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Topic: How do I help my 17yo daughter?

11 posts, 0 answered
  1. worried_mumma_bear
    worried_mumma_bear avatar
    5 posts
    4 August 2018

    Hello everyone,

    I have just joined this community in the hope on finding other parents in the same boat as me that can offer support, suggestions or the alike on how I can be a better mother & provide better support for my daughter. I apologise for the novel I am about to write - I hope you all understand it :-)

    About her: She is 17 years old, finishing her final year of high school with plans to go to uni. She suffers from anxiety (runs on my mother’s side of the family). She works part time at a fat food outlet, has a group of nice friends, a lovely boyfriend and is very social and enjoys going out and living life. However, she can not sleep away from home without us (mum & dad) and I don’t know what to do!!

    We only picked this up a few years ago but looking back on her childhood she has always had it. She has never been able to sleep away from home without us, whenever she tried as a youngster she would become sick and physically vomit, at that stage I just thought she was sick but now know she was that anxious she couldn’t cope. Fast forward to her teen years, she is still the same. The only time in the last 2 years she has stayed away from home and us was for an overnight school retreat, she didn’t sleep much if at all but she made it through the new night which I was proud of. She has missed out on so much - sleepovers with friends, school excursions, camping trips etc. & now we are coming to the end of her schooling where everyone is talking Schoolies, moving away or going to Uni which is going to be a huge struggle for her. We live in a regional town where schoolie celebrations take place so I’m not worried about that but it’s talk of going to uni which is making things harder, she doesn’t have a lot of options - it’s either a 3 or 2hr drive from home as the city is a no go in her eyes. Plus none of her friends are going so wherever she goes she will have to do this pretty much alone (excluding the support from myself).

    We have been to psychologists, doctors, hypnotherapists & tried natural remedies but nothing has been able to help her to stay away from home. Every professional that I’ve spoken to says that she needs to take the plunge and push herself to stay away at friends but to her it’s like jumping off a cliff and even the thought make her feel ill.

    I’m really not sure where to go now or what to do as I don’t want her missing out on a fantastic opportunity such as uni because of this.

    Thank you in advanced.

  2. smallwolf
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    smallwolf avatar
    4416 posts
    4 August 2018 in reply to worried_mumma_bear

    Hi. Welcome to beyond blue. A brief reply because I am away from my desk, so to speak. I want to ask you one question. Has anyone that has spoken to your daughter explored underlying or core beliefs that might create this anxiety?

    For example, why am I a perfectionist and need certainty? This is something I am looking at with my psychologist currently and these thoughts come from somewhere in my childhood. The answer might lie in identifying the initial trigger, and when it first occurred and what else happened around that time?

    tim

  3. worried_mumma_bear
    worried_mumma_bear avatar
    5 posts
    4 August 2018 in reply to smallwolf

    Hi Tim,

    In our journey so far we have been unable to pinpoint a trigger. She has had an exceptional childhood. We are a close family, she has one other younger sister, my husband (her dad) are still happily married, we’ve lived in the same town since she was born, schooling has been great etc etc. I have only ever worked part time to spend time raising them, whilst my husband has a 8-5 Mon-Fri job so always home.

    I am always trying to look back to see if there is any trigger but can’t pin point anything. Plus in all the conversations I’ve had with my daughter and she’s had with doctors, psychologists she doesn’t know.

    I feel my only option now is to advanced to a psychiatrist but there is none in our area.

  4. MsPurple
    Champion Alumni
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    MsPurple avatar
    1621 posts
    4 August 2018 in reply to worried_mumma_bear

    HI worried mumma and welcome to the forums

    I know personally what it is like to have anxiety in high school, however I didn't have the type of anxiety she had. I was a bit ashamed and didn't necessarilly wanted help because part of me was still in denial thinking 'nothing is wrong, this is normal'. Now 26 I wish I would have not been ashamed and more open to close people like I am now.

    I thought I should suggest a youth mental health service called headspace. It is a free service for youth aged 12-25 years. I'd look on their website https://headspace.org.au/ and see if there is a centre near you. They also have an online service called eheadspace, which can access on their page too. I have personally used this service and I found it very beneficial. I felt comfortable as it was aimed for people my age. And they do this stuff everyday. If this doesn't sound like it is for her you can continue seeing your local psychologist. I just know for me it was good to kinda make my own choice and take control of my mental health myself and I found this to be a good stepping stone

    There are also apps she could try. I used a meditation app called 'calm' (free section). I found that mediation helped me deal with anxiety flare ups because it gave me the tools and skills I could use in the real world. When I first tired it I didn't think it would help but after a few goes it really helped.

    Hope this was helpful for you

    MsP

  5. worried_mumma_bear
    worried_mumma_bear avatar
    5 posts
    4 August 2018 in reply to MsPurple

    Hi MsP,

    Thanks for your reply. I will look into the headspace service you mentioned as I hadn’t heard of it.

    My daughter is fine with school, doesn’t get anxious at all and really enjoys it. I have suggested the meditation app you mentioned but she dismissed the idea saying it didn’t work but she has a habit of not giving things enough chances before saying they don’t work. I might push her to give it a go a few more times before she can rule it out.

    Thanks again

  6. therising
    Valued Contributor
    • A special award for members who go above and beyond to support others here on the forums
    therising avatar
    1487 posts
    5 August 2018

    Hi worried_mumma_bear

    The stresses of parenting can be torturous sometimes. My heart goes out to you!

    I imagine you've already addressed what you, your husband and home mean to your daughter and I imagine words such as 'security, reliability, peace of mind and reassurance' have come up in conversation. Of course, for any of us, we need proof that we are self-secure, self-reliant, personally at peace and self-assured. To prove this to our brain (which can be stubborn at times), we can try strategies that trick it into believing independence is possible, until it is able to form a new and positive outlook. Wondering if a kind of 'weaning' strategy has been talked about. With so much technology at our fingertips these days, have you discussed something like Skype being a possibility? Would she be able to stay at a trusted friend's house, with the knowledge that she can Skype with you whenever she wants? Might be a bit tiring for you to be doing this on and off continuously throughout the night but if it turns out to be something that sets your daughter on the right path, it will be worth the initial sleepless nights. She could try doing this one night each week, with her and her friend having an anxiety management plan in place. Gradually you could alter the routine in a variety of ways, in the process.

    An outside the square type of strategy may have her seeing herself with a gradually changing identity. 'I am someone who takes responsibility for my personal security, whilst seeking a sense of security from Mum. I am someone who's self-reliant, whilst still being able to turn to Mum. I am someone who shares a sense of personal peace with Mum (aka Mum is not solely responsible for my sense of peace). I am someone who is assuring myself of my capabilities whilst receiving support from Mum.' The I am part is key. Our I AM is our identity, it's how we identify ourselves with life.

    The Skype sleepover is just one idea. Discussing this idea with your daughter might help her to start thinking outside the square regarding possible pathways to greater independence. Of course, the Skype thing is simply a tool in a process, not intended to be something she becomes addicted to or fully reliant on in an unhealthy way.

    When reflecting on when your daughter was a baby, you will recall that weaning can be a slow process. Whether it involves changing from milk to solids or changing from dependence to independence, strategy is what eases us into change.

    Take care of yourself

  7. worried_mumma_bear
    worried_mumma_bear avatar
    5 posts
    5 August 2018 in reply to therising

    Hi therising,

    Yes I agree with the weaning process and we have been trialling this with sleepovers at grandparents, which has been successful, the next step is friends which she is struggling to do. She knows that I will have my phone on me and can text, call, FaceTime whatever but getting her to take this step is proving hard. I’ve tried being calm and gentle with her as well as doing a bit of tough love but at this age, you can just drop them somewhere and leave them (like you did when they were in child care).

    I just keep suggesting sleepovers to her and while she responds with a yes, I know when the time comes to do it, she won’t (can’t). I just need to convince her that she can do it, and everything will be OK. Once she does one, and then another and another I know it will get easier for her. It’s just taking this next step.

  8. therising
    Valued Contributor
    • A special award for members who go above and beyond to support others here on the forums
    therising avatar
    1487 posts
    5 August 2018 in reply to worried_mumma_bear

    Hi worried_mumma_bear

    Sounds like slow progress but still progress. Parents and grandparents are typically the most trusted people. Sounds possibly like a trust issue, something you already know I'm sure. Wondering if she can't fully trust her friends when it comes to them judging her based on her anxious behaviour. No one likes to be judged. Trust issues are incredibly hard to overcome.

    Take care

    1 person found this helpful
  9. MsPurple
    Champion Alumni
    • Community champion volunteers who are not currently active on the forums.
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    MsPurple avatar
    1621 posts
    6 August 2018 in reply to worried_mumma_bear

    HI mumma bear

    I was like your daughter. I thought 'nope doesn't work', but my therapist said I needed to do it for at least a week. 10 mins isn't too long. I found it very helpful. The first time I tried it, nope. But after the week I saw the benefit. No I don't do it all the time, but 10 mins every few days is enough to maintain the skills for me.

    Headspace isn't just for students. They can help with a range of things. I have general anxiety and I found it very helpful to help wiht that

    Wish you both all the best

    1 person found this helpful
  10. Daisy2
    Daisy2 avatar
    5 posts
    21 August 2018

    Hi mumma_bear, as a teenager I suffered terribly from separation anxiety from my parents (primarily my mother). There was no reason for it. I was raised in a wonderful home with supportive parents, went to school, had great friends but to approach others to ask someone something in public without her support would give me anxiety. After I left school and received my diploma I made myself move out of home to work. It was horrific! I rang home to my mother every night crying, begging to come home, feeling sick and missing her terribly. I went home every weekend. This unfortunately for my mother went on for months! Eventually though, as I made friends and got into work the phone calls home reduced and even the visits home became less.

    A couple years later I ended up returning to my home town to study my uni degree externally. I was able to work, study and live out of home. I am now 42, 12 years married with 2 beautiful children (with their own issues) and remain very close to my mother.

    Hopefully this gives you some hope that even though your daughter needs your support now she will be able to achieve independent living. It may take a lot of support and crying (from both of you) until she realises herself that she is able to do it.

    Small steps also helped, like making me order my own lunch when out; asking someone for directions; asking questions of others myself etc... Then making the connection that even though I was really anxious, I did it and I was safe and I got what I needed without her.

    Best of luck...you sound my mum, a beautifully supportive mother.

    1 person found this helpful
  11. worried_mumma_bear
    worried_mumma_bear avatar
    5 posts
    26 August 2018 in reply to Daisy2

    Thank you Daisy!! This sounds like something my own daughter will write in 25 years time!!! (Well I hope so anyway). I’m slowly removing myself and making her do the simply things in life (like you mention above re: ordering own meals etc) and I do think these little things will help... my husband constantly says that I “baby” her and maybe to an extent I do so between me letting go slowly and getting her to try different things to manage her anxiety I know she will be fine... the tears unfortunately will take awhile but we will get there. She is currently in the thick of her school studies for OP and is stressed a bit but I just keep reminding her that it’s nearly over.

    Thanks again for your reply, you definitely give me great hope!

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