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Forums / Supporting family and friends with a mental health condition (carers) / 9yo daughter is experiencing severe anxiety.

Topic: 9yo daughter is experiencing severe anxiety.

12 posts, 0 answered
  1. Worried step dad
    Worried step dad avatar
    5 posts
    12 May 2019

    Hi people.

    Thought I'd try reach out to others in a similar position, stumbled upon this site whilst researching causes and treatments for anxiety in children.

    Think it's awesome that our great country has services such as this, and I'm confident that joining these forums can only benefit my situation and possibly provide some insightful advice from those already dealing with a young child suffering severe anxiety.

    My step daughter is 9 years old and unfortunately is not coping very well at the moment. I completed the online survey and received a very high score, I have no doubt she is suffering from severe anxiety and needs as much love, reassurance and help possible from me and her mother right now, but a little unsure as to wheather or not we should seek medical advice just yet.

    Her natural father has never been able to control his anger or emotions in front of her since the separation from her mother over 5 years ago.

    It has gradually gone from bad to worse to now extreme, and despite my every effort to respect his position as her father, I have supported and helped my partner to recently take out an intervention order against him, and suspend all contact with his daughter.

    As expected the long term stress experienced, with the current turmoil and fear caused by her own biological fathers actions has sent my step daughter into a wild rollercoaster ride of emotions.

    I'm trying my very best to provide the love and support required, whilst bearing in mind that I am her step father and have to be very careful how I proceed in providing a full time fathers role to her in his absence.

    Her mother and I have a 3 year old child together, and are currently planning our marriage whilst also saving a deposit for a house.

    This whole situation is far from ideal, but despite my best efforts to avoid the inevitable, her father has caused an enormous amount of distress and has placed strain on the whole family, including grandparents and extended loved ones.

    But we have a very close family unit with good communication and our main concern is the emotion effect it is causing my step daughter.

    The symptoms of anxiety are all there, and recently she has been complaining of physical chest pains. A late night trip to the emergency department was inconclusive and the doctor believes it's possible stress/anxiety is the cause.

    We are all very concerned for her health, but not sure how best to treat the situation and proceed.

    Has anybody here been through similar?

  2. YellowPoppy
    YellowPoppy avatar
    108 posts
    12 May 2019 in reply to Worried step dad
    Hi worried step dad,

    Firstly it is amazing that you are here for your step daughter, that in itself is so important.

    Before I give you any advice you should know, I am not a parent or step parent but I have had anxiety since I was 5 so my perspective may be useful.

    I would recommend a gp visit and if possible set up psychologist appointments, this will be most useful if your step daughter is willing, but she may fel uncomfortable talking with a stranger. Either way, try to get some professional involvment - i am a big believer in exhausting every resource before using medication but I also believe tha each person is entitled to their decision and I am not to judge.

    If you can teach her different coping strategies such as, mindfulness, grounding, breathing exercises. There are plenty of threads on these forums that have tips and techniques.

    As you are obviously a very caring father, I feel it is safe to assume that both yiua nd your partner are ensuring she feels loved. Often having a mental illness can make one feel isolated and ashamed and guilty.

    Maybe you could note all her achievements.. Everytime she overcomes her anxiety celebrate it, every time she doesn't, positive encouragement.

    You said you have done research, but I've found the easiest way for me to explain it to people is that it's fear.
    Absolute terror and mostly I cannot identify why. So when your SD can't overcome her anxiety or experiences this it is because of fear.

    Hope this helps, or provides insight.

    Keep posting!

    YP
  3. Billyc
    Billyc  avatar
    220 posts
    12 May 2019 in reply to Worried step dad

    Hi,

    Sounds like very difficult situation to be in, really feel for your step daughter.. separation in itself is hard on children, it to have the added stress caused by her fathers anger is not good at all.

    i can relate in a way,

    I’m separated and have two daughters,9 and 7.

    we love each other very much, it I will admit it was very tense for a period of time. And there were occasions early on where the children were used to harm one another.

    You can only cushion the blow so much, because in the end children will suffer from these experiences.

    They are resilient but respect is demanded from all concerned toward them.

    The intervention order I can’t comment on. But I guess the best way forward is to understand why her fathers angry? Is he like that by nature? Or has this experience of separation caused him grief? As a father that left my children’s home I found it devastating.. I’d cry every night, and at times I felt angry.

    is their a way her father can be reasonable? Is their a way you could help him do so?

    An intervention order has its purpose, sometimes that purpose can get in the way of a peaceful outcome..

    please note that I know nothing of your situation other than what you share here, so please take anything I say as an offer of support. its a terrible situation and one I feel your daughter does not deserve.

    please keep posting on how it’s prigressing.

  4. Worried step dad
    Worried step dad avatar
    5 posts
    17 May 2019 in reply to YellowPoppy

    Thank you yellow poppy.

    I appreciate you sharing your personal experience and helpful advice.

    I totally agree that positive encouragement is paramount and we are doing our best.

    Also taking on board your comments about fear, this is a major factor for my daughter.

    Her chest pains have been getting worse and things have not been easy.

    But we've been to see the GP now, and have started the medical approach.

    Its heartbreaking to see the suffering she is going through, but I have assured her it will only make her stronger in the future.

    I just hope it has no long lasting detrimental effects.

  5. Doolhof
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    Doolhof avatar
    8756 posts
    17 May 2019 in reply to Worried step dad

    Hi Worried Step Dad,

    All children need to feel loved, cared for and safe. It certainly sounds like that is the environment you and your partner are trying to provide for your step daughter.

    Recently I was talking to a counsellor about my childhood and the word "Vulnerable" came up. It may help to find more ways to reassure your Step Daughter that she is safe.

    I am wondering if little challenges might help her to build up her self esteem. You know what she enjoys and what she is good at, maybe highlight those things in her life.

    Distractions, pleasant activities, fun things, doing something different, all of these might help.

    Maybe she needs to know she is not to blame for things that have happened and how people relate to her.

    Does she have friends at school you can invite over for play dates? Does she play sport, that can be a great way to build up relationships and self esteem.

    As a child, all I wanted was someone to stop what they were doing and listen to me.

    Wishing you all well. Cheers from Dools

    1 person found this helpful
  6. Worried step dad
    Worried step dad avatar
    5 posts
    17 May 2019 in reply to Billyc

    Hey Billyc

    I can totally relate to your position, I also have another daughter from a previous relationship, but the story is far from a happy one.

    She is now 18 and despite the years and countless thousands I spent fighting her mother for access, I still have my own battle with emotions every special occasion missed.

    And believe me I would never entertain the thought of coming between my step daughter and her biological father, I have fostered and encouraged contact between then since the beginning.

    But some men shouldn't have the privilege of children... Our only hope is that he attends help and agrees to participating in therapy with us all to regain his daughters trust, and can provide her with a safe environment in the future.

    The details are not the topic here, but the current problems and my daughters condition.

    The effect past contact has made is without a doubt the main cause of her current condition. In just over a month of his absence, she is already starting to show positive signs.

    We all desire a future where he can be in her life again, but not if it harms her wellbeing.

    We have now been seeking advise from our gp, and therapy seems the best option.

    It's a costly exercise and will put extra strain on the family budget. But we understand this are ready to do whatever neccessary.

  7. Worried step dad
    Worried step dad avatar
    5 posts
    17 May 2019 in reply to Doolhof

    You make some good points Doolhof, I appreciate your input.

    Indeed she has been feeling extremely vulnerable, and it has been an ongoing battle to convince her of her safety.

    On a positive note, she has actually excelled at her basketball. Playing her best game ever last week.

    It seems she is adhering to the advice we have been giving. Which has been to redirect her energy into things she has control of, and not dwelling on the things out of her control.

    Also I am a strong believer of keeping to routine, this seems to be helping her. We got her a diary this week and the first thing she wrote down in it was our weekly family timetable. Such as what days we visit each set of grandparents, basketball training and games, plus her own take on the days we don't go out as family time.

    I am confident now we are on the right track after visiting our gp, she is doing well considering what she has been through, but it's a long road ahead and she has our full support.

    Some of her friendships have been volatile from school, but her team mates at bball are proving to be crucial right now.

    We are even considering giving her a fresh start by allowing her to change school, but also teaching her that she can't run away from people or problems. Just as long as we learn from them.

    I only wish all of this was different, but we are doing the best we can with only her wellbeing in mind.

  8. YellowPoppy
    YellowPoppy avatar
    108 posts
    17 May 2019 in reply to Worried step dad
    Hi worried step dad,

    I wish I could tell you exactly what to do and how to do it.
    Unfortunately every person is different and how we experience things is different.

    Does your step daughter have any triggers? Or are there certain things she just refuses to do or is scared of doing?

    You can't guarantee that there won't be any long term damage but you can make sure that she Knows she has your support and love no matter what.

    My mum didn't do everything right, but she is always going to be the person I immediately call when I feel anxious or panicky.

    I am currently trying to chall9my anxiety and work through tough situation and everytime I can't, I apologise to my mum and partner, both of them always tell me it's okay. And that is the thing that makes me want to try again.

    Obviously for a 9 Yr old you can't expect her to push through and challenge her anxiety in the same way a 25 Yr old does. You have to find a system that works for both you and your partner and for your step daughter.

    And I would just like to reiterate, coming from someone whose father disregarded
  9. YellowPoppy
    YellowPoppy avatar
    108 posts
    17 May 2019 in reply to Worried step dad
    Accidently pressed post...

    Coming from someone whose father disregarded my anxiety and did not care to learn what helped and what didn't, it is so heart warming and it makes me so proud to know that you are doing all you can to help your step daughter.
  10. Billyc
    Billyc  avatar
    220 posts
    18 May 2019 in reply to Worried step dad

    Hi Worried

    Yep separation with children involved at such a young age has been the hardest challenge I have faced in my life to date.

    Two positive things came from it that have helped me immensely,

    one, my dad never really had a lot to say and was hardly ever around. But he came through when it counted, we spoke on the phone about the separation when it was all still very fresh, and he said the best advice I can give you is whatever happens between you because things will get rough.. but whatever happens, every decision you make, make it about the children.. that was very empowering because one can easily get sucked into the vortex of grief anger and bitterness and forget the children.thats when they suffer the most.

    secondly, I forgot the second but it was important..

    on the surface I still feel a level of empathy toward the father that has been given an intervention, again I don’t know the circumstances so please accept this as face value.. but showing empathy toward someone struck with Demonds can only help..

    we are all human beings, please again I don’t know the severity of your situation.. he is always going to Be her father, I feel deeply toward your predicament and hope your family can find peace and balance.

  11. Worried step dad
    Worried step dad avatar
    5 posts
    19 May 2019 in reply to Billyc

    Billy c.......

    I can relate to your own situation more than you will ever know, as I briefly mentioned in my last response I have an 18yo daughter from my first relationship.

    I hit rock bottom several times over the past 15years. My ex even sent me messages telling me to kill myself and that my daughter was better off with her new dad not me!!!

    Despite completing numerous courses and extensive family therapy her fight to keep me out of my daughters life was relentless. The cost of never ending family court cases, not limited to just a financial cost but also the emotional cost it had on me is something I would never wish on my worst enemy.

    But it has shaped the person I am today, and at least I can say I did everything i possibly could. Now all I can do it wait for the day my daughter grows enough strength to break free from the brainwashing, and seeks me out in the future.

    Bearing in mind you now feel a level of empathy for a man you don't know, a man who despite my every efforts to foster and support his contact with his daughter, has made some extremely bad life choices that have had a detremental impact on his daughter.

    She currently has used the word hate a lot when referring to him, and has expressed that she wishes he was not her father..

    My main concern is the children, it is my step daughter who is missing out on spending time with her father. NOT him missing out on spending time with her!

    I'm sorry to be so blunt with this message mate, but I think you may also agree what I'm saying is right.

    Sincerely

  12. Billyc
    Billyc  avatar
    220 posts
    20 May 2019 in reply to Worried step dad

    Im with you,

    it is a very challenging space to live in.

    I too, like you have been painted poorly in the eyes of their mother...

    they are 7 and 9. And just yesterday I had a bizarre chat with my 7 year old, it was like her mother’s words were coming through her mouth, I could even hear her mother’s voice in the background. As if she were treating my daughter like a puppet.

    its shattering to watch this happen. I’ve made some mistakes, never angry just mistakes,

    It’s now as though she looks forward to my failures... for a while I would go along and tell people we are “amicable” there’s no point in pretending, she keeps a box full of hate that she pulls out in the instant I do something wrong.

    She hasn’t told me I should kill myself, that’s super cruel, but I’m sometimes I think she thinks it.

    sorry to digress from your step daughters issue, but I do feel it’s all relevant.

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