Author Topic: What can I do about family who doesn't understand mental illness?  (Read 1331 times)

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Offline kindtocrows

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Was going to put this in the "how ya doin" topic, but figured it would be too long, so I guess I'll put it here.
I'm getting really frustrated with my aunt (the source of most of my grievances). She knows I have adhd, she knows I have major depression, she knows I have a learning disability (we're not sure exactly what, but I think I may know what it is, but I want to wait for an official diagnosis before I start claiming I have it.), she says she understands, and she tries to be supportive. Until I do poorly or fail something because I was unable to do the very thing these problems make me unable to do. When that happens, all hell breaks loose.

I mean, when I mess something up like that I get very upset. I start crying, I'm mentally kicking myself, telling myself I'm useless, worthless, stupid, that whole thing. Usually by the time I see her I've calmed myself down. Of course once she finds out I screwed up I just end up right back where I was, only now much worse because someone is now confirming my thoughts of being useless, etc., even if she doesn't actually say it, or even mean to imply it, that's still the effect it has.

Her rants always go the same way too. In no particular order:
1. "I'm not angry, I'm disappointed" (because that makes such a difference)
2. "Are you even studying/working? How can I know you're studying/working if you're in your room all the time"
3. "It's because you waste all you're time drawing/playing video games/on the computer/basically anything I do to help cope with depression"
4. threatens to take said distraction(s) away
5. "I know you have depression/adhd/whatever, but..." (this one's only recent, it used to be her harshly telling me to stop crying, so I guess that's an improvement at least)

There are more, but those are the points that stand out the most. And even though I've heard it so many times, it still has an effect on me. I always feel I have to hide the fact that I'm doing things other then working, I can never fully enjoy doing anything without feeling guilty about not doing something else, even when there is nothing else I have to do, and of course I can't go to her about any of my problems because I know she won't understand, especially if that problem happens to involve me screwing up (she says she won't be angry if I went to her about those problems, but I know from experience she will).

I can't move out for a while yet, but I can't have this continue to happen, but I have no idea what to do about it...

tl;dr: I have problems, my aunt says she understands, she doesn't, she gets mad at me for having problems
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Offline Lord Raven

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I think she understands it to some extent but it's hard for her to diverge from her natural reaction.  She may just not be used to it or quite know how to react to things, because she can't exactly pat you on the back for underachieving in school and such but obviously she can't rail you for it either.
« Last Edit: October 23, 2014, 03:07 by Lord Raven »
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Offline SirBlaziken

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My guess (likely as well as the above user's) is that your aunt just confused and overwhelmed by all of this and she doesn't understand it. Well, she may understand it to a certain point, but there's so much more to know. People are bound to be angry about they don't understand.

Oh, and about the not angry, but disappointed, that's a huge lie. They're just trying to sugarcoat the fact that they are furious about, well, whatever. In this case, because you aunt doesn't understand it. Frankly, I don't understand my own self, and i'm angry about that. I don't know any other way to word it but that your aunt can't wrap her head around the hardships you're enduring. Deep down, she's probably proud of how you haven't completely broken down and resorted to other means (like drugs, as an example). Then again, I don't know her.

I would say stuff on how to make it easier or her to understand what you're going through, but I don't know about that. I'm sure someone else on the site will know how to word it better or how to solve this. I'm very blunt a lot of the time, so i'm not likely to be of much more help. There are users here a lot older and wiser here.

I do know one thing, though. Your aunt needs to know that mental illness is serious, not just some excuse or doctors and shrinks to pump money out of her for no reason. Mental illness is real, it is out there, and it is no joke. Many with it will try to hide it, mainly because of the reasons you stated about your aunt. People will attack others for any little thing they can find. That's right, even family. They'll attack because they just don't get it, like I said before.

This may be asking a lot, but try and forgive your aunt for this. She just doesn't get it. She's going off of what she knows. She's scared, just like you.

That's all I have, and it's probably of no help, but that's what I think of the situation.
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How long has this been going on? What are some of the things you said to your aunt when she expressed how disappointed or angry she was? I had a similar relationship with a family member. It didn't involve an officially diagnosed mental illness. It involved how I can't take tests because I'm extremely slow at working. As well as how I struggle with Physics. The issue was that my parents were used to me getting good grades so they were shocked and angry when I wasn't doing so well. But it was essentially the same thing with my mom as with your aunt. I'm wondering about some of the things you said to your aunt to get her to understand that it's not like that. And for how long about? A little background information there. I'm not exactly wise, but I have some experience with this so maybe I could help.

Offline Kerou 犠牲

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Oh, and about the not angry, but disappointed, that's a huge lie. They're just trying to sugarcoat the fact that they are furious about, well, whatever.

No, it seems it is disappointment based on what dragoncat has explained which is far worse than angry. Disappointment lingers and leaves a negative thought towards something for longer. If anything, anger is more of a sugar coat in that sense.



In terms of mental illness it can be really hard to get someone else to understand; I mean with something like depression in particular most people can't relate or truly sympathise because it's the sort of thing that impacts everyone differently, but still in tandem with the anxiety that comes with it creates this horrible sinking feeling. In terms of trying to get your Aunt to understand I think the best way is to try and approach her and explain it as much as you can, or get something printed off that helps better describe it, because it is something extremely serious yet doesn't get necessarily recognised properly until it has had a proper impact within their situation.

It might even help trying to do a day plan and going through it with her so she can see what you're doing, why you're doing it, and then see if she can be helpful then. That being said, the "I know you have [whatever] but..." really is quite shocking and is hard to work around D:

As long as you try to work through it all, and try and find enjoyment with things, just persevere for now because whilst it may be crap now it will get better, trust me. Sometimes you've gotta go through a tunnel of crap to get to the better side.

(also yeah sorry if this has came out as some rubbish gibberish, trying to deal with a few things at once so I'm probs not doing a good job at any of them ^^; hope things do get better for you though, it's a shame to see something have such a bad impact like that)

Offline The Shrub Dragon

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it sounds almost as if your aunt is in a denial mindset in that she knows that you have illness(es) but she won't acknowledge any of the symptoms.  unfortunately (though obviously i can't see how you or your aunt handle conversations about them) i don't think there is very much you can say to her to try to make her understand; if you're not in counselling already i would suggest going along to a couple of sessions along with your aunt because whenever i go through depressive episodes it's always that much more helpful when my mother has spoken to somebody who is trained in understanding mental illness


i've been there and i am there and although you haven't reached a mutual standpoint yet i think that your aunt is making an effort and when effort is there improvement always happens =]]


thanks gl <3

Offline SirBlaziken

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These two. Listen to the above two instead of me.
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