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Help please - Dd's friend self harm/panic attacks

(6 Posts)
Libertymae Mon 06-Jul-15 10:16:45

My 13 year old DD has a new best friend from school, whom she adores. However, the friend is obviously quite troubled and I'm not sure how to help/handle it.

She is due to come camping with us for 5 days, but having just spent the weekend with us for DD's birthday, I am a bit concerned it might be a terrible idea.

To try and cut a long story short: From the start, DD and this girls' relationship was a bit concerning. I randomly check DD's texts/social media and saw lots of v angsty messages saying how much they need each other, how they'll always be there for each other etc etc. Quite normal teenage girl stuff, but pretty intense.

Then I see some really upsetting posts by this friend re: depression, suicidal thoughts, feeling unloved and unwanted. DD's replies are very supportive e.g. I love you, I need you. DD clammed up when I tried to talk to her about it so I decided to call school. (I still hadn't met the friend and don't know her parent.) My DD tells me friend was sent to school counsellor, and was told she was fine and didn't need to see her again.

I have subsequently encouraged my DD to bring her friend home so we can get to know her. She seems quite shy but v sweet and polite, and has now spent a lot of time in our home. I like her.

At DD's birthday party, however, she was quite odd. There were only 10 girls, most from same school and all friends, all playing games together. Friend goes and sits in corner of garden by herself, back to the other girls, and literally plays in the dirt. I tried to talk to her to find out what was wrong, but she just said she thought maybe she was overtired and she wanted to stay there. Eventually, she comes inside and says she is going to go and tidy my DD's bedroom (!) and spends about an hour upstairs. It didn't seem to be an attention thing and I don't think she was trying to intentionally 'spoil' DD's birthday, (although of course she kind of did.....)

Later, she came back down and sat under the trampoline by herself. One of the mums who came to pick up her daughter saw her and said, 'oh, she suffers from panic attacks, didn't her mum tell you?' But although I've met the mum several times, she has not mentioned anything.

This weekend, I also saw she had scars up her leg, obviously a result of self-harming. I asked my DD about them once friend had left and she said she'd done them at primary school as she was bullied. DD was in tears as she told me - she obviously finds the whole thing quite a lot to deal with and feels a responsibility to support her friend.

So, I'm now wondering how this camping trip is going to work out. We are going with many other families and so will be in a big group all the time. It will be very hard for this girl to get some time alone if that's what she needs, and I wonder if she will be happy with us.

From a selfish point of view - At 13, my own DD is full of hormones and can be really, horribly stroppy. I've also got 2 other kids who are younger and a DH who doesn't love camping at the best of times. The thought of trying to manage an extra set of specific needs over the 5 days isn't exactly filling me with joy.....

Should I call her mum to talk about it? I don't know her well, English is her second language, the dad isn't around, and she obviously hasn't mentioned any of her daughter's troubles to me - so I feel I would need to be particularly tactful in what I say (not a strong point, if I'm honest, which is why I'm reticent to pick up the phone).

WWYD? All and any advice gratefully received.

furrylittlecreatures Mon 06-Jul-15 10:35:32

My dd suffers very badly and I do not tell other mums. If you are taking her on holiday you will need to have a chat with her Mum anyway won't you to discuss logistics etc, that would be a good time to bring it up. She may be on medication (as my dd is) and you will need to know about it. Also what strategies they implement when she has a panic attack.

EE123 Mon 06-Jul-15 12:48:46

Talk to her mom sooner rather than later. If the child struggles with anxiety and depression they may not be able to handle being away from home which could cause all sorts of issues if she has an attack while away or she could cancel last minute which would upset your daughter. Be honest with her mom and hopefully she will be be honest with you.

furrylittlecreatures Mon 06-Jul-15 13:01:06

My dd would handle being away from home fine, the roots of her anxiety do not lie within separation issues and the trip would not triggered by this situation. Everyone who has panic attacks is very much an individual, she may be fine and thrilled to be asked (as my dd would be). As EE mentioned speak to her mum as all the answers to your questions will lie with her and with that information you can make an informed decision.

Libertymae Mon 06-Jul-15 13:33:46

Her mum has given permission for the girl to come with us, so I think she can be away from home. I know I should talk to the mum more, but I really don't want to say the wrong thing and cause offence.

How can I approach it all, when she has mentioned nothing to me?

furrylittlecreatures Mon 06-Jul-15 13:55:00

As I said I do not tell anyone about my dd. I would make an excuse to ring her about the time etc and what she will need. You could say I understand she suffers from panic attacks, I want to make sure she feels comfortable with us. Is there any medication I need to know about and if she does have one when we are away whats the best way to support her. She may have strategies, as we do, for one when she has one and you need to know what they are. The fact she hasn't shared any of this with you may indicate she doesn't think she will have one?

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