What can be done when you find out a parent has been seen for mental illness all there life and no one told you?


Mum was diagnosed with vascular/mixed dementia last year immediately she was reffered to a CPN. I have since learnt she had been registered with social services since 1952. We had a grim childhood and I always knew she was unstable however the cross over in her mental health and dementia is causing huge problems how can this be dealt with.?

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
Find Care & Housing


Tinkerbell, I can relate a lot of your situation. My take before I had to temporarily (I pray) move in with my mother was that you could spend forever analyzing things, forever in therapy, forever trying to decide what's deliberate what isn't and deciding what to take personally and what's "just" the dementia. And while forever passes she's still getting older, health problems happen and crises come up where everyone expects YOU to step up. My perspective when I'm feeling calmer (not always lately) is that all we can do is be very practical and very realistic. Ask yourself what is the actual problem now? What are the biggest risk factors now? What are my real options? Choose a path, take action, and know you did your best. Also know the deck is stacked against you getting a happy satisfying outcome with the double whammy of dementia and mental illness, so that idealized old age for your mother can't be the goal - doing what is honorable that you can live with is.
Helpful Answer (1)

Those are quite a mixture of dynamics. Nope, that was definitely not a normal childhood being raised by various relatives and not being allowed to be children plus not being encouraged to drive as young adults.

Just what is her mental health diagnosis? How old is she?

It sounds to me like your dad felt controlled by your very unpredictable mom. Evidently, your mom felt threatened by your having a second child for some reason. I don't understand your dad begging you to make things right with your mom. Her being upset over the birth of your second child was her problem and not something for you to be blamed for. She owes you an apology for burning up your wedding pictures.

How exactly was your mom controlled and protected all her life? It sounds to me like she controlled him.

What is a joint LPA? Did you mean a joint POA? I guess you have the durable POA and the Medical POA?

I think you and your sister need to not only get into therapy, but also see a social worker together about making plans about your mom's current and future care.
What does your husband and if your sister is married her husband think about all of this?

Take care and keep in touch.
Helpful Answer (0)

Tinkerbell, it sounds like you spent your childhood walking on eggshells so you wouldn't disturb you Mum. You have my sympathy for that. I know how stressful it is. Children are so resourceful to be able to carry on like everything is normal. I guess they have no other option, since it assures survival. Did your sister do okay?

Dementia and mental illness often work together, with one making the other more difficult usually. It can be difficult to figure out if it is the dementia or if it is the normal personality coming out unfiltered. It is so good that you have help with her. It sounds like she has a dependent personality, so I don't know if you'll be able to change that at this stage. Her parents, your father, and then you and Sister have always taken care of her. Having a CPN is a big help. Is your mother also seeing a geriatric psychiatrist? If she is, let him/her know what is going on with her. Maybe there's something that can lift the depression/apathy enough that she will want to stay clean and do what she can for herself.

I know there are no easy answers. You have a lot of support from here, I know. Major big hugs coming your way.
Helpful Answer (2)

Thank you to all for advice and support, to fill in some background. My Mum was not divorced and stayed with my Dad all her married life until he passed away. Dad always reffered to Mum as vunerable and as children my sister and I learnt we had to cause her no worry at all. We were not allowed bikes as children or encouraged to drive as young adults basically we were never allowed to be children. I was raised from birth until 13 by my Nan ( Mums, Mum) and a variety of Aunts and Uncles and had what I thought was a normal childhood until I had my own children and 4 I had a very unpleasant experience that Mum was aware of however it was never dealt with. I upset her when I had my second child and she burnt all my wedding photos and told my younger sister she was never to contact me. Dad who I had been close to all my life came and begged me to put things right with Mum for his sake as he would not be able to see me or his Grandchildren if I didn't. Of course I backed down as always and I am glad I did for all concerned. Mum has been controlled and protected all her life when my Dad was very ill he told me never to cross her or disagree as she was evil when she felt threatened. My sister and I have a joint LPA for Mum as she is incapable of dealing with her life, we deal with all finance and we have put a care package in place. The first set of carers have not worked out as she has learnt to lie and manipulate them. We have tried talking to them but in her own doctors words she is incredibly plausible. And we are constantly told by others she is not that bad. However she has no personal hygiene, is unable to cook, clean or wash her clothes. I know the whole mental illness is working in with the dementia and we need proper help and guidance on how best to care for her.
Helpful Answer (0)

It is very difficult for a parent with a mental illness to be a parent and depending on the mental illness it is harder for some than for others.

Where was your dad during your childhood or was your mother divorced? If she was divorced, like my mother was, those were particularly difficult times for any woman who was divorced and that was rare compared to today.

Where does your mother live now?

Back in your mother's day there were no resources for parents who are mentally ill like there are today. Nor was their anything for family members of the mentally ill until 1979 when a group of family members started NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness.) Only recently have books been written for adult children whose parents had a mental illness.

If you know what your mother's diagnosis is finding one of those books may be helpful, but they will not replace the help of a therapist. If you don't know your mom's diagnosis, a therapist can often make an educated guess from your description of your mother and what your childhood was like.

Back then the stigma about mental illness was far worse than it is today.Probably due to the shame and other negative feeling related to that stigma, she kept it a secrete from you and from others. Was she ever hospitalized during your childhood?

Well over 50% of people who have a mental illness are parents. The public's attention to this is long overdue for the sake of the young sons and daughters. Both the parent with the mental illness and their children need resources and support which is something that has not been focused on before.

Only rather recently have any books been written for parents who are mentally, teenagers of a parent with an mental illness as well as for children. There are also websites covering these themes.

This is a subject that Australia appears to be way ahead of the US in. I've heard that NAMI is now working on an educational program for children of a parent of a mentally ill parent which is like their free educational program for adult family members of someone in their family who has someone with a mental illness who are usually a child or a spouse. I taught this one time and was allowed to bring my under their age limit children in so that they could understand what was going on with their mom more and feel like they were not alone.

I hope that you and your siblings will see a therapist and stick with them to deal with the effects of being raised by a mother with a mental illness. Be patient with the process for you may need to search some before you find a therapist with whom you feel is a good fit which normally means you feel able to open up to them, you feel that they care, and they give you a sense of confidence that they know what they are doing and can help you.

I wish you the best in all of this. Keep in touch and let us know how things are going.
Helpful Answer (2)

At least you know have an explanation for all those things that were happening when you were growing up, but that didn't make sense or that you didn't understand. Parents often have good reasons to conceal illnesses from their children, so that's not uncommon, and it's very rare that children are fully informed about a parent's mental illness, at least not until they're old enough to have some ability to absorb that. I found out some things about mom when I was looking over her medical records a few years ago. That's part of the process of "discovery" we go through, when the parent/child roles do the flip/flop. It's part of growing up.
Helpful Answer (5)

Do you know what the mental illness was? Parents often hide mental problems from children, because the parents are concerned that the children will see them as less than perfect. Mental illness was once something people were ashamed of and tried to hide if they could. Neither of my parents were mentally okay, but nothing was ever admitted. My mother started on Valium when I was in my early teens, but even today she says it is not true.

I am thinking that a CPN might be a good choice for someone with dementia. What types of problems are you having that are being created by the earlier mental illness diagnosis? Are they treating her for the diagnosed condition, the dementia, or both? Tell us a little more about where your mother is living and her care. Someone may have some excellent advice.
Helpful Answer (4)

You get yourself some help from a mental health professional if you haven't already . You make sure she's being treated for both the mental illness and dementia; certainly a geriatric psychiatrist should be involved. Is she in a facility?
Helpful Answer (3)

You go to see a good therapist, and you work through the painful issues. With hard work and a lot of tears, you come out more empathetic, loving, and strong. good luck
Helpful Answer (4)

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.