Don't know whether to put this here or in MH or what(19 Posts)
DD (16) has had some real downs in the last, what, 8-10 years. In no particular order:
* good EOW contact from age 6-9 then XH and his (new) wife had their own child - her interest in the two existing children waned significantly after that
* XH is a weak, weak man. Essentially his missus tells him not to have contact with DD and he says 'ok love' (if DD had been an absolute cow or a nightmare child believe me, I'd hold my hands up to it, but that's not the case, she is a lovely, fun-loving girl with a very kind heart)
* she had a right old friendships upheaval about age 10-11 due to an agitating girl who shot established friendships out of the water - DD spent breaks and lunchtimes in a toilet cubicle for quite a while (teachers helped but you can't force children to include someone)
* she now never sees her dad except about once a year (if I thought that screaming, pleading, shouting, begging, explaining would help? I'd do it. But I've tried multiple approaches and I had to learn that no matter what I said, he's weak and nothing makes any difference at all
* there is a favourite female grandchild (in the view of XHs parents) - surprise surprise folks, it's not my DD. There are also more favoured male grandchildren too - DD is at the bottom of the pile
* whole family are in total denial that they have treated her differently, done anything wrong.... first pointed this out to them in 2012
* she feels like she has lost her family (including her dad and her half sister whom she loves very much and also hasn't seen for about a year)
She's now describing symptoms of depression to me 'tired body' ' can't think straight' 'find doing all sorts of things difficult, no motivation'.
The effects on her apart from the above have been:
- severe anxiety so bad that on a rare visit to a family member last autumn she was nearly vomiting with anxiety and absolutely miserable
- self esteem ripped to shreds
- low self worth
- utter sadness that she has 'no friends' (she does but NO ONE invites her round to hang out or anything like that; she's on her own all the time
- totally misses her dad so badly but he can't be arsed to see her and I think she's afraid to say that to him as that could generate another rejection
- she cannot see a way forward or act - I've said about breaking down and journaling the issues / concerns into individual things but she can't even do that
- I've explained how important it is to do things that 'scare' you so you keep expanding your world, keep gaining confidence - her world has shrunk to school and her bedroom (and the occasional visit from her BF who's very nice - she just had a lovely weekend with him but here she is, 2 days after, and she's feeling low with no energy already so the visit didn't sustain her for very long.
A few months back I did get her online counselling for her anxiety after the vomiting episodes. She had three sessions then didn't have any more. I feel she's incredibly afraid to let her feelings and hurt out - I'm worried it could destroy her (sorry to sound so melodramatic, but I don't know how else to put it) but at the same time of course I know that this is what she needs to do really. She only did the counselling because it was over text - when I originally said look this is beyond me, you need to go and talk to someone and organised a face to face appointment, she just couldn't do it.
But I feel I have to 'force' her to go to therapy. I just don't know what else to do - I'm also afraid it will break her.
What's the best approach - private (I can pay if I absolutely have to), or thru school and CAMHS??
Has anyone else's DD been through anything like this that you were afraid the process could break them, but they came out the other side? What was key to it??
CAMHS may not take her as she's 16 - worth a try but as she's not at risk there will be a 2 year waiting list
Does the school have a listening Service?
Does she have a medical diagnosis?
Are there any underlying medical conditions for the tiredness?
Hi green. 2 yr waiting list obviously won't suffice so we can rule CAMHS out.
I've not heard of a listening service before - what is that??
Medical diagnosis of ... depression? Anxiety? Not currently no.
No underlying medical conditions, no.
It's a from of counselling offered in some schools - which may benifit as she's in school
I think she needs to see the GP first they may lead to coucelling outside of school
Does she excercise?
Have you considered mindfulness
Well, Sixth Form (we just call it school - can't be bothered with saying two words - lazy blighter that I am!).
I'm not sure it's on offer but I can ask albeit I don't think she'd want to do something that her classmates saw her going off to each week, so obviously but it's worth a look at although, despite the cost, I'm moved more to private.
She's invited for Boxing Day at her dad's and we can't even get that organised as she's in stasis and can't make decisions about anything. I think her brain's in a total fog.
She gets lots of exercise.
The trouble with 'try mindfulness', 'try yoga', 'try positive journaling' (etc etc) is, she doesn't do it, she's shutting down to anything other than going back and forth to school, watching videos, and that's it. She needs therapy but I also know that she needs therapy with someone who understands weird delusional families - a bit of 'and how did you feel about that' isn't going to cut it, she's incredibly damaged by what she's experienced so far and I've got to act before the depression takes hold. Waiting for GP appointments for several weeks will mean we don't even see a GP until after Xmas and plus if I'm going to go private it wouldn't really be worth going?
But I'll start with school/sixth form and see what they have just to be able to rule it in or out. I've found The Listening Service that's an online resource - the problem is, if I leave it to her I won't really know if she's done it or not.
My dd is in 6 th form and they offer a counselling service so I would definitely try school
Thanks that's good to know Alfie. I emailed the head type teacher for her subject - it's been 5 days and she's not replied...
I too have a dd (14) who sounds similar in terms of broken families, low contact with her dad and so obviously many many issues. Only difference is hers comes out as self harm rather than anxiety. Also not willing to engage with any outside help she is clearly in need of. School help is out as she hates school and doesn't want them to know.
I feel your pain op. I wish I had answers. The only thing I can do is stay firmly on her side through it all. She knows I'm here for her. But she's also at that horrendous age where she looks at me like shit half the time.
Oh that’s not good it was head of 6 th form who one of my dd friends contacted as she was worried about her. She arranged her to speak to the in school counsellor. 6 th form have their own students services team which I haven’t had to use but have dealt with the main school student services team when my son started year 7 and was having trouble settling in. I found them very helpful
pasanda it's rotten isn't it, I just feel so helpless. The self harm must be really distressing. Sometimes I wish I could just piss off to a desert island somewhere were life was totally simple and we had to fish and grown fruit to survive! Honestly, life is just too tough for young people these days and honestly on the whole schools are pretty clueless (or deliberately deluded) about how much bullying goes on. I think they're quite naive on the whole about controlling bullying personalities.
I wonder Alfie if she thought "oh God it's her again"... I had a bout of having to liaise with her last year when DD had been ousted from a friendship group and she was very helpful but at the end of the day, what can she do, force fellow students to hang out with my DD outside of school? Literally, that's all it would take (not them being forced, but something changing that they did hang out with her) and she's be fine! That would give her enough of a boost that we could maybe move on to sorting things out with her dad although I honestly think it's mostly a lost cause as he bows to his wife's wishes and she's branded DD a living hell which could not be further from the truth.
Her DD recently didn't pay his CM - it's been 7 months and his missus had gone back to work and I actually thought last week, you know what, the buggers, they've decided he'll be house husband and they're not going to pay it ever again! Honestly wouldn't put it past her level of machination. But, out of the blue he finally announces to me on email he's finally got a job and will be able to start paying maintenance again at the end of January but "it will only be £xxx a month because of the numbers of nights because DD never comes to see us" - like it's ALL her responsibility when she has massive travel anxiety; apparently he's to play no part in it. Never mind that I carried on taking DS for contact (at that point only he still went, DD had already given up). We had a meet halfway arrangement, half way being 75 miles per person and even though DS's contact order had expired I kept taking him there EOW until he was 17 and I finally said "Contact is now between you and your dad, you're 17, you can catch the three trains and do all the changes" - and he did that. But I can't expect DD to do the same she finds the train particularly stressful for some reason plus a dinky little 16 yo hanging around on train platforms in the winter I just don't think it's the same as for DS. But if he wasn't expected to go there on his own until he was 17, how come she's expected to? Oh yeah, she's the 'shit' one of the family, basically. It's appalling. Poor, poor kid.
At the moment things have cheered up slightly as we're having some carpeting and flooring done including her room and it's cheering her up a bit, we're looking for beds and all that sort of stuff so things have picked up slightly. It's still a spectre that's there all the time though (I dread her boyfriend deciding it's over, god help us but so far that's continuing well).
Why don't you oi her I think of the gym together or do the mindfulness together - ask her to be your partner and see if she'll 'help' you out? Maybe join a dance class?
I think you need to be a bit proactive in helping - I'm not saying you don't because it can be quite wearing to be constantly worried for them
My working hours have increased recently (full time anyway but I'm not home til half six/7) so going to the gym is not a possibility. She won't do mindfulness with me I'm afraid - I think sometimes when they get into this modus operandi they're very unreceptive to help, sadly.
I do little things all the time and support her in all the ways possible, I give suggestions and things she can try (even lovingly worded, not harsh) 'home truths' like when she's ready she needs to realise that her world will stay the same unless she does things that scare her/challenge her - I don't hold back from gently telling her that it is in her power to change things, when she's ready, and hugely support her in a variety of ways. I guess the one thing she doesn't have to worry about in her life is that I don't love her or care about her and that I love her unconditionally - at least that's a positive thread running through her life. Thank you for your suggestions Green.
CAMHS are up to age 18 and waiting times may not be 2 years - depends where you are though. May be worth a try.
Your GP could be the first port of call as they may have referral options for before the CAMHS threshold (Younger Minds for example).
It sounds like you are doing a great job so far but sometimes young people need the ability to talk this through outside of the family environment.
Go and see the GP. Also give the head of pastoral care at schoolma ring. There are a lot of avenues they can point you down even if they can’t help themselves.
Agree with Squeegle. She's only 16, she needs you to be proactive on her behalf. Things can seen hopeless at that age but as an adult you know it can get better.
Can you do more with her generally, even if it's only to chat with her in her room, watch a TV show together or go for a walk to the shops? It might help buck her up a bit.
I'd also take her to her dad's myself if he's not bothering but has invited her. Their relationship can't improve if they never see each other.
The friends situation could improve if she felt better about herself. I guess she's not great company at the moment.
But my main point is you are the only one who can take some control towards changing things here. She won''t because she doesn't see how it would help. You don't have to accept someone not replying at school, for example. You can still go to the GP without her to discuss what can be done. Good luck.
You’re doing a fantastic job by the sounds of it. As pp said she will see you’re firmly in her corner. My dd has similar but controlled by my x who she lives with and not able to see me properly.
I’m not sure it’ll help but here’s my experience. She’s 14 so younger and she has largely come through after several hospitalisations for suicide attempts and even that got v little thru CAMHS. Although they did some good anxiety training it was group work and she couldn’t face it.
No magic bullet obviously - it’s been a mixture of things. She still finds it hard to plan (like your dd’s Boxing Day- how loose can you keep the plans? We hardly plan anything in advance). We just kept going. She chose better friends and finally got back to her hobby.
She got help at school - nothing major - more someone to go to. She has a really great extended family member with a younger child and that helps so much. It gave her a sense of purpose throughout everything. Is there anyone else in your family or a family friend who can do more of what you’re doing? I actually explicitly told family that she maybe pushing people away but we need to keep showing up so we’re still there when she’s ready.
There are some good anxiety apps. I’m basically saying a combination of little things helped. It may not seem that what you’re doing is working but it is so so valuable. And it is making a difference to her.Keep going - you’re doing great.
Oh yes, modelling too. So it’s not that something is wrong with just her. What do you or anyone visible to her do to look after their mental health? As pp said to her it’s hopeless but she needs to see things get better.
Just wanted to sympathise with OP and say that we went through similar with DD now 15. EXH married a complete control freak who made my DD life a misery. Sporadic contact for years, then last year my brave DD said enough is enough (actually she said "they've been F***ing with my head for 10 years and I've had enough") and she has chosen not to see them.
The point of this story is this. She had suffered from anxiety, panic attacks, school refusal and self harm mostly due to the toxic relationship with her DF. She couldn't bear the pressure they put on her.
She had fantastic CAHMS and I paid for a private counsellor for her at the same time (don't tell CAHMS about extra counselling or they will refuse to continue) She learnt resilience. She has been so brave. She has realised that she is doesn't need to put herself through it. She is sad about her DF, but she has grown up so much.
I have tried to be there for her all the time. I pretty much love bomb her, she's probably a bit spoilt, but she knows that I love her and am on her side 100%.
She is now back at school, not self harming, mostly happy. She does spend a lot of time in her room on Netflix etc, but TBH this is her safe space and I can't see it does much harm. Such a far cry from the terrified girl unable to go to school and cutting herself of 2 years ago.
There has been light at the end of the tunnel for us, I hope things get better for you..x
You know Living, in some ways I almost pray that she'll say 'fuck them all' but she still so wants to see her dad... she's not there yet and as with your DD, she'd have to come to that conclusion herself.
I think DD has learnt incredible levels of resilience in the form of dealing with ongoing loneliness and exclusion both from friends and from her father and that side of her family - I think she copes very well on the whole although of course she shouldn't have to.
Thank you for sharing your story where it went from pretty bad to much improved, it's good to know there is light at the end of the tunnel.
After a home improvement-orientated day DD was very up and positive but I've just had to go down to her as she's got 'pressure in her head' and feeling sick which I think is an anxiety response, probably around going back to school tomorrow (not for any particular reason though).
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