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Susa
Contributor

Worried about daughter (and me)

Hi 

I am new to this and don't really know where to start. 


my daughter is almost 14 and has recently been diagnosed with depression and anxiety , she has panic attacks as well and she has told me she has body dsymorphia, anorexia and loathes the way she looks. She tells me that she has been 'sneaky' with food and has been for up to 3 days without food on a couple of occasions and that in her mind the depression and anxiety stems (mostly) from her body dysmorphia. 


I have observed the deterioration of her mental health and self hatred stem from both periods starting snd the sudden break up of her dad and  her step mum, leading to  the loss of her baby  brother, step mum and step sister and dog  (who were quickly replaced with another family). 

her dad refuses to fully accept she has a mental health condition whereas I see it all the time, so aside from financial support (which is great) for psychology appointments (which she has only just agreed to re start), he doesn't believe me.

 

She hides it from him and close to tells him that I lie about it. So as he doesn't really see it, no wonder he doesn't really believe it. She mostly stays in her room around there and puts a spin on everything that I tell him and says things like ' mum can't tell the difference between a bit of sadness and depression'. 

she opens up to me about everything , and a lot including very dark  thoughts and tells me about the starving herself but won't speak to anyone other than me  her best friend (who also has body dsymorphia and starves herself).
often she won't go out in daylight doesn't want to go anywhere there is food or anywhere where she may have to wear togs and says if I tell a professional about the anorexia  she will never trust or talk to me again. She also says that if I tell a health professional she sill say I am lying. 
Or course I cook her fave foods snd healthy snacks etc and  see her eat occasionally.
But obviously she is avoiding food everywhere she can. 
I am menopausal, (and my mood has dropped due to this) and am now also being diagnosed with depression and anxiety snd have just quit my job because the pressure of caring for her and the struggle to get her to school which she also hates along side trying to hold down a fairly high pressures job just got too much for me.

 

I feel completely broken and alone. I haven't had a partner in 5 years so have no suppprt. 
I realise that I need to have some time in life where I can just focus on her recovery and also be mentally strong myself. 


We don't have any family in Australia they are all in lock down in London and this hasn't helped. 

my time will now be spent going through mental health resources, learning more contacting the butterfly foundation etc so I can support her (even though she doesn't want to recover),  plus trying to focus on my own health for a couple of months before I look for another - less pressured job. 


I don't really know anyone who is going through similar and just wanted to reach out and connect with others who may be going through something similar 

thanks in advance for any suggestions or just a friendly ear. 
S

24 REPLIES 24

Re: Worried about daughter (and me)

So sad to hear this, thinking of you. It is a hard age and difficuilt when they dont want help, I can relate to that. Blessings

Re: Worried about daughter (and me)

Thank you very much, she isn't skinny as in worryingly so, she has only fairly recently started this, currently getting some nut bliss balls into her so trying every sneaky tactic in the book! 

Re: Worried about daughter (and me)

Hello @Susa

 

You may be new to this but you have given the information that can give forum members the lead that they require to be able to respond to your post.

 

Full disclosure”, I am a father having a daughter who has lived with her brother, mother and stepfather since she was five years of age. My daughter had access visits with me, as a child and now visits me as a mature, adult young woman. She has a son of her own, and from my point of view, has dealt with life really well, lives independently, and as a well accomplished, socially contributing adult. To be somewhat poetic,

'No rose is without blemish of some sort, but can still be recognised as a very beautiful bloom'.

Consequently, my capacity to offer significant suggestions may be limited. However, I will offer what I can.

 

At 14, I understand that your daughter is in the middle of the stage that everything is being questioned. Identity of herself, self-image; both psychologically and physically, the 'crisis' of puberty, friendships at school, the loyalty of her mother and her father, snd the list goes on..... She is testing all these issues that will determine how she faces future life situations, issues, problems, challenges and hopefully joys.

All of this, you no doubt know, however it sometimes helps to hear it from outside, in a way that affirms some of your thoughts, perceptions and concerns about what is going on. It can also give you an awareness and, I hope, assurance that your situation, though distressing, is in some way not necessarily that unusual.

 

Needless to say, your daughter is testing all her parameters. Some of that testing process, through inexperience, may not be as practical, productive or beneficial in providing or returning real and appropriate results. Your daughter, at 14, hasn't really had the experience that will give her the tools that she needs to test those same future life issues. In fact, this process may be part of the way in which she can learn and develop those life skills and tools. She will, hopefully, find what works for her and what does not.

 

In no way do I wish to understate or diminish the significance and very real consequences of this process. When the testing process is undeveloped the outcomes of the process can be equally underdeveloped. I have seen similar reactions in my daughter who has since done very well in life. Not without some major issues, but probably resolved with the skills, very likely acquired when in that 'crisis' stage of development in her early teens.

 

It seems to me that your daughter is cared for by a mother who is prepared to look outside herself and her own experience to seek ways in which to address the concerns that she has about her daughter's present experience of life. I do believe what will get her through this stage will be the constant care and nurturing that you appear to me to be giving her now.

 

Susa, There is probably much more I can say but, for now, I hope that you will be offered other suggestions from forum members, and I hope that we will be able to talk again about your daughter and your situation.

 

Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to contribute what we can to your present situation with regard to your daughter, of whom you are obviously so fond,

 

With Very Best Wishes

HenryX

Re: Worried about daughter (and me)

Thank you very much, that has been very re assuring to hear, thanks for taking the time to send such a positive response. It has filled me with a lot of hope. X 

Re: Worried about daughter (and me)

@Susa 

Hello Susa,

 

Thank you for your reply

Look forward to corresponding again

 

Best Wishes

HenryX

Re: Worried about daughter (and me)

Hi Sarah, i am sending as much love as i can. I have been in your shoes. It is so hard to be parent, friend, counsellor and stay functioning yourself. Yet you are doing it. Some days will be harder than others. Hopefully your daughter will find her feet, confidence, direction over the next few years. In the meantime what has helped me - having one good friend/safe person who can hear you, repetitive exercise maybe doing breathing practices while you are at (brain is not good at worrying and counting breaths simultaneously), sitting with diffcult emotions meditation paractices (these help you acknowledge then release the tension/fear you are carrying), remmebering nothing stays the same forever - the sun is quite likely to come out at any minute - when it does, embrace it.  She loves you, you love her - that is so precious xxxx

Re: Worried about daughter (and me)

So sorry to hear about your struggles. I have been in a similar situation with my 14yr old daughter. After years of dv and abuse towards her, she finally got her say in court for no contact with her father which was her choice. The fallout for this though was a downward spiral in her mental health. Immediately after this she became very depressed, hardly left her room, had trouble and isolated from her friends at school, stopped everything she previously enjoyed, slept constantly and stopped eating. This behaviour carried on for five months despite seeking help from a psychologist. Eventually after finding her crying in the middle of the night and asking me for help, I again took her to the doctor. We got referred to a youth mental health service where she seen a psychiatrist and social worker who diagnosed her with ptsd and depression. She started on anti depressants three weeks ago and the change is amazing. I still really struggle to get her to eat tho. Every food has something wrong with it, looks funny or tastes weird. She will go the whole day without eating and if I'm lucky she will then eat dinner. I'm taking her back to the doctor tomorrow about her appetite. So I can definitely hear where ur coming from. Its such a difficult age for them too, being a teenager is tough.

Re: Worried about daughter (and me)

Hello @Susa 

 

We talked on Sunday 21 March about your daughter and your concern for her well-being.

 

I very much hope that what I offer today will be of assistance to you both.

 

Today I would like to talk about your well-being.

That is because your daughter's well-being is, I believe, intrinsically enmeshed with your own well-being and personal state of mind.

 

When I made a summary of the request for information and assistance that you made on Sunday, I noticed that (without counting word for word) more than 80% of your note referred to your concern for your daughter and what action you had taken to ensure appropriate care for her. From that and the stable manner and tone of your note, I believe that it is assured and very obvious that your primary concern is for her health and welfare.

 

Since her health and welfare are so dependent on you, it is appropriate that we consider your health and welfare. Later in this note, we will see how I believe your position and hers are tied together. You can be assured that we are still keeping your daughter's health and welfare in mind, but just from another perspective.

 

You have indicated that you are at the stage of another special change in your life, just as your daughter is likewise entering a special change for her in her life. Like all such changes, menopause brings with it hormonal changes and this, being a physical change, and not-withstanding the challenges that accompany that change, may be the easier to address. My concern here is that you have the appropriate advice to minimise any imbalance that may occur. You will see that my theme now will be stability and security.

 

Also, I am aware that you have sought assistance with the issues of depression and anxiety. From your request, I noted that you have been looking after your daughter virtually on your own for the last five years. The focus that is required to maintain the day-to-day running of the house, job (that you have indicated was high pressure) maintenance of school and education contacts for your daughter, as well as extra-curricular activities are, I would imagine, a remarkable accomplishment. However, recent events seem to have tipped the balance, and something had to give.

 

The self-description that you have given is “broken and alone” and I would imagine, feeling lonely. From that description, it appears that there has not been a lot of room for social activity, and it has probably been difficult to give much attention to the friendships in your life. Here I am not talking about romance which would simply be another stressor at the present time.

 

Even now you are focusing on your daughter's recovery and concentrating on remaining personally very strong. All the while during the past 12+ months having very artificially imposed restrictions (covid) placed in the way of support that family and friends might otherwise have offered.

These restrictions have caused many people a great deal of anxiety and you have been dealing with it all mostly on your own.

 

You have taken a first and important step in the process of recovery, in setting aside, for the time being, your work and giving yourself some “breathing space”.

 

Where I am suggesting we go now is to create a solid anchor.

 

Your daughter has seen two family break-ups and that appears to have really unsettled her, which is an understatement. Everything she thought was solid has moved under her feet, not once, but twice. It is like an emotional and psychological earthquake. In this regard, the one thing needed is a solid anchor. To provide that, I believe that rather than stressing about the situation, it might be time for you to sit down and look at ways to look after yourself. The more your daughter sees you stressed about any issues to do with her, with work, other relationships, school and studies, whether the bed is made or what to have for dinner, the more these issues are seen as stressors.

 

You have now given yourself time to gradually reintroduce some of the social aspects of life, firstly for yourself, because it appears to me that your daughter's recovery is very likely going to be dependent on your recovery. Simply doing the “normal” everyday things in the most natural way that you possibly can. Meals prepared, no stress if they are not eaten but your daughter still knows that she is your primary concern – without showing her that “it is a concern”.

 

Bringing back equilibrium is the first target. Possibly arranging for friends to visit. It might be for a cuppa first or a meal, if you think that might be alright. Now, the visit is for you. The people you invite might be friends with whom you can confide, prior to the visit, and ask them not to be surprised about how your daughter may respond. The important aspect is to make whatever occurs as natural as possible, with the least stress possible. This is for you first. From your note, I think you need to re-establish and normalise your life. Then the anchor will be sound and your daughter will have something firm to hold onto during this period that is otherwise one of upheaval.

 

I believe that your daughter will respond to your stability. Yes, other appointments should proceed – unless they create significantly more friction, in which case they can hopefully be postponed till a later date. Needless to say, I believe it is important that you attempt to, as far as possible, maintain contact with professional psychology/psychiatry support people or services that you have organised. The key thing at the present time is to minimise stressors as far as possible.

 

While your daughter feels that the focus is on her, she is going to continue to feel the stress to which she is presently reacting.

 

Susa, I would be interested in knowing how you feel about these thoughts extended your way.

I am also happy to correspond. I am online most days for a few hours and will be aware of any notes with my online name @HenryX

 

I will close for this evening and offer my most sincere sentiments of support and

Best Wishes for You Both,

@HenryX

Re: Worried about daughter (and me)

Hi Henry,

 

I was so pleasantly surprised to see what a thoughtful and kind message that you had sent me. And to see how much thought you had put into thinking of ways for my daughter and I to get better. 

 

I really connect with what you said about the 'anchor'. At the moment, i am not a strong anchor, but i intend to be and i will be following your suggestions as i really need to normalise life for myself and be a solid foundation for her. 

 

My last day in my job is today, then i have a few days of paperwork and tasks, then I am free of work for a period to be able to recover and get healthy again.

 

I will definitely be inviting more friends over, going to the gym, nature hikes and I am going to re start meditation and yoga as well as simplyfying life as much as possible before my return to work. 

 

At present, i have anxiety all the time, so it is hard to feel happy or get really motivated, but i think once this job is over, (in 8 hours!) I have a great opportunity for some positive change.  I totally agree that her sense of safety and wellbeing is directly correlated with mine and it is the main reason i have stopped working. So i can be a (happy) rock for her. 

 

I am going to create a home of calm and happiness. (For the 3 of us). I haven't mentioned her younger sister (age 12) who is also affected by all of this. She is emotionally much more stable than her older sister and is a perpetually happy child. But however, she still has to listen to her sister and see me stressed from it all, so time for some great change for her too. 

Thank you Henry, I will keep you posted with my progress. 

First social thing i have organised is my best friend is flying up from Adelaide on Friday to spend the weekend with me. 

Thanks again, and thank you especially for thinking of me in this. I have missed having anyone check in on how i am doing and i have to say it made me cry. 

Susa

 

 

 

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