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Mother Says I’m Mentally Ill But Won’t Admit She Has Issues

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I’ve recently been diagnosed with ADHD and bipolar 2. My current psychiatrist had my mother sit in for my appointments for information, and he suggested that my mother was likely ADHD and depressed as well. My mother has always overreacted to stress, has anger issues, never seems ‘there’ and forgetful. My mother’s in her 60s but she’s been like this almost my whole life and I struggle with a lot of the same symptoms, which made my doctor suggest it.

Neither of our lives has been easy and she’s struggling a lot too, but refuses to get help when I gently mention I’ve noticed she’s struggling like I was, and that she should seek professional help. But whenever I do that, she borderline becomes abusive and starts saying things like “I’m not like /you/” or “I’m not mentally ill, you are” She gets very defensive and aggressive over it and every time she says it as though being mentally ill is the worst fate in the world and that people like me are ‘crazy’. How could /she/ be like people like me?

The whole thing upsets me greatly, especially since I’m stuck living at home due to finances and study. We only have each other and I love my mother, but I really want her to get help and to STOP acting like I’m ‘crazy’ just because my brain doesn’t work as it should. I’m not ashamed of being ill, but she acts as I should be and it’s really wearing me down. Most importantly though, I want her to get help so she can be happier within herself, I agree with my doctor that she isn’t quite herself and something is wrong.

How do I go about this? Or do I just let it go? [From Australia]

Mother Says I’m Mentally Ill But Won’t Admit She Has Issues

Answered by on -


This is not likely to change if your mother is in this much of denial. I suggest you work a plan “B”, which is that you need to get out. This isn’t letting it go—it is letting you grow.

Instead of beating your head against the proverbial wall of your mother, start to put your energy into your own well-being and individuation. It is time for you to make the break and find alternate living arrangements. You list your age as 29 and while I can understand the school and financial restrictions your effort should be on improving those resources and living arrangements rather than stay in a highly toxic and counterproductive environment. It isn’t your job to change your mother. It’s your job to take good care of yourself in spite of her behavior. It is time to make the break.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

Mother Says I’m Mentally Ill But Won’t Admit She Has Issues

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2018). Mother Says I’m Mentally Ill But Won’t Admit She Has Issues. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 4, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 15 Oct 2018 (Originally: 16 Oct 2018)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 15 Oct 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.