Dealing with Depression & Suicide

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-24-2003
Dealing with Depression & Suicide
Sat, 05-24-2003 - 11:21am

I'm new to this site and am dealing with a very difficult situation. I apologize such a long posting, but I am really stuck with this situation. I really just need an ear to listen, but appreciate any advice offered.

This is my story:

I am a divorced mother of two teenage daughters, ages 14 & 16. I have been divorced for 11 years. I spent 10 years on my own following my divorce, determined to make it on my own. I returned to school and made a life for my girls and myself. I have a great job, which I love, own my own home and am independent. My daughters have a good relationship with their father and his wife, whom they have seen regularly since the divorce. I also have a good relationship with them; I even attended their wedding to wish them well in their new life. I resided in a large city for most of my life, but one and a half years ago, I moved with my children to a small town. It's 2 hours away from our hometown, but a very nice place to live. I moved here to take an exciting job opportunity, leaving behind my family and friends, basically all my support systems. I thought it would be a great environment for the girls to reside in during their teenage years. My eldest daughter decided last fall to return to the city and live with her father, which I supported, and she is doing quite well. My youngest daughter remains living with me. She is in her first year of high school. She is in on-going counseling since we moved to our new town, to assist with the transition.

My youngest daughter has a difficult time with the transition of moving, going to a new school, making new friends and her sister leaving. Shortly after her sister moved back to the city, my youngest daughter started to become quite depressed. She isolated herself, refusing to join any activities or programs, and resisted making new friends. Her sister is very outspoken and was always the leader of the two girls. She was always quite dependent on her sister, sometimes boardering on submissive to her. She has always been quite shy, which she found to be almost debilitating once she hit adolescence.

In November, her depression was becoming quite severe, so I arranged for her to see a pediatrician who deals with teen mental health issues. She was awaiting the appointment, which took 3 months to get, but in December she attempted suicide by taking an overdose. Fortunately, she told me of what she had done and I took her to the hospital for assessment and treatment. She remained at the hospital for 4 days, until the crisis passed. In January, she saw the doctor and was prescribed an anti depressant. The medication seemed to help and she began to make some friends and develop some interests. One of those interests was a boy whom she liked. He seemed like a very nice boy and I didn't have any red flags about this relationship.

In February, her depression seemed to be returning, so we sought further help from her counselor. At the beginning of March she made a second attempt at suicide, by drinking a poisonous household cleaning product. This time she did not tell me what she had done and went to bed after consuming the poison, with the expectation that she would not wake up in the morning. The next morning, she felt pretty bad and confessed to me what she had done. I, of course, took her to the hospital again, despite her resistance, and she was admitted into the psychiatric unit for 5 days. She then went to stay at a residence for troubled teens for 3 weeks. Needless to say, I was totally in shock following this attempt and ended up taking a stress leave from work. I sought out support and counseling for myself to assist with the crisis.

After she was released from the residence, she had a number of days that were very difficult for her. She broke up with her boyfriend and admitted to me that she had used drugs while at school. She was quite upset about using drugs and vowed not to do it again. She and her boyfriend remained close friends and he was quite helpful toward her, despite being very upset that she had used drugs.

Her medication was switched and this seemed to help a great deal. BUT, in March, I noticed some marks on her neck. When I questioned her about them, she was quite evasive. I came to learn, from her boyfriend, that she had attempted to hang herself in the shower. Upon hearing this information, I advised her I would be taking her to the hospital for another assessment. While on the phone to her counselor, explaining the situation, she climbed out her bedroom window and ran off. I contacted our local police, who apprehended her and took her to the hospital once again. The doctor at the hospital felt she was not a risk to herself, as she had made the attempt the day before, but did not appear to currently be in crisis, and advised he could not hold her at the hospital. I arranged to have her spend the weekend at the crisis residence nonetheless. She was very angry with me for taking her to the hospital once again, and basically told the doctors that I was losing my mind, which the doctor was rather hesitant to believe, considering her history.

Following this last attempt, I arranged for her to spend 15 days at the adolescent psychiatric facility in the children's hospital, for a full assessment. It was determined that she is suffering from severe anxiety disorder and her medication was changed once again. When she returned home, she seemed to be in good spirits. However, her relationship with her boyfriend has deteriorated due to all of these issues, yet she refuses to believe it is over and hangs on to him with all her might. He is beginning to become resentful, which is raising her anxiety level once again. Her schoolwork is suffering terribly due to all the interruptions in her attendance and I'm concerned this may lead to further anxiety and feelings of failure. Her father has been supportive, however quite a distance away, which creates its own difficulties.

Prior to and during this time, I was involved in a relationship, which has now ended due to the on-going problems and my partner’s lack of ability to deal with them. Despite being sad over the loss of my relationship, I am glad that I found out he had little tolerance to handle the stresses in my life. I feel like I have become a prisoner in my own home though, fearing to leave my daughter alone, even to run small errands. She frequently refuses to go anywhere with me, as she is waiting by the phone in case her former boyfriend calls. I have had to give up a lot of things, including the time I spent with my partner, my volleyball team, attending my church and socializing with friends.

Last week, she was very angry and broke the door on our shed, took my bike and left. She returned later feeling very apologetic. She had ridden to her former boyfriend's house and he told her to leave. Naturally, she was upset when she returned home. She had done this same thing the day before and he had been more sympathetic at that time.

Recently, I was away at a conference for my work. I arranged for my daughter to spend the week with her father and his family. I advised him to take her medication from her and administer it to her so she did not have access to it in the event of a crisis. I also advised him of the safety plan that was in place. I checked in often and my daughter seemed to be doing fine.

I returned home yesterday, contacted my daughter and arranged for her to return to my care. Last night, at 2 in the morning, my daughter called advising she was upset. We talked briefly, but she would not elaborate on her concerns, except that she was upset about her former boyfriend because she had called him and the conversation was quite difficult. When I attempted to find out more information but she became angry and she hung up the phone. I called back numerous times but she continued to hang up on me. Finally, I spoke with her and advised her I was quite concerned about the situation and wanted to inquire about her safety. I asked about her medication, to which I found out her father had not taken from her. I asked to speak to her father, but she would not wake him up and she hung up on me again. I called again and advised her that I needed to talk about her safety either with her or her father or I would have to call the police. Again she hung up on me. I called a few more times, but no one answered. I was very distraught, as I did not know what was really happening, so I contacted the police in her father's city and had them check out the situation.

Following this episode, my ex called and said that she was fine and that the police had attended to assess my daughter. He did not sound too happy about the situation. AND, my daughter told the police that I must be delusional! Needless to say, I haven't had a wink of sleep since 2 am (which explains my ramblings).

I'm starting wonder if I'm going crazy, but I don't know what else to do to support my daughter. There are a number of professional people involved in this situation, to assist and support my daughter. A common thread seems to be though, that I must be doing something wrong. An example: If we argue (which we rarely do), I'm faulted for not being more understanding. So, when she's in a bad mood and raising hell, I tell her I will not argue with her. Her counselor then questions what it must feel like for my daughter if I won't fight with her???? Her counselor has even come to my home (not uncommon), on a day when my daughter would not get up for school, awoke her up and driven her to school. My daughter seems to have everyone jumping through hoops to help her, but I'm concerned she is not helping herself. She is very resistant to the counselor as well, saying she does not "like her" anymore and she is not being helped by their involvement.

There are constant suggestions about how I can change my style of parenting, which I am open to try. The problem is, my daughter is very resistant. She is focused on trying to work things out with her former boyfriend, even though every time they spend time together, she cries the majority of the time, and he becomes very silent and distant. She insisted they are still friends, but he's been telling her that his parents will not allow him to see her anymore. Despite this, she continues to call him at all hours of the day and night. I've tried to talk with her about this issue, but she is very defensive about it and becomes angry. I decided that the best thing I can do is let the situation play itself out and be there to support her in the end, but I am very concerned that it may lead to another suicide attempt.

Besides these issues (which are more than enough) she's a good kid. She can be very thoughtful and helpful. She's not hanging around with a bad crowd or doing a lot of things I don't approve of. She is usually fun to be around and has great sense of humor. She's usually open and honest with me, which I appreciate a lot. She has a lot going for her; she just can't seem to see this herself.

Anyway, I'm just looking for some thoughts or advice on this situation. Or even anyone to connect with to discuss it, because there seems to be few people who are dealing with this type of situation. I appreciate any support that is offered.

Avatar for chyndra2002
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-05-2003
Sat, 05-24-2003 - 1:13pm
I feel so bad for you, you sound like an extremely thoughtful, patient and loving person. You're daughter's problems are NOT your fault...unfortunately, some times our child's behaviour is not something we can do anything about. I suggest you continue with the counselling for you and your DD, and I hope everything will eventually work out...I think once your dd accepts that her relationship with her former boyfriend is over, she might be open to meeting new people...she has to let go of that relationship, hanging on will only cause her more grief.

You say you had to give up a lot of your social activities because of your dd...this is not fair for you, and not healthy either, since if YOU get depressed, then WHO will help your daughter? I really wish I had an answer for you, all I can say is continue with the counselling and medication, try to have some of your friends and family come over more often, and help you out, by talking to her and maybe doing things with her...Can your other daughter visit more also, can she stay with you over the summer for a few weeks?

Your dd sounds like a wonderful girl, my prayers and thoughts are with you both.

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-26-1999
Sat, 05-24-2003 - 1:41pm
Kristeen, my heart goes out to you! I'm not sure I have advice, but I do want to say that it sounds like your dd is a very sick young woman and it is VERY unfair for people to be blaming you. Depression is a very serious mental illness, often hereditary and biochemical in nature, which even in the best of circumstances is very difficult to control. From everything you've said, it sounds like you have taken all the appropriate steps to help your dd. None of us are "perfect" parents, but we can't blame ourselves for everything that goes wrong with our children. It might be helpful for the 2 of you to see a therapist together, but a good therapist will help the family negotiate a middle ground that all can live with and not try to blame one person or the other. The fact that you are in counseling to help you cope with your dd's mental illness tells me that you are willing to examine what's going on at home that may be contributing to the situation. BUT your dd's behavior is very extreme, and unless there are other things that have happened in her past that you are not sharing, such as sexual or physical abuse, I just don't think it helps anyone to try to put blame on the parent.

What do your other family members think? Does your older dd see any correlation between her sister's behavior and her home life? Does your ex have any thoughts about what might be going on? Have you sat down with your younger dd, at a time when she is not emotionally volatile, and asked her why she is so desperately unhappy and feels so hopeless at times that wants to die? And if she opens up, does she feel like you really hear what she is saying? These are some of the things I'd try to do - which you may have already done. Something else that I have done with both my dds, when they have been so difficult I have trouble enjoying being around them, is make a point of arranging some quality time together away from home. Even if it's just lunch out, a shopping trip to the mall, or a long walk - when things are rough at home I think it is really important for our children to know that we still love them and value our time together. When kids are acting out and making life difficult for us is probably when they need our love and support the most, even though it's really hard sometimes! They try so hard to push us away, but that's when they need to know that we will still be there no matter what.

Other than that, I think it would be helpful for you to join a support group for parents who are coping with mental illness in teenagers. They probably get some of the same messages about their parenting skills that you do, but unless someone has walked in your shoes, they really won't be able to understand the anguish you are going through. It's hard enough parenting ANY teenager, let alone one with severe emotional problems, and I think it is in a parent's nature to ask the question, "What did I do wrong to cause this behavior?" To have other people start asking that question of you must be terribly upsetting.

You might also peruse the other boards here at ivillage. I know there is one in the "health" section that is for families dealing with mental illness. Here at parent soup we also have a board for "troubled teens" where you might find people who have some thoughts and suggestions.

I hope things get better for both of you both. Please keep us posted!

                        Calmama54, from the beautiful

Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
Sat, 05-24-2003 - 10:51pm
Hi Kris! I understand what you are going thru. I have dd's with emotional disabilities--ADD, ODD, & OCD, & the older one has had periods of depression. It's a tough life, but with the RIGHT counseling, & the RIGHT meds, things WILL get better. My first thought is that the counselor your dd is seeing is NOT right for your dd. In the first place, she is PERSONALLY involved--to wit "Her counselor has even come to my home (not uncommon), on a day when my daughter would not get up for school, awoke her up and driven her to school." This is TOTALLY against all the rules of patient-therapist relationships. Therapists are to remain UNINVOLVED; they treat from a professional, emotional "distance"--they even must go thru their OWN course of psychotherapy to make SURE they don't project their feelings into a case, or become emotionally involved. This therapist CANNOT be trusted, nor can the advice she/he is offering!!! Having been involved for MANY years in counseling with my kids, & from the perspective of having a psychology degree of MY OWN, I cannot stress enough that this is wrong!!! Please get another counselor. All counselors are NOT created equal; after all, some have to graduate at the bottom of their class! It often takes time to find a counselor who works well with ALL family members. One of the things we try to remind parents of an emotionally disabled child is--the patient is the WHOLE FAMILY, not just the child!!

Another thought I have, is that there are probably more issues than just depression here. From your description of her behavior, I would suspect that she is probably BiPolar rather than just depressed, & may also be ODD(Oppositional Defiant Disorder). ODDers frequently manipulate others(outsiders) into believing that the OTHER family members are the ones causing the problems! They are masters of misdirection. I'm going to give you several links that may help you understand your dd. Also, the ADD Teens & Adults board deals with a variety of emotional disorders besides ADD. Come visit us; there are several parents there dealing with kids with emotional disorders like your dds'. We can support you!

This site is about the meds that treat depression. Just like therapists, not every case is going to respond to the same meds. Often it takes a LOT of trial & error to fingd the right med. And if your dd IS BiPolar, many anti-depressants will CAUSE problems. She would need to be treated with an anti-mania drug at the same time, to prevent problems. And altho you say she is being treated by a variety of professionals, it often takes MANY trips to the hospital, and MANY therapists to find the right diagnosis and treatment.

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-02-2003
Sun, 05-25-2003 - 6:25am
hugs kristeen - you are going thru a very scary and difficult time right now!! I agree with the poster who suggested switching therapists. also, we are going thru issues with my 17 YO son right now, and meds CAN make a HUGE difference, it is important to get the right meds, the right dosages...

I did not understand if you and your daugters are currently going thru therapy TOGETHER? if not, you should be, because that is a *safe place* for all of you to express your feelings.

also --- sometimes depression is just depression, and sometimes it is a symptom of something else. also - this should come out in therapy.has she been tested for learning disabilities? have their been any suggestions of sexual molestation, rape?

therapy take TIME and PATIENCE. i know how hard it is, as I said we are going thru issues with my son right now, but its important. what has been helpful for me is NOT dropping my OWN social and physical activities. for me, a workout at the gym or a cuppa coffee with a friend is what keeps me going somedays. that is the first thing you should UNdrop.

good luck and keep us posted.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-25-2003
Sun, 05-25-2003 - 6:15pm
Kristeen. I know how you feel. I have a 15 year old daughter who is also depressed. She has had suicidal ideations and also self-mutilates. The cuts aren't deep but nonetheless, they are there. I am taking her to counseling which seems to help a little. The counselor told me about a book "Secrets of Seratonin" which she recommended. She does not want to put my daughter on meds because it is not severe. However, she suggested that I read this book and follow the diets that are in that book. Something about the amino acids and the production of or lack of Seratonin. I will buy it and get back to you on how it has helped my daughter. I know mine seem petty compared to yours. However, I feel for you. A school counselor told me that it is very hard at this age. I understand how you might think that it is your fault or perhaps you didn't do enough. I know I felt this despair as well. Always walking on egg shells because we're afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing. We are dealing with different issues than yours. Sometimes however, I wonder if they are not manipulating us to do as they want. I try and try and sometimes get overwhelmed and also want to just let it take its course. We can only do all that we can do. I hope that all goes well and that your daughter finds herself and her place on this earth. God Bless.
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-24-2003
Fri, 05-30-2003 - 9:21am
I want to thank you for your response. This has beena very difficult time for us, and sometimes I wonder if there is something that I am not doing that could make a difference. We have continued with the counseling, however, I am unsure if it is having any effect at this time. I agree that once things come to a complete end with the boyfriend, her feelings and behaviours may improve. I've tried to encourage her to reach out to other people, and she seems to making some effort in this direction, even though she still insists that everyone hates her. When I inquire who she means, her reply is the boyfriend. They have been having quite a few arguements this week, which has made this week particularly difficult. I've contacted the police twice to bring her home after she ran off. Once she was found across town out front of his house. That night she left at 10:30 pm, in the rain, without any coat or shoes, and it was quite cold out that evening. I tried to catch her before she left, but she began to run and I could not catch up with her. Fortunately for me, I had a friend here for the weekend, and she was very supportive and helped me through it.

I am trying to keep a focus on my own well being, as I know I will not be any good to my DD if I am in total depression. This week I began to practice yoga again and am taking the dog out for walks regularly, just to try to maintain my sanity. My eldest DD is coming to stay for the summer, so I'm hoping that will help my younger DD focus on something other than her BF.

Again, thanks for replying to my post. I have been feeling somewhat isolated and it's great to know there is support out there from other parents who can relate.