16 and on the Path of Destruction

December 11, 2013
Kelly says her 16-year-old daughter, Ellie, is on a path of self-destruction, and she fears for the teen’s life. She says Ellie has an eating disorder, is suicidal, cuts herself and has overdosed on prescription drugs. She also says Ellie lashes out at her in anger on a daily basis, forcing her husband, Rob, to play referee between them. What’s at the root of the teen’s behavior? Ellie admits she has low self-esteem but says her mom is overreacting. How does she explain her choices? Dr. Phil digs deep into the teen’s past to find the source of her pain. Can she turn her life around, before it’s too late?







More than 16 million kids in the United States are at risk for hunger each day. Fortunately, you can help. Visit Feeding America to find your local food bank. And, help Dr. Phil raise enough money for 10 million meals. Donate today!


EllieRob, Ellie's stepfather, and Kelly, Ellie's motherDr. Frank Lawlis Dr. Matthew Polacheck, Program Director at the Center for DiscoveryNot My Child: A Progressive and Proactive Approach For Healing Addicted Teenagers and Their Families


Out-of-Control Teen?

"My 16-year-old daughter is totally out of control," says Kelly. "She started using drugs. She overdosed on Lortab, Xanax, Lunesta and most recently, she tested positive for Oxycontin. I am so fearful of another overdose or possibly even suicide."


Kelly says her daughter, Ellie, also cuts herself to numb her pain. "She recently got mad at me and brought the knife out of her room and said, ‘Look what you made me do.’ She has zero impulse control," Kelly says. "My daughter has created total chaos. It’s such hostile anger."


Rob, Kelly's husband and Ellie's stepdad, says he has become a referee for their fights. 


Another concern Kelly says she has is that Ellie has gained 50 pounds during the last year. "My daughter’s weight is an extremely sensitive subject with her," she says. "She has been emotionally eating. She binges on junk food."

During a video that Kelly recorded, Ellie can be heard saying, “I’ve never been this fat. I just want to die!”


Kelly fears for her daughter's life. "I’m losing my daughter. I feel like she’s slipping away. She’s broken, and I can’t fix her,“ she says, fighting back tears.


Kelly and Rob join Dr. Phil onstage. “There’s so much danger involved in this situation,” Dr. Phil says to them. “Are you concerned for your daughter’s life or just her emotional development?”

Kelly says both. “I’m extremely concerned she could be suicidal,” she says. “She is willing to do anything she can to numb the pain, and she cares about nothing in her life.”

“We’re talking about a girl here who’s being very self-destructive,” Dr. Phil says. “What is it that’s driving all of this?”

“She’s been in counseling since almost 2. We went through a horrible divorce with her father when she was 2,” Kelly says. “She goes berserk — zero to 100 in 20 seconds. And then she will turn into, ‘I’m charming. I have this halo around me,’ and master manipulator.”


Ellie's Side

"I don’t have a really great relationship with my mom. I lie about stuff. I usually blame most of the fighting on her," Ellie shares. "I do, sometimes, say I hate her, because I know that that will cut deepest. I’ve called her a bitch and said, 'Go to hell.' I’m just trying to hurt her in the moment, because I feel like she’s hurt me."


Ellie admits that after she broke up with her boyfriend a year ago, she was very upset and took numerous medications, causing her to overdose. "It was not a cry for help. I just, in my own words, wanted to, ‘Get out of things.’ I didn’t want to face reality," she says. She denies taking Oxycontin and having a drug problem. "They definitely have no reason to be concerned about my drug use," she says. "I have not taken Xanax. My mother said that I took those things, and she is lying."


The teen reveals that she has cut herself. "I feel the physical pain, and so I forget about the emotional pain, but afterward, you feel both. It’s really stupid," she says.

Ellie joins her parents onstage. She tells Dr. Phil that last year, she went down the wrong path, hung out with a questionable crowd and didn’t have the best grades, but she says she’s changed.

Ellie opens up to Dr. Phil about what's driving her behavior.

“What’s not working for you in your life?” Dr. Phil asks.

“My relationship with my mom is not working in my life,” Ellie says, fighting back tears. “My relationship with my father is not working, because he’s not healthy for me. He just doesn’t help me. And, my relationship with others, because I can’t put myself out there because of fear of rejection from him.”

“That gets overwhelming for you at times, and so you look for a way to escape that,” Dr. Phil says.


“I want to know what it takes for you to not just be at peace, but to be happy.”


Dr. Phil asks Kelly, “What’s your reaction to what you’re hearing her say right now?”

“She’s leaving quite a bit out concerning her real emotional pain,” she says.

Ellie and Kelly argue about the events that occurred before they came onstage.

“She was basically trying to control what I was going to say out here.”

“You’re not the problem here; This is a family problem,” Dr. Phil tells Ellie. And, Dr. Frank Lawlis, Chairman of the Dr. Phil Advisory Board and author of Not My Child: A Progressive and Proactive Approach For Healing Addicted Teenagers and Their Families, weighs in.

“I don’t know how to give her what she needs,” Kelly says. “I can do this. I can do that, but it’s not good enough … There’s no winning. I’ve tried everything.”

“I’m seeing you do exactly the same thing here as you were doing on tape,” Dr. Phil tells Kelly.

Dr. Phil turns to Ellie and offers her advice.

“You can’t let what somebody else does determine how you feel about who you are.”


Help for Ellie

“This girl’s life is in danger,” Dr. Phil tells Kelly and Rob. “She is very, very lonely. And, she truly believes that there’s a better place than where she is now, and that’s why she’s used escape mechanisms, like drugs, and that’s why suicide would make sense to her.”

Dr. Phil continues, addressing Kelly. “You’ve lost connection with your daughter,” he tells her. “When she started the screaming, yelling, bullying, out-of-control impulse erratic, you [threw your hands up], because you don’t know how to deal with that, and you come across to her as uncaring and very cold.”

“I’m very overwhelmed, and I don’t know what to do,” Kelly says, fighting back tears.

“You’re disconnected from this girl, and she’s feeling lonely,” Dr. Phil tells her. “She lost her dad. Now, she’s feeling she’s alienated her mother, because you’re so cold and judgmental, in her eyes.”

Dr. Phil introduces Dr. Matthew Polacheck, program director at the Center for Discovery, a structured, therapeutic residential treatment center that works with troubled, out-of-control teens and their families. He tells Kelly and Rob that the Center is willing to work with Ellie. They agree that Ellie needs to go.

“Until she values herself, she won’t stop putting herself at risk,” Dr. Phil says. 


After the Taping

After the show, Kelly and Rob tell Ellie that they've decided to send her to the Center for Discovery — but will they stick with their decision?



"I am going to hate you forever if you make me go."