I have turned into a neurotic mum help!(21 Posts)
DD 15 has had a whirlwind two years. I have always been quite a laid back mum but now I feel like I'm living on my nerves.
DD had a really hard time last year, friendship issues spilling into cyber bullying and general bitchiness, it really got her down and she had a period of severe anxiety, school avoidance etc. These school issues have now been resolved bbuuuutttttt
She is very sensitive and moody and I think due to previous issues I panic if she doesn't seem cheerful (which is fairly often!!). I am permanently panicking about her wellbeing and I get so upset on her behalf when she is not invited to something that all her friends have planned or when I sense issues between her group. (Which is fairly often at this hormonal age!!). I think as she gets so anxious I have begun to get anxious at the prospect of something triggering her anxiety, which is a pretty unhealthy cycle. I have become almost to desperate to make things right to the point this week I thought every weekend for as long as I can remember I am entertaining her friends and she never goes to theirs (she likes being home!). I suspect her anxiety puts stresses on her friendships as it seems they have to always come to her and she is almost unwilling to make plans or stick to plans. This sounds awful but I think her anxiety triggers others as she is every so negative and is always asking people "Have they said anything about me" over and over again. So here we are stuck in a bit of a cycle of me trying to make sure DD's life is as smooth as possible but I feel I need to step back a bit and stop advising her so she can move forward and preferably leave the house occasionally!! I have become such a "fixer" I get endless calls and texts all day every day with DD needing advice on what to say to so and so or let me know what she hasn't been invited to. It is just all so miserable and I really feel for her being a teenager is a bit shit sometimes.
On the other hand I have created a slight monster in that the demands are HUGE and they are continuous, I think she knows I want her happiness overall so if I say no she uses her anxiety to guilt trip me. "Oh well now you've said no (to having a house full all weekend, or a designer handbag) I will be sitting alone in my room/socially outcast for not having the bag whilst everyone's having fun". I don't think she sees me as human and has grown a very selfish attitude she doesn't ever help or ask how I am. In fact if I have something going on she really plays up eg I had an interview for promotion, she knew, she didn't wish me luck but instead threw a major wobbler refused school and sent me about 100 messages ! I have noticed she is beginning to treat her friends like crap to and is very bossy and grumpy. I pull her up on this and she says "Well I was nice before look what happened". Any ideas on how I can move forward causing the least amount of distress possible?! She point blank refuses any outside help, I have tried countless times.
I am a Dad and don't have any daughters (two sons) so can't really comment on mother daughter relationship.
One thing is clear, you are a very caring and kind mother which I guess your daughter knows and she can wrap you round her little finger.
I have read many comments on here as I am having problems to but it does seem to me that you are laying everything on a plate for her, Life isn t that easy and you "trying to fix" everything for her might not be the best for her in the long run
I think sometimes although it is hard , you do need to allow your daughter to make mistakes and hopefully she will see her mistake and learn to solve it.
I am sure some mothers with daughter on here will soon offer more advice but I hope things improve for you soon
Thank you for replying. You are right, I think I am so frightened DD will have an episode as bad as last year. She was physically ill with it and very paranoid and in desperation not to get back to that I am trying to make things as smooth running as possible and she knows it. Sadly teenagers are not generally smooth running so I can't pre predict everything and stop it affecting DD. She needs to learn to manage her anxiety but is reluctant to accept help.
I went through most of your situation with my DD who's now 17. As far as I know she didn't have any bullying issues at school, but went through 18 months of anxiety, school avoidance, isolating herself, etc. Her mood swings were terrible, and then she'd be a sobbing wreck. She targeted most of her venom towards me, but I was always the one she called/ texted when she needed someone.
I'm a fixer too; I just want my kids to be happy; I also have a history of anxiety! I'm sure a lot of my family and friends are thinking, "she's indulging her", she's overprotective," "DD's nearly an adult", etc; whilst all I think is "you don't know her like I do", "she's young and vulnerable and needs protecting!"
But... now she's a little older I have loosened my reins, learned (slowly) to ignore and detach from strops and demands, and let her make her own mistakes. She goes to a Chinese therapy clinic once a month for massage, acupuncture, tapping, etc to relieve anxiety, which has helped massively. It's £40 a session but worth every penny! She's also been referred, through GP, for CBT and AS assessment (that'll take months to get an appt!!)
She drives me mad; she's lazy, messy, unreliable, self-absorbed and often grumpy, which is fairly normal behaviour for teens, but I can see a chink of light, now that I've backed off a little, and she's beginning to shine as an individual!
DD has been referred for assessments with CAMHS many times but she just refuses to engage and they say unless DD is willing to agree to treatment there is not much they can do. DD drives me mad and my patience is beginning to wear very thin/to none. She has been off school "ill" this week. Ill being an excuse to hang round all day harassing me with lists of things she wants/needs and won't be seen out again without it. She is fixated with things being wrong with her appearance that only she can notice but if I spend all my money on XYZ it will "fix" the issue (for about 10 minutes!). Whilst I am generally sympathetic I am so worn down I feel like screaming "How the heck will you deal with it if you ever have a bigger knockback" as they are all hair/makeup related! I have suffered with anxiety in the past and whilst I really feel for DD she is so self absorbed it is incredibly frustrating.
Oh I know where you are coming from with this one. I too was a laid back parent now I am very anxious I think I make my dd worst rather than being any help!! When she tells me something bad which has happened I feel my stomach lurch. I sometimes think I should be the one seeing the counsellor!!
I know that feeling well but then we are feeding the anxiety. Its hard not to worry all the crap that happens at this age!
I'm seeing myself in your description too Mandy. Two things helped me. This video www.ted.com/talks/sarah_jayne_blakemore_the_mysterious_workings_of_the_adolescent_brain?language=en
which helped me realise that to some extent teens are very selfish and can't see other people's points of view - they can't entirely help it as their brains are not fully developed. Also, when DD wouldn't agree to CAMHS I arranged counselling for myself and made it clear that even if she felt she didn't need help I felt I did. She did engage with CAMHS in the end but only after a horrendous time that we're still not completely out of.
Thank you. I shall have a look. Glad your DD is engaging a bit more now and things are a bit better. it is like walking on eggshells all the time. Did you feel your life became consumed?! I find this part more consuming than toddlers . Can't seem to socialise without shit hitting the fan.
She is doing this to some extent because you are letting her get away with the idea that she is the centre of the universe and nobody else and nothing else matters except her and her insecurities.
Next time you have an appointment, even if it's at the hairdresser, tell her you are putting your phone o silent or turning it off, and then do that. Or even if you just want to go out for a walk on your own, do it and tell her you and your phone are not available to her. She needs reminding that other people have separate lives and a legitimate interest in pursuing them.
Try to train yourself to take a few hours without being available to her on a weekly basis. Start small. Go for a walk, and let her know you are not going to answer your phone.
If she calls/texts you looking for advice, gently place the ball back in her court - 'What solutions do you have in mind to this problem DD, and which one are you leaning towards?' tells her to sort things out herself while at the same time gliding over the fact that you are not engaging. It also shows her you assume she is capable of sorting things out herself. You can tell her if she panics that you are sure a smart girl like her will come up with a good plan -- 'mwah, mwah, see you later, and you can tell me how it all worked out'.
You need to develop a benign facial expression, a good earnest nod, a sympathetic forward lean, and verbal defences against getting sucked in and feeding the drama. You should always express your confidence that she can work this out when situations arise with her peers. You can say 'I hear you, DD. How about a nice hot cuppa?' and then zip it and resist the urge to be the seventh cavalry marching in to save the day. As long as you are a crutch for her she won't engage with CAMHS. You can suggest tactics such as journalling, painting, collage making or poetry for her to 'get in touch with her emotions'; you have to make it clear that she can no longer dump on you.
Math has it spot on. You need to switch your phone off or on silent and stop giving in to emotional blackmail.
Excellent advice from mathanxiety.
It isn't clear but you sound like a single mum with one child so all rather intense. If you have got a DP then you could really step back more and go away for a break. Are there any grandparents where she could stay while you have a bit of a break, recharge your batteries - I think it would help to distance yourself before you step back in with new tactics and resolve.
Wow Mathsanxiety great advice thank you. I know I need to do it for my own MH. I am indeed a single mum and she is an only child. We have very little support DP left 3 years ago and there has been no one since, DD doesn't see her dad or his side of the family (long story!), my family aren't very children friendly (they just get majorly annoyed with DD ends in a massive argument and we see them rarely) even many of my friends have vanished over the last couple of years . So its quite a lonely experience really.
DD seems to be living in a little bubble where she gets away with behaviour that drives even her mother up the wall, and that is not a good thing. Her friends are not succeeding in rubbing the corners off her to any great extent either. It is good for teens to be told they are annoying -- maybe try to get in contact with your family and encourage contact? Not long term stays to begin with if she really annoys them, as that is a big ask for relatives. How do the arguments develop? Who argues, and what is argued about?
One thing you could consider is a programme like DofE or some sort of volunteering like Habitat for Humanity, or homework helping/summer activities with some children's club (look for opportunities online) where she could get out of her isolated little hall of mirrors life and engage with purpose-driven other people who wouldn't care if she chipped a nail and are interested in what they are there for (i.e the welfare of other people who are far less advantaged than themselves) and not friendship politics. Or just a plain old sports club where she would have to develop some resilience and a sense of being a team member. The aim would be to get swept up in something bigger than herself.
If she isn't interested in any of that, I would really push her to join a martial arts programme. This can be a life-enhancing activity for girls on many levels.
I teach a piece of coursework where we use an episode of educating Essex where the deputy head talks about the failure of adults, parents and teachers, to set boundaries and that we do not say 'no' enough.
Teenagers will push all the time they can but they feel safe when boundaries are firmly stuck too and things/ wants refused. I know it's easier said than done but you have too so she doesn't become a monster in the long run. If even her friends are picking up on it she needs this from you.
Practise your rebuttals. When she tries to blame you bat it back. Don't get sucked in and stop being at her beck and call. That cannot continue indefintately.
I think that is very true.
You could say 'So you feel X is all wrong. How are you going to resolve that problem? What are your alternatives?' You have to redirect her energy into focusing on solutions for herself or reflection on whether her problems are really as massive as she thinks they are.
Never engage with blaming. Never address the issue the blamer has landed on your lap. No designer handbag? Don't try explaining how much handbags cost or saying one handbag is as good as the next, etc. Ignore the handbags. The phrase 'I'm sorry you feel that way' can be used. Or 'It's a pity you choose to see things that way, DD' -- words to that effect anyway, when she blames you or bemoans her lack of luxury belongings, your refusal to feed and entertain a houseful of teens for the weekend, etc.
I am with you still and whilst I'm not excusing her behaviour she does have mental health difficulties its not about a "chipped nail" it is severe hang ups about every little aspect of her life. She was not previously like this a traumatic incident triggered it and since then she has been quite self destructive. She shouldn't be guilt tripping me with her difficulties though. I thought things were getting better (MH wise) but I think I have just adjusted to them as opposed to them being any better. I did leave her for three hours and within an hour she was texting saying she couldn't breathe and ended up having a massive crying panic attack.
I have tried encouraging her with extra curricular activities but it didn't pan out and whilst she will agree to activities and act keen, in the run up she begins asking endless questions about it and putting herself off the idea, she will then refuse and cry if I say come on you said you'd give it a go. It is the same with social activities to she is excited about it then gradually puts herself off the idea and then cancels at the last minute. She just seems to prefer her room I can't understand how she isn't bored stiff.
I agree this can't continue indefinitely I do not give in to every beck and call but it does not deter her from desperately trying ! I do give in a bit on having people here because the alternative is her sitting in bed all weekend. I have tried getting her to go to her friends but she always gets "sick" and needs to come home, then feels better when home!
So much for teen years being the best years!!
I also have a child (well he is now 18) who has mental health difficulties and whilst I agree with what your saying they also get quite canny about what buttons to push. I still think you need to wean her off the constant demands and realise that ultimately she needs to cope better with life in the long run eg if she gets herself in that state she needs to know you don't hold all the answers- whereas camhs do. They can help her with the tools to function better. Part of it is a guilt thing.
Make rules and boundaries and absolutely stick to them even if it's horrible to begin with. It will get better. If she prefers to stay in her room then let her. Say friends are welcome two weekends a month. I had to realise that he could do things himself and allow him to get upset/annoyed/fed up without always providing the answers. Life isn't always a bed of roses.
Indeed it is not . Yes I have laid a few ground rules down and consequences to harassment . She is SO stubborn so i've just got to ride out the next few weeks which will no doubt be testing and pick my battles! I need to learn the art of biting my tongue she has popped out (which is great as rarely does) wearing a sweatshirt, bomber jacket and boots its like 30 here I waved her off resisting the urge to question the bloody layers. I do not understand teenagers at all.
I know what you mean I have three. My eldest wears a coat everywhere including right up until the moment he goes to bed. I just roll with it now, it bothers me far more than him lol
Wrt things like the panic attack, focus more on getting over it than the actual attack. Tell her you are proud that she got through it and you know that she now realises things weren't as disastrous as she may have thought they were. 'Yes, no doubt it wasn't pleasant DD, but isn't it great that it's over -- well done! You got through it!'
Start small with the radio silence (an hour). Build up the time gradually. Make sure you reassure her if she expresses dismay that she couldn't reach you that you knew your confidence in her ability to get through the hour was well placed no matter how many texts or calls you ignored. Tell her 'Well done, I am proud of you, how wonderful that you are doing so well/it was so nice for me to get out for a walk/go to get my hair done/spend time looking at the photo exhibition' -- she may have got used to a lot of attention for problems so she milks them as much as she can. Give her plenty of attention and praise for not having the problems. Emphasising that you have interests and a life of your own is useful too.
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