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Topic: Wanting advice for parenting adult child with mental illness

14 posts, 0 answered
  1. krainb01
    krainb01 avatar
    2 posts
    6 September 2021
    Hi. My 18 year old daughter has severe anxiety and depression. She was first diagnosed with anxiety at age 7 and depression at age 12. She is currently on medication and we have seen many GPs / psychologists / psychiatrists through the years. She is not currently seeing a psychologist because she did not like the last one and now refuses to see one (she has always been reluctant). She is currently studying at TAFE so there is no legal school obligation involved. For years we struggled with getting her to do anything, but she was a child and we were 100% responsible for her. Now she is an adult and we don't want her to be dependent on us forever. She is very bright and capable of being a functioning member of society, but she doesn't seem to have any desire to. She has missed quite a bit of TAFE and does not complete enough TAFE work at home during lockdown. If we don't "nag" her, she won't shower or eat properly. She spends most of her time in her room and doesn't have her licence. Now that she's an adult I feel like we should just leave her and let her make her own decisions (and cop the consequences), but I think she would be more than happy to live in our back room forever! She hates talking to people about herself and when she is "forced" to she simply tells them what they want to hear. For eg, she tells her TAFE teacher she will catch up on all the work, she tells her GP she will look after herself and agrees to talk to a psychologist. Once we're home she refuses to do whatever it is she "promised". I'm just looking for some advice from parents of adult children with mental illness who are older than my daughter. Do you leave them alone? Do you still heavily parent them by "making" them do things? Do you still take the lead when corresponding with doctors, teachers, bosses etc? Do you still remind them of everything they should be doing? Has your child managed to be a fully functioning adult and live outside of your house? I'm just really worried what the future holds and don't know what to do now that she legally is an adult. Thanks.
  2. Sophie_M
    Sophie_M avatar
    5944 posts
    6 September 2021 in reply to krainb01

    Hi krainb01,

    Thank you for sharing this here. It must be really difficult supporting your daughter. We hope you can find some comfort and understanding on the forums. We’re sure we’ll hear from other community members soon, who may be able to relate to what you’re going through.

    We hope you know there is always somewhere to turn for you, your daughter and all other affected members of your family. You could check in with

    We hope you know there is always somewhere to turn for you, your daughter and all other affected members of your family. You could check in with Parentline, who have a number for each state listed here, and if possible, please encourage her to ring Kids Helpline whenever she needs to talk things through, on 1800 55 1800, and our own Beyond blue helpline is here for both of you, on 1300 22 4636. These are both available through webchat:

    In case it's helpful, here's a previous thread that touched on this issue: They won't get help - supporting your teenager through a mental health crisis.

    It’s also important while caring for your daughter that you are aware of your own emotional wellbeing. Please remember to reach out any time you feel you are struggling, to the Beyond Blue helpline on 1300 22 4636, or to our friends at Carers Australia on 1800 242 636. They offer short-term counselling, emotional and psychological support services for carers and their families.  

    Thank you again for sharing here. Please feel free to share more and keep us updated whenever you feel comfortable to do so.

    Kind regards,

    Sophie M
     

  3. Isabella_
    Community Champion
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    Isabella_ avatar
    128 posts
    6 September 2021 in reply to krainb01

    Hi there,

    Thank you for sharing with us. I'm not a parent - I'm 18 myself, but I hope I can help a little bit none the less.

    This is a very complex situation, and it must be very difficult for you to be stuck in the middle. I'm assuming she's entirely dependent on you financially, for transport, etc. I think it's important for you to know that as much as we want to change people for the better, especially as a parent, it's realistically up to your daughter.

    I experienced severe social anxiety throughout high school and wanted to avoid going to school all together, but this was never an option for me because my parents wouldn't allow it. As much as I resented them for it at the time, ultimately it was the best thing they could've done for me, it helped me build much needed resilience. They were very much strict with me in terms of what I could and couldn't avoid, but at the end of the day, they were sending me to therapy sessions and were a great support system for me. I suppose it's what they call tough love.

    Unfortunately like you said, I think without a push, your daughter will easily and quite happily stay in her room for the rest of her life. That's the sad reality about mental illness. Right now you are being a great support system for her in encouraging her to take care of herself and encouraging her to get help, she is very fortunate to have that. As your daughter, she does have the responsibility to transition into adulthood and gain her independence, and this isn't easy for everyone especially with mental illness.

    I think doing things like checking in on her regularly while she's in her room and asking her what she's up to would be helpful to see what she's doing. Ask her whether she's done the things she's needed to and asking her why not. Hold her accountable for procrastinating. But always let her know that she can talk to you and ask for help whenever she needs it. Get her to show you how many TAFE units she's completed or what she's done for the day. If she hasn't been productive, ask her what she'll do tomorrow and that you'll check what she's done.

    I hope you're taking care of yourself. Always remind yourself that with things like this their isn't always a right or wrong answer, and as much as we want to, we can't completely change how our loved ones think/act. But indeed we can help them out as much as we can and be a support system, and that won't be taken for granted in the long run.

    Take care.

    2 people found this helpful
  4. BElaine
    BElaine avatar
    5 posts
    3 October 2021 in reply to krainb01

    Hi krainb01,

    I fully recognise your situation and have exactly the same questions as you. My daughter is 17 so I wonder what happens at 18? In 16 days of school holidays she has left her room 3 times - twice to see her psychologist and once to get vaccinated. So she showers every 5 days, despite her psychologist asking her to make this a daily goal. She loves being heard by her psyche but won't take on anything she says. So we provide whatever support she needs (meds, appointments, dinner) but it's like she has no desire to join society, to get better. I can only take Isabella_'s advice.....she has to want to change/develop/improve. I provide what I can and then step back and focus on self care.

    I'm wondering if TAFE has disability support system (where mental illness is a disability)? I know Uni of W'gong, for example, has this which gets you access to a counselor that will check in to encourage students to stay on track. I'm expecting my child will end up at TAFE next year so I'll let you know what I find.

    Thanks for sharing your situation and questions. I found it somehow reassuring to know my family is not the only one going through this. I hope you do too. I also find sharing in a supportive community such as this lightens the load, just a little. So keep putting it out there even if there are no easy answers.

    Take care of yourself.

  5. BElaine
    BElaine avatar
    5 posts
    3 October 2021 in reply to Isabella_

    Hi Isabella_, thank you for your insight. It was great your parents' "tough love" ultimately kept you on track. I was wondering if you have any advice for me? My 17 year old daughter has similar behaviours to krainb01, but she will do nothing we ask her to. She literally sits on her bed for 13 hours a day with her laptop. So how do we keep her on track? If I ask her if she has any homework this weekend she tells me to 'stop pressuring her' or to 'get off my back'. She won't show or discuss any of her work with us. If I invite her to do something else like visit her Grandparents or cook something or a crafty activity, she says she's 'not bothered'. She's happiest if we pretend she's not there. She has no friends. She likes to visit her psychologist and psychiatrist - i think she likes to be heard. But she takes on nothing they say and won't discuss anything with us unless we just completely agree with her. If we insist on anything she becomes angry and volatile, so we don't.

    I know there are no easy answers, just interested in a different perspective.

    Thanks.

    1 person found this helpful
  6. randomx
    randomx avatar
    2767 posts
    2 December 2021 in reply to BElaine

    This thread's exactly what l've been looking for help on too. And just a thanks too to Isabella and btw, you write so well .

    My daughter's 20 and supposedly BP1 diagnosed 9mths ago but on that l have my doubts. l think everything's more connected with what she's been through this last 18mths, which has been a lot , a real lot. But before all this, up to finishing yr 12 and working for a few mths into the next yr, she's been a normal very bright and clever girl.

    She became manic though after that, or just had too much fun, things went seriously wrong and she's now into her second bout of depression, due to it all the second time round now.

    She's overwhelmed can't start or finish anything, hardly leaves her room, tough love is just too damn exhausting bc it takes 20 shots for a wk of chasing until it comes to yelling and l just don't have the patients or spare energy left. l'm on my own atm and running my business the house is big and takes a lot to look after too when l am on my own on top of work and other stuff and l've had MH problems myself. She's been living with me bc her mum was worn out from her and for a change to get out of that area.

    This Covid 18mths has also messed her up and the few times she has dragged herself up again , applied for this or gotten some job that, they've closed down or shelved it due to Covid. And she falls back again.

    She's mostly in her room , hardly does anything at all , although stays at her one friend lefts place one night a wk or her mums. Getting her moving or to do anything at all though, l just don't have it left it's just too much work . And we're never sure how hard to push either bc she's been so low at times. She won't take meds or go to her MH appointments.

    At a loss. She does want to be out and into her own place and independent, but she just can't drag herself up to get started or even work or a course, never mind everything else.

    rx

    1 person found this helpful
  7. Isabella_
    Community Champion
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    Isabella_ avatar
    128 posts
    3 December 2021 in reply to randomx

    Hi there,

    I wish I had the right answers for your situation.. I can see how hard everything is for you dealing with your own mental health, and all the responsibilities you have on your own.

    You mentioned you have doubts on her diagnosis.. Is this because she had only verbally said it to you, without any sort of evidence from a doctor?

    Sticking to tough love is exhausting. I think maybe the most important thing to remember is actions speak volumes but words don't.. I.e say if you give her a deadline to have a job by x month and she doesn't, you might find yourself backed in a corner.. Asking her to do something vs. not doing it for her so that she has to do it.

    If she stays in her room all day not doing anything.. Does she cook/clean after herself, do laundry, have any chores or responsibilities as a member of the house like that? Or is she entirely dependent on you, also financially?

    If she says she wants to be independent, don't pick up after her. Treat her like the adult she is, and I think this can be done without seeming rude or mean by any means. End of the day she is responsible for herself if she has been diagnosed with a mental illness and is refusing to get treatment or live her life. It's not a free ticket to cling on to you, or an expectation of you as her parent by any means. I think you can be a great support system for her by not giving her the option of doing absolutely nothing.. Ie. maybe starting small like making her cook for herself, telling her to get groceries.

    I understand this is much easier said than done and I'm not a parent.. But I always felt guilt and like a disappointment if I didn't pick up after myself and do what was expected of me. I learned it shouldn't be a matter of them asking me to do something, it's telling me to do it.

    You are not a bad person for having the expectation of her to live her life, pull her weight.. That's not being dismissive of her mental health at all. I think if anything her thinking that doing nothing all the time is allowing herself to dismiss her ability to live life because her mental health is in the way.. She's making the choice to use it as an excuse.

    Give her the space to talk about what she's going through, what it is that's difficult for her, be empathetic to that. Normal tasks are going to be hard for her, but never impossible. The longer she avoids what she needs to, the more impossible I think they'll seem.

    I hope you've found some parts of this helpful in some way.

    1 person found this helpful
  8. Isabella_
    Community Champion
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    Isabella_ avatar
    128 posts
    3 December 2021 in reply to BElaine

    Hi BElaine,

    I'm really sorry for not seeing your message sooner :( I hope you still find it, or have found some support in the meantime. I hope you're doing well.

    Similarly to my reply to randomx.. I think the reality is she will rely and dependent on you for as much as possible for as long as possible if she's giving the option.. I don't think asking/telling her to do something is enough. My best friend had went through the same thing with her parents.

    Essentially she had to show them what jobs she applied for that day, always asking what she did that day to hold her accountable. If she wanted to make dinner and have clean clothes.. That would be on her. Starting off with small tasks and chores I think helped her because she was forced to be responsible for herself. I think for my best friends parents.. They reached a point where the rudeness, dismissal and expectation on them to do everything for her was too much. They still gave her the space to open up to them and be a support system for her.

    Being angry and volatile is in no way fair on you.. You don't deserve that. If she thinks she can treat you that way while she's entirely dependent on you then I think there's a real problem.. You have your own boundaries in terms of what you deserve, your own mental health, how you're treating by the people you live with. Many people can successfully live their lives with mental illness. Basic tasks are definitely harder but they're only impossible as long as she tells herself they are.

    Sadly I think with younger people with few responsibilities it can be easy to excuse yourself from being productive or doing what you need to due to poor mental health. But the way she's going is sabotaging herself..

    I don't think tough love means being volatile back.. I think a change in how you speak to her and act around her will wake her up.. ie. with a neutral tone, more direct, not acknowledging back talk if you get it, quite literally not picking up after her if it's something you do regularly.

    I hope your daughter finds it within herself to be hopeful and change her thoughts and behaviours.. It takes time to take accountability for your mental health and her being young I think makes that more of a challenge. But teaching her that she has to look after herself without depending on a psychologist to vent to and not follow advice from, and you who does everything for her but dismisses you when you ask her to do things is important.

    I hope to hear from you <3

  9. randomx
    randomx avatar
    2767 posts
    3 December 2021 in reply to Isabella_

    Hiya lsabella , thanks for the thoughts , hope your doin ok.

    But nope l don't do anything for her she has to cook, buy her own stuff, tidy up after herself, look after herself, l'm not her mother and depressed or not she's not 5. She does also do other things around but it's just when it hits her. Like thoroughly scrub and clean a different room and stuff sometimes or just gets up one day and the kitchen ends up spotless. We both ex and l have helped her a lot though in other ways , more serious things and troubles she's got herself into. She talks to her mum a lot but l don't push it one's enough unless she does specifically need me for something or just feels like it. She's been so low at times it's literally scary and really sad and upsetting, but last time she eventually snapped out of it and got back into life. Where she is again now , to my mind is more so the result of everything that went down last time she was well, and the same as time before, well that's where l'm laying bets anyway , rather than bp. But the mess she got herself into may actually be the manic sides of bp , how can you know, we aren't skrinks, although we're almost turning into one.

    She's incredibly intelligent has quite a high IQ , and is also a brilliant artist, she's very clever and good with her hands also and she can make or do just about anything she puts her mind to, she's that damn capable. But among the depression she's also put a tone of pressure on herself and expectations , and it's just causing total overwhelm in the state she's in right now.

    lt's very sad and hard to see , of course !

    rx

    1 person found this helpful
  10. Isabella_
    Community Champion
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    Isabella_ avatar
    128 posts
    3 December 2021 in reply to randomx

    I've read that bipolar and other mental health issues can arise in times of high stress and trauma, especially if there is a family history. By the sounds of things, she's gone through a hard time and it's still weighing on her, and maybe she isn't sure how to deal with it. Mental illness is complex because it involves a huge range of environmental and personality factors, genetics, age etc.. Apparently the onset of bipolar disorder happens on average age 21 for females.

    People with bipolar disorder are amazingly capable, intelligent and very creative, especially so in manic states.. It must be hard to watch her not reach her full potential when you know the amazing person she is. And of course.. You can't be expected to be a shrink and I hear you when you say it feels like you're turning into one. Recognise your own limits.. You aren't a doctor and realistically aren't equipped to help her in that way, and that's not a bad thing at all. From the sounds of things, you're an amazing support for her by making yourself available. Writing on here with your concerns speaks volumes that you care for her and that's worth a lot, and really important for someone getting on the right track again. Sometimes just caring and being there is enough.

    I'm curious.. Have you confronted her about her choosing to not take her medicine/go to mental health appointments, and if so how did she react?

    I can see that it's really hard and painful to see her in her really low states. I think the fact that she can take care of herself and get on her feet is amazing, even when she does fall down.. She needs some help with the falling down part and the mania like you've said, if the situation you mentioned was quite risk taking or dangerous..

    If you don't mind me asking (you don't have to answer).. You mentioned she's scary in her really low states.. Do you suspect that she could be experiencing suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming herself?

    I'd love to hear from you and I'm here for a chat whenever you need it.

    I'm doing okay, I hope you're taking care of yourself as best as possible. Vicarious trauma is very real when being concerned for someone you care about (that is, your mental health suffering as well). Your mental health is extremely important too.

    1 person found this helpful
  11. randomx
    randomx avatar
    2767 posts
    3 December 2021 in reply to Isabella_

    Thanks for that very cool hearing from you too and with what you've been through yourself ,so glad you were still around actually. Your clued in beyond yrs let me tell you, hope your proud of yourself. We become aware of such intricacies in caring for someone MH wise and ourselves too don't we. Not to mention the ton of reading involved.

    We spend a lot of time around ea other normally when she is like this bc l work at home and both wander about doing our thing or in her case mostly in bed or out somewhere atm. We do things too though, go have some lunch with the whales , my fav' , ride our bikes , go up town or for drives or a look about or somewhere. We use to go away a bit too but as she get's older of course if she does feel like something she'll take off to somewhere, do her thing of see someone. With her first bout we'd talk a lot, but she'd also talk to her mum a lot too and l started thinking both so intensely with everything going on for her was too much and so this time l've tended to just let it be and she can focus more with her mum one on one and tbh , l think that's enough. Don't wanna dwell on stuff 24 7 all over the place it's not healthy. lf she wants too though or we just touch on something yeah but otherwise l keep it light atm, seems to help, and it helps me too. So yeah you do really need to preserve in these situations or it will drain you which l already have quite a bit going on besides too so l'm careful not to get too drawn in and mostly do my own thing too.Hangin round worrying about her doesn't do her much good anyway, she knows l'm about or there she feels like it. Yeah we've tried of course getting her to at least try her meds and keep her MH appointments, without much luck l'm afraid,

    It is the most common age for an onset and often caused by things yeah and we're finding ourselves to at your age that age too and it can be a confusing time in that alone can't it. lt can also pass if your lucky, life levels out and we find their niche which l have hope for her with. But no she's pretty safe we hope and we keep an eye on things.

    Your a very caring and thoughtful bugger you wouldn't be going into psychology by any chance would you , any interest in it in that way or ? Could be a come natural field for you if you have , or something else your into. Mind my own business, ok, no worries, kidden.

    take care eh.

    rx

    1 person found this helpful
  12. randomx
    randomx avatar
    2767 posts
    4 December 2021 in reply to randomx

    We did use to cook actually or go shopping sometimes, we had favorites like making a big roast living of it all wkend with movies and we'd both make it all up. Weird thing food wise though she turned vegetarian so since then we just eat and buy totally different stuff. We still get pizza together though haha.

    Nice wkend all .

    rx

  13. Isabella_
    Community Champion
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    Isabella_ avatar
    128 posts
    4 December 2021 in reply to randomx

    You're too kind :') Thank you for your words, it means a lot. I'm studying psych actually haha, I'm in my first year. But I'd love to go into social work and work as a mental health social worker.

    I think yeah bottom line my own first hand experience helps.. But surprisingly I've been in a few situations where parents of friends have asked me for some help.. I had to visit my school counsellor to get help for a friend who was hurting herself and things like that, and her school had no mental health services for their students. I had become very close with her and her parents as a result and well they're pretty much a second family to me now.

    It sounds like you've gone above and beyond to help her when she was in serious trouble. It's great you guys cook, go shopping, go for drives and have movie weekends :) Man I wish I had something like that when I was going through it.

    You've set your own boundaries by talking lightly to her about it and trying to step back. You're so right.. It can become all consuming where you dwell on it 24/7 and it's not good for you. Good on you for looking out for yourself. And you're right, you worrying doesn't help her as well because you're doing the most you can, and I can understand how that can feel like it isn't enough. I think you're an empath like me who wants to fix the people in their life haha.

    I'm glad to hear that she's safe. She will find her way.. It'll take her time, but hey, with covid restrictions becoming lesser hopefully she can motivated to look for jobs and she won't have to worry about the uncertainty of getting let off. Too much change can be a lot, maybe she also interprets it as a failure. Actually taking the step to go to MH appointments is something you have to be ready for, and maybe you know from personal experience.

    I have full faith that she'll get there. I hope I can give you some peace by validating that you're doing what you can and the right thing, and that's really enough at the end of the day. I hope that you can come to a place where focusing on yourself is more of a priority..

    I hope you're having a good weekend also <3 Take care.

    1 person found this helpful
  14. randomx
    randomx avatar
    2767 posts
    5 December 2021 in reply to Isabella_

    Ahh , that's fantastic that you've got a direction your really interest in , it's such a huge thing and it will help you so much. That's one of the main things d is in such anxiety over , she's put so much pressure on herself about what to do. Wish she'd just get a pt job and just live life for awhile take the pressure of and things will just come for her then whenever they do and fall into shape. Wish she could just relax on it all.

    She wouldn't see the school counselor , tried it once reckoned she was hopeless and wasting her time , nice to hear you tried it though when you needed it ad it helped even if just a little good on ya.

    But ahhh , it sounded all rosy in those things l talked about with us but they've been over yrs though and just some good sides. Sadly there's been lots and lots of heavy heavy and really upsetting stuff for her and us too this last 18mths though and yeah this bloody Covid stuff has just been the icing on the cake. Butttt, me and her mum have yep , we've tried and still are and we've got faith in her. l know she can get through and be happy again and things will fall into shape.

    Hope your having some fun over the wkend too , don't forget some of that stuff too eh and thanks a lot for the thoughts and tips . l went kayaking yesterday haha.

    Take care . rx

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