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Estranged from daughter for 15 years

Community Member

This is an ongoing and long term issue, and I am finding it harder to handle with each passing day.

I had extreme Postnatal depression after my daughter was born. There were multiple factors. She was premature, my parents moved interstate the day after she was born, I had undiagnosed mental health problems, and I had no familiar support. I was unable to care for my daughter after we brought her home and my husbands parents took on the responsibility to care for her. I refused any mental health intervention, as I couldn't accept I had an issue. If we could turn back time, eh?

Long story short- my in-laws became her sole care givers. It was several years later that I was finally diagnosed with Bipolar/Anxiety/Borderline personality disorder and given the proper care. But unfortunately, this was too late and I was never able to have my daughter live with us permanently.

We(my husband and I) continued to have regular visits with our daughter, and as she grew older our relationship became closer. After one fabulous week long stay our daughter conveyed to us that she would like to spend even more time with us. But when we approached my husbands parents with this, it did not go well at all. After attempting mediation with no result, we went to court to try and get more access. Unfortunately my in-laws used my past mental health issue and we lost.

Since then due to their influence and fear tactics, I have not seen my daughter in person for 15 years. she is now a grown woman who is married and has two children who we have never met. We've attempted to contact her in many ways but she says she wants nothing to do with us(me more so).

It's tearing me apart. I live with so much sadness/depression/guilt/anger every single day. Whatever I try to do makes no difference.

This forum give me very little space to write more detail, but there is so much more to this than I can write in just 2500 characters.

Because of my mental health issues, everything that I do in regards to my daughter is labeled as me being "Mental" by my husbands family. So if I get upset by being denied access, I'm a violent crazy person. If I show anger for those who have lied and said horrible things to me, I'm a danger to my own child and should never be allowed to see her again.

Just to be clear, there has never been any abuse to my daughter.

I have apologised and asked for forgiveness numerous times. Nothing...

12 Replies 12

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Oh sweetie i feel for you. I'm so sorry you are going through this. I can feel the sorrow in ur heart as i write to you. Please don't blame urself for any of this u were vulnerable and needed support and you never got the help you needed. It seems to me ur inlaws r quite igorant when it comes to the understanding of mental health issues and i know your heart bleeds knowing that ur daughter wants nothing to do with you but let me tell you something there will be one day where she will miss you and wish u were near bc she too has become a mother herself. I hope one day she gets the courage to make contact with you and I think she would of had a lot to process in the time when you didn't have a clear diagnosis that would have been alot for her to try and understand so i guess in her eyes pulling away was all she knew. I want you if you haven't already done so to start keeping a journal and write in it everyday it will help get all those feelings out of ur head and heart and onto paper hence u won't feel so heavy i hope my response has been helpful to you and just letting you know we are all here for you to help you get thru this xx Venessa

Community Member

Hi janedoe1970. I'm so sorry for the way you've been treated so unfairly by in-laws who over shot the mark completely. Sounds as though your in-laws took the 'law' into their own hands. What has your hubby said to all this? If you still have your daughter's address or can find it somehow, you could try writing and sending a note from your Dr explaining more fully the circumstances surrounding your in-laws 'taking over'. It might help her realize you were not given any help, or support. Are your own parents aware of all this. Perhaps they could intervene on your behalf. I'd say your in-laws have told your daughter slightly more than they should. Using mental health problems against anyone is totally unforgivable. The mental anguish you now suffer is more than what you originally had. At this stage, you have nothing to lose by trying to explain everything and hopefully, your Dr may help too. I'd be a bit careful about saying too much anti her g'parents. Explain how you lost custody and why.


Thank you Fairywings. Yes, the inlaws are indeed very ignorant when it comes to mental health issues. The FIL is very narcissistic and he is prone to make fun of others to get a laugh.

I've had so many people tell me the same thing. That she will come around and want to have some kind of relationship with me. But as each year passes, it seems more and more impossible. So much has happened in between our last contact. And she now just views me as some crazy who wont stop trying to contact her. I'm afraid if I push too much she will ask for a restraining order. She has threatened that in the past.

Yes, in the past I was very careful not to ever say anything bad about her Grandparents. But now I feel it's so unfair what they have done, and it's about time she knew of what they did to me/us. The amount of people who believe the lies- it's just so frustrating.

I do have a diary of sorts. It's really hard to put it in words, the feelings I have. I get the same emotions writing in there that I did when I saw psychiatrists and counsellors, it just opens up more wounds.

Thank you again, and I really appreciate the response.

Thank you pipsy. As you can imagine it's a very complicated situation when it involves my husbands parents. While he has always stayed with me in our marriage throughout all this, it has been an extremely stressful marriage. He has a strained relationship with them at present, actually cut ties because they will not listen to him, and refuse to accept any responsibility. In the past they have given him the ultimatum that it was them or me. He chose me.

I do have her address, but sending her anything would be a complete waste of time. I doubt she would even open it. I have emailed her in the past, but she has changed email address' and I also had her mobile no for a while, but I think she has now changed numbers.

Yes, my parents are well aware of this. My whole family have also missed out on a relationship with their Grandchild, niece, cousin due to the inlaws malice. Our daughter said she wants nothing to do with any of us. It hurts beyond belief, especially when they have done nothing to deserve this. This is a guilt that I have to live with every single day. My parents have attempted to reach out to her, even this last year, but she refuses to converse anything about me. So she stopped communication once again.

Yes, I have tried to explain why this all happened, and in the past when she was young, she seemed to accept it. But now she doesn't want to know. And I do know that she has this very big issue with my mental illness, as she has basically told my husband in emails that she feels I am not "mentally stable".

I thank you both for your responses, it's nice to just be able to vent without bringing anyone else down. I'm afraid that I have no one at present that I am able to talk to.

Hi janedoe1970. Your in-laws obviously have an extremely strong emotional hold and know the right buttons to push. I feel sorry for your daughter's apparent ignorance regarding mental health. I would imagine from the way your FIL behaves he has also instilled unimaginable fear regarding mental health. Your daughter being so young and impressionable would have listened, as we are taught to listen and respect our elders. Trying to re-programming her would be difficult not to mention undermining her g'father's ignorance. All I can offer is hope that some day she will realize she was wrong in her judgement, and try to reconcile with you. I would like to have suggested maybe contacting her hubby, but he is unknown quality and therefore not advisable. I am so sorry there are no easy solutions or answers. My condolences on what's happened. Please take care of yourselves and try to let go of her, not easy, I know. There is nothing you can do to change the past, if necessary contact your psychologist/therapist for further help.


Community Member

Hi Janedoe 1970,

I'm writing to let you know how so very sorry I am for what you have and are going through xx You seem like an incredibly strong person to endure such pain over such a long period of time. Whilst I don't have any suggestions in helping you, I'd like for you to know that if you need to vent on the line here please do because you've mentioned your afraid of not having anyone to talk to. Sometimes releasing your emotions in a shared environment where no one is judging can provide at least one avenue for your distress. xx

Thanks for coming back to me. Its very sad that they are this way your daughter will figure this out for herself one day if not soon later in life let me assure you karma always comes back. Very sneaky thing she is. Ok i would like you to write a letter to your daughter include everything she must know then leave it up to her that's it. I know this will be hard for you to do given she is your flesh and blood but like you said u r afraid that if you push too hard you may just loose her for good and i know u don't want that it's every mothers worst nightmare. In regards to journal writing i know it will a painful experience but thru pain and tears comes healing i say that bc that is what got me thru my darkest hrs writing whilst balling my eyes out. Take it at your pace the good thing about talking to a book lol is that you don't have to rush through your thoughts. Whenever it gets a little bit too much just take a breather but i know this will be the best thing for your soul to heal from the trauma it has experienced. To conquer self healing one must go through pain and tears first. Crying it out is your body healing itself from the pain its feeling i know this bc it works and its so ok to cry it out better out than in i say. I hope my response has found you some inspiration am always here if you need to talk. Bigs hugs venessa xx

Pipsy, that's just it. We have said for years that she has basically been brainwashed to believe that I am a threat to her. And even now, she has had this so ingrained into her, that she believes it's true. Anything we say, or any of my side of the family say is not believable. And the sad thing is, is that she will now instil this fear into her children... our Grandchildren.

Her husband wont be of any help. He has rung and abused my husband over the phone, and called me numerous names. He is of the same opinion. Unfortunately people these days will make assumptions without even meeting someone and finding out that they aren't all they've heard they are.

I want to thank you for your input. I don't really know what I'd expect from this forum. I think I was hoping for some kind of miracle answer. No matter how much I try to put her out of my mind, she is always there. Thank you again.

Hi Sharny. Yes, there has been quite a few people who have mentioned that they are surprised that me and my husband are still together after all that we've been through. If anything, we're stronger. But that doesn't mean that we don't still collapse in a heap some days.

I was actually thinking of calling. I need to find a time that's suitable. Thank you so much for your response.