No Picnic Print E-mail
Written by Helpful   

What does everyone think I was doing as a child and growing up? I was my mothers strength and support. I was the parent. Her illness stole my childhood. Where were the professionals for me?

Hi I am a 43 year old Australian female who was bought up alone by a schizophrenic mother. To say the least, life was no picnic. I was 8 years old when I first noticed changes in my mothers behaviour. It was 3 years after that when she was first hospitalised and I was devastated. Devastated by an abrupt announcement by her Dr telling me that my life for the past 3 years was all part of my mothers delusion. That was it, that was all any professional ever said to me. Oh and that my mother has an illness called "Paranoid Schizophrenia". Of cause I knew that there was something not "Quite Right", with my mother, but this announcement confirmed to me that my mother was "Mad". I carried the shame of being an illegitimate child. In those days, the 60's and early 70's, it was not the accepted social "Norm", to be born out of wedlock. That in itself was hard enough to live with and so I had something else to feel ashamed about. There are many stories that I could tell of my mothers illness, but I won't. Instead I want to express the emotions. My emotions. For many years I felt ashamed, guilty, responsible, unworthy, isolated, depressed, anger, hatred and resentment. I stayed with my mother for as long as I could, until I could no longer bare it. I was 19 when I left home. Things didn't improve, although over the years up until 5 years ago, I kept in contact with my mother and tried to keep things as normal for her and for my 4 sons, as possible. 5 years ago my mother disowned me and her grand children.

The reason why I am telling my story today, is because I have just received a phone call from a Dr, telling me that my mother has been hospitalised and asking me all about her medical and life history. She is 73. And I guess people feel sorry for her because she tells them that she has no family. The only reason why the hospital knew I existed was because my mothers neighbour gave them my details. Her Dr asked me if I would visit her in hospital. I asked him if she had asked to see me and he said that she hadn't, that she claims not to have any children or living relatives. I declined his request to visit. And he was noticeably upset by my decline. He said that my mother was stable and not in psychosis and recommended the visit from me for the good of her health. I began to feel all the emotions that I grew up with and had worked so hard over the last few years to overcome. So I informed him of how many times over the years had I ran to my mother each time she was stabilized, only for her to stop taking her medication after awhile and going down hill. I explained that for so many years I was the only person to stand by my mother and pick up the pieces each time.

The anguish and devastation that I felt and went through when she rejected me, caused me to have an emotional break down, which resulted in divorce and the breakdown of my own family unit. Which I am still picking up the pieces. My breakdown was so severe that I was suicidal. I was 38 when my world finally crashed down on me. Not far enough in the past as far as I am concerned. So today I feel anger. How dare a so called professional ring me and try to lay the guilt trip on me. My mothers mental illness almost destroyed me. And when I was going through my personal emotional hell, not one professional came to the aid of my children when I rang every professional organization I could think of to help me look after my children when I so desperately needed looking after myself. Her illness and the way it effected me destroyed my marriage and almost my children. Because I couldn't cope when my two eldest sons needed me the most being only 12 and 14. I haven't had a mother (in the real sense)nor a father. Being a parent for me has been a challenge without any guidelines or role models. I do the best I can and I learn from my mistakes. I know this is how most people describe parenthood, but I really believe that parents who have been bought up by mentally ill parents, have an incredible hard task because of the lack of guidance, stability, etc.I refuse to set myself up for another fall. I lived with false hope and expectations for too many years that my mother would be well and normal this time. Well I have learnt, this time is not in this life time! My priority is my family, Myself and my health. The professionals are there and always have been there for my mother. She could not be a mother to me and I could not be a daughter to her because of her "illness" Nothing is going to stop me from being a mother to my children.

I love my mother. I hate her illness. after her suffering the illness for this many years, she has disappeared. It is as if she has been taken over by someone or something else. I do not know this person. I can not relate at all to her. She looks at me in a manner which I describe as "The Death Stare". She is vacant and cold emotionally and it is a really eerie feeling. How can a professional who understands the disease and it's effects, possibly ask me to visit? How do I switch off my emotions and visit this stranger in my mothers body and not be effected emotionally? When do I get treated like a victim, or a survivor, rather than a support person? When do I receive support? I received no support when I was a child or growing up and now that I am an adult I am expected to keep a stiff upper lip and be my mothers strength. What does everyone think I was doing as a child and growing up? I was my mothers strength and support. I was the parent. Her illness stole my childhood. Where were the professionals for me? Thank you for giving me the opportunity to finally express myself to people who have had similar experiences.



Jarvis Walker     Arlec

You can help NNAAMI by purchasing one of the products below:

© 2001 National Network of Adult and Adolescent Children who have a Mentally Ill Parent
Tax Deductable Reg Charity. Inc.Vic. AOO33733N ABN 41 286 047 141

N.B. All items on this site remain the property of NNAAMI. Permission is granted to duplicate and distribute any items on this site for school student purposes only provided you acknowledge the source. However, written permission is required for any reproduction or for reproduction in public forums / conferences presentations.


Contact Us


You can help NNAAMI by giving a dontation.


Featured Articles

The 'Forgotten People'

by Anna Malbon from the Progress Press October 22, 1996

WHEN nine-year-old "Tom" was asked to draw a picture of himself with his mother be drew her trying to strangle him.

Tom entered the world of adults too early. If he was ever immune to the complications and pain of life that adults try to shelter from children, he says he can't remember.

Bulletin Board

I had to struggle extra hard

Her doctors did not bother to enquire about my father and I.

They only listened to her stories ”

“ I grew up thinking - Nobody wanted to help. Nobody wanted to know.”

Hi, I had a mentally ill mother. She passed away last year. I literally grew up hanging around mental hospitals because my Mom's condition was a cycle that always ends in a mental hospital. When I was younger, there was a long period when I cried my eyes out every time I was separated from my mentally ill mother because she had to stay in a mental hospital. After I grew older, my Mom's mental illness became impossible for me to bear.

Literally, my Mom's mental illness ruined my life. I think. I had to struggle extra hard for everything because of my big handicap at home. There was no support at all from anyone other than my father. Nobody else wanted to know about it. My mother's own cousin even said to my father not to bring my Mom to their place. I grew up thinking - Nobody wanted to help. Nobody wanted to know. My mother's own sister has been complaining since 2000 and her last complain was on 5 July 2014. This particular aunt keeps complaining about the same thing. That she had to take my Mom for her weekly injections and complained that my father and I was not around to do it. Then, she goes on to say that she saw my Mom beat me up with a cane. When she said that, I asked my Aunt, you saw my Mom beat me up with a cane? She said yes and than, she walked away.

I feel very sore with this aunt. Number one, the period she was complaining about was when I was still schooling and my father's and my mental health had deteriorated so badly that we had to leave the state for our own sanity. Before joining my father, I had to live alone with my Mom and my baby sister for almost a year. My aunt who lived a few minutes drive away did nothing when my Mom beat me up every day for months until my father managed to cut the red tape to remove me. My body was full of bruises and I was terrified to go home after school. Nobody helped. Not the neighbours who can hear all my mom's shouting at me, nor my aunt, nor my grandparents, nor my school's teachers. Someone should had intervened for a 12+ little girl. No adult helped. My father was trying his best to get me away to stay with him. Nobody helped him.

On XXXXXXXXXXXX, my Mom's sister let slip she saw my Mom beat me with a cane. And yet she did nothing! My aunt even had the cheek to say that my Mom beat me up because I said I wanted to go live with my father. The way my aunt said it was like the beatings were wholly my fault. What is wrong with the picture? You have a 12+ girl being beaten up daily, you are an aunt who knows something is going on and did nothing. Yet for years later you complain about having to take your own blood sister for her injections. And, I do not think she did it for longer than my own experiences. Probably only a few times because my father and I had to travel frequently to see to my mother. Due to the cyclic nature of her illness.

I have been going with my father when he took my mother for her weekly injections as a little girl, knee high, ever since I can remember. My own aunt is so calculative. There was a nurse that visits my Mom to give her her injections. But, the problem is my Mom will not let the nurse into her house that is why the intervention is needed. I have lost count on the number of times I had to go with my Mom for her injections as a little girl.

Her doctors did not bother to enquire about my father and I. They only listened to her stories and full stop. I think my Mom's doctors are the most heartless people I have ever met in my life. Until today, I do not like anyone who officially practices psychology because those doctors etc... contributed to my life being ruined. That is how I feel. I have been scolded by my Mom's medical team and they even dumped my Mom on me after I just turn 18 and there was no other adult around. And, they knew the situation. I was terrified because my Mom was a very violent. My Mom has pitched me, beaten me up, she has biten me with her teeth, she has smashed my head against the table and threatened to beat me with a piece of hard wood. I experienced all these as a little girl at the tender age of 12+ I had to learn karate to protect myself from her violent ways. And, when my Mom was home, I would lock my room's door and place a chair against it. I was that terrified of her.

All our belongings can go missing because my Mom is good at that sort of thing. You never know what is what with my Mom. It is like having a criminal live under the same roof as you.

My aunt kept repeating to me that on my mother's death anniversary I will have go visit her cemetery. I live in a different state from where my mother's cemetery is located. And, my aunt knows that very well. However she repeated her question to me until I said yes. I hate being forced to do something against my will because I have been forced to do things against my will my whole life.

My life is in ruins because of my mother's mental illness and people like my aunt is perpetuating the troubles for me after my mother's death. When I was 12+, my mother's mother said to me that it is my father's job to take care of my mother. In other words, my father's job and mine. And, they never lifted a finger to help. Just helping a little, my aunt has been complaining about the same thing for more than a decade. Unbelievable. Shameful.

Even though my father and I lived in a different state from my mother, we had to travel up and down every weekend because that is demanded of my mother. Sometimes, we had to travel after school and upon our arrival, she won't let us in and we had to travel all the way back. And, my father will not let me sleep at home as it is a school day, I had to go to school. My education was very important to my father. My mother could not be bothered if I succeeded or not.

I have seen more than any of my Mom's relatives have seen with regards her mental illness but people whom I just met behave like I have no idea about my Mom like they are the authority on her behaviour and her illness. Goodness gracious.

Despite this huge handicap in my life I persevered with my studies. My Mom did not give me any moral or emotional support at all. In fact her mental illness cycle will peak just or during my important exams. In other words, I had to deal with my exams and on top of them a mentally ill mother. By my final year in university, I could not take the pressure of exams and a mentally ill mother's break downs anymore.

When I was in my teenage years and early adult years, I was suicidal. I had to call Befrienders a lot. Thank God for Befrienders.

Before XXXXXXXXXXdate, I do not wish my experience to be experienced by anyone else because it is torture. However, after feeling how hard hearted my aunt is. A so called holy person, a church goer, rich person who has successful kids and grand kids. And, she can talk like it is my fault that my Mom beat me up and she (my aunt) had to take her (her own sister) for her injections when I was a kid. I really wish that my aunt must reincarnate as my father (a few lifes) so that she can eat her own words. If my aunt reincarnates and is put in my father's shoes, she would really deserve it. Hope she learns compassion through it all.

Why can't the world give children of the mentally ill a break? I am so fed up with all this troubles that stem from my mother's sister's attitude towards my father and I. After all shel lives a great lives. Rich live. What is wrong with these people? I really cannot stand them. This is my story.

After I wrote the above - I am more myself now, and I totally forgive my aunt and everybody who did nothing to help my father and I. And, everybody else who were heartless towards my father and I. However, I still think that by living a few life times as my father (my aunt) - would do her some good. But, knowing her character, she might become a psychopath and pose a threat to humanity. My father is a very, very kind soul. My aunt is a hard hearted, prejudiced, narrow minded, one tracked mind person.

How I cope? Trying my best to keep out of their way, and hang out with positive people. There are plenty of great people out there. Nnaami is included :)


South East Asia