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Worried about my teen daughter aged 15

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Worried about my teen daughter aged 15


Worried about my teen daughter aged 15

My wife and I are very worried about our teen daughter. She was diagnosed with severe ocd a month and a half ago as well as ADHD. We are looking into getting another assessment because she was misdiagnosed in the past, as well as her recent behaviors that has been rapidly escalating within a few weeks. As for her OCD, it started with her having to wash her hands all the time, but then it turned into her washing and rinsing for 15 minutes because she feels that the soap is still on her hands.  She uses 3 rolls of toilet paper daily because she thinks water is splashing on her while using it and has to wipe it off using the entire roll. She also thinks that she is touching things when she is not, for example, when she was in the shower for 3 hours, I went to check on her and she stuck her head out of the curtain and said that she felt like she had just touched the toilet plunger or garbage  (while she was still in the shower). Yesterday in the kitchen she wanted a freezie but said she didn't want to get it because she was afraid that she was going to cut her hair with the scissors. I tried to explain to her that she would know if she cut her hair because she would be able to see what her hands were doing. She attempted to cut open her freezie and then after said she was still worried that she did end up cutting her hair.  Another time after being in the shower for 2 hours she said she wanted to go back in to wet her hair because while washing it she felt that she pulled out a chunk on her hair. She also has become very aggressive, emotionally, and verbally when she feels that she is not getting her way or when we take away privileges (such as her tv in her room)she has escalated to hitting the wall, swearing, yelling, saying that she hates her life and wants to kill herself. One thing that puzzles me is that she was diagnosed with a fear of contamination OCD, however when trying to reassure her about her contaminated fears, she gets annoyed saying that she does not fear contamination, its just that things are gross when they are on her hands etc. This past weekend we took her to the hospital because she threatened to kill herself  (again) the previous time we left once we got there because she had said that she didn't mean it and was just very angry. we explained to her that it worries us when she says things like that and if she says it again we will take it seriously. When we got to the hospital it was like she was a different person, (before we left the house she started laughing because we couldn't get her to leave her room, then she started crying for a bit when we were leaving) wanting to have a conversation, etc as if nothing happened. The doctor asked me to leave the room for a bit so she could speak with her however, my daughter didn't want me to leave but I had to.  After, the doctor told her after speaking with her that she feels like she has very good insight, however I have noticed that my daughter says what she thinks others want to hear. She even told us a few weeks ago that she is able to change who she is, even down to the tone of her voice, depending on who she is with. (?) As soon as we got home from the hospital, she started again because I was helping her take off her facemask and she started screaming that i was pulling her hair. Startled, I let go of the mask, so it didn't keep pulling and she then started screaming that I pulled her hair on purpose. I apologized and My wife and I both tried to explain to her that it was an accident, however she seemed erratic at the moment and said that I always do things on purpose to her.  I feel like since school has been out because of the pandemic, she is being very negative towards us. She has no friends at school and has always come home thinking that peers are talking about her or misinterprets facial expressions as being negatively directed towards her. (This happens regardless of her environment over the past few years) She has suspected her youth pastor of ignoring her, a past counselor of thinking that her answer to her questions was unintelligent, her piano teacher was not paying attention to her and only to the other student etc. (we have always tried to get her to see a different perspective as well as listening to her about her feelings about this but she goes back to only seeing her own) We have written all these concerns to her social worker and asked for her to have more appointments (more than twice a month, which is what she currently has) the social worker is leaving it up to our daughter as to how often her appointments are, however just like today, she missed her appointment on purpose (it's virtual).  She has said that she feels the social worker cannot help her and she also said that she was supposed to write in her log book her anxiety levels throughout the week but she did't do it because she had nothing to write down (she seems to only associate her anxiety with times she is disciplined for being disrespectful and not with her OCD.  We are waiting for the children's hospital to get back to us at the moment to see what other support they can provide her as well as a re-assessment. I really don't know what to do at this point.  What am I missing?  There is so much more, however, it would be a novel if I typed it all out. Its to the point where my wife and I are afraid to give her consequences, because of her abusive and irrational reactions and also very scared that she will hurt herself when she is angry again by hitting herself in her stomach or banging her head etc because she seems to do this almost every time now. We even try walking away so she can calm down but then she will scream or follow that we are ignoring her, even after trying to explain that things are getting heated and it is best to come back together once she is calm. 


Re: Worried about my teen daughter aged 15

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Hi @serenity2b, we're glad you've found our forum, thanks for sharing what's been going on for you and your family. It sounds like a really tough situation that you're all in, but from posting here and linking her with help, it's clear how much you care about your daughter.  

It sounds like you are utilising a number of different supports including a social worker, a doctor and the children's hospital - it's great you've reached out to these services for help. As your daughter is saying they feel the social worker is not helping, I'm wondering if you've asked her what support she thinks could be helpful? Is it this specific social worker who maybe isn't connecting with your daughter and perhaps trying a different social worker (or counsellor or psychologist) could be helpful for responding to your daughters specific needs? 


It must be a difficult time for you and your wife I want to highlight that's important for you both to get support as well if you need it. I can see you are an international user, here is a link to a parenting helpline near you if you want to speak to someone about what is going on for you.


There have been other parents here on the forum going through similar situations, I thought you might like to have a look at those threads here is one and here is another and one more here


Hopefully you are able to receive results from the assessment soon and are able to use this information to continue to try and find suitable supports for your daughter and your family. 

I hope you find some of this helpful and that other parents are able to share their experiences with you here.

Parent/Carer Community Champion

Re: Worried about my teen daughter aged 15

there are times I feel i can offer something to parents to help them with their problems or doubts about themselves and their ability to cope. Yours is the most complex and difficult family problem I have seen. Your reaching out is a fantastic start , however from the the little i know from personal experiance of different mental health issues I am overwhelmed by the number of different issues /problems / and symptoms your child is exhibiting . Please don't feel feel any judgement from my comments . I think you will have to start with  Gp then progress to  psychologist and possibly a child psychiatrist, these are deep deep seated problems in your child , again I stress no judgement or fault in parenting , my heart goes out to you,so  that you can help your baby , yes i know she is 15 , love ,patience , and good medical help will get you there . 

Active scribe

Re: Worried about my teen daughter aged 15

Your daughter's situation is progressing but you are not getting any real answer to the problem. Tackling the situation is going to be another challenge altogether - and this is what you need.
Reading through your post, there's not only the issue of your daughter's misdiagnosis, there are other issues that are delaying her care.
Your daughter is displaying a variety of behavioural symptoms which you discuss in full detail. The time has come for her to receive the appropriate psychological help that can pinpoint the root cause, then address the behaviours involved.
Ideally - one way or another - your daughter needs the services of a counsellor who actually understands her condition. At the moment, your daughter appears to be having consultations with professionals, yet not really getting any positive results that can help her to move forward.
Does the social worker understand your daughter's condition? Did the professionals who assessed your daughter understand her condition?
The social worker and counsellor were only working with her virtually.
Let's be honest. Your daughter can't be overly inspired by these consultations if she's missing the appointments.

 People with mental health issues do really need a physical, trustworthy 'one-on-one' or 'group' interactive approaches to their treatment. Sadly. The Covid19 pandemic has caused problems here.
Your daughter is now in need of regular counselling with someone that understands and can meet her psychological needs.
Firstly. The appropriate counsellor - whether working alone or with other professionals - will want to fully understand your daughters behavioural routine.
Counselling will help your daughter to explore why this is happening to her, such as looking into when it all started in the first place.
That is one important area to be explored in counselling. It's looking much deeper at the 'root cause' and also exploring the emotions surrounding the condition.
At this point in time - and best to be honest - your daughter is not really being dealt with by people who actually understand her condition.
This is where she now needs a professional who is qualified to understand her needs.
Even without an official medical diagnosis, your daughter will still benefit from counselling.
Her condition may not have an explanation and certainly it will not be cured overnight. However. Her condition can be managed with the appropriate professional care and advice.
She could also learn some 'self-help' techniques through counselling, health services or further reading. There may even be group meetings available.
Another area that will need to be addressed is your daughter's aggressive behaviour toward you. She is taking out her anger and frustrations in life out on you at home as though it is some form of emotional release.
From what you have written, your daughter seems to have difficulty when it comes to interacting with people.
Every time your daughter feels offended by anyone she'll express this frustration when she returns home.
This could be another area that can be explored in counselling, such as learning to understand that people can behave in different ways and it may not be a personal affront to her. Your daughter may benefit from further reading on being more assertive and building confidence with other people.
At this point in time, your daughter is benefitting from being a fifteen year old girl, living at home with you.
Incidents such as the 'face mask scenario' will be tolerated for now. However. As your daughter gets older others will not be quite as tolerant.
This may be worth bearing in mind the next time you help her with something like taking the face mask off. Politely remind her that she may be able to do that herself from now on.
It may also be borne in mind that your daughter appears to be in control of how she behaves and is able to consciously make decisions before acting upon them. You could well be assuming rightly when you believe that she tells people what she believes they want to hear.
Deep down inside. Your daughter does appear to lack self-confidence with people. When people behave in a way that she feels offended, she 'brings those emotions home' and then releases her anger upon you.
She claims to be able to change who she is. This could be a way 'masking over' her true self when dealing with people.  It can be a way of 'hiding'.

  When also dealing with health professionals, her behaviour is likely to be quite exemplary.  

   From what you have written.  It's also likely that your daughter tells you (even blames you) about her frustrations/disappointments with people such as the counsellor, youth pastor, social worker and so on.  Any frustration with her fellow class students will be 'brought home' to you as well.....And so on......

  In all fairness....There is the question....Do the health professionals really know how your daughter behaves at home?......

  The doctor at the hospital wanted a word with your daughter alone.  Fair enough.  However.  Your daughter will have been 'a different person' with the doctor.  This will also be with other professionals and people in general outside of your home.  There seems to be an issue here.

  How your daughter behaves at home differs greatly to her behaviour outside.  Does she tell the social worker/ counsellor about this behaviour?

  It's easier for her to miss an online appointment with the social worker by turning the 'off' button, then tell you about how the social worker isn't helping.

  This could be the reason for her aggressive behaviour towards you.  This anger and frustration that builds up inside her, is caused by her difficulty in dealing with people outside the 'safe' boundaries of home. 

  Sounds harsh, but it is much easier/safer for her to be aggressive towards you.  She knows this as well.

  This may also be the reason for her 'hitting and banging herself'.  How can she express those inner frustrations?.....This is another area where your daughter could benefit from a trustworthy counsellor who understands this.

  Your daughter is very conscious of other's behaviour towards her - or what she feels is toward/about her - yet at the same time cannot express herself to other people, other than yourselves.

 At the moment, your daughter is only fifteen years old. One downside as she gets older will be the realisation that her behaviour will not be tolerated by others.

  Though the chances are, she knows this already.
The time has come for her to at very least co-operate with the social worker and be available for all appointments.
Your daughter seems to be very intelligent and may benefit from channelling her energy into her schoolwork. Could she be encouraged to join an after-school club if available?
Encourage her to continue with any hobbies such as the piano, as this could be another way of helping her to focus her intelligent mind on being productive.
People such as your daughter can have the ability to be creatively talented.
It's a difficult situation for you here because the problem seems to lie at the fact that you are not really getting the appropriate professional help for your daughter.
Everything you describe in your post could really benefit from the help of a psychological professional who can understand and work with your daughter.
You seem to be dealing with people who are not able to work through the problems your daughter has and appreciate that she is in need of this help.
Although repeating this, your daughter is now in need of regular counselling in order to work through her issues and also needs to build some confidence/assertiveness when with other people.

Active scribe

Re: Worried about my teen daughter aged 15

Oh @serenity2b that sounds so rough, you must feel so powerless and conflicted and confused. I mostly just wanted to offer support because it is clearly challenging. I was diagnosed with ADHD in late adulthood so I’ve learnt a LOT about it and there are some important aspects which might help to understand. ADHD shares some symptoms with other things so misdiagnosis does happen but also multiple diagnoses can happen.

People misunderstand ADHD as hyperactivity but what is a better description is hypersensitivity so we impulsively do things without having thought about them. It’s complex and a lot about emotions and overwhelm. There is a guy called Dr Russell Barkley who does some great lectures on YouTube about this but I would say he neglects to talk about the positives and there are positives.. but for now he might be able to help you understand things like rejection sensitivity (very easily hurt feelings, overthinking things); emotional dysregulation; time blindness etc. There may be other things at play too but I can see her behaviour as being explained by these and other aspects of ADHD.


I recommend you look up Dani Donovan who is an artist with ADHD. She has some great memes which you might recognise your daughter in. These memes made me feel like there was someone who finally understood what goes on in my head. The thing is the experience of ADHD is intense and passionate so you might be seeing emotional dysregulation and a kind of vicious Adrenalin/dopamine cycle. ADHD is described by some as having a dopamine pedal which doesn’t idle. It’s either pedal to the metal or off so even as kids we dopamine chase.. (sneak sugar where ever we can) and so that aspect could kind of reinforce any OCD. It does occur to me that sensory issues could be what she is trying to describe. I also had a lot of compulsive behaviour in my teens. So possibly she is hypersensitive to the sensation of water and once she is aware of it by either thought or the actual sensation she hyper focusses on that thought. I used to see spiderwebs and caterpillars in the dark as a kid.. just because of how our eyes react going from lit room to darkened room and my mind running wild.


Things which are important for me are that the people understand often what I need is just a prompt not a lecture. I basically just need one word to be reminded of the thing I’m forgetting and then to be left alone for a minute. If someone hovers around waiting I’m hyper aware and can’t think straight to do whatever it is I am supposed to be doing. Likewise music or a tv on when I’m trying to get packed up and go can completely throw me but it took me decades to work out that I needed to ask people to turn off the noise making 10mins before I have to walk out the door. A lot of those little things can be wearing me out without me being aware, it becomes a kind of white knuckle way to live and it’s stressful. If you are able to have chats during the good times ask her if there are any things which cause stress.. it might be about the pressure of being organised and visual prompts are golden for that.


I guess my tip is your gut feeling about not pushing things is probably experience talking and perhaps learning more about ADHD will help you understand what is going on when things don’t seem to make sense. I know most people just really do not understand how ADHD works at all so maybe watch stuff like dr Barkley’s lectures and Jess McCabe failing at normal TED talk to understand ADHD more and then ask her about what it is like for her.. keep in mind that the ADHD mind likes to analyse things so when she is telling you she can turn it on and off that still might not mean deliberate but more that completely unaware can switch to aware and perhaps embarrassed. Sort of related to what I did about prompts. The ADHD mind is a Ferrari with bicycle brakes so don’t be scared about sudden change of topic or tone. That agility is a much in demand strength when harnessed effectively.


What motivates us folks is novelty, challenge and urgency. We tend to do our best work in very demanding roles where you need a very active awareness and re is constant action eg first responder, child care (eyes in the back of your head), working with animals etc. 


I think of ADHD overwhelm as like a computer that needs a defrag, demanding it to process a complex task can cause it to crash. Learning skills to reset will be invaluable. I love Iyengar yoga and guided meditations. There are heaps of apps around UCLA MARC has a good app.


So even though I wrote a lecture which darts all over the place I hope there is some useful info for you. You’re doing an amazing job, this stuff is hard and maybe your daughter has more of the answers than you think (I say that as a parent with a child who has ADHD too). If she tells you what she thinks she needs listen carefully, it took me a long time to realise my child often had a better idea than I did. The hardest part is calming our own overactive emotional response as much as possible. I found focussing on my own sense of emotional balance improved the situation quite a lot. 

Active scribe

Re: Worried about my teen daughter aged 15

I’m not sure I agree with all the points made here but I do agree that the social worker may be counterproductive if their understanding of ADHD is rudimentary or out of date particularly if there is a question about the ADHD diagnosis. The OP hasn’t mentioned who gave the ADHD diagnosis or if his daughter is on any medication. In my experience social workers and psychologists have very different skill sets from a psychiatrist and at this point, if ADHD has been mentioned by either of these professionals but not given as an official diagnosis then it might be timely to have an appointment with a psychiatrist who specialises in adult ADHD to get an official yes or no either way. It is also worth asking about a Telehealth consult. I was diagnosed over a Skype style appointment and it made things a lot easier not to have to travel to and from an appointment plus I just felt more comfortable to talk about the details from my own home.

I’m not sure that is helpful to think of this in terms of ‘other people won’t put up with it’ as this assumes it is entirely within her capacity to do better but if it is indeed ADHD then there will be times where her emotions are out of her control and that requires a different emphasis in the treatment offered. Understanding the emotional dysregulation as a neurological malfunction rather than a behavioural choice will be of much more help in the long run as the emphasis can be put on managing stress loads and communicating boundaries to help avoid the circumstances which can lead to the point of overwhelm. Things like prompts regarding eating, drinking and taking breaks from hyper focussed activity can make a huge difference. The fact that this tends to happen at home can be much more about the stress of white knuckling normal during the day. Time blindness and ‘out of sight out of mind’ accounts for the majority of the chasing my own tail which can lead to overwhelm. The other part of the puzzle is CBT and talking myself through the catastrophising,