Never Again

Child and adult hands crossing each otherNever Again:  A Mother Sees A Replay of Her Daughter's Problems in Her Granddaughter

            I landed on The Depressed Child while searching for some recent information on childhood depression -- again. I performed the same exercise approximately 20 years ago in the public library with very little success obtaining any useful information. I first want to say that I feel so deeply for the parents of Daniel that I had to stop my current search and write. I can only imagine the unendurable pain they must feel because my own was merely excruciating and still is, but now it has the added complication of deep guilt and remorse for not "trusting my instincts" and taking control.

            My little girl was just as bright and sweet as I can only imagine Daniel to have been. When she was very young her father and her were so close that I often envied their relationship. To him, she was the perfect companion and they went and did everything together.

            That all started to change when she was about 8 and the problems at school started. Assignments that I knew had been completed never got to the teachers; she's "disruptive and uncooperative" her teachers told me. The list goes on and on and it continued to get worse. The worse she got the more we would punish, criticize and take away privileges.  The outings with dad became less frequent as they grew farther apart.  Teachers told us my daughter was lazy because her state test scores were high but her class performance low. More criticism, more fights, more pain. We employed tutors, went to counselors (all recommended by the school) and always received the same conclusion and advice:  "She's lazy. Get tough."

            I started to suspect that maybe all these people were wrong. Maybe there was something going on we didn't know about.  That went over like a lead balloon from school to family members to friends.  My husband and I started to argue constantly about my letting her get away with murder.Grandma and granddaughter share a moment  He said I was too soft and not allowing her to grow up.  But the fact was I was the one who spent the most time with her when all the enemies weren't attacking and what I saw was a deep sadness and confusion in a young girl who just didn't know what was wrong with her. I knew she was suffering.  But the more I tried to get people to listen, the more all the concerned well-wishers and advice- givers (mostly advocates of Tough Love) told me in varying degrees of authorities on the subject that I was just acting like a mother and too emotionally involved to see the real problem.

            It came to head in her 10th grade year when we were called into school for a meeting with the superintendent of schools, her teachers, the counselors and, naturally, the principal subject, my daughter.   She sat there for an hour listening to everyone else tell their tale of her inadequacies until she stood up and walked out the door.  By the time my husband and I returned home she was gone.  For three very long months, we had no idea where she was. APBs were put out nationwide.  Searches were conducted, but nothing turned up her whereabouts. I secretly believed she was in fact dead. She was 15.

             One night at three in the morning we got a call from a New York police department which had picked her up in a bad part of town. She was living pretty much on the streets and she was pregnant.

            We finally got her home, I became a very young grandmother and when all the same problems continued. My husband kicked her out and she was gone again. Back to New York she went and in a very short period of time I was a grandmother again. The living hell went on and on until my husband went to New York and brought her and the children home (I had finally found my backbone).

            At 24, my daughter was finally dragged by a friend who also suffered her symptoms to a wonderful doctor who diagnosed her with ADD and bi-polar. With treatment the change was amazing!  Unfortunately much irreparable damage had been done. The missed teenage years of dances, hangin' with friends and just being young where stolen from her and I was a guilty accomplice by my silence. No college, no perceived future and a scar that remains today of our betrayal when she was screaming for help.

            To this day my husband still refuses to believe there was really anything wrong with her and I have given up trying to convince him. He remains estranged from her, a situation that fills me with so much sorrow sometimes I can hardly stand it. He still criticizes, condemns and belittles her, but she has moved on, knowing that no matter how much she wants him to love her, those words will probably never come forth. Sadly, that is his terrible loss. And what a high price to pay for being just plain stubborn. But I can't change that either.

            Last year I was diagnosed with advanced liver failure and am currently on the national transplant list awaiting a new one. Without it, I will die. I have faith it will come in time. I have told my husband (who I love very much) that I will not be denied the presence of my only daughter and I'm spending my time getting to know her and very much enjoying her company. I cannot change the past, but I can put the present to good use.

            The reason I was searching on the web tonight is my 9-year-old grandchild, the younger of my daughter's two children who have been in our permanent custody since they were in diapers. They are a blessing I never conceived I could have. This beautiful, bright, wonderful child has, over the last two months, begun to change in ways that are way too familiar to me. I called the school counselor, talked to my husband and expressed my concerns to all: They got one chance to pay attention.  Now, it's my way or the highway!  This time I'm going with my instincts and they can go to the Devil.  Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. My little ward and I have an appointment tomorrow, and if that doesn't suit us we'll find someone else until I am convinced she is receiving the best of care and attention.

            Pay attention, listen to your instincts. If it doesn't feel right to you it's not right! Don't wait and think it will go away. It doesn't and the price is so very. very high.

                                                                        Not This Time 

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