I don't know how to help her

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by mom23, Mar 6, 2017.

  1. mom23

    mom23 New Member

    I have a 17 year old who suffers with depression, anxiety, and ADD. She has been in therapy off and on since she was very young, 3-4 years old. As a small child, she suffered with selective mutism, enursis, encopresis, chewing on her tongue, pulling out her hair, night terrors; you name an anxiety symptom and she seemed to suffer with it. She started on generic Zoloft when she was 12 and it was like I had a new normal kid. She would hug us; she stopped making lists (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) symptom); she could sleep alone in her room; most of her symptoms began subside.

    Midway through her junior year, she began to regress. We changed the medicine. I got her into therapy, but nothing worked. So here we are almost at the end of her senior year and I am not sure how much more I can take. She has been in therapy with a new doctor, since October, who seems to understand her issues. We have just changed medication to generic Wellbutrin, but she is going to be 18 in a few months and I, my husband, and the psychologist, do not believe that she is ready for college.

    She makes the worst decisions. She doesn’t turn in her school work. She has been skipping classes since t he first of the school year. She just got back her car today, because she skipped school and lied about it and didn’t tell me where she was (our biggest rule to our kids having their own transportation), and she skipped again this morning. Her logic is “it wasn’t going to last anyway, so I might as well have fun.” WHAT!? She has GPS on her phone. She knows I can find out where she is. Why would you do this knowing you will get caught. Twice when caught and punished, she has cut herself. So, of course, I’m terrified it will escalate. Everything is my fault, something the doctor is working on with her. She doesn’t take any responsibility for her actions or choices. I think she says some of these irrational things as a defense or to lash out at me. She refuses to think past this moment.

    She’s not a bad kid. She has good friends. She’s not into drugs or alcohol. She follows curfew. But her logic is off the wall weird. I don’t understand her thinking and I don’t know how to help her see that she is only hurting herself, in so many ways. She wants to find a job, and I think it would help her to experience the real world, but she is paralyzed by her anxiety. She only applies on-line and has been contacted twice but she won’t call back and set up the interview. She is terrified of calling people. She spends all her home-time in her room. I think she’d be happy if she never had to leave it.

    We are not dealing with little kid problems and I don’t know where to turn or how to deal with this irrational behavior. I know this seems minor compared to some of the problems others on this site have posted, but I have been battling this child for 17 years (literally) and it feels like I am failing miserably. Has anyone had similar issues and what helped?
  2. Crayola13

    Crayola13 Active Member

    I think DBT (dialectical behavioral therapy) is more effective than traditional cognitive therapy for anxiety.
  3. RN0441

    RN0441 100% better than I was but not at 100% yet

    I have not dealt with this exactly but plenty of other things.

    Can you seek out some type of therapy for yourself/spouse to help guide you? I think as parents we all think we're supposed to know it all and maneuver any situation successfully and it's just not the case!

    You have to find out what works for you in your home! Every situation is different.
  4. Frieda

    Frieda New Member

    Not dealing with exactly the same but my son is a junior and he is in no way ready for the world. He does well academically but socially-emotionally he is like an elementary student. He will take transition classes after high school (through the school district for students 18-21 with IEPs) to give him some more time to mature.They will work with him on life skills which is what he mostly needs. I will also go with him to see an attorney to discuss guardianship. He is not convinced but I think he will need to be under guardianship for some areas for a few years.
  5. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Believe me. I am not minimizing your problems. Indeed, you have been through so much and so has your daughter. But.

    I see the glass half full: she is participating in therapy, she has good friends, she is a "good kid," she is not into drugs, she has been responsive to medication (perhaps hormonal changes changed her response) she follows most important rules such as curfew.

    She seems compliant and she seems responsive. These are hugely important things.

    I do not know really what to tell you except what you already know, that we have to deal with what is. We cannot measure ourselves as people, as parents because our children suffer or lack capacities or qualities. I did it. I do it way less, now.

    When I was immobilized by fear and guilt I was a singularly inadequate mother: defensive, angry, and unhappy. I could not support my son at all.

    I try now to focus on the situation and to constructively respond, not to my role in it. If I am too ready to find how I am responsible for this or that, instead of being present my energy goes to deflect the reality that confronts me or defend myself. I have become immobilized by depression, fear and despair.

    And when I became a wreck, did it change or improve anything? No. I became unavailable. I froze myself.

    You are not doing that. But believing this is a personal failing on your part is subjecting yourself to unnecessary suffering and depriving you unnecessarily of feeling real pride in yourself and your child for coming through hard, hard years, not only relatively unscathed, but triumphant. Why would you want to deprive yourself of this kind of pride and satisfaction?

    Are you so powerful that you can control everything, and through your suffering as if take fire, so as to protect her from what is her life? No.

    You and she are better served by your self-respect, self-care and embracing of your self-worth.

    Your daughter is your daughter. Period. Whether she was in Harvard or Princeton or wherever, she is she, you are you. She is a separate person with a separate life path and separate attributes.

    So is my own son, different from me--with his own life and life story. He has flat out told me: I am not you.

    My son has always been anxious. Actually, I could not see it, but therapists did. Now as an adult he will not drive; he has developed body dysmorphia, his anxieties about a serious illness have been displaced into the belief that he is deformed, when actually he is physically gorgeous. By having this belief, he as if turns himself into an ugly duckling. He hides under hoodys, he will not show his face; heavy beard, etc.

    I can feel any which way I want about what is happening to him (and I have.) Will it change it? Not one bit.

    I can attack myself. I can pressure hm. I can haul him to doctors. I can throw him out. I can not talk to him. I can talk him to death and still I cannot affect him or the course of his life. I can just deal with what is and try to do the right thing, be kind to him and to take care of myself.

    You are a wonderful mother who has always been there for your child and you are with her now. Does that mean you can change her life? No. I don't think so.

    You can only change some aspects of your own life. Your outlook. How you treat yourself. Considering your needs and wants. Looking for joy.
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2017
  6. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    There are positives here. She responded to treatment before, so it can work again. She is a good kid with immaturity issues and some skewed thinking. She needs more time to grow up and just is not ready to grow up. It happens. 18 is a number, not magic. You may well want to consider guardianship. Personally, that car would be gone. She isn't ready for the responsibility and her behavior is showing you this is the clearest way she probably can.

    Who is handling her medication? If it isn't a psychiatrist, I highly suggest getting one. These are extremely strong medications and having the right type of doctor is important. On the other hand, if your instincts say you have the right doctor, then go ahead and trust the doctor you have (ALWAYS trust those instincts!!!). Ask that doctor to do a DNA test to find out which medications are most likely to work. Insurance covers this and it IS a reliable test. It will tell you which medications are most likely to work and will take a TON of the guesswork out of things. It is a leap forward in treatment and definitely something to take advantage of.

    Just because someone else's life may seem somehow worse on here does NOT mean that we don't want you here or that we don't want to hear about your problems. We welcome you and want to be here for you. We don't make those judgements and this isn't that kind of place. We are here to support each other and to offer whatever ideas and help and information and kindness and even love that we can. We know ALLLLLLL about the judgment and "get over it" and "cheer up it isn't that bad" messages that other people send because our kids are not perfect. We are here because we know that for each parent to come here and speak out, it really is that bad for that parent. So we don't judge or measure here and there isn't a need to feel self conscious if your bad is somehow different than someone else's bad.

    I am truly sorry that you are going through this, and I know how scary it is to feel like the little one that you love so much may be slipping away from you into a horrible place that you cannot reach her at. I hope that you can figure out a way to reach her and help her climb out of that place. As someone who has battle anxiety, it truly is an awful, horrible place to be stuck in. She is truly lucky to have a mom who cares so much.