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Old 09-19-2018, 02:07 PM   #1
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Hi Everyone! I am new to this group, and I'm currently feeling lost, concerned and frustrated. I am a parent to a college freshman. The back story is that my child is depressed and suicidal... she had attempted suicide several times over the past three years (without my knowledge). Fast forward to a few months ago, and I was called home from work -- my child was going to run away from home and try one last time to hurt/kill themselves. Police intervention was required, and a 2 week stay at an inpatient facility was mandated. While she was at the facility, found out all sorts of terrible things - not limited to talking to people who may have been grooming them to do illegal activities. Multiple drug tests came back positive for opioids. Keep in mind that this child is only 17. When I confronted her about her activities and why she lied for all this time, answers were vague. Yes, I should have been keeping a closer eye on things - she is such a good kid, never was in any trouble at home or school, and seemed to be happy. Was able to graduate a year early from high school and a straight A student. Involved in clubs, groups and volunteering. It never crossed my mind that she was into other, darker things. Only when I really looked back at all the behaviors did I see that the signs were there the whole time.

After her release from the facility, there was the weekly private therapy and psychiatrist appointments. Medicines were administered. Talks about going away to college was a reality if she continued to do well and the doctor/therapist agreed.

Present day - she is three weeks into freshman year of college; living on campus full time. Rules had been agreed to and everything was smooth sailing at first.

This past week has been nothing short of a living mess. Rules are being broken, she is being defiant, won't return my calls/texts and family members have had to intervene. She refuses to listen to anything I say, calling me "overprotective" and "asking garbage questions" when I ask if she is eating, sleeping and taking meds. Accusing me of not believing her when they tell me they are going to therapy. Stopped using text messages with friends on phone and went to another App that can't be monitored (I only checked the phone records online when I got the message that my data usage was through the roof). Only speaks to me by email now, and is refusing to come home on break (thanksgiving, winter, etc.) When I was firm with her about coming home for good if present behavior continues, she threatened to run away and wander the streets. Other family members also agree that something seems off, and that she may not be taking their medicines/going to therapy. Family members reported that she is being defensive to them as well, and uses language/tones that she never used before.

Here's where it gets tricky - I can't legally make her take her meds. I can't talk to her counselor without permission, which she said they will refuse. She has scholarship money paying for college, so I can't cut her off financially. At this point, I have backed off, agreed to just emailing when necessary (doctor appointments, etc.) and letting her stay with family members on breaks. Besides that, I feel like there is nothing else I can do. I think she scammed me into saying what needed to be said, and doing what needed to be done in order to go away to college where no one can keep an eye on them.

How do I as a parent, help her recover if they are pushing me away? I worry that she will fall into old patterns, which I think she already is (secretive, lying, defensive all of the time) -- and I want to genuinely help her. I want her to have a great and positive college experience, but know that it takes a village to do it, especially with the history of depression and anxiety. Talking to her lately is like talking to a wall, and I feel the more I push, the more she will back away.

At the same time, I also worry that she didn't share her past with anyone else on campus, so none of her friends will recognize the warning signs and stop her if she attempts something drastic. I don't want to get that phone call at 2 AM that she's in the hospital and she OD'd.

What do I do? Can anyone give suggestions, maybe been down this road before? I cry every time I think about the situation, and I feel helpless. I am a fixer by nature, and I can't fix this.

Please help, and thank you.
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Old 09-20-2018, 01:15 PM   #2
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I assume she is now 18; otherwise, you would/should have more ability to control the situation.

Unfortunately, unless you have proof that she could harm herself or others--there is nothing you can do. I am so sorry and know somewhat about how this feels. I am in situation were a suspect something about one of my children but do not want to go into the particulars in case I am wrong and because, when we are young, sometimes we make mistakes but then grow up/change. For instance, in college, I drank too much at some parties but now I don't even drink, never drank when my children were very young, etc. Though I do know you are describing a situation that is potentially much more serious. I am sorry you are hurting so much about it. Are you seeing a therapist or have a family member or friend you can discuss this with? There are some things that are best discussed in private or through private emails so if you do not have someone/are isolated, you may want to find someone to talk to because, in my experience, I have found it helpful to talk about myself/mental issues/etc on this forum but have mixed feelings in regards to talking on here about others. I can relate to crying about my children and wanting to fix things for them. I have guilt/wonder a lot to myself if I fixed/did too much for them when they were children. For me, this may just be my mental illness making me worry about things I should not be worrying about. I don't know. I am a person who second guesses myself and lies awake at night racked with guilt sometimes. Maybe it is just my genetics/a chemical imbalance. I try not to worry as much about why things are the way the are but instead am ready to help when asked. We cannot help people who do not want to change/be helped. Hugs.
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Old 09-20-2018, 01:26 PM   #3
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Default Re: Hello and My Story

Thank you for your advice - and I have not seen a therapist just yet. I am dealing with a bunch of different issues at the same time, and I can't find the motivation to get there just yet. I have started talking and listening to friends about some of the issues, but it's hard. I know she has to learn from her mistakes, as we all do. I completely agree about the guilt issue - and its not your mental illness that makes you feel that way. It's a parent/child thing. We will worry about them until the die we die. Hugs to you as well, and I like that saying "we cannot help people who do not want to change." I will have to repeat that to myself when things get rough. Hugs to you as well.
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Old 09-20-2018, 06:42 PM   #4
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Hello Concerned: I noticed this is your first post here on PC. So... welcome to PsychCentral.

Below are links to 13 articles, from PsychCentral's archives. The first 3 discuss the issue of trying to change someone else. The fourth admonishes us to not give up hope on someone you love who's acting in hurtful ways. The next 8 deal with various aspects of parenting teenagers. The last article discusses how to talk to someone who always becomes defensive.

I don't know if anything in these articles can be of much help. From what you wrote, it sounds to me as though your daughter has "de facto" emancipated herself. And as a result, she is no longer under your control nor do you have any way of enforcing any kind of limitations on her. Under those circumstances, I'm not sure there is really much of anything you can do other than to stand by, see what happens, & be there to help your daughter pick up the pieces (should you wish to) if she falters.

You Can Only Change Yourself

Stop Trying to Change People Who Don't Want to Change | Happily Imperfect

When You Want to Change a Loved One

Reasons Not to Give Up On Someone You Love (Who's Acting In Hurtful Ways) | Neuroscience and Relationships

Teenage Depression

I hope you find PC to be of benefit.
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Old 09-20-2018, 06:59 PM   #5
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Hi FeelingConcerned,

I'm not a parent, but I can understand why you're concerned about your daughter. You may be right that she is not taking meds or going to therapy and possibly engaging in other harmful behaviors. I can't imagine how scary and frustrating this must be.

I do think you have done all you can do in this situation. She is an adult now and has to take responsibility for herself. You can be there for her if and when she asks for help.

I think Nowinners had a good idea about support. Have you heard of the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI)? They have free support groups for people with mental illnesses and their families. It might help you to meet other parents of mentally ill people, so you can talk to them about it. I attend a support group for mentally ill people and have found a great deal of comfort from talking to people who understand what I'm going through.

This is a very tough situation though, and I'm sorry you're going through it. I hope your daughter will be ok.
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Old 09-20-2018, 07:17 PM   #6
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Default Re: Hello and My Story

Thank you everyone for your kind words and suggestions. I am going to have to realize that some people, including my daughter, donít want help, and prefer to learn the hard way. I will look into the links that were supplied - I am always looking for helpful suggestions. I might learn something I havenít tried or thought of before. Iím trying to be strong, but tonight is not a good night. Iím hoping I get stronger day by day, and hope she turns to me when she does need help.
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Old 09-22-2018, 07:07 AM   #7
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Saw this saying not too long ago that when kids are little they step on your toes. When they grow older they step on your heart.

I haven't found the direct link yet, but over on The Haven there is a letter from one of the members moms about having gone through things in silence as a parent. I think there's support available as a parent but it's only just beginning so to speak.
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