About a year ago I was leaving one family to start working for another one. There was a full week "free" before I started working for my new family. I was contacted by a family on Sittercity asking if I was by chance available to do a week of overnights (Sunday-Friday night) for their daughter. I thought it would be nice to pick up a weeks pay when I thought I wouldn't have one and agreed to a phone interview to see where things went. I had a perfectly normal conversation with the father who filled me in on his situation. He was a newly divorced man with a 15 year old daughter and a 12 year old son. His son lived with his ex wife and therefore wouldn't be around. He went on to rave about his daughter and all of the things she was involved in. Typical dad stuff. He said he would need me from 5PM until I dropped the girl off at her school the next morning at 7:15AM. He asked me my rate and I told him it was $150 per night for the hours he had listed. He negotiated down to $125, which I was totally okay with considering that the girl was 15 and probably wouldn't be much effort, he didn't want me to do any major cleaning and I would only be awake for 5ish hours once I got there at night.

The father had me come over to meet his daughter and so that he could meet me the night before I was to start working for them. The daughter seemed nice enough, the father seemed fine as well. No red flags. And as I look back on this experience a year later I am stunned that I still notice no red flags. I went through all of the usual questions making notes as I went along. "Any medications? Any allergies? Contact information of emergency contacts, doctors numbers," etc, etc. Nothing notable or important comes up. Sunday at 4:55 I show up at their front door. The father is just finishing up packing for his business trip and makes pleasant small talk with me as he runs around gathering last minute things. The daughter is out with some friends and due to be back any moment. He places an envelope with $200 in spare cash on the counter for take out and whatnot. As dad is walking out the front door he answers his cell, hangs up quickly, then turns around to tell me that his ex wife will be bringing his daughter home in an hour and that she is not allowed in his home under any circumstances. Okay, people get weird after divorces. Especially when they are so new. It's odd but okay.

Mom comes and drops the daughter off. She greets me with a big hug and a warm smile. From the porch of course. Apparently she knows not to step any closer to the front door than right there. I'm amused at this but of course say nothing. The evening goes pretty smoothly for a while. Dad sends me a text message at 9:05 telling me to make sure his daughter goes to bed RIGHT away. She heads off to bed and I sit down on the couch to watch the news for a few minutes before going to bed myself. As soon as I sit down my phone rings. It's the Father and he made it all the way to Georgia in record time and realized he forgot to mention a few things to me about his family. Eyebrow is definitely raised at this point. He tells me that his daughter is on 2-3 (I can't remember exactly how many) pills every morning and evening (after he had specifically told me when I was going through my "check list" that she was on none). He explains and has me write down what meds she gets when and stresses over and over again how important it is that she get them around the same time every day. He goes on to say that daughter is bipolar. I'm super pissed that the father lied to me about this information earlier when I was still making my decisions about whether or not to accept this job but I can't help but think about how even tempered and pleasant the daughter has been the past 4ish hours she's been around. I let Dad know that I asked the questions I did in the interview for a reason and I feel like he misrepresented his situation to me. He seems understanding but doesn't say much. I ask if there is anything he forgot to mention to me and he says no. He briefly says his daughter hasn't had a manic day in months and months and all should be fine as long I check behind her in the morning/evenings to make sure she has taken her meds as directed. Whatever.

The next day I ask her if she had her meds, double check, walk out the door right on time for school. Monday goes smoothly. Tuesday it's harder to get daughter to wake up in the morning, but I remember being 15. So I don't think much about it. Same routine as the day before, double check her meds, head out early enough to pick up a coffee for her with the cash her dad left for these things. Around 2PM I get a call from her mother. The one who seemed so happy a couple of days before. She is sobbing about her divorce and how hard it is on her and the kids. Then mentions that she is having a very hard time letting go. She continues to sob and I have no idea what to do as I have NEVER heard a stranger, much less an MB, behave this way. She goes on to talk about her extreme depression and her battle with her bipolar disorder. Yep, she is bipolar. Not "I'm okay and I'm coping with it" bipolar, but the kind of emotional trainwreck lifetime movies thrive off of. This call had ZERO point/rhyme/reason. She just wanted to vent I guess.

Later that night I notice what I think is Mom's car parked in the top of the driveway. It's pitch black outside and all I see are the headlights in the pouring rain. After about 10 minutes it turns and pulls away. I have no idea if it was her or not but I have every reason to think it was. The next day Daughter wakes up before my alarm has even gone off and bursts into my room screaming about her make up. She thinks I stole it and is very loudly accusing me. I calm her down and offer to help her search. We find the make up exactly where it had been the entire time I've been there, right on the bathroom counter in her room. We are running behind now and I rush to give her the meds she needs to take. It's Wednesday and she is pissed when I tell her we are running too far behind to stop for the B1G1 coffee special the place she likes to go has each week. She has to be at school at 7:15 and it's already 7:05 we'll be lucky to get there on time as it is. Daughter cries in the car the entire way to school. I call her Dad after she gets out of the car and explain the mornings events to him just so he knows what is going on if his kid calls him and says differently later on. On the drive back to my house I think to myself, "this is no worse than when a toddler has a meltdown and I've dealt with that thousands of times before. Just two more days and I'm free". I get a call that day from Daughter at 1:15. She is in school and wants me to call her schools office and give them permission to let her out of school immediately. Her reasoning has something to do with wanting to catch the public bus and venture to a mall on the other side of her town. Seriously?!?! I tell her I don't think that's appropriate, but that I will call her Dad and let him know what his daughter wants. Dad laughs. He finds this humorous? He agrees with me that she shouldn't leave school. Daughter calls me back from the office crying. Too bad princess (I think in my head).

I head up to her house at 4:45. Daughter is literally on the floor sobbing. I never did figure out what for. Eventually I coax her into taking her meds and maybe going to bed early that night. Her Mom calls me again. This time she has some bizarre idea that her daughter needs to drop out of High School ASAP and go to community college. Something about her daughter getting sleepy while in school and the flexibility of community college instead. I politely tell her I really have no opinion on the matter and she should wait until her ex husband comes back into town to talk to him about it. I quickly get off of the phone. She calls back at 1AM and leaves a long rambling message with frequent crying breaks talking about how when her daughter was a toddler she used to shove her hand down her throat to make her throw up. I have no idea if she meant the adults hand down the childs throat or the childs hand down the childs throat. Not that it makes much of a difference. Shit was weird.

Thursday morning. I can't get the daughter to wake up. I pound on the door. Nothing. She finally gets up without saying anything and walks to the center of the living room sobbing. We have less than 10 minutes now to leave to get to school on time. I'm dreading telling her that we once again do not have time for coffee because I remember the temper tantrum thrown previously. She rips off her shirt and bra. I kid you not. And sits there rocking back and forth screaming/crying. I don't even try to talk to her at this point. I grab the knife block when she isn't looking and put it in the hall closet. Just to be safe. I call her dad as soon as I have the knives hidden. He talks to her on the phone. She throws the phone across the room (my phone) and it breaks. Great. Dad immediately calls the home phone and I pick up (keep in mind it's been less than 5 minutes since the girl woke up) and the girl stands up topless and runs into her fathers room. I hear the bathroom door SLAM shut. Daughter is cursing as loud as she can. I can't really hear what Dad is saying but I tell him that I do not feel safe any longer in his home and I am canceling all services immediately. I will email him my bill for the week and be by to pick it up the following day. The daughter runs out of the bathroom after I hear an extremely loud sound. She punched through her fathers vanity mirror and her fist is cut open and bleeding everywhere. It looked horrendous. I step on the front porch with my bag and the phone. I call 911 for the girl and I leave as soon as the call is done. I realize I probably should have stayed. Even if it was while locked inside of my car with the ignition on. But the kid just punched a mirror and 2 holes in the wall. Hell no I wasn't going to stick around after that.

Saturday evening I was going to stop by and pick up my check for 4 nights pay. My Husband insisted I stay in the car and he would go talk to the father and collect my fee. Thank God he did because my nerves were completely shot when we pulled up to the house. This time I was the one sobbing for no apparent reason. My husband got back in the car and handed me my check. He was gone for over 5 minutes and I almost called the cops because I couldn't see him in the window anymore. It turns out that that envelope of $200 cash the dad left for us was taken by the daughter and hidden somewhere and now dad believed I had stolen the extra money from him and was trying to subtract it from my check. My Hubs threatened to bring the police into the matter and the dad quickly wrote a check for the correct amount. Lesson learned. But it was a terrifying one.


Lyn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bethany said...

Um wow! I don't know where to start.

MissDee said...

My head is spinning right now and alcohol isn't even a factor.

Just My Two Cents Just Now said...

I loved reading this story OP. You are a great storyteller!

Anyway, this was most definitely the Nanny job from Hell!! The fact that the Father deceived you from the get go is unforgivable. He probably knew that if he disclosed his daughter was a psycho up front, you would never have accepted this position!! What a con artist!! And to think he negotiated his price!!

Anyway, you did everything right here and thank goodness you had your hubby to get your check and all.

I agree w/you that there were absolutely no red flags in the beginning....I don't see how you ever could have known about this.

alvp said...

Good for you for having the guts to bail out.

bostonnanny said...

I know bipolar disorder is a serious issue but I couldnt stop laughing as I read this story.

nycmom said...

What an awful week for you. You truly did a great job considering what you were handed. You should report the family to Sittercity.

Mom definitely sounds disorganized and BAD would be a real possibility based on the description (not that an accurate diagnosis from one story is remotely possible, of course : )

Now the daughter is another story. I know you mention some mild paranoia, but none of her behavior is consistent with either a typical manic, hypomanic, mixed or depressive episode. You don't get manic "days" with BAD, you have manic episodes lasting at least 7 days even in rapid cycling. She is sleeping a bit more, but has plenty of energy to want to go to the mall. You still seems to crave her normal drink and activities. She appears to have plenty of energy, which she applies as she desires. No mention of her talking a mile a minute or having grandiose plans.

She could also just have the typical, horrible Borderline PD. I always say all the Borderlines think they are Bipolar which is an extremely common phenomenon. She shows significant affective instability with the crying and anger. She displays only transient paranoia. Her bus request seemed more entitled than disorganized, and quite calculated to your presence instead of Dad's. Plus, Dad laughs it off. You don't laugh off an early Manic episode. Yes, she cries, but only in direct response to things she doesn't want to do (miss coffee, go to school) and it sounds very manipulative. She deals with this via impulsive self-injurious behavior since her nudity and screaming antics did not achieve her desired reaction from you.

Look she is only 15yo, so I would be cautious in labeling, but all the signs scream Borderline to me. Even more so that Dad hired you without giving you either medication info or diagnosis. Plus, patients on 2-3 meds twice a day with significant impairment should have a clear mental health provider reachable 24/7 and a behavioral plan in place. You should have been given this or Dad should have called as soon as she started any of her antics with him gone. They should have had her come for an appointment by mid-week.

Unfortunately, BPD is exhausting for everyone who tries to help and it just sounds like Dad needed a break and used you to get it. I don't mean to sound unsympathetic, but BPD is incredibly difficult to treat and live with for the patient and loved ones.

Regarding your departure at the end. You definitely did the right thing in calling 911. I do believe you should have stuck around though and in the car is fine since you are not in a position to provide any other medical care. Obviously you don't put yourself at physical risk and that is #1 priority (and good for you for recognizing that -- I have had way too many inexperienced residents get hit by a patient for not following the PRIMARY rule I tell them on day one.) But I do think you should have waited in the car so you could provide history to the EMTs and have the hospital call you. You have no idea how many cases we see where the KEY info comes from corroborative. Dad is obviously in denial and clearly this girl needs to be hospitalized. She should already be in a daily or 3 day/week program based on this story. In some states your input -- that she deliberately punched the glass and walls; increasingly resistant to taking meds (probably cheeking and not swallowing) -- rather than her giving an alternate excuse could be critical to determine imminent danger to self as grounds for involuntary commitment if she/Dad refuse.

Sorry for the psych lesson, but ER psych is my professional passion!

Fiona said...

Yes you should have stayed while your car until the medics arrived.

But you handled all the rest so very well.

Dear heavens! I can't imagine being in that situation.

If you haven't already please report thim to Sittercity.

nynanny said...

I'm more pissed at the dad for leaving you like this. Who forgets to mention their daughter is mentally ill and takes several meds a day? You were clearly taken advantage of and did your best given the situation.

Laura said...

Wow. OP, you are a brave woman. Props to you for dealing with this situation so well! I can't even imagine... *shudder*

Lyn said...

OP here:
I contacted Sittercity with in days of leaving the situation and all I received back was an email saying something along the lines of "Thank you for your information. We want all of our caregivers to feel safe when on the job and will look into your claims". I never heard anything else back so I'm pretty sure they just blew me off.
I agree in hindsight that I should have waited in my car until paramedics arrived. I am not an over emotional person but I was just plain scared and wanted to get out of there. I was literally shaking. Something that hasn't happened to me before. The 15 year old easily outweighed me by a good 50-60 lbs and was a full head taller. When I realized she was capable of breaking a big mirror with her fists and punching actual holes in the wall I was SO done. Haha.

NYCMom- I don't know if she was officially diagnosed as having BPD. I just know that is what her dad said she had and that is also what the girls mother said both she and her daughter had.
I totally agree that Dad needed a break. I was only there a few days. I cannot imagine that being my life. Not to excuse his blatant lying or actions of course.
I also wondered after leaving if she had been cheeking her medications. I really appreciate your input on the situation.

I have yet to take another overnight job with a family I haven't worked for before. FYI.

OhhPlease said...

Lyn are you the OP or are you reposting for the OP? I only ask because I saw before you commented on the story but now it was deleted so I was just curious. This story is I cannot believe the father would not explain such a serious condition much less leave a nanny in that kind of situation!

Lyn said...

Yes, I am indeed the OP.

ELam said...

Damnnn Lyn! That's probably top 3 sketchiest nanny horror stories I've ever heard. I think I would have done all the same things as you, although I do think you should have sat in the driveway until paramedics arrived. But, I guess you never really know how you'll react to something until it's really happening to you. The most important thing was to get yourself to safety. Yikes!

Truth Seeker said...

@Lyn, what a great read. Do you have any other horror stories for us to read? LOL.

Anyway,I also saw your first comment earlier and wondered why you deleted it.

I don't think I would have reported this to sittercity as I highly doubt they would be able to do anything if this family terminated their membership. If they didn't, then I would think it is sittercity's responsibility to remove this family.

Yeah, I have contacted them and their rules suck.

Glad you stuck it out and still work in the Nanny profession.

Lyn said...

For those who didn't see it, my first comment was "whoa, just whoa."

I think I was just trying to cover my tracks. You can never be too safe on this site, haha! ;) But it was around 3:30 in the morning so who knows WHAT my line of thinking was, haha.

I decided post comment that I needed to be ballsy enough to take any criticism that came my way as I am sure there must have been many mistakes made on my part that I was too dumb to notice. :)

nynanny said...

Lyn, you're one of my favorite posters on this site!


nycmom: "You don't get manic "days" with BAD, you have manic episodes lasting at least 7 days even in rapid cycling."

What makes you think that? I have BAD and I can have manic days or even half of my day can be manic. I have rapid cycling BAD and there is no set way that manic episodes work. They dont have to be at least seven days. They can be a few hours, a few days or a few months. But I've never been told by anyone that in order to have a manic episode it must last a minimum of seven days. I can be extremely manic for a solid day for example. And depressed the next day. I just hate it when misinformation is spread because its such a misunderstood disease as it is.

Lyn said...

NYNanny- D'aww! Everyday should start with such nice words! :) Thank you!

SLNanny said...

Badmomlol - Nycmom is a psychiatric dr. I think she is probably referring to the diagnostic criteria from the DSM.

And I agree that Lynn rocks!

nycmom said...


Yes, I am an ER Psychiatrist (amongst other areas in psychiatry, this is my fave). By definition, a manic episode lasts 7 days. Rapid cycling refers to the number of episodes per year, not the duration of an episode.

Most people with such short duration and severe mood swings are being inaccurately diagnosed as having BAD. It is rampant. It is often Borderline PD (not speaking of you directly) since BPD is incredibly difficult to treat, likes a label, and very much has short duration, intense mood swings. If no psychiatrist has ever sat down and discussed your manic episodes in the level of detail such that you know what mania really is, you might need a new one. It is our job to not just diagnose and treat, but to educate patients.

nycmom said...

To be complete, I should add that Ultrarapid and Ultradian Cycling have been raised in the literature. However, there are, to my knowledge, no actual studies to support this possibility. I believe there are less than a handful of published case reports. There is a lot of pontificating and theorizing, but we all know what that is worth.

However, perhaps with the publication of DSM V next year, we will have new information.

MissMannah said...

Oh Lyn, I am so sorry this dad lied to you. Bipolar is awful to deal with and I'm assuming you don't have any experience with it. Even if you did, you were totally unprepared for what lied ahead (understandably so)

Nycmom, my diagnosis was Bipolar 2 with rapid cycling. This story scared me because I unfortunately saw WAY too much of myself in this girl. I do think she and her mother are bipolar, simply because I could identify with them both. I agree that cycles usually last a long time, because that's how mine were before I started meds. I think it is safe to say that the mom was in the middle of a manic cycle. But the daughter could be going back and forth because I have a tendency to do that now that I'm on meds, my mind can be up and down a lot in a matter of hours or days, but the moods don't last long and they are a lot less severe than they ever were before diagnosis. Usually I only get really bad when I very tired and a good night's sleep will regulate me. I can't imagine what this girl is going through, what with her parents' divorce and the normal hormonal changes with her age, compounded with who knows how many drug trials she's been doing.

Stories like this scare me to death because I do not want a bipolar child.

Erin said...

My 10-year-old son is bipolar and reading this story was very familiar to me. It's something I wouldn't wish on anyone.

Phoenix said...

your red flag was he was getting a nanny for his 15 year old daughter. My parents left me alone for weeks at a time and I was responsible enough to keep my household running and take care of everything. Any 15 year old that needs a sitter is not right. In my opinion. That is not everyone's views and not many people have responsible teens but that would have been my red flag

Phoenix said...

bipolar is a very hard disorder for some kids and even with meds they are prone to getting attacks if they go through something stressful and on that they have the run of the mill teenage hormones. The only thing is that you should have stayed until the ambulance came and you should have called the mom. That was your only mis-step

Lyn said...

I didn't see the needing someone to stay nights at 15 thing as a red flag. My parents wouldn't have wanted me to be alone at nights at that age either. Certainly not for an entire week.