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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5821
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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I grew up with a parent whose mental illness was chronic and

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I grew up with a parent whose mental illness was chronic and untreated (and still is). I struggle now with some anxiety and depression and being able to trust people. What area of specialization will enable a therapist to best help me, and is there anywhere else I can find support? I tried NAMI but couldn't really relate as most people were parents or spouses of people with mental illness.
Hello, I'd like to help you with your question.

In order to help you heal from what you went through as a child coping with a mentally ill parent, you need to see a therapist who can help you understand what happened to you as a child compared to what should have happened to you as a child. A therapist with a good understanding of childhood development and/or a therapist who understands how the past affects your present emotional state is a good choice.

The type of therapists that can help you include:

Psychodynamic- These are therapists that are Freudian but are more modern in their approach.

Gestalt- Therapists that work with the impact of your past on your current situation and help you reframe your emotions.

Humanistic- Which studies the whole person in therapy.

You can also try on line forums and support groups as well as books to help you find others who relate to your situation and to understand your situation better. Although NAMI is the standard source, you can also find smaller organizations that help. Here are some resources and links to help:

My Parents' Keeper: Adult Children of the Emotionally Ill by Eva Brown

Surviving a Borderline Parent: How to Heal Your Childhood Wounds and Build Trust, Boundaries, and Self-Esteem by Kimberlee Roth, Freda B. Friedman and Randi Kreger (I'm not sure what your parent is diagnosed with but this may apply and help anyway)

Life After Trauma, Second Edition: A Workbook for Healing by Dena Rosenbloom PhD and Mary Beth Williams PhD

Beyond Boundaries: Learning to Trust Again in Relationships by John Townsend

I hope this has helped you,
TherapistMarryAnn and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you

Can I help you further? If not, may I please request that if you find the service I provided helpful at all that you rate me with three or above? Your rating is the only way I am reimbursed for my answer. Thank you so much!


Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Thanks for your help.

Thank you very much for the rating! I appreciate it.

My best to you,


Customer: replied 4 years ago.
regarding the BPD book and diagnosis - my mom had her first psychotic break in her late 30s when I was 8 years old after taking diet drugs. She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the time and was briefly on medication, then went off it and has never been back to a doctor or any health professional since then (about 17 years ago). My previous therapist had said that her behavior now sounds more indicative of schizophrenia, although she has not been diagnosed or treated. She is definitely paranoid and delusional (thinks people break into her house whenever she leaves and subtly rearranges it as a form of emotional torture). So she definitely has psychotic symptoms. I wouldn't be surprised if there's also personality disorder in there. Mental illness runs in my family. I know my grandpa on my mom's side has bipolar, and his brother and mother died from causes related to their mental illness, which are unclear to me since no one in my family discusses them.
It's so stressful knowing that my mother survives from financial support from my grandparents, which is finite, and knowing that as she gets older her health and stability is likely to be even less predictable. She hasn't been to a doctor in over 10 years. Sometimes she reports illnesses or injuries to me that I don't know are real. I know for sure that she has a tooth with a filling that fell out, which she ameliorates by putting tooth putty from the drug store in it. I wish I could convince her at least to apply for disability, because she has been disabled for so many years, but it is a sensitive subject that she is not open to.
So, that's more detail just to fill in the picture. If you have any books about parents with schizophrenia off the top of your head, or other applicable resources let me know. If not, thanks for your help again.

I am sorry to hear about your mother. Dealing with someone in your family who has a mental illness can be overwhelming and difficult and often make you feel helpless. Be sure to take care of yourself as much as possible to help you cope with the stress.

Here are some resources to help you:

Growing Up With a Schizophrenic Mother Margaret J. Brown and Doris Parker Roberts

Daughters of Madness: Growing Up and Older with a Mentally Ill Mother (Women's Psychology) by Susan Nathiel

My Parents' Keeper: Adult Children of the Emotionally Ill by Eva Brown
The Burden of Sympathy: How Families Cope With Mental Illness by ***** ***** Karp