We have recently found out that our 19 year old daughter has for more than one year made up stories about her mental health, ie telling selected friends that she suffers either from bipolar disorder or from borderline. She has faked the symptoms really cleverly, including medication (colour coded vitamin tablets pretending to her friends they are prescribed medication to treat her "illness"), and including faking an email from a therapist. Having found this out, we have encouraged her to seek psychiatric help. She was told she definitely does not suffer from bipolar disorder or borderline, but it is more a maturity issue. Most recently she has again possibly pretended to be ill (she does not live at home, so we cannot judge whether her illness was genuine, but her friend was doubtful), and she had phoned us to telll us that she as well as most of her colleagues were ill. It has later emerged that her friends were definitely not ill. She admits that she has told these lies, but says she doesn't know why. She knows she must not lie at work, so she doesn't do it, but says she can't help herself outside of work. Is it possible that she really can' t help herself lying? Or is she responsible for the stories she makes up? She also has a habit of asking different people the same questions again and again, and not accepting their answers. We would like to help her, but feel at a loss.
Hi there and welcome. Well, your daughter does sound like she needs counseling. Munchausen Syndrome is something that happens in that she loves the attention. I am worried about her stability. She also does need to suffer the social consequences of it. Let her fake illnesses with friends who will eventually write her off as too troubled to be friends with. Sad, but she has to see how her lies and self created drama is damaging.
I have a cousin whom I have often wondered why she didn't come out with some kind of attention-seeking personality disorder, because her mom (as it happened) was very dominant in her world, doing everything for her, including all of her thinking. (I was visiting them when she was about 14, and her mom asked her every three minutes, "Did you get your coat? Do you have your homework? Did you call your friend? Do you remember the practice is this afternoon?" After listening to this all afternoon, *I* was going crazy.) My cousin just took it very quietly and never once acted like it was unusual. I clearly remember that they were going to go to the store to pick up something my cousin was going to buy, and my cousin came back into the house because she had forgotten her purse. It was striking to me at the time as sort of symbolic of the whole situation that she hadn't noticed she had forgotten it but her mom had.
Please don't think that I'm saying anything like that about your parenting skills, but I did wonder where you said your daughter said she didn't know why she does it, if there was something sucking the oxygen out like that for her, when she was growing up. My cousin basically had to turn off the critical-thinking parts of her brain just to live with her mother (at 30, she was just finally working out that her mom had been a tad in her business when she was growing up). Maybe your daughter has a big envelope of unmet needs, and they cause her to try to get attention in that way.
Counseling sounds like the answer. At this point, for the purposes of taking care of her mental health, she is an adult (albeit a young one) and you really cannot help her except to be her supportive mom. She might decide to tell you what she discovers in therapy and she might not, but how she gets over things now is up to her. (Except, of course, by encouraging her to continue with a good therapist.)
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