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In need of advice please

Lotus7's picture

Hello! I am new here but already so grateful for the existence of this platform for connecting with other step-parents. My 26 yr old step-daughter was diagnosed years ago with Schizoaffective Depressive Disorder when my husband was still married to his ex-wife. For a while, when she was much younger, my husband & ex-wife were diligent with her treatment. Soon after their divorce she went off to college and somewhat continued with treatment (inconsistent) and she experienced much depression. Over the course of the past few years she has gone off her meds (her choice), barely any therapy... and after visiting her dad and I for 2 weeks it has been become urgently clear she is struggling A LOT now with depression, delusions, cutting, poor hygiene, lying, and risky behavior. I spent a lot of time talking with her about returning to therapy, about her triggers, about medication etc. but I’m not sure she really heard me. She lives with her mom who my step-daughter says “doesn’t see anything being wrong right now... no real need for therapy or medication”. My step-daughters symptoms and current state is obvious. She is calling out for help and this situation is urgent, in my eyes. I don’t have a relationship with her mom at all whatsoever. In the 7 years I’ve been married to my husband I have only met his ex-wife 3 times in passing. My husband is also concerned about his daughter but has an avoidant, non-confrontational personality type and has more or less avoided much of these conversations with his daughter. If I put pressure on him to act on this situation he gets upset with me for judging his daughter too harshly and then assures me he will talk with her but that she’s an adult and makes her own choices. I have pushed for him to contact his ex-wife, who lives with their daughter, and check in with her about the status of treatment. He is hesitant to do so because he says “she will just say everything is Ok”. In the meantime, I am worried and sad and frustrated. This young woman needs the adults around her to step up and help get her back on track with treatment. I feel alone here - like the only one seeing her breaking down and yet disempowered within the family dynamics as her step-mom. Help! I’m also needing good resources on this issue - books, videos, journal articles, etc. Thank you. 

beebeel's picture

You can do mountains of research and learn all the best tips, but if these three adults don't do the same, nothing you do will matter. I'm sure it's difficult to watch, but you can't care more than them or it will eat you up. At 26, she is more than responsible for her own choices and treatments. 

The most you can do is to keep encouraging her to get back on track with her treatment. 

I'm not sure how I could respect my husband after his head-in-the-sand reaction to such a serious diagnosis. 

Lotus7's picture

Thanks for this response. I appreciate your perspective. 

Rags's picture

One of my childhood BFFs is Schizophrenic.  His parents had him made a ward of the state when he was in his 20s. He has lived in an apartment attached to their home for decades. He is 55+ and reports to his case worker at the state mental health department on a regular basis for review.  This has allowed his parents to obtain the help and support they all need and to keep him safe and under care.   When he deviates from his care plan and takes himself off of his meds all it takes is for  his parents to call the state and he is institutionalized, his meds are calibrated, he gets reset and he returns to their home after a few weeks.  It has been many years since he was last institutionalized.  He is safe, healthy, lives a calm quiet life and his dad does not have to live with the anxiety of the phone ringing with news of his suicide or worse.

It may take direct action for your DH and BM to protect their daughter from herself.  The ostrich approach is not going to work.

Exjuliemccoy's picture

You can't care more than the parents. You shouldn't be more involved than the parents.

This is simple self care and self protection. Everyone in the situation is an adult, and you've done the appropriate thing by addressing the issue with your H and his daughter. The rest is up to them.