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Struggling with my teenage stepdaughter

Struggling Step Mum's picture

I’m a stepmum to a 17 year old girl and a 15 year old boy. I’ve been with their dad for 12 years and we’ve always had the kids every other weekend and over the holidays. We were doing really well and were really happy (despite the occasional fallout with his ex-wife)and are planning on getting married this year.

Last year, my stepdaughter moved in with us full time after falling out with her mum. She’s been struggling with anxiety and depression for a while and seems to be try to deal with this by restricting her eating. We try to speak with her about it and have been taking her to CAMHS but it doesn’t seem to be helping much. It’s hard to know how much of this is normal teenage hormones and she’s obviously had to deal with a lot of change/stress so it’s understandable that she’s struggling.

But she doesn’t seem to want help. She seems to want to have the label of a mental illness but not want to deal with it. She just seems to want to use as it as excuse not to do anything. She’s had 2 referrals to specialists but is determined that they won’t be able to help her because she’s different and nobody could possibly understand so won’t actually go/engage with the support offered. She has now dropped out of 2 colleges and basically spends most of time lying in bed talking to her mates on the phone. She seems to have no trouble finding motivation to go out with her mates but can’t find the energy to tidy up after herself, study or do anything productive. Every time I try and help or speak to her, we end up arguing or falling out.

I am really struggling to cope. I have also struggled with anxiety and depression for a few years and am really failing to respond appropriately and constructively to her behaviour. I want to help her but I just don’t know how. I just get so frustrated and upset and I just don’t know what to do any more. I’m starting to feel like I actually hate her and resent her being in the house. I no longer feel like it’s my home and I don’t feel like I have any space or control any more. My life and my home are no longer happy like they were and I just don’t know what to do. I feel like my life is falling apart and I am struggling to find any happiness any more.

My partner is also frustrated but thankfully not as emotional as we are. He’s not convinced this is any more than teenage hormones and thinks she’s hiding behind the label as an excuse. He’s better at dealing with her than me though as he manages not to lose the plot. But he seems to try to avoid the issue and just pretend there’s nothing wrong.

It's got to the point where she and I barely speak to each other and we’re not comfortable being in the same room as each other. It feels like one of us needs to move out because we're clearly making each other worse and neither of us are happy. I love her dad very much.  But I’m not sure I can cope with his daughter for much longer. It’s absolutely breaking me. 

Comments

SayNoSkidsChitChat's picture

Your life is miserable, though? StepHell is not worth it. You don’t seem to have kids with your partner, yet you’re stuck with some other woman’s spawn and a miniwife.

Kes's picture

It is not really helping her (and I speak as someone who has also suffered clinical depression in the past and been hospitalised) for her to have NO expectations on her whatsoever, and to be making no contribution to the household she is living in.  If she has finished her education, she should get a job, at least part time, or some part time voluntary work if the former is not possible. She should also have required ways in which she contributes - eg housework.  

If your partner is unwilling to ask this of her, then I honestly think that maybe your relationship isn't going to survive. 

Struggling Step Mum's picture

Thanks Kes. The problem is that she hasn't finished her education. We're trying to help her get a job and start school again next year. I agree that she should and does have required ways to contribute ie housework. 

simifan's picture

She'a using the MI diagnosis to manipulate you. Especially given the histry you shared you are probably more empathetic to it. Regardless of MI, there are things that need to be done to be functional. You and DH need to come up with rules for the household and stick to them unlelss you want to be supporting her forever  

tog redux's picture

Your partner needs to let her know that either she goes to college/gets a job, or she gets mental health treatment.  He needs to encourage/reward/push/demand, etc, whatever has to be done to get her moving in one direction or the other.  If it's just "teenage hormones" than there isn't any reason he can't demand that she participate actively in work and/or school.

If he won't do that, she won't launch any time soon.  You should just stay out of it, but let your partner know you can't live like this long term (ie, there won't be any wedding if  this is still going on). 

RogueSM's picture

“Last year, my stepdaughter moved in with us full time after falling out with her mum” what was this about if you don’t mind me asking? And the first choice was to run to DH? Did she usually run to DH if her and BM didn’t see eye to eye?

“She has now dropped out of 2 colleges and basically spends most of time lying in bed talking to her mates on the phone. She seems to have no trouble finding motivation to go out with her mates but can’t find the energy to tidy up after herself, study or do anything productive. Every time I try and help or speak to her, we end up arguing or falling out.”

Who pays for the phone? Your DH needs to be more assertive in this.  Its not just teenage hormones.  This should not be accepted as just that.  DH should take her to counseling or something but not just sweep this under the rug as just a phase.  Not acceptable and you should not just have to accept this at all.

This is your house and you are not a stranger to her, you have been around for 12yrs…

Struggling Step Mum's picture

Thanks Rogue SM. She's and her mum were always falling out and she's always said she wanted to move in with us.  THis time it was permanent.

Agree. I think we both need to be firmer with the rules.  Thanks

Harry's picture

She wants to do.  Unless you are going to force her to get treatment and schooling or a job.  It’s going to stay like it is now.  The ball is in your court.  You have to force to do something. Or you can vent how bad your life is