Anxious teenage DD: is GP likely to be any help?

(31 Posts)
Lancelottie Mon 18-Apr-16 12:39:00

After years of being the little star who essentially brings herself up while half the family ploughs through anxiety and depression, poor old DD has predictably found it all a bit much.

She brought it up as a school problem at first - feeling anxious and socially awkward, being teased ('but nothing I can get them for, just... stuff'), feeling panicked about homework and GCSE choices - but I don't think it's just school, or even mainly school. For years she's been the stalwart, cake-making, (fairly) uncomplaining one who has changed plans and been understanding to her autistic brother and more recently a depressed and anxious father.

On talking to her, she says that she's always felt she couldn't ever admit to feeling 'down', as someone else in the family would always have bigger problems anyway, and she would just drag them down further (I know exactly what she means). Now she's said it, it's obvious that many of her 'headaches' and 'stomach aches' and so on are anxiety related.

Now she's started to talk, the floodgates have opened and the 'usual' cheery but slightly chaotic DD - the act she's been putting on, at least - just seems to have vanished. Instead she's in tears every day, and seems exhausted.

Apart from kicking myself heartily, and listening rather more, what can I do to help? Would a GP be able to point us in the right direction? And can anyone pass me a tissue?

Toomuchtea Mon 18-Apr-16 18:46:18

I didn't want to read and run - but firstly don't blame yourself. It sounds like you have a massive amount on your plate caring for your OH and your DS. <<hands whole box of tissues>>

You could certainly try the GP as a first port of call. What does your DD think about this? Have you talked about the process of starting to help her cope?

The GP will hopefully make a referral to CAMHS, but that could take a while to work through.

In the meantime, does her school know? She might well be very reluctant for them to know, but it is a huge help (at least if the school has decent welfare policies) if they do. My DD was very reluctant for school to know, but in the end after some frantic bargaining on my part, she agreed I could tell school, and they were a fantastic help. They can alert all staff about what's going on, and put into place strategies she can use if she feels unable to cope at school.

Actually telling you how she feels must have been a huge help.

Do you have anyone you can talk to? Because otherwise you are carrying three people's burdens, and that's a massive amount. Sorry - I don't mean that your family are burdens, and I'm not putting this well, but it sounds like you are the one holding everything up, and that is a hard place to be.

Toomuchtea Mon 18-Apr-16 18:49:24

And I forgot to mention - [http://www.youngminds.org.uk/ Young Minds] have a very good website. DD and I both found it had good stuff in it.

Toomuchtea Mon 18-Apr-16 18:50:05

Well that was a miserable failure. Young Minds

Lancelottie Mon 18-Apr-16 19:53:34

Thanks, toomuchtea (is there such a thing as too much tea??), I really appreciate that and we'll look at young minds tonight. I don't hold out too much hope fo camhs after they couldn't see her frantic, school refusing, selfharming brother a few years back.
School are aware, as she initially presented it as a school problem. I think she thought I'd find that easier to hear, poor kid. They are going to try to ease things a bit by at least sitting her near gentle hardworking types rather than using her as the buffer zone between the irritating ones.

Toomuchtea Tue 19-Apr-16 08:59:46

No, there is no such thing as too much tea - but as a dedicated tea drinker it's something people always give me so I have cupboards full of the stuff.

It's good that school are aware. DD had a card she could use when she needed time out and there were special rooms set aside in the school. Does the school have a counsellor? DD's had one and sixth formers who would help out too, but she always flatly refused to see them.

I don't know if your DD is on Tumblr, but DD stopped using it when she was particularly bad, as she said Tumblr was a very dark place to be.

And YY to CAMHS. Absolute lottery and it is tragic that you have to reach absolute rock bottom before you get helped.

flowers to you and your DD. I hope today is a better day.

Lancelottie Tue 19-Apr-16 11:19:16

Thanks! DD is adamant that the school counsellor is a grumpy woman who nobody would want to see even if feeling strong (but she may be exaggerating here). She's had a little look at YoungMinds before putting her head on the desk and bursting into tears again saying she can't decide on anything right now.

Somewhat to my surprise she's donned the warpaint, braided her hair and gone into school today. Bang on cue, her brother seems to be heading downhill into a darker spell again confused, but on the plus side, our dim and frequently missing cat has just reappeared, only slightly battered.

Toomuchtea Tue 19-Apr-16 12:16:26

Thank goodness the cat's reappeared. In my household animals are there to provide light relief and thankfully the dog is able to step in where our cat frequently fails.

At least DD knows now that Young Minds exists, and she might in her own time have a look at it.

I never actually met our school counsellor, but DD's picture of her was pretty much the same as your DD's. Perhaps they get them out of a catalogue.

Well done her for warpainting up and going in. It's the sort of thing that wrenches your heart, doesn't it, because you know how difficult it is for her, and indeed for you too who have to watch from the sidelines.

I'm really sorry to hear about your DS. Sending you positive vibes.

t875 Wed 20-Apr-16 14:14:19

I can vouch for tublr too. We have banned that. And blocked it.
Our daughter was looking at a website called proanna. Which is a website that encourages them to not eat!! These websites should be banned!!
We have also banned this but she has thankfully realised this doesn't help her to look at this.

Is she depressed OP?
Get her doing all she enjoys our daughter loves baking so she's bed. Doing a lot of that.
Young minds we're amazing though for me to talk too as well and their website was great too.
Are the school supportive? X

t875 Wed 20-Apr-16 14:20:32

Is she worried about anything? I would look over her computer and phone and see if any of her friends are going through anything or she's looking at anything.
Have a skirt over her social media.
Sorry to hear about ds. My god I feel for you. I can't imagine what it's like for you.
Well done your daughter being brave going in. Good for her.
Also positive accessories are good.
Cushions / canvases with positive quotes pictures of her with her friends on her wall. Her favorite pictures printed on a canvas. Pictures that make her laugh.
They lose their way I think after looking back with our dd but she is doing a lot better but it has been so hard to see her go through anxiety / panic attacks and at times depression. The school have been a massive support for us. But it did help me to talk to young minds too.
All the very best for you all x

Lancelottie Thu 21-Apr-16 09:51:00

Thanks for lots of good suggestions there t875. She's not a big one for social media but I'll have a check, as you never know. Baking is always a good plan and so is art!

t875 Thu 21-Apr-16 23:02:55

Keep us posted Lancelottie. All the very best to you. 😊 xx

Lancelottie Fri 22-Apr-16 17:26:41

Off to gp on Monday, and a funny film lined up for tonight.

Ticktacktock Fri 22-Apr-16 18:51:34

Young Minds have a parent section and a helpline as has been mentioned above. They offer a 50 minute phone call from a mental health expert. Dd has not contacted them, I have. I have spoken to a MH therapist this week regarding my dd and her anxiety and she was brilliant. She gave me some great tips and suggested underlying reasons may be playing a part, which I hadn't thought of.

Enjoy your evening.

t875 Fri 22-Apr-16 19:06:36

Same here tick tock. I found young minds fantastic. She really helped me to understand more about anxiety and how us being anxious could g hers up more. You want to be there to listen but we've learnt you can't fix or council all the time. Sometimes with her anxiety she would talk and talk so we've been trying to change the subject a bit more and get her out of her room.

Good luck l l with the drs Monday. Let us know how it goes x

t875 Fri 22-Apr-16 19:08:10

It's hard to not be anxious though when your worried about them. Our dd went through a very bad time. Doing well at the moment though * fingers crossed * x

Toomuchtea Mon 25-Apr-16 22:10:39

How did the GP go Lancelottie?

I hope you had a good weekend.

Lancelottie Mon 25-Apr-16 22:55:08

Oh thanks for asking - I'm quite touched to know that people are thinking of her. GP was v sympathetic, took her very seriously and has suggested contacting a local (free) children's counselling service who do drop-ins, so we'll try that ASAP. he'll see her again in a few weeks.

He asked what she did for fun. She couldn't think of anything. Eek. I'll add 'have fun' to the list.

Lancelottie Tue 26-Apr-16 08:43:07

Meant to say, t875, you were right on the money with the 'get her doing things she enjoys', but thinking back over the past year, she's gradually stopped doing so many things - all with different half-reasons but it's been a pattern building up. She's dropped her usual baking habit because she's a bit overweight; dropped drama because she was feeling self-conscious about being the oldest; stopped going swimming because she didn't want anyone to see her acne; decided against DofE because it clashed with music, then stopped playing her instrument because her brace hurt her teeth; stopped going into town with friends because of group dynamics...

I'd been trying to address each thing separately - how about we find a different drama group, get a high-neck swimming costume, cook something else, invite your friends round one at a time, swap days for music... but she's always had a reason why that wouldn't help, and I haven't pushed it enough.

I'm not sure which is cause and symptom any more but her life has sort of closed in to 'being at home and not complaining much about it'.

Toomuchtea Wed 27-Apr-16 10:53:51

I'm glad the GP took her seriously. I think it does help them when what's happening to them is acknowledged by someone else.

The activity thing is a really difficult one to tackle, and exactly what happened with my DD. It seems to be a progressive thing, with one more thing they don't do contributing to their feelings of negativity, and so on.

Has your DD seen her GP for acne? Mine was hugely reluctant to do this, and eventually we had to go down the roaccutane route, but she was unusual, and a lot of the antibiotic therapies can really help.

I don't think I have any magic bullets for what to do to encourage them, but if I tell you what I did with my DD, maybe there will be something in there that might help. I stopped trying to persuade her to do any of her activities for a few weeks and watched what she actually did. She did seem to like to watch cooking rather than actually do it, so I would watch the Food Channel with her, my theory being that that was something she liked doing that I could do with her without pressurising her. I cannot tell you how many wedding cake programmes I have seen.

She self harmed, and the doctor recommended she pinged elastic bands round her wrists. SHe said that worked for about a day, and then the sensation was boring and easy to ignore. She did like craft, so I bought her a crochet for the under tens book, and she did start doing that (she's considerably over 10, I should say!)

Physical activity was, and is, trickier. Eventually, I managed to persuade her to walk the dog just up and down the road.

I can't say that she's doing anywhere near the things that she was before it all struck, but she is now at the stage where she is making more decisions for herself and is self-starting some things, and making some decisions that would be downright brave for anyone, let alone someone with MH issues.

I found that reducing things down to the simplest possible start did the trick with some things (not all, but something was better than nothing), and that doing things with me was a help too. This raised whole other issues of over-dependence on me, and I have to say the whole time I felt was walking a tightrope of encouraging and not smothering.

I really do feel for you. Your DD is lucky to have you.

Lancelottie Wed 27-Apr-16 14:48:00

Thanks, Toomuchtea, that's really helpful advice. Gently does it, and I'll (Yes, we've seen the same GP previously for acne and he was equally sensitive and sympathetic then, which is why she agreed to go back to him - can I get him a pay rise?)

It doesn't help that DH was sympathetic and forbearing with her for about a week before he started saying that clearly the gentle approach wasn't working and we should be brisker with her before she got any worse. Yeah right, that really worked for you when you were at your most depressed, dear, didn't it? Oh wait...

(He means well, but I think the thought of a second child going through the mill has shaken him up, plus he sort of blames himself for not forcing her brother to stand on his own feet, get out more and DO stuff.)

Toomuchtea Wed 27-Apr-16 17:54:23

Yes - when you find a sympathetic GP you just want to give them medals, flowers, and general love. DD's university GP has been an absolute star. I've never met her, but she is way up there in my list of life heroes.

YY to DH. Mine has been severely depressed, but hasn't really engaged with either DC when it hit them. What you say about them blaming themselves chimed with me, as I think that's what my DH does, as some of the darker times did undoubtedly affect all of us. Do you think that if you are worried about your own MH that the thought of entering into someone else's pain worries you in case it triggers something in you? I sometimes wonder if that might be what is going on.

Lancelottie Wed 27-Apr-16 21:22:00

I think some of my post ate itself - not sure what the random 'and 'I'll' was going to be!

Dog walking is a good plan. Next door's dog is always up for a stroll (elderly neighbours can't do much with her except let her run round the garden).

Toomuchtea Thu 28-Apr-16 09:09:46

Dogs are excellent for depressed teenagers. Anyone depressed, in fact.

kjaugust05 Tue 03-May-16 19:25:05

We're having similar issues with our dd15 so I'm frantically reading everyone's responses and taking notes. Thank you. Dd has always been high achieving but a bit of a loner, three weeks ago I saw marks on her arm, she'd been self harming for nearly a months and I hadn't even noticed. 😢 Tried to get an appointment with the gp, three week wait for next available appointment, not even our own gp. The referral for camhs is eight weeks in our area. I ended up finding and paying for a counsellor who comes to our house every week and sees us as a family and dd on her own. It's mostly down to stress and pressure of her exams. I'm shell shocked because I think I've finally realised that this is something I can't fix for her, all I can do is be there to help and support her, try and take the pressure off her and just be there to make bacon sandwiches, pay the counsellors bills and listen when she talks. There's lots of good ideas here though that I'm going to try so thank you. And sorry for hijacking the thread. ☺️

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