I don't know what's happening to DD (13). Really worried.(57 Posts)
My DD who turned 13 in November seems to have suddenly changed into a very angry and aggressive child over the past 3 months. We are at our wit's end and don't know where to turn.
Bit of background - she started having joint and back pain last summer and had morning headaches and nausea. She had a full investigation from a hospital consultant (including brain and spine MRI). Bloods showed she'd had glandular fever in the past (not recently though) and that her thyroid function was 'borderline' and that she tested positive for an antibody that could eventually lead to hypothyroidism which would need treatment with thyroxine. She is due to have her thyroid levels checked again in April. She has also been diagnosed with Joint Hypermobility Syndrome and is under the care of a physio.
She seems to have had a personality transplant at an alarming rate - is either very quiet and withdrawn (obsessed with her Blackberry phone which I will go into later) or very, very angry, picking fights, throwing hurtful insults at me, answering back and has now ramped it up lately by trying to physically intimidate me when she doesn't get her own way. Then she twists it back saying I'm a horrible, disgrace of a mother and she hates me and that the family are 'all freaks that annoy her into being angry'.
She was on report at school last week for not doing any homework and messing around in class. Rather than punishments we've been trying to go down the consequence route (read lots of good advice on here about this), I've asked her if there's anything apart from feeling angry that she wants to talk about but she tells me to 'go away, not telling you anything' etc etc. She ignores me for several hours a day, completely blanking me. She sleeps a lot after school, feels freezing and hides under a duvet on the sofa.
She hides away on Facebook and her Blackberry - both things that I bitterly regret allowing her to have free reign with. She locks her phone so that I can't see anything; it was taken off her last night (following a warning) due to her aggression towards me, DD2 and DS. She threatened to trash my room, followed me round the house chanting insults at me, plunging me into darkness and then switching the light on and off, lots of 'give me my phone back NOW'. The phone has gone to work with DP (her step dad who has been in her life since she was 4). I don't want to give her it back.
She is also deliberately winding up DS, making him anxious - he has ASD of which she's well aware, but she appears to enjoy being cruel to him and knows which buttons to press. She tries to intimidate DD2, calls her names like 'smelly tramp' over and over again.
I feel sad typing this as it paints such a bad picture of her. She's gone from being a lovely person to be around to someone I'm scared of in many ways. Other times she will be nice, but it doesn't last for long.
Sorry this is long and rambling; there's so much all going on at once it's really hard to put in any sort of order or not miss bits out.
also the blackberry. Im guessing it is in an adults name? can you get it unlocked somehow to check it or even to put on some sort of program to check whats going on. I dont think invasion of privacy is a good thing but at this point - what exactly is she hiding?
I just want to say that everyone has to some degree a thing about eating and drinking in front of people. I remember reading that years back. As a teen I had a big thing about it. I was so shy and awkward I wouldnt talk to my family but strangers and school nurse was easier. I never uttered a word at school and didnt try to fit in because I got laughed at anyway. Your daughter is doing better than I did. There is hope and I know that from experience things can change for the better.
Very good point gardeningmama - it's definitely new territory and as a parent our first instinct is to protect and nurture, but I think some of it is about stepping back and looking at the bigger picture, when they start pushing the boundaries (like you I often question whether I'm being too strict).
I think it is sometimes worth pointing out to our dc that these situations are often new territory for us as mums/parents too and that we just need to take things slowly so that we can understand what is going on - so that everyone stays in control as it were and so that we can properly support them. So, this in reference to you keeping her phone off her for the time being for instance. I think it can be said to our dc without freaking them out and them thinking that we are out of our depth, so wording it the right way is necessary!
I had to take this approach with my ds15.7 recently as he has his first girlfriend and lives a 10 minute train ride away from her. He visited her after school, having agreed a return train time for me to pick him up, then I got the inevitable text asking if he could get the later one. It was a week day and he's doing his GCSE's so I had to say no, and after much objection from him I began to think I was being too strict. I later explained that I needed to get a handle on what I think the boundaries need to be, because it's new territory for me .... and he understood. Very different from your situation I know and not nearly as deeply emotionally loaded or layered, but I hope you see what I am saying.
Glad things have been a bit better and it sounds as though your dd has had some useful support at school.
Thanks mummytime. They've already met DS as part of his assessment for ASD and the nurse we saw knew then my brother from a previous job working in adult mental health. Such a small world
If she is going to CAHMS that is very good news. They have a lot of experience of lots of different issues and will be working with her holistically. They will probably want to meet everyone in your household at some point.
Thanks again for all the advice, very much appreciated. It's a relief to know others have or are going through similar, or lived with a sibling that's been like DD. I've felt alone and scared dealing with this so it's been an invaluable help reading the helpful and supportive responses to my ramblings!
Shagmundfreud I laughed when you said you said you thought you might have had a stroke and written my OP . The bit about the mood plummeting when asked about homework or to help out round the house stuck a chord with me, so, so familiar. I could have written your post as well, wonder of there's any offers on BOGOF deals for the Outer Hebrides?!
Things much calmer this evening - I asked DD if I could give her a hug when she came in from school, she said yes (didn't hug back but that's OK). She told me she'd spoken to the school nurse today and has been referred to CAMHS and is to keep a food diary for a week. I didn't ask any questions but said if she wanted to talk about the meeting, I was there to listen. She was really open with me, said she has an issue eating and drinking in front of people, and that as a result only has a wee once a day (surely this can't be good for her?!).
She was quite pleasant with DD2 and lovely to DS, randomly hugged him and said "I've got Joint Hypermobility Syndrome like you, you know". She'd told the nurse about the JHS today, part of me now wonders if as many of you have suggested, she's anxious about her body but by talking about it with the nurse, it's now 'out there' and real.
Having said all of this, she mentioned the phone again and I could see the anger bubbling, especially when I said she would have to show a marked and consistent improvement in her behaviour if she wanted a mobile phone again. "I'll just be awful until you're forced to give it back", my response being that would be a lose-lose situation and she knows what she has to do, it's not hard to grasp. So after that she's back to being mean to DD2 and then deliberately banging the mud off her trainers all over the hallway rather than going outside to do it.
Still felt like I was walking on eggshells though and although she's admitted the eating/drinking issue, I still feel that there's more to it than that, whether it be school anxieties and/or health problems (DP reminded me today that her calcium level was borderline as well as the thyroid). Hopefully now the school are involved things will come out in the open.
Just got to keep on keeping on with this, I suspect I'm in this for the long haul!
Hi, I wonder if she has anxiety about her own health issues and relating illness with her cousin who was really poorly and her gran who died? She could be extremely anxious about her own mortality? Also, her behaviour you described when she intimidated you following you around the house reminded me so much of my ds when he was about 10, and he was having a really bad time at school. He was usually at that time, a very good communicator but with this he just didn't have the emotional maturity or language, so he became very aggressive, extremely rude, disrespectful etc. One time I ended up chasing him around the kitchen table trying to get hold of him and then finally locking him out of the house !!!!! because he was bullying me and his little sister! I was desperate and totally at a loss as to what to do. All he was doing though was transferring what was happening to him at school, onto me.
I really hope you will be able to find someone who she will open up to and talk to. It really sounds as though she needs to be honest with someone about what is at the bottom of this. I think it is more than just hormones - powerful as they can be.
Flying - your dd and my 13 year old dd have so much in common that I read your post and panicked that I must have had a stroke, because I didn't remember writing it!
So many similarities - a brother with ASD who she's horrible to (calls him a 'fucking freak'). Another sibling who she says hideous things to (he's only 9 - she keeps commenting about the size of his willy, telling him he's got a tiny penis). The BB obsession. The blaming everything on me. Everything. Being in top sets but arguing with teacher, doing no work and being on report all the time. Physically intimidating me. Following me around the house shouting at me.
Yesterday I had a looong call from the school nurse saying that dd had told her she's suicidal. Not seen any sign of this at home. When she's at home she tends to be pretty cheerful and high spirited a lot of the time - if she has money and is allowed to do whatever she wants. Her mood plummets as soon as you ask her to do something she doesn't want to do - homework, help around the house. Or stopping her going out with friends etc. I feel bad saying that I think dd saying she feels suicidal is attention seeking, but that's my honest assessment based on what I see of her at home. I don't think she's got a clinical depression. I don't think she's anxious. I do think she's a furious adolescent riding a horrible hormonal tsunami, whose lifestyle and eating habits are damaging her mental health.
Re: eating - dd refuses to eat any meals I've cooked, unless I've got my recipes from a Take Away cookbook - here Otherwise she'll find money from somewhere and go and buy junk food. She won't eat breakfast, drinks energy drinks and coke, eats crisps all day. Her weight has ROCKETED since she started doing this. I think some of her problems and mood swings are down to really poor nutrition and this may be the case with your dd. I've started to buy dd vitamins especially for teenage girls, and she'll take them because they taste like sweets.
Christ, it's hard. Do you know what I'd like to do with my dd? Take her to a remote Scottish island where there's no phone signal, no internet, and where she'd be forced to exercise, eat decent food, be outside most of the day, and be BUSY. I reckon it would solve half of her problems. Time would solve the rest.
I have no experience of having a teenage child myself but my sister was horrendous from about 13 onwards and a lot of it was down to the loss of our mum when DSis was 4. I'm only projecting my own experience here but at 13 dSis had glandular fever and this seemed to trigger all sorts of horrific behaviour, including flashbacks to losing our mum. She couldn't deal with it at all and it came out as rage. Your story sound just so familiar.
You sound like a brilliant parent: I totally agree about the couples counselling for you and your DH as my dad and stepmum had no consensus on how to deal with DSis and it was terribly destructive for them.
I really feel for you and wish you all the best.
She needs IMHO to be on thyroxine now.
I'm lucky, my GP knows I function better taking slightly more than the text books say I need so prescribes more.
She will currently be feeling crap, tired but never able to get enough sleep, which on its own is enough to make anyone grumpy and then if she takes any pain killers they will not work properly because her metabolism is sluggish.
If you can get the GP to do a full set of blood tests it would be good. Full thyroid function plus iron, ferritin, folate, and vitamin B12. My teenager had borderline thyroid probs earlier in the year and many other probs - she was eventually found to be severely vitamin B12 deficient and also extremely low ferritin and vitamin D. She is now on regular B12 injections and supplementing iron and vitamin D and is back to her happy, sociable self. Deficiencies can cause character changes. Stick with her, to change so rapidly must mean there is an underlying problem and she needs your help. Good luck to you all x
I would second, really get someone to refer her to CAMHS. My local area send a DVD and leaflet which both emphasis you aren't "mental" because you were referred there. They deal with eating disorders among other issues.
amillion just to say that after your words about hugging her, I went back upstairs and asked her to 'budge over'.
I hugged her (she let me) and I told her that even if she hated me, I would love her forever and would always be there for her.
She didn't tell me to go away; she hugged me back (but reminded me she hated me and would never let me forget it) but I'm going to bed hopeful that she knows I will always love and support her, no matter what.
Thank you x
I tried that earlier and she hit me . She is now awake and denying this happened, saying that I am a liar and it never happened. Which makes me realise she is sad that she lashed out, knows she shouldn't have done it.
I will keep on loving her, it's all I can do x
Cuddle her, if she will let you, but no talking while you do it.
So much support and advice here, thank you all so much.
BiteTheTopsOffIceGems thank you for such a thoughtful and kind post. Hopefully my DD will think as highly of me as you do your mum now! x
njaw excellent advice, thank you. Will take a look at the link tonight. It really does help to know other parents have been through this. I've really been working hard at 'detach, detach, detach' and DP has been following this as well. Despite this, DD has said tonight that she would rather live on the streets than live with me. When I ask her to pinpoint what I've done that is so terrible, she can't name a thing, other than I'm 'nasty and taken her phone away' (has threatened to ring the police on me).
shybairns love your name, reminds me of a saying round here "shy bairns get nowt"! Can identify with everything that you've written; thank you x
amillionyears yes, she is very angry. As far as I know, she remembers little about her early years living with her dad. I do suspect she's freaking out about the joint issues (in that DS also has them to a much worse degree, he has been affected at a much younger age and I worry she sees his disabilities as now being a reflection on her own physical difficulties?).
She could very well be worried about her mental health - we've lost 2 family members to depression; she doesn't know too much about it, but knows the basics (my brother is badly brain damaged as a result of a suicide attempt and needs 24/7 care) and we lost granddad to suicide.
I feel so lost with it all.
You have had some good posts.
Other things I have been wondering about.
You say she is v v angry.
Do you think she is secretly worried that she thinks she "may turn out like her dad". ie hitting things, and hitting you?
That she feels very angry [whether health related or not], and it is freaking her out.
She may also be feeling very frightened about her physical health.
And may be frightened about her possible mental health as well?
OP thank goodness she has an intelligent, caring and loving mum to support her and get to the bottom of things. You're doing so well in the face of what must be such a worrying and stressful time.
I'm sure you tell her this plenty but for my two penith I would just keep telling her that it doesn't matter what she does or says you will always love her and that will never change.
She may appear to never listen and just throw it all back in your face, but she will mull over what you say.
I think a counsellor that specialises in teens should be saught. Some one to help her organise her thoughts.
Her behaviour is likely to be the result of a combination of things. Thyroid,hormones, anger at her body letting her down (bones/joint thing), peer pressure, and possible mental health problem.
Some teenagers feel this need self distruct. Sort of a rebelling thing gone wrong. I remember feeling like this as a teen and I remember a couple of friends that took it to extreme. Abusing their bodies with alcohol, drugs, self harm. I don't know where the self hate comes from. Most teens come out the other end before any real harm is done. Lack of confidence? self centerness? Depression brought on by surges in hormones?
Wish you all the best.
First of all, huge virtual hugs, you are where I was 4 months or so ago, so I can totally relate. Lost, confused, wondering where the hell your baby went.
Your DD has an identical boy twin who is upstairs from me right now, the number of points you've made where I nodded and thought "he did that too" is uncanny.
First of all, don't give up on the GP appointment - no matter how angry she is! Something is up and your first point of call will be a referral to TAMHS/CAMHS depending on how your local authority organise the mental health support. If the situation does start to spiral out of control with school, you'll have an easier time keeping them on your side whilst you help her through this if they know she's under CAMHS care. The mental health name tag doesn't help when you are trying to coax your DC to go see them!
Grab a copy of this fab book even if the advice doesn't work, the reassurance that you aren't alone will. Whilst you are with your GP, see if you can arrange some counselling for you and DH, cohesion in your marriage and some agreed points of view on her behaviour and how to handle it will be critical in the months to come as well.
At the moment, her anger towards you is creating a very understandable reaction. As early as you can, work on developing the mantra "detach, detach, detach". Her pressure valve is really faulty, as most teenagers are and the steam is coming out represented as hatred. It isn't really the case but she can't direct her anger, frustration and sadness in life in the way she will learn to as an adult. It's absolutely the hardest thing to do but when she's screaming at you, you must try and stay calm.
Assess your boundaries early and maybe relax some rules. It's not about giving in, it's about creating an environment where you are safe. If you keep to nothing else, violence towards you is entirely unacceptable. She can yell and scream and be as vicious as she likes but punching you can never be ok. We have got to the point where we aren't getting involved in the minutia elements of DS's school life such as missing homework etc. It breaks my heart as I'm so passionate about my DC's having the best education possible. However, he's so angry at the moment, we are concentrating on him not getting permanently excluded. We've had to let go to focus on that goal. So you'll need to decide what you can and can't accept at home whilst you do some repair work on her heart.
Hang on in there and post regularly, the MN'ers are a tower of strength! Also try popping over to the Support for mums of Troubled Teenagers thread started by Maryz. It's judgement free and they are angelic in their level of support.
I don't have any expert advice, I am sure lots of helpful people will be here helping you soon.
The only thing I can add is I was a lot like her when I was that age. You could be describing me then.
I (like your daughter) had a lovely family and a fantastic mum. I don't know how my parents didn't disown me or send me away!
However I changed, I have turned out ok and I am sure your daughter will.
If there is a more serious reason for her behaviour then just carry on doing what you are doing, being there for her.
You might not believe it but she loves you very much. Sometimes we take our anger out on the people we love the most.
Thanks for that flow4! When I initially researched her possible thyroid issues, I discovered that in the UK the cut-off point for treatment is much different to that of the USA, which made me wonder (as did the paed's 'come back in 6 months and we'll test again' attitude, as 6 months is a bloody long time!). Will definitely look into this. There is such a strong history of MH issues oin the family, in fact I suspect her comment about killing herself was actually an attempt to hurt me, knowing that suicide is something that has affected our family terribly
Thanks to you too, girliefriend - the reflecting idea is a good one. Her teacher said she'd be initiating a meeting with DD and the school nurse to begin with, as well as liaising with the teacher responsible for child welfare, so hopefully some sort of counselling will be offered. She's definitely not getting the phone back, she genuinely doesn't realise that her behaviour leads to consequences, it's always someone else's fault (mine, at the moment)
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