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It has all gone so wrong and I don't know what to do (sorry long)

(29 Posts)
bowbear Sat 03-Jan-15 23:21:33

I am at my wits end with DD(14) We have had 18 months of hell with her and I feel like I have lost all control over her behaviour. Communication between her and the rest of the family is virtually non existent. So much has happened ....overtime she has become withdrawn, uncommunicative, angry - smashed holes in and written on her bedroom walls, slashed her bed. She immerses herself in a world of fantasy/anime and spends most of her time alone. At home she is deliberately antagonistic, her behaviour is very erratic, albeit in a conscious way in that she will do something and then laugh and look for a reaction. She has friends at school but rarely chooses to socialise.

She has no respect for anything or anyone. She is a very bright girl but emotionally very immature. She has been seeing a counsellor for around 3 months and she has opened up about somethings but, with the exception of a brief period before christmas, we really aren't seeing any improvement. She has had a camhs referral and they have suggested testing for ASD (12m wait!) I am unsure whether to go ahead with this - the private counsellor does not think she would be classed as ASD and I am worried about labeling her necessarily.

I can't persuade her to join in any family outings or to even come and walk the dog with me. I am so worried about her emotional state, we are on eggshells around her. I find her behaviour really upsetting and unacceptable but the fall out from disciplining her is so unpredictable that I back down. She genuinely doesn't seem to care how her actions affect the rest of the family - she just laughs if I get upset or will coldly say I can see you are upset and then walk away. I can't believe the situation we are in and just don't know how to get things back on track. I love daughter so much and miss her desperately.

So grateful for any advice x

Anjelica27 Sat 03-Jan-15 23:35:35

Couldn't read and not reply. Going through a terrible time with my own ds and I know how your heart must be breaking. Like you I miss him so much. This really helped, knowing there was someone out there to listen. Sorry I can't offer any real advice but wanted you to know I'm thinking of you and sending hugs x

Tmrgl Sat 03-Jan-15 23:48:16

It's all about boundaries. It's your job to enforce them.
I've had to explain to one of mine that if they didn't accept my authority in my house then for everybody's sake they would have to live elsewhere.
Hardest thing ever - I think my extreme and evident grief helped my DC realise that I loved them so much but still would draw a line - because they needed it and so did the rest of the family.
A couple of years on we are out the other side.

anthropology Sun 04-Jan-15 00:06:55

so sorry things are so hard. Although she may not be diagnosed with ASD, the information you would get from tests like a WISC4 test will give you some indication of her strengths and vulnerabilities in terms of memory etc and might help get the right (or more )support . she probably doesnt understand why she is behaving this way and may need intense and longer term therapeutic support to change . You can get tests privately, they cost about £500 though (in London with someone like Katherine Kindersley) . Having pieces of paper and reports in my experience, helps with school support or alternative help via the LEA, and to fight for Camhs support and helps illustrate what types of things they find stressful. Your counsellor is probably right as I increasingly feel, its very hard to diagnose when each individual exhibits different symptoms but the more understanding you can get as to her behaviour, I think, the better . . Have they offered family therapy to you ? Its a real shock when your wonderful child behaves so differently, but I suspect she is probably as scared and stressed as you are but doesnt have the tools to communicate this . If she has ASD traits, she might struggle and misread emotions in others. My advice as a parent would be to be calm, consistent , clear and logical when dealing with any outbursts etc, and try not to let her see how you are affected. you might think of getting some CBT therapy for yourself via your GP. I found this very helpful in venting frustration and understanding how to communicate. Please don't lose hope. My DD also tried to push us away and became clinically depressed at this time. In retrospect I realised my emotional response, scared her even more, but we are very close and she is much better now....

HarrietSchulenberg Sun 04-Jan-15 00:15:26

I'm afraid I have no advice to offer but reading your post was like looking at my own child, except my 14 year old is a boy. We're in the process of a second camhs referral following an horrendous Christmas bupt I don't hold out much hope as last time they didn't help much.

Guiltypleasures001 Sun 04-Jan-15 00:23:02

Hi op

I would cut off all Internet access, take phone and all other electrical equipment. Ide even take her bedroom door off to be honest, she is tantruming like a toddler to treat her as such.

Also I wonder if you could write to the counsellor and ask her to address some of her more over the top behaviour.
She needs boundaries so much so this behaviour is telling you that believe it or not, I wonder also if there is even a way to be in one of her therapy sessions? With her agreement you can do this.

bowbear Sun 04-Jan-15 00:30:50

Thank you so much for your replies - so sorry to hear that you are also having a terrible time angelica, it is just heartbreaking isn't it sad

Tmrgl - I understand what you are saying about enforcing boundaries but to be honest I think if i said she had to abide by the rules or live elsewhere she would probably walk out the door.

Anthropology thank you for your words of wisdom. I know that calm, clear and consistent is crucial and that is something I'm struggling with as I feel so emotionally overwhelmed by the situation. It's so hard to imagine the situation ever getting better. I will look into GP therapy for myself, we are paying for DD support and just can't afford for me to go privately too. I have been to one session with DD (at her request) but family therapy is just not an option at the moment as the counselor has said DD is not ready for that yet. A big issue is DH (Step Dad to DD). DD has a major problem with him - not as a person but that he and subsequently DS are part of our family. Hopefully one day we will all be able to sit and talk it through together.

I will look at private ASD assessment. The idea of waiting a year for CAMHS is just not practical and after the initial assessment I have little faith in the support they will offer.

Heyho111 Sun 04-Jan-15 06:20:38

I'm sorry this is do hard.
Please don't rule out investigating ASD. ASD can show itself a little differently in girls. She won't get a diagnosis unless they are 100% sure. A diagnosis would help you and her understand why she struggles and you can access help.
Girls with ASD can appear social but struggle with it. They can become absorbed in a special interest ( a band, fantasty world etc) and become obsessed with it. Appear to understand others emotions but not empathis with them. Refuse to conform , follow house rules.
It is a specialist area to diagnos very high functioning girls with ASD. It would be beyond a councellor to see the signs. No disrespect to the councellor intended.
I'm sending you a hug.

bowbear Sun 04-Jan-15 10:39:15

Harriet I'm sorry you are going through this too, it is soul destroying and there is never a moment in the day when the worry goes away. I hope you find some help for your DS.

I can understand the idea of taking everything away to address the bad behaviour but it would be like pouring petrol on a fire and I don't know how we would deal with the inevitable explosion. She is so emotionally unstable.

She does seem to understand/recognise emotions but shows little evidence of feeling them, she very rarely shows empathy and behaves in a very superior way - she really does think that we are complete idiots most of the time.I will look into private ASD assessment and see what is available near us. I just want her to be happy and for our family life to go back to the normal ups and downs. I am genuinely scared of what she is going to do next. This morning the front door wasn't shut properly so it looks like she went out during the night while we were all asleep. I can't watch her 24 hours a day but I feel like I need to.

Onestep15 Sun 04-Jan-15 13:01:15

Hi I have name changed for this. Not sure whether I can be much help but we have had an extremely difficult 18 months with my teenage dd and I just wanted to post because I have found it very comforting during that time to see I am not alone by lurking on this thread. I do not want to tempt fate but feel things are improving and although I am sure we are not out of the woods, especially with the stress of Gcses looming, just wanted to share what I think has helped.
It has been such a shocking time and has completely shaken my confidence in my parenting and certainly taken away any smugness I may have had in the past! I do not want to put too many details, but like you I have been treading on eggshells and dd has had the most terrifying rages and treated everyone with utter contempt and rudeness at times. For a long time I was so scared of upsetting any fragile peace after the episodes of really bad behaviour that I tended not to talk to her about it for fear of sparking another episode. However, I suddenly realised that I was accepting behaviour from her that I would not accept from anyone else and that it was having a bad effect on the whole family, also that she was succeeding in pushing me away because I was beginning to feel I didn't like her, when of course I completely loved her but was so frightened of what was happening to her. I suddenly saw that she was really just a very frightened and stressed child who was crying out for attention and proof that she was loved. In fact like an overgrown toddler. I think tmrgl is absolutely right in that they are crying out for boundaries, but in my experience, it is a delicate balance to implement them as if they are too harsh they can escalate things .
In the end, I waited until she was calm after an episode and I explained I loved her very much but could not accept that behaviour in our home. I no longer try to reason with her when she was angry, but would try and talk to her afterwards, even if she did end up leaving the room. In the end I found that bribery seemed to be the most helpful in turning things around as she was always asking me to buy/do things, so I would pick once request and said i would do that once she had, for example, managed to go x days without swearing at anyone in the family. Although she was very scornful at first about this tactic, It seemed to help start turning the behaviour round and I haven't had to do this for a while. I have also tried to make sure I show her I love her and acknowledge any good behaviour etc (but trying to make sure it cannot be perceived as patronising!). Also to try to always be available when she does want to talk, though this can be hard sometimes, and to take any worries and opinions seriously, not to try to make light of them. Finally I realised how important it is to make her realise I am on her side - I know that sounds obvious, but I think for a while I had not been showing this enough as I had fallen into a rut of criticising her behaviour and how she treated others, eg friends as well as family.
Sorry this is very long and rambling, but just wanted you to know your are not alone and hopefully things will improve soon.

TheFirstOfHerName Sun 04-Jan-15 13:07:04

I feel for you, OP, that sounds emotionally exhausting.

We had a difficult 18 months with DS1 but it turned out that 80% of the problem was his mental health problems. Once those were addressed, things improved. We are now in the process of helping him to catch up with all the GCSE syllabus content he missed when ill or at frequent CAMHS appointments.

I hope things get easier for you soon.

Cocolepew Sun 04-Jan-15 13:17:00

Im sorry to hear you are having such a terrible time. My own DD had a breakdown aged 11, when she got to 14 I put her on St Johns Wort for her anxiety. I do believe hormones can play a small part on teenage behaviour, she, also takes a multi vit for women and magnesium.
My own DD had a great therapist, CAHMS were useless.
I hope you come through the other side soon. Hugs.

Cocolepew Sun 04-Jan-15 13:22:16

sorry I didn't mean that to sound like I though CAHMS was rubbish, just ours!

bowbear Sun 04-Jan-15 14:33:42

Thank you for your comments Onestep - I'm sorry to hear that you are also going through this. It is so upsetting how so many of our teenagers are just not coping. You hit the nail on the head when you refer to confidence in parenting skills - at the moment I have absolutely none, something which is really scaring me.

I have little leverage when it comes to bribery - she rarely asks for anything, no interest in clothes/make up, going out. All I have been trying to do is spend time with her one on one (without interrogating or criticizing) in the hope of re connecting with her. On the rare occasion that she does want to go out I'm so relieved that she is interacting and doing 'normal' teen stuff that the last thing I want to do is prevent this. The only thing that would really impact her is taking away the internet and the fall out is unbelievable and I have lost my nerve with regard to using this measure again at the moment.

I hope things are improving for your DD Coco, I will look into St John's Wort and vitamins. Despite all her bravado I know my DD is suffering terribly and I will do anything I can to help. It's just hard not to get frustrated because her behaviour seems so deliberate and calculated - I have to remind myself that perhaps it is not always within her control.

Bunbaker Sun 04-Jan-15 14:40:06

"I've had to explain to one of mine that if they didn't accept my authority in my house then for everybody's sake they would have to live elsewhere."

How would you carry this through? We don't live anywhere near other family members and other than sending DD to boarding school, which we can't afford there aren't any other options.

Onestep15 Sun 04-Jan-15 14:51:17

Bow bear, I have found that rather than taking away the internet completely, limiting access to it is a powerful tool. So maybe you could use the number of hours the wifi is available as a bargaining chip? We have done that and I now turn it off at night routinely as a general 'we all need some time off the internet, me included' thing. It seems to me the less time dd is on it the better her mood is. I think she used to be on it most of the night and I worried that she was visiting websites that promoted self harm, eating disorders etc.

Onestep15 Sun 04-Jan-15 14:54:44

Ps I agree with coco re using vitamin supplements too

Cocolepew Sun 04-Jan-15 16:27:53

Yes shes been great thank you, happily settled into her new 6th form.

St Johns Wort will say only for over 18s but there is no harm in giving it to anyone younger.

bowbear Sun 04-Jan-15 19:25:34

Onestep that is a really good suggestion - and i'd probably benefit from a little less screen time too, I might go to bed at a sensible time! She's actually been in quite a good mood this afternoon so will try to broach it with her this eve. Would be great to get her into good sleep patterns again she's been almost nocturnal over the holidays - and I've had little sleep wondering what she's about to do next. We do have internet filters on but I'm not entirely confident that it is sufficient -would love to be a little more tech savvy!

summer68 Sun 04-Jan-15 23:14:00

Bowbear, you've clearly had some good advice from mns here. I personally have found mn the best therapy and had the most sensible advice. I just wanted to add that you sound like a very caring parent, and You appear to be doing your best ( don't beat yourself up as you can't do more than your best) I've learnt that there isn't a magic parenting strategy to deal with teen problems. I too have had to almost give up on any kind of boundary setting as my ds threatens to leave if he doesn't get his way. But we show him love and forgiveness ( and he walks all over us!) all the time. It is a phase ( I'm told) and almost like a mental illness - so it's up to us to care for them through this horrendous time.
You'll find just enough strength to cope. X

bowbear Mon 05-Jan-15 07:02:29

Thank you Summer, I think that's what is so hard - all we do is love and support her but she just doesn't seem to notice or care. I am so grateful for for the comments that everyone has taken the time to make, it really has lifted my spirits.

Anjelica27 Mon 05-Jan-15 21:49:11

So sorry this is happening to you. Until you read all these posts you don't realise how many dc are suffering. Like you all I can do is let ds know how much I love him even though he is shutting me out at the moment, it's like walking on eggshells, frightened to say anything remotely confrontational in case it triggers something awful. Be strong - Doctor told ds he would get better and we have to believe that. Thinking of you and sending a hug x

bowbear Mon 05-Jan-15 22:47:37

Thanks Anjelica, big hugs to you too. That's definitely a positive that the doctor believes your son can work through this and something to help you keep the faith It is incredibly hard feeling so helpless all we can do is keep the communication open and make sure they know we love them. We just have to keep going don't we. x

PeterSpots Mon 05-Jan-15 23:15:08

As a mum whose heart is breaking too I think how lucky are children are that we care. Big hugs to all mums who find they are struggling in this situation x

chocoluvva Tue 06-Jan-15 11:05:16

Re vitamins - give her a good quality multi-vitamin and mineral for women for 'women of child-bearing age'. One with b vits, chromium, vitamin d, magnesium, essential fatty acids etc.

Some of what you say about your DD sounds like normal - though no less difficult to be around - teenage behaviour. I think most parents are shocked by the changes in their first child. They're usually difficult to live with at least sometimes.

I'd also agree with pursuing the referral for ASD testing. IMO (not an expert - but quite a lot of experience of ASD) it is extremely underdiagnosed in girls. Even if she did get a 'label', as you say it might not help your DD, but it might help you/close relatives/teachers. And gives you the option of using the 'special needs card' at a later date eg at uni.

IMO the advice to not let her know that her behaviour upsets you, though very difficult, to take as you know, is important too. Most teenage girls like a bit of unhelpful drama.

Can you pretend to take an interest in her fantasy/anime stuff? I say this because anything that opens a path for talking with her is obviously useful, but also demonstrates that you value her choices and respect her interests as having value. ( I say this because recently I've been struck by the way the mum of three boys (one of whom is my DD's BF) is openly supportive of their interest in dreadful music and their unusual tastes in clothes and hairstyle. Thing is they are becoming very nice young men who pursue their own thing and seem to be developing a wide range of interests so she's obviously doing something right). -- DD's BF used to be the stereotypical apparently sullen, sometimes cheeky, apparently always anti-nearly everything teenager with long hair over his face-- Now he's very pleasant. Apolgies if this advice is irrelevant to you.

Also, (not something I managed much with my own DD) but exercise is so good for improving mood and creating feelings of well-being.... So much easier to say than do of course.

Finally, FWIW and I hope this doesn't sound either patronising or pie-in-the-sky, but it might be that communication with your DD will come if you encourage it through round about behaviours. Asking her about her fantasy/anime is one way, also giving her low-key brief compliments for anything you spot - being a good eater, having nice hands, being kind to friends/animals, not being a slave to fashion/anything relevant; to make her feel valued just for being her. She might not appear to notice/believe you/like it but it will help. Apologies if you are openly loving and encouraging and don't need this advice.

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