Am I enabling daughter with depression rather than helping?

Anyone else out there living with a young adult with anxiety and depression> My daughters is so bad that often she will go several days without getting out of bed, won’t shower, get dressed, etc. She sleeps a lot in the day as an avoidance tactic and when she is awake she lies in bed in the semi dark all day. Some days she won’t even talk to me, not even replying to simple questions needing a yes no answer.

If she does get up and come downstairs she wears dark glasses due to extreme self consciousness/anxiety about her skin which has eczema - but she won’t do anything the GP and dermatologist has told her to help her skin, such as using medication and creams.

The SSRI medication from the GP helped a little at first with her anxiety but seems to have little impact now. She says she will see a therapist but then refuses to go when I eventually manage to get her an appointment. She refuse to help herself and is extremely stubborn so you can’t persuade her to do anything she doesn’t want to.

As her mum (& therefore carer) I am heart broken and so scared for her and me, that this situation is never going to change.

Some days she won’t drink or eat at all unless I bring her some water and food up to her bedroom. I’ve wondered if I shouldn’t do this as its potentially enabling her, but I am so scared that she will simply not eat or drink anything for days if I don’t bring them to her, and that will make her feel even more tired and depressed (if possible).

I can’t find any advice about this on the MIND website or similar, and when I emailed MIND their reply did not answer my question. All I can find is things telling me that if people don’t want to help themselves there is little you can do.

So…has anyone on here had or having a similar experience? What do you do?

Hi @Sleepysue29 welcome to the forum and sorry to hear that your daughter has problems. It sounds like she needs see someone than leave it to time. How old is your daughter? The reason for asking as there is help out there depending on her age. Don’t listen to other or mind as some of them don’t know how to answer people when asking for help. See if the therapist can make a home visit? Trysome slim fast or complan or milkshake as it can help with both drinking and and food for a start. Before trying out other foods. If that fails go to the GP again and ask for her to be referred to a food specialist for eating disorder but also ask them to refer her also to a eye specialist as if she is not standing much light then there could be some underlying factors.
My mum does this get fussy over her food and it a battle of wills. If you don’t get the help and support you need then either get in touch with the carers helpline, citzen advice of the safeguarding team as they will help.
All the best and keep in touch with us. We are there to help.

What a big worry for you.

How old is your daughter?

Hi Michael, Penny

Shes 19.

Its not an eating disorder as on good days she eats just fine. Eyes have been checked by optician, shes wearing the dark glasses due to psychological distress.

Does she have any friends from her school or college days?

She does have a few friends, but sees them face to face very rarely due to her mental state. I think she still chats to them on WhatsApp sometimes.

She has a very caring boyfriend, but its tough for him as she pushes everyone away when shes spiralling down.

Hi @Sleepysue29 welcome to the forum.

I have no experience of this level of mental health difficulties, however, I recall a very wise member on here, Mrs Average. Her son was extremely anxious. He did come out the other side. Her approach was very much to set an example of a healthy lifestyle - getting up, eating well and taking exercise. On her son’s better days she used to set tasks to encourage him to do things to build up his confidence - eg post a letter, carry the shopping in from the car etc

My only other thought is, could she access online therapy instead?

Hi, I’m a first-time poster. Your daughter sounds like my 19 year old son who has severe anxiety and depression. He’s up half the night and sleeps until lunchtime and often goes back to bed too. When he’s having a bad time he doesn’t eat either. For him, there appears to be an aspect of autism but he refuses to be tested. He has been on a variety of antidepressants but these made things worse and he tried to harm himself twice. He does,however see a counsellor which seems to help a bit but most of the time he won’t do anything, go out or speak. I can’t offer any advice because I don’t know what to do either but it sometimes helps to know others are going through similar. Ive had to give up work so he’s not left alone and I’m single parent so I feel very isolated.


Oh Gemini1, that must be very tough for you, especially as a single mum and now not working.

Sometimes being at work for a few hours gives me a tiny break from all the worry. Other days I spend the whole time fretting about whether shes OK.

Is there anyone who could be at home with him for even a couple of hours to give you a break?
I hope you have some friends to support you.

The only thing I have learnt the hard way is that I need to be selfish and have some time for myself for a bit of normality. If I dont then i get so exhausted, and am no use to my daughter as i end up getting frustrated and cross, which just makes her even worse.

Sending you hugs.

1 Like

@Sleepysue29 Totally agree you have to ‘carve’ out a bit of ‘me’ time to be able to continue caring. @Gemini1 I really feel for you being at home all day. I know you want to protect your child but YOU have a right to a life too. No easy answers as I know the Mental Health Services are in crisis - Geriatric MH Services too. Can only send cyber hugs to you both. There are other members here caring for adult children and maybe they can give options to try? You could contact your local ‘Support for Carers’ and see if they have any suggestions?

Hi thanks for the kind words. My son sees his dad sometimes on Saturdays but it’s not an ideal situation as I’ve been a single parent since 2006 and after thinking my 2 sons were now grown up I’m now looking after one of them again! I’m waiting to find out about a ‘sitting service’ so I can go out for a couple of hours in the week. I agree we need to have some time to ourselves to be able to carry on! X

I can sort of understand your predicament. I have an older sister, almost 50 I believe, who is similar to your daughter / son in a few ways.

I am not her carer and never will be. She just seems to piggy back off me helping Mum out. I have, over the years, encouraged her to get involved and help out but she either rushes up to her room or acts like a statue and I am now past the point of caring. She may have autism/mental health illnesses/depression/anxiety or just be plain lazy but I am done now. I know I am enabling her to an extent by doing everything but I just do not have the patience to bother with her anymore.

She will come down to eat and drink but spends the rest of the time in her room.

I hope you both see light at the end of your tunnels. Best wishes,

@ontheverge. I do remember other posts from you about your sister.

Most of us do our best but I do believe some people are not cut out to be carers or have had so many years of it that they just give up.

When my daughter was about 16 she had a friend at school same age who boarded Monday to Friday. My daughter went daily. I used to bump into her Mum and she was totally honest with me. She said she dreaded Friday afternoon when her daughter came home and it was like a black cloud descending on the family. She had two younger kids and she said it wasn’t fair on them to live like that either. I thought she was very harsh but she said she never spoke to any of her family all weekend even though they tried to include her and the atmosphere in the house was awful.

I see the daughter every now and then and she is now married and does voluntary work. Apparently when she reached 18 her mother, stepfather and siblings all moved to another part of the country. They sold their house and left no forwarding address with the home she had moved to. She has never seen or heard from them since.

1 Like

Did you see this @ontheverge?