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MaryZ's support thread for parents of troubled teenagers - Part 2 here's to a peaceful 2013(811 Posts)
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.
Hi, I'm new here and have been reading posts for a couple of days. I can't say how relieved I am (this doesn't sound right, but I hope you understand what I mean) to find so many other people who are also struggling with TTs; I am truly in awe of you all and the wisdom and fortitude you are all showing: I had been thinking (and have been led to believe) that I was a dreadful mum because my one & only DD has well & truly gone off the rails big-time.
My problem is similar in many ways to others on this thread but with a complication that I haven't heard mentioned - a controlling much-older man friend (48yo) has entered this nightmare -, who appears to be grooming her (CAMHS counsellor, CAMHS psychiatrist, Relate, her GP have agreed that this appears to be the case). Only problem is that everyone says that as she is 17yo, there is nothing that I can do. Very interested to get your comments / suggestions on this. She turns 18 in 10 days time which I believe will be the real watershed (hence 'time is running out' as she will then be considered a true adult): I certainly believe that he will 'up the anti' at this point.
In describing the problem, I will TRY to consolidate as much as possible (unfortunately, it's long and complicated)!
I left my abusive partner when my (one and only) DD was 1yo and have been on my own with her ever since.
For the past 3 years, she & I have struggled, with varying degrees of success, to deal with her:-
- bulimia: apparently started binging when she was 11/12yo, but not purging until about 3 years ago (she told me about it shortly afterwards - about 6 months)
- self-harm (cutting arms & legs)
- anxiety disorder
- 4 x suicide attempts (incl over-doses of ibuprofen / paracetamol, etc) - all since she has been involved with him
- frequently running away from school
- violent outbursts of anger/temper tantrums/smashing a window/destroying my ornaments
- abuse of my possessions
- cutting my favourite shoes so that she can get her size 8 feet into my size 7 shoes (3 x 1cm+ cuts each shoe)
- repeatedly taking my favourite eye shadow brush so that it has dark brown shadow on it when I wear light colours, despite me giving her one that was much more expensive and better, which she destroyed
- taking my miniature perfume bottles that I had been given as a Christmas present,
Came to a head in winter/spring 2011 (just before GCSE exams). GP had been asked for CAMHS referral in previous autumn but long time coming, so paid for private counselling through BEAT (Beat Eating Disorders). DD had 6 sessions and councillor believed she was autistic. CAMHS sessions then kicked in (Aug 2011) and psychiatrist said that she definitely conformed to 1 of the 3 autistic groups but undecided about other 2 (to be classed as autistic you need to conform to 2 out of the 3 groups). Said I could have a second opinion but questioned whether I was sure that I wanted her to have that diagnosis as it would be with her for the rest of her life. She was put onto 20mg Fluoxitine for her depression which did seem to have a positive effect after about 4 - 6 weeks.
Long story short: we decided that she should take a year out of education after GCSEs to sort out her problems: Sept 2011 - Sept 2012 (eg. to get a job in a shop and chill out from learning for a while but so that she would still be mixing socially). However, she did try but was unable to get a job and sunk lower into herself & her bulimia (unfortunately, I didn't/don't have any choice but to work full time - also no financial help from her father) ending with CAMHS taking her into hospital (for teenagers w MH issues) from Dec 2011 to Feb 2012. While in there she improved marginally and they upped her dose of fluoxitine to 40mg and then 60mg (apparently some evidence that this high dose has helped w bulimia) - I was not happy with this latter increase, incidently.
In Jan 2012 it was agreed that DD should start to try integrating back into society and she got a day-release voluntary job in a local Barnardos charity shop. There she met a 48yo man (volunteer) who she appeared to hit it off with instantly. He gave her books to read, said that his favourite artist was Monet (hers too), appeared to be fun to talk to / be with, etc, etc. Looking back I now believe that he targeted her - a 17yo teenager in hospital with MH issues who was bulimic and obviously emotionally immature.
I also feel that I have been targeted as a single mum of an only child with no close family around for support. He will have questioned DD on all of this.
About the 48yo:
- unemployed for 10 years & on SS (since his divorce). I believe that he was a volunteer as a stipulation of him continuing to get SS.
- has an 18yo daughter & 16yo son, both have disowned him (?) - according to DD, because he was made bankrupt when he divorced & therefore was unable to work and provide maintenance for them !! DD: 'He has photos of them everywhere - even in his allotment shed - & is always talking about them - he cries when he talks about them'. When I ask DD whether he has tried to contact them recently she says that he says that 'they are old enough to make their own decisions now'.
- it was openly known at B's that he grew & sold cannabis 'only to his friends, mum'
- father is a County Councillor & has also disowned him, but has apparently often offered financial help / support to him to start his own business - always turned down. Father now has another younger family (late teenage sons, 2 girls in early 20s) and apparently does not much like any of his 3 sons from his former marriage (I believe from DD that 48yo's 2 other brothers have both been in prison).
- he lives in a flat rent-free & doesn't have to pay for electric, gas, etc - for life ! Story goes that he went to help his friend do up the flat but then bottom dropped out of the market (length of time he has lived there doesn't tie up with housing market crash) & 'friend' asked him to move in so that squatters didn't take over. Now 'friend' is talking about getting him a house to live in (he told me this himself).
- a previous volunteer (apparently v attractive early 20s) put in a complaint about him to B's Head Office. Seems like they too had a 'thing going' but that he over-stepped the boundaries and suggested something that revolted her (he was with a friend at the time) that did not go down at all well (going with them for sex or drugs in a nearby room - unclear which). She put in a complaint to HO and never went back to B's; he was allowed to stay. I have tried to contact her but not succeeded (she apparently has a very controlling BF).
48yo was told to leave B's after the manager thought that he was over-stepping the mark w my DD (over-familiarity) - about March 2012 after DD had left hospital. All working there gave DD a good talking to about how he was not good news, which she seemed to respond to at the time. She could not understand how he could have taken her in so easily. However, as time went on she missed his company and left B's (around April 2012) to do other voluntary work.
Despite my warnings that 'it will not come to any good' DD tracked him down 'to get some answers from him' which she apparently believed. They have pretty much been an item since.
She believes that it is true love from both sides and that it is a long-term relationship (DD: 'why shouldn't he fall in love with me & me seriously, just because I'm 17? Otherwise it's age discrimination''). He has told her that there must never be any any secrets between them and that they must always tell the truth to each other. I believe that she does this but that he lies to her - this I have pointed out to her, but she has chosen to ignore it as it does not suit her.
Ways in which he is manipulating & controlling:
- he told her that he would not go out with her if she carried on taking her anti-depressants - so from 60mg fluoxitine down to nothing in one go - could have easily killed her - what a caring SOB
- he told her that her diet regime (I had worked with her dietician for months - loads of appointments and time off work) developed under CAMHS was rubbish and she changed her eating habits accordingly
- he reads/has always read lots of self-help/psychology books and believes that he is an expert in self-motivation, etc. He spends hours lecturing her on how she should deal with her bulimia / anxiety attacks / disorganisation / my non-acceptance of the situation / ridding herself of her dependency on me, etc.
- he tried to influence her to change her choice of A-level subjects because most of the ones that she chose were ones that he couldn't understand (maths, further maths, physics, psychology) - he wanted her to do biology and art.
- he made sure that she only had v limited time w me over Christmas (1.5 days out of the 8 days that I had off) by organising things with her that he expected her to comply with - ie. going w him to stay at his mother's when he did not allow me time to take her down to my parents in London where we have gone every single year of her life.
- most recently (last couple of weeks) he is colluding w her that she shouldn't continue w her A Levels but go and do a B Tech in Art next September - so failing to follow through yet again, and take up a subject that (although v gifted at) will struggle due to the structure - as with GCSE art.
I have tried v hard to be non-judgemental & neutral and to get to know him (DD: 'you can't judge him when you haven't even met him') and have met him on 2 occasions (1 without DD; 1 with DD). Each time I have found him to 'big himself up' and to put DD down. Did not say anything as trying to observe without reacting. Told DD that I didn't like the way he was always talking down to her. Have even said to her several times in the middle of an argument that I thought he was cruel to her and she has not denied it. His & my relationship broke down shortly after these meetings when he mistook my lack of negative reaction for total acceptance and started pushing the boundaries way too far & definitely way too fast. Now there is no love lost at all between us, he refuses to meet me & I believe that I have become his new 'bitch ex-wife' as he described his ex to my DD at their first meeting; also, I'm sure it won't have passed anyone by, she is his 'long-lost daughter' and he is her distant 'dad'.
As I understand it, they have a full sexual relationship, where he is teaching her all sorts, as you can imagine. He has apparently had a vasectomy (?). Initially he told her that there would be no sex until she was 18; This was before I met him - then afterwards it very soon became a whole new ball game.
I have read (not proud of this) some of her writings which she threw out with some old coursework - in which she describes him raping her - although she quite clearly does not see it as that. I have been told that in order for him to be charged, the complaint must come from her.
I have tried to get help from everyone: SS; CAMHS councillor; CAMHS psychiatrist; police; GP: some sympathetic & some obviously don't care, but all say that as she is 17yo there is nothing that I can do as she is considered old enough to make up her own mind. This is quite clearly not the case with her as she is so obviously being manipulated. I find it unbelievable that a girl with her history of MH problems is going to be just left to be used by a pervert - and probably then passed on to others.
I really do fear for her as her as she is so vulnerable & a puppet to his desires & commands; her standards are dropping to meet his by the day and I can easily see her in her early 20s as a prostitute &/or a drug addict or both; and I have told her this. No response.
Sorry that this is soooooooooooooooooooo long but please, please has anyone got any suggestions?
Like everyone, I just love her so much and cannot in my wildest dreams fathom out how it has all come to this - an extremely bright and intelligent girl with so much potential who was determined to go to uni not so long ago. It's like I'm in the middle of a nightmare, but at the same time I know that this is real. I can't even cry any more.
I think it's a sad smiley not a confused one isn't it?
How very brave you were and are, stars.
Good luck tomorrow, Doin - I'll be thinking of you.
Absolutely, it is a grieving process - a very drawn out one.
It looks like I might be out the other side with DS1. No violence, crime or other major aggro for over 6 months. Which is obviously very good.
But I am still not exactly reeling but very raw, and have been wondering whether I will ever entirely trust him again.
I am about to take the momentous step of leaving him alone for 3 nights while DS2 and I go away. I said 'no' initially, and explained how I didn't trust him because of everything that went on last year, but he said firstly "But that was last year. I was a dickhead last year" and then "How will you ever know whether you trust me if you don't give me a chance?" So I am. GULP
Oh imrunningoutoftime - your post was so sad. You must be absolutely beside yourself with worry. My heart really goes out to you. So sorry.
Flow, will follow these up, thanks.
Imrunning, your story is so sad.
I think you have run up against what many of us have - once our children turn 16 there is really very little we can do for them.
I think, in your case, that pretty much the only thing you can do is to be there for here when it all (inevitably) goes wrong . I do think calling Women's Aid is a good idea - they might be able to give you some advice.
Is she still registered with your GP? Is there any way they could call her back for a "check-up" and at least someone neutral might talk to her about the anti-depressants.
I also think it might be worth having a chat with the police. She may be 17 (almost 18), but it is worth your while to talk to them, to at least have it on record that you feel he is controlling her and that you are afraid it might escalate.
I also think you should keep her writing - it might be useful at some stage in the future for her to re-read if/when she starts to realise what he is up to.
I think you have to hold on to the fact that kids grow up. Vulnerable and troubled kids take much longer to grow up, though. But if we can hang in there and love them, maybe we will get the chance at some stage to pick up the pieces?
When ds was 14 I remember thinking that he would never survive to adulthood. But he did - he is now 19, and though still troubled I do see glimmers of light.
What are you doing for yourself in all this? Do you have friends to listen to you, things you enjoy doing? Because when she does come back, you want to make sure that you are as happy and healthy as you can be so that you are able to help her when she is willing to accept help.
(((((((((((((((hugs)))))))))))))))) to you both.
Thank you Maryz for your very wise & kind words - I have taken it all in and know it's true.
Although my first attempts at getting any interest at all from the police was futile, I did recently photocopy DD's writings which had dates (ie. a record that she was 17yo at the time) & spoke to the (PC) daughter of someone at work - we talked for about 2 hours and she was so helpful & she wrote it all down & passed it onto someone in the Child Protection unit of the police who is supposed to be looking further into it, eg checking his criminal record for paedophile connections, drug convictions, etc, but not heard anything back yet - possibly a good sign but ambivalent on this as a past record would make me feel that I am not over-reacting and just being an over-protective mum who can't let her child go (or as he tells her, that I am just jealous because I don't have a partner !).
Yes, I will definitely keep the original in a safe place as I feel it will be needed one way or another in future.
I do have some really great friends but always mindful that I do tend to go on once started - like a wound up coil!! My mind seems to be working at about 10x its normal pace these days - thinking of everything from every angle and the different actions I could take. Sorry everyone on here - my original was all a bit long and too much !! I will keep it short from now on - promise!
Maryz, I know you are right and maybe my best option is to just let her go - but still can't quite do it - but getting closer all the time. She does know deep down that I love her very very deeply.
I'mrunning I just read your story and I am sorry that you are so deeply worried for your daughter. Maryz is right. Try to look after yourself and let your daughter know how much you love her so when she does need you she knows that you will be there for her.
I Just had a call from a police officer that someone used our phone to phone a dealer who has been busted and is now in prison I have to take Ds 17 in for questioning tomorrow.
I know that his girlfriend who has been staying at our house has a dad who is in prison though I don't know what for... should I mention this to the police as maybe it's she who has been phoning him...or is it best to say nothing ? Of course it could have been my Ds looking to score.
On the one hand I don't want ds to get in trouble with the police or for ds to create trouble with his 'mates' by giving their names ... on the other hand I do want the police to scare the shit out of Ds.
Has anyone experience of this ... are they likely to have recorded a message or have they just checked the guy they've busted's phone for number's called.?
They are more likely just to be checking random numbers from his phone.
Let them give him a fright. But do mention the girlfriend as well, as in "there is more than one person who might have used our phone" not as in "I'm denying my son could possibly have rung him" iykwim.
imrunning - when I was at my worst I went for counselling and she told me that I should do two things. Firstly go for a walk every day. Secondly meet a friend once a week, and the job of that friend was just to listen to me (I understand the brain going at a million miles an hour). They weren't to try to solve my problems or offer help, just to listen to me
rant But there was a half hour limit on me talking about ds, then I was to stop and talk about something else.
I'm lucky with my friends, and it really worked - knowing I could talk, but also knowing there was a limit was important.
Also, I had to learn to stop myself thinking about it all the time. So when I was running through all the inevitable "what-ifs" I had to put a time limit on myself and say "ok, I will think about this for ten minutes, then I will put it out of my mind".
It took practice, but now I can stop myself anticipating all the awful possible futures and only think about him now when he is right in front of me.
School liaison lady was great. She broke it down into simple steps. DDs choices - behave and stay here. Misbehave and stay at her fathers. If DD goes for me , call police.
Unfortunately DD was at her fathers yesterday . I text and phoned him to confirm DD was staying with him . He would not reply. The police were at my house( just as a follow up from previous night) while I was trying to contact him. They said they'd pop round to him themselves to find out where DD was goin to be. He went mental ( after police had left his) and went for DD . Had her pinned against the wall, telling her no one loved her , hoped she'd end up homeless etc. he phoned me crying asking for my help ! But when DD text me saying he was being violent I called 999 and sent police round.
DD now back with me . The thing that had set him off was the fact that DD asked him to reply to me and the police going to his.
can i just ask a question re ; calling the police please ? i think its been said already but i cant find it and my brain doesnt work well anymore .
i called the police when ds2 was threatening to smash my face in and he threw me on the bed . i didnt get hurt , actually im not sure if he would actually do anything but i made the point and called 999.
i instantly felt terrible about it ( which i shouldnt have but panicked) and when they arrived ds2 had legged it . i told them i was sorry i had called , that i regretted it and about how ds2 has aspergers etc i told them them what had happened. they went on their way .
what i want to know is if this happens again and i call the police could ds2 be arrested ? what would they do ? would they take him away ? he is 14 .
In my experience the police have been fantastic. My DD was told that she could be arrested for assaulting me, but it was my decision whether to have her arrested . The police are very reluctant to arrest youngsters ( well they are in our area) but they told her in no uncertain terms that if she carries on then she will at some point get into serious trouble.
She doesn't know it but next week she is going to be taken to the police station and taken through the process of being arrested, how her DNA and finger prints would be taken and shown what it's like to be locked up in a cell. This has been arranged through the police officer that is connected to the school.
As your son is 14 then although he can be arrested, the police said that its at age 15 when things are taken much more seriously. I'm sure they'd take his AS into account as well.
These past two weeks I have called the police 5 times and not once have they been 'funny' about it. In fact they have been more use than SS.
I feel for you , it was an awful dilemma whether to have DDarrested or not. However, if she does assault me again then I will have her arrested.
The police have been extremely supportive to me over the years & still are even though DS is now 19 & not living at home or my responsibility. They liaise with me in a sensitive way.
Yup, another 'thumbs up' for the police here. On the three occasions I called 999 because DS was being violent, they have taken me seriously, and been professional and supportive. They were more use than any other agency, tbh (though that's not saying very much).
Thrifty, under the circumstances you describe, they won't arrest your DS and take him away unless you ask them to.
Does anyone know how to tell the difference between normal teenage stroppy behaviour and drug induced behaviour. DD is so so so moody I can't bear it. I know she's troubled etc but I have to live here too and I can't stand much ,ore of it.
Doin, I don't know, but I've learned that it really doesn't matter.
You would drive yourself crazy if you tried to understand exactly why a troubled teen does what he/she does. You just have to deal with the behaviour you are faced with at the time.
I have never managed to work out what of ds's behaviour was normal stroppiness, what was Asperger's, what was drugs, and what was an absolute determination to live down to his own expectations .
You have to learn to not notice the moodiness (if you pretend not to notice for long enough eventually you stop noticing so much).
I also found the police great when ds was 14/15. They were less useful as he got older, and the day he turned 18 was the day I stopped considering ringing them (unless he did something seriously wrong). Their attitude to young teens with caring parents is great ime. Their attitude to older teens with problems is less good.
Not really Doin. My DS was (is?) generally happy and stayed away from me/home when he had drugs, and angry, moody and aggressive when he'd run out or he didn't have enough money to buy more. The most obvious 'signs' for me were stealing, loss of control/inhibition, disengaging/dropping out of normal activities and some funny smells.
But really, it doesn't make any difference whether your DD's bad behaviour is drug-related or not, Doin. Whatever the cause(s), you have to find ways to cope.
Are you doing nice things for yourself regularly now? Have you got some counselling sorted?
Oh god. DD has split with her boyfriend. He won't speak to her and she's obviously bombarding him with texts. He's asked me to tell her to stop. Now she wants me to make him speak to her and is getting hysterical because there's nothing I can do. Ffs .
Doin, you MUST find a way to detach from this drama, or it will do your head in.
In a situation like this, you need to respond practically, and withdraw if she doesn't want your practical help. So for instance you can offer sympathy and a hug/cup of tea, but refuse to get drawn in. Support her to find her own solutions if you can.
Try saying something like "Oh dear, I can see how upset you are. Poor DD. Can I make you a cuppa? Do you know what you are going to do to make yourself feel better? Well, I'll be in my room/back around 9pm if you'd like me to help you work out what you need to do next".
If she shouts at you or is horrible to you in other ways, tell her "Please don't shout at me. I know you're upset, but it's not OK to dump on me/speak to me like that... You need to find better ways to deal with what you're feeling..."
If she can't stop shouting at you and making unreasonable demands, then walk away - go for a walk or something.
Your DD is creating drama, but at the moment you seem to be involving yourself in it much more than you need to. It is causing you almost unbearable stress.
I've said it before but I'll say it again... You need to detach and look after yourself.
Yes flow I can see what you're saying. She has sat here sobbing but won't let me near her so I've left her to get on with it. Her boyfriend sent me a text saying she's brought this on herself by dumping him and her friends. I believe him. I think she has narccistic (?) tendencies and I can't help her. I think she needs proper psychological help.
I said "I feel for you" and she said " it's all about you and how you feel "
To be honest, I think most teenagers have narcissistic tendencies. Seriously. It's something I noticed even before I had teenagers myself. If you think about it, when they (we) are children, they don't have a full sense of themselves as individuals - they have limited autonomy and often aren't fully separated from us as their parents. The teenage years are all about separating and developing an independent identity, and for some, that's really difficult. As they break away, I have seen many teenagers 'over-shoot' or 'swing too far' into extreme self-centredness, which looks to me very like temporary narcissism, before 'swinging back' (so to speak) to a more 'normal' sense of self.
The terrible thing is, while they're in that stage of total self-absorption, some of them hurt other people so much and do such awful things, that some of the damage is permanent... They make poor decisions thinking only about what they want in that instant and it takes years to get out of the mess they thereby create...
Anyway, well done for backing off. Don't get involved with texting the boyfriend. Keep detached.
And you still haven't answered my questions! I think I've asked a couple of times now...!
Are you doing nice things for yourself regularly now? Have you got some counselling sorted?
I do understand how hard it is to prioritise yourself - it took me months or even over a year before I realised how essential it is to look after myself... But the thing is Doin, if you don't spend any time and attention on yourself, but focus all your energy on DD, then you reinforce her belief that you are not important and she is.
Do you see what I mean? Totally self-absorbed teenagers already think the world revolves around them and their mums are irrelevant - so if you don't look after yourself, you are effectively (if unintentionally) agreeing with them!
You have hit the nail on the head * flow* re the damage that she is creating. However , I have seen this destructive behaviour in her from the age of about 6 and tried to get help for her then , but to no avail.
I now have a set up where a counsellor / child behaviour lady is coming to see me once a week. She's very no nonsense which is what I need. She stops me very time I say "but......". She comes to see just me and not DD.
The only nice thing I have been mentally able to do is have a shower and get dressed at the moment. I feel I am frozen and can't move. I did go and have a coffee with a friend yesterday which was a big step for me even to leave the house.
The dreaded face book and twitter aren't helping as girls are now posting vile things about DD on them.
The counsellor sounds good, Doin
The coffee with a friend sounds like a significant an achievement. You're really pretty badly depressed, aren't you.
I remember that feeling, when getting dressed was as much as I could manage... Everything is such hard work.
It's hard for people who haven't been there to understand this feeling of total powerlessness. But actually, I reckon quite a lot of the people on this thread will have experienced it at some point, because dealing with extremely challenging teenagers can make you feel totally powerless, and sometimes that feeling sort of spreads over into all other areas of your life... Until, exactly like you describe it, you feel like you're "frozen and can't move"...
In the end, I made myself do something nice, as if it was a duty - just like some people make themselves diet or go to jobs they don't like - and I did it every other day, then every day, until I started feeling better.
Coffee with a friend was good. But sometimes I couldn't face doing anything with anyone else, so I went for a walk or a swim.
It had a big impact on my ability to cope with DS1 quite quickly - within a few weeks, I'd say - so I'd really recommend it.
I didn't feel so panicky when things were bad. I found it easier to detach (which everyone here recommends but I found hard to do!). I found it became easier to do things to protect myself (if that makes sense) like walking away if he wanted an argument, and putting a lock on my door. It was as if, while I was badly depressed and not looking after myself, I would just sit there and take whatever abuse landed on me, being totally passive. But once I started doing nice things for myself it sort of 'broke the spell', and freed me to look after myself in other ways.
So please, Doin, do something else nice for yourself today or tomorrow. Break that spell! You can do it!
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