MaryZ's support thread for parents of troubled teenagers - Part 2 here's to a peaceful 2013

(810 Posts)
Maryz Tue 01-Jan-13 15:57:49

This is a continuation of this thread which I set up as a safe space for struggling parents of challenging teenagers.

This is meant to be a welcoming thread, where everyone can come and moan, whinge, bash ideas off each other and support each other as we face a new year and new challenges

Newbies in particular - come and join in. When ds1 started going off the rails I felt very lonely as there was no-one in real life I could talk to. Being able to be open and honest on here has helped me cope over the last few years.

Many of us have extremely challenging teenagers, some are involved in alcohol and drugs, some are violent, some are struggling with depression, anxiety and various SN. This thread isn't here to judge people and tell them how to parent or to simplify and minimise their difficulties.

So if you think we should simply tell them to come home and night, and take their phones away if they don't, you are probably in the wrong place. Also if you think a few joints or a couple of pills are harmless, go and start a thread about it somewhere else.

The mantra of this thread is - don't look back, guilt is a wasted emotion. You are where you are now, carry on from here. You may not be able to change them, but you can change how you react to their behaviour, so pick your battles, take a step back and try not be too emotionally involved, and FFS, be nice to yourself.

So here goes: here's to a calm, peaceful and positive 2013.

Maryz Thu 31-Jan-13 23:27:42

Sorry, njaw, to answer your question, I didn't ever get ds to engage. By the time he was a real problem, he had discovered his own cure (drugs) and didn't want intervention as it would take that support away from him.

flow4 Fri 01-Feb-13 07:28:52

Support for me? Well, some: I have friends, and MN, and I've accessed counselling for myself a couple of times (maybe 10 weeks in 5 years). I'm pretty resilient. My mental health has been OK (I was depressed when DS1 and 2 were very little, but not for 8-10 years now)... But I think the stress has taken its toll on my physical health tbh. Funnily enough, I've been really quite ill since DS started behaving himself and went back to college in the autumn... A bit like how you get ill in the hols when adrenaline levels drop, I assume... hmm

What you said about your DS finding his own 'therapy' with cannabis, Maryz, really resonates with me too...

There's a shameful lack of support for teens IMO. It seems to me that in general, girls don't get much attention til they need hospital admission for mental health problems, and boys til they're facing prison. sad

MuchBrighterNow Fri 01-Feb-13 08:31:22

I am not in the uk and have struggled to find any support at all.

Where we live the kids are expected to be able to sit still and concentrate on academic work from 8 am till 5 , with homework on top. Any child who doesn't fit this mold is made to feel really shit about themselves.

The general solution here seems to be to punish and /or drug the kids that don't fit into submission.

Punishment never worked on Ds and drugs was a route I didn't want to go down; though in retrospect is what Ds has chosen anyway (without the submission bit confused).

I'm hearing that the uk system is a bit of a let down , but by comparison I'm living in the dark ages envy

bluerach36 Fri 01-Feb-13 13:18:35

Hi all...not posted since pre new years old thread but watching from the side lines!
I agree about the ability to manipulate the professionals....things a wee bit in melt down here. Just had call from CAMHS on call following an urgent referall from DS2's pupil referral unit....last week head butting walls, glass doors, 'bizzare' behaviour....then on way to his social worker weekly appt yesterday I noticed cuts on his wrist...only superficial but arrrgh!!? Mental health worker there obviously also rang CAMHS hence the phone call. But as soon as I mentioned that I had taken him privately to see psychiatrist who only diagnosed " self esteem and anger issues" she seemed happy to delay him being seen. He worked his charm on the psychiatrist that day!!! And the anger management counsellor 2 years ago, and the GP etc etc as !!! As Flow mentioned.

I have tried so hard to do the detach, detach; look after myself stuff but the past 3 weeks have been a spiral down...calls from the school every day, being sent home, having cars of older boys looking for him at our house...a fight apparently??...stealing my secret stash of tequila(!!)...foul language and anger when I say " no more tobacco..you've had todays" (don't ask?!), paying drug dealer who he owed money...drunk/stoned lots..... I love him so much and just wish I could do something to help him.....

Still sadly deluded that one day he will suddenly wake up and think..."hold on I must change this behaviour and think about my future".
I am so tired.......................Just come back from school, they wanted me to take him home...holding a lighter to someone's face. On the way down I thought if I got him in the car I could just drive really hard and fast at the wall on the way home and then this would be gone and my other son and DH could get on. Thank goodness for all you ladies out there. You understand I'm sure.

Maryz Fri 01-Feb-13 13:29:18

Oh, bluerach, you do sound like you are having a tough time [hugs]

I presume the mood swings/anger/headbutting etc is due to ups and downs of the drug use. And there really is little you can do about that.

I think you are going to have to find someone to talk to yourself. It was only when I got to counselling that I really realised that I couldn't change him - paying his dealer, controlling his drug use, picking him up from school etc wasn't helping him, not really, and it was slowly killing him.

I can't remember how old your son is? But I think if I was you I would consider letting the school deal with what happens at school - if they ring CAHMS they will be listened to more than you, so let them re-refer, you stay out of it if you can.

You also need a safe space at home and to keep your belongings locked up.

I can empathise with your feelings about driving into a wall. I can remember many times just thinking "if he died I could grieve him properly, instead of grieving who he used to be but being faced every day with what he is now". I also felt that if he was dead (or I was), then at least he would be happy sad.

I really feel for you. Be nice to yourself and get some rl support.

We never got any support for him really because he was so uncooperative. He wouldn't go to the counsellors that we found for him as he was uncomfortable talking face to face. We arranged telephone counselling hoping that might help but he only tried it for two sessions and then refused to engage anymore.

We paid for all this because we couldn't access any of the children's services. One GP told us that DS1 couldn't be aggressive because 'cannabis' makes you relaxed. He said the kids round here didn't use skunk...

Another GP said that the only thing he could offer DS1 (who was seventeen by then) was a drop-in centre two bus rides away, where he could play snooker and hang out with other like-minded boys. Like a Youth Club. So, completely useless then.

He is having counselling in prison at the moment but when I asked him about it, he said he it's all over in five minutes because he doesn't like talking about himself so the counsellor says it's a waste of time.

I'm sorry - I missed your post bluerach .

I'm so sorry you are having to deal with all this <hug> and it sounds awfully hard on you that you have so much on your plate.

I really agree with Mary that school stuff should be dealt with at school and that the mood swings are probably the drugs.

We lived for years with our money, valuables, knives and alcohol locked away as it was easier than dealing with all the fallout if he got hold off this stuff. I don't know how old your son is, but if it was me, I would stand back from all the drama around him and let him deal with it. They get to the point where you can't actually change or control what he is doing and it is fruitless to try. If you keep your relationship with him in reasonable shape then you can, maybe, have some influence on him

My son is mid-twenties and I still hope he will have some sort of epiphany and change his life <waits patiently, more in sorrow than in anger now>

bluerach36 Fri 01-Feb-13 14:17:22

Thank you, thank you MaryZ...you don't know how much you've helped me over the past 18 months...I'll be eternally grateful for your wise words!!!
I know what you say is right...I'm not really helping things but keep thinking... just 13 more weeks (..he's 15 and half...) if I can just help him stay until the end of school...get a couple of exams...?! Deluded or what?! And when is he ever going to accept responsibility for himself if I keep patching things up??
Then I give myself a reality check....sadly this ain't going away any time soon is it??! It is such a shame how long you and lots of other ladies on this thread have been dealing with loopy teenagers!! And how lovely it would be to wave a magic wand and make them happy and ' all better' like when they were 6 eh?!

I did have some counselling before last summer which did help a lot....can thoroughly recommend to anyone struggling out there...and am usually in a much stronger, more positive place but having a large wibble this week?!!
Oh well...feel better now for posting.
Can I add my mantra to all those on this thread?

"Keep calm and carry on, cos there's f*#k all else you can do"...???!!

wigglybeezer Fri 01-Feb-13 14:52:18

Don't have long to post but want to thank all you ladies for your "warts and all" stories of living with difficult teens, it is priceless to know I'm not alone, my friends all seem to have teens that are paragons of virtue and achievement.

Mary's, can I ask you about your DS2's meds? Ds1 has always had major probs with concentration which is causing him to fail at school ( fuelling more esteem problems and anger etc.). He is 14 but has been difficult since two and I feel he is somewhere on the AS/ADD continuum ( his brother has AS). He is very conformist at school, which limits their willingness to see him as a problem but I am at the point of risking humiliation by having another go at getting a DX , if his concentration improved his school work by even a modest amount it would be worth it.
Had a major bust up last night and ended up sleeping on his floor as a local troubled teen from a " nice " family threw herself off a bridge last week, which has put the wind up me [ sad].

wigglybeezer Fri 01-Feb-13 14:54:05

Blur arch, I think I will nick your last motto and write it on the blackboard.

thriftychic Fri 01-Feb-13 17:28:46

well im really hoping this weekend is better than last . The parenting team that camhs referred us to has just been crossed off my list . I have had one appointment and a few lengthy phonecalls about ds2 and whilst the woman is lovely , really trying to help and sticks to her word ( very refreshing ) she is quite clearly barking up the wrong tree and not going to be any help .
she said she has 'some' knowledge of Aspergers , i explained that to my mind ds2 behaviour was only really aspergers related a small percentage of the time and i think that most of the time i cannot attribute it to that at all .
she seems to be reading straight from a book and looking into it for things that arent there. i explained that the issue last weekend was when i asked him to nip out to buy a new washer and to morrisons with me as i cant leave him alone with ds1 (17) and he kicked off because he wanted to play his xbox . i had compromised in the end and said we would leave the morrisons trip out and the parenting ladies response was ' well you need to figure out what it is about morrisons that stresses him ' morrisons is fine , especially when were buying stuff for him he just wont wait to play on the xbox ffs.
i asked what she suggested i do when he calls me an idiot or a slag or whatever , she said i am to write the words down that he often calls me , tell him in this house the rule is they are not allowed and then have him rip them up . when he says them anyway i am just to keep telling him its against the rules . blardy ell !

i have read previous advice here about calling the police about violent behaviour , and i agree with it but somehow i cant do it sad
dh did take him to the police station before he was diagnosed with AS for spitting in my face , and he has never spat in my face again but done other things instead. when we saw the psych after diagnosis he already knew about the police station incident and really frowned upon it and said we shouldnt have done that.
what a minefield !
hope everyone finds a little bit of peace somewhere this weekend , im off to the festival of light and healing tomorrow but i am worried what may happen with ds2 and dh in my absence ( a whole afternoon ! )

flow4 Fri 01-Feb-13 22:09:30

bluerach, that sounds very tough. I haven't got much to add to what Maryz and Laura have said. Except to say there may be hope - there always is I think. 15/16/17 are really tough years, and IME it does get a bit better. smile

thrifty, it's really rubbish that the psychologist was so judgemental. sad And I think he's misunderstanding something really crucial, too...

If you took your DS to the police station as a kind of 'power-trip', just to frighten him, then I might agree that you shouldn't have done it. Maybe.

However, calling the police when your DS is attacking you is an entirely different matter. You have a right to be and feel safe in your own home. You really do. You owe it to yourself to keep yourself safe and not frightened.

And also, importantly, I think it is very bad indeed for DCs themselves to lose control so much that they hurt or frighten their own mums, and not be stopped. Teens are developing a sense of their own selves and their own power, and suddenly they find they do these dreadful things, and they can't stop themselves, and no-one else stops them either. I think it frightens them very much, and makes them feel unsafe. They can't trust themselves, and they can't trust you. Personally, I think they can then become so afraid of their own anger and their own power that they will do things like take drugs and self-harm... sad

You can't stop a teen who is bigger than you. They must learn to control themselves. But until they do, you need to call the police (or other 'reinforcements') to stop them. It may make your teen very angry (it did with my DS) but it also makes them feel safe: they need someone to take control of a situation they can't control themselves. And IMO, they need it just as much as you do.

IMO calling the police when your DC is dangerously out of control is not about punishment at all; it's about everyone feeling safe.

Midwife99 Sat 02-Feb-13 07:44:31

There seems to be a common theme of put teens displaying mental health problems & violent behaviour inc self harming & risk taking but then either charming the mental health professionals or refusing to engage. On the one hand they are asking for help & attention but on the other refusing it when it comes. Why???

Midwife99 Sat 02-Feb-13 07:50:30

"Our" not put!!

Maryz Sat 02-Feb-13 13:12:00

That's true Midwife.

I think it might be to do with the fact that they (ds certainly) have so little self-esteem and care so little about themselves they don't want help confused.

And bloody-mindedness of course.

Midwife99 Sat 02-Feb-13 13:34:48

He turned down the accomm offered on Wednesday & is now texting me asking for money & somewhere to stay!! He had £220 cash in the last 2 weeks with no bills to pay!! Threatening to kill himself if I don't give him £20!!

flow4 Sat 02-Feb-13 14:33:21

I think they flip between thinking they don't need help (and anyway it's all our fault), thinking they don't deserve help, and thinking they're so messed up they can't be helped... sad

Lilka Sat 02-Feb-13 16:23:21

oh aaaarghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

I need to shout and vent and worry

This isn't the right thread to launch into todays tale but aaargghhh for my troubled teenager

They make you want to tear your hair out, don't they midwife ? Mine would ring from his little flat, desperate because he had no food 'I haven't eaten for days, Mum' and when I cleared out the flat when he was first sent down, the cupboards were groaning with food...

Midwife99 Sat 02-Feb-13 18:18:18

Oh yes he "ent eaten for 3 days "!!

Maryz Sat 02-Feb-13 19:19:01

What's up Lilka?

I have no idea what to say Midwife. I mean, I should say "don't give in to threats", but [sigh]. I dunno. Maybe give him some food?

Midwife99 Sat 02-Feb-13 19:30:11

He doesn't want food. He wants money. It's Saturday night - he wants to get pissed & stoned. He had £220 in his pocket less than 2 weeks ago for food. He stinks of skunk every time I see him.

Midwife99 Sat 02-Feb-13 20:10:27

And now the abusive texts have started. I predict he'll be back in prison within a week. And it'll be my fault.

Maryz Sat 02-Feb-13 20:13:19

I think you need to turn your phone off.

He's going to steal something isn't he sad?

I hate this. I hate the fact that they can make us feel so guilty. It's just not fair.

Midwife99 Sat 02-Feb-13 20:24:28

He will struggle to get into a fight with only one arm working but he'll offend somehow. Probably theft or drugs. I'm so sick of him I must admit. I have 3 other children who take 1/100th of the energy he does. It's not fair. hmm

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