update - depression & suicide

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-24-2003
update - depression & suicide
3
Fri, 05-30-2003 - 1:58pm
I want to thank you for your response. This has been a 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.



Avatar for shanali_s
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-15-2003
Fri, 05-30-2003 - 7:20pm
Dear Kristeen:

I usually don't start post or replies this way unless the person is a good friend of mine *you know, its funny calling strangers dear and all* but in this case and specially with the people in ivillage I feel like sometimes we are the one friends that actually listen. I seem to always come to this site when I feel like *I'm the only one going through ~name your favorite crisis~* and I find out that people are here to listen, support and let you know that you are not the only one. So I'm glad you made it here in that respect and from the responses you have recieved I can see that other women have done a good job in giving you advice and support. I guess I'm joining the ranks now.

In my case I'm speaking of my step daughter. We are in a case where both parents have joint custody and she sees them both one week off one week on. Our present relationship is really good. It took some time to get where I am right now because Step Parents are always the *outsider* and we kind of have to win each others heart. That is the way it happened with SD *step daughter* and I...we truly won each others affection. As I sit here typing this I start crying because I've come to love my SD as my own flesh and blood...as if she was my own daughter. It turned out that I became the one person she trust the most and is most honest about her feelings. I hope this is enough to let you know that maybe I'm not the biological mother, but I am one of *four* parents that care very much about her.

How can I even start this story...about four weeks ago I believe one of my SD's best friends commited suicide by hanging. Unlike both our daughters, her friend didn't make it and had no one to rescue him. We were there all the way supporting her, taking her to counceling and making sure she had someone to talk. It so happens that I'm an attempt survivor myself so I could offer a very sympathetic ear to all that she was saying and adviced her to not listen to the ignorant comments in her school and to know that her friend was a good person...that he had just been depressed and sometimes when you become suicidal you don't really think who or what is involved. That is how mental sickness go and sometimes there is no one to really pin point the blame. She seemed to have listened to me and even told me that even though she had previously been depressed enough to think about suicide that she would look for help before doing anything. We gave each other a big hug and I told her I loved her and I wanted her around for a long long time. She seemed real happy with my words.

Two weeks later, SD takes sixty pills and tries to commit suicide. She spent a week on a psychiatric hold and I spent a week in a self given guilt trip. I have blamed my relationship with her father so many times now that I don't even think is funny. Friends and family have tried to tell me that what happened was her choice and that I did nothing wrong...that it is not my fault. But I tell you it is hard to even think that when there seem to be so many questions unanswered.

Today SD had an anxiety attack and had to be taken back to the psych unit for an evaluation...and I'm back to wondering what did we do wrong that she is back now. This was the week with her mother and we were waiting for word from the unit about the treatment and when it would start. Supposedly it had started already and we were never called...*which is another issue we are going through right now, they treat my SO like he is a second class citizen and as the Dad he has no right to know as long as her mother knows...it is truly sick* I was willing to go down to the family setions to make sure that she knew I was there to listen but I seemed to not have gotten the chance thanks to the hospital and it's nonsense...and since this was her mother's week *of course* we had no other way of knowing although we did keep in touch with the hospital. Between her mother and the hospital they seem to want to keep us very *uninvolved* about her treatment. (Except for SD's psychiatrist who seemed to think we are the set of parents less concerned about micro managing and controling everything and more concerned with her actual well being).

Wow is this reply ever long...I'm so sorry...I guess this is the first time I try to even tell anyone else who might sympathize the whole story. Unlike you my SO and his ex wife hardly communicate when it is needed. They don't have a good relationship thanks to all the screwing over she did during the divorce *a divorce that usually takes six months in California for my SO took 3 years* It just seems to add more fuel to the fire in my opinion...but I also think that the psych unit should have been professional enough to keep both sets of parents informed. So is the way of the world in this country I guess. People are more concerned with playing burocratic *sp?* games then helping each other out.

Right now I'm feeling so worried...and alone. I know that feeling of impotence that you carry kristeen and unlike what patty said about her problems supposedly being smaller they are not. I think all parents who have kids going through depression and mental health issues are in the same rocky boat. None of you are alone in this feeling. And perhaps this reply doesn't give much advice but I guess I want to offer a shoulder to cry on too.

Thanks for reading this long reply and if it helps in any way...I'm glad.

Sincerely

Shanali

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-24-2003
Sat, 05-31-2003 - 10:23am
Dear Shanali,

I appreciate you sharing your story. You have been through a very trying time. I recognize how tough it is to share your story and admire your honesty. I understand all the mixed emotions and confusion you must be feeling. I too, have felt a huge sense of responsibility and guilt for what my daughter is going through. As mothers, and as step mothers, we feel like should should be able to protect our children and keep them safe. When a child makes an attempt at suicide, we often blame ourselves. I don't know how many times I have thought "what have I done to cause this situation?" I can tell you though, I know I am not the cause of this situation, and neither are you or you husband. Sometimes, children make choices, even not so good choices, that have nothing to do with what their parents are or are not doing. I think it is normal for others to consider what is happening in their family life as a way to explain why they made an attempt at suicide. Most information about teens suggests that when they attempt suicide, it is a reflection of what is happening in their family life. I know first hand that this is not always the case.

I think we can be hard on ourselves, measuring and weighing everything we have said or done to see if there is a connection between our child's behaviour and our actions. I think it is only natural to disect everything in order to gain an understanding of what is going on, especially if your child makes more than one attempt or has on-going mental health issues. It's taken me 6-7 months to come to the realization that it doesn't matter how hard I try, if she is not trying too, then she is not going to get better. I am trying very hard to let her take back responsibility for her choices, even though it is very difficult because I am afraid of what she may do next. It's very difficult to go through something like this and often your experience is not understood by people who are not directly involved. Family, friends & professionals often question our ability to parent our children as well. So it seems like, at a time when you need their support the most, they are judging you. This can be a very isolating feeling. I've often wanted to reach out, but can't bear another question or suggestion about my parenting ability. I'm starting to think that I must be doing something right though, because my DD is still alive.

I think it is a lot more confusing in two parent families, especially if the ex's don't have a good relationship. I have decent relationship with my ex, although sometimes I feel resentful because he seems to be so disconnected from the situation, being 200 km away, and I am bearing the majority of the responsibility for making things right. It is hard to understand why any mom would not want the support of their DD's father during a time like this. But, when there are hard feelings, bitterness and anger remaining it sometimes blurs the real issue of what is best for the children. I recently split up with my partner over this situation with my DD. It's unfortunate that he did not have the gumption to stand by and support when I needed him, but I'm glad I know that he lacks the ability to think about anyone but himself. (yes, you do sense some sarcasim) I mention him though, because he was divorced by 4 years. His ex is very angry and bitter toward him. I understand how hurtful and upseting it can be, when you are trying to support the children (he has 4) and she constantly tries to to make a mess of everything including the children, simply because she is bitter. Some people just don't get it!!! She obviously has not grown up enough to realize that, as parents, we have to put our children's needs first, not act like a big child, always saying "what about me." I know firsthand what a difficult situation this can be and my heart goes out to you, especially in this trying time. The best thing anyone can do is to continue to offer support to their child, despite her mother's efforts to thwart it. Even if she tries to limit your involvement, I know your SD will appreciate your support, understanding and love.

You are right when you say we are in the same rocky boat. It is a difficult boat to get out of too, especially when you are dealing with one tidal wave after another. Each of our experiences are unique, but not less or more than another's experience. The feeling are the same, the difficulties are the same, its just that sometimes the actual experience is different. I 'm glad that I, and everyone who has responded, have a place to talk about what is happening, because depression of a child seriously effects the parents too. Many people suggested that I try to maintain my own sanity and that is invaluable advice, but it takes time to get to a place where you can feel safe to do that.

I can only say, keep persevering and try not to let the immaturity of bitter people to prevent you from addressing this situation. One day your SD will appreciate your strength and courage to see her though this trying time in her life, but it might take a while. Again, thanks for sharing your story. It has helped me a lot and I'm certain it will help other too, even those who have not responded, but only read about our teenage troubles.

kristeen


Edited 5/31/2003 11:35:38 AM ET by kristeen1964

Avatar for shanali_s
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-15-2003
Mon, 06-02-2003 - 2:48am
Hey Kristeen:

Thanks for your own response. It came when I most needed the encouragement this morning. The Psych Unit was really giving us a hard time as far as her treatment *mostly due to their incompetency* but once the doctor became involve things started happening. I think perhaps the trials of the Psyc unit are waking my SD up in their own way and she feels the need to fix what went wrong. She surprised us very much by responding to the therapy setion immidiately and even more by telling her mother today that she wanted to live with us full time. It was quite shocking but I can't say we are not happy right now because she is finally taking control of her life and standing up for what she needs. A real big stress for her was moving back and forth between the houses and she is getting rid of this stress. Her mother was not too pleased of course but unfortunally at this point in time her usual guilt trip doesn't seem to have much of an effect. I did however manage to keep my head through out all of it and came ready to work with her mother in what was needed (even after a few remarks...some people just can't get over themselves...even for the sake of their own kids). I do hope this means that things will start moving for the better here and I'm real proud of SD and her accomplishments...I told her so tonight at the unit.

I'll be coming back to check up on how you are doing and let you know how our own outpatient visits are going too. I do hope we all learn from them *and hopefully the outpatient staff is less moronic and more professional too*

I wanted to leave you my email too in case you needed to vent or rant to someone who might give you a fast response.

shanali@sapphirerose.org

I hope to hear from you soon and the status of both you and your daughter.

Again...thanks a million for listening to me when I most needed it. I will be glad to do the same any time.

Sincerely

Shanali