I think DD may be suffering from bipolar or is depressed

(96 Posts)
womanofthehouse Wed 24-Jul-13 14:11:07

DD is 15, she used to be a very smiley chatty girl, she still is in some aspects and is pretty popular amongst her peers, with multiple groups of friends.
However recently she has become very withdrawn and introverted, she also has violent mood swings, she'll go from happy to teary to throwing things across the room and screaming. She's having problems with her older brother (16) who bullies her, now my DS is a lot bigger than her and she gets thrown around quite a lot. He also verbally abuses her too. I've told him not to but obviously being a teenage boy he won't listen to me or my DH.
I've noticed she's been wearing long sleeves recently and I have reason to believe she's self harming, however I am unsure how to approach her on that matter.
She's recently been in trouble with school for smoking on site and I know she's smoked cannabis before, but I am unsure whether she has done it more times since then.
I can't talk to her about it because she won't say anything or she'll scream at me. I want the best for her I really do but I have no idea where to start.
Can anybody who has gone through this before please give me a hand? I just need her to open up.

flow4 Sun 28-Jul-13 16:28:34

How's it going, womanofthehouse?

DoctorAnge Sat 27-Jul-13 07:39:24

Wow what a great post from flow.

SirBoobAlot Fri 26-Jul-13 11:07:50

How did your talk go OP? I hope your daughter is okay.

Helpyourself Thu 25-Jul-13 10:15:02

Thank you Flow4

MadBusLady Thu 25-Jul-13 09:58:22

Very helpful and compassionate post, flow.

Hope it went ok last night, OP.

flow4 Thu 25-Jul-13 09:46:51

OP, I may have more sympathy for you than other posters, because I have also lived with a violent 16/17 yo DS, and had a younger sibling to protect as well as myself. I understand how the situation can worsen over months or even years in an odd, insidious, twisted way, so that you sort of slip into believing that appalling, abnormal, abusive, messed-up behaviour isn't really that bad. But it is. Really, your family situation is utterly awful.

As other posters have said, you talk as if your daughter is a problem, when in fact she has a problem. She is being badly abused in her own home, and her parents are failing to protect her. Of course she is disturbed.

You understand now that you must act, but I'm not sure that you are yet clear and confident about exactly what you must do. So I am offering you my benefit-of-hindsight advice here. You can get this situation back under control...

Here are the things you must do. Keep these in your head. They are all essential. If you fail at one, you will fail altogether.

1. Stop the violence. Protect your daughter.
2. Support your daughter to deal with the abuse she has been experiencing.
3. Support your son to learn to control himself.
4. Get support for yourself. This is hard and you need strength and help to make it happen.

1. Stop the violence. Protect your daughter.
Other people have said most of what needs saying. You must draw the line and tell your DC that there will be no more violence and you must call the police if there is. It took me months to reach this point, when my own DS was being violent towards me, so I understand how hard it is, and I understand that you don't want to do it, but (a) you have no other option and (b) it will work. I called 999 three times, and had my son arrested and charged on the 3rd. He has not been violent since. I know several other parents in this situation, and they have all found the same thing.
If by any chance your DS continues to be violent - and I really, really doubt it - then you will have to throw him out... Because although that will be awful for him (and you), it will be less awful than continuing to live with his violence.

2. Support your daughter to deal with the abuse she has been experiencing.
The first step is to act to stop the violence. You have absolutely no chance at all of supporting your DD in any other way if you do not do that, because until you do, for her you are part of the problem not part of the solution. Once she has seen you will protect her, after you have called 999, she may begin to accept other support from you, but it will take time - months or maybe years. Meanwhile you need to make sure she has support from someone else. Your first point of contact is your GP. Ask for a referral to counselling and CAMHS. Make absolutely certain she knows (and you may need help to understand this yourself) that you want to help her get support because she has had awful experiences, not because there is something 'wrong' with her. Family therapy may be useful too, but your DD needs support that is hers: at the moment you may have to accept that she has little reason to want to 'fix' the family and may prefer to leave it. cory's words - the apology and the promise - are the starting point for rebuilding your relationship with her. My younger son (who was not the main target of DS1's violence, though he was pushed, shouted at and stolen from) is still sometimes angry with me for failing to stop it earlier, a year after the last violence, and still wants a lock on his door to protect his things.

3. Support your son to learn to control himself
I understand how it feels impossible to control a boy-man who has grown bigger than you. It is impossible: that is why you need the police. He must learn to control himself, but until he does, you must call the police to control him, if - and every single time - he is violent. You should understand that calling the police to control him if he can't control himself is a responsible and loving thing to do. He may be frightened by his own loss of control - my DS1 was - and although he's likely to be angry in the short-term (my DS kept saying "I can't believe you called the police on your own son!"), he clearly needs someone to step in and may later be grateful. My son, a year on, sees me as having supported him through a period of him "being a shit".
Certainly, long term, we owe it to our sons to help them learn to have loving relationships, not abusive ones.
You need to talk to your son, probably almost constantly, about how he's behaving. The chances are his 'moral compass' has gone awry. You need to give him clear, consistent moral messages like "It's not ok to hurt people", "You need to control yourself now", "Stop, change what you're doing, that's not ok", and "It's great when you do the right thing!" Ask him questions, too, that make him think and take responsibility, like "What do you need to do now?", "How can you do the right thing here?"
Your DS would probably benefit from counselling but, like my son, he will probably refuse. It may help him (and you) to understand why his behaviour is abusive... But first the priority is to stop it.
If there are other factors you can see interfering with your son's ability to control himself - e.g. drugs including steroids, anger about something, being abused himself - then you may have other problems you need to deal with too.

4. Get support for yourself
You need more help, advice, strength, confidence and practical back-up than you have had. There isn't enough support for parents of teenagers, and it may be hard to find, but try to seek it out. Take it from anywhere and everywhere you can get it: your husband, family, friends, GP, schools, camhs, police, youthwork service, social services, anywhere. I know it is especially hard to ask for support when you feel that you have failed, but I can tell you from experience that it is a relief when you do, that it helps (usually), that you will find other people have had similar experiences, and that services will see it as a good thing that you recognise your limits and can ask for help.
Also look after yourself. You need to be strong to deal with all this. You also need to give your children - and especially your DD - a role model, and teach them that individuals deserve respect and care and joy in their lives.

Good luck.

Eyesunderarock Thu 25-Jul-13 09:16:24

You think she's bipolar? hmm
She's trapped and without any sort of backup or support, and looking at years ahead of her unchanging. What is she suppose to do to escape?
How can she?

Eyesunderarock Thu 25-Jul-13 09:13:46

'I've told him not to but obviously being a teenage boy he won't listen to me or my DH.'

Then that is the problem you should be working on.
My DS is a foot taller than me too, three times as strong even when he's not in meltdown. So I've had to work on strategies, and the relationship and discipline in other ways than yelling and screaming, which are completely ineffective. What sanctions are you using to prevent the abuse?
She won't open up to either of her parents if you are condoning her mistreatment. Does school/GP have a counselling service she could access?
Viking's post was harsh, and I agree with it.
You are both failing your daughter and allowing your son to be abusive.

cory Thu 25-Jul-13 09:06:54

Viking's last post is very harshly worded, but even if you know that this is not the truth, it may well be how it comes across to your dd. You need to recognise that and spend a lot of time building up her confidence in your love for you. Be prepared to be rebuffed and rejected again and again. Have endless patience.

Let her know that there is nothing in the world more important to you than her. Not (just) because you say so, but because you show it, because you let nothing in the world stand between her and safety.

summer111 Wed 24-Jul-13 22:46:53

Sirboobalot, I am not sure if your last post was in response to mine; if so, I think you have misinterpreted what I have said.
I didn't suggest that cutting is bad - however I do feel that the OP's daughter needs protected space to speak to a professional about what has been happening to her and to understand how this has impacted upon her self esteem leading her to self harm (if that is in fact what she is doing). Resolving the domestic situation will take time and giving the child space to discuss her feelings and how best cope with them is positive. A mental health professional will explain why cutting helps in the short term in relieving her symptoms and this is necessary but so too is offering alternatives, as she will be feeling rubbish about herself if she is self harming.

Helpyourself Wed 24-Jul-13 22:23:36

I hope it went well tonight OP.

Sheshelob Wed 24-Jul-13 21:24:52

I agree with SirBoob and Cory. This feels like something more sinister.

Your denial makes me feel desperately sad for your daughter. Protect her! Protect her. Who cares if he is bigger than you. You are the parent.

Fuck. I feel like crying. This is the worst thing I've ever read on here.

Viking1 Wed 24-Jul-13 21:03:20

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

DoctorAnge Wed 24-Jul-13 20:26:11

The poor girl " thrown around" by her brother shock sad
I really hope things improve OP.

SirBoobAlot Wed 24-Jul-13 19:55:15

I disagree about telling her to stop cutting right now. If that is her current coping strategy, it shouldn't be made to be something bad until the terrible situation she has been forced into has been resolved.

Suggesting safer alternatives, like ice or elastic bands, is worth doing further down the line, but right now she needs support with the way she is coping, not to be told that the way she is doing so is wrong.

summer111 Wed 24-Jul-13 19:53:07

To add, your daughter has not felt able to confide in either you or your husband and has not been able to rely on you to keep her safe. It will take a long time and not a few chats, to build up any close relationship with her again and for her to recover. Be very open to engaging in family therapy.
If your son doesn't make changes in his behaviour, he needs to be accommodated elsewhere as there is definitely a safeguarding risk both for you and your daughter.

summer111 Wed 24-Jul-13 19:43:35

Have your daughter referred to CAMHS. She needs to be able to speak to a psychologist whom she can trust and who will support her in managing her feelings. She also needs to learn how to deal with negative emotions ie by not resorting to cutting as her default coping strategy. I am suggesting this as a mental health clinician and am not in any way minimising the effects which the violence forced upon her has had. However life can be tough and your daughter needs to learn strategies to deal with difficult situations in the future. With all due respect to school counsellors, they do not have the skills to deal with complex problems such as your daughter's.
You also need to seek some therapy for your son, possibly some form of anger management.

cory Wed 24-Jul-13 19:27:49

"To be blunt, my immediate thought when you said she wanted a bolt on her door was that something more sinister was going on as well as the verbal and physical abuse she's suffering from him. "

I have to admit I was wondering about that as well.

SirBoobAlot Wed 24-Jul-13 17:47:46

Of course she's depressed; she's being abused, and you're just dismissing it as ''what teenage boys do'' when your son doesn't listen.

To be blunt, my immediate thought when you said she wanted a bolt on her door was that something more sinister was going on as well as the verbal and physical abuse she's suffering from him.

Please don't continue to think that just removing his xbox is sufficient punishment for this. I can't believe you're a teacher of all things, who must have done safe guarding training, and have allowed this to continue to happen.

Your poor DD.

mumblechum1 Wed 24-Jul-13 17:40:45

Glad you're taking it seriously OP, and I hope the situation improves very soon.

Twirlyhot Wed 24-Jul-13 17:34:20

Good luck.

cory Wed 24-Jul-13 17:18:45

Good luck!

mumat39 Wed 24-Jul-13 17:09:08

Good Luck OP. I hope you can reason with him. Hugs to you and your DD. xxx

MadBusLady Wed 24-Jul-13 17:00:27

Good luck, OP.

mumat39 Wed 24-Jul-13 16:57:59

Poor kid.

Even behind a locked door, she probably still feels really terrified. She must worry that he could break the door down if he's a 6'3 rugby player.

You mentioned that she might be self harming, do you worry that she could do herself some serious harm behind that locked door.

I really hope you find a solution soon.

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