My Daughter Is Feeling Desperate and I Need Help

Dear Home Ec 101,

I just read your desperate help post. I see some great things with it. I need help badly. It is my daughter. She is 21 and has 2 children ages 3 and 7 months. Her husband left them about 2 months ago. She is struggling so badly with everything.

She is depressed and has tried medication before but it hasn’t been too helpful for her. She depends on me a lot.

I have tried helping her but when I have spent the day making her apartment look nice. Within 2 days it has gone right back to being horrible. She has had CPS involved and she did what she was supposed to but it continually goes back to being messy and cluttered. The apt complex where she lives has been threatening to evict her if it’s not clean.

I’m just desperate to help and have her maintain. We don’t have a lot of resources in our area. If you could give me any advice that would help I would appreciate it. She needs one less stress in her life.

Signed,
Worried in Walterboro

feeling desperate and in need of help

Heather says:

You’re in a heart breaking position. Thank you for being there for her.

It sounds like she’s been through a lot in a short time and your daughter is facing a lot of overwhelming things right now.

21 is an adult, but she doesn’t have the perspective you do. When you’re in your very early twenties, seasons of change feel endless and for her, right now, probably hopeless.

Please do your best to ensure she is seen by a professional because we lose too many lives. Just because one medication or therapist wasn’t helpful doesn’t mean another won’t be. Your grandchildren will be affected by how she gets through this. They will learn resilience, but it’d be a much happier story if it is by her example. . .

I’m currently overwhelmed at work, it’s okay, it’s a good busy; but it’s still just exhausting. I picked up a book to try to see if I could figure out how to prioritize my days and reduce some of that fatigue. I’m not very far into it but the book explains a lot about how energy-sucking decision making is and that’s the norm for people in a healthy place.

In all likelihood the choices your daughter has to make are paralyzing her with indecision and leaving her with very little energy to do the things that seem so obvious to you– like keeping the place neat after it was cleaned. Then on top of that, she may also be embarrassed that she’s failing after not doing so.

Things you can do:

By all means, follow the household triage that I sent to Feeling Desperate, but remember she had a partner. Your daughter just lost hers and no matter what the relationship was, she’s grieving as she lets go of the dream of what it could have been.
Six Things to Just Get Through Today Don’t ask open-ended questions like, “What are you going to do?” There’s an overwhelming world of possibilities that include awful things like having the children taken by the estranged spouse or the authorities. Once those images flash through a parent’s mind, it’s really hard to let them go and think calmly and rationally.

If you can help with the process of figuring out what to do next, that will likely go further than reducing clutter.

Does she need to find childcare? Is she able to pay her bills? Will she be able to afford to stay in her current home?

She needs a plan and it needs to be broken down into simple steps. 

house cleaning help

Click the picture for more cleaning help!

As her mother you’re in one of those awkward positions where your help may seem intrusive, if she has a close friend, you may want to bring her into the loop. There may be some resentment and potentially a lot of defensiveness, but figuring out the “what next questions” as a team will help her find the energy to begin picking up the pieces of the day-to-day.

Your daughter is drowning, not failing, and I hope you can explain to her that it’s okay to reach for help.

Send your domestic questions to helpme@home-ec101.com.



1 Comment

  1. Holly on March 10, 2016 at 9:49 am

    If I can offer a bit of hope-I was 22 with 2 boys aged 1 and 2 when I got divorced. It was an ugly, nasty situation and I was much like your daughter. Overwhelmed, angry, terrified and had no idea what to do from minute to minute, much less later that day. I was able to move back home, but that may not be the right thing for you or your daughter. What you’re doing right now is perfect, you’re helping her with actual physical things that she just can’t handle right now.

    Maybe if you printed out the list that Heather has and put it on your daughter’s fridge and tell her “just worry about this. Nothing else right now”, it might give her something concrete and tangible to look at, check off and not even have to think about. Sometimes, just trying to make a decision on what to do takes more energy than a stressed/depressed person has. There were so many times back then that I just wanted someone (anyone!) to tell me what to do next.

    This time will pass. She will get through this and come out the other side a stronger person, she just doesn’t realize it now. The list Heather has will keep your daughter from being evicted and CPS from taking any action. I WAS your daughter 30 years ago. My future and my boys’ future seemed pretty bleak at times, but now I’ve been happily remarried and have had 2 more children. My kids are happy, functional educated and employed adults, and I’ve learned how to manage my depression, my house is neat, and my life is actually pretty great. Your daughter will get through this. She’s still young and learning. It’s a stress on you, I know, but its not forever. I wish you could talk to my own mom, she would tell you that.

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