How To Live with a Mentally Ill Parent

Your parents may be in perfect mental health right now but as they age, they will be more prone to mental afflictions and illnesses. It really comes with age and is largely caused by the experiences of stress in life and the toxicity of the environment. Since this inevitability will definitely come, you should be prepared to live with them since you are the only one capable of really taking care of your parents. If you are thinking that taking care of a mentally ill parent is east, think again. It will definitely take the fighting heart out of you due to the constant stress of taking care of them and having to swallow what comes with it. Here are some ideas on how to take care of your mentally ill parent in a way that you don’t become mentally ill yourself.

  • Know about the illness. Living with a mentally ill parent can be quite a challenge especially if you don’t know the intricacies of the illness. This is why if you are dealing with your parent, it is extremely vital that you know the various details of the illness so that you can deal with it the right way and equip yourself with the right psychological tools and defenses. To learn more about the illness, consult your parent’s doctor or physician, particularly the professional that diagnosed the illness. Have him educate you regarding the illness and how to deal with it. To supplement your education, it is highly recommended to buy a copy of the DSM-IV-TR book which features all you need to know about the various mental illnesses known to man, especially those that afflict the aged. Of course, make sure to explore the Internet for other supplementary information about the illness. If possible, join online support groups and forums so that people that have already experienced the same can educate you on what to do further.
  • Know that it is the illness and not your parent. When taking care of your mentally ill loved one, you will often bear the burden of having to swallow each and every insult or hurtful comment from them once in awhile. Obviously, it is quite tough to be dense enough that these insults will not affect you. In truth, it will affect you quite effectively. However, you can take these insults in stride if you realize that whoever is throwing the insults at you is not really your loved one but only the mental illness possessing him or her. Realizing this truth will definitely help you move from carrying the insults at heart. Basically, what you will want to be able to do is to take it into one ear and out the other, and not to take it in deep inside the gut.
  • Release your stress. Let’s face it; taking care of a mentally ill person is a tough but honorable job. However, the stress that comes with can definitely take a toll on any person. The insults and comments hurled at you can get you down and depressed. When this happens, you will need to be able to release how you feel. Close friends and support groups can help you out here. You can also release some stress by setting aside a couple of hours in each day for some me time wherein you can do what makes you happy without worrying about your parent.

In conclusion, it is critical that you don’t allow your life to be overly burdened by your situation with your parent. It is important that you are able to live your life in spite of this burden. Do not make it define who you are and the way you should live your life.


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