Family not understand mental illness

This is my first time posting in some time, things have been going really well.This is more of me venting than asking for help. But the issue is with my family. I have never told them I see a therapist, I have depression and anxiety, any of my past or struggles, or even the fact I’m in NA or HeartSupport. My family yesterday all went over my brothers for a cookout and we got to talking we touched on some sore topics for me and the way they talk about them I feel shame and guilt. I had my first breakdown in months as soon as I got into my car and felt really low for a while. This is not all the topics from yesterday but from over the past years. Service dogs, they said do you really feel that bad you need to hug a dog to feel better, like come on? This hurt me because one of my best friends and someone who has always been there for me needs a service dog and second I know how anxiety is, I was at the point I would not eat for days because I was just to afraid to go to the store I would have a panic attack just thinking about it. Another big one is hearing about suicide of a famous person, its always they have all kinds of money what more do they want, they are just stupid for thinking that, were better off without them anyways. This one really hurts because I have made up my mind of ending my life in the past and how do I not take it like they are saying I’m stupid or I’m better off dead. And my Mom and stepdad always run their mouths about people who use drugs.

I keep saying I will say something but when they say things like that it really hurts and I have to fight to keep it together. I just want to yell you have no fucking clue. I did not pick to have anxiety or depression, its a living hell I would not wish on anyone. They just talk so bad about it I cant help not to fell shame or guilt. Talking never worked in the past why would it now. I saw a therapist when my parents got a divorce my mom did not like what I had to say so that was the end of that, that’s where I learned its not okay to talk about things. A few years ago my brother told my mom how he felt because she always we can talk to her about anything, yeah that blew up in his face she turned it around made him look like the bad guy and quit talking for a few years.

I have this amazing group of friends that are like family in Heartsupport and in NA who I trust and love, I can be open with, people that jut make me feel better about myself but my own family hurts me the most. I’m two weeks away from being 1 year clean and I cant even bring myself to tell them or celebrate with them. It hurts it freaking hurts.


I’ve been there in different ways, but I’ve been there. I’m sorry you’re going through this, Evan. It really is sad when family is the last place you can find solace but there are really only two ways to go about it. You either have to confront them about it creating and resolving conflict, or decide there’s nothing that will change and just close that part of your heart off. I know you love them and this is why it makes it worse. I had to do this with half my family. They don’t understand poverty, they don’t understand my life and my decisions, and they were always the last place I could count on for help when mom and I were struggling.

Thankfully, my mom understands mental health issues since she faces them herself, but she has no desire to fix them is seems or if she does she won’t take advice from her kid, heh. I’m sure I couldn’t even breach the subject with my dad’s family much less him. It was my bf who helped me realize the healthiest thing for me, after years of trying to reach out, that cutting my dad and my sibling out my heart was the only way for me to heal. It was basically not expecting good things from them and just treating them as strangers with their perspectives and opinions. I’m sure you know there are hundreds of others in the world with that misunderstanding and lack of awareness with mental illness so you should treat your family as you would them; either inform them, or ignore them. I hope this doesn’t seem cold or heartless. The important thing is to love yourself since they aren’t capable of caring for you in this way don’t count on it from them.


Oh family…

They aren’t the easiest to deal or cope with. My family is also a bit of a struggle sometimes so I completely get what you’re saying. My mom was unaware that I saw a therapist and struggled with self harm for quite sometime and I still keep every other member of my family in the dark about that.

I realize the biggest issue in some of the older generations thought process is the fact that well…its the older generation. When both Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade took their lives my mom’s response was essentially “people have to stop treating sprained ankles like internally bleeding organs,” which was her way of saying people need to get over the small shit. We’ve had multiple conversations about this and she never budges. It’s hard hearing it because I’ve been in a place where I’ve wanted to take my life multiple times. I try not to let it get to me because this is what she knows. My family definitely has a “deal with it” mentality.

Sometimes its hard for people to let go of what theyre accustomed to and raised to know, it doesn’t make it right but I think that’s generally what it is.

You are loved and valued here. And it seems like you’re friends in NA feel the same way. Two weeks shy of being a year clean?! THATS AMAZING! I’m so proud of you friend! Congratulations. I understand that you can’t celebrate with your blood family, but please celebrate with your NA family. This achievement/success is worth celebrating. I wasn’t able to celebrate being two years clean with my family but I still celebrated it with myself. Go out and get yourself a cupcake(not even joking I have done this before) and be proud of yourself because holy heck that is a tremendous accomplishment! Sometimes the best family, isn’t that family we share a bloodline with.

Much love,


Good to see you again, Evan. I’m sorry your family doesn’t understand mental illness. They are humans. They will fail you. They will not understand everything you do, you say, or who you are, but you must love them and forgive them. Those are the best things we can do. My family doesn’t understand everything about me, and I’m fine it. I still love them. I forgave them after the crap they put me through. They forgave me after the crap I put them through too, and they still love me. It takes time for your family to grow, and get over themselves. Life is more than what we know best. Thank you for reading this. Keep reaching out to HS if you need anything. Much Love. :relieved:


Dearest Evan,

You are one of my best friends and you know that. YOU MEAN SO MUCH TO ME. I know your family is not understanding and let me just say that comment about service dogs and wanting them to just hug is something I have heard from other people but every time it just makes me want to say YOU HAVE NO IDEA. Until the other people feel the way you do they will never understand it. I know that is sad to hear and not what I would like to say but I have been there and I know how hard it is to have family who sucks like this. You have heard my stories and my times like this I am always here for you. I would love to celebrate a year with you I would love to do so much and I know it hurts to have family that talk like that but they dont know what it is like. Just know what they say doesnt define you. It truly does not. But it does hurt sometimes that is when I am like I need to just stop talking or what not. It sucks but I think you are right it isnt going to do much to change their view you are not being fake you are doing things to make sure you are safe. If they were like that too your brother than I dont want that for you. One day you will be in a place that it will be so much easier to tell them and you will be ready but that is it you need to focus on what you need to focus on right now. I know that is not easy but you are not these things you are EVAN you are that human I love unconditional.

Just know that what they say does not define you.

Hold fast
I am a message away if you need to talk


Evan. It’s hurts me so much to read this. You are such an amazing guys that I have had the pleasure of getting to know a little better over the last few weeks. I’m so sorry that your family turned their back on your struggles. Sadly talking to my family is also no option for me so know you’re not alone. Youre an amazing guy and you should be SO proud of 1 year clean. That’s awesome! You know we are all here for you. Love you Evan.


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Hey @Evan9171,

My heart goes out to you, bro. Nothing frustrates me more than hearing of people who can’t empathize (or, heck, even sympathize) with the struggle of mental illness. I really enjoy the show “Intervention” because I have a passion for the hurting and broken. When I see the drug addicts on the show, I don’t see people who are “trying to be cool” (as some people might argue), but instead, I see people who are deeply hurting and are using drugs as an (unhealthy) escape. Empathy is vital is understanding why people go through certain events and why some people choose certain coping mechanisms. Those who can’t empathize merely judge people based on the coping mechanism, NOT for what lies underneath. It sounds like your mom and step dad can’t empathize, which doesn’t make them bad people, it’s just a fault (and everyone has faults). I’m proud of you for reaching out, and know that we’re always here for you!


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This hits home for me. I struggle with bipolar, severe depression and anxiety. My dog actually saved me from suicide 2 years ago and if it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be here. So dogs have a huge spot in my heart, and even though mine aren’t technically service dogs, they really do help.

My family does not understand mental illness at all. Anytime I even bring it up at family functions I hear ‘that’s what therapists are for’ so I just stopped saying anything about it. I’m so sorry yours don’t understand, either, but you are so not alone!

And congrats on being (almost) 1 year clean! That is a huge accomplishment!


Thanks for all the responses you guys. It’s a good reminder that I’m not the only one that feels this way. I rarely answer calls and texts right now anyway yeah it hurts to do so but keeping my distance right now is the best way to become the person that I am ment to become.

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Sometimes family can be our biggest enemies when all we need is their support. It’s so hard when people we love don’t get it. I know I’ve been there. But I know in the recovery community and in other communities like it we talk a lot about our families of choice. The people we’ve found that support us. I remember my family not getting why I call my friends and people not blood related family. It’s because they’re the ones that truly support me and get it. So lean on those people. Those people who love and support you with all the mess and understand. It’s okay to take a break from family and keep your distance if it keeps you safe and healthier.


Hi Evan

Biggest hugs. It took me a long long time to actually help my Mother to understand my mental illness. Sometimes it truly felt like an uphill battle because unbeknowst to us it has been a lifetime one even though It only fully got diagnosed a few years ago.

I grew up having what my Mother called ‘Blue periods’ and literally having to be dragged out the door kicking and screaming to go socialise at times. I honestly had no idea that was not what every kid went through.

It sounds like your Mother and Stepfather are quite toxic in general and I really hope you limit your contact with them.

It took many many many many conversations with my Mother over years to honestly get through not because she lacks compassion or empathy but just because my Mental illness has gotten so much worse over the last 5-10 years. She likes to joke and say things as jokes that can be in truth quite cutting so we have talked about that and I have gotten better at speaking up when I cannot cope with it.

I know your circumstances are different. I want you to know family is not always the one we are born into it can be the one we ourselves choose, in fact in this day and age the family we choose for ourselves tends to be our tribe and our support network, our biggest champions and greatest listeners that is the family I want on my side.

I love my Mum but I also know we work better at a distance with limited contact that was a hard lesson but it works best for my mental health and the time we do spend together be it in person or on the phone is better and richer for it.

As I said I know your circumstances are different. Please know you are Loved, You Matter and whilst I do not know you well I am so so glad you are still here

Congrats on almost 1 year clean that is such a huge achievement!!!

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