Living with a mentally ill parent can be a distressing experience for the children. A mentally challenged parent might be completely alright one day, managing everything on his or her own, and the very next day he or she might feel ill and need help for even getting through the minor day-to-day chores. It is even more challenging for the family when a mentally ill person refuses to take help for the problem. Living with such a parent might bring embarrassment to a child, compelling him or her to avoid relatives and friends who can provide the needed support.
Growing up, these children miss out on the normal parenting and nurturing, and are often entrusted with household responsibilities, along with meeting the emotional and other needs of the parent and other family members. This can get overwhelming at times, but escaping from such a situation is an act of cowardice. As the saying goes “one must face everything and avoid nothing,” it is important to cultivate enough courage to face the reality and lead a harmonious life.
Here are a few tips which can help a child to cope well when living with a mentally ill parent:
Getting informed: In order to cope with the stress of living with a mentally ill parent, one must gather as much information as possible to have a clear picture of the disease, its symptoms, prognosis, etc. This will help an individual to understand certain patterns of the illness and also learn about the ways in which help can be offered.
Making a contact list: One must make a list of all the relevant contacts, including close friends and relatives, who can be approached during crisis. This plan of action can save a lot of anxiety at a time when a parent suffers from an acute illness.
Ensuring self-care: Taking care of a mentally ill parent and shouldering other household responsibilities can be a daunting task for children. This can get less stressful if one is properly rested and fed. Therefore, it is important that the kids take a good care of themselves by sleeping adequately, eating nutritious food, working out, and maybe, taking part in a hobby to renew spirits.
Talking to someone: For some, dealing with a mentally ill loved one might lead to anger, humiliation and exhaustion. It is therefore important to have a close friend, counselor or anyone as a confidant with whom they can share their feelings.
Showing compassion and empathy: A mentally challenged person can go from hysterical weeping at one hour to raging anger in the next, sometimes even throwing and breaking stuff, swearing and causing hurt to the loved ones. However, during these painful episodes, one must always remember that it is not the person but the disease which is causing such issues.
Accepting the reality: The dynamics of relationship between a mentally ill parent and the child are far from being normal. However, acceptance can bring in a lot of difference and peace. Accepting the fact that one’s mentally ill parent needs to be taken care of as a child, needs to be handled during acute illness, and, most importantly, needs to be forgiven and loved entirely for who he or she is can make life less complicated.
Road to recovery
Living with a mentally ill parent can get very stressful and might start affecting the mental health of the children and the caregivers. Mental illnesses, when left untreated, may also lead to suicidal tendencies. However, if recognized on time and addressed accordingly, such cases can be prevented.
If you know someone who is suffering from a mental disorder, contact Sovereign Health to access one of our mental health facilities. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-973-7164 or chat online with experts to know about our mental health rehabilitation centers.