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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
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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
May 17th, 2018 6:47pm
First, take care of yourself. You need to be safe and well before you can worry about them being safe and well. Next, identify triggers for them--what makes it difficult to live with them, and what actions can you take to make living with them a smoother process? If you are in danger, please seek professional help!
May 20th, 2018 12:47am
It’s good you’re open to finding advice. I recommend you talk to them about what you can do and wha boundary’s you both should have together. Communication is the key to a happy and healthy relationship.
May 30th, 2018 12:19am
the best thing you can do is attempt to cope, try taking care of them, and keep patient. i live with a bipolar mother and it's never easy but i keep faith knowing ill be out on my own one day
June 17th, 2018 6:25pm
Though I have no answer for it but I do live with a depressed mother who has been depressed for as long as I remember. Some times them being depressed can make you feel depressed and I can totally relate to it. Sometimes you become immune to their behaviour and sometimes it's downright impossible to survive with them. What I do is write and pass the letter to my only friend who knows of whe family situations she helps me by being there. Giving me a shoulder to cry upon. I would say confess to the people who know you and who care for you. Tell them how you feel and having a shoulder to lean upon helps a lot....
June 24th, 2018 9:15pm
It really depends on the type of mental illness, because I do not know the type of mental illness or the breadth of safety or danger, it is wise to seek help from a licensed therapist who can create plan for you and your parent.
June 27th, 2018 1:48am
As a person who lived with a dad with bipolar, I always tried to stay on the good side and avoid anger.
June 27th, 2018 2:35am
You can’t think of them much differently. It wouldn’t be kind. Your parent is getting help by law. But showing that you don’t know how to live with him/her would make hem worse. They love you and you love them.
July 8th, 2018 4:38pm
Treat them with kindness and respect and most importantly, be patient. I know it's hard sometimes but patience is the best way to go.
July 19th, 2018 7:18pm
Go to a therapist and try to get over it at the end they are your parents you cant leave any of them
July 21st, 2018 4:29am
Sometimes living with a mentally ill parent can be challenging, but the best thing you can do for them is work them through anything that they may be going through. It's also important to remind yourself that mental illness doesn't excuse any mean things that they may say to you.
July 25th, 2018 10:57pm
For any ill parent, there are many support groups available for support and advice. To begin, have you asked your parent's doctor what recommendations they have for you?
July 28th, 2018 11:24pm
I don't - I ended up being sent into care. But at the time I just did what worked for both of us, healthy or not.
August 1st, 2018 5:51am
I don't think there is a singular "one-size-fits-all" answer for such a question. Mental illness is very wide in scope and different types require different approaches. For one, try to have empathy for them. It's always helpful to try and put yourself in someones shoes. Secondly, if this makes it a struggle for you to positively interact with them, try to teach yourself that how they are with you should be separate from how you treat them - IE: If they continually try to push your buttons or are consistently stressful, try to see it as a good opportunity to practice being kind and compassionate - It's easier to be kind to people who don't test your kindness, in the first place, so let this be an opportunity to not let how you're treated dictate how you treat someone in response. Third, try to read up on or generally inform yourself about their diagnosis/diagnoses, as being knowledgeable about what they're going through can't hurt. Generally, just be aware of them, listen to them, and try to help where you can. PS: If they treat you flat out abusively, understand that it is inappropriate. Respond the best you can, and try to empathize with them if they don't know any better, but know your limits, know that abusive behavior is abusive behavior, and seek out appropriate (professional) resources if need be.
August 3rd, 2018 2:42am
I understand that you are going through difficult times, you need to find other people to support you and the parent. You have to realize that it was not your responsibility to make sure she gets better. However, It was important that you played a role in the process. Don´t try to be overly responsible. Think about YOUR mental health also. You still need to be able to have a life, pursue your dreams, be active in your free time and meet up with friends.
August 7th, 2018 1:11pm
First, realizing that your parent has a mental illness, that living this way is not "normal", is a big step for a child who wonders why their family seems to work differently than others. Second, to emotionally separate yourself from them and realize that you are your own person, and to find your own way to mental health and stability. Third, to return (if safe to do so) and offer your new-found empathy and love.
August 8th, 2018 4:23am
You must learn to accept them for who they are and know when you must contact help. You should never feel in danger because of them, but you must be patient and understand that they are different.
August 29th, 2018 3:05pm
Whether you live with a mentally ill parent a mentally ill child or mentally ill family member it can be very very taxing on the family because it is a family disease and all you can do is just be there for support the one thing I feel that you shouldn't do is give up everything in your whole life and put everything ahead of yourself and not make time for yourself you can connect to the right resources so you can maybe get a caregiver or a facility or a therapist or talk to family members and have an intervention so to speak and figure out who can do what hours on which days and make sure that that family member is seeing a therapist and a psychiatrist and with your dreams and your goals as well
September 1st, 2018 10:07pm
my mother has PTSD, depression, and bipolar disorder. The first step to living with this is to understand how these mental health issues affect them so that when you see them affected by these issues you can address it and be aware instead of being confused. I'm also aware of the medication she takes and this allows me to visualise and observe her progress will understanding everything happening. I also use trusted mental health help sites to ask my questions and understand how to react and respond productively and safely to whatever may be happening due to what their facing.
November 8th, 2018 3:12am
Living with a mentally ill parent is one of the hardest things to go through. It causes you to grow up way faster than you should. It causes you to question why you? Why can’t I just have a mom or dad who has it together? Why can’t I have a normal parent like everyone else? But then you grow up and you learn to take care of yourself. You learn to be strong for not only you but for throes who depend on you also. Tough times don’t last forever but tough people do. You can do this! We can do this!
November 23rd, 2018 9:18am
If you can, i would get them a caregiver to help them or talk to them and explain what is/ isnt acceptavle for you so they dont cross too many lines.
November 25th, 2018 2:59pm
It can be difficult and stressful to live with a mentally ill parent. Unfortunately, sometimes having the normal parent-child relationship is not possible if a parent is mentally ill. A very important step is to practice self-care like learning stress management techniques and making sure you have a strong support system. Having others they you can count on is crucial. Please try to educate yourself, as much as possible, about your parents’ condition. Knowing what they are going through will help give you perspective and tools on how to best help them. Do not be afraid to ask for help for your own needs. Please consider seeking out a therapist or support group for yourself to help you cope and process.
February 10th, 2019 6:56am
I do not know if I would call him mentally-ill but you could say that. My mother says that he is mentally depressed and is communicating the same to us, unaware of it. As a child, I was beaten for small things like doing a math sum wrong or stuff like that. But, I guess as I am getting older, it is getting better. He lashes out sometimes but not very often now. I have so many pages of my journal filled with episodes when I was feeling mad at him and have just cursed him through out my writings. The reason of his mental disturbance is actually his father who was more or less the same in behavior. I think a psychologist or a counselor should be appointed in offices too (just as schools) because adults have more problem in coping with their emotions and often vent them out in a wrong or inappropriate manner.
April 10th, 2019 5:48am
It's difficult but the trick is understanding their limitations and creating appropriate boundaries. That means pulling back when it becomes too much for you and communicating your love for them despite this. Accept your frustrations even if you can't communicate them. Care for them when you can and build up a support system with family and close friends where you get the care they can't give. It helps to know what they are struggling with; if they have a diagnosis, study it and look to forums and groups for people that deal with it to get a more personal opinion on it. Remember that you are not alone.
April 25th, 2019 2:36am
It can be really difficult to help support a parent who is going through a tough time or has a mental illness. As their child, you have a unique opportunity to support your parent(s) by showing how much you care for them. Helping out around the house is a good way to do this. However, it is important not to get too worried about trying to 'cure' their illness; that is the job of a professional. Your primary focus should be to maintain your health and happiness, and know when you should seek outside help for yourself or for others (including the parent in question).
June 30th, 2019 5:03am
Living with a mentally ill parent can be sheer hell. The same applies to husband and wives, or the siblings. Mental illness reaches out and touches many. There are a few people who can stay regulated, if they commit to taking their meds as prescribed, and not stop when they begin to “feel better.” Family or a friend utilized for a support system will definitely help them stay on course, IF they open up and talk about their fears, or not feeling up to par.,~ when they notice that something is not right . It is quite difficult but possible. I wish you luck :)
January 8th, 2020 11:00pm
First; what kind of illness is this? If you could research it, could you place your own mental position in a more befitting place? This could possibly add more value to you as the child in this situation. How long have you been asking this one question? If it's been more than a few months; can you gain access to the parents words on certain things that make your life difficult to a point in which, that you need their own statements towards your relationship? Also, is there anything that you yourself could change other than self harm to help in a peaceful way? I believe you and I have a great purpose; but, can we remind ourselves what that purpose is when it pertains to child to parent situations?
February 27th, 2020 8:15am
This is a perfect question for me because my mom suffered from paranoid schizophrenia my entire life. Honestly, it took me until I was over 18 to find the right way to live with her. My entire life I resented her for not being like all the other moms, I was constantly embarrassed and hated her. What I really recommend, is therapy because its not something anyone can really live with without another form of guidance, because you're missing a mom and your dad is dealing with the stress of a mental illness of a spouse. In therapy I learned what its like from her point of view (which was the opposite of what I thought) and skills to be patient and that I myself am not crazy.
March 12th, 2020 6:33am
This is very difficult to answer, and I guess it depends on a type of a mental illness that a parent has. Of course, this kind of a situation can often make a person feel stuck and hopeless, as living with a mentally ill parent is sometimes challenging. However, aside from remembering that they are suffering in their mental illness and thus providing them with proper love, care, and compassion, we also have to be able to take care of ourselves and to not forget that our time dedicated to us, hobbies, self care, priorities etc is just as important.❤️
March 28th, 2020 11:21pm
Living with a mentally ill Parent is a serious issue and challenge. It is one that you can not take on alone for your own safety and mental health. You are not to blame for your parents mental health issues and you alone can not fix or address them. You can be supportive but you can not be the only one helping your parent. You can also find a trusting person that you can talk with and tell them about your concerns and what is going on in your home. I suggest speaking with a teacher , coach, doctor or other medical professional. You have to care for yourself and not blame yourself
April 9th, 2020 8:43am
Its a big challenge. There are levels of mental illness and you have to be with that person all the time. If it is hard to maintain your work-life balance, you will have to take hard decision to admit that person to mental institute. Mental illness of parents is one of the greatest challenges for any family member. It is possible to even deal with physical illness but mental illness of parents is very difficult to deal with. It usually becomes a 24/7 monitoring job. You will need the skill to persuade and also the skill to dominate an arguement with you parents.