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Mental illness and everything that comes with it

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Mental illness and everything that comes with it

Parent/Carer Community Champion

Mental illness and everything that comes with it

Hi everyone. It’s been a few years since I've been on here. Lately I haven’t been coping all that great and so I just wanted to share my experiences and feel heard.


I have three teenagers; my son (eldest) and two daughters. In early primary school my son was diagnosed with ADHD, ODD, and GAD. It was always a struggle raising him. After multiple schools (including a specialised school) and various supporting health professionals, about three or four years ago, things got out of control. He would run away for weeks at a time, was ending up in ED and mental health facilities, was getting in trouble with the police, taking drugs and was violent in the home. We tried everything, but nothing ever worked. He eventually refused professional help. I came to realise there was nothing I (or anyone) could really do, at least not while he was unwilling.


In the early years of primary school he sexually assaulted his younger sister (my middle child). She was only very young and initially I didn't treat it with enough seriousness to get professional support (I didn't even really see it as sexual assault). A few years later it was apparent that she wasn't coping and so she started seeing a psychologist. Things seemed to get better. After 6-months or so, the psychologist was happy to finish up the sessions.


Over this time, their mum was struggling with her own mental health. She was employed, but for some years she really wasn't able to provide the parental support our children needed. I tended to be the primary caregiver.


A couple of years ago I separated from my wife. Sometime after (just before covid) our middle child again showed a noticeable decline in her mood. And as covid took hold she got very depressed, feeling suicidal, self-harming again needing professional help. Then, in June she tried to suicide and was rushed to hospital and a mental health facility. Her psychologist said we needed to separate her from her brother and so now they live apart (but still with parents).


Meanwhile, over the past couple of years my son was doing a little better. He wasn't so aggressive at home (although that's largely because we don't ask much of him) and he wasn't running away for weeks on end. He was however still getting in trouble with the police (he has a bunch of court dates approaching) and he no longer is in any form of education. He also revealed to me, and his health team, that he has been hallucinating and that he was sexually assaulted when he was younger. A month ago he was admitted to a psychiatric facility and has recently been released. They've given him additional diagnoses of complex PTSD and a cluster B personality disorder.


Through all of this, my youngest child has managed to avoid mental illness and has a positive self-esteem. Nevertheless, I recognise she has been exposed to much of the chaos (e.g., her brothers’ aggression and she was home alone with her sister when she overdosed) and so she is also seeing a psychologist (just as a precautionary measure).


With all of this, my greatest concern is my son. I really don’t know what will become of him. He can be so manipulative and explosive. As for my middle child. She used to be so outgoing, so strong. She now wrestles with feelings of suicide and self-harm. I am, however, confident she will get through it. She will beat her demons and she will grow up and thrive into whatever person she wants to become. I feel horrible that I see a different future for her than I do for my son. I wish I didn’t, but I do. When I’m with my son I make a conscious effort not to show it. I stay positive and supportive, but I wonder how much he still picks up on it. My youngest daughter has been amazing. She is emotionally mature and always happy to hang out and do things together. She has incredible insight into her siblings and can recognise her own thinking patterns and what to look out for. I gain a lot of strength from her.

Super frequent scribe

Re: Mental illness and everything that comes with it

Hi @Dad4good 


Thank you for the update. It sounds like a lot has gone on for you over the past few years, and that you're feeling quite concerned over your son.


It is quite natural for parents to worry about their children. It's important to try and remember that as long as you are doing the best you can, then that is all that you can really do. I'm glad to hear that things have improved for him and that your youngest child is mentally well. I think engaging her in psychological treatment was a good precuatiounary measure, to try and maximise the chances that she remains mentally healthy, especially given some of what she has witnessed. 


How do you tend to cope with your worry about your son? Do you have any tips to try and manage that at the moment?


Also, just letting you know that I did edit our descriptions of self-harm/suicide out of your post, as they this be triggering to members and is against our community guidelines.  I have replaced them with terms such as 'tried suicide' and 'self harm.' We hope this is okay with you.