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3 Bumps

What to do in this situation regarding fears/anxiety?

To make a long story short, my adult child has some big issues and has irrational fears...driving is one of them and right now needs to go up to college (short drive/ a few miles/straight line) to check out of dorm. I offered the car to go do this, but was met with "you know how anxious I get about driving". My DH and I think maybe it's best to have our child make the effort to just do it to face the fear and make a little progress...since there are some places that seem to be ok for her to take the car in the past...(and needs a summer job and own transportation). We will have a car for her shortly. She's been out with a friend and on a few dates in the past week.....they drive.

She has other bigger issues... has not yet finished classes..late on all of them and will withdraw from one. Did take one final. Needs to make up papers/take another final late, and repeat an entire class over the summer.

2 weeks ago cut "failure" into her arm after coming home and episodes of cutting for the past month while living on campus/not going to class. Has a hard time with emotions. Fun stuff, but we are helping her get help. We get to stand back watch the show...therapist rec'd we "detach" a bit here without being uncaring...this is hard.

Sigh...therapy today for her. But the car thing...would you encourage the short drive or be a taxi??

Answer Question

Asked by Anonymous at 8:07 AM on May. 10, 2013 in Adult Children (18+)

Answers (14)
  • I would probably take her. Whatever is going on with her is not her fault, so I would have a hard time punishing her further. Hopefully, the person she is seeing will be able to find the root of her problems and help her.

    Answer by NannyB. at 8:46 AM on May. 10, 2013

  • I would not make her drive if it stresses her out ESPECIALLY if she has had a episode of cutting this week already.

    My daughter just finished her freshman year of college and also had an episode of cutting this week. It kills me, because she has done well recently with it. She has not gotten to that point in awhile, and then she told me she cut the other night. Her anxiety is way up lately :(

    Make sure she is getting ways of coping and such from her doctor (some doctors are better than others)

    Answer by charlotsomtimes at 9:43 AM on May. 10, 2013

  • What about a bike? How far is it that she needs to go? I'm guessing the fear stems maybe from a lack of control, so start smaller with something she has to control and allows her to get places without being debilitating. If it rains, then she has to drive.

    If she won't drive then I guess give a ride in special circumstances (like bad weather) but try to keep that at a minimum so you don't encourage the codependency.

    Answer by QuinnMae at 9:46 AM on May. 10, 2013

  •'s a bit too far to ride a bike and on a main Rd... very busy/lots of traffic.

    I really hope the therapist can help her with coping skills.

    Our therapist said that as well meaning as our suggestions for her are...putting away the electronics at night (she has recent sleep troubles), getting daily exercise, basically anything to "get her out of her own head"...she can't take these suggestions right now. She feels that the other therapist in the practice (that our dd will see) is great at dealing with this.

    Comment by Anonymous (original poster) at 10:03 AM on May. 10, 2013

  • I am sorry you are going through this with her.

    I agree with Quinn,

    She needs to face her fears. . Until she toughens up and has to live life on lifes' terms, she will continue to allow the dark passengers of her character defects control her and YOUR lives. No therapist, all of the love in the world or anything else you try is not going to change her- only she can do that. I know 1st hand how painful these kinds of things can be. We become a prisoner in our own lives when we can't let go (thinking if we try this , love them more, try to reason ) . Was there trauma in her past ?

    Answer by LeJane at 11:13 AM on May. 10, 2013

  • I don't think this is a matter for a mere therapist. Have her tested to see what her real issue is. It sounds like she has a disorder that may require a dr's attention. I recognize some of her symptoms. I'm not a doctor but I do know this isn't as easy as it sounds to others. You can't make her behave the way you want her to. It will push her too far and she may cut again. Cutters are a special breed and need to be handled differently than a young person merely acting out. I'd read a book called Stop Walking on Eggshells and see if that is helpful for you. I'd also tell the therapist you want her tested and until a mental health doctor can diagnosis her I'd drive her and take baby steps to see if she's ready to do things on her own. Encourage her but don't push.

    Answer by admckenzie at 11:46 AM on May. 10, 2013

  • I was the same way, not about the car but about other things, I had trouble going grocery shopping because I would get anxiety attacks, I would only go very late at night so there wouldn't be many people but still had trouble(you can imagine that my diet kind of sucked because it would led to me just going through fast food drive through lol). I was also a cutter from the age of 8.

    My advice...find a dialectical behavioral therapy program. One that is more intense and causes her to keep up on the work. I also had a horrible time my first year at school(before this therapy).


    Answer by tntmom1027 at 12:18 PM on May. 10, 2013

  • Before the therapy I had a dx of bipolar, personality disorder NOS(not otherwise specified), generalized anxiety, etc. etc.

    I tried every type of talk therapy, meds etc. And nothing was helping.

    After the DBT therapy, I can easily go shopping, I haven't cut since(though I still get those urges at times a great stress as it is like any other addiction). The therapy forced me to not just face and identify my problems but to learn how to cope with them and work through them.

    Good luck

    Answer by tntmom1027 at 12:21 PM on May. 10, 2013

  • I would be the taxi, as you put it. I think I would drive her.
    Resolution is something that's going to come as part of a process, not something you can push or force, and this is not the time to pressure about this. That would be my thought.
    I imagine it is more than "just" the drive and the uncomplicated route. There likely is a lot of emotional baggage & overwhelm around the task of moving out, and also the feelings about the semester and all that's left incomplete, and how it is standing (in terms of her perceptions of success or, as she is feeling, failure.) Her aversion to the drive probably reflects her aversion to many of the feelings around those things.
    She might also dread the social aspect--the prospect of being back in her dorm, seeing people she knows, packing her room, being forced to face things & a self she is struggling to avoid (in order to avoid distress or pain.)
    I'm glad therapy is lined up.
    I'd drive her!

    Answer by girlwithC at 1:55 PM on May. 10, 2013

  • I would view it (the reluctance to drive) as a symptom, in other words. Happening for a reason, or being triggered by something. You can't address issues effectively by focusing on eliminating symptoms. I don't think you can reason her out of her difficulty (by pointing out all the times she has been "able" to drive without issue) and this is an opportunity to support her. Don't worry too much about it never getting better, or setting up a situation in which you do everything...think of it instead as money in the bank toward the future. Versus pushing this point now, and straining things further.

    Best wishes to you all.

    I hope you have a good therapist lined up; the fact that the current counselor thinks her colleague is a good fit is encouraging. These issues are totally "therapy" territory, if the therapist is good. There is a lot to work on.

    Answer by girlwithC at 1:59 PM on May. 10, 2013

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