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 Post subject: Who else has mentally ill parents?
PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2014 12:38 pm 
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1) is this the right forum to talk about this?

2) anyone else dealing with parents who are any kind of mentally ill, including addiction?

3) are they still in your lives?

boring story even more boring: My parents are both mentally ill, and have recently been profoundly physically ill. I was spending a LOT of time taking care of their affairs, and it was kinda literally killing me. So about a week ago I decided that I can't have them in my life anymore. Anyone else struggle with their parents, and keeping up relationships with them?

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 Post subject: Re: Who else has mentally ill parents?
PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2014 12:48 pm 
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I can't say my parents are profoundly ill, but my mom has pretty severe anxiety, my dad has addiction issues, and both parents have depression. My dad internalizes all of his issues but my mom is a big explosive mess, so dealing with her often triggers my own depression and/or anxiety. She grew up with an even more anxious mom and a narcissistic father, and has two totally useless sisters, so that adds a "fun" dimension to her psychoses. Being with my dad isn't tough in that sense, but knowing that inside he is roiling with unresolved issues is a different form of stress in and of itself.

I've recently become a big fan of The Mental Illness Happy Hour podcast. It's hosted by a comedian, Paul Gilmartin, and he often has other comedians or actors, as well as 'non-famous' folks, on his show to talk about their issues, their childhood, etc. Often a lot of the discussion involves mentally ill parents . It's a very wide-reaching and very accessible show- it covers a wide range of mental illnesses and makes no judgment calls on what methods of treatment/coping/medication work for anyone. It's just discussion and sharing.

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 Post subject: Re: Who else has mentally ill parents?
PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2014 12:55 pm 
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I deal with a sister who has ongoing issues related to addiction and a diagnosis of munchausen syndrome, there may be other things but nobody has gotten close enough to diagnose. The situation involves my mother as well-- just one person creates so much havoc, so I can't even imagine having multiple loved ones involved with their own individual illnesses. I give you a lot of credit.

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 Post subject: Re: Who else has mentally ill parents?
PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2014 12:57 pm 
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Thanks for sharing that Erika! My parents are pretty much the opposite - my dad has Bipolar I that is very poorly managed, so there are frequent bouts of psychosis and mania. My mom is The Normalizer - has been in such denial for so long that her memory seems to be permanently damaged. My dad has also been quadriplegic for the past two years, adding a whole new dimension to dealing with them. These are people who go into complete crisis mode when faced with something as mundane as going to the airport... They catastrophize normal life. So of course dealing with a legitimately difficult situation is far, far more than they're capable of. I want to help them, but they trigger my anxiety to the point where I can barely function. They also make all of my inflammatory stuff (fibromyalgia, IBS, and apparently now arthritis and psoriasis) spin out of control. Not good.

I will have to check out that podcast!

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 Post subject: Re: Who else has mentally ill parents?
PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2014 1:01 pm 
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torque wrote:
I deal with a sister who has ongoing issues related to addiction and a diagnosis of munchausen syndrome, there may be other things but nobody has gotten close enough to diagnose. The situation involves my mother as well-- just one person creates so much havoc, so I can't even imagine having multiple loved ones involved with their own individual illnesses. I give you a lot of credit.


Thank you, I really appreciate that. It's true, having any one member of a family unit living with mental illness puts a strain on everyone. I'm sorry to hear that your sister is struggling. For me, it's all three (my sister has her own problems, stemming mostly from growing up as my parents' daughter). I of course have my problems too, namely anxiety and Bipolar II - but I function, have a job, etc, something none of the rest of them do.

The idea that I'm "the stable one" in my family is so ridiculous to me, but seems to be the truth...

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 Post subject: Re: Who else has mentally ill parents?
PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2014 1:18 pm 
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Melissa Bastian wrote:
These are people who go into complete crisis mode when faced with something as mundane as going to the airport... They catastrophize normal life.


Yep, you just described my mother! A simple 5 minute drive in my parents' town to go to dinner at a restaurant is a gauntlet with my mom in the backseat. She needs to make sure I see every red light and pedestrian. And then she's got to fret about parking in their little two-horse town. Are we close enough to restaurant? Close enough to/far enough from the curb? Don't hit the car behind you! Oh watch, there are cars coming behind you on the road, I don't like being parked on this busy street! Don't leave that napkin on the dashboard, someone could break into the car for it. Do you think we're close enough to the curb? I might get back in to pull forward just a little bit.

JESUS CHRIST WOMAN JUST PARK THE DAMN CAR AND STUFF SOMETHING INTO THAT JABBERING MAW ALREADY.

Last time I saw my parents they were throwing a small party to show off their newly-renovated kitchen, so I came up to their house to help out. NOTHING stresses my mom out like a social gathering (and yep, my anxiety is most profound socially)! In five minutes, she yelled at my dad for not having ice out yet (20 minutes before guests are due), then yelled at him for knocking the ice bin against the bucket for the ice (could damage the ice bin somehow?), then yelled at him for making the bucket too heavy to move (my dad is the one moving it, so this is moot), then went back and forth about whether to move the bucket to where she had originally planned it or whether to keep it in place next to the fridge because now it's so heavy. Every little thing was like that!

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 Post subject: Re: Who else has mentally ill parents?
PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2014 1:23 pm 
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Erika Soyf*cker wrote:
Melissa Bastian wrote:
These are people who go into complete crisis mode when faced with something as mundane as going to the airport... They catastrophize normal life.


Yep, you just described my mother! A simple 5 minute drive in my parents' town to go to dinner at a restaurant is a gauntlet with my mom in the backseat. She needs to make sure I see every red light and pedestrian. And then she's got to fret about parking in their little two-horse town. Are we close enough to restaurant? Close enough to/far enough from the curb? Don't hit the car behind you! Oh watch, there are cars coming behind you on the road, I don't like being parked on this busy street! Don't leave that napkin on the dashboard, someone could break into the car for it. Do you think we're close enough to the curb? I might get back in to pull forward just a little bit.

JESUS CHRIST WOMAN JUST PARK THE DAMN CAR AND STUFF SOMETHING INTO THAT JABBERING MAW ALREADY.


Yes. All of this. It's like, the rational part of you wants to be sympathetic - you know this is all coming from fear and anxiety that she's not able to control. Then there's the part of you that's been dealing with her behavior for your whole freakin life, when you really want to be able to just count on your parent to behave like a real live adult... Yeah. Funsies!

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 Post subject: Re: Who else has mentally ill parents?
PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2014 1:26 pm 
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Incidentally, I was in my late twenties before I realized that my utter panic (or lack thereof) did not, in fact, affect the ability of an airplane's wings to generate lift.

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 Post subject: Re: Who else has mentally ill parents?
PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2014 1:36 pm 
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Thank you for starting this thread Melissa.

I broke off contact with my toxic parents 5 years ago. They don't suffer mental illness, or addiction, they were just abusive, neglectful and all round not very nice people - to put it mildly. I still struggle with the residue of the abuse, but ending my chronic exposure to it has helped me immensely.

I really appreciate your post because my husband and I both have bipolar disorder II. Your experience, is exactly the reason why we chose not to have kids. I'm sorry for what you've been through *hugs* and I'm so glad we will not be putting a child through what you've been through.

And thank you Erika for recommending that podcast, I have added it to my favourites and will check it out, later in the week.

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 Post subject: Re: Who else has mentally ill parents?
PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2014 1:43 pm 
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Melissa, that sounds hard. Are you getting support (counseling, quality time with friends/other family members, etc.) for yourself through this?

Also, is there any way to cut back on your involvement with your parents without cutting them out of your life completely? I can see why you'd want to take drastic action, but maybe you can try to scale back and see how that goes first?

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 Post subject: Re: Who else has mentally ill parents?
PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2014 1:46 pm 
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jean wrote:
Thank you for starting this thread Melissa.

I broke off contact with my toxic parents 5 years ago. They don't suffer mental illness, or addiction, they were just abusive, neglectful and all round not very nice people - to put it mildly. I still struggle with the residue of the abuse, but ending my chronic exposure to it has helped me immensely.

I really appreciate your post because my husband and I both have bipolar disorder II. Your experience, is exactly the reason why we chose not to have kids. I'm sorry for what you've been through *hugs* and I'm so glad we will not be putting a child through what you've been through.

And thank you Erika for recommending that podcast, I have added it to my favourites and will check it out, later in the week.


Oof. Thanks for sharing Jean. Did it take a long time coming to, or did you just know for certain that there was no other option?

Yes, my parents are also abusive - mainly in the form of neglect and verbal/emotional abuse, and also some physical abuse when my sister and I were younger. I cut them out for the first time 11 years ago; my dad had just been released from a mental hospital and they kept showing up at my house. As a result I wasn't able to feel safe. It didn't last long though, because I wasn't yet able to be completely financially independent.

After Katrina I moved to NYC (had always been in the same city as them prior to that), and it was amazing to be beyond their physical grasp.

But there's such a strong pull; it feels like all of society telling me that it's just an absurd thing to cut off your parents. Sadly, being a parent requires no special qualifications. Creating a baby doesn't inbue people with the maturity or skill to be good parents. Sometimes, separating from them entirely really is the best option. I feel like folks think I'm being hyperbolic, but no, really. My life is quantifiably better in ever possible way when they are not in it.

I definitely think that people with mental illness can be great parents, once they've been able to manage their illnesses. I do hope to become a foster or adoptive parent at some point. But I'm grateful that I remain child free currently, so I have the space to work through my own shiitake before trying to be a role model and such.

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 Post subject: Re: Who else has mentally ill parents?
PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2014 1:47 pm 
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jordanpattern wrote:
Melissa, that sounds hard. Are you getting support (counseling, quality time with friends/other family members, etc.) for yourself through this?

yes, definitely. you can't expect to deal with that kind of load and not have strain on yourself that needs to find a positive way out.

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 Post subject: Re: Who else has mentally ill parents?
PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2014 1:50 pm 
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jordanpattern wrote:
Melissa, that sounds hard. Are you getting support (counseling, quality time with friends/other family members, etc.) for yourself through this?

Also, is there any way to cut back on your involvement with your parents without cutting them out of your life completely? I can see why you'd want to take drastic action, but maybe you can try to scale back and see how that goes first?


Ohhh yes. I've been in (at least) weekly therapy for 15 years now. I have tried so, so hard to create boundaries with my parents, to prevent them taking so much of me. But I'm starting with a lot on my plate between physical and mental health issues, and they are so completely unable to respect any boundary that I set, that it seems this is my only choice.

It has been a long, long time coming. I find it telling that both my husband and my therapist think that separating from them is my best option.

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 Post subject: Re: Who else has mentally ill parents?
PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2014 1:53 pm 
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Side note: I am a BIG believer in built family! Tried and true friends are likely the only reason I've been as successful as I have in this life (i.e., still functional).

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 Post subject: Re: Who else has mentally ill parents?
PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2014 1:59 pm 
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Hang in there kid (love the new avatar, BTW, it reminds me of those awesome finger puppets I had as a kid).
I had to do the same with my family after realizing that they were a risk to me and to my child. (my mother used to ask me for help in dealing with my sister, when i went there last year i realized it was far too involved for me to be able to "fix". when it started to move into risky areas [my sister contacting my kid's school to ask if she could be made the responsible party, sending suggestive messages to my husband on FB, hacking my email, etc] we left and I made it clear that mom is on her own as long as the conditions remain the same. my sister, i can only say I can't even.).
It doesn't have to be definitive or forever, it can be just for now, but it is your life, not theirs, and I don't think it is unrealistic that you need to have your own strength and resources for yourself first.

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 Post subject: Re: Who else has mentally ill parents?
PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2014 2:06 pm 
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torque wrote:
Hang in there kid (love the new avatar, BTW, it reminds me of those awesome finger puppets I had as a kid).
I had to do the same with my family after realizing that they were a risk to me and to my child. (my mother used to ask me for help in dealing with my sister, when i went there last year i realized it was far too involved for me to be able to "fix". when it started to move into risky areas [my sister contacting my kid's school to ask if she could be made the responsible party, sending suggestive messages to my husband on FB, hacking my email, etc] we left and I made it clear that mom is on her own as long as the conditions remain the same. my sister, i can only say I can't even.).
It doesn't have to be definitive or forever, it can be just for now, but it is your life, not theirs, and I don't think it is unrealistic that you need to have your own strength and resources for yourself first.


Your family situation sounds brutal. <3

And thanks.

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 Post subject: Re: Who else has mentally ill parents?
PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2014 2:53 pm 
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Erika Soyf*cker wrote:
Melissa Bastian wrote:
These are people who go into complete crisis mode when faced with something as mundane as going to the airport... They catastrophize normal life.


Yep, you just described my mother! A simple 5 minute drive in my parents' town to go to dinner at a restaurant is a gauntlet with my mom in the backseat. She needs to make sure I see every red light and pedestrian. And then she's got to fret about parking in their little two-horse town. Are we close enough to restaurant? Close enough to/far enough from the curb? Don't hit the car behind you! Oh watch, there are cars coming behind you on the road, I don't like being parked on this busy street! Don't leave that napkin on the dashboard, someone could break into the car for it. Do you think we're close enough to the curb? I might get back in to pull forward just a little bit.

JESUS CHRIST WOMAN JUST PARK THE DAMN CAR AND STUFF SOMETHING INTO THAT JABBERING MAW ALREADY.

Last time I saw my parents they were throwing a small party to show off their newly-renovated kitchen, so I came up to their house to help out. NOTHING stresses my mom out like a social gathering (and yep, my anxiety is most profound socially)! In five minutes, she yelled at my dad for not having ice out yet (20 minutes before guests are due), then yelled at him for knocking the ice bin against the bucket for the ice (could damage the ice bin somehow?), then yelled at him for making the bucket too heavy to move (my dad is the one moving it, so this is moot), then went back and forth about whether to move the bucket to where she had originally planned it or whether to keep it in place next to the fridge because now it's so heavy. Every little thing was like that!


this is how my mother acts exactly - she hasn't been diagnosed with anything, but it is so exhausting. when she has people come over, she frets about everything to the point that she assigns seats. then add my spoiled 20 your old sister, who throws multiple temper tantrums a week when she doesn't get her way.


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 Post subject: Re: Who else has mentally ill parents?
PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2014 2:56 pm 
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Sadly, it's the competition nobody wins. I am glad I had to resources to move so far away, and am *really* lucky that my inlaws, despite their quirks, are really great people. thank goodness SOMEBODY has a nice family!
take care of yourself!

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 Post subject: Re: Who else has mentally ill parents?
PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2014 2:59 pm 
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torque wrote:
Sadly, it's the competition nobody wins. I am glad I had to resources to move so far away, and am *really* lucky that my inlaws, despite their quirks, are really great people. thank goodness SOMEBODY has a nice family!
take care of yourself!


OMG me too! Before I met my husband's parents I had no idea that parents could actually behave well. We're visiting them this weekend and I'm looking forward to it!

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 Post subject: Re: Who else has mentally ill parents?
PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2014 4:38 pm 
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My mother has borderline personality disorder that she refuses to acknowledge or treat. Both parents are addicts and are depressed. My father also has rage issues and is on prozac. But her BPD is the hardest to deal with. It makes her needy, manipulative, and suicidal. I set up boundaries but it's a constant battle.

My FIL is a compulsive liar and addict. My FIL's girlfriend is bipolar. My MIL is an addict and narcissist.

Isnt family great!? Hah!

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 Post subject: Re: Who else has mentally ill parents?
PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2014 4:42 pm 
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BTW thanks for starting this thread!!

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 Post subject: Re: Who else has mentally ill parents?
PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2014 10:50 am 
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couroupita wrote:
My mother has borderline personality disorder that she refuses to acknowledge or treat. Both parents are addicts and are depressed. My father also has rage issues and is on prozac. But her BPD is the hardest to deal with. It makes her needy, manipulative, and suicidal. I set up boundaries but it's a constant battle.

My FIL is a compulsive liar and addict. My FIL's girlfriend is bipolar. My MIL is an addict and narcissist.

Isnt family great!? Hah!

BTW thanks for starting this thread!!



OOF. Sounds like you and your partner have your hands full! Boundaries are so hard to maintain, particularly with people who don't recognize them. <3

And you're welcome. I had a feeling I couldn't be the only person in this community struggling with these issues! And it's hard to find a safe space in which to talk about them.

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 Post subject: Re: Who else has mentally ill parents?
PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2014 10:51 am 
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couroupita wrote:
BTW thanks for starting this thread!!


Also THAT'S A BUNNY NOSE!! Right? Are you also a bunny parent?

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 Post subject: Re: Who else has mentally ill parents?
PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2014 11:30 am 
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postnothing, sounds like you and Melissa and I need a support group- adult children of anxious mothers!

Melissa is right, though, as insanely frustrated as I get by her, I have to remember that it's not like she's enjoying it herself, or that this behavior is the result of healthy thinking or a happy past. Having my own not-inconsiderable struggles with anxiety, I know how much of a forking awful prison it can be, and I feel for my mom that either her prison bars are much stronger than mine were/are, or that she has too much other stuff going on to be concentrating on breaking out. She has done a lot of work on herself and I have noticed an enormous improvement since my childhood. And considering my memories of her mother, holy shiitake, she made Woody Allen look like The Dude Lebowski. But, moms. They're always gonna drive you crazy, right?

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 Post subject: Re: Who else has mentally ill parents?
PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2014 11:59 am 
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Erika Soyf*cker wrote:
postnothing, sounds like you and Melissa and I need a support group- adult children of anxious mothers!

...She has done a lot of work on herself and I have noticed an enormous improvement since my childhood. And considering my memories of her mother, holy shiitake, she made Woody Allen look like The Dude Lebowski. But, moms. They're always gonna drive you crazy, right?


To the first point, yes! To the second point, that's amazing! Good for your mom (and your fam!)! (Sadly my mother has gone the other way.) And to the third, yes, every mother ever to be given the chance to do so has made their kids crazy at some point, no doubt!

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