bin_tenn

Struggling with my daughter

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My oldest daughter is 13 years old. Long story short, she used to live with her mother (from 2yrs to just under 11yrs) and her mother was/is emotionally and verbally, sometimes physically, abusive. It has really screwed my daughter up so badly. She's been diagnosed with major depressive disorder and chronic PTSD, following hospitalization for inpatient treatment a few weeks ago.

The problem, however, is that the professionals and I all believe some of it is attention seeking. I catch her in lies all the time about her "symptoms" and the things she's supposedly tried as coping skills. She changes her stories repeatedly. For the second time now, we have a specialist from a youth program coming to the home for intensive in-home therapy. The last specialist dishcharged in November, shortly before the hospitalization.

She tells these people that she sees things and hears things. She's given names for the "people in her head", but the hospital, her school guidance counselor and the youth program find no evidence of psychosis or any other indication that she has a personality disorder, or that she truly hallucinates. Yet she continues. She adds names periodically, and sometimes changes them.

She told the guidance counselor that the hospital said she may have bipolar disorder, dissociative identity disorder and schizophrenia. None of which are true, because the social worker called me from the hospital while she was still in there and explained that she doesn't exhibit the symptoms.

She's on Zoloft (recent dosage increase) and Vistaril. She's fine, but sometimes she goes to her bedroom (door stays open) and stays there. She tries to avoid participating in family events, stating that she doesn't want to talk or be around people. Then she'll ask if she can instead go to a friend's house. No. Doesn't work that way.

I'm quite lost, honestly. I don't even know what to try next. Her guidance counselor at school told me that my daughter often gets defensive/argumentative/shuts down as soon as she recommends coping skills when she says she's feeling down or anxious. Oddly enough, she does the same thing here at home! She also gets upset and storms off when I call her outnor correct her (respectfully and reasonably) when I know without a doubt that she's lying about these things.

She really does have some chronic issues. No one doubts that. But she exaggerates or outright lies, in part to receive attention. Any suggestions? Have any of you ever dealt with something like this? I really don't know what else to do.

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DID as the existence of separate individual people living in your head doesn't exist.  If you're aware of them, they sure as hell don't exist.  That's what dissociative means.  If you have DID, you black out.  And you don't have unique individual personalities with names.  The doctor who "treated" Sibyl and basically created that pathology MADE IT ALL UP.  Ruined that poor woman's life, too.

So...yeah, she's at least making some shit up.  Good luck.  It's very hard being a mentally ill teenager, but it's also very hard trying to raise one.  

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Bin, I can relate in one way. My first wife, like yours was seriously ill from a mental health perspective. We had 3 kids. When we separated/divorced the kids were 15, 9 and 7. All went to live with her. She eventually moved to Maryland. I was in Pennsylvania. While I travelled 2-4x a month to see the kids and spend time with them, I knew her behaviors were affecting them. It hurts to think back to that.

I went through the court system, in an effort to get custody, especially of my youngest ones. I encountered the prejudice that women are the natural caregivers, not men. This despite their mother's instability. By threatening to keep pursuing this, I was able to convince my ex to let me raise our daughter (who is now 28!). My second wife and I were pretty much able to help her adjust to a normal life. while she encountered abandonment issues regarding her mother (long story), she turned into a superb and happy adult.

The court refused to allow my wife and I to have custody of my middle child (son). All I'll say is that didn't turn out well and while I blame my ex, I understand she's seriously mentally ill. I blame the court system (circa 1999). hopefully times are changing perceptions of the courts.

All this to say I understand how it feels to see the effects of what a "sick" ex can do to a child.

Bob

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Just wanted to say so sorry that you are going through this Bin - I empathize as I have two boys of my own...seems like you are getting her help and doing the best you can do...hoping that things get better.

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14 hours ago, mollyfin said:

DID as the existence of separate individual people living in your head doesn't exist.  If you're aware of them, they sure as hell don't exist.  That's what dissociative means.  If you have DID, you black out.  And you don't have unique individual personalities with names.  The doctor who "treated" Sibyl and basically created that pathology MADE IT ALL UP.  Ruined that poor woman's life, too.

So...yeah, she's at least making some shit up.  Good luck.  It's very hard being a mentally ill teenager, but it's also very hard trying to raise one.  

My point exactly. I've suspected it all along, and the professionals have confirmed that suspicion. The specialist who met with her last night was asking questions about her "blacking out" and the "people in her head." Then when she talked to me today she brought that up, and she said my daughter's body language, as well as her explanation of the symptoms, did not match anyone she's ever seen who actually has DID or similar. Which we already pretty much knew, but that helps confirm it further.

Thanks @mollyfin.

4 hours ago, Bobnnat said:

Bin, I can relate in one way. My first wife, like yours was seriously ill from a mental health perspective. We had 3 kids. When we separated/divorced the kids were 15, 9 and 7. All went to live with her. She eventually moved to Maryland. I was in Pennsylvania. While I travelled 2-4x a month to see the kids and spend time with them, I knew her behaviors were affecting them. It hurts to think back to that.

I went through the court system, in an effort to get custody, especially of my youngest ones. I encountered the prejudice that women are the natural caregivers, not men. This despite their mother's instability. By threatening to keep pursuing this, I was able to convince my ex to let me raise our daughter (who is now 28!). My second wife and I were pretty much able to help her adjust to a normal life. while she encountered abandonment issues regarding her mother (long story), she turned into a superb and happy adult.

The court refused to allow my wife and I to have custody of my middle child (son). All I'll say is that didn't turn out well and while I blame my ex, I understand she's seriously mentally ill. I blame the court system (circa 1999). hopefully times are changing perceptions of the courts.

All this to say I understand how it feels to see the effects of what a "sick" ex can do to a child.

Bob

Thank you, @Bobnnat. My daughter has lived with us since July 2016, and I'm thankful she at least is away from that nonsense now. It's a long story how she came to live with me, but I got an attorney right away and started the legal process to make it all official/legal.

4 hours ago, Jennie048 said:

Just wanted to say so sorry that you are going through this Bin - I empathize as I have two boys of my own...seems like you are getting her help and doing the best you can do...hoping that things get better.

Thanks, @Jennie048. Yes, we're doing all we can. It's unfortunate that it ever got this bad, but our focus now is getting her as much as help as we possibly can. That's all we can do. I understand there is no magical fix, but the more help she gets, the better off she'll likely be in due time.

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Hey Bin, I just want to say I feel for you. Raising children can be so stressful. Even with my daughter, though I didn’t have any sort of mental illness to deal with I still had to contend with other issues that made many years just plain difficult. 13 is not an easy age at the best of times, but with all the help you’re getting for her I think her future looks pretty good. I’m rooting for ya. 

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2 hours ago, Torontogirl said:

Hey Bin, I just want to say I feel for you. Raising children can be so stressful. Even with my daughter, though I didn’t have any sort of mental illness to deal with I still had to contend with other issues that made many years just plain difficult. 13 is not an easy age at the best of times, but with all the help you’re getting for her I think her future looks pretty good. I’m rooting for ya. 

Thanks! It's quite stressful, but we will get through it. Just trying to see if anyone here can relate.

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No one has mentioned  puberty. In a girl of that age it's possible that changes in the body and hormones running riot need explanation. Now it's very difficult for a man to do this because us guys have no experience of the trauma it may cause. Without a woman to explain many girls become introspective and confused. They wonder what is happening, and if no one explains it can cause many problems in later life. Why do we find this subject so difficult? It's natural phenomena just as is puberty in boys, although obviously very different to girls. Not having any explanation and unable from embarrassment to talk about it they become confused and often learn myths from other girls which is even more upsetting. Counselling, preferably from a woman would help. Your GP may advise on this because, in spite of our so called 'enlightenment', we still shy away from the subject

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Hi Tinn, 

I'm sorry you are going through the motions currently but it just confirms what a good Dad you are, you have her best interest at heart for sure. 

In my career I have worked with chronic mental ill patients and also with youth who were neglected or abused. I can tell you a lot of kids pick up dx's in hospital settings and really do believe they suffer from the things she mentioned. You can't force her to change her way of thinking currently. Just think about what anxiety does to us, we are so convinced we have a physical disease or that we are going crazy. I think the same thing is going on here, I have seen it many times especially with girls around that age. I used to work in a group setting with girls from the age of 12-18 and the symptoms and conditions 'jumped around'  the entire group, so to speak. And puberty and hormones sure can add to the stress she is experiencing. What I have encountered, "all my kids" from work fabricated stories to get attention, I have heard some wild stuff. They do it, in short because their emotional and physical needs were not met when they were small. They test if they can really, truly trust the adults around them. It's a long process but I think you have gotten full custody when she was still young enough and you working with all the professionals gives her a great chance. 

What can you do? You can reassure her of your love and the same for the rest of the family. When she tests you by acting out with telling you she suffers from such and such, just think that right now you can't convince her. Just like you couldn't convince yourself when in the middle of anxiety. Reassure her she is safe with you, she can trust you and openly talk to you without getting punished for it. At the same time it's important to say: " I hear you about you thinking you suffer from such and such, no matter what you suffer from we are here for you and will be. I don't see any evidence of this going on but we are here for you. What is really important also is a routine, hold her accountable for certain things without undermining what she feels and thinks. Socializing with friends is also crucial. I personally would monitor her online activity so she doesn't get a chance to dig deeper into the dx she thinks she suffers from. 

I think you are well on your way to having this. It's my understanding she was recently diagnosed so it's to be expected that it will be bumpy for a while. One more thing comes to mind. It's not so good in my experience to use a lot of labels (and those are sometimes misused by teens!) , yes she suffers from certain things but there is more to her than her past or the way she was socialized or the mental challenges she is facing. But of course I understand your focus currently and you have my empathy. I was just speaking about the long term prognosis I have encountered professionally and it wasn't half bad. 

My best Wishes. 

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On 12/6/2018 at 7:30 AM, mollyfin said:

DID as the existence of separate individual people living in your head doesn't exist.  If you're aware of them, they sure as hell don't exist.  That's what dissociative means.  If you have DID, you black out.  And you don't have unique individual personalities with names.  The doctor who "treated" Sibyl and basically created that pathology MADE IT ALL UP.  Ruined that poor woman's life, too.

So...yeah, she's at least making some shit up.  Good luck.  It's very hard being a mentally ill teenager, but it's also very hard trying to raise one.  

In my experience this is not accurate. I had patients who suffered from this. They have suffered such horrendous trauma we can't even imagine. Sometimes those patients are aware of what's going on and sometimes they are not. Please let's not be biased against people who have a serious medical condition. 

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1 hour ago, MsLLL said:

Hi Tinn, 

I'm sorry you are going through the motions currently but it just confirms what a good Dad you are, you have her best interest at heart for sure. 

In my career I have worked with chronic mental ill patients and also with youth who were neglected or abused. I can tell you a lot of kids pick up dx's in hospital settings and really do believe they suffer from the things she mentioned. You can't force her to change her way of thinking currently. Just think about what anxiety does to us, we are so convinced we have a physical disease or that we are going crazy. I think the same thing is going on here, I have seen it many times especially with girls around that age. I used to work in a group setting with girls from the age of 12-18 and the symptoms and conditions 'jumped around'  the entire group, so to speak. And puberty and hormones sure can add to the stress she is experiencing. What I have encountered, "all my kids" from work fabricated stories to get attention, I have heard some wild stuff. They do it, in short because their emotional and physical needs were not met when they were small. They test if they can really, truly trust the adults around them. It's a long process but I think you have gotten full custody when she was still young enough and you working with all the professionals gives her a great chance. 

What can you do? You can reassure her of your love and the same for the rest of the family. When she tests you by acting out with telling you she suffers from such and such, just think that right now you can't convince her. Just like you couldn't convince yourself when in the middle of anxiety. Reassure her she is safe with you, she can trust you and openly talk to you without getting punished for it. At the same time it's important to say: " I hear you about you thinking you suffer from such and such, no matter what you suffer from we are here for you and will be. I don't see any evidence of this going on but we are here for you. What is really important also is a routine, hold her accountable for certain things without undermining what she feels and thinks. Socializing with friends is also crucial. I personally would monitor her online activity so she doesn't get a chance to dig deeper into the dx she thinks she suffers from. 

I think you are well on your way to having this. It's my understanding she was recently diagnosed so it's to be expected that it will be bumpy for a while. One more thing comes to mind. It's not so good in my experience to use a lot of labels (and those are sometimes misused by teens!) , yes she suffers from certain things but there is more to her than her past or the way she was socialized or the mental challenges she is facing. But of course I understand your focus currently and you have my empathy. I was just speaking about the long term prognosis I have encountered professionally and it wasn't half bad. 

My best Wishes. 

I know what you're saying with this. The hospital, and now the counselor coming to the home, all find zero evidence for things such as DID and bipolar. They know she's fabricating some / a lot of these things. Especially because when they ask her to describe certain things - symptoms, coping skills she claims doesn't work, etc - she gets argumentative, changes the subject, and she simply can't describe in any level of detail the things she says she's experiencing. I understand, and the professionals tend to agree, that it's likely difficult for her to comprehend what she actually is dealing with (e.g. depression/anxiety, PTSD) so it's not easy for her to articulate what she really feels.

On the other hand, much like myself, she's very intelligent and she's also very analytical. She reads about various conditions like DID and begins projecting the symptoms and/or telling people she has it. Sounds VERY, VERY FAMILIAR. LoL. Health anxiety, for me, has been very much like that.

The only part that truly frustrates me is the fact that she won't even attempt to help herself. She doesn't try coping skills, she simply dismisses them. Her guidance counselor at school has told me many times that she's recommended my daughter try particular coping skills, and my daughter becomes argumentative and defensive, and sometimes "storms out" of the office. She also tends to use anxiety as a crutch. She'll speak with a disrespectful tone to the other kids or whatever, and she'll instantly blame it on feeling anxious.

Time will tell. I hope all we're doing is not in vain, and she ultimately realizes that she must do her part. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. It's much appreciated.

She is doing a good bit better these days. Not nearly as depressed, though obviously not "cured." But she's been in an overall positive/happy mood.

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