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SD sent away but still doesn't feel like anything will be resolved

completely overwhelmed's picture

DH made the decision to send SD away to a therapeutic boarding school in another state and the school sent a company to pick her up on Monday. I’m really not sure about this, but it was DH’s choice. DH is freaked out that SD is doing worse in the special ed program and he doesn’t see any future for her. SD turns 16 this summer and she’s failing in high school. This school he found has a college prep and doesn’t deal with special ed kids. So I’m not sure if it’s the right place for her. DH still feels that the only gauge of SD’s success or if she’s doing better is how she’s doing in school.

I haven’t told many people where SD is and it’s difficult explaining. We aren’t a rich family who sends kids off to boarding school, but it sounds like the type of thing some horrible stepmother would do.

My high school best friend is constantly posting on Facebook about her hubby being a fantastic stepdad (she says bonus daddy) to her kids. They’re like this perfect family. When I posts a picture of DH and I doing something with our daughter who’s 4, she almost always comments and frequently SD is mentioned like “Where’s SD?” or “How’s SD?”

Last Mother’s Day I posted a pic on Facebook with the card BD made and she responded with something about whether I was doing something special with SD. I know it will come up again and I’m dreading it. I’ll probably avoid putting anything on Facebook about Mother’s Day to avoid awkward questions.

SD’s behavior hasn’t changed all that much, so nothing she did really triggered this decision (other than the fact that she’s not improving and DH doesn’t think she’ll improve at her current school). But a major factor in this decision was getting word that SD’s mom had violated her probation by testing positive for drugs and was back in jail. DH worries that SD’s future will be the same as her mom’s and end up in a downward spiral abusing drugs and alcohol if she doesn’t go to college and get a good job.

Honestly, those aren’t realistic goals and this school is ridiculously expensive. I have no idea how we’ll be able to afford it since she’ll be there for at least a year possibly longer and it’s not covered by insurance.

But DH doesn’t know what else we would do with her – especially this summer when I’m working more, she can’t stay home alone and there aren’t programs that can handle a teen with her issues.

DH didn’t do all that much research into schools and I’m worried he fell for the sales pitch. He called three references the facility gave of success stories. This place completely turned around these previous students and all went on to college. But I'm not sure these were girls like SD. SD is such a weird kid and has so many problems and it’s not the same as these other teens.

This school has a structure where they move from level to level as their behavior improves and they get rewards and more freedom. But none of the rewards seems like anything SD would care about or be motivated to want to achieve. For example, when students reach level 2, girls can wear lip gloss (level 1 is no make-up). SD has Sensory Processing Disorder. She freaks out about anything on her skin, even sunscreen. She doesn’t care about lip gloss. I mentioned this to DH, and he hopes being around other girls will influence her to want to wear lip gloss with peer pressure. He doesn’t get it.

SD had a phone call home last night and she refused to say a single word. Things aren’t going well but the school rep told DH that’s not uncommon. She's suppose to catch up with two years of school in 10-12 months but she's been refusing to do any schoolwork there so far. It’s so much money and I feel like it’s going to be a colossal waste. Hopefully I’m wrong and somehow this facility will be able to turn SD into a completely different person, but I’m not sure if that is possible.

It would be easier to explain why SD had to be sent away if she was some normal out of control teen who was partying all night or sneaking out to see a boyfriend or using drugs and drinking. But SD isn’t doing any of that. SD has no friends. She goes from not speaking for days to violent outbursts. It’s a struggle to get her take her psychiatric medications – which she hates because of the side effects. She’s completely given up in school and doesn’t even try or want to try. She’s also had two in-patient hospitalizations for suicidal ideation.

I can’t really spin this to people as SD’s away as some sort of great summer camp or boarding school. At the lower levels, it’s essentially a lock-down residential treatment center and students can’t even use the bathroom without being accompanied by a staff member. Once students are at higher levels there’s hiking, horseback riding and field trips but the rate that SD is going she won’t be doing those things for at least 6 months or maybe longer. I’m pretty sure she’s absolutely miserable right now. And she gets to refuse to do things and cost us thousands of dollars by being a brat.

Honestly it’s nice to be away from her but I feel pretty conflicted about sending her to this place and I really am not sure it will help.


Pharlap's picture

If you really want to, you change change the privacy setting in the post so that everyone on your friends list but that friend can see it.

completely overwhelmed's picture

Not sure that will help. My Facebook Friends notice that I don’t post about SD and assume there’s a problem. I don’t want them thinking I’m a terrible stepmom – rather than she’s a brat and treats me terribly. I haven’t posted a picture on Facebook where SD is included since 2015 and that’s a photos from a large group family reunion picnic and SD is sitting off to herself and the only one at the table. So, there's some truth to it.

completely overwhelmed's picture

To be clear, SD is under the care of a psychiatrist and a therapist. It didn’t help and DH had no faith they could help, nor did he consult them at all about sending her to this facility.

DH is absolutely exasperated with her psychiatrist and psychology in general. The meds aren’t working, they have side effects and there are limits to what they can prescribe because she has a heart condition. The psychiatrist sees her once a month to adjust her meds and can’t give any real answers.

That’s what DH wants. Answers and a plan. He wants someone to say this is what’s wrong with SD and how to fix it. He wants her psychological problems to be like a broken arm – she broke this bone, it will take this many weeks to heal, etc etc. He doesn’t like that the psychiatrist SD has seen can’t give him those types of answers. They don’t know what’s wrong with her, they want to try meds for extended periods of time that may not work. At each of the hospitals she’s been to, there’s been other doctors with other theories and other plans. It’s never consistent and there’s always different answers.

When SD first was put on an anti-depressant it made her very very very sleepy. She was falling asleep at school and this was after she was expelled from her regular high school and in the alternative school. The psychiatrist’s answer was essentially, that’s the way things have to be. Hopefully she’ll get used to it and not be so sleepy, but maybe she won’t. The school needs to accommodate her. But the school’s accommodation was sending her home if she was too tired to be at school and the school’s counselor telling me there were other meds that SD should be on instead that shouldn't make her so sleepy.

DH isn’t a perfect father, but he is involved but with his work schedule, there’s a lot of telephone and messages and he can’t take SD to appointments.

He’s a strict parent, so there’s not a lack of discipline. His parents were first generation immigrants and he comes from a culture where kids do what their parents say without question and if he didn’t, his father beat him.

He does associate mental illness with lack of character, laziness and lack of mental toughness, and the way SD acts confirms that since she doesn’t care, just sits around doing nothing and it’s impossible to get her out of bed most of the time. But the side effects of her meds make her dizzy and tired all the time, so it’s not completely laziness. The amount DH works, he does tend to have a few hours in the evening to parent and that does involve him yelling at lot. He and SD have a very poor relationship but in his parents' culture, the way she is acting is completely disrespectful and it's difficult for him to deal with her.