Hello and welcome!
From all you say, it could be that your daughter is yet another undiagnosed case of female-type Asperger's (high-functioning autism). There are thousands and it'snow recognised as a national scandal.
worriedmum2 wrote:When my daughter hit her teenage years she had a very difficult time at school and had very few friends.
A typical trait - that applied to me also.
She came close to having an eating disorder and was very grumpy and withdrawn.
More typical traits. There's a close link between anorexia and HFA in girls and women.
I regret very much that we didn’t get her any help at the time and just thought it was teenage angst.
My parents would have regretted this too, but all those years ago Asperger's syndrome was unrecognised - evn in boys. My parents knew there was something 'different' about me, and that I was 'fragile' and highly intelligent, but that's all.
When she left school and went to university, she seemed much happier and together.
This isn't really typical, but maybe a way of coping with the social side. Perhaps she found a special friend to support her, which would have made all the difference.
Now she has started work and seems worse than ever. She doesn’t seem to be able to make friends, has very low self esteem and shows little interest in anything. Her expectations of her future are low and she seems to want to make herself as unattractive as possible, despite being a very pretty young woman.
All these traits are very typical, and equally applied to me.
Don’t get me wrong, she can be delightful and kind and we get on very well on a one to one basis, but she clams up with the rest of the family.
Again, very typical, and applied to me also.
I feel so guilty that I have let this problem go on for so long, but I feel I must recognise she has some mental health challenges and needs help.
So did my parents, but they had no idea where to look. Nobody suggested autism, for the female presentation is very subtle and we're good at masking it. In recent years, professionals have begun to study it in depth, and there's lots on the internet covering this area - experts like Drs Tony Attwood, Judith Gould, Tania Marshall, Olga Bogdashina, and many more.
Since my own diagnosis, I have become an expert through experience: my own, meeting very many females on the spectrum (some diagnosed, but especially underdiagnosed and misdiagnosed - far too common), and intensive reading. I can help you decide whether autism is a real possibility, and if so, how to seek a diagnosis. It's not easy if you aren't aware of the pitfalls on the way, but well worth it in the end.