It took my mum years to believe I was mentally ill. From the moment I initially sought help, I had to put up with a constant stream of objections and ignorance. It started with

Fluoxetine? I’ve found out that’s really prozac. You can’t possibly take that.”

It deteriorated from there. Every stereotyped stigmatising comment out there, I received it.

  • Think of all the people in the world worse off than you. They’re not depressed so how can you be?
  • Just pull yourself together and get on with it. You’re fine.
  • You’ve had a happy childhood, you’ve no reason to be depressed.
  • You seem happy today. See, you’re not really depressed.

Plus variations of the same etc, etc, ad infinitum. Then of course, if I ever dared to be happy for more than one day, there was the

You seem much better. Maybe you can stop taking those pills soon?

It was deeply frustrated. As my health continued to deteriorate, she continued to deny it. People in her cozy little world don’t have mental health problems and that was all she was prepared to accept.

After my second suicide attempt, it was increasingly difficult to deny there was a problem. With it came if not complete acceptance, then at least a bit of understanding. She put in an effort to actually listen to me, to push for treatment, to support me and it was wonderful. To actually be able to describe how I was really feeling without having to be afraid the answer would be ignored or belittled.

Over the last year, as I began to show signs of recovery, the acceptance slipped. She was back to her old tricks. Every phone call for the last few months have been full of pressurising rubbish. About how good it is to have the real me back again, how fabulous I must be feeling, how it’s so wonderful how I’m coping. Plus of course, the constant references to cutting down drugs at every tenuous opportunity. It’s so frustrating.

Recently a family friend has been diagnosed with breast cancer. My parents have both been all over her. Taking her to hospital, out for coffee, offering to always be available to help in any way possible. I am in no way implying this is not what she deserves. It must be crushing to be diagnosed with cancer and I’m sure all the support is incredibly important. More than that though, I’m jealous. As petty as it may seem, I want my parents to be like that with me. I bet the friend is not being told to pull herself together or to stop taking her medication if she has a few low-symptom days. Most importantly, my mum seems to be really listening to her, acting on what she wants and I’ve never had that.

Early last week, as those of you who follow me on Twitter are no doubt aware, I was involved in a hit and run on my bike. I was physically ok bar a few cuts and bruises but mentally it has hit me hard. Since then, it has been coming increasingly clear that I am not coping. I have been alternating between tearful and ragey with no rationale. Now, being knocked over would be enough to shake anyone up but it’s more than that. It’s bought to a head problems that have been brewing for a while. The lack of balance in my life, working myself into the ground just to fall further. I am not coping with things as they are. It’s as simple as that. Something somewhere has to give and I feel completely unable to decide what.

I have tried to explain this to my mum. I really need some input and support before I crumble completely. She listens but she doesn’t hear. I mention that I’m struggling at uni and she counters it with me having enjoyed one of the practicals. As if the act of enjoying one small thing is enough to disprove any other problems I may be having. She tells me not to be so silly, that I’m fine. Any protestations to the contrary are countered before they even have the chance to leave my lips. I am well now and that’s all there is to it.

Except for I’m not. Therein lies the problem.


8 Responses to Parentals

  1. Pandora says:


    I really have no useful advice, but I empathise with the way your Mum has behaved re: your mentalism – it’s been the story of my life for years too. I too would be jealous if she treated another relative with a physical illness as having something more ‘real’ than me 😦

    I didn’t realise you’d had the hit and run experience – I must have been on one of my self-imposed Twitter exiles at the time – but am horrified to hear about it. I’m so glad that you’re OK physically, but think you have every right to feel anxious, angry and even depressed afterwards. It would be unusual if you didn’t, surely!

    I just don’t know what I’d do in this situation – your parents need to take you seriously, and accept that madness (just like physical issues) can vary. Could one of your care team talk to them? Or could you write a letter detailing just how hard it is?

    Whatever happens, you deserve better than this. Hoping you find a way to get through to them hun. xxx

  2. occasionalwallflower says:


    I too can only provide empathy. My parents would always push aside any mental problems that I had because they didn’t want to admit that there was something wrong with one of their kids. It could be their fault. I don’t understand it, to be honest. No one would deny a broken leg, they would help wth treatment. What’s the difference with a mental illness?

    I am sorry to hear that you aren’t coping. Is there a way to cut your work load down? It isn’t fair that you Mum isn’t listening. I really hope that things get better for you xo

  3. eliana says:


    Sounds familiar, mother-dearest’s favourite stock phrase being “but you went to uni, you wanted to go to uni, therefore you must be happy.” (Although the last conversation I had with her was so freakishly supportive I’m scared to phone again).

    I don’t really have any advice either. Is there anyone else in your life that you could talk to? Someone with a bit of distance and perspective maybe?

    Are you registered with your Uni’s disability support, and if so is there anyway they can give you leeway, is it worth talking about the fact you’re struggling right now? Not sure how supportive or anything they are (if it’s like my uni I’d say don’t, but if they’re good, they might have suggestions for making things easier).

    It’s hard when you’re not coping to see what would or wouldn’t help, and so difficult to make decisions in that situation because you end up feeling pressured into making the decisions you feel you “should”, because knowing what you actually want gets lost somewhere amongst everybody elses’ expectations, the depression, etc…

    Take care.

  4. I should say that, that last comment in your moderation queue is me…

  5. tea, two sugars says:

    I too can empathise. For years my problems were brushed under the carpet, it took three hospital admissions before my parents began to understand that telling me to ‘pull my socks up’ wasn’t going to help at all. We had a little family therapy focused on understanding, too, and eventually they sort of came round to the idea that my problems weren’t just me being an attention seeker. What I’m trying to say is that it takes time, I guess. No parents want to hear that their daughter has mental health problems, even though I’m not sure why that is.

    I hope you feel better, Ana, sending you lots of hugs. xxx

    • even though I’m not sure why that is

      I suspect it’s a similar reason to why they wouldn’t want to hear that their child had physical health problems, most parents want what’s best for their kids even if they’re not good at showing it (although I am in the position of experiencing my parents reacting to physical health problems in a similar – having mother-dearest say “oh come off it”, to the news of possible blindness being rather silly).

      But with an added side-order of guilt. Again mother-dearest was very concerned over “what causes” mental illness and I’ve no doubt worries that she might get blamed…

      Just my thoughts on the subject anyway….

  6. margaretlucy says:

    I’m so sorry. Just know that your feelings are totally justified… I often used to wish I had a “real problem” so people would take my depression seriously. Because it is serious. And a real disease, that is hard as hell to treat.

    It’s not fair your mum treats you this way.

    You’re not alone.

  7. alice says:

    my mums the same, i can really empathise. I hope ur holding up ok.
    Take care,
    Alice x

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