11-25-2017 09:17 AM - last edited on 02-09-2018 03:22 PM by Danielle-RO
Hi I'm New to this site. I have a 14 year old teenager who has depression,anxiety and suicidal thoughts. She also self harms. She is a very bright girl. A year ago she asked me to change her to another school because of bullying. I found a school that suited her and she was happy. During year 9 things started to go wrong. she thinks very lowly of herself and her self esteem has plummeted. I have had her under the care of a GP and a Psychologist. she apparently is not interested in her school work any more. She says the teachers keep asking more and more from her.She has lost interest in everything that was of interest to her, this being music piano singing songwriting and speed skating. she says she hates it when I make her go, but she needs the social stimulation, otherwise she just hides in her room. She will demand that she stays at her friends house so I let her go. She has been on anti depressants but she is now off them. They made her ill and she said they made her feel really groggy. The self harming is horrible. She will show me what she does, I ask her what triggered it, but she just shrugs her shoulders then walks away. I love my daughter to bits but it is so sad to watch her struggle with her demons. Are there any answers, because l am hurting.
11-25-2017 11:50 AM
Hi @Jo-Anne this is a heart breaking situation for you and must be taking every ounce of strength to stay strong for your daughter. You are obviously a very caring mother that she trusts you enough to tell you about self-harming. I'm sorry the change to the new school did not have a long-lasting positive impact but doing that built her trust in you more. Please know that you are doing your best and the unconditional love you give to your daughter really matters a huge deal.
We have a fact sheet on some ways you might be able to help your daughter manage self-harming behaviour that might be helpful. You can also tell her about the Youth forum where she can chat with her peers who are going through similar struggles.
ReachOut also offers free coaching to help parents support our teens through tough times. It's very flexible and can give you some ideas that you can implement right away. If that sounds like something you'd be interested in you can find out more and register here.
We have other parents here who have been in the same situation as you and I'm sure they will provide advice and support about this matter as well.
Please keep us updated on how you are doing.
Take lots of care.
11-26-2017 09:27 AM - edited 11-26-2017 09:31 AM
Hi Jo Anne , my heart goes out to you . This is a parents greatest fear . There is a saying "you only ever as happy as your unhappiest child " and when they hurt we hurt even more . Your worry must be enormous . Some food for thought :
1. Without knowing her psychologist , I would say is she seeing someone she really " connects " with . A counsellor maybe better than a psychologist as they may have the interpersonal skilled repatoire for getting inside her head and delving deeply . Connection with your therapist is one if the greatest predictors of better outcomes with depression .
2. Medication . There maybe another medication that is a better " fit " . Don't give up on it . If her depression is biochemical then no amount of " cheering her up and telling her to push through it is going to work . It's like wading through fog . She's going to need a baseline of wellbeing from which she can work from . Otherwise it will feel insurmountable .
3 The suicidal ideation . Keep trying to get through to her the importance of her telling you when she is having suicidal thoughts . If she knows this is the illness talking and she needs to protect herself from it , she will be more inclined to let you know when they surface . Tell her it's like a wave , that you will ride with her . Understanding that she has clouded judgement because she is mentally unwell will help her to separate the thoughts from triggering behaviours that are harmful , and she can seek you out in that fleeting moment of clarity .
4 Please take care of yourself . Make sure you have time with friends and family , and someone you can offload with. Get close family to be with her sometimes to share the load and give you a break .
. If she has a Mum like you on her journey she will get there . Don't despair and don't give up . Keep searching for help and answers . Love and support to you both
11-26-2017 09:31 PM - edited 11-26-2017 09:32 PM
Hi @Jo-Anne Welcome to the Reach Out Parents forum. It is such a stressful and distressing time watching your children suffering. I remember feeling so helpless and lost when my daughter was suffering in this way.
@motherbear has some great advice, especially about medication. Medication can help with the chemical imbalance in the brain and help regulate the extreme mood and feelings that someone with depression can experience. The right medication has had such a positive impact for my family. In my experience, all the counselling sessions and other self-help would not have been as effective without the medication. Perhaps you can speak with your GP about trying a different medication?
Has your daughters GP or Psychologist spoken to your daughter about other coping strategies, other than self-harming? There are strategies she can try that offer a similar sense of relief when she has the urge to self harm, but are a lot less harmful - like wearing an elastic band on her wrist and flicking it. Many reports say that delaying an urge to self harm, even by several minutes can be enough to make the urge fade away.
Please also try to get some help for yourself. It will make caring for your daughter easier.
11-27-2017 06:42 PM
I have tried all sorts of ways to help her some are giving her a red texta to mark herself with. One of her rewards for not self harming for two months was to go to Japan for two weeks as an exchange student. She was looking forward to this a great deal. But alas as soon as she came home she self harmed. I have tried the elastic band to no avail. She has been getting aggressive but I try to brush this off as a coping mechanism for her. I had a safety plan in place for her at school and at home but because of her delicacy with her emotions it is constantly changing and evolving. My biggest fear is that she will attempt a suicide again. She tried this but only told me about it in the last few months. So when she is really melting down I am on suicide watch. Sometimes I will hold her until she falls asleep then I stay with her all night, just to make sure she makes it through and to show her she isn’t alone.
I have a 16 year old who says to me she doesn’t understand why she feels the way she feels (her sister) she sometimes cries on my shoulder when she is scared for her sister. The older sister also comes to my defense when the younger one has gone too far. My husband has tried what we call daddy dates and takes her out, but this hasn’t helped. When she goes to her girlfriends house I have great fears but I have to show I do trust her but it is hard. It’s hard when she has just given up. How do I get her interested in life again?
11-27-2017 07:10 PM
Hello Motherbear, Thank you for your concerns her Councillor is also a psychologist. The GP only wanted her on the medication for 6 months as he said she is still developing. Her depression is an off shoot of her anxiety.
She still gets up for school and goes to school. She went to the school Councillor but she came home and was very scared because the school Councillor said she was a risk and that she would be better in foster care. She asked me does she have to see that school Councillor again. I said not if she feels that the lady is to negative towards her. The school Councillor had my daughter convinced that she was going to take her away from the family it was hard. I had to ring parent line for advice, after talking to them they said they will not take her away. I was just as scared as she was. I felt that this school Councillor had unraveled five years of keeping my daughter feeling safe to being unsafe at home within an hour. Why would you say that to a child with such issues?
How do I make her believe that she belongs to the family, that she isn't a disappointment but a very much loved child. I mean this example, the other day, I came home from work and she wrote on a piece of paper "For the Mother who is loving and strong with love hearts and a Strawberry drink. The piece of paper is now on my fridge to give me hope. When she has her good days she is loving, kind, courageous and funny. Then she withdraws. I don't know what to do, except to keep fighting for her.
I see her Councillor/Psychologist this week to work out some issues with my daughter. I'm glad I have found you to talk to, it helps to write my fears down. I am trying to keep positive. I have a friend who is a trauma Councillor and another male Councillor who all know my daughter and give me hope that she will pull through. My family is hurting but we put a brave face on and we still do a lot of things together even though my daughter can put a dampener on the fun, but We will persevere as a group. At the moment we are in a calm stage, I hope it lasts a while.
11-27-2017 08:53 PM
Hey @Jo-Anne, I'm so sorry to hear about your daughter. I understand how hard as a parent it is to get your head around. I hope you've had a chance to read through the fact sheet @Mona-RO suggested. It provides some great info.
It's so distressing when our teens lose interest in the things they've always loved. Mine was the same, and lost interest in school as well. If it's any consolation, education and interests aren't always gone forever. My daughter needed time to learn how to manage her mental illness, which she has taken a couple of years doing. I was so worried as she missed a whole 3 terms of school, but settled into distance education really well. She's back at tennis, reconnected with friends, and has a part time job - all things I was so worried wouldn't happen.
With loads of love and understanding, which your family oozes, she will get through. It can be hard to imagine when they are struggling so much and in so much emotional pain, but I've seen it with my daughter. During the hard times though, I think the best we can do is listen, love, support and accept that they aren't where we'd like them to be, if that makes sense? It can be really hard, so it's great you go for walks and you have fun family time on weekends, no matter what. Even though the daddy dates haven't seen any improvement in her mood, can I suggest your husband continues with that if your daughter agrees? I think it's a really lovely idea and deep down I think it's showing her that she is important and loved, no matter what has gone on during the week.
Being a support and keeping the lines of communication open are awesome things that you are doing. Your daughter's lucky to have such a close family.
11-27-2017 09:11 PM
Hi Taokat, I have read the fact sheet that @Mona-RO suggested. When I had a traumatic accident 4 years ago the psychologist I was seeing for pain management, I explained what was happening and she gave me a lot of research on self harming. Your fact sheet had the same information to what she provided me with. I thank you so much for the concerns regarding my daughter. Its lovely not to be judged and feel like a bad mother as I do question where did I go wrong.
I have to also deal with a husband who says how many times do you hit a brick wall and he wants to give up. He also blames her attitude on her not having many friends and being a know it all. I have explained to him that she is very like him. You should embrace her curiosity and knowledge especially for some one so young, but he just withdraws. He is trying is best. Thanks for your support, this goes to everyone.
11-27-2017 10:07 PM
I think you're doing great work. Keep it up and don't be discouraged.
I'm sorry to say that I have no quick fix for you, all I can suggest is find a compatible group of medicos in the requisite disciplines and go from there. As for you, I suggest you simply offer unconditional love. It has worked for me but it is far from a quick fix. Expect to be tested by various behaviors too as she will need to see that you mean it. Perhaps some counseling for the rest of your family can help you all cope, a family is a unit and when one bit is out of whack, the whole thing is not functional. Do not blame yourself, that is destructive and almost invariable untrue. Good luck!!
11-27-2017 10:24 PM
@Jo-Anne I absolutely love this "you should embrace her curiosity and knowledge especially for some one so young"
How beautiful. What an amazing sentiment to have towards your child during these most trying of times, you sound very well rounded and in tune with what is going on. We're always here to listen and support, you deserve support as well.