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completely overwhelmed's picture

I hoped maybe blogging would help me deal with what I’m going through. I never can admit what’s really happening to my sister or my mom or my friends. I want everyone to think I’m a great stepmom and my family is all doing great. But things are so messed up right now and I need to talk to someone.

My SD is 15. The list of mental illnesses she has been diagnosed with keeps growing. Anxiety, depression, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, ADHD, Sensory Processing Disorder. At one time Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS, AKA atypical autism) was being considered, but that something that doesn't get diagnosed as much now. She also has developmental delays, issues with fine motor skills, a reading level of about a 5th grader.

Her mom has been in and out of jail and drug rehab and doesn't have any contact right now. She has lived with us full-time since she was 12.

My DH and I have a 3.5 year old daughter.

My BFF from grade school through high school posts all the time on Facebook about her new hubby who she calls something like “The World’s Best Bonus Daddy”. She lives in a different state now, so maybe it’s all a facade, but she keeps asking me on Facebook where the photos of me and my 15 year old SD are. World’s Great Bonus Daddy takes stepkids to football games, teaches his stepson to golf, has princess parties for his stepdaughter and I can barely tolerate to be around my SD. I think she suspects we don’t get along, but wants to live in a fantasy land that all stepparents now are super special bonus parents that their stepkids adore and idolize.

There’s no possible way I’m posting on Facebook the current situation with SD. She is facing expulsion from a high school for the 2nd time in 14 months. The last time she was moved from a regular public school to an alternative school. She can’t be expelled for problems caused by her disability, so there will be meetings to determine revisions to the IEP and likely which school services and programs will fit her. Likely she ends up in a special needs program at a different school that isn’t college prep and mostly for non-verbal autistic kids and others with severe disabilities that prevent them from being able to function in a classroom.

My DH feels he will failed as a father if SD doesn’t graduate from high school, go to college, get a job and be a functional member of society. He has spent so much time and effort trying to help SD get her grades up and get back into her old high school. But her response to all that help has been to essentially spit in his face, refuse to do anything and now get kicked out of an alternative school.

The alternative school isn’t helping and getting her out of there would be the best thing for her. There are incredibly strict rules. Dress code is very strict and she has all sorts of issues finding clothes that are sensory friendly that will meet the dress code. Every little minor infraction is written up. It’s not uncommon for her to have 3 write-ups every day, at least 2 detentions per week (she’s refused to go to these, which is the cause of the expulsion). I’ve lost count of the in-school suspensions and 5 out of school suspension. We know she’s being bullied, but it’s a school full of trouble makers and she regularly has meltdowns and temper tantrums. There’s no way she’s not going to get bullied for acting the way she does at age 15.

There’s no way to control her behavior or hold her responsible for anything. She doesn’t act her age nor does she really care if she pisses us off. All of the rewards charts, behavior charts, chore lists and consequences haven’t worked. She refuses to do what she’s told. Once she learns you want her to do something, she refuses with all her might to do it. She is so stubborn.

She doesn’t appreciate anything I do and anything I do something for her, there’s always complaints or I waste my time. For example, SD has all of these problems with being itchy. She has tactile defensiveness (if there’s a tag on her shirt, all she can focus on is how much the tag is bugging her), and also hives and pins & needles feelings - which could be side effects of all the medication she’s on or just caused by stress or anxiety. A few months ago when she 1st complained constantly about being itchy, I went out and got her some rather expensive lotion. But she refused to even try it - she doesn’t like anything sticky on her skin. So, still constantly whining about the itchiness, but she won’t even consider using the lotion.

None of the medication she’s on seems to be helping at all, and the side effects just keep adding up. I’m not sure if they really are that bad, but she’s the type of kid who cannot focus on anything else if there’s some minor problem. She has very low frustration tolerance.

I know she’s sick and if she had cancer or some illness that was physical rather than mental, the situation at school would be far different. But her behavior problems cause you to have absolutely no sympathy for her or want to do anything for her. She treats everyone so terribly, especially my 3.5 year old. I worry what growing up in this type of environment is doing to my baby girl.

DH still thinks that he can somehow get SD to have some miraculous turnaround in school that will cause her to be sent back to the normal high school. He has been trying to get her to do homework for the past 4 hours. So far there's been 3 meltdowns & SD threw a tantrum so bad the whole house was shaking. Maybe once she's in the special ed program and there's no homework then maybe things will improve with less battles over homework. But DH doesn't want her ending up like her mom - a drug addict, in and out of jail, and with no ability to hold down a job. I just don't know if there's any way to avoid that. He's put in so much effort trying to help her with homework and all it results in is her stomping around, screaming and tantruming and getting expelled.


ChiefGrownup's picture

All I can say is you've found your people. Welcome.

Here you will not find people bragging about the World's Greatest StepUnicorns. You will feel right at home. Sorry it's turned out like this for you. We understand.

wishihadknown01's picture

I have also just joined this group

I see your whole mail is about SD

I truly believe that the ability to DISENGAGE is what is needed

I got ill because I involved myself too much

my one friend learnt the art of meditation

that helped her disengage

unless she was specifically asked she just refused to get involved

they eventually started creeping and slithering back to her

NEVER reward bad behaviour with your attention

and most of all

NEVER forget what was done to you

keep being "buzy" with other things

including your own little girl

let this girl decide what she wants

My challenge is to learn to disengage each time something happens

I am disgusted with all this bullshit that Fathers allow

and remember when the proverbial SHX& hits the fan and you had given advice-IT IS ALWAYS YOUR FAULT

Acratopotes's picture

welcome lady - you can vent here as much as you want...

the only advice I can give you - disengage from SD and focus on DD... Dh can handle his own daughter and the more you step back the more he will step up..... hang in there, hope and pray she runs away with a guy never to be heard off again... Wink

completely overwhelmed's picture

I’ve read about disengaging but it's something I could never do. SD would fall flat on her face. She wouldn’t be able to go to any of her appointments and wouldn’t get her medication so there’s no chance her condition would improve.

I have to do far too much for her but there aren’t a lot of other options. My DH works well over 40 hours a week so there’s no way he’s able to do everything he would need to to be a single parent for SD.

I’ve considered what if my DH was a stay at home dad and I went to work full time, but there’s too many unknowns. Like what would happen with health insurance? If Obamacare is repealed, who knows what will happen especially with pre-existing conditions. Already we’re in debt dealing with all the psychiatric treatment for SD.

Right now it’s a battle to get SD to do things like sleep (she has severe insomnia, which is a side effect of some of her medications), eat (it’s a power struggle and control thing but loss of appetite is also a side effect of multiple medications she’s on) and taking her medicine is becoming an issue (she hates the side effects). So it’s not only little things like homework or chores, it’s big things.

Part of the behavior problems are her, some are the side effects and some is the way she reacts to the side effects. If she had cancer or some physical disease and was reacting badly to the medication, it would be horrible to just walk away and not do anything.

Another hospitalization is likely if things keep going like they are. So putting my hands up and saying I won’t do anything will cause that to happen even faster.

She’s on a new medication, but if it’s working won’t be clear for another 3-4 weeks. It would be better to wait until after that if she has another hospital stay. There’s the potential to try another group of medications, but then there will likely be another diagnosis added on top of the ones she has which we all know is likely coming, but it won't be easy for my DH to deal with.

ESMOD's picture

This is so sad.. for you, for her, for her dad. It is most likely that her mother's addiction caused a lot of the problems she is experiencing. (prenatal).

You are obviously in a tough spot there too. It's apparent you care what happens to her.. both for her sake and for the sake of your DH. He clearly has some blinders on and it must be hard for him to realize that his hopes and dreams may not be as possible for her as he once thought. He might be better off if he could admit that the college aspirations may be better put aside and focus on life skills and the reality of what she may/may not be able to do as an adult.

Gimlet's picture

((Hugs)) what a tough situation. I agree with ESMOD that your DH will have to be realistic about what he can expect from a child who was clearly damaged. I'm so sorry.

The other thing I can say is not to put too much stock in Facebook. Some of the most miserable people I know have a Facebook page that makes their lives look picture perfect. One of my best friends has a horrible, abusive husband but you'd never guess it from the photo roll on her page (I am not on FaceySpace but my husband is). They are posed happy and smiling, but the truth is anything but that.

Stepped in what momma's picture

If she is rude to your kid and will probably never move out of your home how long are you going to keep wondering if her rudeness is going to effect your child? I would take your DD and leave, your DH is never going to make his kid leave even if she does graduate.

2badsosad's picture

You have found the right place. So very sorry you're going through all of this.

MelAnn's picture

I have a 10 year old son who was diagnosed PDD-NOS and ODD. No one in my family (and I have a large family - my dad was the youngest of 10 kids) has such diagnosis. So, I had to do a lot of research. I also found some support groups on Facebook: Parents of Children with PDD-NOS as well as Single Parents with Children with ODD. I know how hard it is and he's my son. Reading your post was like reading my own words. When my son was young I read all sorts of books about behavior trying to find something to work - just when something would work it would stop working and I'd have to find another angle. He too got kicked out of mainstream school - in 3rd grade. Prior to that he was kicked out of three daycares and a summer camp program. What's sad is that he really is a very funny and sweet boy. He's like Jekyl and Hyde though - when he's happy everyone feels his joy; when he's upset - it's WWIII. I've had him in therapy since he was a toddler (may sound odd however we did play therapy at that age - me, my ex, he and the therapist). He's made progress - and I am so proud of him. On those rough days I try to take a step back and remember where he once was and where he is now. I'm telling you all of this simply because I want to be supportive, let you know you aren't the only one who's dealt with this, and that you are one amazing person to know all of what is going on and care for this child so much. I wish I had a magic trick for you to make it all better.......