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Therapy Revelation by SD18

Shieldmaiden's picture

SD18, DH and I recently had our second family therapy session. In a happy surprise, SD18 is openly sharing her feelings, and DH is listening to this instead of changing the subject. SD18 made a revelation that she "definitely does NOT want to go to college."  She also inquired about what will happen to her college fund. 

My concern is that SD18 clearly has had a mood disorder/chemical imbalance since she was younger, and DH is terrified to confront this, because he has bipolar, and so did his mother and father. We both think SD18 has manic bipolar. This prevents her from planning ahead, being able to function or hold a job, and makes her rude, angry, and withdrawn for weeks at a time. 

SD18's biomom has told her that when she graduates from high school this year (online school due to her anxiety) that she should move out. Well, we all know that means SD18 will want to move in full time with us. She was on antidepressants for clinical depression for a year when she was 16, but refused to take it regularly and eventually stopped, because she said it hurt her stomach. She hasn't been able to take her test to get her driver's license because she has too much anxiety, so she doesn't drive. 

I don't want to be the evil stepmom here, because I care about SD18, but I also want my marriage to survive. Her dad's lack of willingness to face her illness has caused many fights between us. I am thinking of making a written contract so that I have some legal standing if things go south after she moves in. It will basically have rules on what is expected of her around the house, how much rent she will pay, and that she will get her driver license before moving in, so she is not dependent on us. I want her to be working full time if she is not going to school, and for her to have a plan to save up and move out by a certain date. Do you think it would be too much to ask that she be formally evaluated by a psychiatrist and be on medication for her illness if she continues to live with us. Living with her moods is not fun, and I will NOT be cleaning up after her for the rest of my life, or living in her mess.

sandye21's picture

If DH is Bipolar, what did his parents do for him when they found out?  If she does't want to go to college, she will have to 'graduate' into adulthood.  I agree with BM.

If you really feel you can live with her moods, definitely make a contract, but there should also be 'clauses with consequences in the event she doesn't want to do her share to make the arrangement work.

Harry's picture

She is going to turn your home into a crazy zoo.  Then what are you going to do with her. DH is not going to kick her out. Where is she going to go?  At all cost keep her out of your home 

ndc's picture

Does she have general anxiety or anxiety that is specific to school?  If the former, what makes you think she'll be able to hold down a job if she can't even attend in-person school due to anxiety?  I would want to see her already employed and working for a couple months before she moves in.  Presumably BM will not be tossing her onto the street on graduation day.

If living with her moods is difficult, I think it is absolutely appropriate to insist (to you husband, who can insist to his daughter) that she be evaluated and taking prescribed medications BEFORE she moves in.  Get as much as possible settled beforehand, because contract or no contract, once she moves in, getting her out could be problematic, not so much from a legal perspective as because of your husband.  It may turn out that the only way to stop living with her is for YOU to move out.

JRI's picture

Call me cynical but her asking what becomes of her college funds sounds like she thinks it will come to her to spend on whatever.  She might be thinking, "I won't go to college so that I get the money".  You might want to discuss with DH what the appropriate use for it will be.

As to your other questions, I think the therapist is a good person to opine.



Tried out's picture

I'd hold the college fund until she is 30 and if unused it reverts to you and DH. And I would let her know this now.

notarelative's picture

What will happen to your college funds? Since you are not going to college, you have no college funds. 

What plans do you have for after high school? Have you looked at trade schools? Are planning to be a cashier (retail or grocery)? Have you looked for a summer job that could transition to part time next school year and lead to full time work after graduation?

We can help you transition to adulthood, but you have to lead the transition. Transitioning to adulthood means you need to get your anxiety under control. You need individual therapy and, if needed, another try (a different) medication.


That SD wanted the family therapy is great. That she is actually talking and her father is listening is wonderful. It's the perfect place to bring up how SD is going to transition to adulthood. 

Survivingstephell's picture

Find Julie Fast and her books.  She has Facebook groups too.  You will get solid ideas for your situation.  Both with DH and for SD.   Their bipolar will destroy you if don't get some control.