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Teen supporting teen, affecting mental health.(7 Posts)
Have posted many times about various issues with DD (18) who has a history of anxiety and depression. Things have improved over the past two or three years, and particularly since she started ADs in December. Her best friend has a history of depression and self harming. She has a lot going on in her life, and things have taken a turn for the worse recently. She is leaning on my DD a lot, as she always does when things are bad. Constant texts, telling her she doesn't care etc etc. My DD is always supportive, but it's making her feel ill again and her panic attacks are returning.
Does anyone else have experience of their teen providing support to another teen to the detriment of their own mental health? And anyone have any advice? She won't ditch her friend, they're very close and have provided support to each other over the years. Is it just a case of me supporting DD while she supports her friend?
This is so hard Peebles. My first instinct would be to try and protect my dd by keeping her away from this girl but that is not going to happen. As you have said they have supported each other and she won't abandon her friend.
Is this girl getting any other adult or professional help at all? Are her parents aware of how bad things are becoming? Its awful for your dd to be taking on the burden of her friends problems when she is fragile herself.
I know my dd gets involved with her friends issues but she has not suffered mh problems herself but it does affect her.
I have no good advice really other than supporting your dd, which you are doing already, and hope this girl gets some help and starts to improve.
I see this kind of support system among my DD's mates, too. It's a good thing.
My tuppence is, if my Dd was so affected, I would try to talk to her in general terms about what is right amount of support to give, & what is too much support. About all the different ways to support, some of which are less demanding than others. About the principle that it is not selfish if she chooses to protect her own mental health first (she might have to prioritise this over friendship). Have it clear in her mind so that she can recognise that situation if she's ever there.
None of that would be about the specific friend with current problems. Instead about trying to get her to accept the principle that she's no good to others if her own mental health is suffering, therefore it is not selfish to put her own mental health first if she's ever being pushed very hard.
Everything Wardrobe said is very good too, about how giving support is often not being the sounding board for the person's problem, but about helping them find multiple lines of support that they might find hard to reach. That's a more... sustainable model of how to be a supportive friend rather than being the one & only confidant.
Thank you both, that's really useful. I'll have a talk to her this afternoon along the lines of what you've advised.
Her mum is her other big support usually but at the minute her whole family is under stress through no fault of their own. Don't want to go in to too much detail as it may make them identifiable. But although they are under stress the relationships between them are good. And things should (hopefully) improve for them as a family, but it may take some months. Like many teens, she's been offered numerous avenues of support over the years but won't engage. She has very few friends other than my DD.
Thank you for your advice, though. I'll pass it on to DD and keep offering support here. It's so difficult when there are so many other DD issues. - the usual stuff like her doing no work for her A-levels, being out all the time etc etc. But of course she's probably trying to distract herself from her problems and will feel too 'down' to muster up energy for college work. She could really do without this added stress at the minute!
Important that your DD knows it's her decision to figure out how to support. So I wouldn't be telling her what is or isn't too much support for her friend, just trying to get her to agree that there is such a thing as too much & then help her know in her own mind how to make sure she doesn't get into that situation.
I have seen tendencies in my own dd. I try to talk to her about sustainable models, being a more effective support by distancing yourself emotionally.
I have a 20 yo DD and 16 yo DS, both have had big issues. We have changed their schools and got medical support which has helped, and listened and suggested things. The real element that has helped most has been that they make their own mistakes and "learned the hard way" (I sound like my mum!). They have been able to see the value of education/good, positive relationships etc instead of hearing it from us. Not meant to sound glib - honestly the desperation can be soul destroying I know - but ultimately its the only way. Plus, look after yourself as cory says - vital - and don't turn down medication if you need it, far better than self medicating with booze ! x and big hug