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Grieving for a child right in front of me

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Grieving for a child right in front of me

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Grieving for a child right in front of me

My first post here...
My daughter is 16. We are 2.5 years into our mental health journey but only diagnosed for the past year. At this stage we’re still looking into more but she is diagnosed with generalised anxiety, depression, and severe panic disorder.
I’ve watched a happy, confident, vibrant child who was ready to take on the world, turn into someone who struggles to get through to day without shaking, crying or medication to control her breathing.
I used to ask myself if I didn’t work so much would I have noticed more or these signs early that something "wasn't quiet right".
Early on I came to the conclusion I can only focus on how we are fairing week by week...sometimes day by day. No amount of beating myself up with make me a better mother - just exhaust me.
Some days I feel I don’t know what the hell to do (the hospitalisation weeks, where she simply wants it all to end and makes statements saying she wants to die)....often there is no triggers and no answers.
I feel as if I'm bracing for the day that it actually happens. We have a huge team around us of psychologists, psychiatrist, school plans and even a naturopath treating her. 
I miss who my child was. This makes me the saddest. I can’t accept this change (but haven't let it show). I literally feel like I’m grieving for her when she’s right in front of me.
Some days I don’t have the energy to get through the day if I take care of myself or show emotion so I’ve become very good and putting how I feel aside and just getting on with it.
Friends often say "I don't know how you cope". I just smile and think to myself....actually I don't think I am.
I feel like I have to kick into “robot mode” to hold down my mad schedules and the home schedule. I’m the brave one, I’m the main provider and I’m the one who always carries everyone’s **bleep** and keeps it together. I’m a manager/new business owner and I can’t tell you how much I’ve had to carry emotion wise with covid on my business. One step forward, two back.
Emotionally everyone dumps on me and I carry it.

All I can say is this journey has shown me who my true friends are and who was never healthy to remain in our lives.
In the past month I’ve started to feel higher anxiety within myself and like I’m constant holding back tears. I want to scream when people tell me how hard they have it.
I've sought counselling in the past and it’s never made me feel good.
I’m considering thoughts around starting counselling in the coming month (I seriously don’t know where I will find the time) but I worry it may actually exhaust me further having to talk about it all. Just seeing and updating my daughters team and the school exhausts me.
My sleep is poor but this is nothing new.
I've added walking weekly and when I feel the pressure is too high I literally step out and take 30 mins grab a coffee and just have the headspace from it all. 

I wanted to ask how many here actually get counselling for themselves or your other children when you have a family member struggling with mental health?
Star contributor

Re: Grieving for a child right in front of me

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Hi @blueskies , 


My heart really went out for you reading that, and I think you've expressed what a lot of people feel when someone close to them is really unwell - it really can feel like a grieving process.  It sounds like your daughter has had a really challenging couple of years, and it also sounds like you've done a great job in making sure that she is surrounded by the right professionals to support her.  It must be heartbreaking as a parent to see your child struggling so much. 


It sounds like you have a lot on your shoulders, not only with supporting your daughter, but also running your own business in the midst of global pandemic and as you said, being the one that everyone dumps on. I know that I can really relate to going into 'robot mode' - I'm a parent myself and both of my kids have had some health challenges in the past and been through hospitalisations. I find that I can cope really well in a crisis and run on adrenalin for awhile, but once the really intense period has passed I will often crash a bit. 


I know that a lot of parents do find it really helpful to have support from a counsellor or psychologist when their child is experiencing mental health difficulties- it can take time to find the right mental health professional for you, but it is so important to remember to look after yourself.  It's great that you've started to walk weekly and take a bit of time out for yourself, having some space to recharge can be a real game changer.  One option for getting help could be talking to your GP to get a mental health care plan, which will give you access to medicare rebates for sessions with a psychologist. ReachOut also offer a free one to one support service with up to four sessions with a professional who's experienced in supporting parents and carers, the service is available over the phone or online so could be a good option if you are short on time. You can find out more about that service here if you're interested. 


Thanks so much for posting here,  it sounds like you are doing an amazing job of supporting your child and your family, and you deserve help and support yourself. The community is here anytime you need to vent, you're not alone. 

Parent/Carer Community Champion

Re: Grieving for a child right in front of me

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Hi @blueskies , 

I'm here as another parent, and I have a 16 year old a son and 14 year old daughter. Meanwhile, I have a chronic to acute auto-immune disease and have had periods throughout the kids' lives where my treatments have been intense. My life hanging in the balance and the kids have been traumatised. It was also my job to seek help for them and do what I could to help my husband and try to support us all through this as best I could. I wasn't able to work for quite awhile because I had chemo, and my values shifted as well and the kids also needed me. By this stage we'd pulled in our belts and were getting by. I am currently deeply embroiled in research and hoping to relaunch myself along an acadmic trajectory somehow. 

So, that's a bit of my background. I know a lot about appointments too. 

However, it's actually my experiences as a teenager which come to mind for you. When I was about 16 one of my friends developed acute anorexia. Not only did she lose a lot of weight, but she also went silent. This was a huge change, because she'd previously been very funny and the clown (which in hindsight was a warning, but when you're laughing it doesn't necessarily twig). It's been over 30 years, and I haven't forgotten what it was like to watch my friend vanish before my eyes. It was absolutely heartbreaking. Then, I rang up to speak to her in the holidays, and her mum told me she was in hospital and what was going on. We had a wonderful talk and I know I spoke to her a few times and he helped each other get through. 

However, as you know, that was only one side of the coin. The biggest trouble we faced was how to bring her back outside of herself, and she did come back but it took quite awhile and she found many of us had moved on a bit when she did.  

Around this time, my mother also closed down after my brother had got into some difficulties. I couldn't reach her either and she watched a lot of TV to cope. She couldn't talk about things. Wouldn't seek professional help and again I was left sitting on the fence watching.

I'm not a professional but it seems these people really need so much patience and the time and space to be able to make those really small , almost invisible steps forward without being hit of the head and dragged out too quickly. It's very hard when you're not seeing any progress and all seems lost but none of this probably makes sense anyway. I am an extroverted extrovert and my daughter is an introvert and she really clams up and when I took her to a psychologist, she curled into foetal position and shut off completely. The psychologist's efforts to reach out to touch her, only made it worse. Since then, I've had to be her support. 

There are a few things that have helped me over the years. 

Never under-estimate the importance of your love for your daughter and it's power to heal and it's already making a difference. Love is the greatest healer of all. 

The power of nature for all of you. You don't even need to get outside. You can go to your happy place inside your head. Picture something that makes you happy. 

Have a cup of tea in a nice cup. I collect antique and vintage cups. A cup of tea takes 5 minutes out of your day but can just give you a breather.

I'm a dog person. Our family has three dogs, which I consider therapy dogs. They are so loving and caring and a wag of the tail is so uplifting. You can get specially trained anxiety therapy dogs, and one of my friends has had one for her daughter who experiences anxiety. 

Journalling either for yourself or your daughter. 

Acknowledge to yourself when it's getting too much. You might not be able to change anything but I think it is good to acknowledge the load you're carrying and give yourself a pat on the back even if it is very hard, you're not coping. There is no perfect when you're going through stuff like this. 

Lastly, I think we need to have some kind of public acknowledge of "Intensive Care" for people going through hard times but aren't in a hospital intensive care ward. Where you might need a friend to cook a meal once a week or for someone to set up a meal roster for awhile. A friend of mine took in a hopeless guy and was a bit overwhelmed by some of his issues but we went round and cooked dinner. I knew someone like him and felt quite comfortable with the situation. A church had taken him in for 6 months. So, it can and should be a team effort where possible. 

Not everyone is capable of being there, and I suspect there are very few people who are actually "okay" through covid. It's putting an extra layer of stress on everyone, and as a business owner I'd imagine it's putting quite a load on you. 

I hope some of this helps. It's a long road and hopefully you'll find a few people here who can be there with you along the way. 

Best wishes,


Casual scribe

Re: Grieving for a child right in front of me

I cant tell you how much I feel your pain. I too have a 17 year old daughter turning 18 in the next month with severe social anxiety and depression. She is on medication and seeing a psychologist but its a constant roller coaster. Most nights anywhere between 11.30pm and 2.30am she has complete melt downs and sobs and sobs and says how lonely she is but trapped in her own head. It breaks my heart. I too work fulltime and am a single mum trying to hold it all together, I worry about losing my job because of all the time I have to have off. I'm exhausted too and feel like all I want to do is pull the sheets over my head and just cry and cry until I cant anymore. I love my daughter but it sometimes feels like ill never have a life as I will be caring for her forever. At 18 I would have thought she would be out doing her own thing with friends and all, but in reality, she is couped up in the house 24/7 as she fears judgement and persecution. She had to leave year 12 as she could no longer cope and today is their graduation. She is a mess as she misses her friends and wishes she too was graduating, but, she cant. It is so hard to watch a once beautiful intelligent young girl with so much potential slowly withdraw from life to the point she has no friends and spends most days on her own. Cant go to TAFE, UNI or even get a job as she cant deal with the social aspect. She says she doesn't want her birthday as she has no one, when everyone else is celebrating with birthday parties etc. with all their friends.

Life is just so unfair sometimes. I go to the psychologist  with her as she cant go on her own but I do not actually receive any counselling myself. I often feel lost and sometimes very frustrated as I don't know how to help her. I too resign myself to the fact that this is it and when she says she doesn't want to be here, I wonder if one day my worst fear will come to fruition. How do we not blame ourselves, not think of all the ifs, buts and maybes of things we should have done or done better.

Prolific scribe

Re: Grieving for a child right in front of me

Hi @sltolson


I can only imagine how difficult that must be for you and your daughter. It's so exhausting, scary and stressful when those we love are struggling with their mental health - and I'd say that it's even worse when it is our own children. It sounds like you're doing all the right things for your daughter Heart How long has she been seeing her psychologist? Have there been any improvements since she began?

I would also definitely advocate for you getting some professional support for yourself, as we can often forget just how heavy a burden it is to support someone, until we are able to actually stop and reflect