15 year old dd with anxiety(18 Posts)
My 15(nearly 16) year old daughter has been unable to attend school since the age of 13 due to severe anxiety due in part to bullying. In that time I have had virtually no help from the school, any help we have had was instigated by me.
She has been referred to camhs 3 times and each time been discharged. Initially they refused to work with her as they told me they don't do home visits and she refused to leave the house. She was then referred again but discharged as they didn't think she was depressed. I asked the GP to make another referral which she did. They worked with her for a while and were supposed to be trying gradual exposure taking her out for a short walk one day per week building up to 3 days. It was decided on those days that she would walk up to the school to sit in an inclusion base and do some work for an hour.
She found this really difficult but managed to push through her anxiety to do it. However I feel that she kept up her side of the deal but was failed by camhs and the school. The walks were never increased from 1 day to 3 and she no longer leaves the house. She refuses to go out with me and she has put on weight from being inactive for a long period of time. I'm not allowed to look at her and if she walks into a room I have to look away before she can walk past me. She refuses to have any natural light in the house and if I open the blinds she closes them again. She has barely seen anyone in over 2 years other than myself and her younger sister.
On the one day per week that she managed to get to school with the Camhs worker there was often no work set out for her to do or they forgot she was coming, couldn't find a key etc. She was left standing about for half an hour at a time with her anxiety levels increasing while they looked for a key or some work to give her. Camhs then discharged her again as they said their involvement was hindering matters and the school would be forced to help her if they weren't involved.
I then asked for a meeting at the school and outlined all of my concerns. I was assured that a timetable would be put in place and that she would be given one to one tuition with available subject teachers in an inclusion base. I was told that they would educate her to the level needed to sit her exams. Again, they failed her. I received a phone call the day before she was to go back to inform me that the head teacher wasn't happy with the proposal and had put a stop to it as she couldn't spare the teaching staff.
Within the first 6 months of her being absent from school I tried to move her to a different (and better) school but they gave her a months trial of 2 hours per day to help her to settle. It didn't work out as she was having panic attacks and refused to go after the first week. I then contacted the interrupted learners service at the education department. I had a few meetings with them and they liaised with the school but nothing came of it and I've had no contact with them since and any attempt at contacting them has proved futile.
I contacting the education department again in December and was told that they can now offer me help from the 16 plus team as her birthday is coming up. They are supposed to meet up with her, discuss her options and take her for college visits etc. I'm hoping that this will be a turning point but I've already had 2 cancelled appointments due to the worker being in a meeting and having a migraine.
My daughter is in receipt of dla and I get carer's allowance now for her due to the severity of her anxiety and the impact it has on our day to day lives.
The only person who has consistently helped my daughter is the school nurse. She had taken over walking my daughter up to the school one day per week ( a waste of time as they weren't providing her with an education) but she has now disappeared off the face of the earth and I have no way of contacting her. I'm reluctant to contact the school again myself as they have obviously washed their hands off my daughter and don't want to help. They don't seem bothered that she hasn't attended her usual one day per week as arranged and I doubt they'll actually have noticed that she isn't there as I don't think her attendance was marked in a register.They don't usually return my phone calls anyway so it just seems pointless. The situation is now making me depressed.
Apologies for the rambling post but does anyone have any advice on what I should do next/ points of contact etc? I have contacted a counselling service today. I intend to write to the head of education services and my local mp but I'm not totally sure what I can hope to achieve from that.
My younger daughter is now at the age my daughter was when she stopped attending school and it's just opened my eyes to how bad the situation is and I can't believe it's been allowed to go on for so long. I was refused social work help as my children are not neglected and I don't have addiction issues.
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Sorry for that bit added on at the bottom there. I have posted for advice on a couple of sites and managed to copy and paste that in!
It's the anxiety that needs to be managed - keep going back to the GP. Have mental health services suggested strategies, is she on medication? Sometimes a bit of tough love is needed she has her whole life ahead of her. WHen you say not allowed to look at her what on earth do you mean?
It sounds really tough but I agree a little with the previous poster. Perhaps you've done the wrong things with the right intentions. Not looking at her? Letting her stay inside all the time?
Yes anxiety is tough, but colluding with it only emphasises the world is a scary place to be avoided. The only way forward is by little achievements to build on each time and challenging the fear by doing it anyway and then you have disproven the anxiety...
GP for referral to psychiatric services and possibly CBT could be a next step? Or an educational psychologist? Definitely education services have let you and her down enormously but I can't believe it has gone on so long...
God all this sounds horrendous, both for your DD and for you. No advice, but hoping someone will be able to help you and as it does seem that she has been let down by school and medical professionals.
What a difficult situation for all your family. Has your dd been prescribed any medication to ease her anxiety?
Your poor daughter. It sounds like an awful situation for both of you. I second other posters saying that counselling and possibly medication would help. Other than that, as this has been going on for so long she likely has incredibly low self-esteem, which is where the 'don't look at me' and such probably stems from.
I wouldn't advise 'tough love.' She doesn't sound strong enough for that, and she needs to feel as if you and she are on the same side. In my opinion, it's important to recognise that for her, anxiety does make the world a terrifying place. It's completely irrational, yes, and in the long term you want to change this, but it's important to start from where she is and not where you'd like her to be or where a 'normal' young woman her age would be.
School isn't for everyone. You could try talking to her about what she'd like to achieve, in a way that lets her take the lead (so no 'you should' or 'you must' statements if you can help it.) If she hasn't got GCSEs, could she work towards Maths and English using an online or distance learning course - perhaps in conjunction with something more vocational if she's interested in it? If she has any craft skills or is business-minded, could she do a little bit of Ebay selling? Not as a full-time job, but as something to boost her confidence that she can do without leaving the house. If she's having difficulty leaving the house at all, enrolling on a full-time college course is only setting her up for more failure.
Obviously, it'd be better if she could go out! But this really needs baby steps - to the end of the front garden, to the end of the street/local shop, and building up gently. If her appearance or people seeing her is causing anxiety, she could wear a big coat, or leave her hair loose and hanging in her face a little - another temporary solution, but confidence really can't be built overnight. If she likes make-up, that's another way of presenting a persona to the world that isn't necessarily 'her.' I wouldn't comment on her weight to her, though - yes, it's obvious that if she was more active she'd be slimmer, but the anxious/depressed brain will interpret this as 'you're saying it's my own fault I'm fat, because I'm too anxious to go out and exercise - another reason to feel bad about myself' rather than seeing it as a well-meant suggestion or neutral comment.
What has she been doing at home? Whatever it is, you could talk about the transferable skills and good qualities she's developed from it - and there are some, even if she's been spending all her time reading or playing video games. Someone who feels anxious and as if she can't even go out doesn't need to be told again where she's gone wrong in life - she already knows.
Sorry for the lengthy post, and obviously not all my suggestions may be relevant to your circumstances, but I was highly anxious and out of school for long periods myself at that age, so I know what worked for me and what didn't. Seeing a psychologist was really, really beneficial for me, but only in adulthood - before that I was treated like a child and the therapy was focused on trying to get me back into school rather than addressing any of the deeper psychological issues causing my anxiety. As a result, I didn't trust my therapist very much. The other thing that helped me was volunteering - I got to prove to myself that I could be competent and help other people, and the organisation appreciated that I was giving my time. For me, it was a necessary step on the way to paid work. (I chose to do this, though - someone telling me that I had to would have led to panic and withdrawal).
I eventually held down a full-time job for more than 5 years, then left it to go to university - better late than never! So don't lose hope for your daughter. These things can get better, even if they're incredibly frustrating to live with at the time.
The school nurse has done cbt with her in the past to no avail. She lacks motivation to help herself but camhs refused to accept that she was depressed until last year. She was offered medication for depression last year but after reading the side effects didn't want to take it. She's overweight and is scared that they might cause further weigh gain. I did manage to get her out every day for a month at the beginning of last year and she lost a stone but quickly became depressed and put it back on again and refused to leave the house. I can't physically force her out the door. She takes her frustration out on me and tells me she hates me and can't face leaving the house with me. I would really need to have someone else come and take her out each day.
She breaks down sometimes because she is intelligent and feels she's wasted her life. She's upset because she no longer has friends and has no contact now with my family.
I also look after my dad and need to spend time with him on a daily basis as he's blind and has dementia so it's a bit of a juggling act with various appointments.
Excellent post, Life. Well done you.
I'm at home at the moment with an anxious 15 dc.
You have been let down by CAMHS and school and everyone really.
I'm not sure what to advise, as we have been accessing a psychologist privately for the last year. We also go into CAMHS every quarter or so and may try another medication run soon. The last type really didn't work for us.
Baby steps are the best, no pressure, routine with no surprises, sleep, basic exercise (even indoors) etc.
Are there any forums that she can join online to find others in her situation?
Sorry to hear about your ddad as well....((. ))
I have a family member who has similar issues so I feel for you and your DD, OP
I have no solution for the anxiety or depression. My only advice would be to keep plugging away with the GP/CAMHS. And get engaged with the 16+ team.
Is she still on the school roll? Or have you been talked into "home education"?
What does she do all day? Does she get up and get dressed? Can you get an excercise bike or a rowing machine she could use for a few minutes each day if she won't go out? A bit of exercise makes everyone feel better. Can she access online learning courses? Khan Academy, or MOOCs if she prefers. Could she teach herself guitar or recorder from youtube? Does she have a pet? Sometimes looking after something else can help. What I am thinking about is step by step approach to achieving something/anything.
What/how does she eat? Does she make food for herself or do you feed her?. Are you in a position to menu plan/introduce a healthy eating campaign?
I think the problem with young people in this position is that they loose hope and cannot see a future for themselves. The 16+ team may be able to help with accessing FE but IME unless the underlying problems are addressed this does not always lead to a way out. The Prince's Trust has activites targetting this group - but this may be too much for her if she will not leave the house.
Do contact your MP. The way in which young people with mental health problems are abandoned by the system is a national scandal.
I had agoraphobia and at one point I did not leave the house for 7 weeks.
The only thing that will cure it is gradual exposure but it really does need to be supported with medication (combo of anti depressants and beta blockers) and CBT.
It is too severe for you to manage on your own. You need to get her to a GP or have a house visit and she has GOT to take the pills. Non optional.
Then it is baby steps to increase time spent out of the house.
PS by gradual exposure I mean open the curtains one day, stand in front of the window the next, stand in the hallway with the door open the next, stand on the doorstep, walk down drive etc. Very gradual.
Thanks for the advice everyone and so pleased that you've come through it Life. I think you're right that tough love doesn't help her, it causes her to withdraw. At least just now she is able to talk to me about her feelings.
She still gets up and washed very day although there was a period (about 6 months) last year when she was getting washed but wearing the same leggings and t-shirt all day and for bed. It was a struggle to get her to put them in the washing machine such was her attachment to them! She talks about that now with disgust.
She really loves her make up and skincare and has a huge collection of it although she would only wear it if she had an appointment or was forced to go up to the school with the nurse. I bought an exercise bike, mini trampoline and treadmill for her to use in the house. She started off well and used it every day but it's just taking up space now and I'm trying to get her motivated to use them again. I go to the gym myself but can't persuade her to come with me.
I have just bought her a guitar and she's teaching herself to play using you tube tutorials. It's nice to see her take an interest in something.
We have a house full of pets so she does help with cage cleaning etc but does have her days when she's in a depressed state and just won't move off the couch. She usually sits on her phone looking at various tutorials/reviews etc. She doesn't use social media, she deleted her accounts a few months after she stopped going to school and has no contact with any of her old friends.
Last year I started teaching her how to cook a little more but she has no motivation to put it in to practice and if I go out during the day without leaving food prepared she would rather starve than make herself something! I don't cook high fat food in the house but I have given in too much to her demands for fizzy drinks and for a while we were eating too many takeaways due to her fussy eating. I'm addressing that and trying to get back to healthier habits.
The counselling service returned my call today. She now has an appointment for next week, it's only taken 2 years!
you poor things
this org helped dd with anxiety etc
you've both been let down so badly by people who are meant to help you; hope you both get some support soon
Thank you Julia. I'm feeling a bit more positive about it all now. I just feel that over the past 2 years I've had periods of being quite productive, keeping the ball rolling and pushing for help then periods of frustration verging on depression when I don't seem to be getting anywhere. I feel like I'm hitting my head off a brick wall with the whole situation but I need to do something to help her now before it's too late.
She is still on the school roll because initially I didn't have the confidence in my ability to homeschool at secondary level. Given that she has now had no education whatsoever in over 2 years I think I've made a mistake. We have gone over work together in the past and she's done some online work but quickly loses motivation. I would like to get her private tuition but because of her anxiety it's difficult and she's now embarrassed at her level of education and the fact that she needs additional help. She was always at the top level in all subjects so feels like a failure now. When I asked the school for help in the first few months of her absence they told me she was working at the top level anyway so not to worry too much. They told me they didn't have the funding to provide home tuition.
Dear nippy, You guys have really had a tough couple of years and I really hope things improve. I know your DD has tried CBT but perhaps she can give it another go as it really helped someone close to me. Also have you heard of interhigh, someone on another thread posted it and it is a school completely online. The only problem is that it is not free but it may be worth a look. Good luck x
Thanks Trying, I did look at Interhigh last year as an option but will take another look. She knows what she wants to do at college but it's getting her there that will prove difficult.
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