Help please 😕(30 Posts)
Hi all, I would be very grateful for some guidance regarding my 17 year old stepdaughter, who lives with us. Brief background - her mum is alcoholic, SD came to us at 12 and has had various issues such as self-harm and problems with mood. Since she came to us we've had help in place for her, such as school counsellor, alcohol support workers, hidden harm workers, LIFT counsellors and more recently CAMHS. She is currently on Fluoxetine under the care of CAMHS as since the beginning of this year, she told us she couldn't cope with any of her emotions and cannot cope with being inside the house. So, I know she has issues, and we have been dealing with them for 5 years.
Before the beginning of this year (she was 17 in January), things were okay. She was happy and bright, doing well at school etc. Then it all changed. I should add she got a new bf just before Xmas. For the last 5 months she is rude, argumentative and hell to live with. She says she "has" to be out all the time, if she's at home for more than a couple of hours she says she's "trapped". She will come home from seeing her bf at say 10, and then wants to go out again!! She says that the only way she feels even remotely happy is when she's out with either her bf or a particular friend. If we want her to be at home to eat or bathe, she kicks off. She says she only eats or bathes to please us. Yesterday I got home from a long day at work to find the kitchen in a mess, so I text her and asked why she couldn't clean up her mess. She had a right go at me saying her mood was bad so she could only just cope with having a bath and eating, which she had only done to please me and her dad, and then she had to "get out" (she's at college 3 days a week). She is constantly saying "I have mental health issues so don't lay anything negative on me", and anything negative could be asking her to bring the plates down from her room!!
Last weekend we had a massive row, which culminated in me slapping her across the cheek because she was screaming and swearing in my face and would not move out of my way so I could leave the house. I don't regret doing it - I have never, ever slapped anyone in my entire life, but she has pushed me beyond any limits I knew I had. I cannot cope with her.
Sometimes I think she plays the "mental health" card for convenience. She seems to say it to suit, as an excuse for wanting to go out at 11pm and coming home at 1am, as an excuse for not bathing, cleaning her room, being home for dinner, visiting family etc. The only thing she wants to do is be with her bf, and anything outside of that she says makes her in a bad mood and she can't cope with bad moods! I'm just wondering how much of this current behaviour is down to being 17, and how much is down to her mental health. I am in no way playing down her MH issues - I accept them and have been extremely supportive and in actual fact have done all of the referring, attending appointments etc. I have known her since she was 2 and have done more for her than my own 2 children (now 27 and 23), but according to her I've done nothing to help her, which hurts me a great deal.
Thoughts? Opinions? Advice? All gratefully received. Thank you.
Well my DD doesn't sound in quite so bad a place, but I totally relate to the bit about her not wanting to be at home, and going out all the time, from last summer when she was 17.
She has anxiety and depression and is on antidepressants. She has just turned 18. At 16 she was so bad she couldn't go to school for three months and could barely leave the house. She now says being home alone reminds her of that time and makes her anxious. She also has a bf and seems to crave company all the time. She was at her worst for the going out stuff (similar stupid times like you describe) last summer, at 17, when very upset at splitting with previous bf.
Since starting medication 5 months ago she is much better and home much more. But she still craves company - if she is home she likes me with her, or even the cat!, unless she's on the phone to friends/bf. She says if left alone she over thinks and gets anxious/panicky. I wonder if your SD feels the same?
So basically, there are two reasons she gives for going out - not wanting to be alone with her bad thoughts, and not wanting to be reminded of the bad time when she was house bound. She has improved since medication - not sure how long your SD has been on hers? She's still capable of going out at silly o'clock though. Midnight to go clubbing, that sort of thing.
Not sure if that's helpful really, but I did recognise the going out all the time bit and so thought I'd comment. Hope things improve for you.
Thank you 😑 there are clearly similarities! SD has been on her meds for about 2 months now, and in all honesty I can't see much of a difference. They've just put her dosage up, so that may help, hopefully. She sees a DBT worker weekly (dialectal behavioural therapy), and when she's in a mood she says it's pointless, if she's not in a mood she says it's working! She just doesn't get that whilst living in a house with other people she has, to a certain point, to accept that there are ground rules. Her only "rules" as such are that on college nights she's in by 10.30, on Weds & Thurs she's in by 11 (we both work and can't sleep til she's in, hence 11 as that's when we go to bed), and on Fridays and Saturdays she can be in at 12.30. She's allowed to stay at her bf's twice a week and we like her to bathe once a week (I know, it's gross, but getting her to bathe any more than that is futile!). And that's it, no other restrictions but she will fight and argue against those. I'm exhausted from the constant pushing, arguing, drama and moods and honestly don't know how much longer I can live with her under my roof. It seems as if 17 was the switch, the trigger to all of this behaviour. I totally get that she wants to be out a lot, and like your daughter, previously she wouldn't go out at all so that could be another reason why - her being out a lot doesn't bother me (I'd rather she was out). It's the constant drama and threats to kill herself if we don't allow her to go out at 11pm on a week night etc that is doing me in 😕
Also have a DD with MH issues and have the problem of her wanting to be out late at night (and sleep all day). Only things I can say which might be remotely helpful are a) things seem to be improving since she hit 18 and b) things improved noticeably when she changed from fluoxetine to sertraline. She was on fluoxetine for nine months with no noticeable improvement and although it might have been coincidence she began to seem happier in herself within four or five weeks or switching to sertraline. Wish I'd pushed for a meds review sooner rather than investing huge amounts of time, effort and emotion in trying to get her to accept various offers of help. Only now is she prepared to follow up on some of the suggestions for places to get help.
Thank you. I too wonder about the meds, but they've just increased her dose so hopefully it'll improve things. Is your daughter very intense? SD is, very very intense and seemingly unable to accept any advice given, despite on occasions asking for it. We have attended several family sessions at CAMHS, but she even frustrates the psychologist 😕 it's like she wants everything her own way, but won't accept that people are actively trying to help her, and that she cannot have her own way all the time! There does seem to be a common denominator here - 17!!! I remember feeling emotional and moody at that age, but I just had to get on with it and deal with it. Teenagers these days seem to just not want to deal with their emotions & feelings and kick off because they're having a bad day - they can't seem to self-manage. I have tried telling her that being moody and emotional is quite normal at her sge, but she won't have it and swears she's the only one, she shouldn't be expected to deal with her moods & emotions and should be able to do what she wants, when she wants!
You slapped her face? I think you need RL help for you to help you manage this, with the best will in the world, advice on MN isn't going to cut it here. Can you seek RL help for you? Perhaps your GP would be the best place to start, they could signpost you to the services available (I know this may not be much in light of the cuts etc but if you are at the point of violence you need to seek help)
I'm sorry - you say you are extremely supportive but the way you speak about her and her MH issues doesn't come across like this, when you say she "plays the card" etc. I also don't think a 17 year old needs a curfew (specially of 10.30 which seems very early but we all parent differently). Assaulting her isn't acceptable and some of your comments are victim blaming but you must know this already.
Does she have any alternative places to live - perhaps when she turns 18 there will be more
options? The situation as it is sounds untenable for her as well as you. You don't mention her father very much - what are his thoughts about all this?
I know how hard it is, but my sympathies tend to be towards your SD here. She has obviously had a very difficult start and is still suffering very much.
Thank you for your comments. I have never slapped anyone ever before, and the situation arose due to her extreme behaviour - the night before she had gone out at 11, came in at 12.45 stoned out of her face. She was in the kitchen cooking pizza and I went in to say it was too late really to be cooking & that if she wanted food she should come in at a reasonable time to have it. She turned to face me which was when I noticed how stoned she was, and said "so what are you gonna do about it?". I said, and did nothing and went to bed seething. The next day, her dad was ill - my husband doesn't do illness and is horrible and grumpy. He was moaning and asking me, repeatedly, what I thought was wrong with him. I told him, repeatedly, that I didn't know. He asked me again, and I raised my voice and said I didn't know again. SD came running down the stairs and came at me, swearing at me, calling me names & telling me not to raise my voice at her dad! I got up, quietly to go out as I really didn't want to engage in the chaos, and she stopped me in the doorway, screaming and swearing in my face. I asked her to move but she wouldn't, and said I'd have to slap her to get her out of the way. She was saying "go on, slap me you f'ing b****" over and over, so I did. I have never been that angry, and really don't think I'm the one who needs help! I was pushed to that point. My husband told her to let me be and let me leave, and actually agreed that she had deserved the slap.
As for "playing the MH card", yes, she does. She uses it as an excuse for everything - bringing down her laundry, bringing down plates & mugs from her room, not contacting her grandparents, ever, skiving off her very part time job & then demanding money for things like tobacco (which we refuse to give her), so it is an excuse that is used for virtually everything she is ever asked to do. I know she has MH issues, and she is fully supported with that - but she cannot use it as a tool to escape normal everyday living and normal everyday expectations.
Your DH "agreed that she deserved the slap".
I will leave this thread as you clearly can't see your actions or even attitude are in any way wrong.
I would advise you to have a think about what you would say to someone who posted here to say they had mental health issues and their spouse or parent had slapped them across the face. Do you really think "they deserved it" is an acceptable excuse? Because I don't, the police don't and the vast majority of other people don't.
As I said, my sympathy here tends to be towards a young woman who has clearly had a very troubled childhood, has mental health issues and a stepmother and father who think she deserves violence.
I do genuinely think you need support for yourself to help your SD but I will leave this thread as I'm finding your attitude reprehensible and it's distressing. I would repeat that you may be best going to your GP - mine has provided details of local support organisations I didn't even know existed and has genuinely been helpful to me in the same position. Please consider it at least.
I'm sorry you feel that way, but you have no idea of how things have been for us over the years. We have battled for her, been to court several times, had the frustration of trying to deal with Social Services, who always always went on her mothers side (she told them she wasn't an alcoholic so they believed her). Throughout all of this her father & I have been the constants, the ones who have provided her with sanctuary and a normal way of life. We knew that there would be problems, of course we did, but never expected the behaviour we have from her now. The slap was a one off, it was done in a moment of severe provocation, and I don't regret it. That doesn't mean I am violent, I am not, I'm just at the end of my tether and she pushed me further than anyone ever has, including my own two children. To say I need help is incorrect, I do not need help! I am very level headed, normal and work in the health profession. I'm pretty sure that there's a lot of parents out there who have slapped a hysterical teenager, or kicked them out, or taken other desperate measures. I myself know parents of difficult teens that have resorted to things they never dreamed they would. Until you are living in the nightmare you can't possibly say how you would react!
I am there for her, I have always been there for her and she knows that. I have done more for her than anyone else in my life, and I have done everything in my power to ensure she has the help she needs. I know she is troubled, I know she has issues, but she is also 17, and I posted here to see if anyone else found it to be a particularly trying age and how they deal with it.
To my mind, and I raised two boys without any of this drama, if some of her behaviour is just down to her being 17, then it's not acceptable and needs to be dealt with in the right way. I have no idea what that is, because I haven't experienced this before, and so I was hoping for some general guidance and to hear other strategies that work. I will not give up on her, ever, and I love her to bits, but that doesn't mean she can literally get away with everything she does and blame it on her MH.
Just as well if judgemental people leave thread. I'm not condoning slapping SD at all but I do know that unless you've been there it's not easy to understand. I also hit DD once - I regret it more than anything else I've ever done, apologised fully and I'm as sure as I can be that I will never do it again but I think sometimes you are unprepared for your own actions. As for needing help in RL, you've made it abundantly clear OP that you have sought help and I have to say that when my DD was suffering the most (and by extension the rest of us) mumsnet was the best source of support I had. There are lots of people on here who do understand. I agree totally that it's hard to separate out the MH issues from normal teenage behaviour. In our case I found the fear of what she might do to herself (which was a genuine fear as she had already taken one OD) meant that I simply didn't feel I could put in the boundaries I would normally have. I just chose to accept that. I did insist that she let us know where she was and when she'd be home. She only didn't let us know once and I called the police as I was convinced something awful had happened. She was so embarrassed that she always let us know after that. For several years DD did literally nothing in the house in the way of tidying or chores. In the last two months that has changed. She now empties dishwasher, does her own washing and the other day hoovered right through and cleaned bathroom without being asked. I don't really think anything you do will make much odds except waiting it out. All of the stress and and arguing simply destroys your relationship and nothing changes anyway. I opted for endless sympathy (after the slapping incident obviously) and rock bottom expectations of anything. Other people will totally disagree and you may too but the the point is, you do what YOU feel is right and you don't have to justify your actions to anyone. There's a good long running thread for parents with difficult teens on here. The teen problems vary wildly from a bit of back chat to serious MH worries but the point is the posters are very supportive. You might want to take a look.
Thank you for that Clare 😊 I will take a look at that thread. We have discussed (my husband and I) the benefits, or not, of setting boundaries, and although we would both prefer them to be more conducive to a harmonious household, we do realise it won't happen - hence the amount of freedom she currently has. The weeknight curfews are only in place because we can't sleep until we know she's in safely, and we need to get up for work the next day. We have even told her that if she wishes to smoke pot that's fine, we just don't want to see her smashed. The swearing is also something we have asked her to curb in the house. But, I totally get what you say about the worry they may do something stupid if boundaries are too strict. It's like being caught between a rock and a hard place 😶
Every case is different and I'd be the last person to say 'do it this way' especially as we're not out of the woods ourselves yet. Don't feel you have to justify anything, it just helps to share ideas.
This is the thread I mean www.mumsnet.com/Talk/teenagers/2517165-Anyone-want-a-mum-of-teenagers-support-
Thanks again, I think I feel the need to justify myself following the not so kind posts 🙈 I can only parent her the way I know, but as my boys really didn't give me any trouble (they weren't angels of course 😏) and actually respected me, this is a whole new ball game at which I am ill-equipped sadly. I will check that thread out and see how others cope, and hope you come out the other side with sanity intact 😑
Slapping her perhaps wasn't the wisest of things but I am not judging. No mental health issues here but on some days I could happily slap my DD. Quietly whispers - my DH did once.
I would have thought you and DH would have even more reason to have curfews as you need to know she is home safe. My stance is that if I am supporting them through college then there are rules.
Saying that my DC 17 & 21 should absolutely bugger all to help in the house
I haven't been through this so don't know what to advise but I do know that mumsnet can be very supportive.
I wish you luck
Thank you, it probably wasn't, but it happened and I don't regret it. I am actually surprised I don't regret it, if that makes sense, but maybe subconsciously I wanted to give her "short sharp shock" in the vague hope it would bring her back to her senses. My brothers partner was having very similar problems with her 17 year old son, and things got so bad that she literally booted him out of the house for 24 hours. He stayed outside, pleading through the letterbox, but she stuck to her guns, saw it through & he's like a different boy now! He realised he'd pushed her too far and that was enough to snap him out of it. I didn't pre-empt slapping her, it just happened, and obviously didn't do any good in terms of her behaviour. I too believe that whilst we are supporting her through her education there need to be rules - however she doesn't seem to think so!
I bet the slap was a one off, Niknox, we're only human and they can push you to the edge. I remember my mum slapping my DSis once or twice and she wasn't normally violent at all. Anyway, enough focussing on the slap!!
We did a bit like Clare said, rock bottom expectations and very few rules. I told her after four months of arguing and fighting that curfew rules weren't working and we weren't going to impose them anymore. It was her life etc. If she wanted to go and live with her bf she could, and if she wanted to leave college and get a job she could. I said all this in a nice way, not in an argument, mainly because it's true! Anyway, she didn't of course. Things seemed to improve after that. Please don't think things are all solved now coz they're not - but they're much better and there are no more rows.
Rules we had were to come and go very quietly once we were asleep (don't have the common parents' problem of not being able to sleep till they're in - must be selfish!), and no smoking in our house. She's not particularly rude - bit moody sometimes, but nothing compared to when she was a younger teen. She'll do bits around the house if asked, but mostly she's your typical lazy teen.
I see your point about the MH 'excuse'. DD never used it, but sometimes I would think, like you, well it doesn't stop you doing x,y,z ( homework is a good example). However, if she's feeling low, unmotivated etc. I guess it will be very hard to actually do anything. I think just getting out of bed was an effort for her sometimes. I think it's hard to understand when you've never experienced it (I haven't - touch wood), but DD does open up to me a lot about how she feels, so it's been a learning curve for me.
Just try and keep on good terms. She's more likely to play ball if you have a good relationship and discuss things calmly etc. Try not to rise to her more dramatic behaviour. I suspect things will improve but it's so bloody hard when you're in it.
I sound all sorted, it was only Thursday when I drove to work shouting and swearing to myself about her coz I was so wound up!
You sound like you've really been there for her, I'm sure that will pay off. Keep it up!
Thanks Peebles. I think I'm going to try very hard to feel more relaxed about boundaries. After all, it can't get any worse! The weeknight curfews will remain though - we both have quite stressful, full on jobs and really do need our sleep!
Reading all these threads with interest, my dd is only fifteen and we going threw this, under CAMHS finally getting help after waiting 12 months !, We have a very good relationship on the face of it, but her constant lying is terrible , don't know what is going on, I have boudries and rules which she will abide by mostly , but she has older friends who I don't know but incourage to come to house and some have , all seem ok but she she seems to go with different boys I know it to make her feel good as her self esteem is poor, we have talks all the time about boys the need to just take a step back as all these relationships are making her worse, internet has been a prob for 3 yrs on it all time so we take her off it and explain how it effects her behaviour but she a fine then CRASH we here again, she also plays MH card and is manipulative so we on egg shells most of the time, her older sister is there for her but she also is fed up of the hurtful way she treats us and her, just in this fortnight we have found a pregnancy test, some cigaretts , majarana, and drink, and empty condom wrappers, so done it all, im a wreck and ache all over with emotional exhaustion , my other half is battered also , now exams this week just to finish it off, so guys any support would help before we all crack
NikNox41 Sat 14-May-16 21:20:45
"Thank you, it probably wasn't, but it happened and I don't regret it. I am actually surprised I don't regret it, if that makes sense, but maybe subconsciously I wanted to give her "short sharp shock" in the vague hope it would bring her back to her senses."
"Teenagers these days seem to just not want to deal with their emotions & feelings and kick off because they're having a bad day - they can't seem to self-manage. "
I don't want to judge you about the slap, but I do think you sound quite judgmental yourself re MH issues. I understand your situation: I also have a teen on fluoxetine who was very unwell for many years (now thankfully much better) and they were not easy years. But dd has also got life-long physical health problems and has spent years on strong painkillers and tbh I don't really see any difference between the two. They are actually equally frustrating for the people who have to live with them. But if it isn't right to judge her for the one, then it probably isn't right to judge her for the other.
But I certainly know about the frustration. The one thing I found didn't help at all was comparing her to her brother who didn't have the same issues. Thinking about it, it would be a bit like saying to dh "well, why does your mum have to have cancer when mine doesn't?"; it doesn't help and it makes everybody unhappy.
Also, I found it was vital not to put other frustrations on dd's account (if your husband behaves like a baby when he is ill, could you direct that irritation against him?)
What I found helped most was trying to deal with practical issues. Two things depression definitely did for dd was mess with her body clock and making her hysterically anxious about physical space, though in her case that mainly took the form of staying in bed at all hours and not wanting any strangers in the house. So easier to deal with than yours; I can quite see the difficulty there. Can't think of an immediate solution.
If she were older I would try to just go to sleep: tbh I haven't stayed up for dd since she turned 18. After all, staying up and worrying until the small hours isn't going to keep her any safer than getting a good night's rest, and after a good night's rest I will be far better placed to deal with any emergencies. I also tell myself that at 18 most of them are off to uni where nobody will be checking up on their safety. But I understand if you feel unable to do that as yet.
About her room, I would totally let that go (unless she leaves significant amounts of decaying food). Dd's looks like an archaeological bomb site: I just don't go in there. The advantage to her is that she knows she has a safe space that is for her alone.
I would also probably let the bathing go unless it is to an absolutely abysmal degree: let her and her boyfriend deal with that. When I was young plenty of people only had one bath a week (at the boarding school I visited briefly 2 baths a week was the scheduled expectiation) and it didn't lead to any health issues. As for the social issues, let her deal with them.
But most of all, I would take time to think about how much you have done and how much you have achieved: this is a girl with an alcoholic mother and her own MH issues and she is still alive and going to college! That is pretty good going on your part! Think about that, not in a grudging way, but to see how far you have got. I look at dd from time to time and think "but she's bloody ALIVE! She's come through all that and I have fought for her every step of the way and SHE IS STILL HERE! I have achieved something in life!" So have you, OP. And bloody well done.
Corythatwas thank you. She is still alive and we do thank our lucky stars for that. You're right on a lot of things - the bathing for example, well she does suffer with very greasy hair and very smelly feet, but if she doesn't want to bathe then so be it - people around her will soon show their shock won't they? Last year there were complaints where she works (she's a pot washer in a pub, does one shift a week atm because she says she needs to be out and not cooped up working - that's fine, it's her choice, but we have made it clear that we will not support her social life or give her money for tobacco) about her body odour. Her boss had to take her to one side & speak to her about it and she was mortified! Things improved for about a month but slipped back again sadly. I do ignore her room, but do insist the Petri dishes in there are brought down periodically, and she knows, but it really annoys her, that if her clothes don't get put in the machine they don't get washed! There is no way I am rifling through her disgusting underwear to put it in the wash! There are screaming fits when she doesn't have anything clean, but I just tell her that she's responsible for that.
Re her dad, I didn't put my frustrations onto her, I was downstairs with him, she was upstairs & heard me raise my voice at him - that's when she flew down the stairs and launched herself at me. He has told her to stay out of things between us as it isn't her business. Ironically, she had a meltdown yesterday because some friends of hers, a couple, had got angry with her for poking her nose into their relationship! She does, of course, have to learn for herself.
I honestly don't think I can get over the not sleeping til she's in - it's how I'm made and I was exactly the same with my boys. I just can't relax until she's in safely 😶
I have more to add, but off out in a mo so will do so later 😑
Re the sleeping when they're out - I've got better at this since she turned 18 and can get some sleep now though I do tend to wake a couple of times in the night. I find it helps if I leave her door open when she's out, then, if I wake up in the night, I can see whether she's home or not (because if she's home she will have shut her door). I think I used to lie awake listening for her because I wanted to know if she was in and if I dozed when she came in then I wouldn't know. Now I can go to sleep and still check if she's in if I wake without having to go into her room. Not sure if that makes sense.
Just caught up with this thread, and the one word that stood out for me was "trapped". DD18 used that word constantly in her desperation to be away from us, the house or anything to do with us.
Last summer when she was 17, everything came to a head and she was going out at stupid times (we live rurally, we're talking pitch blackness, no pavements) and putting herself in danger, walking 3 miles to the motorway exit with poor DH following her 50 metres behind! She screamed and ranted, mostly at me, trashed her room, pushed me around, threw things at me (and yes, I have been known to slap her too. Not proud of this, but my tether had ended!!!)
Boyfriend ended their relationship, she hammered his car bonnet and smashed up his phone. She fell out with close friends and ended up one night being brought home in a police van - police were so lovely, and kind of took things out of our hands. She was assessed in hospital and prescribed Sertraline and CBT.
Since then we have (almost) the girl she used to be. The Sertraline has been a godsend, the CBT not so much, simply because she didn't want to engage.
We still have the odd battle, but things are so much better, with a part-time job she really enjoys and hopefully off to uni in September. Friendships have been resolved and new friends made, and she showers more!!
She seems to be 'growing up' and occasionally surprises me with a tiny bit of consideration and gratefulness.
I still can't relax until she comes in from a night out, especially when it's hours after the clubs close, which annoys her, but I explain that if DH was out for the evening and didn't turn up at round about the expected time, I'd be worried about him too. It's nothing to do with age, it's just wanting your loved ones to be safe.
Sorry OP, didn't want to make this "all about me", but just wanted you to know that things can and do, improve, even when it seems bleak. Hold on to that.
<waves at Peebles, and hoping things are a little better for you?>
Hi 3cats! Yes lots better thank you.
Lots of similarities between our DDs I think! We're not out of the woods and it's a very uncertain future at the minute: will she get to uni? If so will she cope? If not will she get a job? If so will she cope? Will she have the strength to break away from bf who she even admits herself isn't right for her? Will she stay well mentally? And so on and so forth. But we have a good, open relationship and underneath it all she has her head screwed on right. So, OP, things can improve.
Oh, it's so good to hear that things are improving, Peebles.
The worry never really goes away when you've experienced these bad times with your child. People say "she's an adult now", "you've got to let her make her own mistakes", etc; but a vulnerable child is still just that, whether he/she has turned 18 or not.
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