Anxiety- not just "being a typical teen" - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 41 Old 06-26-2014, 06:27 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Unhappy Anxiety- not just "being a typical teen"

My 14-year old is struggling with anxiety issues lately. She was in therapy a few years back, around the age of 10-11, for OCD behaviors. After about a year of therapy and medications, it seemed to resolve itself. I always knew it could rear its' ugly head again, and it has.

The first time around, she was fearful, had difficulty making decision, and was just acting "weird", for lack of a better word. As a parent, you know your kid, and I knew something was wrong. There were other circumstances during that time (related to my ex and his living situation) that were resolved (he is no longer a part of her life, I know that's not the ideal resolution, but it was completely his choice, because he didn't like what the judge, therapist and guardian ad litem had to say).

The problem I am struggling with this time, is that she is now a TEEN with anxiety. Ages 12 and 13 were really good years, considering what a lot of teens (and parents) go through. At 14, however, she has developed teen characteristics (aka attitude) that work it's way in, in between her being scared, unconfident, paranoid and hysterical at times. For example, she just graduated middle school, and all of the activities associated with it were very difficult to get through. Deciding whether to go to the senior dance, the senior trip, then what to wear. What to wear is a DAILY issue- I'm not exaggerating. But it's not "OMG I don't know what to wear, lol"- it is a serious anxiety inducing experience... DAILY. So, imagine shopping for a dress, shoes, and picking out a hair style (it was a semi-formal event, at a very nice catering hall). Worries about being over-dressed, under-dressed, what will everyone say? I know teens typically worry about this stuff, but what she does to herself is torturous. We spent hours in one store, crying, stuttering, her not believing me when I tell her that this is appropriate. Hours. Then the same with the shoes. Her sitting in the shoe store in tears, and embarrassed that people might be looking at her. Me, being embarrassed that people think I have a typical nasty teen that I cannot control. Well, right now I can't control her. And I can't let her sit in the house and rot. Today is her last official day of school (yes, we love in the corner of the country where school just lingers on forever). While I feel relieved that we won't have to do the daily "what should I wear" game, I am fearful that if given the choice, she will hide in her room all summer. Then,we have to tackle transitioning to high school, which is another chapter in this tale.

She won't have that choice for the whole summer, but she will have some down-time. She is in therapy, and I am in the process of getting a psychiatrist to prescribe her something, the therapist concurs with me that this is beyond age-appropriate behavior, and that some of her thoughts are just not rational. Her life is a series of "what-if" questions. It took her over two months to decide what color iPhone to buy. She had been waiting years for me to give in and get her one. With the help of the therapist (and my ultimatum) she finally got it this week. I hate the ultimatums (who on earth forces their kid to get an iPhone?), but if I do not give her a limit with consequences, she will not do anything. But she goes into severe panic mode when the deadline approaches.

Anyway, I can't say that my words can convey what is really going on here, but I'm hoping I can connect with someone who will just listen, and maybe offer some insight. As parents, we tend to be very quick to judge and blame. I've already blamed myself ten times over for all this- what did I do, what didn't I do was I not strict enough, too strict (for a while I couldn't get her to even answer a question about school, friends, anything random- not an attitude for an answer, but but literally couldn't come up with words). Am I putting too much pressure on her, are my expectations of her ridiculosly high (they are not, btw). I expect her to try hard and actually do her school work, which she did well in this year. Her behavior is appropriate I'm school, which makes me feel even more to blame.

I have a small number of friends I can share this with, because the rest just say stupid things like "welcome to the teen years" or "just wait, it only gets worse". My 'mother and husband (her step father) don't get it either- they try, but their patience is limited. My mom doesn't "get" mental illness, and my husband has his own anxiety issues, and ironically can't relate to others problems. Hopefully there is someone here who gets it...
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#2 of 41 Old 06-26-2014, 06:46 AM
 
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I was a teenager with OCD. Medication made the problem much worse, and moving out on my own resulted in crippling panic attacks on a fairly regular basis. When I was 19 and in college, I saw a psychologist for talk therapy and that helped tremendously. I think for some kids it's an extreme reaction to the loss of control they feel, at an age when nature is telling them to head out on their own but socially they aren't ready yet. It sounds like it's a control thing with her too, since it's flared up during her issues with her dad and during the middle school - high school transition stage. Those are both scary, out-of-control times and OCD is like that.

Try getting her into talk therapy with a psychologist to root out and address the issues causing the problem, if possible (it's a better long-term solution than drugs). Good luck!
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#3 of 41 Old 06-26-2014, 09:30 AM
 
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Big hugs. My ds, who is almost 11, has dealt with issues of anxiety for several years. It's not easy... for him or me. People who do not have struggles with pervasive anxiety, often look at the anxious person as being irrational and believe they should just "get over it." I spend a lot of time advocating for my ds, in addition to educating people about anxiety.

If you do decide to get your dd back into therapy, I highly recommend finding a clinician that does DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy). It combines traditional CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) with mindfulness practices. DBT focuses on not just identifying, understanding and changing, but even more importantly, accepting. Mindfulness practices have been very helpful for my son in helping him to manage (and accept) his anxiety.
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#4 of 41 Old 06-26-2014, 10:58 AM
 
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Managing and accepting anxiety - YES. I didn't know that was the name for what my therapist did, but she helped me identify my triggers and also made sure I understood that a panic attack is only a panic attack. Once I stopped fearing panic attacks, they got a lot better. Once I was able to recognize the symptoms, look the panic attack in the face, and just be like, "Oh, a panic attack, ok. No one's ever died of a panic attack so I'll just breathe deep and wait this out" - they got weaker and weaker and eventually quit altogether. I still get anxiety sometimes but I know that's all it is.
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#5 of 41 Old 06-26-2014, 01:24 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for your helpful responses. I really appreciate it. She is in therapy for a few weeks already, maybe a total of five sessions thus far. I like the therapist so far- she specializes in adolescent females, and works in an all girls HS during the day, so I feel she really has a relatability factor. I will look into DBT and CBT, to get a better understanding of what you're talking about. I am a pediatric nurse, but have no formal/legitimate psych experience (but always found it very interesting). I also teach nursing on the college level, and have noticed in recent years the increased numbers of young adults coming to college with anxiety issues (and as discalceata mentioned) difficulty transitioning to adulthood and independence. She definitely is not ready to grow up, despite her perceived maturity in school and performing arts. She is well spoken, friendly and has common sense (when she wants to).

I am incredibly open to whatever the experts feel is the appropriate way to handle this, including possible pharmacological solutions. I just hope it doesn't make it worse, and I know the reality of that with some people. She was on meds before and they worked, most likely along with therapy and removal of stressors. But this time I cannot remove high school, or the everyday things she finds stressful (like deciding on what to wear and eat). For lunch today, we took a walk to Subway, because I wanted her to get out of the house and "be with the people" (as she puts it). The decision on which sandwich to get was a very tough one. Basically it gets to the point where she tells me to pick for her, then she tests me by asking me if she can change her mind, at which point I tell her "no". If I give her any wiggle room to make a decision, she has a meltdown.

I have yet to use the term panic attack. I think that makes it more serious I my mind. I know it's serious already, but that term scares me (to admit that my daughter is having them).
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#6 of 41 Old 06-26-2014, 05:02 PM
 
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It might actually help to name the panic attack, then. It definitely sounds like she's terrified of responsibility and making choices for herself, and obviously she can't go through life like that. I think with me, it was a fear of making the wrong decision because I felt like the stakes were SO incredibly high that if I made the wrong choice, my entire life would be ruined. Really the best cure for that was making some mistakes, forcing myself to do the scary things, not allowing myself to back out of things, and coming through the other side okay.

I moved to another country for two years as part of this process. I had a huge shaking breakdown in the airport. I collapsed crying on the floor and had to drink myself silly just to get on the plane. When I got there and didn't die, and I HAD to take care of myself, I got more and more adventurous. I went on a roadtrip where I was so terrified of getting killed that I piled all the furniture in the room against the motel room door at night so I could sleep. I wouldn't trade that trip for the world now. I think, actually, that it was on that trip when I started learning to trust myself and be okay.

I'm not saying send her to another country at 14, mind, I'm just saying that she's going to need to learn to take risks and trust herself in order to beat this. Hopefully her counselor is working with her on that. Luck and love to all of you.
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#7 of 41 Old 06-27-2014, 09:24 AM
 
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She was on meds before and they worked, most likely along with therapy and removal of stressors.
The key isn't to remove stressors. It's about her learning coping strategies to deal and manage the anxiety when the stressors arise. This is what she should be learning in therapy.

Additionally, you can also arrange to meet with her therapist for a collateral session. A collateral session is where you (without your dd) meet with the therapist to discuss some of your struggles with your dd's anxiety and the therapist is able to help you develop tools to assist your dd in managing her anxiety, in addition to providing you with a bit more psycho-education around anxiety. Collateral sessions are an way to get extra support for both you and your dd.

Anxiety is difficult because you are constantly toeing a line... on one hand, you cannot allow her anxiety to take over and need to stop her from pushing it over the ledge. On the other hand, there needs to be some understanding, compassion towards her struggle... but without too much emotion and/or coddling. When my ds starts to get really worked up, I remind him (very clearly and concisely) that his brain is starting to go haywire and he needs to put it back online. Then, I help him to start identifying what tools he can use to help him.

The more emotion/coddling you show to the anxiety... the more power you give to the anxiety. Empower her and express your belief in her ability to not let anxiety rule her life. Separate the anxiety from the person.
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#8 of 41 Old 06-28-2014, 01:45 AM
 
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KimP, we are walking in your shoes too. not OCD here but depression AND anxiety. she will start therapy soon and if therapist says we need further therapy and meds - i am totally up for it. dd will be 12 in a few months. puberty hit her hard with her having extreme mood swings (exacerbated by certain food triggers) and depression.

she was such a mess we had to remove some huge triggers last year. her behaviour improved a lot. now she needs help with other triggers.

as she grows older and becomes more aware her anxieties are crippling her. 'virgo worrier' is what she calls herself. the what ifs. so bad that she feels her throat closing and barely able to breathe. this is new and the more she is at her dad's she freaks for no reason. i am able to talk to her on the phone and calm her down.

her biggest trigger - two different parents, two different parenting philosophies. and her struggle to be caught in between.

i hope she will talk. she is worried about what the therapist will think of her, she feels terrible about bad mouthing parents... but i told her she needs to get things off her chest.

i am not afraid of mental illness. i'd of course rather dd not have it, but i no longer am afaid of it. when dd was 3 years old, my meditation teacher shared her journey with her teen bipolar son. and it really changed my life. my philosophy towards MI. my dd will never walk that path alone - if she needs to walk that path.
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#9 of 41 Old 06-30-2014, 06:50 AM - Thread Starter
 
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The key isn't to remove stressors. It's about her learning coping strategies to deal and manage the anxiety when the stressors arise. This is what she should be learning in therapy.

Additionally, you can also arrange to meet with her therapist for a collateral session. A collateral session is where you (without your dd) meet with the therapist to discuss some of your struggles with your dd's anxiety and the therapist is able to help you develop tools to assist your dd in managing her anxiety, in addition to providing you with a bit more psycho-education around anxiety. Collateral sessions are an way to get extra support for both you and your dd.

Anxiety is difficult because you are constantly toeing a line... on one hand, you cannot allow her anxiety to take over and need to stop her from pushing it over the ledge. On the other hand, there needs to be some understanding, compassion towards her struggle... but without too much emotion and/or coddling. When my ds starts to get really worked up, I remind him (very clearly and concisely) that his brain is starting to go haywire and he needs to put it back online. Then, I help him to start identifying what tools he can use to help him.

The more emotion/coddling you show to the anxiety... the more power you give to the anxiety. Empower her and express your belief in her ability to not let anxiety rule her life. Separate the anxiety from the person.
I agree completely about the emotional aspect. It is a balancing act. I know when I am matter of fact about it, it upsets her. But when I show any sort of emotion, it upsets her too. I go back and forth. my therapist spoke to me about this, and I got defensive when she mentioned that I can't let her see my emotions. I am a human being, and she needs to know that I am not callous and cold-hearted about this. So, I balance back and forth. It is getting easier over time, to show concern without acting like an objective party, or a blubbering fool.

As far as her stressors, I don't completely agree. While I know I cannot remove all stressor from her life (she needs to be able to pick out her own clothes, get to school on her own, decide on lunch, etc) the stressor of her father, and the toxic environment she was in needed to be addressed. She became I'll at the thought of going over there, and would shut down if anyone in my family tried to address what was going on over there. If some one is being abused or bullied (whether it be at school, in the workplace or home), at some point, even after effective coping strategies have been learned, a change may be in order. My child definitely needs more effective coping strategies, I won't argue that. I know if she does not develop them, this will continue at other stressful times in her life.
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#10 of 41 Old 06-30-2014, 07:03 AM - Thread Starter
 
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KimP, we are walking in your shoes too. not OCD here but depression AND anxiety. she will start therapy soon and if therapist says we need further therapy and meds - i am totally up for it. dd will be 12 in a few months. puberty hit her hard with her having extreme mood swings (exacerbated by certain food triggers) and depression.

she was such a mess we had to remove some huge triggers last year. her behaviour improved a lot. now she needs help with other triggers.

as she grows older and becomes more aware her anxieties are crippling her. 'virgo worrier' is what she calls herself. the what ifs. so bad that she feels her throat closing and barely able to breathe. this is new and the more she is at her dad's she freaks for no reason. i am able to talk to her on the phone and calm her down.

her biggest trigger - two different parents, two different parenting philosophies. and her struggle to be caught in between.

i hope she will talk. she is worried about what the therapist will think of her, she feels terrible about bad mouthing parents... but i told her she needs to get things off her chest.

i am not afraid of mental illness. i'd of course rather dd not have it, but i no longer am afaid of it. when dd was 3 years old, my meditation teacher shared her journey with her teen bipolar son. and it really changed my life. my philosophy towards MI. my dd will never walk that path alone - if she needs to walk that path.
Wow, this was our life about 4 years ago. The only difference, from what I can tell here, is that my ex was not a co-parent whatsoever. I wouldn't have had the opportunity to talk her out of an anxiety attack over the phone (he would never allow it). Only twice, did he do something semi-intelligent to help de-escalate her. Once, he took her over to his parents (I actually still communicate with them, but at the time, not so much, because they were clueless to the situation at hand). I found this out through CPS. The caseworker was not pleased, because she felt he should have called me (because that's what my DD wanted) and she felt he was cutting her off from me. The second time this happened, he called me, and said I could come pick her up. That was the last time she saw him.

With my dd, I feel there is some depression sprinkled in there, as well as some paranoia. Honestly, I personally don't need a name for it. She even asked me "am I bipolar?" Crippling is also a word we have used (I actually went with paralyzing). She is well aware that his is adversely affecting her life, moreso than four years ago. She is entering HS in the fall. She said to me "am I going to be better by HS?"
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#11 of 41 Old 06-30-2014, 07:13 AM
 
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I don't think you are to blame because she lets herself go around you. I think she feels safe enough to let her guard down. Away, she knows she has to hold it together, act normal, do it herself. She has the impression you can fix it for her when you are around, or at least believes you can help carry the burden. She will gain abilities to cope as time goes on, she just needs to feel more independent a bit at a time and have you to talk it out with and will want you to take over when need be. I go kind of OCD and anxiety when I'm overwhelmed, it's gotten better over the years of adulthood though.
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#12 of 41 Old 06-30-2014, 07:46 AM
 
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As far as her stressors, I don't completely agree. While I know I cannot remove all stressor from her life (she needs to be able to pick out her own clothes, get to school on her own, decide on lunch, etc) the stressor of her father, and the toxic environment she was in needed to be addressed. She became I'll at the thought of going over there, and would shut down if anyone in my family tried to address what was going on over there. If some one is being abused or bullied (whether it be at school, in the workplace or home), at some point, even after effective coping strategies have been learned, a change may be in order. My child definitely needs more effective coping strategies, I won't argue that. I know if she does not develop them, this will continue at other stressful times in her life.
Removing a child from a toxic environment, especially when you are listening/noticing a child's reactions to those visits is NEVER wrong. That's advocating for your child, which is a huge component of being a parent. I wish many of the families I work with were able to advocate for (and listen to) their kiddos like you have been able to for your dd.

You never mentioned any bullying or abuse in your earlier posts (or I just missed them), so those issues didn't even cross my mind when talking about "stressors." I was strictly addressing the stressors of choosing lunch, clothing, etc. that you mentioned in your earlier posts.

We (kids and adults) could all use to learn more healthy coping skills... learning and utilizing healthy coping skills is a life-long process.

Anyway, best of luck to you both. I hope you are both able to find some relief and support.
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#13 of 41 Old 06-30-2014, 08:08 AM
 
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I agree completely about the emotional aspect. It is a balancing act. I know when I am matter of fact about it, it upsets her. But when I show any sort of emotion, it upsets her too. I go back and forth. my therapist spoke to me about this, and I got defensive when she mentioned that I can't let her see my emotions. I am a human being, and she needs to know that I am not callous and cold-hearted about this. So, I balance back and forth. It is getting easier over time, to show concern without acting like an objective party, or a blubbering fool.
Oh, and the balancing act is one of the hardest things for me as a parent. When the sky would start to get dark and gloomy (we live in the Bay Area, so dark, gloomy fog is inevitable), my ds would start to pace, chew his fingers and express incessant "what-if worries." It was heartbreaking to watch and I'd just hold, comfort and reassure him. Unfortunately, when I did that, it prolonged the situation and often escalated the anxiety. Once I learned from his therapist and my own on how to help him more effectively with these episodes, the fewer and less severe they became. It's been almost a year since he's had a "weather" episode. But, it was (and still is) difficult for me to not react in an overly compassionate and loving manner when he is so clearly in distress.
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#14 of 41 Old 06-30-2014, 10:39 AM - Thread Starter
 
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You never mentioned any bullying or abuse in your earlier posts (or I just missed them), so those issues didn't even cross my mind when talking about "stressors." I was strictly addressing the stressors of choosing lunch, clothing, etc. that you mentioned in your earlier posts.
I was speaking in general terms, not specifically to our situation. The jury is still out on whether or not their was actual abuse going in in her fathers house. If there was, that could take years to come out.

Things are slowly getting better. The fact that school is over is helping a bit, and the periods of indecisiveness are getting easier for me to handle, hence she is becoming less emotional.
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I grew up with anxiety, social and otherwise, that my parents didn't want to address. Their opinion was that if they forced me to "face my fears" I'd get over them. In reality, that only made things worse. I was scared everyday, not only about what my normal triggers, but also what my parents were going to force me to do that day. They never got me help. They, to this day, chalk it up to normal teenage insecurity. So, I think you are way ahead of the game recognizing that your dd is struggling. I want to give you a big hug because you are such a supportive mom.
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#16 of 41 Old 07-01-2014, 01:06 AM
 
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I grew up with anxiety, social and otherwise, that my parents didn't want to address. Their opinion was that if they forced me to "face my fears" I'd get over them. In reality, that only made things worse. I was scared everyday, not only about what my normal triggers, but also what my parents were going to force me to do that day. They never got me help. They, to this day, chalk it up to normal teenage insecurity. So, I think you are way ahead of the game recognizing that your dd is struggling. I want to give you a big hug because you are such a supportive mom.
QOTM - i am so sorry to read this (for lack of a better phrase). it really hurts my heart. this is exactly what's going on at ex's place. he is getting even more mean. his attitude is i will tell you nicely the first few times, but if you persist then i will get mean and vicious.

his immediate reaction is anger and yelling.

but alas I cannot remove dd from ex. the thought has entered my mind, but there is a good side to him and dd loves him dearly. and he does in his own way. it just means reduced time with him. but dd gets really upset and down if she doesnt see her dad.

but i hope he gets there's something going on coz he now complains that dd does not want to spend time with him.

for right now i am hoping by the end of this year he could meet the therapist and she would be able to help him parent her. and hopefully he would listen.

KIMP - dd texts a lot. or she goes for a walk and then calls me. yes he does not like it that she talks to me.

HOLLAND - i know what you mean by not being overly compassionate. it drags things longer than usual. i am discovering with dd that silence is best. empathy. just listening.

and then doing something really physical. i cant express how much just a brisk walk has changed for us. dd doesnt really want to go sometimes but i can usually find a reason to go - to pick figs or get a cold drink.
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#17 of 41 Old 07-01-2014, 05:28 AM - Thread Starter
 
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but alas I cannot remove dd from ex. the thought has entered my mind, but there is a good side to him and dd loves him dearly. and he does in his own way. it just means reduced time with him. but dd gets really upset and down if she doesnt see her dad.

but i hope he gets there's something going on coz he now complains that dd does not want to spend time with him.

for right now i am hoping by the end of this year he could meet the therapist and she would be able to help him parent her. and hopefully he would listen.
This is how we started out. I didn't want to take her away from her father, and for many years, she seemed to enjoy going over there. I remember my mom saying "at some point, she will want to spend less time there, because her life is really at your house" (he did not love in the area, school and friends were in my neighborhood). We also knew it was going to have to come from her request, because he was very controlling and would not give in to anything I wanted. It came sooner than we thought, apparently for different reasons.

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HOLLAND - i know what you mean by not being overly compassionate. it drags things longer than usual. i am discovering with dd that silence is best. empathy. just listening.
The dragging of things is very painful. I'm learning the emotional episodes do nothing to solve the issue, And only serve to suck the life out of both of us. By the end of the day (8pm for me) I am ready for bed, just me time.

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i cant express how much just a brisk walk has changed for us. dd doesnt really want to go sometimes but i can usually find a reason to go - to pick figs or get a cold drink.
We are trying this too, just getting out if the house and being physical. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes she
Gets all nasty and says "where are we going" or "why are we 'just walking"? Then I feel we need to encorporate an activity into it, and that may lead to having to make a decision.
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"Me time" and psychiatrist stress

Is it selfish of me that I feel like I don have any "me time"? I am the mother of one child- a teen-ager. We went to the beach the other day, with my best friend and her younger kids. At first she was fine win just chillin with us (there were other moms there, friends of my friend). The next oldest kid was an 11 year old girl, who she didn't know, and didn't feel comfortable socializing with (which in previous years she would have done). She wanted to go in the water, I didn't (it was freeeezing). I walked down with her, and watched her go in the water. I stood there, pretending to just be enjoying getting my feet wet. After a while, I just felt like I was with a four year old. I'm tired of being her sole source of entertainment and socialization. She kept looking back to see if I was there. Finally, I motioned to her that I was going back to the chairs. She wasn't upset.

My other best friend says we spend too much time together. My reply is "she is my child, I can't just not, if she has no one else to spend it with". I agree that we do, but honestly, what can I do? She says- just go out. If I need to go to the store or an appointment, I will leave her home alone. But I'm not just going to randomly go out with my husband (for dinner, drinks, etc) and leave her home. Tonight, I made plans with some co workers, and my husband is in a dart team. So I am bringing her to my parents for dinner.

It's not that I feel she can't fend for herself (she'd basically be doing the same thing whether I was home or not, or was at my mothers: surfing the internet and listening to music). I just feel like right now, if I am not with her, or planning daily activities, she would do nothing. She makes little effort to be a teen, and socialize.

Psych stress later, in another post.
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#19 of 41 Old 07-01-2014, 08:38 AM
 
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But I'm not just going to randomly go out with my husband (for dinner, drinks, etc) and leave her home..
Having had marriage problems that were partly caused by me putting the kids first and DH putting his career first, we now spend one meal a week just the two of us. We know exactly what happens if you go long enough taking your marriage for granted.

I highly recommend making a date time (whatever works for you and your DH) a weekly thing once children are past the difficult baby stage (which your DD is). Tending our primary relationship is one of the best things we can do for our children.

You aren't doing her any favors by being so centered on her. Tell her straight out that you and daddy are going on a DATE because that's what couples do. In addition to being good for your marriage, its set a good example for her.

One of my kids has autism and a social anxiety disorder. Her issues are different from your DDs (she could easily pick out a phone, using it to call someone is a completely different issue). Good parenting REQUIRES we take care of ourselves and set boundaries. It also requires we have a little faith in our kids, even when they are struggling.

Next time you have a beach thing planned, tell her to call a friend to go along. If she refuses and then is clingy at the beach, don't coddle her. Tell her that's why you wanted her to bring a friend. She needs clear and repeated messages from you that she can make friends.

The amount of independence and social confidence she develops in the next few years will partly determine how independent and functional she is an adult. It's time to push her a bit. It's time for her to call/text/facebook message friends.

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#20 of 41 Old 07-01-2014, 09:25 AM
 
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I have a couple of pretty extreme introverts who also have a bit of social anxiety, and I'm wondering about the social aspect. A few things have popped out at me: your concern that her friends seem to be unavailable in the summer, your not wanting to leave her home alone because she won't make an effort to "be a teen" and socialize, and your feeling that you need to constantly spend time with her so that she won't be alone.

My kids each went through a couple of years in mid-adolescence where they spent a ton of time alone. As a fellow introvert, I cut them a lot of slack when they seemed to have no social urges whatsoever for months on end. I'm like that when I'm feeling overwhelmed by changes / stress / whatever. That's how introverts cope: they recharge by being alone. Obviously there's a point at which complete social isolation can interfere with the development of social skills and can worsen self-esteem, but within quite broad limits I think that alone-time is good for introverts. It gives them a reliable period of time when they know they won't be subjected to the emotional demands of coping with the social situations that drain them of their energy and resilience. It gives them time to get comfortable with who they are, to process the changes they're going through, to fill up their emotional reserve tanks.

There's a balance to be struck here, but I think it's easy to lean too far on the "socializing is good for you" side of the balance. If you are an introvert who is constantly being nudged to get out with people and have some fun, it's pretty easy to internalize the message that there's something really wrong with you. It's as if people believe there's something so off-kilter about you that you need to be saved from the toxic situation of being alone with yourself. And when the "getting out and having some fun" leaves you emotionally drained, you wonder why fun isn't fun for you. It took me a long time as a teen and young adult to realize that I wasn't a pathetic, sad and socially stunted person because I didn't jump at every opportunity to hang out or go to a party. I tried for quite a while to push myself into social overdrive in the hope that I'd become comfortable with it, but I just found myself feeling crappy a lot of the time and turning to alcohol to ease the stress. Eventually I realized that I have plenty of social skills, and absolutely have fun in social situations of my choosing, but only if I have a ton of unpressured down-time to recharge.

I'm not by any means suggesting that this is the root of your dd's problems, or that her anxiety would be cured by letting her cocoon in her bedroom for the next five years. I'm just wondering whether you may be inadvertently sending the message that alone-time is unhealthy to a person to whom alone-time is actually an important part of emotional health. And I also wonder whether accepting that you don't have to rescue your dd from listening to music alone at home might free you up to get some of the personal time and sense of self that you may need.

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#21 of 41 Old 07-01-2014, 04:00 PM
 
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KimP - you are doing everything possible for dd. she IS in therapy. you are around her...

but there are two things that stand out for me.

1. what is her therapist saying? does she need a psychiatrist? does she need medication? teen is one thing but to be in tears over what clothes to buy in a shop is 'more' than normal. perhaps you can talk to her therapist and figure out what is going on. (let me say now that i am not opposed to medication. i was for the longest time. but i see dd's anxieties and i am open to medication if nothing else works. dd cannot go with life the way she is now).

2. oh mama NO. you NEED to take time off for yourself. your needs matter too. you will be HELPING your dd instead of being there for her ALL the time - when its taking its toll on you. you CANNOT let your needs slide. for the sake of your child you really cannot. even if it means she has to stay home alone a few hours once a week - or whatever is right for your family.

friendships change. people change. what you are doing for dd - like the beach with friends - really is dd joining you in your life. i have heard this so much from my dd. ma i am not going to always tag along with you with what you want to do ok?!!! the teach would not be an outing for my dd. i am trying to find activities for dd where she can meet others. her kind of people.

dd just returned from an overnight camp. she was in an excellent group. she suddenly came across her kind of people - not emotional bullies, but kid who could talk and share commonalities. dd came back looking FANTASTIC. her acne had cleared. her skin was glowing. she was sleeping well. there was a positive air around her.

my dd is the kind that needs a community. not just teens but also others. she is very popular, but it goes one way. its hard. so many like her, but she only likes a very few.

we are in the same boat as you. dd and i are spending a LOT of time together. and i can tell - that is not the best thing. some of her friends are traveling. we dont have nice friends in the neighborhood. we have great times together but i can see dd is bored. listless. she needs teens and do some silly things. i have to go find some activities for her. she is different than others. her likes passions are different so its hard for her to find like minded folks. because i get a couple of days off i dont feel like i am missing out on me time.

but i can definitely say we are getting too much 'us' time. and when dd gets less 'us' time and hangs with the right people, our then limited 'us' time will be much more deeper and profound. if i could afford it i would sign dd up for more camps or classes. but alas that is not the way we can go now. there's a lot of opportunites for youth and dd is not there yet. right now just to break up her day dd is heading off to starbucks to write some. she is at her dad's.

does your dd volunteer anywhere?

does she have a mentor kinda person? another adult to hang out with, who knows and understands her?

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#22 of 41 Old 07-02-2014, 06:58 PM
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Hi, this might sound ridiculous, and I am not trying to trivialize your situation. I have not been in your shoes. However, my middle child has an extremely difficult time making decisions like those you have mentioned. . . meals, what to wear, etc. One thing that really helped her was we sat down and made a meal schedule for breakfast. . . Mondays = oatmeal, Tuesdays = pancakes, Wednesdays = fruit & yogurt, etc. At the time, she attended public school and making the breakfast decision was crippling her ability to get ready for the day. This schedule (which stayed constant all school year long) helped SO much. She knew what to expect, and it took a decision out of the mix in the morning. She has applied the same technique to other areas of life when possible. She can't schedule everything, but she has found that planning ahead as much as possible enabled her to not have as much on her mind. She functions much better now.

I am aware that this aspect is just a minor detail in your story. I don't know if it will help. I couldn't not suggest it though. It seems like a simple thing (or not so simple--making the menu took a long time) but it made a big difference in the long run.

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#23 of 41 Old 07-02-2014, 09:49 PM
 
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My dd1 has anxiety issues and has since she was a baby. (Horrible separation anxiety.) What works for us (and every individual is different, so YMMV) is to take baby steps, but keep moving. She does not get anxious about what to wear (has no anxieties about conforming), but the shopping scenario sounds very familiar nonetheless. She hasn't done that lately, but when she was younger she could get really upset with shopping if we didn't find what we came for. If we went shopping for shoes but didn't find any that were quite right she would just dissolve in a puddle on the floor. She still can get quite despondent and near tears if we need to go to another store for an item, but mostly she has gotten past that.

On the other hand, she is 13 now and I considered it a victory today that she felt comfortable with dd2 and me going to the store 10 minutes before Dh came home and she stayed alone for those 10 minutes. This is new this year. Last year she would have stopped doing whatever she was in the middle of to come with me and would have been in tears if I told her to stay home by herself for 10 minutes. My 10 year old would be delighted at the prospect of staying home alone! So I am thrilled at this baby step of her staying home by herself. I will try to stretch it a little more over the rest of the summer. I don't anticipate DH and I going on a "date night" and leaving the kids home alone anytime soon, but I think we will be able to run some quick errands soon without her and she will feel comfortable with that.

With dd1 I need to know when to nudge her a little bit and when things really are too much for her. I like to use the analogy of a child afraid of swimming to describe the way I approach her anxiety. If I were to throw her in the deep end and tell her to learn to swim on her own, she would completely lose it and be scarred and scared of water for the rest of her life. On the other hand, if I let her give into her fear of swimming and told her she didn't have to get near the water, she would also be afraid of swimming for the rest of her life. What I have to do is persuade her to put her toes in, maybe just the pinky toe on her left foot at first, and slowly but surely get the rest of her in too. It can be excruciatingly slow going at times, but as long as we're making progress even incrementally we'll be all right.

I am running into more of the blah, depressed, teen this summer. She is staying in her room more just doing nothing. I have had the kids make a list of stuff they'd like to do this summer and I'm using that as a jumping off point for days when they seem bored. I'm trying to keep them from getting sucked into the doldrums and kitties on the internet. I am also trying to facilitate her getting together with her friends. She doesn't have a whole lot of friends, either, but she definitely does need to hang around with someone besides just family. Getting out of the house is definitely good.

One book suggestion I'd like to make is "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene. Dd1 has never been too explosive (more imploding on herself and less lashing out at others), but some of his ideas and techniques have really informed my parenting. Check it out at http://www.livesinthebalance.org/parents-families . He does not really approach it from an anxiety perspective, but I think his approach can help with that, too, so you don't end up in tears for hours in the store.

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#24 of 41 Old 07-07-2014, 06:57 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I've been off line for a few days, so there's a lot to catch up on here. I am happy (yet a bit overwhelmed) to see all of the responses and suggestions. It's been a rough few days. We did an overnight to the jersey shore (all three of us) and it was bittersweet. Ups and downs. But I felt like we needed it, to get out of the house and to all be together.


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Hi, this might sound ridiculous, and I am not trying to trivialize your situation. I have not been in your shoes. However, my middle child has an extremely difficult time making decisions like those you have mentioned. . . meals, what to wear, etc. One thing that really helped her was we sat down and made a meal schedule for breakfast. . . Mondays = oatmeal, Tuesdays = pancakes, Wednesdays = fruit & yogurt, etc. At the time, she attended public school and making the breakfast decision was crippling her ability to get ready for the day. This schedule (which stayed constant all school year long) helped SO much. She knew what to expect, and it took a decision out of the mix in the morning. She has applied the same technique to other areas of life when possible. She can't schedule everything, but she has found that planning ahead as much as possible enabled her to not have as much on her mind. She functions much better now.

I am aware that this aspect is just a minor detail in your story. I don't know if it will help. I couldn't not suggest it though. It seems like a simple thing (or not so simple--making the menu took a long time) but it made a big difference in the long run.

Amy
I actually have thought of this, creating a schedule. I don't want it to come across as child-like to her, but I feel like sometimes we don't have enough structure. Over the last week or so, meals have gotten better. I am not a huge cooking person, especially in the summer. My husband works crazy hours, so sometimes it's just the two of us for dinner.

I've discussed with her planning out clothing for the week, or at the very least, the night before. Her incessant need to wait until the last minute to make a decision (thus subjecting herself to torture) is holding her back to committing to anything before she absolutely has to. I have needed to resort to actual time limits on making a decision (which still doesn't work). Perhaps, at some point we can get to a schedule/chart type of thing.
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#25 of 41 Old 07-07-2014, 07:11 AM - Thread Starter
 
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KimP - you are doing everything possible for dd. she IS in therapy. you are around her...

but there are two things that stand out for me.

1. what is her therapist saying? does she need a psychiatrist? does she need medication? teen is one thing but to be in tears over what clothes to buy in a shop is 'more' than normal. perhaps you can talk to her therapist and figure out what is going on. (let me say now that i am not opposed to medication. i was for the longest time. but i see dd's anxieties and i am open to medication if nothing else works. dd cannot go with life the way she is now.
Therapy- she (therapist) sees the whole thing as a real concern. She said her thoughts are irrational (about what prevents her from making decisions). I like her a lot. My dd is talking to her and not coming out crying or in a bad mood, so to me this is a good thing.

The psychiatrist thing has been a nightmare. We all agree that meds would be a good thing to try (she was on them a few years back). Finding a psychiatrist that accepts new patients, my insurance and can see her in the next three months has been almost impossible. I was fighting back tears over the phone when the receptionist said "we can see her in OCTOBER". (This is an outpatient department of a major mental health facility, with an entire peds/adolescent department, not just one doctor seeing all patients). I pulled some personal/professional strings and we have an appointment for next week).

My dd feels that she would like to be able to do this without meds, but is willing to take them. Her therapist said this is a very good thing because most kids are unwilling to.

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#26 of 41 Old 07-07-2014, 07:22 AM - Thread Starter
 
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2. oh mama NO. you NEED to take time off for yourself. your needs matter too. you will be HELPING your dd instead of being there for her ALL the time - when its taking its toll on you. you CANNOT let your needs slide. for the sake of your child you really cannot. even if it means she has to stay home alone a few hours once a week - or whatever is right for your family.

friendships change. people change. what you are doing for dd - like the beach with friends - really is dd joining you in your life. i have heard this so much from my dd. ma i am not going to always tag along with you with what you want to do ok?!!! the teach would not be an outing for my dd. i am trying to find activities for dd where she can meet others. her kind of people.

dd just returned from an overnight camp. she was in an excellent group. she suddenly came across her kind of people - not emotional bullies, but kid who could talk and share commonalities. dd came back looking FANTASTIC. her acne had cleared. her skin was glowing. she was sleeping well. there was a positive air around her.

my dd is the kind that needs a community. not just teens but also others. she is very popular, but it goes one way. its hard. so many like her, but she only likes a very few.

we are in the same boat as you. dd and i are spending a LOT of time together. and i can tell - that is not the best thing. some of her friends are traveling. we dont have nice friends in the neighborhood. we have great times together but i can see dd is bored. listless. she needs teens and do some silly things. i have to go find some activities for her. she is different than others. her likes passions are different so its hard for her to find like minded folks. because i get a couple of days off i dont feel like i am missing out on me time.

but i can definitely say we are getting too much 'us' time. and when dd gets less 'us' time and hangs with the right people, our then limited 'us' time will be much more deeper and profound. if i could afford it i would sign dd up for more camps or classes. but alas that is not the way we can go now. there's a lot of opportunites for youth and dd is not there yet. right now just to break up her day dd is heading off to starbucks to write some. she is at her dad's.

does your dd volunteer anywhere?

does she have a mentor kinda person? another adult to hang out with, who knows and understands her?
To address a few things- we spend WAY too much time together, without a doubt. I am Home ALL summer. We will be at camp for a week (I will be working, she will be the equivelant of a CIT for her age). We will see each other passing through the camp, but not directly working together). She also has two more (separate) weeks in theatre camps (day ony). That is all I can afford, and she was initially resistant to this much time spent in structured activities. She is okay with it now.

Regarding me time, I am doing my best to create that balance. She is an only child who was essentially abandoned by her father, and in her opinion, he chose his gf over her. I don't like the term abandoned; it makes her sound so damaged. But it is the truth. I will never know how that feels to have a parent choose to walk out of my life at 10 years old. I do explain. To her that I need time with my husband, but I need to tread lightly, as I know in her mind it is a competition. She used to ask me who I loved more. She is very clingy and starving for love. I seriously could not give her anymore if I tried.

Yes, her social life revolves around mine, because she makes little effort to create her own. I can't say to her "I'm going to the. Each with my friends and their kids, why don't you stay home?" The one friend she would consider asking to join her was away, so it was just us.

Her passion and interests are very different than her peers as well. She said she wishes she had someone who really could relate to her more. She is not a fashionista, not a One Direction fan, not into sports (like every kid We know is into). Her passion is theatre- plays, movies, musicals, actors, actresses, etc. her life revolves around it; she's a performer and an avid spectator.

Last week, she met up with her friend (who is into that as well) and I was able to go out with some colleagues for dinner. I had made the plans before she had something to do, so it worked out well.
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#27 of 41 Old 07-07-2014, 08:57 AM
 
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I can't say to her "I'm going to the beach with my friends and their kids, why don't you stay home?"
I'm curious why not? I do this from time to time with my various kids. They like it; they feel I have confidence in them and they relish the alone time and independence.

Maybe I'm missing something.

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#28 of 41 Old 07-07-2014, 09:15 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm curious why not? I do this from time to time with my various kids. They like it; they feel I have confidence in them and they relish the alone time and independence.

Maybe I'm missing something.

Miranda
Yeah, you're missing something. She would take it as, I don't want her there. That I don't want to be with her. If it were dinner and drinks with just the adults, I would tell her "no I don't want you there." But she would be very upset/offended if it were a child-friendly atmosphere. I wish she would say "I'm too cool to go with you" but we're just not there yet.

Recently, hubby and I wanted to take a walk, just to get out of the house. She was still lying in bed, I told her we'll be back in about an hour. She got very upset. I told her she could come if she wanted to, but I really didn't want her to. I told her I don't want her there if she is going to complain about the fact that we are just walking, with no real destination. She got even more upset. We went without her.


Very timely (and coincidentally) a colleague just sent this out via email (to everyone, not just me).

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/29/op...razy.html?_r=0
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#29 of 41 Old 07-08-2014, 08:36 AM
 
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Regarding me time, I am doing my best to create that balance. She is an only child who was essentially abandoned by her father, and in her opinion, he chose his gf over her. I don't like the term abandoned; it makes her sound so damaged. But it is the truth. I will never know how that feels to have a parent choose to walk out of my life at 10 years old. I do explain.
HUGS!!! we are almost in the same boat. once dd's awareness grew around 10 she felt abandoned which has lead to many more issues including depression. the thing is he IS there physically, but not really. she is now reducing her time from her dad and soon wants to make the switch to just a dinner out with her dad or not.

she feels terrible. she feels sad for him and herself. but she realises she HAS to do this for herself or else she 'wont make it'.

dd feels her dad chooses anybody over her. his gf, himself....

we had a huge 'talk' with one of my gfs this weekend and it all came to head. for her own sanity she has to reduce her time with her dad.

i came from a happy fully present parents family so i cant really fathom what she is going through.

all i know because of her perspective - because of this underlying sadness - everything else is a little more heigtened. so while - if all things were equal - she might have found strength in her uniquenss, she instead finds it being very alone.

yet the right person - just one other person, can make such a huge difference to her. i cant remember if i am repeating this but she met her 'twin' in a sleepaway camp and wow what a change. what a change i saw in her.

good luck with your appointment. glad you could pull some strings. hoping that will help with the struggles of everyday life.

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#30 of 41 Old 08-17-2014, 05:43 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Update: still hanging in there :/

I took a self-imposed break from here, because part of me is saddened when I read the discussion. I am grateful for the replies and advice, but sometimes it's hard, when you know thus is YOUR problem, not someone else's. But it is a relief to see others have similar issues.

In the last five weeks, we've been to a psychiatrist twice, and was diagnosed with anxiety AND depression. I was surprised, but not. Many of her behaviors suggested it, but it just didn't come ct the dots for some reason. I was more ok when it was just anxiety: my brother committed suicide many years ago. We had no idea that he was suffering, until it was too late. This made me feel even more protective if her, not wanting to leave her alone, worried about everything I said, that could potentially set her off.

We had to deal with insurance approvals and pediatricians clearance issues to get started on medication. I felt like every time we were close to making progress, there was another hurdle. It's only been two weeks now, and for those who are familiar with these meds, they take a while to kick in. My daughter is 'waiting', but was well informed that a) you're not going to feel this magical surge of wellness, and b) you will need to put in some work to help yourself along with the meds. She starts school in 2 weeks, and that is her biggest concern. We have a lot to do in those two weeks though specifically shopping and a summer reading assignment. Her Psy and the therapist said the procrastination (that she has been doing for months now) is part of the depression and anxiety. She is still having trouble making decisions- the minor ones have been easier, but choosing a book to read and outfits for a new school/environment are just too much for her to handle right now.

This has taken a toll on me more over the last few weeks, more recently this week. I have to start work again soon, and part of me is thrilled that I will have something more to do, but part of me is worried that I will not be able to balance it all. I'm supposed to be starting my semester in grad school, and am seriously considering taking a break. I was supposed to be working on a paper all summer, and my head is just not in it. I have very little "me time" and the last thing I want to do is stress over this paper, which I need to pass to continue in the program.

Regarding work, The last time we went through this, my boss wasn't exactly as understanding as I had hoped. I had just started this job, and I felt like the vibe was "great, we hired this woman with issues". So yeah, I'm not so willing to go in and be forthcoming with what's going on. Yet, if it were a physical issues (like diabetes or cancer) I just feel like there would be more understanding (and I work with medical professionals, btw). With all of the recent talk about mental illness (after Robin Williams' passing), you'd think that I'd feel a little better about it. But honestly all I feel is that I will be judged on my abilities as a parent. I know it sounds dumb, but we all do it. Any time we go out, and my daughter is having trouble making a decision, she gets nasty. It happened at Starbucks this week. The looks I get are typical of our society- "if that were my kid, I'd never let her talk to me like that." I can't wear a sign that says 'she's not just a nasty teen, she's depressed and anxious too'. Like that would help; it would be my fault, I'm sure.

If I do decide to drop my class, I have to sit out for a year. I also will be obligated to explain myself, which I really don't want to do. There is a connection between school and work, and I just don't want everyone knowing my business. I'm not the type of person that wants attention drawn to me.

Looking at the bright side of things: I am learning more and more what is troubling her, what things bother her the most. Sadly, I can't fix these things, but at least I know them. She is still very clingy, even moreso. Terrified of being rejected. Asks me multiple times a day if I love her. It gets annoying after a while, and she is very conscious of the wat I answer. If I sound bothered, she is upset. I PC I sound too chipper, she is suspicious, that I am being phony. She is Up my ass, even if I go in the other room. Almost stalker-like. If I try to get close, in any way to my husband, she is right there (even if it's just going in the other room to chill with him. She insists that he doesn't like her. Okay, back to "bright side".. To be continued...
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adolescent , anxiety , girl , Teen

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