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relatives with mental health problems

(40 Posts)
Cabbie21 Sun 12-May-19 20:24:28

I am just wondering if any one else is the close relative of someone with serious long-term mental health problems?
How does it affect family relationships?
Do their needs dominate the family agenda?
How do you feel about this?

Cabbie21 Sun 12-May-19 22:43:18


Anniebach Sun 12-May-19 22:55:18

Many serious mental health illnesses ,many serious physical health illnesses ,depends on the illness

Jomarie Sun 12-May-19 23:08:52

Why do you want to know ???

Cabbie21 Sun 12-May-19 23:10:46

Thanks for replying, Anniebach.
Without wishing to reveal too much information, and hopefully without getting shot down in flames, I am currently struggling to cope emotionally with the consequences of having a relative with major MH problems. I grew up in the shadow of my sister’s problems so I ought to be used to it by now, but now it is another relative who is affected and I am struggling to know what to think and feel.

Cabbie21 Sun 12-May-19 23:12:52

Jomarie, as explained above, it affects my family personally. I am not doing research or anything like that.

Jomarie Sun 12-May-19 23:38:17

Ok Cabbie21 - see where you are coming from - so, in answer to your questions:
1. In every way
3, Frustrated and ultimately useless/powerless

That's the truth of it.

Wish I could post a more positive message but you asked the questions and I have answered you honestly. It sucks....{grimace] - no emoji for that !

Cabbie21 Sun 12-May-19 23:41:51

Thanks for your honest answers.
Dare I ask? Is it totally horrible to give up on someone?

Jomarie Sun 12-May-19 23:58:03

Yes of course it is totally horrible but ultimately one has to safeguard oneself and one's close family - the "problem" can take over all of one's life - I know as it happened to me - so my answer to your question is "yes" it is totally horrible but it is sometimes the only way to preserve oneself (sounds selfish but consider others who care for you) so a decision has to be made - it's not an easy decision but in your heart you will know what is best for the majority - ie the people who worry about you worrying about her/him!! Hope this helps. x

crazyH Mon 13-May-19 00:19:16

I don't know how mental health appears as a diagnosis, when the person doesn't think anything is wrong. My daughter I truly suspect has bi-polar. She holds an extremely good job, is divorced and supports her two demanding teenagers, with very little help from her ex. She has always been a difficult girl. One minute she's all over you, can't do enough, inviting me over for Sunday and then I won't see her for weeks. Her husband once told me he just can't cope with her moods and swings. He eventually divorced her. There again one minute she's helping him financially, because he doesn't hold a good job (lazy) and the next, she is cursing him all the way to hell and back. It's really hard for me to say this, I dread going over to see her because I dont know what mood she's in. Her brothers and sils also find her difficult - the siblings have had many a row which she has caused .
Things are ok at the moment, but heaven knows. I hope Cabbie my situation has given you some co fort. In my case, I can't give up.....she is my daughter. Good luck Cabbie !

gmelon Mon 13-May-19 00:21:50

Yes it is horrid to give up on someone dear to you.
Is it giving up on oneself to sacrifice your own life for the other person?

rosecarmel Mon 13-May-19 05:31:35

If you are directly involved with the individual who is suffering, and you find yourself suffering as well as a result, I'd suggest seeking a healthier way to navigate the situation -

You might feel like giving up, to some degree, because you may be taking the symptoms of their illness personally - You may find yourself "feeling" that things they say or do are targeting you specifically, making it difficult to cope, when in reality it's the symptoms, not the individual - When someone has runny nose from a cold, we don't take it personally, or think of that person as a runny nose - The same is true with mental illness symptoms -

Anniebach Mon 13-May-19 08:19:26

Depends on the relationship, I didn’t give up on my daughter, who can walk away from their own child. I was able to separate my darling daughter from the illness.

Cabbie21 Mon 13-May-19 09:05:43

It is almost impossible for me to talk about the current family member with problems, so I will talk about my sister. Once she became ill, as a teenager, the family dynamic focussed on her. I had to become resilient and independent. In the fifty plus years since then she has been up and down, but my parents always supported her. I would expect nothing less. But it nearly destroyed my father. He only began to recover once she was moved into supported accommodation about 20 years ago, and for the first time my parents spent Christmas with me, the only time, as they did not live long after that. My sister is still alive and I visit her from time to time, but others look after her.
I only wish my father could have given up feeling so responsible for her. Eg driving twenty five miles each way because she had lost her house keys, a frequent occurrence, which exhausted him as an elderly man.
Now history is kind of repeating itself and I am able to distance myself as it is not my child. I am only too aware of the effects on the family but I dare not get involved. MH is all- consuming, and very destructive of other relationships. It is really hard to see what is happening and say nothing.

Anniebach Mon 13-May-19 09:12:37

I had a cousin , Downs Syndrome, not mental health illness but it had a life long effect on his younger siblings.

Can a parent stop feeling responsible and protective for a child.

Cabbie21 Mon 13-May-19 09:30:14

No, Anniebach, they can’t. But what about their other children or other close family members, who have to recede into the background?

Anniebach Mon 13-May-19 10:03:12

I understand Cabbie I don’t know the answer, doubt there is one

Applegran Mon 13-May-19 10:14:22

Cabbie - this is a really painful and difficult situation. Have you thought about finding someone - maybe a counsellor - outside the situation, who you could talk to. It sounds as if you really need support - as any of us do, when life brings really difficult and painful situations our way. If you have a friend who is good at listening and understanding, talking to them could be a good beginning.

keffie Mon 13-May-19 10:19:46

Yes I too have mental health issues granted more managed today than they manage me. Its taken years of recovery and alot of intermittent specialised therapy with some usual type therapy.

My 2nd son has bipolar. I suggest you look to see if there is local groups to you that support the carer type role

You need to look after you now. You can't help the person unless they want help. The help needs to come from the appropriate medical and service agencies

It sounds to me as if you need to get your own help as you have been worn down by the years of it all. Sounds as if you need support with your own stuff from the past, new coping tools and how to set boundaries with them.

Good luck

keffie Mon 13-May-19 10:27:04

PS: no it's not totally horrible to "give up" though you will feel it. Some may say that it is. If the person doesnt want help then sometimes we have to walk away for our own self preservation

Plus continuing to help when they dont want it is enabling. If you step out they may just find there own rock bottom and go find the help they need themselves.

They are responsible for themselves as an adult. Some people just want to live in there health, in this case, health problems

We/I am responsible for me! Consider how hard it is change your own self. Then you will understand why you cant change/help someone else unless they want it. I have had to learn that in therapy as I used to be a rescuer.

Craftycat Mon 13-May-19 10:27:08

Yes. DH was wrongly diagnosed with Clinical Depression for many years. It turned out he is Bi-Polar. It all came out rather badly & he was in a home for 6 weeks.
He is OK on medication now but I can always tell if he is in an 'up' or a 'down' period.
He does take his medication but I fear the day he may decide he doesn't need it. Luckily his doctors will speak to me even though I am not at the same practice.
Believe me I know how wearing it is & I feel for you. TALK to good friends. they will surprise you with their support.

lmm6 Mon 13-May-19 10:37:14

My dear grandma suffered all her life with MH problems. This was caused by her mother dying when she was an infant. I believe she craved was love which she had not had as a child. As a family who lacked understanding, we did not give her enough. She needed constantly to be in the company of loved-ones but spent too much time on her own. I was too young to understand and now it's too late. My advice is always be there with a hug and to listen even though it can be very hard. Don't ever give up on anybody who needs you. This has been the lesson I have learned.

Anniebach Mon 13-May-19 10:38:05

A person with mental illness can’t make a calm, reasonable decision to refuse support , for example , a person with bi polar when on a high think they can sort out the worlds problems , when on a low they can find deciding if they want to eat too difficult a decision

4allweknow Mon 13-May-19 10:42:09

Drug addiction is a MH illness and it is well known the only way to survive the issues a family member can bring with the illness is to basically detach from the relationship. Alcoholism is another MH problem. Drug addiction can be stopped almost immediately with no harmful effects to the person , alcoholism is totally different and has to be managed medically and with supervision. Using those two examples to highlight there are so many different MH illnesses that would seem to take over a family's life but they need to be dealt with differently to achieve any worthwhile outcome. That's the horrendous problem with MH illnesses they are all different.

Cabbie21 Mon 13-May-19 10:46:18

Many thanks for all the messages of support and comments.
Fortunately for me now, my sister is looked after.
In the current situation I am not the person most closely affected, and can take no responsibility in the situation, which relieves me of that burden of worry, but I have to see the effect it is having on the main carer, and the knock- on effect on me. Yes, I would like to find someone appropriate to talk to. Meanwhile, I am concentrating on holding it together and ensuring I do things I want/ need to do for myself.