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Broken Dad, coping with daughters depression

Broken Dad, coping with daughters depression

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JohnT

Re: Broken Dad, coping with daughters depression

Papa Bill - 

Thank you for your supportive words and response.  I have greatly appreciated all the comments. 

 

I hear you on residential treatment.  I really do.  And, I have listened earnestly to the advice we have gotten in this area.  Prior to my daughters on August 25th, I had actually been researching facilities across the US.  I've got a great employer and I worked part time over a 2.5 week period of time so I could invest the time required to research residential programs.  I talked to more than 25 programs across the US and likely spent 100 hours researching these programs on the phone/internet.  I also flew across country to do a site visit for a few and drove to neighboring states to visit some.  I've not taken this decision lightly.  In fact, it is one of the things that keeps me up at night - can we do it at home?

 

I will share a bit more on my struggle - but, please don't take my comments here as debating the topic.  I NEVER want anyone reading this now or in the future to take it as a case against residential treatment.  I fully agree with the benefits of these programs.  In fact, my now 49 year old brother had his live saved as a teen as a result from going to a residential program (drug use and behavior problems for him back in the late 1980's / early 1990's).  In my research and site visits - I have met some of the most amazing people over the last month at these residential programs and received wonderful counsel.  

 

My struggle is the diversity of teens that make up these programs.  I have found the majority of these programs are serving teens and families where there are environmental or other behavior aspects at play - substance abuse, social problems back home, behavior problems, or gaps in the family unit.  I have certainly learned these programs have teens that are *only* dealing with depression and anxiety (i hate writing that word *only*, because we know how traumatizing that is).  But, I find that depression often leads to or results from "environmental" aspects that make the situation more complicated.  Those "environmental" aspects are not part of my daughters story (yet), she is dealing with something chemical / hereditary. 

 

I mentioned earlier that we placed my daughter in 2 different Outpatient Treatment Programs.  The first was Jan through March, 5 days a week for 6 hours a day.  The second was June through August, 4 days a week for 4 hours a day.  We received some goodness from these programs, but, we also experienced some challenges for my daughter.  My daughter was largely in a peer group of people that had challenges in their life or back home that she was not dealing with.  We teach our kids to love everyone - we are all in God's family.  But, her hearing "war stories" of peer teens (in many cases 2 to 5 years older), she started to shape her identity around this environment.  She heard horrific stories of struggle that seamly changed her personal standard and outlook on life.  It's hard to bifurcate where her mental health simply worsened on it's normal path, vs. where she may have been influenced by a peer group of experiences she had never heard before.  But, my assessment is it made her life more challenging as a result of being in a different peer group.

 

My daughter is close to her family.  She has an amazing group of friends that are at our house all the time.  She has a solid church group and frequently goes to lunch/dinner with her leaders in the middle school program.  And, she relies on this environment for strength.  So, after looking at residential programs - I saw a lot of goodness we could not offer.  But, there was some goodness we can offer.  One of the biggest benefits is my daughter would be stripped of the distractions she uses to "self medicate" herself into distraction.  For my daughter - that is mindless social media/iphone stuff.  It is checking out in isolation alone with her thoughts.  It also included unhealthy habits of not taking care of herself:  diet, lack of exercise, lack of healthy processing, journalling, etc.  Residential programs also offer an amazing safety plan / environment where these teens have 24/7 support and structure.  So, my wife and I drew up a 90 day plan on a 3 page document were we first agreed on what we would do.  We reviewed this in detail with my daughter, who was fully unboard.  I will spare the details of the 3 page document - but, it includes stuff like her living in a confined space in our house where we are always with her, she sleeps with my wife, her social life is at our house, no iphone/social media, exercise required, healthy diet, etc.  I won't pretend we are our own "residential" program.  But, we tried to take what we learned in our research of residential programs and put that structure in our home.  We are also doing individual and family counseling multiple times a week.  Our counselor has been very gracious and patient with us - she still recommends residential treatment, but, is working with us in this format.  I am sure many counselors would boundaries on how far they would go with a family doing our approach, and rightly so.

 

So, that's our plan right now.  My wife and I are still selecting a residential program as our "plan B" in case this does not progress.  My "fear" tells me we need to send her to residential.  But, my head and heart tell me we can do more.  I am trying to avoid listening to my "heart", but, listen to my head and seek God's intervention.  My prayer has been to "hit me over the head with a board" if we are making the wrong decision.  God hasn't hit me over the head yet :-), so, working the plan.  That said, I still have my doubts every day.  But, my daughter is in week 3 of our plan now and doing ok.  She likes having a plan and is onboard with it.  I've seen her manage things during this time she was not able to manage before.  Granted, her trauma of a few weeks ago gave her motivation and that motivation will wear off.  It took us over a year to get here and I know it will take us over a year (perhaps a life) to get her out of here.

 

Anyway, thanks for listening.  And I want to repeat for other parents who may read this - I have learned so many good things about residential programs.  These programs are filled with wonderful people and provide a great environment for teens.  I've talked to parents and teens that have been through them and heard amazing stories.  Residential programs are good places.  But, given where my daughter is and her commitment to our family - we haven't gotten there yet.  Our decision is not so much a Yes or No, but, a Not Now when we think we can do more as long as my daughter is committed.

 

Take care.

Parent/Carer Community Champion
PapaBill

Re: Broken Dad, coping with daughters depression

Hi @JohnT 

 

I am very glad to hear you have a plan in place.  I sounds comprehensive and I really hope and pray it is the next step on helping your daughter.

 


@JohnT wrote:

my wife and I drew up a 90 day plan on a 3 page document were we first agreed on what we would do.  We reviewed this in detail with my daughter, who was fully unboard.  I will spare the details of the 3 page document - but, it includes stuff like her living in a confined space in our house where we are always with her, she sleeps with my wife, her social life is at our house, no iphone/social media, exercise required, healthy diet, etc.  I won't pretend we are our own "residential" program.  But, we tried to take what we learned in our research of residential programs and put that structure in our home.  We are also doing individual and family counseling multiple times a week.  Our counselor has been very gracious and patient with us - she still recommends residential treatment, but, is working with us in this format. 

 


Let us know how things progress, it is great to see such involvement care and love from you in helping your daughter.

 

 

Mod
Jess1-RO

Re: Broken Dad, coping with daughters depression

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Hi @JohnT,

 

How are you finding this week? I have just been reading back over this thread and wanted to let you know this community has been thinking of holding hope for you and your family this week Heart

 

There were a few things that really resonated with me from the posts you have shared here that I wanted to share with you. 

 

Firstly, I can hear how much love you have for your family, and how much you are willing to do to support your daughter's wellbeing, and your own.

 

A few years I was a full time carer for someone who went through a really tough time, and I went to a family meeting at the hospital they were in and the doctor said something to me that really shifted the way I saw the impact on family that really speaks to what you have been saying about impact on your family. He looked at me and said if your family is a clock, and every person is a gear in the clock; you are all connected. When mental health spins one of the gears, it moves the others too where every connected gear is feeling the ripple effect of movement throughout the whole clock. Like this:

gears satisfying GIF

 

He told me it was okay to feel, and that he didn't expect me to hold up this "I'm okay, everything is okay" front and push down the impact it was having on me and those around me, because we were all connected. It really feeds into what you have mentioned about taking care of yourself- wellbeing and self care also has a ripple effect that helps your family too, and ensuring that every person in your family is doing what they need to do to look after their wellbeing is super important to restoring the balance

 

I would love to hear more about the things you do to look after yourself at the moment, it sounds like faith plays a really important part of your self care Smiley Happy

 

The second point that stood out to me is the discussion about residential care. I can hear you have done so much research, clearly something you have given hours and hours of thought to! Ultimately, you know your daughter and her needs best- I am hearing you have good instincts, trust your instincts. It sounds like you have put together the structure and support she needs right now, and that is a brilliant step that so many young people miss in their recovery! Any decision you make from here, I can see you are a resilient and loving parent, and such an important person in your daughter's life. We are all here sharing your hope for recovery; it can and does happen Heart

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