DD off the rails, desperately need advice & someone to talk to

(27 Posts)
AlexandraLeigh Tue 21-Jun-16 13:08:57

I did post a few days ago with unfortunately no responses but my situation is getting desperate.

My DD is the type of teenager who never really cared for socialisation. She'd stay home revising due to her irrational fear of failure and i'm fairly certain she had terrible social anxiety.

Anyhow, she finished her GCSE's on friday and left school earlier that day. She decided to get the confidence to go bowling with this really nice group of girls, one of which I knew the family of. She then told me they went to McDonald's (which is strange for her to do due to being an extremely strict Vegan). She didn't come home until extremely late and she wanted nothing to do with her family (again... Strange).

I then find out through her friend that they all went home at 3pm and that DD went with a group of people, mostly boys. When DD finally gets home I ask her about her day and she's honest (as I expect) and tells me she was with a huge groupd of guys because the girls went home. What did she do with them?

I then begin to get worried. Like seriously worried due to her new group of friends as that night DD sneaks out - for the first time ever. I haven't yet told her I know, should I punish her?

She was out all of saturday as well and obviously hasn't been eating at home; when I told her to come home for supper she ate a few bites and said she'd eat it later (I don't know if she did as I went to work). This time when she comes home she reeks of smoke and weed and admits that those she is with smoke but denies even trying some.

Am I losing her? I know she is under a lot of stress as a court case in October let her make the decision not to see her mother. And I know she is convinced she failed her GCSE's. Is this why she is off the rail? And why isn't she eating? I'm serious, she has lost sooo much weight.

And that's just one problem with her as she never sleeps and when she does you can hear her toss and turn. She drinks soo much coffee despite her heart problem. She's suddenly wearing make-up for the first time and caring about her appearance. She's crying over silly things like when the cat is annoying her (a cat she has had for 6 years). Mental illness runs in the family, I know that, her uncle has Antisocial Personality Disorder. But how can I tell if this needs treatment or is just a phase?

I'm so sorry this is so long but I just need help with her. Last year she was miserable and even attempted suicide and used to harm herself and in November there was the incident where she arrived late to her lesson by a whole hour and could'nt remember where she had been. My beautiful girl has had a terrible life, did I pressure her too hard to succeed? I just thought that's what she wanted. She is one step away from ruining her life, I really fear she might never come back from this.

I also want to know if she is on drugs... Should I ruin her trust and search her room? I'm pretty sure she has recently stolen money too. Please help me, i'm so desperate.

BoboChic Tue 21-Jun-16 13:13:36

She sounds very, very vulnerable.

OhNoNotMyBaby Tue 21-Jun-16 13:15:02

So she's a thief, an anorexic, a druggie, mentally ill, has a heart problem, has tried to commit suicide, has turned into a slut overnight, suffers from amnesia and refuses to see her mother (are you her father?).

I'm not buying this.

Cheeseaddicted Tue 21-Jun-16 13:19:23

What exactly are you not buying ohnonotmybaby? Sounds exactly how my niece was at 16.

AnotherPrickInTheWall Tue 21-Jun-16 13:20:59

I'm not buying a word of this either,

AlexandraLeigh Tue 21-Jun-16 13:22:21

No, i'm her Grandmother. I really wish this were a joke, but it isn't.

Her mother screwed us all over when she was younger and put both of her girls in danger, so I took them in. Her heart problem is not severe but if you're really sceptical it's called Mitral Valve Regurgitation. I highly doubt she suffered from Amnesia but rather that she decided she didn't want to say where she was. Her attempted suicide was in January of last year and i'm fairly certain it was an attention grab due to her younger sister being supported a lot more as her mother actually prefers the younger daughter.

As for her father, he has never met DD and has children with someone else. For you to make a mockery out of this situation is highly ignorant, this is so serious and i'm askig for help. I'm not asking that you 'buy this'.

AlexandraLeigh Tue 21-Jun-16 13:26:20

And I never did say she was a slut. Just that I wondered what her and them bous were up to. I also did not say she was on drugs but that i'm concerned she may be. And as for theif - she asked for a £20 but took a £50, not exactly a huge deal but definitely enouugh for me to worry about.

AnotherPrickInTheWall Tue 21-Jun-16 13:27:08

OP, I must apologise for my previous post; I have read your other posts now and I believe you.

Emochild Tue 21-Jun-16 13:29:00

You'd have to be a pretty desperate troll to post twice on the same issue ohno hmm

alexandra does your dd/dgd get any help in the form of counselling etc?

Depending on where you are there are charities that she can self refer to but she has to want to do it for herself

My dd masks control issues around food by being a strict vegan but hasn't lost tons of weight so that would be a red flag for me

Have you thought about making a GP appointment for yourself so you can talk things through? They will be able to signpost some support for both yourself and dd

Don't forget you need to be able to look after yourself to be able to look after someone else flowers

AlexandraLeigh Tue 21-Jun-16 13:39:25

AnotherPrickInTheWall No worries, I do understand how unlikely all of this sounds, believe me even her auntie (who happens to be extremely close to her) took a while to believe it all.

EmoChild thank you. Only on the occasions in the past where we have seeked help DD has acted totally normal for the meetings and they are always convinced there is nothing wrong. She did have a councellor at school who she was close with but I know for a fact that DD lied to her in order to seem okay.

I guess going to the gp again really does seem like my only option. I'll ask to extend the oppointment we have next week for DD's apparent allergies.

AlexandraLeigh Tue 21-Jun-16 13:41:39

She has been a vegan for almost a year now, and despite knowing she had food problems, she seemed okay up until recently. I honestly thought her decision to go vegan was helping her maintain a healthy weight.

mikesh909 Tue 21-Jun-16 13:58:58

Sounds like a very stressful situation for you, I'm sorry you didn't get responses to your first post.

I imagine that what I have to say will go against the MN grain but here goes anyway. Most of what you describe here is not so far removed from my perception of typical teenage experience. Pushing boundaries with curfews, prioritising time spent with friends over family, expanding ones social group potentially to include the opposite sex for the first time, a newfound interest in clothes or makeup, degrees of experimentation with alcohol, smoking or recreational drugs or being around those who do, apparent irrationality or over-emotional behaviour, changes in eating patterns... None of that is so very unusual.

I have never parented a teenager. My own teenager years were not so long ago that I don't remember them and my job involves working with teenagers now and my statements are based on those experiences. I imagine that as a parent, the things you describe, especially when taken together en masse, seem like a looming crisis. In most cases, they aren't. Rather, they represent a combination of the influence of hormones and the natural urge to exert independence making itself known.

Try not to get sucked into the dichotomy of 'good kids' who study, love their families and go on to have successful jobs and 'bad kids' who drink, take drugs, 'go off the rails' and ruin everything. The reality is most kids do most of those things, at some stage in their lives. It isn't a black and white divide. Try to have sensible conversations about those issues that don't involve scaremongering or exaggerated half truths on the dangers of drinking and drugs. There are many people who for many good reasons make lifestyle choices which include using those substances - legal and illegal - with no detriment to their happiness or success. I'm not saying you should advocate this to your DD necessarily. Just realise that going down the line of 'STAY AWAY!!!" at age 16 is unlikely to make any impact. She has probably already realised that drinking and smoking can be sociable, relaxing and fun.

Try to have a productive talk about her options re. education. GCSEs are not everything after all. And if she has not got the grades she was hoping for, that isn't the end of the line, there are still positive choices to be made. Research these and talk them through, without judgement. Above all, make sure she knows that good grades in her exams are not a condition for your love and support. The same applies re. the court case you mentioned.

I would look on her newfound interest in socialising positively. It sounds like she perhaps is starting to find people she feels comfortable around. Try to be open minded about these people! Make them genuinely welcome in your home. If she thinks you disapprove of these friends, you will never be given the chance to get to know them. That fact is unlikely to do anything but encourage her to deepen those friendships though. Until you have a concrete reason not to do so, be positive and open. Not knowing their families is not a concrete reason. Remember that it's normal for teenagers to establish their own social circle outside the one you have created for them and try to give her the freedom and privacy to do so. When I was your DD's age, my mother could have written a similar post about my new friendship group, whom she disapproved of vocally and regularly. 16 years on, those people remain my closest and most valued friends. Despite some phases that likely alarmed our respective parents over the years, we've all turned out ok. I hope the same happens for your DD.

Candlefairy101 Tue 21-Jun-16 14:26:56

I'm sorry to say this and I way be way off the mark...

But she's sounds how I was around my GCSE's boys and pills was my life and this happened all of a sudden, there was no build up.

Within a month I met some old friends that became my new group of friends, I drifted away from old group of friends. Started smoking then smoking weed then pills straight afterwards. My mum and dad tried so hard to stop me but I would just run and escape out the house.

I have no advice because nothing worked to stop me I just stopped it all 2 years later.

AlexandraLeigh Tue 21-Jun-16 14:54:44

So mikesh this could all just be normal teenage behaviour? I really hope so it's just, so suddenly? I mean i'm fine with not knowing these families but I don't understand how literally overnight she decided to ditch her friends and hang out with those who I know to have a bad reputation.. You know?

I have made it clear to her that there are other options regarding education etc if the gcse's arent how she expects. But she's suddenly got this "don't care" attitude that is completely unlike her.

Candlefairy this is exactly what i'm worried for. When I raised her mother, she was exactly the same.. This resulted in her mother being invloved in a huge incident that almost cost her life.

I feel well and truly screwed. (Sorry about the language)

mikesh909 Tue 21-Jun-16 15:29:50

Yes, it could be. Which is why I advocated non-judgement and open channels of communication. If you can achieve that, it is more likely that you'd know about it if / when something serious truly was happening. It's easier said than done though, as it seems like it might involve a reassessment on your part of your own beliefs and assumptions. If you want her to see things from your perspective and set your worries on points like her friendship group, exposure to substances, time spent outside the home at rest, you will need to show her that you're able to see those same issues from her perspective and recognise that, at 16, her perspective is a valid one. Think about your comments above ...those I know to have a bad reputation.

On the sudden change, like Candlefairy said, things change fast in the world of the teenager. Why would we expect otherwise? As adults, we've spent a lifetime learning who we are / what we believe in / the type of person we want to spend our time with etc etc. Most adults would not abandon those long (if subconsciously) thought out ideals on a whim. Teenagers are figuring that stuff out and don't have that same grounding. I see it as part of maturing, developing a sense of independence and your own identity.

As for the 'don't care' attitude, could this be self preservation? If you don't care about something, and you don't achieve it, you don't have to be disappointed, angry with yourself or embarrassed. She would hardly be alone in employing this strategy - I for one can recognise I have made use of it many times. It could also be the growing realisation that it's a hard time to be young. Stellar GCSEs are no longer the passport to a career-guaranteeing degree that they once were. Cut her a little slack. You can't, after all, make anyone care about anything. Keep talking about the options, maybe in a way that isn't framed as "You could do X or Y" but more like "This girl did it this way" / "Here's a story about someone who didn't chose the traditional route". Let her reach her own conclusions about what she might want to try.

mikesh909 Tue 21-Jun-16 15:33:06

and flowers. It can't be easy. Even if it doesn't seem like it right now, you're doing a good job and nothing is ruined.

corythatwas Tue 21-Jun-16 18:37:26

I would do a slight variation of mikesh's post and say that while I totally agree about the dangers of dividing teens into "good" and "going off the rails", some of the things you say about your dd suggest that she is feeling quite frail. The not remembering where she had been could simply be the result of a panic attack: dd once freaked out on the London underground and lost an hour, nearly missed the last train home.

In any case, mikesh's advice about open communications is spot on imho. Be somebody she can always talk to, try not to show open disapproval of her friends, try to appear non-shockable (this doesn't mean you have to approve of everything, just that nothing is too scary to tell you).

AlexandraLeigh Wed 22-Jun-16 08:45:11

Thank you everyone so much. Yesterday, I kind of suggested she stay home for the evening (though I let her go to the cinema with some girls from school) and she was fine with it.

She told me how she doesn'g feel like she fits in anywhere. See we are quite low down on a social and economic status and live in a council home etc. DD tells me that, around here, people like her in that sense are out smoking weed and it's just not her. She said, although she feels like she fits in, other people don't see her fitting in and push her away. I'm very proud of hoe honest she is being though unfortunately doubt that she hasn't smoked weed or even something worse.

I'm considering another doctor appointment despite knowing how much DD will be disappointed as she seems to hate the doctors. But I have to know why the weight is coming off; DD denies it a lot pushing me to believe I might be dealing with an eating disorder. This Could be why she doesn't come home as nobody can force her to eat elsewhere. Not fo say i'm forcing her but i'm being that slight push I suppose.

DD also told me how she can't stand not being at school. She says it's making her feel crazy as "education has always been the centre of my life and now I have almost three months off". DD also claims that if she ever felt anxious or as though she messed up at school she always had someone to go to. Unfortunately that means she doesn't know how to talk to me, I understand as I am never going to be her "mother" and we don't have a close bond. I do wonder how I can keep her active in terms of learningn and education as everywhere I have seen is extremely expensive. But for the most part ai understand her problem at the moment ( at least through what she has told me) as having no clue what to do with herself.

Again, with the weight loss, havingn done some research it can be as a means of having control which is actually very much like DD. I also come to remember that her recently discovered kearning difficulty has really upset her due to her wanting to be the highest in her classes - all she wants to be is intelligent. I mean she is extremely intelligent but it seems that in writing she struggles to get her grade B's, hence i'll probably be posting again on results day when her almost inevitable meltdown happens.

All in all I think she is okay for now. I am terrified about another suicide attempt/ possible attention seeking behaviour happening so I will have to watch her discreetly for a while.

As for inviting people around, it isn't an option for DD as she struggles with letting people into her home especially as it's very clearly council property. I have however told her that she is free to go to other people's homes as long as I know where they are and as long as she does not sleep over any boy's homes.

I an sorry about these long responses. I just feel that it's an extremely complicated matter with a lot of possible solutions or causes etc.

Again, thank you everyone x

taptonaria27 Wed 22-Jun-16 08:54:15

She sounds like you have a great, open relationship as she has opened up to you a lot and been very articulate about her feelings and fears. I think the long break with no school is daunting her, could she do some voluntary work to see her through these long months?
Lots of animal charities need volunteers or charity shops, I think there is a voluntary advisory service of some sort.
That way she'd have structure and schedule and probably make new friends too.

corythatwas Wed 22-Jun-16 10:27:20

I was going to suggest something similar to taptonaria about volunteering.

Can totally understand how 3 months of nothing to do seems terrifying to somebody like your dd. But there must be things out there which are affordable and which she could do. Is there a local museum or similar which might be looking for volunteers? Or would she consider looking for a job to save up for some educational experience?

As to the future, does she know that universities these days are very keen, and often very well resourced, to support various learning difficulties? I frequently see dyslexic postgraduate students at my Russell Group university; we are set up to accommodate them. Also, that less than perfect grades at GCSE need not be a problem: there are ways around.

AlexandraLeigh Wed 22-Jun-16 13:17:59

I'm trying to give a slight nudge for her to do things but she seems terrified. Don't get mre wrong DD loves change, but she doesn't love new social interactions... Volunteering could just throw her off the shelf enough for a complete meltdown, same goes for work.

I have been in contact with her school councellor today and she believes that DD will eventually need to deal with her feelings regarding her parents. That DD hides away how she feels like an "orphan" half of the time which does suggest to me that in the future things are going to get harder. I just have to remember to face it then, and not to worry now.

Thank you everyone for the advice as I now have a clear path/s to take. DD stayed home today due to being soo tired and I think a full evaluation will be in place at the doctors regarding everything from physical health to her disturbed sleeping and mental health and we'll eventually solve everything.

So are universities normally well equiped? The school she went to didn't help us get her diagnosed but gave her extra time, I guess we'll also have to jump over that hurdle sooner or later. Thank youuuu x

corythatwas Wed 22-Jun-16 16:47:43

Certainly I would say my own university is well equipped: we have a special dyslexia centre, but also each subject has a pastoral support officer whose job it is to coordinate support, and each student has their own personal tutor they can approach at any time. Special arrangements can easily be made for exams and/or for note-taking if this is a problem.

corythatwas Wed 22-Jun-16 17:01:21

Quite a few things you mention about your granddaughter remind me of dd who suffers from anxiety (and has in fact been on medication for several years). The extreme tiredness can be a symptom of anxiety/depression, as can the blackout you mentioned earlier. Also the fear of change. And the tendency to freeze or bury her head in the sand about problems. Also the reluctance to let other people into her safe place. And the catastrophizing- thinking that everything is over if she does not manage to produce x at this specific moment in time.

We have been working on a combination of medication and CBT (initially supervised by CAHMS) and this has worked well enough to get dd through her A-levels, into fulltime employment and re-applying for Higher Education (very competitive area, so quite normal to have to re-apply).

One thing that has helped us is being able to talk openly about the fact that dd is suffering from anxiety, making it clear that we take it seriously but are not overwhelmed by it, and that we are convinced that this is something she can learn to deal with. In dd's case, the anxiety is linked to a genetic condition, so will very likely be part of who she is through life- CAHMS were quite upfront about that- but there are various techniques that can make it manageable.

Want2bSupermum Wed 22-Jun-16 17:02:44

I don't have teenagers but I remember being one. Keep listening.

It sounds like she has low self esteem. There will be plenty of kids who have grown up in council houses who don't smoke weed. There are plenty of people who want to do as well as they can academically. In every group in society you will find a few people who are similiar to you. Also with GCSE results I would start talking to her now about her aspirations academically and career wise. Gather information with her so she can make an informed decision on what direction to take whatever the outcome.

Back off on the weight loss unless she is officially underweight. I would be going to the GP to ask for her to have therapy regarding her relationship with her parents. That really needs to be addressed.

My friend has two teens now. She hugs them every single day and tells them she loves them purple hair et al. She said taking that 5mins to tell them how cherished they are has greatly improved their self confidence. I know it sounds cheesy but it worked for her.

AlexandraLeigh Wed 22-Jun-16 21:01:25

I really can't stress how much I appreciate everyone's help, just thank you so much.

I'd say she is probably underweight but could be very close. I know a few months ago she was 120lbs (know this due to her breaking her jaw) and she is 5ft 6 which is totally normal, but she looks extremely different right now which could just be natural.

She does honestly believe that A's and B's are the only way for her as she wishes to be a lawyer or journalist of some sort. She is sooo intelligent and articulate and all I want is for her to be able to confidently project that.

We are seeing the GP tomorrow and hopefully we'll have more understanding on how to continue.

As for the cherishing etc I do try but my girls push away as I suppose it's not the same as it would be if I were there mother. Im going to try spending more time with them and actually take time to learn who they are rather than just assuming. Hopefully and eventually we'll get there in the end.

I really am thankful everyone smile

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