I'm not sure what to do(25 Posts)
A child of 15 whom I have known for the past 5 years came to see me tonight after an argument with mum (a friend also) about various teenage angst stuff - colouring hair, earrings, tattoos etc. After talking for a while it became clear there was far more to it. Child hates themselves, scared of hurting parents, eating problems, self harm, failing at school, low self esteem. Child feels like they are in a black hole, barely coping, crying all the time, constant sadness, feels depressed. Claims that however much these things are said to parents their stock answer is Teen drama, get over it, take responsibility, get a grip other people have tough lives you are being a drama queen and have nothing to be depressed about, refuse to take to Dr's. Poo poohd the idea of anti D's because they are for the weak and there really is nothing to be depressed about.
I can't "unknow" this information. I have to do something, but what? Child begged me not to tell parents because the fall out would be too great. I said I would sleep on it and take advice.
If I were the parent I would be devastated that my child felt that way, distraught that they couldn't come to me, but grateful that someone was listening to them.
So what now? Do I try and find her some professional help and let them handle the parents? Do I tell them (the patents) exactly what I was told? How upset would you be if someone else had this information and tried to help your teen without telling you? Would you fall out with me if I said to you that you might think you are listening to your child but you are not hearing what they are saying?
I am so sorry to see so many people dealing with these same issues but am hoping you can give me some words of wisdom for tomorrow.
I don't know the answer, but what about calling the NSPCC, Childline or Banardos for some advice?
gosh, what a difficult situation.
good advice to call child line etc.
One thought, when is she 16? As soon as she is 16 she can go to go herself and her parents don't have to know.
In fact she could go to doctor herself now and ask for help, if she could be persuaded to.
If child talks to school they will have to disclose most of this information.
It will means help in form of counselling and contacting parents too.
Maybe if school contacts them they will treat it seriously and respond as they ought to?
My first thought was to ring CAMHS but after reading some of the threads on here I'm not so sure
She should talk to the school nurse or a pastoral teacher. These feelings are unfortunately common among teens so they'll be able to advise her.
Is this a friend of your dc and are they at the same school?
Can you get the child to go to the school nurse/counsellor.
At the age of 15 she is allowed to make her own medical decisions (Gillick or Fraser competant), so she can choose to go to her own gp and make her own decisions about medication etc.
On thinking about it, if the parents know the child came to you, will they not contact you themselves? At which point you can maybe see what they have to say. It's entirely possible that they haven't poo-pooed the idea of anti-depressants or treatment, but that the child believes they have. They may also be at the end of their tethers.
Many teenagers refuse to go to the doctor; if she's refused to go would they let you take her? Many teenagers don't want to tell their parents how distressed they are for fear of distressing the parents.
The child may be totally mixed up; I'd be inclined to tackle this on two fronts. Firstly, you have to tell someone and the school is your first point of call. Secondly, if the parents are friends, encourage them to talk to you too. Then you can compare the two versions and make a more informed decision.
Maryz She talks to the school counsellor regularly but it sounds very informal.
Child asked parent to take her to Dr but she only did so after a call from the the school counsellor. Child says that parent did most of the talking and said that Child was being over dramatic and she herself hadn't seen any of the signs she was complaining about. Mum may well drop by here tomorrow as she knows her child was here today to talk to me after the row. Parents certainly are the "pull your socks up and get on with it" type which is why I believe her version of events. The child has asked me to go with her to the Drs because she is feeling so desperate but is adamant that she doesn't want me to tell parents.
Ok, then the best thing to do is to firstly listen to the parents. Sympathise with them about how difficult teenagers are, but ultimately your aim is to get permission to take her yourself. Pointing out that as soon as she is 16 she can go alone might help - imo kids this age should go alone.
Is there a doctor associated with the school? Sometimes a different gp is a good idea (I changed gp when my children got to be teenagers, because I think it's a good idea for them to have a different doctor to me). It's ok for parent to go in with them, but the parent should always leave to give child the chance to say anything they don't want to say in front of the parent. My children's doctor has always said "can I have a word with [child]" before s/he goes, and I've always admired him for that.
I know I'm biassed here, but I'm a fan of medication for depressed teenagers. I recognise that there can be downsides to medication, but tbh the downsides to not medicating are much worse. In my son's case, the gp refusing to medicate led ds to self-medicate with cannabis and valium and anything else he could get his hands on. In his best friend's case, refusal to take him seriously led to suicide
If they don't let you go with her, then you have to contact the school, and possibly (if they tell you to) social services. You may have to do so in writing.
How far is she from 16?
She wont be 16 for a few more months yet. I agree with you re the medicating and will try and talk to the parents tomorrow.
She is Gillick competant at 15, and any gp should take her seriously.
Do you have a teenage clinic near you? I know there are some in the UK and Young Minds might be able to advise you. They have also started up HeadMeds which might have useful advice for her as well as you.
I'd talk to the mother (your friend) and say you were worried about what her DC had told you...
Although (and this might sound heartless) but the parents might just know their DC. I have a similar aged daughter and the amount of stuff they read about things like this on the internet is scary. When they are struggling to know who they are etc it is easy to pick up on things and try them on for size.
I really feel for teenagers growing up today - hard enough being a teen without all the additional crap they are exposed to.
So mine has dabbled with
OCD - handwashing because 'it made her feel better' - told her she didn't have OCD but if she carried on like that she might develop it - it stopped,
Panic attacks - I said I'd take her to the GP and left it a few days - months later never mentioned again
Self harm - talked about it, scratched herself on the foot with a scraper thing - it went a bit manky - and she hasn't done anything else since (and I would know cos we aren't overly modest in this house - I see her naked frequently)
Suicide - she has friends who think humans are killing the planet and it would be better off if the whole human race were dead... so she occasionally says there is no point in living etc. We talk about it, you are here now, may as well get on with it and make the best of it
Depression - she does feel down sometimes (and I've had depression - been suicidal - so do understand). She is on medication for ADHD and depression is a known side effect. We regularly see a psychiatrist/consultant about the ADHD, I discussed it with DD first and said we really had to tell the Dr. The psychiatrist talked to her about it and DD was obviously uncomfortable about how seriously it was being taken.
Eating disorder - when asked what she has eaten that day will say nothing and sigh.... But the medication suppresses her appetite and she knows it does - when it wears off/she doesn't take it she forgets and stuffs her face. (And no she isn't bulimic - she isn't binging just eating when she feels hungry...on drug free days she just eats constantly). And she is weighed regularly at the clinic, no concerns.
Gender identity - she has a 'transgender' friend - who dresses like a girl 99% of the time and is called by her female name by everyone except DD. Her friend was thinking about coming to school dressed as the boy but was worried about what the boy she fancied would think about 'her' if she did .
DD has some men's clothes (she's into 'alternative' music, so extra big hoodies, unisex t-shirts etc) but she is now talking about wanting a binder for her chest. I said before I would buy her one (worried about long term health implications) we would have to go to the GP to talk about her identity issues...she agreed but then has backtracked...saying she doesn't need to go and binders are safe. Yep but if you have gender issues you need to talk to someone about it. We are deadlocked at the moment..
Sure in a few weeks it will be something else...
(And every time I've mentioned the GP I've said she could go on her own - I'd make an appt for her and take her if she wanted but she says she wants me to go in with her ...then decides she doesn't want to go at all.)
If a friend told me DD had been telling her about any of these things and that I wasn't taking it seriously I wouldn't be surprised...but I wouldn't be worried either...
You've been given some great links and knowledgeable advice.
I'd definitely encourage her to go to the GP on her own - they won't refuse to see her.
When DD was having issues last year - of a different type - I agreed with a friend that she would be there for DD to go to (of course I was, but when she hated me it was difficult!), but DD did not know that the lines of communication were open between the friend and me. We discussed how to handle each situation, and agreed between ourselves. I think it was a real help in getting through the situation.
Maybe you could suggest to your friend that although you know her DD is being unreasonable, she is a teenager, and you both need to work together to get her through a tough time?
Good she felt she could come to you.
She needs to go to see the Doctor on her own, at 15 she has (I assume no learning difficulties) Gillick competency, so is fully entitled. CAMHS may be where she ends up, my DC have had very good experience of CAMHS but it does vary.
I do hear lots of negative stories about the parents of friends of my DD, and wonder what they've heard about me in the past.
Not everything is as black and white as it can sometimes seem. But parents can also be in denial about how bad things really are. Or be blinkered by their own past.
I personally wouldn't go behind her back to her mother as it could be seen as betraying her trust. You could offer to speak to her mother for her. Do encourage her to speak to other professionals.
I wouldn't tell the parents without her permission as she may not trust you again, but would make sure that she knows she can come to you any time and talk. Maybe take her out and spend some quality time with her. Boost her self esteem. She should be ok with going to GP on her own, so maybe suggest that, or if she'll talk to the school counsellor.
This child has opened up to you for help, help them. Do whatever you can
There is no question that I am going to help her squeak I would just rather it would be with her mums involvement. I'm a little out of my comfort zone going behind her back.
Appointments are made and help is forthcoming already thanks to some good advice here, now I will try to gently see if I can get her to involve her family for more support
In my experience, the professionals will want to involve the parents/mum but will try to get the girl to give permission (and control how much information is shared) first. And also in my experience they can be extremely good at both: being very very persuasive, and finding out what is causing such reluctance. They can also form a buffer, so speak to the young person independently of their parents, and then speak to the parents with the young person not present.
Just another thought - would she go to GP with a friend? Friend could remain in the waiting room during the appointment. DD did this for a friend. Her friend subsequently told her mum who was shocked at the extent of her daugther's MH issues.
I am not sure the parents would take this seriously, if you told them anyway. Don't think these behaviours sound like normal teenage angst.
I think NSPCC and Childline might offer good advice about how to deal with this. Ring then for their suggestions.
In the meantime the fact that you're there for her may be of great help and treat the issue sensitively about her options for finding help (if there are any).
I'm not sure how much help this will be but I wouldn't write off CAHMS.
When I was a teen I suffered from depression quite badly (harming myself and being in and out of hospital)
I cannot put into words just HOW MUCH they helped me along the way. I had a wonderful counceler who made me feel like I was talking to a friend instead of getting therapy and I have to say it really did help me overcome the depression.
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