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Feeling utterly depleted - Our family needs help.

Community Member

Our household is falling apart after almost five years of a hard long battle with our daughter’s mental health. It’s always one step forward, two or three steps back. Sometimes the one step forward lasts quite some time, and you are lulled into the falsehood of thinking, finally, this period of our lives is over we can now move on. Then it all goes to hell again. We have spent hundreds on health care professionals to little avail. Read every textbook, watched videos, sought advice from other parents, been to family therapy, individual therapy, psychiatry, occupational therapy, hospital, day centres, and still we are in this awful dark place. Every one of us is mentally unwell , all of us are in therapy with two or more specialists. We have all been driven to the edge, because of the neurological mental health condition my daughter has – who knows what that is, many have had their various theories. Pathological Demand Avoidance seems the best fit, but still doesn’t quite fit. She is an extrovert but autistic. Incredibly intelligent. Often as mature as a 16-year-old – but also as immature as a two-year-old the next with huge aggression, nasty words, and screaming. Desperately wants friendship – but burns every bridge in them by lying to them, deceiving them, stealing from them, making demands from them. Desperate to be someone she is not, and seemingly not able to find who she really is. Helpful, polite, friendly, charming to each new person she meets. Nasty, mean, resentful, demanding and aggressive toward anyone who SHE thinks has done her wrong. Often deeply loving, empathic and kind, but also often cruel, rude and unfair. Wants to control everything in her world. Is confused about her feelings, to the point of self harming and suicidal thoughts.

Our marriage is on the rocks.
My husband has anger management problems.
My son is falling over the edge now, the most gentle and forgiving soul out there - he now doesn’t want to live here anymore and is so afraid of what is happening to us. – He is 15.
After 12 and a half long years being her primary carer, I am now in a heap – sick with depression, anxiety, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome – I have been driven to the edge and have already fallen off the cliff once, I am dangerously close to falling off it again.
My daughter doesn’t understand who she is, where she is going, how she can help herself, or how she can help her family. She loves us all dearly but is very mentally unwell.
We need help.

24 Replies 24

Hi Ammee,

We are so sorry to hear that your family are going through so much right now. We understand this must be so overwhelming and stressful, especially with so many appointments and family members struggling. Please know that you never have to go through this alone, and support is always here for you.

If you would like to talk to someone we would recommend that you get in contact with the Beyond Blue Support Service. They are available 24/7 by phone on 1300 22 4636 or on Webchat 1pm-12am AEST on our website: www.beyondblue.org.au/getsupport  One of our friendly counsellors will be able to talk through these feelings with you and can offer support, advice and referrals.

If you feel it may be helpful for your son, you are always welcome to get in touch with Kids Help Line. They are a confidential and anonymous, telephone and online counselling service specifically for young people aged 25 and under.

We also strongly urge that in overwhelming moments you get in touch with our friends at Lifeline (13 11 14) or the Suicide Call Back Service (1300 659 467).

Please feel free to keep reaching out here on your thread whenever you feel up to it.

Community Member

Good evening Amme I am Joshua

That is quite a story and it is unfortunate that you and your family are struggling so.

Know that whatever comes you are not alone in this, there are good people who care and can help if you wish.

I find that sometimes writing down those thoughts in a journel helps clear your mind. For me anyway I feel so much better after I journel.

As for your daughter I would like to suggest you have a read of a book personality plus. To get a better understanding of why she acts in a certain manner. I am no doctor however I can relate to being agressive and wanting things my way. As I found out it is my personality that makes it so.

Getting some clarity on why she behaves certain ways may help you communicate with her on a deeper level in order to have a breakthrough in the relationship.

Never let your struggles get you down! It is through struggles where we become stronger and makes us better for it.

I hope this helps in some way and please feel free to reply to this.

Keep pushing forward


Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi Ammee

My heart goes out to you and your family so very much, especially your son. Being a mum, I can easily imagine your heartbreak for him.

I imagine you've possibly already tried this but I can't help but wonder. Has anyone ever suggested 'leading your daughter to come to her senses' in an outside the square kind of way? What I mean by this is - is it possible your daughter, while being highly sensitive, is misinterpreting what she's sensing? For example, you could say to her 'No, you can't do that'. While she's sensing resistance (a negative feeling), you're sensing direction (a positive feeling) through this form of guidance. They're 2 completely different feelings or sensations in the body.

You mention her high intelligence. Does she have the kind of intelligence where she can sense just about everything, like the mood of the house, the mood of individuals, the overwhelming feelings that can come with certain challenges, being emotionally shut down? Can she sense a lack of direction, can she feel when she's being judged by others (something we can typically get a feel for through experience)? Do her feelings trigger her even if she doesn't know exactly what she's feeling or why she's feeling it?

I'm wondering if people ask your daughter what she's sensing exactly, when she enters into a state of anger. Does she know what she's sensing? Could she be sensing her own resistance when it comes to constructive change? Is this something she can identify with? It's an absolutely horrible feeling at times, that's for sure. Does she seem happier when she's more in touch with her feelings?

There's not a huge amount of talk out there about both the ups and downs in relation to heightened sensitivity and how we feel it in a number of ways, both good and bad. It's like you can't necessarily feel dis-ease (unease) in a certain challenge that can possibly be going on for weeks. When it starts to go on for months, you can begin to really feel the dis-ease (unease/stress). By the time it hits years, it is undeniable, you can feel it on so many levels. It changes you. It changes your mind, your body and, on some level, your sense of soul or connection to life. I don't have to tell you...to feel so deeply, so intensely is not just exhausting, it can be overwhelming and debilitating.

Again, my heart goes out to you.

By the way, wondering if anyone has ever led you to research 'The abilities of a highly sensitive person'. Wondering if such research could help somewhat.

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hi Ammee,

I am so sorry this is happening to your family…..

Its so hard when someone in your family is mentally unwell…… especially one of your beautiful children….. it would be so hard …. But all you can do is try to show her LOVE and support…… I feel for your daughter because she must be going through so much within herself and not sure how to understand it or navigate it……. It must be terrifying for her aswell…….. and for her family to witness this is also heartbreaking…. All we want to do as parents is fix our children but sometimes it’s difficult to know what to do…..

Has your daughter been able to explain to you what she is going through from the inside?

I know it’s hard but we just need to try to understand her…… and just be calm…… with her….. reacting in a negative energy to her won’t help it just puts more flames in the fire…. Try to react in a loving positive way…. It will help you internally and also your daughter….

I understand mental illness I suffered with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder for some time until I receive d professional help for my condition….. I was given the correct treatment and I was able to recover….. I was put on a antidepressant and did meta cognitive therapy for OCD…. I learned to master my OCD…..

While I was going through my Illness I felt so scared and confused inside I was always in a heightened state of anxiety….

My thoughts to my loved ones sounded irrational but to me they felt very real and intense…..

It was hard for my loved ones to see me going through this condition…

Can you see a another phyciatrist for a diagnosis? Please don’t give up there is always HOPE you just need to see the correct health professionals and be put on the correct path……

Can I ask what you do for your own self care? You need to look after you aswell…….

im here to chat to you

Community Member
Thank you. My son, myself and my daughter are all highly sensitive people and often ‘feel’ what is happening in any given situation.. which of course makes it harder because we all domino on each other.

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi Ammee

Wow, that's intense, yourself, your son and your daughter. I could say the same thing - myself (51), my son (16) and my daughter (18). It does leave my husband feeling like he's living with somewhat insane people at times, especially when the 3 of us sense the need for discussing complete and utter nonsense (amusing food for the soul).

While I find mainstream medicine (both mental and physical) to be absolutely fascinating and of great service in so many ways, it's a 3rd element that often serves me best in some ways. It's an element that's more so about the nature of people. While dictating we're designed to be highly sensitive, a lot of it is about recognising sensitivities and mastering them or balancing them, as opposed to suppressing them. Much easier said that done. I'm still learning 🙂

With your daughter being highly sensitive and with you having mentioned she desperately wants friendship but burns every bridge by lying to friends, deceiving them, stealing from them, making demands from them, I can't help but ponder the idea that she's perhaps sensitive to wonder and imagination. Wondering what she'd need to say to someone to keep them as a friend may involve her imagining lying to them, which leads her to do it. Wondering about how much of a difference their possession would make to her may involve her imagining what it's like to have that possession for herself. She sees herself with it, gets excited and therefore feels there's no choice but to take it. Maybe she wonders about what demands she needs to make of friends, to maintain a status quo. She imagines those demands and then makes them. Wonder and imagination are truly brilliant aspects of our self but they can also be highly destructive at times, such as in this case. Is your daughter someone who is naturally wonderful (full of wonder) with a brilliant imagination? If so, could you positively trigger her, leading her to wonder and imagine differently while mastering herself?

Wondering whether your daughter has certain 'body language' so quite that she can barely hear it/sense it. it's like you could be thinking of doing something wrong but get a feeling/message, like a 'ping' that helps you confirm it's the wrong thing to do, leading you to not do it. Some would call this feeling 'guilt'. Is that 'ping' there for her but she dismisses it? Would you say she needs to 'tune in' or 'turn up the volume more' on certain feelings that ground most of us out of doing what's wrong?

Community Member

Hi Ammee,

Does it help to know that my daughter is exactly the same? All that you said - intelligent, autistic, rude/mean, loyal, controlling, kind, funny, burning off friends...? Please know I empathise completely and have some understanding of the toll it's taking on yourself and your family. Good on you for reaching out for support, again, as I have, here. I found some of the advice very perceptive and helpful and hope you did too. Self care seems obvious but should always be top of the list. The sensitivities idea raised in one response struck a chord with me. We have learned that our daughter doesn't understand her father's humour - he's a lovely, jovial, glass half full kind of guy (or he was...). Our daughter responds so negatively to him, accusing him of mocking her when he's not. She also doesn't understand me - if you need help with something, I'm your person! I will sort any issue with you right to the end. My daughter sees that as attacking her, pressuring her. So, reluctantly at first, my husband and I have adjusted our personalities for her, or at least our natural behaviours in her presence, to meet the needs of her sensitivities. Along with therapy, medication etc, this has helped to stabilise the home front. At first I was annoyed that I couldn't just be myself in my own home, but apparently, this creates a less stressful, more predictable environment for her. And the person who responded about your daughter imagining what it would be like to do or have this and that, rings true for my daughter too. I've learnt my daughter's perception is her reality and what is really going on doesn't matter so much when I'm trying to deal with her, to encourage her and even love her. Lots of thinking outside the box from an unimaginable perspective by me.

Being kind to your partner and son is also important and tricky. My hubby and I regularly check in - the one that is feeling strongest takes the lead while the other recuperates or shelters for a bit. It's OK not to be OK all the time. Being a coordinated team keeps you stronger for longer. Not sure if it's relevant for you, but we have also been looking at family history of MI, swept under the carpet in generations past. In doing so we have found some of her older cousins have been experiencing difficulties that haven't been mentioned before we asked. This gave us a different context.

Please know you are not alone, there is always hope and seek support every time you need it.

Community Champion
Community Champion


can feel your pain and frustration. When I was 16 I was the problem in my family and I put pressure on everyone. At the time I was in denial, lying, cheating, being horrible to my poor totally exhausted parents.
eventually I took medication and with having knowledge of what worked for me My life and my family’s stabilised.


Welcome to the forum and thanks for using your first post to help others.

Community Member

Thanks Therising,

Interesting theory and I agree, she is very imaginative. I think you are right with some of these things, but I don’t think she is capable of imagining people in a different light to what she already does - we have tried so many times to talk her through these things, to get the possitive side going, only to have it all crash down again. She is so complex and the difficulty is she doesn’t share much with us. Thank you for your insight.