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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
April 12th, 2020 8:10am
First of all, understand that you are not a reflection of the ways your parent is unable to rightly care for you. Protect your energy and don’t take on the responsibility of the caretaker role. Practice setting healthy boundaries for yourself. Try to keep in mind that parents are human too and mental illness may make your parental love look confusing or differently from the love you see others receive from neurotypical parents. That’s frustrating. I get that and I’m sorry. Try to remember that sometimes people can’t give us what they wish they were able to or what we deserve. What are some positive aspects of your relationship with your parent?
April 24th, 2020 9:43pm
Living with a mentally ill parent can be challenging, but it can be done. THe first thing to remember is this is not your fault, and it is also not your job to be their parent. Know that there are resources to help your parent and you don't have to go at it alone. Secondly, prioritize your mental health. If you aren't healthy how can you help someone who isn't take some time for yourself and take care. And lastly be patient mental illness is an illness and their behavior isn't their fault. Be patient and realize that much of what they say and do is out of their control
April 30th, 2020 12:40am
I have been living with a mentally-ill parent for many years. It depends which illness you are dealing with, but ultimately it’s important to remember that they are sick and in need. It can be hard not to be frustrated with them, but so rewarding if you keep being compassionate and kind. If your parent needs therapy or other help and they aren’t receiving it, I would suggest talking to your doctor or therapist about it. If you believe they need emotional support, you can give it to them but of course you don’t have to, especially if it will be a detriment your growth and health. For yourself, please find support through friends or therapy as well. You can find plenty of people online who deal with similar things who you can connect with. And plenty of mentors who know how to handle these types of situations.
May 1st, 2020 10:41pm
Being aware that a parent is already at a certain age, he or she has carried the burden of mental instability for a long time, whilst caring for a child, in most cases at the best of their abilities. Seeing them as humans, people who fail and fail until their lessons are learned, and sometimes being incapable of doing so, is something relatable to everyone, even healthy individuals. If you as the child have been wronged by their behavior, there can be certain kind of anger and blame towards the parent, but know that they were once young and they struggled up until this moment. Don't be affraid to take a step back, if you feel like you have taken on too much of their disease, and return if you feel like the situation is stable and safe for an open conversation if there is a need to. Parents have their life, and so do you, you have the last say in your life.
May 30th, 2020 7:27pm
Living with parents or guardians with a mental illness can be tremendously difficult. From my experience, this can often feel like you don't really get to be kid. You can also feel like you are constantly walking on eggshells or you may find yourself with more responsibilities than other kids. All of this can be very overwhelming. It is important for you to remember that your parent or guardian's mental illness is not your fault and that you are not responsible for their feelings. Remember to take time for yourself, hanging out with your friends and doing the things that you enjoy. It can also be very helpful to find support in other people, such as friends, teachers, school counselors, religious leaders, friends' parents, etc., confiding in them and sharing your burdens.
June 19th, 2020 8:44pm
It is a difficult question to answer - the types of mental illnesses, such as permanent disability, temporary disability, and diseases that accompany aging, and each of them, have different ways of dealing, and it is difficult to find a person who is good at dealing with them, but from my point of view, it is like dealing with a child that must be dealt with so. The best for the rest of the methods determined by the attending physician . It also differs from one culture to another and from one religion to another, and also from an effective way of dealing with it is the case study in detail .
July 5th, 2020 3:48pm
Engaging in healthy relationships have an equal balance of power. Try to engage with people who make you feel safe and respected, who listen well and are emotionally available for your own well being. You can't look after them if your not in the right mindset yourself as it will make both of you feel worse. Support them as much as you can put don't be afraid to ask those with more experience for help when you need it most. Connecting with others, noticing and observing feelings without judgement—these are all techniques that can bring you back to the present moment of comfort and safety. I've found Emotional Freedom Techniques especially helpful for physical symptoms or fearful thoughts.
July 31st, 2020 6:03pm
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August 2nd, 2020 4:30pm
The difficulty is based on ones ability to management. Can the individual leave? If so, for how long? While they're away what repercussions, if any are had. Distance, physically helps loads, ,more so when an individual is able to connect with healthy supportive individuals. That is, if a person is staying with a friend, is that friend a healthy influence? Or is it just a relocation of the same experience? Locating a parent figure who can offer support one wants to see in real life is key. This allows an individual to not only distance from harmful behavior and reinforcement, but allows them to learn or re-learn what a healthy parental figure.
August 20th, 2020 8:31pm
I make sure to set boundaries with them, but also show them empathy when they are at their lowest points. I try to listen to what is making them feel the way they are feeling. I also try to recognize that I cannot always try to solve their problems, but instead get professional mental health workers involved when necessary. It can be mentally draining and hard on my mental health when I see my parent like that, so taking some time to process what happened can be good too! Remembering that things get better has really helped me. Also, remembering that my parent is not their mental disorder has really helped me!
August 22nd, 2020 10:55am
1) Understand that being mentally unstable is not entirely their fault. 2) Stay away from home as much as possible by occupying yourself in school activities, events and clubs (scot/orchestra band/student union/etc), hobbies and classes (Basketball/Football/Gym/Drawing/Baking/Coffee brewing), going to libraries, parks, your friends' house or cafe to study, part-time jobs or volunteering (charity store/retailer/fast food receptionist/cleaning a park/Repairing bikes/etc) 3) Try to stop doing things that will trigger them when you are around them. 4) Just tell them briefly about yourself but not in detail. Don't talk to them about your problem as they may use it against you. 5) If your parents are abusive, perhaps check out local helplines
September 17th, 2020 10:08am
For children who grow up in the care of a mentally ill parent, life is often filled with anxiety, uncertainty, and vigilance. It is not unusual for their needs to be neglected — and they may even have to “compete” with their parent’s symptoms to receive care themselves. It also poses risk factors for problems that can emerge later in life, including emotional and psychological disturbances, learning challenges, and poorer overall functioning. In addition, there are a host of social challenges that these children may encounter, such as social rejection, troubled relationships, marital problems, and family dissolution.
October 23rd, 2020 8:38pm
Living with a mentally-ill parent is tough. It is like walking on eggshells all the time. The best thing you can do is ask them what they need. Or, maybe helping around the house. If they are mentally ill and will not get help, I know from personal experiencne how heartbreaking that can be. The best thing you can dois get yourself help. Learning the coping mechanisms for yourself through talk therapy or through some self-help books to deal with them as well. Either way it is a tough situation and I am truly sorry that this is something you have to live with.
November 13th, 2020 6:24am
My dad was depressed almost all the time, and when it wasn't it was really excited about everything. It was shocking, confuse me a lot, and made me feel responsable of anything. It was really hard to understand that his feelings wasn't trully based in the actions of myself, and it wans't conected to how much he loved me, but it was really hard to not feel overwhelmed. I never trust about what was happiness, or sadness, I lost those concept even with myself, but it's a path, that I'm taking on. By the way, my dad had chronic depression and was bipolar, he comited suicide 4 years ago, but there is always hope.
December 2nd, 2020 4:38pm
It might be difficult at first, but understand that you parent is trying their best to stay in a healthier mental space, so you should also try your best to stay considerate of their emotions and feelings, as well as try your best to show empathy towards them. If they choose to vent to you, listen and give your support. Show that you care about them and that you want to be there for them. Let them know that you love them and are ready to listen to any of their problems and that they are not alone in their burdens.
December 12th, 2020 8:40pm
Handling mental illness in a family member can be a frustrating and disheartening experience. The best thing you can do is remember to be patient with them. If it is appropriate, you may want to suggest your parent seek help from a professional. A therapist, counselor, psychiatrist, or even your family doctor should be able to help to some degree either through therapy or medication. Family counseling sessions may benefit you both as you learn together how to overcome the limitations created by the illness. Another good thing to do is to research the illness as much as possible. Learn everything you can like symptoms, triggers, treatment options, and outcomes. Stay strong and build a good support system for yourself, as well.
December 21st, 2020 3:01pm
Living with a mentally ill parent is tough, because they have a lot of authority, but they act a lot out of their insecurities or things having to do with their mental illness, which doesn't usually help you. Speaking from my own experience, living with a dad who has depression, dissociative disorder, PTSD, and ADD, it can be super frustrating. I've found that the best way to be respectful to your parent(s), but also get fair rules is to try to relate to them as often as possible. Often times people with mental illness act out because they feel like no one understands them, or no one cares. So if you can show that you understand and care, and that they're worth your time, they might feel better and more inclined to think about your side.