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hikermom

Teen daughter struggling

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Hi all,

 

I'm not even sure what to post so this is likely to be a bit rambling.

 

A few of you know that my daughter was adopted at a young age. So even before her dad died, she'd experienced great loss. With the death of her dad when she was 8, she was hit again. We managed for a while - with help from teachers, coaches, friends, therapists. And then the teen years hit, I needed to sell our house and move (another loss for her). She is changing in front of me with self-harm, smoking, lying and sneaking around, skipping class. Sure, some of this is teen behavior but some of it is diagnosed depression and anxiety. She talks of suicide but does not have a plan and her therapist believes she is not a danger at this point. We are working with her doctor on medication (which so far isn't helping) and she has had a therapist for many years (also not helping as she refuses to actually address her underlying issues). We've recently started family therapy with a therapist who is less willing to let her get away with stuff. In a way, the behavior has escalated but I feel that may in part be due to having stuff brought up that she has been suppressing.

 

I'm doing my best - I've taken FMLA at work to be home with her while she is adjusting to the meds. I'm setting limits and consequences for behavior that is not acceptable and carrying through on those consequences - hard as it is. But this is exhausting and scary and overwhelming to manage on my own. I guess I just need to hear from others that you've gotten through the other side of this with your teens. With her being adopted, we don't know family history. With all the loss she's experienced, there is sure to be some compounding of emotions. Sorting through what is grief, what is teen-ness, what is mental health issue is all overwhelming. And I worry so much for her future. I know many kids go through this stuff and come out fine. I know many don't.

 

Thanks for listening.

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It sounds like you have had your hands full. Have you done a full neuropsych evaluation? My eldest had a huge episode of PTSD about a year after her dad died. She was 17. It put her high school years in jeopardy and she went through so much trying to “handle” it herself. She skipped classes, her grades dropped, she wasn’t sleeping well, she was drastically moody. This eval takes all day and it a battery of several tests. It would help you figure out areas to focus. It’s best done with a team your child hasn’t seen so it’s non-biased. We went to a different group than my daughter usually sees. Her issues went beyond grief and when it was addressed and we started medication, she slowly got better. It’s exhausting. The driving, the appointments, the discussions, the emotions, the tears. I maintained my position to be consistent. I told her I can’t fix you. You need to fix yourself. I can only give you the tools and help you need. I can be your rock but you have to do the work and decide to get better. It’s heart breaking and hard but I think for us, it worked. Good luck to you! Hugs! 

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Hi Julester

 

Thanks for your reply. I have not had a full neuropsych eval done. I think we initially thought it was a fairly straightforward case of depression/anxiety combined with a difficult transition to a new school district. I'm honestly not sure it isn't just that but it feels so out of control to me that I may request it. Your description of your daughter sounds similar to mine: skipped classes, dropped grades, sleep disturbances, moodiness in an extreme. She is cutting and risk taking in very scary ways. She is also very resistant to therapy and really doesn't give much away in counseling. She is firmly convinced that medication doesn't work.

 

Having managed my own depression/anxiety for most of my life, I can understand those feelings. I know if the grip of it it feels never-ending.

 

I so appreciate your common-sense and reassuring post. Thank you.

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I had my share of teen daughter turmoil, much of your post rings true for me.  My 16 y/o daughter and I went through therapy, and she had a brief stint in an outpatient drug program.  It was 4 months of hell and then poof - suddenly she decided to move out of her dark phase and become a pleasant family member again.  Not much advice to give, other than to share that it's my experience with family and friends that it's not uncommon for teen girls to go through a dark phase.  Certainly the adoption part of it adds another element to this.  My daughter was offered therapy options and medications, she was on her own timeline and ultimately it was her choice to make an attempt to get better.   I hope that your daughter finds her balance, and wish you a very brief time in this dark place.  Hang in there. 

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HM, I feel you - my oldest twin has been tough for some time, but out 2019 has been a lot worse.  She went too long without her antidepressant meds due to a perfect storm of mistakes and bad communications, and it's been weeks with regular days of missed school, periodic suicidal ideations, and her senior year is at risk.  She's coming out of the dark tunnel as her meds kick in again after four weeks.  Her sibling is happier, but is way behind in classwork as well.  They have both applied for two colleges, which seems like a minor miracle at this point.  All we can do is keep trying and to try new ideas as we think of them.  Hugs, and I'm always up for swapping ideas and experiences on FB if that helps.

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Hi Hikermom,

 

How is your daughter doing now? Did you find anything that was effective? 

 

I sure am struggling with my 16YO DS...mostly different issues than you described but I sure am worried about him....

 

abl 

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Just saw this too, chiming in very late.

 

Not yet, we haven't had problems. My daughter is only 12 though. My boys are just loud and I believe my oldest has alot of suppressed anger. But not at the level of needing therapy/medication. 

 

As a high school teacher, we see this more and more with incoming freshmen (14 year olds)- Both boys and girls cutting, self harm, eating disorders, etc. I am not sure why the sudden spike. With your daughter being adopted, do you have any access to her biological parents health history? That could shed some light and help you understand what you might be dealing with. And yes, it passes for many. Hang in there Momma! You are doing the right thing and being there for her. Teenage years are tough under the best of circumstances.

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