferred university place and be left 22 in exactly the same situation. She wants to be caught up with her peers and ideally she'd be at university learning the skills she needs to be independent. Obviously I'd rather have her 25 and still living at home than forever 21 and dead for four years but pushing her too much seems to be just as dangerous as letting her wallow in hopelessness.
  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I dont know where you live to give you feedback for possible help...each country is different. If you were in the U.S. i would recommend a neuropsychological evaluation for her (psychologist with training in the workings of the brain) to see if Daughter was perhaps misdiagnosed.

    I have been a mental health patient since age 23 and I am now 64. I have no professional credentials, but I do know a laymans knowledge of certain disorders due to my own extensive research for myself and a child I have with special needs. Borderlines are normally moody, bossy, abusive, mean and then nice, and have a huge fear of abandonment. Altjough I am again no expert I never read about fear of people and socializing as a symptom. Poor boundaries, yes. Leaving relationships then begging people back, yes. Read the book "i Hate you, Dont Leave Me" (On kindle) to see if this sounds like your daughter or not. Diagnosticians are often wrong. I have had MANY tell me that since there are no blood tests, they can only guess. A psychologist from our esteemed Mayo Clinic, told me, and I quote almost exactly, "we misdiagnose all the time, even at Mayo. There is no way to know for sure. It is our best guess."

    Now...again I am no expert, but perhaps you should look up high functioning autism/Aspergers. My son has this. It is a social glitch and developme tal delay, although often the people are academically bright to brilliant, and the social deficits can can cause great despair. It can block the person from living a normal life, even if the person is smart. It is a disorder one is born with and great strides can be made with correct treatment. To me, not a professional, your daughter sounds more like the struggles my son had than all I have read about borderline. Perhaps...just maybe....your daughter is being treated for the wrong disorder. Just a bug in your ear. My son eas first diagnosed with bipolar and he doesnt have it so the mefs they gave him were not needed and didnt help...ugh. All those medications. And he doesnt even have it.

    My son is doing great now. He had much proper intervetions after he finally got diagnosed right.

    I dont know how the psychiatric/neuropsychological system works in your country. We can take our children to the professionals of our choice...maybe you cant.

    Even if you cant, maybe read and see what resonates about yout daughter. Knowledge is power. Sometimes the best knowledge comes from us.

    Good luck!!
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2017
  5. WorriedMum44

    WorriedMum44 New Member

    We're from England where "college" means the end of high school (although university degrees are typically three years long rather than four as our education system is somewhat more advanced). Aspergers was actually the diagnosis her psychiatrist first suggested when she was a young teenager but it's a complicated situation and I think her Borderline (BPD) diagnosis is right. I'll admit she was sometimes abusive towards me in her late teens but we have a very good relationship now. I think it was an impulse control issue because she did always apologise afterwards and seemed to regret it.

    PTSD is pretty closely linked to Borderline (BPD) and she was molested when she was younger and had a few episodes of sexual abuse following her hospitalisation. I don't think she was ever any more abusive than a typical angsty teen and she's always been very loving with her family with few stable friendships. But it's a chicken, egg situation in terms of what's trauma and what's mental illness.

    Borderline (BPD) aside she really is a good kid. Doesn't drink, doesn't do drugs, runs errands. She's taking herself to mental health appointments and taking her medication; She's just sad and worrying about getting old far before her time.
  6. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Worriedmum, I'm sorry you're going thru this with your daughter. It is difficult when our kids are struggling and we feel powerless to offer any kind of assistance.

    I don't know enough to comment on your daughter's diagnosis, but what I will say is that along with finding ways to assist your daughter, I believe it's imperative to find support for us as well. It may be prudent for you to find a support system which will offer you a safe place to go to get heard, find guidance, vent, express yourself and gather information and resources. I am not aware of what that might be in England, but it may be worthwhile for you to look into getting yourself a good support system and developing a "tool box" which is what we call all of the items that help us get thru the times when our kids go off the rails.

    Here in the U.S. we have an organization called NAMI the National Alliance on Mental Illness which can help parents find solutions to the challenges our adult kids have. They can be accessed on line, you may want to check them out and find out if you have something similar in your country.

    Hang in there, keep posting, it helps a lot......if you haven't already, get yourself a strong support system......take care of you you can're not alone.
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2017
  7. Hi there, worried mum. I also live in England, and feel for you, dealing with this situation. My son also has mental health issues and although has finished university, he now sits in this room all day and night and isolates himself from the outside world. He blames me for all that is wrong in his life. As someone rightly said to me "They are captains of their own ship" and must find there own way in this life. For all our support, there is only so much that we can do for them. The rest is up to them, my son also frequently talks about suicide. I am glad that your daughter wants help, I hope she receives the support from our Mental Health Services I wish my son would!. Stay strong and seek support for yourself also.