03-07-2017 12:32 PM - edited 03-07-2017 06:09 PM
When we go through those really bad patches with our teenagers it's almost impossible to give as much as usual to our other, important relationships. It might be a spouse or defacto partner or close friends and family. But it's almost always people we enjoy spending time with, whose opinions we value and who support us when we need it. In other words, the ones we need when things go bad.
It's often impossible to ask for what we need from them. "I need you to take up the slack for a while. I need you to keep asking me to meet you even though I almost always say no and sometimes will say yes and then cancel last minute. I need you to keep calling to chat even though you've called me the last 5 times and I often don't pick up and never call back. I need you to keep listening to me talk about this issue, even though my issue has dominated our talks for some time now. I need you to listen without judgement, not push your opinions on me and to never, EVER get frustrated at me or my child because this issue is taking so long. I need you to keep this relationship alive because it's important to me and I need you in my life but right now my child is taking everything I have. Basically, I need you and I need you to not need me in return.Ok?"
We don't feel worthy. We feel selfish. So instead we either try and keep the relationship as usual, until we are so exhausted we have to cease contact, or we get so resentful we explode at them. Or we duck and dive. Screening calls and sending off apologetic texts giving elaborate reasons as to why we've bailed, again. Hoping that they haven't noticed how many times we've done this now.
The greatest irony is that most people, when asked to dig deep for a friend/partner/relative that they care deeply about, will do exactly that. Especially when they have an insight into the reason why.
So how do we ask our loved ones for what we need when we're giving everything we have to support our teenagers?
03-09-2017 04:58 PM
I'm not sure how common my situation is, but over the last few years asking for help hasn't really worked out for me. My daughter's father has never been around for her, so he's out. I don't have local friends, and my girl has been so poorly behaved around other friends, we are not invited anywhere anymore.
She refuses to stay with her grandparents, so although they would love to help me out more, they can't. My daughter is very good at shutting people down, so I have had to learn to pretty much keep to ourselves, look after myself the best I can, and soldier on!
I've lost friends because they don't understand and I guess it's too much for them. Friends take it personally if I'm not in regular contact, so I do the juggling game and am forever apologising to appease.
I would love to hear others experiences.
03-09-2017 06:14 PM
That's such a tough situation to be in @taokat You're really stuck between a rock and a hard place, aren't you.
Sometimes the situations we have with our kids are so extreme it's almost like being held hostage. It's very natural to feel trapped. You do incredibly well to maintain the level of positivity that you do.
I'm sorry the people around you haven't been much help. As much as I wish life were simply about asking for what we need, unfortunately we're not always surrounded by people that are able to deliver it. Which is their deficit, not yours.
I'm sure you've given it a go but could you get some respite with the grandparents but just for shorter periods? I'm just thinking that maybe exposure to each other might help form some bonds so eventually your daughter could stay there for a weekend? Or would they be willing to do the coaching course to build their skills so they can deal with her better?
03-14-2017 10:30 PM
Hi @Ngaio-RO, Thanks for your reply. Yes, I've tried many things, without much success.
However, I am taking a weekend away before August. I've organised it with my parents so that one of them will come and stay with my daughter.
I'm really looking forward to that!
03-16-2017 02:44 PM
Love those gifs ladies
I reckon a forum like this (and internet access too!) would have been just the solution to that Isolation problem, or at least a big helping 'voice', with others to empathise and 'prop us' back up again
Being a parent, let alone a single one can be really tough going. I was incredibly isolated when my children were younger and by and large its been a lonely journey with no (well) family to speak of. Being hungry (starving actually) for solitary time more than anything, social activities were always about the kids and having three of them made asking for help very difficult in general.
In reality, most families these days are very much absorbed in their own affairs too - we're a (too) busy world, plain and simple. Few have time to reachout and recognising that everyone is under the pump, makes it even harder.
How old is your daughter? Do you get any support with her at all? Glad you have some time off coming up, but I can't help thinking that it isn't enough in the long run.
03-19-2017 04:08 PM
It is a hard gig hey @taziness, and a lonely one at times.
My daughter is 14, 15 next month. She is actually old enough to leave on her own but she has awful psychosis which is not yet fully managed. She hears voices and is surrounded by 'ghosts' and she becomes very frightened, so I don't like to leave her if I can avoid it.
She won't go and stay with family to give me a break and my other main support networks are online, so it has been tricky. I'm so looking forward to a couple of days away though.
How do you manage with support and asking for help? It must be hard for you with three.
Loved your pun, "few have time to reachout"! It is so true what you say though.
03-20-2017 08:18 AM
That's a really tough gig @taokat. I can understand that you would want to be close by. I do hope you guys find some more support though
It's been a rough ride for me really, and I've managed by just getting by. Mainly my coping mechanism has come down to having a social household as it has fitted (we've had to move a lot over the years as renters) to balance out our family, if you know what I mean. I involved us in lots of community gigs and actively sought out stuff for us to do as a family. Despite challenges with their fatther and his lack of competency as a parent, I have had to let go of a lot of 'stuff' and 'put him' in the caring role as desperation called for at times!
More recently though, my own mental health got the better of me. I'm finally starting to get a hold on my own stuff now though, having not worked for almost two years and only just starting to reconsider it (and how!) again. Fortunately I've managed to secure us a home though and have a really supportive partner nowadays (at long last! Lots to be said about trying to do this solo), so things are more settled and secure for all of us and with a clearer idea of just what our issues are/have been. The kids are a lot older now too, nearly all teens, and so I feel more able to be honest. I've been bottling up a lot for years, and pretending through the tougher times. It's been a lot to absorb in one being.
How do you and your daughter manage her illness? My own diagnosis is Borderline Personality Disorder or Emotional Dysregulation. Not quite having psychotic episodes, my own condition manifests in physical pain disorder, fatigue, anxiety and extreme emotion. It's managed at long last these days though, mainly with awareness, an incredible slowing down of the pace of my life and medication. Does she self manage, what keeps her on her path?
Online forums/facebook have finally becoming a source of support for me/us. Information is empowering and the hope of encouraging shifts in attitudes towards mental health/wellbeing and more supports is helpful. Feels a lot better than stewing that's for sure
03-29-2017 12:31 PM
Hi @taziness, so sorry for my late reply! I've been in lockdown myself this last week or two, taking care of myself.
You've had a really hard run too! Thank you for sharing, it's less isolating knowing others are having or have had similar struggles.
My daughter has Bipolar I, PTSD and anxiety disorder. I have depression and PTSD. We're a healthy pair! Lol.
My daughter has learnt to cope quite well with her issues. She had 18 months isolated from the world in her bedroom, but in that time she has actually been working really hard on herself, figuring out what strategies work best for her while discovering who she is.
Our best way of coping is communication. We talk a lot, being 14 I can now explain to her more about my bad days as well. We have our bad days, but we don't focus on that, we focus on the repair which we have become excellent at!
Understanding what is happening with her really helps. I've learnt so much about her psychology, so we can pick up on her triggers quickly, we're aware of times of the month she struggles more. I know why she behaves and thinks the way she does at times, and patience, understanding and love gives the best results!
My daughter's coping skills include removing herself from the situation to calm down. She uses meditation apps, and has learnt some massage techniques to massage pressure points to calm herself. Talking about things, allowing her to vent and to just listen initially, is an awesome skill. Once she has vented, later on we talk about ways of thinking etc.
On my bad days, she makes me a cup of tea, checks in on me and gives me space if I need it.
She's growing into a lovely compassionate young woman, I love her to bits!