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17 year old daughter’s mental health not improving

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  • #389214
    Melissa
    Participant

    My daughter developed anxiety and then depression after the pandemic started. For well  over a year I have had her in counseling, doctors appointments, given her countless hours of attention. Encouragement, lots of supportive listening. I go to counseling myself to try to deal  and my therapist says she might be manipulating me to get attention. I don’t get it- she seems truly miserable. I don’t know how to reduce the support even  if it is somehow prolonging her illnesses…my husband has also been a big part of trying to help her. We have different suggestions for her…common sense: exercise, journal, be patient….nothing works and she also seems tired or possibly lazy or fearful to try things? It’s taking a toll on us as nothing seems to be working. She was developing normally until the pandemic and now she just seems to regress…won’t drive, has trouble staying at school all day. She has tried quite a few medications from the psychiatrist and he seems a little lost what to suggest, too. We are trying psychological testing now but I need to find a way to look at this realistically from a buddhist sense. This is her life and her path of suffering…I am on it with her —forever? how can I accept my fate or should I try to encourage her to find her own answers more? I don’t think I can un- attach? We have a younger son who is not getting a very peaceful homelife either. And yet we are so lucky, food shelter, health insurance but a depressed teen is a hard person to be with. I was a pretty happy person until now. I miss it.

    #389230
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Melissa:

    What fuels anxiety is the belief of being powerless to change a dangerous or a very undesirable situation. I assume that your daughter felt that she had reasonable power/ control over her life before the pandemic, and that is why “she was developing normally until the pandemic“, but lost her sense of power and control when the pandemic hit, and as it continues with no end in sight.

    Choosing to get vaccinated is one way for her to exert some personal power: decreasing her own chances to get infected (and to get hospitalized, if infected). Maybe there are volunteering opportunities for her: to encourage others to get vaccinated, and/or to help other teenagers who are also suffering from pandemic-related anxiety and depression, in the context of peer support groups, perhaps.

    She needs to feel active in regard to the pandemic, not passive, as in not making any difference. The Serenity Prayer says in part: “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference”-

    – We can’t undo the pandemic. We can’t go back in time and prevent it. To not get overwhelmed by anxiety (an excitation of our nervous system), and to not sink into depression (the quieting of prolonged neural excitation), we need the courage to DO SOMETHING that will make the pandemic situation just a bit better, in some way.

    The Serenity Prayer can help you in regard to your daughter. No need to repeat to her the suggestions that she already rejected, but maybe you can show her how you are active in this situation, how you are making a positive difference, however small. If you volunteer to help teenagers who are suffering like your daughter does, maybe it will inspire her to be receive help and to offer help to others.

    anita

    #389611
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Melissa:

    How are you, and how is your son and daughter?

    anita

    #390104
    Melissa
    Participant

    It is still very up and down at our house. My daughter did sign up to volunteer for a pet shelter without my even mentioning it much and seems excited about that. She feels very bad at school though…a constant feeling of dread. When she is home she feels safe. I wonder if it due to all the school shootings but she does not make the connection. Some of her stated fears are odd and it worries me.
    <p style=”text-align: left;”>I’m not sure how to help other teens that are suffering but I am thinking about that part. I think I have accepted her situation a little more and focused more on other parts of my life, but I’m tired a lot. So sometimes I focus on resting and just being glad nothing terrible is happening right this second. I have accepted more that I am not in control of her mental state and that I cannot fix it for her. It is changing the way I look at life and so I am trying to accept that I can’t go back to how I was.  I also am focusing on doing things with my son as he has felt bad watching her suffer. He is in to doing a lot of activities and seems to enjoy them but I can see he may have inherited my tendency to be too ” type A”</p>
     

    Thank you for your response, I do feel it helped a lot.

    #390130
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Melissa:

    I appreciate your response and will attentively read and respond to you when I am back to the computer, in about 17 hours from now.

    anita

    #390150
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Melissa:

    You are welcome. You shared in your two posts: “My daughter developed anxiety and then depression after the pandemic started… She was developing normally until the pandemic and now she just seems to regress…won’t drive, has trouble staying at school all day…. My daughter did sign up to volunteer for a pet shelter without my even mentioning it much and seems excited about that. She feels very bad at school though…a constant feeling of dread. When she is home, she feels safe… Some of her stated fears are odd and it worries me“.

    ncbi. nlm. nih. gov has an online summary of a study titled Increases in depression and anxiety symptoms in adolescence and young adults during the COVID-19 pandemic. Under Results, it reads: “Across participants and independent of age, there were increased generalized anxiety and social anxiety symptoms. In females, there were also increased depression and panic/somatic symptoms… Greater COVID-19 home confinement concerns were uniquely associated with increased generalized anxiety symptoms, and decreased social anxiety symptoms, respectively”-

    -if I understand correctly, part of what it says is that adolescent anxiety shot up because of the pandemic. Home confinement following school and general shutdown provided adolescents with a relief from the heightened anxiety. They got used to that relief, adjusting and settling into a relatively comfortable home confinement life. Because of this adjustment, leaving home and returning to school became an anxiety elevating experience, which did not exist before the pandemic and the shutdown.

    You mentioned School Shooting as a possible factor in her anxiety. I wonder if the following may be factors as well: (1) Bulling by peers in school, onsite and/ or on social media may be a factor, and (2) Interpersonal struggles, such as a close friendship ending, or relationship drama so typical in adolescent girls.

    I also am focusing on doing things with my son as he has felt bad watching her suffer. He is into doing a lot of activities and seems to enjoy them, but I can see he may have inherited my tendency to be too’ type A’“- I am curious to know (1) if by having a Type A personality, your daily stress level is up, and (2) how this personality affected and affects your parenting of both your children. I am not entitled to an answer of course but would be interested to read (and respond) if you are willing to share.

    anita

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 1 month ago by anita.
    #408711
    Melissa
    Participant

    Hello,

    My daughter is still doing terrible. She says I am not validating her enough. I am scared if I agree the situation is hopeless she will kill herself. She has thoughts of suicide a lot but says she can stay safe for now after we discuss it… I feel like no matter what I do it is wrong and not helping. She is trying magnetic stimulation for depression. She is trying a new med. She has side effects to everything and no benefit. She barely moves and eats lots of processed food. I buy it for her because if she doesn’t eat she gets even more lethargic. She has eating disorder symptoms and obesity now,  too. She will not take walks with anyone. She has no close friends and if she socializes she feels fake and worse after.

    What can I say when she says how bad she feels. “Sorry and that is so hard”…seems like empty words. How can I validate her  depression without becoming as depressed as she is? She is coming to me for comfort and I don’t know how to respond anymore. It’s been over 2 years.  She does go to therapy and she is polite, takes meds, doesn’t do drugs but she is so limited in her life right now. I am sad. Life can be so much more.

    – Melissa

     

    #408714
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Melissa:

    I will read and reply in about 11 hours from now.

    anita

    #408724
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Melissa:

    I am sorry that your daughter is doing poorly. Having read my last reply to you, 10 months ago to the day, I noticed the following glaring contrast: you referred to yourself as Type A Personality and today, in your description of your daughter’s behaviors, she is the opposite of what characterizes Type A Personality.  While Type A is driven, hard-working, go-getter, competitive, motivated to achieve results, tend to be workaholic, your daughter “barely moves.. lethargic… She will not take walks with anyone”, etc. (clearly very depressed).

    I feel like no matter what I do it is wrong and not helping…  What can I say when she says how bad she feels… How can I validate her  depression without becoming as depressed as she is? She is coming to me for comfort and I don’t know how to respond anymore“- since your daughter is receiving all the professional help available to her, I want to suggest to you a possibility that may not have occurred to you (or to the professionals), here it is: the contrast between your personality A attitudes and behaviors/ responses to her and her depression may be too big and therefore, in-the-way of her healing.

    I never underestimate the emotional power a mother has over her daughter, and this very contrast I mentioned is a problem for her, a problem when it comes to her communication with you. I suggest that you identify all your expressed Type A Personality attitudes and behaviors and change them into laid-back, relaxed attitudes and behaviors best you can: NO pressure put on her, NO impatience with her… NO overly positive expressions, like: You can make it! You can do it! None of that. When you communicate with her, come down to her level.. not all the way to lethargy of course.. but closer to where she is at.

    What do you think of my suggestion?

    anita

    #408748
    Melissa
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    I think what you said is very interesting and it helps.  I tried it a last night and it seemed to help diffuse tension…However, I don’t think I really am “type a” after reading about it more. I don’t think I’m much of anything, I feel most of what “personality” I have is a reaction to the person I am with in the moment. When I was a kid it was my “job” to emotionally caretake my mother and keep her proud of me and cheer her up…. So I mostly identify as a caretaker with others. My type a traits/behaviors are due to my belief that I need to survive by having a job, making money, taking care of my family. I also have creative life force energy that needs an outlet. I’m going to try painting I think.

    When my daughter is suicidal it triggers strong fear and urge to take action, problem solve, come up with alternate ideas…I don’t say these things outloud anymore because I know giving advice to depressed people is wrong but the fear of what is happening to her is so strong I have to fight it internally  to stay in this world and keep doing my day to day jobs.

    Anyway I’ve tried several therapists but feel more intrigued by what I read here. Thank you so much.

    Sincerely,

    Melissa

    #408754
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Melissa:

    You are very welcome. I believe that I understand how difficult it is for you to witness your daughter suffer and function poorly and I hope that her health significantly improves and soon!

    I feel most of what ‘personality’ I have is a reaction to the person I am with in the moment“- this is true to your daughter and to everyone else as well, so at least some of your daughter’s attitudes and behaviors are a reaction to yours.

    No matter how scared you are about her mental state, quiet down that “urge to take action, problem solve, come up with alternative ideas“, and come down to her level: be there for her like a quiet, supportive friend who… doesn’t know better than she knows. Without someone who knows the answers and solutions… she might come up with her own.

    I hope to read an update from you soon!

    anita

    #409029
    anita
    Participant

    How are you, Melissa, and how is your daughter?

    anita

    #409065
    Roberta
    Participant

    Dear Melissa

    I am sorry that your family is having a tough time.

    Your daughter is on the cusp between childhood/adulthood and many of the usual rights of passage were curtailed by the pandemic. Her needs will be yoyoing  between wanting independence and still wanting to be mothered and this will be very confusing both for her & those around her especially  if she does not realise this or how to communicate these fluctuating needs.

    You have mentioned your daughters lethargy and weight issues – it is possible to be overweight & deficient in vitamins & minerals etc at the same time.

    Of course there is no one single answer that fits all as most lives are complex & multi faceted but each positive step no matter how small has a ripple effect.

    I hope that you keep on communicating on this forum & that you get insights that help

    Roberta

     

    #409105
    Melissa
    Participant

    Thank you Roberta,

    When her depression first started we saw her GP who actually checked on several vitamin levels. Then as she gained weight from one of her meds she began to starve herself to lose weight. So we took her to a dietician. She gradually could eat again but it’s hard.  Her labs were nomal the last time we checked… I do need to get her back into her GP to check her labs again. We try to keep fresh fruit and veg. And the rest of us eat it.  But she prefers comfort food. I wish she would eat better but I don’t say anything.

    My update is that it is hard. Tonight she says she needs help and is in crisis. At times tonight  she laughs uncontrollably.  She says she wants to go to the hospital. “To get help” We have avoided this because the hospital is crowded and she will be miserable there. Or that is what we her parents think.  Her doctor said only go if she cannot be safe. She is 18 now so it is scary to think how she will be treated, we have heard horror stories.

    She does come to me for comfort a lot  and I am not sure what to say. Thank you, Anita also for checking back. I feel useless, confused and tired. I will go to her now again. I will try to be strong. – Melissa

    #409106
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Melissa:

    You are welcome and you are strong, a strong person and a strong mother! When she comes to you for comfort, and you are “not sure what to say”- a hug, a long, comforting hug perhaps? A bit rocking back and forth as you hug her… like you would a baby? Try to keep yourself as calm as possible and to appear calm around her.

    anita

     

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