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Acute depression

My daughter is 18, and has been under medication and counseling for depression for five years. She used to cut, and has made more than one suicide attempt in the past, but is significantly better now. She is brilliant (I am not bragging), and has done remarkably well in her high school, which is highly regarded in our area. She has topped in the subject she loves most and wants to major in. This, in spite of a difficult family situation and her depression, which was made immensely worse when her boyfriend broke up with her a few months ago in an extremely rough manner.

She is now waiting to get into undergraduate college, and has applied to four top schools in the area. She has already been selected by the third best, and is waiting to hear from the top two and the fourth. However, she is almost at breakdown stage - vomiting, crying, etc. - thinking about the prospect of going to either of the top two if she is selected. The reason is, there is a possibility that her ex-boyfriend will go to the same school as her and major in the same subject. Apart from the heartbreak of having to see him every day, she is also worried about him poisoning the minds of others in the class against her - after the break-up, he described him as a "psycho" on one of the social networking sites.

I have tried to explain to her that a person who has been so rude to her, must not be allowed to come between her and her career, for which the top school is obviously the best, the second from top the next best, and so on. Also, even if he tries to poison other classmates, he is not likely to succeed with most. And she cannot afford to let this get the best of her, because she may face similar situations during graduate studies, at the workplace, etc.

She does appreciate this logic, but is too weak to embrace it to the point where it can rid her of her anxiety and fears. She is aware of this weakness, and extremely worried about it, because her last counselor - the fifth she has seen - had brought up this issue. He appeared professionally competent but had to be given up on account of a certain unacceptable and harmful behavior. I am looking for a good counselor in the area, and being more cautious than before. Until I find one, I must help her myself, and to do this, I need to know these things:
(a) Have I responded to her fears in the correct way? and
(b) What should I do to boost her mental strength?

I would really appreciate some help with these issues.

27 Responses
370181 tn?1428180348
This is truly a horrid situations your dealing with..........I can't even begin to imagine how difficult it is for you to watch your beloved daughter going through all she is.

I believe that you have done just about everything you can for your daughter. You have been there with love and support, you have gotten her therapy.......you have not failed her in any way! But.........she needs some very serious help and she needs it soon! That she has gone through five therapist who have not apparently been able to help her, tells me that she needs to get with a psychiatrist who can take care of her both physically and mentally. Her history of cutting and suicide speak of things that a mother's love cannot fix.

My response has left much to be desired, I'm painfully aware of that, but I'm just not qualified to help you understand your daughters needs or offer you any advice about what else you can do to help her, beyond what you've already done. I can only urge you again to find her a top-notch psychiatrist and get her there ASAP.

It sounds like she has a brilliant future ahead of her, but until she gets these issues resolved, that future will remain just out of her grasp. With your continued love and support, she will be able to grab that brass ring.

I hope someone else with a better solution will respond. Untill then, stay strong and know that there help for her.

Keep us posted, OK? And write as often as you need. We are always here.
Avatar universal
Thank you so much! This kind of support is extremely important. Incidentally, I am her father, not mother.
370181 tn?1428180348
Sorry for the "gender" error........but your love is the same.
Avatar universal
Thanks! And nothing to be sorry about.
Avatar universal
What a wonderful father you are! She is fortunate and so are you. Your daughter is hearing you. Some will listen, but do not hear. So, you've got a "one-up" on a lot of parents already.

With that said, and taking allowances here...as awful as this sounds at first, maybe give some thought about your involvement in your daughter's life. Could you be "too" involved? Do not mistake me. Please. I mean no disrespect at all. More parents should be as intuitive and helpful, and have half of the compassion you seem to have. I didn't really like asking that. The reason I did is because of a few things you mentioned:

She is 18 - considered an adult now. I realize her mental health issues deem her fragile in a sense to you, and you want to help her, and that is great. It also brings me to other things you mentioned.

She is "brilliant" (topped in the subject she loves most in a high school that is "highly regarded") and is going to go to one of the "top 4" colleges in the area.

As an adult, and as an intelligent person, maybe she could (should?) start taking on some of the responsibility of her own care and decision-making. Is that a possibility? She will continue to need you to take care of things for her if you constantly do. Could you help her from a little distance? She needs some growth (in my opinion). That would be the greatest gift, I believe, that you could give to both of you. The more she does on her own, the better her confidence and trust in herself would be. Wouldn't that be wonderful for both of you?  

These are a few things I thought about:  

"Peer Therapy" vs. one on one. It's just a suggestion, but if she were to be open to that and get involved with others her age group...it might help. Itwould likely be helpful to her to spend time with others of her own age with issues. Hearing others' stories in a peer setting tends to help put your own in perspective.It sounds like she could use some of that.

If she's squeamish on that and has already gone to that many therapists, I am also wondering about maybe (?) church involvement? If you have a church home, they may be able to help with resources. If not that, then possibly look into other community resources.

Finally, there are books. There are some wonderful books both you and she could read. Maybe get some recommendations from someone trustworthy that would be knowledgeable on these things.

One curiosity: Why does she feel the need to go to one of the top two colleges where she seems to believe she will run into the ex who will try to undermine her? With respect, this seems very immature to me and not at all intellectual thinking. She has already been accepted in one where that wouldn't be an issue. Where is the pressure coming from to make one of the top two? Isn't it okay to go to the one where she got the acceptance already? Why is there such a violent reaction to something that isn't a reality, moreover, to something that may not come to be?

She must realize, doesn't she, that at any school she attends, there may be someone there who doesn't like her for whatever reason. How will she handle that? Again, I ask and say these things respectfully and sincerely. Please do not think elsewise.

Other than that, and with the hopes she finds the help she needs, I wish you both well.
Avatar universal
Thank you! I really appreciate your thoughtful response. In fact, she herself is acutely aware of the fact that she needs to be able to take care of herself, and very worried that she can't at present, because she lacks the necessary mental strength. As a result, other people use her for their own interests, not caring if it hurts her interests or not. That is why I am looking for ways to boost her mental toughness. However, I will think about the over-involvement issue to see if I am doing something wrong.

As for peer-to-peer counseling, she does have that in an informal way - discusses things with a slightly older and very level-headed girl, who happens to be the daughter of my friends, and some of her own classmates. But I will try to get her something more formal, under professional guidance, and also church/community involvement.

As for the top colleges, no.1 has always been her dream, and is a craze among her peers. And yes, I have tried to explain to her - and she understands it logically - that she could have problems with someone or other anywhere, any college, workplace, etc. But again, her mental weakness prevents her from taking courage from that. That is why I need to help her gain some strength.

Thanks again for your thoughts!
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