Mental Health Question About Daughter

Updated on April 18, 2014
Y.D. asks from Lewisville, TX
20 answers

Last week my daughter spent a week in a mental health facility for choking her brother, fits of rage, and hearing and seeing things that aren't really there. She was diagnosed with mood disorder, bipolar, and psychosis. They put her on risperidone and requested she see a psychologist and psychiatrist weekly.
Now to my questions:
1. She has missed a large amount of school and even though they are all excused they are still concerned about the percentage of time she has been there and we have gotten a letter saying she is being charged with truancy. I'm thinking about pulling her out of school for the rest of the year and homeschooling her, any advice on that?
2. Anybody else gone through anything like this before and be willing to give me advice? I am taking her to MHMR tomorrow and hoping they can give me some help.
3. She says that she is seeing and hearing ghosts, especially at school. She has been seeing them her whole life and she is 10 now. Do you think this is part of the psychosis or is she really seeing ghosts. I am not totally against the thought that they might be real, and I have heard that kids can sometimes see things like that.
Thanks in advance.

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answers from Washington DC on


You need to have everyone - school staff, mental facility and doctor's working together on this - given the circumstances - she would most likely qualify for special services and assistance.

No, I've not gone through anything like this.

Seeing and hearing ghosts? I am one to believe in them and have seen them. Given her mental health, I don't know. If she's been seeing them her whole life, it's possible.

What a tough spot to be in. I don't know how I would handle it. I would definitely work with the school, psychiatrist and mental health facility to get her level and on the right path.

Good luck!

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answers from Seattle on

My sister went through something similar with her stepdaughter.

If you can afford it or you have insurance that covers it I would find an inpatient treatment program for her to stay at for the rest of the school year.
It sounds like your daughter's mental health issues are not well managed at the moment and having her medication adjusted and in rigorous therapy in an inpatient facility may help stabilize her, so she can return home during/after the summer.

My niece really benefited from a long term inpatient stay and is pretty stable now. She no longer lives at home, she was 15 when she had her first psychotic episode and moved into an assisted living facility for youth with mental illness and behavioral problems after her inpatient stay and now at 19 is is in her own apartment and doing very well. I think for a 10 year old the goal would be return her home.

When considering home schooling try to be honest with yourself about your daughter's needs and how you and the rest of the family are affected by those needs. Some families do just fine taking care for a severely mentally ill child - but for most it is very taxing.
You have to take into consideration the safety of your other child(ren) as well as your own capacity to take care of everyone.
Many caregivers of children with severe special needs appreciate the time their child spends in school as respite time to take care of their own mental health as well as other things around the house. I would think very hard about whether you will be able to handle taking care of her 24/7 and schooling her on top of that.
Your daughter should qualify for for an IEP and other special needs services. You will have to do a lot of legwork and deal with bureaucracy to find out what she is entitled to, to make school work for her - but it can be done.

Again if you can afford it - many places have private schools that specialize in children with behavioral and mental health issues. If you have the funds it may be worth looking into.

As for the truancy charges - it depends on your location. Most places you should be able to get them dismissed by mailing in a note from your daughter's doctors. Some places have been really hardcore about truancy - to the point of fining and even jailing parents. If you live in a jurisdiction like that get a lawyer - you have enough on your plate already.

No, I do not believe the "ghosts" are real. They are a manifestation of her illness. Most people with mental illness will show symptoms for a long, long time before they ever suffer a psychotic break (some people will never suffer one)....

Good luck!

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

I'd think about informing the school of her diagnosis and working with them to make a plan with them for her education.
You're going to need help so use the school as a resource - she might be part of special ed.
Yeah seeing things is part of her psychosis.
I'd resist the urge to pull her out of school.
She needs to learn how to cope and socialization is important.
You don't want her to get isolated.
It's tough enough for any teen but she's going to have some special challenges.
It's good for her to have friends/peers.
Reach out to support groups and work with her psychologist and psychiatrist.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

I think you should have a long sit down with the school psychologist.

NOT the school counselor, they usually have no official education pertaining to psychology, they often have been teachers that want to help more, in the sense of helping kids work through short term issues that should be resolved 100% at school. Such as conflicts with friends, teacher/student issues, bullying, making their class schedule. They serve a great purpose but they are NOT a mental health professional.

This school psychologist will have a Ph.D after their name on their letterhead or LPC, perhaps an MSW instead. Those are the people that are professional mental health people.

Again, not saying anything against school counselors, this is an obvious long term mental health issue.

They need to advise you about the school issue. My first thought is to take her out of a ghost infested place so she won't be so scared. BUT it's nearly the end of the year, if she has friends that really care she needs them for peer support, she may benefit from being around her ghost friends too. Do they talk to her? Help her in her school work? Tell her the answers on tests? Not joking, they may just be her subconscious mind filtering the information she has learned and getting it back out in a unique way.

A lady I knew had Schizophrenic. She had some money issues and couldn't fill her prescriptions so she ended up in the hospital mental health ward for a few weeks. One of the things she told me was that when she didn't take her meds and was able to hear the voices it was like running in to long lost friends. Inside she was so happy to find them. They also gave her advice about foods, exercise, she ate healthier during that time. Now that doesn't mean really healthy, it was a hallucination after all. She was a fully functioning person that held down a stressful job. She was the office manager for a construction company and she did an excellent job. They were really upset with her for not letting them know she needed money for medicine. They told her if she ever needed medicine again and didn't have the money she was to come to them. They really cared about her.

Back to your daughter. She's really young for a psychotic mental health issue. My heart breaks for her. Meds will make her life more livable but she has to stay on them and take them regularly.

She may be seeing ghosts, I don't doubt there are some there. One of my college professors in Sociology did his thesis on Rose Colored Glasses. The idea was WHO sees the real world? The mentally ill who see things we don't see? Or us, who don't see what's around us, we may even feel their presence but we don't look because we don't want to know.

I think her brain is having a delusion though. She needs to go back in the hospital and have a complete work up if they didn't do one for her there. I mean the whole shebang, PET scans, MRI, blood work, X-rays, MMPI, a sleep study to make sure she's not sleep deprived, full exam by a neurologist, and more.

She needs to be tested for so many things. I hope you have this resource and they find something tangible where psychosis isn't the cause but the result of something that can be fixed quickly. If they did that already and you are satisfied with their findings then that is a good step. She is going to need you full time. The summer is coming up and you'll have her full time. You will be able to pick up on med issues, if they're working or not, to see her grow or decline, and you need support to.

Please find a mental health support group. They don't sit around talking about their mentally ill family member, they sit around and share how stressed out they have been, how to take time and have a date with hubby, what new resources are in town, who's a good doc and who's a quack, and simply hearing how others are coping with the stress, the hopelessness that they often feel, what to do when someone is having a bad reaction to a med, and more. You should come away from these meetings feeling hopeful, resigned and focused on a new goal, and overall in a better frame of mind.

So, to sum it up. If she hasn't had a lot of testing done try to get more done just to cover all the bases.

Make an appointment with the school psychologist so you can get out of the hot seat and get them on your side to make the absences go away and have options for her education the rest of the school year.

Then find a support for yourself, so you can feel happier and calmer and get some of the stress off your shoulders.

I pray for your family. This is a highly stressful time and I want you to know there are millions of people with mental illness right now who are working and supporting their families, they have lives, they are successful, and she can be too. With the right med combinations and counseling and support she will do well.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

I am so sorry you are dealing with this- your daughter is lucky to have you doing so much to advocate for her and support her.

I would think of this as a team approach, and everyone needs to work together to coordinate services for your daughter. It's helpful to have one central contact- likely the mental health center if the school is not being helpful.

Start by asking at your appointment with the psychiatrist about school. They should be able to point you in the right direction as far as how to combat the truancy charge and get the school to cooperate with you. They will also know if homeschooling will be helpful or not. Take their lead on that.

If/when you meet with the school, approach it with a 'what can we do to work together' stance. Once you know what the are required to do under these circumstances, you can let them know what you need and ask them what you can do to support the process.

It's always tricky to flat out deny something that a child believes they are seeing, especially if you believe that other people are able to see ghosts. However, given her diagnoses and mental health, it is SO much more likely that the visions are a part of the condition. Again, the psychiatrist can help to center you, but you will not do her any favors by suggesting that these are real. They are real to her, but her treatment team and support system need to be clear that they are not. You will only confuse her if you contradict what the doctors say.

Good luck to you and your daughter. I hope things get better soon. God bless you both.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

All I can speak to is the truancy issue. I am going through the court process with my DIL who has been charged with not compelling my granddaughter to attend school. My GD has mental health issues and is on the Spectrum. Until she FINALLY got an IEP and placement in a school with a program that is conducive to her learning style, school was a nightmare for her. She would run from class and hide; would absolutely REFUSE to get dressed and go to school; would become violent with teachers and administrators, etc. Before going to court, I helped my DIL draft a Declaration to the court letting them know before we got there that they were not dealing with a "typical" child and that this particular child has special needs and the court would need to consider this from that standpoint. We submitted, under seal to protect confidentiality, mental health records. The court was very receptive and thanked my DIL for giving them a heads-up and chastised the school district reps for not giving her a heads-up. The court dismissed the case based upon the fact that at the time the truancy was happening, there were no accommodations in place for my granddaughter and the judge got very angry with the school district because they lied and tried to say that there were a whole host of accommodations in place for her. The judge asked for documented proof of those accommodations and the district could not provide that because there were no accommodations.

So, in your case, if you or your daughter are summoned to appear in court, file a Declaration a head of time so the court will have a heads-up as to what's going on with your child. They will be willing to work with you if they know what's up.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

If you feel it's in her best interests to be home, ask her doctors about home hospitalization. Our son was on this early this school year due to an eating disorder. Our district made it as miserable and difficult as possible to get it approved, but our doctors stood up for our son and we made it happen. On home hospitalization, the district will send a teacher to your home (on a schedule you work out with the teacher) to keep your child up to date. In our case, the district dragged its heels so long, we got a grand total of ONE day of help from the teacher before he was ready to go back to school after a month. That one day, though, made up for a lot of wasted days with me attempting to teach him 5th grade (I have no teaching credential or background).

As far as the ghosts, my personal feeling is that if she was doing fine overall and saying this, maybe be open-minded. But with all that's haywire right now, I would guess it's part of her medical issues. What do the psychologist and psychiatrist have to say? They're the experts here, so tap into their expertise as you form an opinion.

And best of luck with the Risperdal. That one was a miracle medication for our son. It calmed his repetitive negative thoughts associated with his eating disorder, eliminated his ODD entirely (unexpected benefit) and made him just plain pleasant. Unfortunately, he was one of the small group who got high prolactin levels on it and we had to take him off. (Make sure they do regular lab testing of your daughter on it, like ours did.) His new med is nowhere near as good.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I wouldn't home school her in the truest sense but I would inquire what the school would be willing to do for her in the terms of sending a teacher to your home to teach her. You will have to press hard for this. If she had a physical limitation which made it not possible for her to actually go to school the school district would bring the education to her. They may be able to do the same for her with her documented mental struggles. Again you will have to press for this because it isn't something they would necessarily do willingly.

Truancy is a serious charge and how are they charging her with truancy when she has medical documentation for her absences? Again you will need to know more to challenge them on this. Public schools have more resources than private schools to handle and deal with children with special needs.

Do continue to be her advocate but you may need to get some people higher than you on your team like members of the school board, teachers, etc. Never give up on getting the help your child needs but get the help your child needs and as the needs change continue to be diligent.

I really hope this helps.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Y., the facility, and the school guidance counselor should be able to give you some guidance re: the charge of truancy. This is not the first child who has missed school because of hospitalization.

Before homeschooling, I would speak with her physician and psychologist to see if they think that being pulled from the school setting would be to her benefit or detriment.

My MIL says she sees/ hears from ghosts/ saints, who, like in the case of the Long Island Medium, compell/ pester her to give messages on their behalf. She tells me that she had this ability since she was a child, but didn't know how to make sense of it. It causes her a goodly amount of stress, as she on the one hand, doesn't want to seem like a looney to complete strangers, and on the other hand, can't turn off the voices of the dead. To my knowledge though she hasn't been one to choke, have fits of rage, or otherwise act violently.

Hugs as you, your daughter and family plough the difficult road ahead.

F. B.

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answers from Sacramento on

I can't address the mental health questions but I can the schooling.

First, I'd call the principal and request a meeting. Bring any documentation showing the dates she was hospitalized and also receipts for her appointments. In CA there is a "Chronic Conditions" form that the doctor can complete which may help the attendance issue.

Ask your mental health professionals if she should be on "home hospital"- it may have a different term in Texas. Basically a teacher is assigned to come to your home and spend a few hours teaching the lessons. It's a combination of home schooling (where you teach) and classroom learning.

Best of luck to you in your journey.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

My heart goes out to you during such a difficult time! I can't even imagine what it must feel like! But I will tell you that you need to advocate for your daughter at school! I'm a school psychologist and just recently had a very similar case to this. Children with this kind of diagnosis (Bipolar, schizophrenia) are eligible and qualify for certain services within the school districts. In my district it is called EBD ( Emotional and Behavioral Disability) She would be eligible for an IEP and therefore services, which would include counseling within the school. Depending on how severe her behaviors are and how much it is impacting her academically, there are also more intense behavior programs or what we call clusters. These are schools that have the academic component but also have a strong mental health component built into it. Bottom line is that the school needs to have a plan for your daughter!

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answers from Phoenix on

It is imperative that she is stable on her meds before returning to school. Even if she's equipped with all the coping skills in the world, if she's not stable those skills go down the toilet. I know this as a survivor of mental illness and as a mental health professional. By the way, she's lucky to have you for a mom. We aren't all that fortunate.

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answers from Washington DC on

#1 homeschooling is an option, and i'm incensed that despite everything you're already coping with, the school system is just flexing its stupid biceps. if homeschooling is appealing to your family and you think it would be a great option, then of course i support it (and feel free to pm me for specifics) but i hate that you're being cornered with it because the school is refusing to consider your daughter's very, very individual needs and challenges here. right at the time they ought to be helping you with solutions and suggestions, they're simply choosing to bully.
#2, i haven't been through this myself, i'm sorry i can't offer anything helpful in a practical sense. i hope the mental health facility is able to offer you something concrete.
#3 i think there are ghosts, and some people are sensitive enough to perceive them. most of us aren't. so i'm with you in that she could be having a genuine experience, but since she's been diagnosed with psychosis that too has to be factored in. there's a chicken/egg component here, but just telling her she has Seniority over them in the rather ridiculous response below will be of little help. the ghosts are far less troublesome than the violence. while i'd be willing to take an open-minded approach about the 'seeing and hearing things', you can't take chances with the other children in your house being attacked, can you?
i can't imagine how difficult this is. i'm so glad your troubled girl has a such a mother as you. my thoughts and prayers are with you all. please keep us posted!

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answers from Dallas on

I will be keeping your family in prayer and that God opens doors to get the help you and your families needs during this difficult time. I will also pray that he guides you toward the best treatment and decisions for your daughter. Big Hugs to you I know you want to help your daughter any and every way you can. There is always Hope. Blessings to you.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

I agree that you should resist the urge to pull her out of school, and also commend you for advocating on your daughter's behalf.
Take all the help you can get and seek additional help when possible.
I don't have any kids with the same diagnosis, but have 4 kids who have all at one point recieved behavioral healt services. My son was having a very hard time last year and missed a lot of school. I took notes in for every appointment/ hospitalization he had. The principal fought on my behalf to avoid truancy because I had a record of intervention. Everyone has told me from the time he started kindergarten that I should homeschool and I refuse because I KNOW he needs socialization. We are just starting the IEP process this year, and I'm still being told he responds better to online learning.
Go with your gut.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

Ok I think after looking quickly at the other ladies responses. My answer will be in the minority. Some people actually can here ghost doesn't mean they have mental problems. Are there some well psychic with their tv programs that see dead people. Could you consult with someone that is not a fraud. See if your actually has that ability.
Its never ok to hurt your sibling. He was choking her brother. That's scary. She has to be taught self control.


Ok I think after looking quickly at the other ladies responses. My answer will be in the minority. Some people actually can here ghost doesn't mean they have mental problems. Are there some well psychic with their tv programs that see dead people. Could you consult with someone that is not a fraud. See if your actually has that ability.
Its never ok to hurt your sibling. He was choking her brother. That's scary. She has to be taught self control.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Denver on

You have had a lot of answers for 1 &2 so I am going to tackle 3.

There are a lot of people in the world that believe ghosts are real. There are a lot of mediums and intuitives that work regularly with "ghosts." However, psychology tends to dismiss the idea outright. I don't think it really matters. You can still give your daughter tools. For her, right now, this is real.

In intuitive work with children we teach them to have Seniority over any ghosts that may come into their awareness. We teach them that, because they have a body and the ghosts don't, the child gets to be in charge. They get to tell the ghosts to leave when they feel scared or intimidated rather than having to listen to everything the ghosts have to say. We teach them that the child is more important than the ghost and that they never have to do what a ghost tells them to do. They can choose for themselves.

You can also ask her to tell you who/what can come in and help her. I use this technique with my clients all the time. They visualize the problem they are having and then see what can come in and help them with it. This is really effective with children because they have great imaginations. I support them in seeing a peaceful solution rather than a violent one. Visualization is a powerful tool. It can be especially powerful with someone who already has some powerful visualizations going on.

I know that this is tricky because of the psychological component here. However, you can simply add this type of information to whatever your daughter is already doing. It will shift her thinking and allow her to have a few choices in a time when she is feeling powerless.

I have learned that even when something is "all in their head" it is still extremely effective to deal with it as if it were real. Because, for them, it is real. Some people feel strongly that this is wrong because we shouldn't support a "delusion." However, I have found that dismissing or minimizing a person's "reality" is much more damaging.

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answers from Dallas on

I have dealt with some mental health issues with my son, so I know how difficult it can be. Getting an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment can be very frustrating. If you have any doubt about the findings, I urge you to get a second or third opinion. From my understanding (and I am by no means an expert) your daughter is fairly young for fully developed bipolar or schizophrenia. I think these are not generally diagnosed until late teen or early 20s. That may be good, in that you have caught the problem early. The National Association for Mental Illness is a good resource for help and information‎.

I am not sure what to tell you about the school problem, but I would be concerned about her ability to be in school right now - Would she be teased or bullied? Has she fallen far behind due to missing a lot of school this year? I would think that if you speak with the school, the issue of a legal truancy situation could be avoided. My son was a senior in high school when he had problems and he was able to do credit recovery to make up the excessive absences and be able to graduate. I am not sure how that would work for an elementary child. I do agree with others that taking on the full-time care AND education of your child would be very challenging.

I don't know how to address the issue of seeing and hearing ghosts. I believe there are many things we cannot explain or fully understand, so I would have a hard time saying it is not possible. What type of exposure to movies or TV has she had? It seems that if this is a delusion, she got the idea from somewhere. How long has this been going on? Have you seen evidence of problems for many years, or is this just surfacing in the past year? Can you think of a "trigger" that may have brought this on? A stress in your family or her life? These are the type of questions I would be asking.

Throughout my son's difficulties, I found it helpful to keep a journal or written record. It was a way for me to process everything that was happening, but also very useful to look back a month or a year ago and see the sequence of events and be able to remember everything accurately. Lastly, be very proactive about any medications! Ask about side effects and is there a better medication. Risperidone can cause very quick weight gain! I know that is not as important as getting her mentally healthy, but if she becomes overweight that does not help her depression! I was very angry that they put my son on Risperidone and he gained about 20 pounds so quickly that he has stretch marks! The first anti-depressant he took also caused weight gain - many of them do. So, I have learned to ask directly before starting any medication what the most common side effects are and is there a better medication available.

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answers from Dallas on

I was really fascinated by your question. I can't really offer any help or suggestions, only my experience. As a Christian I am more open minded to the supernatural part of life. Although I have never seen a ghost I am often contacted in my sleep from people who have passed. Sometimes with messages, it's weird, I know. But I experience it.
There was one particular place I worked 15 years ago that people said was "haunted" and I was so "in tune" with ESP like phenomena. The day I quit it there it disappeared 100%. This ESP "talent" went on for 3 years and then *boom* all gone.
I will say regarding my statement of "never seeing a ghost", the day after my mother in law passed I was sitting Indian-style on a couch in a dark room watching TV when all of a sudden this "blue smoke" started to rise from my lap, as I opened my mouth to say "What the ____??" The smoke turned and went towards my mouth. I never felt ANYTHING but it FREAKED me out. But that was the ONLY time something THAT supernatural happened.
My only suggestion would be to READ as much as you can about people that have had similar type experiences. Maybe some Biographies of people who claim to have seen ghosts? But don't let people tell you she is "crazy" She just might be the next Long Island Medium....



answers from Richmond on

hmm how to answer this..the child could be claiming to see elvis, thats not the problem,nor is it the question..the problem is the fact that she choked her little brother WHILE claiming to see and hear, the child is claiming to both see and hear ghosts while at school..nowhere else, right ? ok, then, it could be she is hyper sensitive to a particular type of mold, the same type of mold that in great concentrations can cause violent behaviour, paranoia, seizures , headaches, nosebleeds, disillusions etc.( ie..the salem witch trails were actually caused by this same type of mold that the people of salem were exposed to) have her checked for allergies, bi polar and psychosis K. h.

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