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adult kid living with me -- help


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Just hoping for some wisdom, encouragement, event humor -- having my adult daughter living with me again, bipolar or not, is frustrating and maddening. She is not being a good house mate or guest. She does not clean up after herself enough, eats peanut butter and jelly straight out of the jar (MY jar), puts food from her plate that's been sitting out for hours back in the community pot. A mess in the bathroom. Uses my lotion/sunscreen and does not put lid back on....leaves dirty dishes in sink. It is driving me mad. Because of her bipolar ultra sensitivity...depression....defensiveness....anger....anything I bring up with her flares up into a major traumatic encounter, about how everyone blames her for things and she does not feel welcome. This works like magic on me...and I back down. Or I feel petty for bringing these things up. She is up late watching TV and I end up going to my room and going to bed early just to be alone...I feel like a guest in my own house. I feel manipulated and angry.

I would rather have her live with me than out on the streets and I am glad for her progress -- not drinking, holding down a full time job, coming home every night. But she is not in therapy and not on meds, and there are signs that she is drifting back to the same drinking and drugging crowd that she was with for years before she ended up in the hospital..

I do not see her making recovery her priority -- if she was seeing a therapist/counselor and going to at least one support group per week...but she is doing neither. I realize I can't judge her progress...everyone has their own process and path...so I must focus on what I CAN change....and what IS my business...and that would be the household stuff.

I swore to myself that I would not get timid and let her take over when she asked to move back in. I laid out some very minimal rules including cleaning up after herself and she is always pushing the rules, testing me. I know I fail the test...she knows from a lifetime of being my daughter that I am afraid of confrontation. I simply avoid things and let the rage build up inside. I learned this from my own parents' failure to communicate well and failure to be role models in that area.

Can anyone give me some advice and guidance that will help me to keep in mind so that I can change this pattern in our relationship? I have made a lot of progress myself...don't get me wrong...but I have a lot of room for improvement and I would like to feel more comfortable and in charge in my own house.

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This has to be very difficult. Maybe you are going to have to write down your expectations for her to continue living in your home. Have her sign it. You have every right to have rules set up in your home. This is not a child. She is not helping herself get well either. You may need to type this up too. Does she help with rent? I just do not think this is fair to you. I am certain that it is ok to lay down ground rules. After all this is your home... You were nice to take her in, but she needs to know what is expected , while living with you. And she needs to know how her behavior effects others. Since she is Bi Polar it is even more important for her to get the mental health services so she can stablize. If she is not willing to cooperate , then out she goes. She needs to take you seriously. I just do not want you to feel stuck, or guilty. You do not want to enable her. It is time for her to take control of her own behavior, grow up , and quit beinga pain in the ass. But sometimes people need a push in the right direction. I would certainly put my foot down with her. With what you have writtened about her, I think I would want to "pull my hair out too"

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Thank you for the gentle yet firm advice. This is good common sense. That is a good model for what I need to be with her -- gentle but firm, and in touch with my common sense, which I normally have plenty of but it seems to fly out the window where she is concerned. Many thanks.

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  • 1 month later...

She's lucky to have you have these things in mind for her, my mother (A sweetheart and great mom) had a time period of depression, so the teaching the proper role of things ended up landing on me after I realized 'Wait, this isn't right'.

I have a few suggestions that helped me get on track with things:

- Leave notes in critical areas. My family still uses this method to keep up with things. Like 'Rinse and put dishes in dish washer' above the sink. I actually had a few in my room as well for a while for laundry and stuff. Don't target this as a move for her, but more so reminders for 'everyone' regardless of if they're done already or not.

- Approach her at a very calm time about implimenting a 'safe word'. Most bipolar people I know need space when they're hitting that breaking point, my mother had a tough time with it until we started the safe word thing. She of course wanted to help, all mothers do, but in my foul moods it felt threatening and smothering. Take space and bring it up at a calm time.

- Calm windows of time are the best times to get through (In personal experince) but you will not be able to just guess when that is. Tell her that you want to talk in a set amount of time about a few things that need to be sorted out, and when she's set to give you the heads up.

If you can make any progress in communication with her I advise the next step trying to get her help. The easiest way would to say something along the lines of you not liking to see her unhappy and wanting her to get help. This was a big hill to get over with my father in particular, the outward anger has always generally been a shell for a crying little girl on the inside, reach a hand out to that part of her, she may take it easier.

Hope some of this can help, and good luck.

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  • 5 months later...

Thank you for posting your thread about your daughter. I am in the same boat with my 28 yr old. He isn't living with me but he is with friends wearing out his welcome there. Thank you for the wisdom and strength to say "no". I have no real support since my son's father died and his grandparents have never been there for him. I am on my own dealing with him.


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  • 2 weeks later...

First of all – Congrats on your progress!!

It is not unreasonable for your rules to including your daughter being required to get mental health care.

I agree she is better off being in your home than being on the streets but only because it gives her the opportunity to improve her life. While no one can say at what pace she should be improving, it is within reason to expect her to make some progress and at the very least seek mental health and substance abuse treatment to aid in her progress. You are her mom and I see this as very much your business and her illness affects the household.

When dealing with unwanted behavior, the best thing I have found is to find a natural consequence and be consistent with implementing it. Pick one thing to focus on that you can follow through with until it becomes habit. Decide what the consequence will be and be sure you can and are willing to enforce it every time. Baby steps – because even if you were good at confrontation – trying to tackle everything at once can be overwhelming and exhausting. Taking little steps will help you have enough energy to stick with it.

I am not sure about your household set up, but an example of something I would try is storing my lotion and other things in a basket stored in my room so she would have to ask to use it and puts it in your control to have her put the lid back on when returning it. At the very least it is one less thing that will irritate you.

Get her a basket, and when she leaves the bathroom a mess, throw everything into the basket and put it away somewhere. My guess is that she left things she will need soon in the bathroom and will have to ask for her things back. The hope is that she will eventually see it is to her benefit to not leave a mess. Maybe she will even start putting her things in the basket and take it to her room just so you can't take it away. You can even phrase what you did as helping her clean up so she doesn't turn it into her being unwelcome. I would view it as being honest rather than confrontational. I would say “I have a hard time functioning in the bathroom when the counter is full of things. To help us, I got these baskets for our bathroom items.”

I hope you can get an idea of what I am saying and find something that might work for you. Maybe it will get you thinking about other options.

My adult daughter lives with me again after living with her father for 6 years. She was a mess. Drugs, alcohol, traumas, no meds ..... I understand.

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Thanks, Iwantkandee. I like your suggestions. Working on remaining calm and not throwing everything together into one big panick is probably the best foundation for everything. Considering appropriate responses and then following up on calmly rather than reacting in anger -- this is something I need to work on. I like the basket idea.

Seeing a very good therapist is helping me to take care of me in this period of time. I have some hope. My daughter agreed to go to a family counselor with me, one recommended by my therapist. This therapist has lots of experience with bipolar, has been supervisor of family unit at our mental health center, and I am hoping she will skillfully guide us toward better communication and perhaps guide my daughter toward some kind of treatment plan. Maybe my daughter is starting to be ready to listen and seek help. But if not, I want to continue with my own healing and I hope to soon get back into some art projects for me. When I am anxiouss about her all the time I am not living my own life at all and I realize that it does not help her anyway!

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  • 5 months later...

I'm glad to hear things are getting better between you and your child, it can be very hard to have an adult child in the house, I know my own mother has to contend with one of my brothers who's bipolar and it can very difficult. Sometimes, if you can figure out how they're feeling and why, it can be easier to handle them. I found a little information that I thought was really good at explaining how a bipolar person is feeling and how to handle everything. I really hope this helps and everything continues to be well for you!


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