People who grow up with seriously mentally ill and/or substance addicted parents often have specific beliefs/thoughts/experiences that prevent them from being authentically happy as adults, such as:I feel like I missed out on the basics of how to live life
- I wonder if I even have the right to exist?
- I feel like no one has my back/there’s no support structure
- I’m an overachiever, but I can’t find a satisfying relationship
- I’m always waiting for the next disaster to happen
- My life is great…why am I always so sad?
- Why am I always walking on eggshells?
- I have to keep the family secrets or I will be betraying them
Some of these statements may sound similar to those for Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACOA); however growing up with a mentally ill parent is seldom recognized as a basic developmental problem. People with mentally ill parents often live in chaotic homes and are so busy taking care of Mom, Dad, or their siblings that they don’t have the time or the guidance to learn basic self-care and how to be in relationships. Additionally, seriously mentally ill people often have substance abuse problems, magnifying the effect on the child. Families may be socially isolated, to cover up what is going on in the household.
In therapy we explore how your parent’s illness has impacted you and how you can learn to thrive as an adult.