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My 13 yr old won't go to school and I feel lost

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My 13 yr old won't go to school and I feel lost

Casual scribe

Re: My 13 yr old won't go to school and I feel lost

I’m so sad that it seemed you didn’t get any replies. I have been looking for a chat room to help me through but I’m finding the same thing. No one answers. I hope you didn’t walk in to the ocean and I hope things got better because I’m where you were.
Active scribe

Re: My 13 yr old won't go to school and I feel lost

Hi metoo,


I am so glad you reached out to answer my message. First of all, I want to say I know how you feel. And I didn't follow through on my feelings to walk into the water. I remember that day and it was a horrible day. Being able to talk about it on this forum was really helpful and made me feel I wasn't alone.


For 2 years our daughter had not attended school, was self harming and had lost connection to all her peers. It was and has been a terrible time for us and her twin brother. We had no support from the public health system as resources were so stretched during covid. 

She has seen 4 psychologists, one psychiatrist and 2 therapists - the psychiatrist is still working with her but she only gets 15 minutes in a phone call and there have only been two of those in the last 6 months. I should say we did finally find a therapist who she began to see regularly and is still seeing. She also was doing Art therapy - once a fortnight she went to an art therapist - art therapy is about being in a safe place and talking or not talking, but by doing creative things whether its drawing or painting or clay work or making slime, it gives the person a chance to relax and focus on something else. This helped her greatly. She never really thought of it as therapy but after each session, she was more relaxed and had had a good time, I will point out that at this stage the only contact she had with people were myself and my husband, her twin brother and her therapists.


The next biggest help was when her psychiatrist prescribed a medication for her which helped calm down the over activity of her brain and slowed down her 'fight or flight' response.  I dont want to go on too much but I do want you to know that we took the extreme measure of moving house so she is no longer in the area where she felt there were too many bad things that had happened. A few weeks ago we moved away and believe it or not, she is actually going to school. Yes, she started at the local high school after doing two meetings. She had a panic attack after the first meeting. But she persevered with preparing to go back to school and the school as well was amazingly supportive. She has now been to school 10 days after 2 false starts,  It has taken us 2 years, countless therapy sessions, meltdowns, anxiety and near nervous breakdowns for myself and my husband to get here.

I finally applied for carer's allowance as I was unable to work full time and even my study and daily life was impacted - I'm sure you know about that. I also applied for my son as he has Aspergers Syndrome.  This has enabled us to have a little money to put toward the cost of therapy as some of it has not been covered by medicare. And the medication which was costing about 39 dollars is now 9.80 as she also received healthcare card. I would be happy for us to keep chatting. Please share with me what you are going through. I found it did help to be on here because I could be honest anonymously. I think that despite the hideousness of the last 2 years, and the struggles we have had finding help, we have remained a close family and it is important that even if you don't understand what your child is feeling or going through, that you continually tell them you love them and you are there for them.  I finally realised I could not 'fix' everything and I was honest with my daughter about that. But  I  began making sure I would say to her - 'I hear how much you are hurting and I may not be able to make it go away but I am right here, I am holding you and I am on your side.' We always tell her no matter what we are behind her. Sometimes she is very angry at us and her anger is caused by fear of what she is going through and the hopelessness she feels. It took me along time to realise that her anger, her abuse and her insults to me were not because she hates me - but because she feels safe knowing no matter what she says, I am there for her unconditionally. Once I realised this, it began to change how I reacted to her abuse or anger. And pretty soon she began to apologise after these outbursts. Now they are much fewer than they were. We went from several a day to now 1  or 2.  She has stopped self-harming. She is going to school and I don't care if she doesn't do her lessons. Because the first thing is to get her back there to socialise and feel like a normal teen. It actually happening. She still is having moments of anxiety - she thinks she doesn't fit in or belong there - but she is still getting up in the morning and going. For months she used to lie in bed all day. stay up all night because she coudldnt sleep. Wouldnt shower or brush her teeth. We almost have our daughter back. It may take another 2 years but we are on the way. Please stay in touch with me. I am here to l listen and I know what you are going through. Even if I cant help I can listen to you and offer support. It is possible to get through this - I dint think it was but now I know it is, SO please let me know what s happening with you and perhaps even talking about it with me might help. Sending you my very best wishes. I look forward to your reply. 


Re: My 13 yr old won't go to school and I feel lost

Thank you so much for sharing your story with the community @Hopesprings123 


You and your daughter went through such a challenging journey, and I have no doubt that the improvements you see are a testament to the love and support you showed your girl. 


It shows that no matter how dark and scary things get, there is always the potential for growth and healing. 


It sounds like you went through a lot during that time, and I want to acknowledge that - please know that we are still here to listen when the weight of the past few years is on your shoulders. Thank you again for showing such beautiful support to another parent having a hard time - it makes such a huge difference to know you're not alone and there's hope. 

Active scribe

Re: My 13 yr old won't go to school and I feel lost

Thank you Bre-Ro, Until I found this forum I honestly had no idea how many other parents were going through this.  It immediately made me feel less alone. There is no magic answer or cure for what is happening to our children. And the toll it takes on us and our families is horrendous.


Because we are now after so long, seeing some small steps of progress, I want to share that so other mums and dads know it is possible. And when it begins to happen it is an amazing feeling.


But until the big changes start - take the small wins. And do what ever it takes to make your kid feel better. For us it was sometimes having to watch a certain movie - usually animated over and over. Or spend hours just listening to her talk and not trying to fix it! Just listening and acknowledging their pain and their sadness without providing any answer but just love  and support - and telling them that over and over - And always have chocolate in the pantry.


For any parent whose child is having what I call an episode - sobbing, incoherent, upset beyond reason - I would give my daughter a spoonful of honey or a sour lolly - like a gummy worm and encourage her to have it (yes even while she was hysterical) the reason is, the taste shocks the brain into being distracted from what it happening at that time. It interrupts the train of thought and  that is sometimes enough to bring her back to 'normal' so we can comfort her, hold her and she can talk to us rationally.  One of her therapists told me about this, especially before she was on any medication -  and it really works. Sometimes sweet warm tea or warm chocolate - it is like when someone is in shock. On the odd occasion, if she did go out with a friend, her social anxiety would often lead to a panic attack - so I made sure she had some sour gummies in her bag in case she needed to take one to help her lessen the effect of the panic.

It's been a while since we had to do that but we know it works and I can recommend it to anyone on here. 


We don't always get it right but we are listening to her more and she in turn, because we have been constant in our support even during the darkest days, is more open with us, and apologises for when she turns on us. She has started to return our love and trust. We still have a long way to go but for all of the parents out there dealing with this, don't give up. And stay in touch on here, And if you have friends or family who are not going to dismiss this as adolescent nonsense, and who are supportive - please ask them for support. Even a phone call for you to vent can help. I also have done an online chat with Beyond Blue on a particularly bad day because sometimes it's too hard to physically talk about this, But writing about it, like now, and having someone respond to you with kindness and understanding,  can make all the difference. So don't be afraid to engage on live chats with these services if they are offered. 

Good luck everyone and  I will post again. I hope you do too.



Prolific scribe

Re: My 13 yr old won't go to school and I feel lost

Hi @Hopesprings123 , thank you so much for sharing your story and some really thoughtful advice, I'm sure it will resonate deeply with other parents in similar situations and offer them some glimmers of hope that things can improve.


I love your advice about giving your daughter sour gummies when she's struggling to manage her emotions. As a young person who has struggled with panic attacks, I always carry a packet of sour lollies in my bag just in case - it really does ground you! I'm glad to hear that you've found some useful strategies to help your daughter cope in some really challenging times. From the way you speak about her and the difficult experiences you've shared together, I can tell just how patient and compassionate you, and sometimes having a parent like that can truly make all the difference. 


I hope that you'll keep us updated on how you and your daughter are progressing, and that others will draw strength from your story Heart