New to this

Hi. I’m a mental health nurse who cares for a daughter with mental health issues. She uses me as an emotional punch bag and although I can handle it in work I struggle with it when it’s my daughter. I just feel so drained lately

Hi Collette and welcome.
It’s different caring/supporting carees to those we care/support in our professional life isn’t it.

I teach children with autism and learning disability, at home I care for S, now grown up but with the same conditions. Thankfully, a lot of the time he is now less challenging than the children at school, but it can still be a “busman’s holiday.” At work we are part of a team, at home we have no one else to call on. Also at work, we do shifts - at home this isn’t the case. I find myself comparing how I am at school and expect myself to be as professional with S - as do many teachers!

Others on here with experience of parenting/caring/ living with those with MH needs, I’m sure they will be along.


Hi Collette
I cared for my young adult son through a 7 year period of severe depression without any medical or professional help at all. He refused to see a doctor and no one would talk to us becuase he was an adult. I joined this forum at an absolute low and it has been a godsend.

What we found helped us was to set clear definite household boundaries, to set him tasks, easy to begin with, to not let his illness excuse him from realities of normal living. We had to be strong and patient and it was hell knowing when to push forward and when to hold back. We could only do all this by looking after ourselves mentally and physically. That meant regular social activites and exercise out of the home - he was here all the time so we had to be the ones to leave. We had to have a weekend away at least every 8 weeks, even though we were afraid what we might find when we came home. We ate healthily and encouraged him to do so too. We also had counselling in various forms at various times. We did every thing we could to build his self esteem (which I believe underlines most MH), praise, praise and more praise. We found by modelling good healthy behaviours he gradually picked these up too - exercise, asking for help, expressing feelings etc. Basically we didn’t hide the effect on us but showed we could come through it, so could he.

It is difficult because it is 24/7 when it’s in your own home/family and there’s no escape - hence the need for outside activity and respite, and it really tugs at the guilt strings. It’s really hard to be tough and strong, but we had to do it.

Now he’s working, doing well and just had a holiday with a friend. All things 6 months ago we thought he’d never do.

I’ve no idea whether any of this will help your daughter, but hopefully some of the things will help you.
You are not alone. I did an online course on mental health in teenagers expecting the participants to be professionals. Most were parents who were desperate for help and support and who wanted to know what to do. We are hidden carers who get no help and in the main are ignored by the MH professionals concerned with our carees .

Sorry, waffling on a bit now. Essentially look after yourself, it’s a long haul and you have you look after yourself better than the average person

Do look at some of my past posts, especially the early ones and read others threads. That’s how I learned and muddled my way through
Good luck

At work we have professional guide lines and other colleagues. Someone else will take over. At home there we are. Tired and drain keeping the family together. Sometimes I think does being a professional hinder or help us. Maybe for what services to seek or ask for. Our boundaries are totally different in a home setting.

Thank you so much everyone! I honestly didn’t expect any replies.
I struggle to set limits with her, unlike at work. This is because of a traumatic incident she experienced in her youth which I partly blame myself for (ie: not knowing where she was). I will have to start though as living with her can be unbearable at times.
She is in Australia at the moment. Travelling on her own. She rang when she was having a panic attack at half two in the morning. I didn’t wake up. When I did ring her I was, again, the worst mum in the world as anything could have happened to her. I have to be honest I’m dreading her coming back!

Perhaps you could approached counselling. So you could each have your point of view aired and listen too. Try to raise the question. I know it will be difficult!!
Would it be possible to access through you work.

Hi. At the moment she’s just at the abusing me from afar stage I’m afraid. She goes travelling and each time she does she sends me messages which are very hurtful. When she comes home she usually moves into someone else’s home as she can’t bear me or her father.
I know it’s a way of pushing me away and trying to grow up so I wait until she’s had enough of trying to stand in her own two feet or has a row with whoever she’s sharing with then I help her to come home.
Maybe when she calms down this time I could suggest that we go to family therapy. I’ve got her CBT twice through mine and her dad’s contacts and it’s been very helpful for a while. Her dad is a mental health nurse too, as is her brother.
Thank you x

Why read the messages that are hurtful? If she is independent enough to go travelling by herself, then let her get on with it, but do NOT make the mistake of allowing her to come back to your place unless she behaves like an adult there too. Does chores, keeps her room clean, helps with meals, and gives you housekeeping. She can’t have it both ways!

Hi Charlotte
One thing that leaps out at me is the guilt you feel for some past incident. I think you would react better to your daughter if that incident was fully resolved in your mind. There are therapies that would address this specifically that involve things such as eye blinking or knee tapping. Sounds strange I know but I had some and it worked for me and now I hear many more success stories too. I think its called either EMDR or neurotherapy.
Might be worth a go, can’t make it any worse!

I know I felt my son’s situation much more deeply than my husband did. He simply didn’t feel the guilt and blame I did. Once that was gone it was much easier to act and react better. Somehow it just took the edge off and everything was less stressful and it didn’t hurt me so much.

Odd, but it worked


You’re right. My husband says the same thing. I’ve let her get away with too much for too long. She’s beginning to act like a brat I think, and not just with me. I’m doing her no favours letting her get away with it

I think as Mums we all feel some degree of guilt but I remember hearing a saying “you only get the behaviour you put up with”

Your daughter is probably messaging you to get a reaction so try not replying and if you feel you have to at some point keep your reply very neutral.

My daughter sends me loads of messages and I now only reply to a few and certainly not straight away. I did get a bit of kick back initially but now things are beginning to settle down. You have to be firm and stick to your guns. Not easy but it is worth a try and does work.

Good luck

This worked. I ignored her rants and she rang a few hours later apologising for everything and telling me that she was in crisis. She’s on her way home now, in bits. It was all just too much for her. We agreed that I’d help her to set more realistic goals in future.
Thank you everyone for your support and excellent advice xxx