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Son’s turmoil over parents’ behaviour

A reader seeks advice to cope with family’s mental health issues

QUESTION:

I’m a son in his 40s, born to a bipolar mother and a father with Asperger’s syndrome. I am now estranged from my parents. I just finally snapped. Because of my mother, I’ve lost my job, my home, everything. I have worked all my life, I’ve never been unemployed. My mother would ring up my manager and discuss my life, which made me a laughing stock. One day she walked in and abused me for no reason at all, in front of my workmates. My father is a successful business man, very wealthy, but I can’t remember a time when he has been a friend, a father. My parents are selfish, cold, miserable. My life is ruined because of them. It’s too hard to start all over again. I’ve bottled this up all my life. I’m worn out just thinking about it. To see some professional to talk about it now, surely, is too late?

ANSWER:

Mental health issues experienced by family members can be difficult for others in the family to cope with. You have found ways to live with it for a very long time and it is understandable you are now considering your own needs. Most people fear change, even good change, and making a new start will feel overwhelming at first. It is important you do seek professional help. You are experiencing a mix of powerful emotions which need to be worked through and put behind you. You have skills and a good employment record, with support you can build a new life, but don’t try to do it alone. A counsellor can help you to make plans and set goals which will give you some structure to work towards, and can put you in touch with appropriate agencies for further guidance and support. The Panel recommends you talk to your GP without delay for advice about depression. It is very hard to make decisions and have motivation if depressed. When your mood lifts you will start to look forward to a happier life and freedom from the stresses of the past.

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Relationships Australia (SA) appoints panels of general practitioners, medical specialists, lawyers, therapeutic and financial counsellors to discuss each letter before the appropriate professional answers it.

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