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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
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Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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I have a 26-yr-old daughter that is so apathetic. Since she

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I have a 26-yr-old daughter that is so apathetic. Since she is over 18 and I have no way to "make" her get help, are there any suggestions you could share with me so I could encourage an unemployed, uninsured adult to seek help? Bi-polar disease runs in our family, and I fear this is what she may be struggling with. She acknowledges her childhood diagnosis of ADD w/o H and says that's all she faces, but I believe it to be more. She has a constant cycle of job loss and just seems to be lacking any instinct of grattitude for anything. Thanks for any advice you might be able to send my way. ~ Jan

Hi, I'd like to help you with your question.


It sounds like you have done a lot to help your daughter and the fact that you are there for her means a lot. I have to agree, helping her financially, unless she is trying to help herself already, is not going to do anything but make her situation worse. She will come to depend on you for help and if you want her to act independently, this will only prevent her from doing so.


It is natural instinct for parents to want the best for their children and to see them do well in life. You desire to help your daughter is wonderful and you have done a lot to be there for her. However, she may just need to be let on her own so she can decide how to handle her own problems. She knows you are there for her, so she most likely would never let things get very bad. But at her age, she may just be slow to get her life in order or she may just be trying to figure things out. If she is lacking gratitude, society will soon let her know that she can't get what she needs or wants if she acts certain ways.


If you suspect Bipolar disorder, you can speak with her about it and encourage her to see her doctor. If she has no insurance, she can go to the local community mental health center for an evaluation and treatment. They will see her regardless of her financial ability to pay. They will also help her apply for assistance and even possibly provide job assistance through a referral. Here is a link to a list of symptoms of Bi polar disorder. You can look them over to see if you feel your daughter has some of the symptoms.


Try to keep in contact with your daughter on a regular basis. Don't necessarily bring up her situation every time you speak with her. That will only encourage her to keep her problems to herself and become defensive. Talk with her about life in general, what is new with you and her father, any siblings she has and other life events. Let her talk with you about anything she wants to and reserve any judgment. The goal is for her to learn to open up more and talk with you.


You may want to encourage her to come home for special events and holidays. Buy her the tickets if you can. That way, you at least get some face to face contact and a chance to be sure she is ok. She gets to be home and taken care of for a bit.


Hopefully, these suggestions will help her get on the road to helping herself.


I hope this has helped,






Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Your response is exactly what HAS been occurring. . .I have kept in touch, as has the rest of her family (dad & younger sister). She understands and accepts that she may need help, but after seeing other family members struggle with medications, misdiagnosis, etc., both she & I are afraid to have her go through this on her own, as other family members became suicidal after being placed on medication. It's too hard to be a support system from 450+ miles away, so I have offered a job & a place to stay and she has accepted, but I don't believe I can keep her here long enough to seek the help she needs (she's already hinting about "going back" after only 1 week, cuz who wants to live with Mom & Dad after being out on their own?). I do not & will not "hound" her about this and have "tip-toed" across the subject only occassionally, as not to alienate her. But I see her lack of self-worth, lack of self care and apathetic nature as something "out of my league" with regard to qualifications. . .I'm only a mom. So again, my question to you is more on the line of "how can I encourage her to stay here and let me help her help herself"? I am looking for some correct dialogue or something to say that might help her see that breaking a few ties for a short time would be a long-term good thing for her. I have let her "hit bottom" to the point near homelessness (she camped out in a communal loft with unknowns) etc. in the past, and only helped her out financially after she had a plan to get things together. I read your advice above to be one of "she has to figure things out on her own". Please let me know if I understand that correctly. I surely don't want to make things worse by digging where I don't belong.

I understand what you are saying. It does sound like you have tried everything you could try. Encouraging her to seek out therapy without taking the medication might be an option. But she needs to believe herself that she has a problem so she is motivated to attend sessions and help herself. If she will do so, that will help considerably.


Although there is really no correct things you can say to make someone see they need help, you can continue, as you have done, being supportive and offering to help her. Let her know what you told me, that you are seeing her lack of self worth and other symptoms and you want to help. Suggest therapy without the medication, just someone to talk to. Offer to go with her if you feel she would be ok with that.


The law is such that you cannot force someone to get help unless they say they want to hurt themselves or someone else. So unless your daughter is at that point, you are doing exactly what you need to be doing to help her.





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