How do you help your teen deal with the stigma of Mental Illness?

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Parent Peer Supporter

How do you help your teen deal with the stigma of Mental Illness?

Hi,

It is 9 weeks since my 14 y/o daughter had a breakdown and I learnt of her depression/ suicidal thoughts. Since then we have had appointments with Drs, psychologists, psychiatrists and I know it will be a long road to recovery.

She doesn't want people to know. 

There are a few people that have to know (her dad, brothers, nan) because her safety is at risk and our sharps, medications etc are locked up and they are assisting with her care.

She doesn't tell her friends & only one teacher at her school knows.

If she had a physical illness that put her life at risk people would understand why we look so tired, are struggling with day to day activities and missing school work. But with this they don't.

What helps you cope with that?

K

 

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Contributor

Re: How do you help your teen deal with the stigma of Mental Illness?

@LovingThruBlue I am sorry to hear about your daughter. I've gathered the suicide infos on reachout site, you might want to have a look.

https://parents.au.reachout.com/Search?keyword=suicide

You have come to the right place at the parent forum. It's anonymous and people of same/similar experiences may share there thoughts or at least rent out. Let's hear what others have to say. @Mitzi


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Parent Peer Supporter

Re: How do you help your teen deal with the stigma of Mental Illness?

 @readthemanual thank you so much for those links. There is so much information there!

I am so glad to have found this forum. I have been scouring the internet for weeks and was thrilled to come across this place where others will have an idea of how I'm feeling. Thank you 

Contributor

Re: How do you help your teen deal with the stigma of Mental Illness?

Hi @LovingThruBlue, we are glad you found us as well! As a teenager I was in a similar position to your daughter.

 

I feel desperately sad for you. This period is so uncomfortable, so unfamiliar. You almost want to bubble-wrap her to protect her from the world, and from herself.

 

The single most important thing right now is to get her a therapist she likes and trusts. Without wanting to presume I know your exact circumstances I am concerned when you say your "sharps, medications etc are locked up". That's not sustainable long-term and in the short-term immediate family will be worn down by exhaustion of having to be "on guard" and alert all the time.

 

Your daughter is dealing with an illness. An illness which needs to be treated with medication and cognitive-behavioural strategies to help her manage that illness. I can understand why "she doesn't want people to know". People look at you differently when you tell them you have a mental illness. You see in their faces fear, pity, confusion, embarrassment and - occasionally - understanding. 

 

You're right, it's a long road to recovery. It takes time before the whole family can sit together and relax, and not be self-censoring every word so as not to say the wrong thing or "trigger" an unpleasant episode.

 

So how do you cope? One foot in front of the other, repeat. The right therapist, an understanding GP, being able to connect with people who have had similar experiences (us!). If she's missing school or activities at the moment well so be it. It won't always be this way.

 

She's very lucky to have you as a parent.

 

Take care of yourself until we connect again.

 

 

 

 

Parent Peer Supporter

Re: How do you help your teen deal with the stigma of Mental Illness?

Hi @Mitzi

You understand and that feels great!

 

Firstly, thank you for mentioning the school thing because that does worry me although my daughter's amazing GP did tell us last night that we mustn't worry about that now. "We'll support you to catch up later when you're well"

 

We are so very lucky that over the past 2 months thngs initially started slowly but once the severity of her depression became evident T has been taken into the care of a hospital team who see her weekly and we can call them 24/7, they have a fantastic psychiatrist and that GP who we have now is young but experienced and my daughter feels comfortable with all of these people we have now (as do I). It took a little time to find the right "fit" with a change of GP and psychologist but I am confident she is in the right hands. 

 

Can I ask... I know that she isn't telling them everything but I assume that the trust and confidence she has in these wonderful people will build and she will tell them more do you think? She told me last night "I don't tell them absolutely everything" and when I asked why she said "because I don't know what they'll do with it".

 

At the moment her medical team are teetering on admitting her to an inpatient facility and that scares the heck out of the both of us (I don't tell her of my fear though of course).

 

Thank you all for your support. 

Contributor

Re: How do you help your teen deal with the stigma of Mental Illness?

Hello @LovingThruBlue

 

It's so reassuring to hear you have:

  • a great GP
  • a hospital team helping you navigate this period
  • a daughter who still trusts you and talks to you honestly

I admire that even though you have this, you are still doing your own research to become more informed on your daughter's illness and treatment.

 

Please remember that as a "Parent Peer Supporter" I am here to share my lived experience as opposed to providing answers as if I was a trained mental health professional.

 

Having said that, I do have a couple of things I'd like to share after reading your last post. Firstly, don't be scared of the in-patient suggestion. If she needs that level of support temporarily then do it. Ask your daughter if she's willing to try it for x number of days so it is a voluntary decision and admission. The other thing is (and oh I am a rotten mother for saying this - too bad) if she spends some time as an inpatient that is respite time for the family - a time to recalibrate with the certainty that your daughter is in safe hands

 

Secondly, the "not telling them everything" could just be a barrier while she learns to trust the health team (as you said). Sometimes with depression we have thoughts which are so black that we feel if we share them, people would despise us and abandon us. These thoughts are just ramblings of the brain rather than feelings we might act on, however they make us feel too ashamed and too horrible to share. Or it the depressive illness where we just feel we want to be dead - I'm not talking about thoughts of actively achieving this - just the feeling "I wish I was dead" so that the pain, the helplessness, the hopelessness, the shame, would stop.

 

I feel optimistic for you. Let me know how you're doing.

Parent Peer Supporter

Re: How do you help your teen deal with the stigma of Mental Illness?

Dear @Mitzi

That all makes so much sense.

Jeez it feels so good chatting to someone who understands.

I get that you are not a health specialist but you can share a whole other aspect than they can.

 

Thank you !

Community Manager

Re: How do you help your teen deal with the stigma of Mental Illness?

Hi @LovingThruBlue, I'm so glad you've found it helpful to share with us here. I was thinking if your daughter would be interested in a similar safe, anonymous space to start talking openly about her mental health without "outing" herself to friends/family, she could try the ReachOut Youth Forums

 

How did the weekend go, are you any closer to a decision on an inpatient stay?

Parent Peer Supporter

Re: How do you help your teen deal with the stigma of Mental Illness?

Hi @ElleBelle,

The Youth forums are a great idea thank you. I will find a good moment to sit down with her and show her.

No decision on the inpatient stay as yet. I think they're waiting to see how much the medication works perhaps?

 

I'm having a bad week. My daughter's GP brought up the fact last week that she doesn't want her to have to do Yr9 assessments/ exams at school which I totally agreed with. First the school said that with medical certs she can be exempt but then only the next day the the same GP (who is great btw) spoke to them and they both did a backflip and the school are saying that if she doesn't do them she'll fail Y9 and have to repeat. They want her to do them at home. So either I take time off work on top of all the time I'm already taking so that I can be home and she can do them then, or she is expected to do them in the evenings at her worst time of the day even though just getting through the day is hard. Not to mention that she is trying so hard to even go to school and this would mean more days off if she doesn't do them at night.

I feel defeated right now. It'll be temporary. It's a rollercoaster and this sure is a low spot Smiley Sad 

I need to gather some strength to keep fighting for her. 

Community Manager

Re: How do you help your teen deal with the stigma of Mental Illness?

Wow, that sounds really tough @lovingthrublue but it sounds like you're aware the low is temporary and its a bit of a roller coaster. It's really important to practice some self care and try not to get too deflated at set backs for your own sake too!