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Step Daughter has significant mental health: bipolar, anxiety, depression, significant manipulation

StepMom Help's picture

My step-daughter suffers from a lot of mental disabilities:  Bi-polar, anxiety, depression, sever manipulation.  My heart has broken for her over the years and I have tried to find a place in it all.  At the end of the day, it has been made clear that I don't have a say in the matter.  I am on the back of a bus that my husband is driving and the bus is constantly driving off of a cliff.  First and foremost, I respect the role of a step-parent.  It is delicate, and important to understand your place.  The issue is that my home is so extraordinarily dysfuntional, my husband and step-daughter's relationship severely co-dependant.  That co-dependancy is driven by her manipulation and his fear of her and his ability to annialate anyone that holds her accountable for any dis-respect or questions him.   The other kids and I have cried and are affercted by the dysfuntional and he does nothing about it...only makes excuses and blame on everyone else.  We all live under the same roof and she hasn't spoken more than 3-4 sentences to us since Thanksgiving-basically runs out of a room that we enter or doesnt leave her room for excessive amounts of time, smokes weed regularly in the home while on a lot of meds for bi-polar, anxiety, depression, ADHD, skips school/late whenever she pleases.  She is 16 years old.  She has gone on social media and has said horrible things about me and her biological sister, has continuously disrespected me....told me to not speak to her.  I have tried to make myself as invisable as possible to her to keep the peace in my home and my husband is more than happy to watch the impact that this has had on me...treating me with disdain when it is clear its getting to me.  She has told me on multiple occasions that she will not stop until she breaks me and her dad up.   I am tired, hurt, and see no end in sight.  All the while, am raising other children that I am trying like anything to provide them with a happy home that is not dictated by this negativity and extreme resentment.  

JRI's picture

When I saw the title to your post, I thought, did I write thst?  My SD62 has all these qualities and has had them since I met her at age 10.

If you aren't already in counseling, go now.  That is the only thing that saved our marriage.  It also changed all 7 of our lives.  You need more than what we on Steptalk can do.  Good luck.

StepMom Help's picture

We have all been in counseling, was in marriage counseling and have just started back up.  I keep up hope but it is a struggle as my husband pushes the limits to what is acceptable for everyone else in the home.   There are three people on our marriage: dysfuntion seems to be the one that he craves the most with an unhealthy need to please and be accepted by which she manipulates at her whim.   In the end, that is a big part of the reason why therapy doesnt work.  I know that sounds harsh and I dont mean to be...would never have the courage to do if this wasnt anonymous.  Her therapists have called her treatment resistant. They also don't see what me and the other kids see living in the can go to treatment all day long but if it is undone and allowed to be extremely manipulated in the home, it isnt going to work.  You need to put the work in and not blame everyone else for the problems.   Its feels impossible 

StepMom Help's picture

We have all been in counseling, was in marriage counseling and have just started back up.  I keep up hope but it is a struggle as my husband pushes the limits to what is acceptable for everyone else in the home.   There are three people on our marriage: dysfuntion seems to be the one that he craves the most with an unhealthy need to please and be accepted by which she manipulates at her whim.   In the end, that is a big part of the reason why therapy doesnt work.  I know that sounds harsh and I dont mean to be...would never have the courage to do if this wasnt anonymous.  Her therapists have called her treatment resistant. They also don't see what me and the other kids see living in the can go to treatment all day long but if it is undone and allowed to be extremely manipulated in the home, it isnt going to work.  You need to put the work in and not blame everyone else for the problems.   Its feels impossible 

Rags's picture

It is unfortunate that many parents embrace various syndromes as an excuse or justification for the chosen crap behaviors of their children.  I for one do not consider those syndromes when considering the behaviors. The syndromes that may be in play are part of the why, when the what of their behaviors is IMHO what matters.  I do not waste my time on their why.

Focus on the what and apply consequences when they choose inappropriate behaviors or to not perform to the standards that a quality parent should set and enforce.

As your DH is facilitating her crap and piling on to you with his own toxic crap, take the other kids and kick daddy and his toxic syndromed spawn to the curb. The location they have earned.

IMHO of course.

Cath5213's picture

It sounds like DH may be more of the problem as he is facilitating these sort of behaviours due to his fear of losing her. I believe it stems from his divorce dad guilt. I see this a lot in people who are divorced with kids. They do whatever the kids want and allow the kids to misbehave because maybe 1) they are scared of their kids leaving/straying from them and 2) they have limited time with their kids and therefore want to refrain from disciplining their kids when they see them. In your case it doesn't seem like the latter as you said that you are all living together. 

I think that it is SD's mission to break you guys up, like she said she won't be stopping until she breaks you guys up. This is almost the same as my SDs. To be honest this is just really sad and pathetic. 

Therapy can only work if the parties involved actually genuinely want to work on themselves and become better. Sometimes I'm kinda sick of people screaming therapy like its a magic potion. I don't think it works when people don't realise that they got a problem and that they need to fix it. So if both your DH and SD are stubborn about their ways then therapy will never work for them. Same as my SDs. They think that they are so goddarn perfect and that DH and I are the ones that need to change.

To me, it seems like your only answer is to leave DH and SD. I never like to suggest this because I think these days people scream divorce and separation so easily, but it seems to me like that's the only way for you to get out of this unhealthy cycle you're on. I feel for you, but you do need to put yourself and your other children first. I wish you all the best.

CajunMom's picture

He's created a Mini Wife with mental illness. She is correct...with her diagnosis, she won't quit till she splits you up...and that is because her father is enabling her and is actually spurring her on in this horrific behavior within the home.

Even in counseling, nothing has improved. I agree with only have one option. End the marriage. The damage being done to you is evident but are you seeing the damage done to the other children in the home? THAT is where you need to focus...if you don't make a major change, those other children are going to be very negatively impacted in their youth and that damage will carry on into adulthood. Please.  Start making plans. Your DH is NOT changing. And I worry with her all her diagnosis that she won't turn violent. Best to you.

Stepdrama2020's picture

Your SD is a huge problem with all of her illnesses.

BUT your DH seals the deal in how he treats you.

Is there good in this relationship? Do you feel valued, respected, and know your DH has your back?

Im thinking its a big fat NO.

People stay for many many reasons, I am not judging. Lets hope the therapist sees this situation clearly and tells you that some relationships are not salvageable.

Im just going by what what Ive read and this is my opinion.

There is good right? 

Blessings hun

StepMom Help's picture

There are times where my husband and i are great, times where we aren't.  As I said to him, it's like I am expected to turn off and on: OFF when she is around because she has disdain for me and our entire home so I need to be invisible for her (and he takes advantage of that because it makes his life easier).   Bio mom has severe addiction so it's been said she can't accept  the idea of me and my kids....or any female.    ON when my husband and I spend  time and our relationship desperately needs some levity.  

Rags's picture

BM can F-off.  The sooner you and DH make that happen, the better.


She is the past. You are the present and the future.  The sooner you and DH scrub BM's lush intoxicated nose in that reality and keep it smashed into the stench she represents and creates in her own life the better. Her stench cannot be allowed to invade your life, marriage, and family.

Rumplestiltskin's picture

"Bio mom has severe addiction so it's been said she can't accept  the idea of me and my kids....or any female."

So many excuses. For both SD and BM. But funny how both the addiction and the bipolar manifest themselves in a focused, targeted attack on YOU and your KIDS. These people aren't as sick and pathetic as your DH makes them out to be. Plenty of people have bipolar disorder and addictions and they don't specifically target certain people to make their lives hell. 

Harry's picture

This illness can not be cured.. Can be treated with drugs somewhat.  Main problem is these drugs make the person sexual dysfunctional.  So the stop taking the drugs because of true love.  Unfortunately anyone dating her is mentally ill themselves.  Most likely SD got the mental illness from her father.  He is ill himself.  
'You unfortunately can not stay in this disfunction .  
This marrage will never work, you are the third wheel.  Your DH has place you not in the wife place but a unwanted child place,  SD Sadly will never be on her own. Her Bi-polar, will stop any plans for her future you have for her.  If DH was different maybe it could work.  You must leave and leave them to there own dysfunctional life

TrueNorth77's picture

I am in the throes of all of this right now, except she is refusing to come by us at the moment. The only difference is DH will NOT let her manipulate us or treat us how she wants (she was told that, which is part of the reason she is refusing to come here). I couldn't imagine if my DH was acting like yours is. I honestly am struggling the way it is, I would probably be gone. No advice, but I feel for you. I'm sorry you are dealing with this, it's so hard. 



Rumplestiltskin's picture

I agree. The mental illness, while difficult for any marriage, is not OP's problem. Her husband is. Also, nothing is said about the BM. I wonder how often SD is with her. 

Exjuliemccoy's picture

Have you allowed yourself to contemplate a life away from all this strife? One that is peaceful, where you're not living under siege?

And your poor bio children, growing up in such dysfunction. This IS going to have an adverse effect on them.

I say this gently - please carefully consider why you stay in this harmful situation. You have agency and autonomy; further, your highest duty is to set an example for and provide your bios with a calm, stable home. This man is sick WITH his daughter, and doesn't care how that affects you or the other kids. You all deserve better, but it's up to you to make that happen.

You're stronger than you know, and we're here for you, OP.

StepMom Help's picture

 Found out tonight that my SD told her therapist that I food shame and limit the amount of food she can eat.....and that is why she has lost so much weight and has an issue with food.  I am crushed to pieces.  I cook dinner basically every night, she refuses to eat with us (or talk to us), we have a pantry and frig full of food.  We don't even really speak where I could say any of this to her (nor does she really speak with my biologic kids).  Sick to my stomach that she could bodly lie. She said this about her dad over a year ago and CPS was called.  As I said before, she has stated that she will do whatever it takes to break up me and her dad.  How can someone act like this....?   

Cath5213's picture

How did you find out? Did DH tell you about it? If yes, what was DH's reaction like? He should be furious at her that she's blatantly lying. He should know best what you are like around the house and how you are with her to judge whether what she says is true or not.  If he just shrugs his shoulders, then you've really gotta pack up. He needs to be the one disciplining and handling his kids and their misbehaviours, not you. It's not for you to address or defend yourself, it's DH's responsibility to defend on your behalf. I think you've really got yourself a loser there, a wimp I must say. You've got to pack up and get yourself & your kids out of that toxic cycle. 

Blended families can work, but I think it can only work if the biological parents are able to set boundaries and stand up for whomever is right in the situation. They also need to be able to differentiate between right and wrong and who to hold accountable. I'm afraid your DH is lacking in both areas there and to me, that would be a dealbreaker. I have also considered splitting up many number of times, the only thing that makes me stay is that my DH is on my side majority of the time and is beginning to lift the rose-coloured shades he was wearing. Your DH sounds quite hopeless and for those reasons I'd found it difficult to stay. 

StepMom Help's picture

The question was asked to me.  I can't say I was completely surprised because she has said a lot of things.  My heart just sank and I have an overwhelming sense of sadness, fear that someone could say things like that about me at their whim.   My husband sat next to me and tried to rationalize that she is sick and that she is trying to find reasons for her food issues and she made an irresponsible statement about me.  I absolutely can give grace to a child grappling with a problem...but this behavior is an allowable lifestyle.  The answer is no.  He was not furious...spent more energy on justifications for it.    

Rags's picture

Period. Dot.

Record everything.  Video in every square inch of your home except for bathrooms and bedrooms. And audio even there.  She cannot have even one square pico-meter where she is not under the hairy eyeball or electronic ear of your comprehensive security system. In bedrooms and bathrooms, every sound she emits should be recorded even if she passes a mustard seed sized fart.

As for how and why anyone would act like this.  See the Subject line above. She is a POS. Not only is she a POS, she is an evil POS.

When people show you who they are, believe them. She did this to her father already.  You are nothing to her and she will go to any length to destroy you and your marrige.

So, treat her only as the piece of shit that she is. 

She is not a kid. She is a POS.

She is not human. She is a POS.

She is not anything but a POS and like any POS, you have to flush it.  So, destroy her. Before she destroys you and she she destroys your marriage.

The therapist is a mandatory reporter. So, now you are on file with CPS and they will investigate.  Do not give this failed family piece of shit any consideration other than as what she has showm you, her father, and the therapist clearly that she is.  She has likely shown it to everyone else too.

No quarter, no consideration, nothing.  Just end her.  Now your own children are at risk.  CPS can take whatever kid they choose in these situations.  Lawyer up, sue her parents for defamation, and get her out of your life and the lives of your own children. Even if that means getting her father out of your life.  Do not risk your own children.

Her supposed mental health: bipolar, anxiety, depression are nothing more than excuses at this point. You can no longer consider any of that in her behavior.  It is the evil POS severe manipulation that matters. That is a considered choice that she has made.  It was no accident. It was completely on purpose.  Mentally ill my ass.  She did this shit on purpose with a clearly stated goal in mind.

"....she has stated that she will do whatever it takes to break up me and her dad...."\


Take care of you.  Take care of your own kids.


Exjuliemccoy's picture

You're caring too much about the wrong people. Your priority should be the wellbeing of yourself and your bios - THEY are your family, not this spineless dad and his hateful daughter. This toxic girl is targeting you, and her dad just wants you to keep eating a sh!t sandwich so HE can have his cake and eat it, too. 

 Do you really want your bios subjected to a CPS investigation? What if your children are taken away pending an investigation? And where is your children's father in all this? Is he the type to leverage this so he can gain more custody? You're in a precarious position, yet your SO has done nothing to protect you.

This isn't about sunk costs or refusing to let a teen girl win at her games; it's about recognizing that your kids deserve PEACE and to know what a healthy family dynamic looks like. No man is worth the damage this is doing to your children and you.

Is there somewhere you and your bios could go for a week or so, just to get a break from the crazy and gain some perspective? I think you're in too deep and too overwhelmed to see things clearly. Please find a way to get away, calm down a bit, and have a good think.

Dogmom1321's picture

YEP! Sounds familiar. I have celiac for an autoimmune disease and am only able to eat gluten-free food. It's not a choice, it's a health condition I have. SD13 has spun it into "I'm not allowed to eat certain foods in my own home". She has made it about herself somehow. But that's what people who are extremely manipulative do. 

back2life's picture

We have been dealing with all that you mention and then some for the past 2 years. The "child" is no better off today than when this all started. Actually, its worse as far as the mental health is concerned. By reading your post it sounds like she is ramping up for an eating disorder diagnosis to add to the list. I've dealt with all this too and as a SM, believe me when I tell you to disengage!

When the lies and accusations at you start, they will continue and intensify. You need to protect yourself! Yes, cameras in the house! Plead the case to your husband the cameras are for HER wellbeing and safety. The truth is though, it is YOUR protection! Also, as mentioned above, a simple audio recording device is your best weapon. Keep that one to yourself and tell no one you're using it.

You have got to remove yourself from her care and treatment plan. Make dad do it. All of it. Im sure you've heard him say, "its MY daughter". Yep, hes exactly right, so let him handle ALL things that come with HIS daughter... and based on what you said, its alot! 

Disengaging is hard, especially for people who are truly kindhearted and sincerely want to help. But I'm telling you and even the daughter is telling you she doesn't want your help. So stop giving it. Do nothing, and I mean nothing for her. Direct her to her dad. You have a valid right to dismiss her because her lies can rock your world. Thats her goal to do so, so don't give her the opportunity. Disengage completely!

I believe there is private messaging on here. If you would like to talk feel free to use that. I have been through it. Still going through it... no end in sight. We have a team of professionals helping my SD and have utilized one program after another after another. Nothing has improved for her, but it has for me and my own sanity since I've disengaged. 

This forum is wonderful for venting your feelings and its such a relief to find that you're not alone by hearing others stories. People that haven't experienced these things cannot understand it. Just know that alot of us here understand what you're going through. Stay strong.

30YOSPofaNPDF18's picture

You've been around the block, and something no one is really mentioning about disengagement is what makes it worth your/their while? How do I know this relationship is enough? Will we actually have a future or will the kid run my wife's well being forever? It's her boundary to do everything under the sun to make sure her baby has a chance, and does take it on that she's mentally hurting. I'm asking publicly, if that's ok, so others can see? 
I do not want to end my marriage but what's the line between disengagement and destruction? 

BethAnne's picture

This is an interesting question. I don't have an answer but wanted to encourage you to make your own forum or blog post so that your question can get some attention from our experienced members who I'm sure will have some good ideas for you to think about. 

30YOSPofaNPDF18's picture

Thank you ✨ I appreciate the encouragement, I'm feelin weary of everything within this topic right now

Rags's picture

As Bethanne recommended, start  your own Forum post of Blog.

I hope this proves to be a good place for you to vent, contribute, and to pick up some useful perspective and adviced from others who have living the blended family adventure.

Rags's picture

As for the fine line between disengagement and destruction.  Disengagement does not lead to destruction of the relationship at the heart of the blended family coupling, failed parenting does that.  Failure to make the marriage and the partners the only top priority for both.  Kids are not the priority. Ever. They are the top adult responsibility.  Two very different things.  Even with that, only minor children are a responsibility. Kidults are neither a priority, nor a responsibility.

Failure to recognize these truths is the cause of an overwhelming number of second or subsequent blended marriages between one or more failed family prior breeders and their new mate.

Harry's picture

People are more then Bi-polar,  there's other illnesses.  She 16 yo if she is hungry she can make a PBJ sandwich.  Don't take to heart anything she saids. Unless she starts with some sexual nonsense.  Then she out of the home.  You did nor give birth to her you have no guilt about her.  Let her stay with her BM who created this mess 

CajunMom's picture

Rehab? Mental Facility? Girls' Town?  Probably not because of her enabling daddy. 

I stand by my prior suggestion...this marriage cannot go on "as is." Either major changes are made by your DH or you will have to exit (or have them leave depending on who the home is for).

My DH has a mentally ill 32 year old daughter who has accused me of everything under the sun. One was an extremely dangerous accusation that could have cost me my clearances via background checks to work in the school system and my volunteer work with Sexual Abuse Survivors.  I had the email in hand; told DH, shut her down or I will....and get it done by tomorrow. If not, I'll be seeing our attorney to sue her (I could care less that she doesn't have a pot to poopoo was principal and saving my clearance documents). DH knew I was serious and did something. She tried to "resurrect" that lie last year when she showed up at our home.....and I politely told her to get the hell off my property and never come back.

I know she's only 16 but she needs to be held accountable. The real world is not going to be kind to this person....better she start learning now. 

Harry's picture

Play the  therapist Like a for fun.  They tell things to deflect from the main problem.  It's that I not getting steak every night I am always getting those dam lobster,   I have to eat lobster and shrimp every night..  no I am nor crazy