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How do I live with a mentally-ill parent?

137 Answers
Last Updated: 12/21/2020 at 3:01pm
1 Tip to Feel Better
United States
Moderated by

Monique Bivins, MA, LPC

Licensed Professional Counselor

I have a real passion for helping my clients to overcome life's obstacles . My work with clients is nonjudgmental, supportive, and interactive.

Top Rated Answers
September 1st, 2016 8:36pm
Try just being there for them. If they see that their family is there for them and cares about them then the parents themselves will want to make progress. You would be their goal!
September 4th, 2016 6:36am
You have to try and be supportive and encouraging to their fears and needs without neglecting your own
September 4th, 2016 4:19pm
Patience and Understanding come first and foremost. Without having good stock in both of them you are only setting yourself up for troubles.
September 11th, 2016 4:38pm
Lots of patience, you need to understand that it is not easy to have a mentally illness, sometimes when we do not understand it can be hard, but just stay calm
September 21st, 2016 1:36am
Give them the support they need and encourage them in genuine ways. It is important to be sensitive to their needs. Try not to treat them differently just because of their diagnosis but do not ignore it either.
September 23rd, 2016 11:03am
First you have to mentally accept of ill parent, then half of the problem is solved. As parents grow old they become like children, so accept them as children. How do you treat your mentally ill child try to do in the same way. Love them and you will be blessed
September 24th, 2016 5:57pm
Support. Understand that he/she is going through a tough time, and that you'll be there to help them. However, remember not to burn yourself out as you can't exactly help someone else when you're exhausted. Perhaps, joining social groups on that specific mental illness, and educating yourself on it can prove to be helpful too
September 28th, 2016 3:14pm
It won't be easy, I can tell you that. You have to be there for them and be supportive. I volunteer and the nursing home and I help this one lady with Alzheimer's and it's a struggle. You just have to be there for them and let them know everythings okay
October 1st, 2016 11:38am
Patientice, love them and trust that you know what your doing, be kind and allow for hard times, be strong and you will make it through them.
October 12th, 2016 6:47pm
I have to learn as much as possible about the disease and get as much support from friends, family, etc as possible.
October 26th, 2016 4:31pm
It is really hard, I know but parents are the most special gift you will ever receive l, you should cherish the gift. Try to spend more time with them.
October 26th, 2016 10:21pm
Being sensitive to their condition would make a huge impact. Learn their triggers and try and avoid them. Talk to them, get to know your parent better, and just give them the love they raised you with :)
November 3rd, 2016 10:49pm
Growing up with a parent who suffered from PTSD has it's up and downs, my mom always did her best to try to hide it though. You learn by living with them, what makes bad days good and good days bad. You also learn to deal with something that is bigger than yourself or even them, they won't tell you everything but the best thing to do is support them. Things can be rough, they might lash out a little bit but it's nothing you wouldn't do if it was you in there shoes.
November 10th, 2016 11:01am
You have to be patient above all. Remember that the frustration you are feeling is due to their illness and not who they are as a person. Try to seperate the person from their disease.
November 16th, 2016 9:37pm
Living with a mentally ill parent is very difficult. It can leave you feeling bad about yourself, low self esteem, angry, on edge, feeling like you're not worth much at all. All you can really do is be there for any supportive needs as long as it isn't at your own risk or happiness, or well being. There isn't always anything you can say to the parent to make them feel better, but sometimes doing the small things can have an impact. Making them a drink or some tea, running them a bath. I think the smaller things have more of a impact and effectiveness.
November 18th, 2016 10:59am
You get a support system to help you through tough times and you try to understand things from your parent's perspective as well as your own.
December 2nd, 2016 3:37am
Empathy, patience and perseverence are the name of the game. Using empathy, and patience consistently try to really imagine what life is like from their perspective, what truly may be running their minds, what they truly may be feeling in each moment or difficult circumstance, imagine how you would be feeling or acting if this was your situation. Ask yourself, if you were them in their situation, what could your child do to "live with" you? Perseverence is strength over time, it means you remain strong and bide your time through each difficult circumstance while working towards a very, very distant goal, such as an opportunity for more help with the parent, or an opportunity for independence if that is your wish. It is okay to reach out for help regarding mentally-ill family members, even to talk about how you are doing and feeling. We cannot help anyone else until we begin to help ourselves, and we cannot ignore our own suffering just so we can survive another day: we each deserve to feel safe, loved, and happy. If your struggles with a mentally-ill parent affect your day-to-day wellbeing, consider reaching out to a counsellor, anonymous group meetings that may happen in your area, a therapist, or even a family doctor for validation, advice, and guidance. Good luck to both of you. Living with a mentally-ill parent can be a challenge, but you are already proven to be strong, because you are still here fighting the good fight and asking this question.
December 7th, 2016 1:16am
You have to remind yourself that although they may be different, they still have feelings they still can understand, and they can hear what you say. Sometimes you may have to remind them of something a hundred times, but you cannot be impatient, and you certainly not be rude or demeaning. Treat them like a normal human being so they don´t feel to different, but don´t treat them like you would treat your best friend. You want them to know you like them, but they don´t want to be treated different.
February 15th, 2017 8:09am
Day by day. Get the help you need to protect yourself and, hopefully, help your parent. The first step is realizing they are in need of help. My heart goes out to you...
March 4th, 2017 2:49am
It can be very hard, I've gone through it myself being a young carer. I talked to a counsellor at school. Counselling helped me. I also got referred to support groups where individuals experiencing the same problems come together to talk about their problems. I found ways of coping. It was very helpful. You become more stronger. Take care
March 11th, 2017 8:42pm
Taking care of yourself is really important. You have to remember that you're well being is important and, although it's not always fair, you're the one responsible for taking care of your emotional needs. Make sure you're putting the oxygen on yourself first, if you're not well, it'll be really hard to deal with the emotions and wellbeing of someone else.
March 18th, 2017 4:19am
It might be helpful yet hard to separate the illness from the person. Learn as much about your parent's illness as possible. I believe that knowledge is power. Secondly, it helps to have a support system as you will definitely need it. Find someone who understands what you are going through. If possible, join a support group. Finally, the most important thing to do is to practice self-care
March 25th, 2017 10:34am
Mentally ill person need more love and more care from the people around, if ones parent is mentally ill, seek the guidance of a professional ,A helper in home also make things easier to, deal with, if one is mentally ill, neither it's his or her fault nor the family, By following the guidance of mental health professional,and with your patience, love, support,,,,their care is possible,
April 7th, 2017 6:13pm
Living with a mentally ill parent can be really hard. The most important thing is to support them. I myself have a mentally ill parent and sometimes it can be really hard. Remember they have feelings as well and it doesn't matter if you as child supports them. Show them love and give help.
April 9th, 2017 3:42pm
Ive had firsthand experience with this situation, both my parents have and had depression (one recently passed away) it is a difficult situation, and depending on the mental illness, you may have to sometimes support them where other people dont. sometimes going to them and giving them a warm hug can help, other times there isnt anything you can do. remember you need to make yourself happy
April 23rd, 2017 11:08am
I would suggest doing some research on your parents mental illness/s to better understand the illness, then you might find ways to help support your parent. Often you can find support groups online and you can find support here too!
April 28th, 2017 2:24am
Mental illness can be exhausting for the person going through it, and sometimes for children trying to support a parent going through it. Your emotional energy is important, and self-care, especially self-compassion. However when you do feel like you can be there to support your loved one, genuinely love and listen to them even if it's for five minutes can make all the difference. Be firm about what your boundaries are though. A child does not have the capability to meet all their parent's needs. Encourage them to seek more support, and validation through counselling and doctors visits if needed. 7 cups might also be a great resource for them as well.
May 7th, 2017 11:55pm
Support them the best way you can, but if they even end up physically or emotionally causing you harm, you should seek secondary assistance.
May 16th, 2017 6:13am
It's definitely hard, sometimes you yourself may take on more of a traditional parental role. All I can say is that you should try to be there for them and understand that what they are going through is tough on them. If they haven't already, you can try to advise them to see someone about it. I believe that therapy helps the situation and will allow them to communicate more effectively with you as well.
May 25th, 2017 5:47pm
Carefully. You have to try to do your best to remain independent and further yourself as a person while dealing with whatever they throw your way. Mentally-ill parents make it really hard to live in a home setting, you never know what will happen and there are so many different kinds of mental illnesses. Just be strong, find strength in knowing you can survive. Lots of people share your situation and we're doing our best also.