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I have a normal life but are my mental health problems a result of my parents/my upbringing?

(10 Posts)
thefinalbid Mon 14-Sep-15 18:50:40

I live normal life - better than average job, supportive family, good friends...from the outside all is well.

However, I have bad anxiety (getting better year on year), and from a young age I have had problems with self confidence to the extent where I often do not feel worthy. An example is self-destructive relationships (not the recent one, but more in my early twneties), and generally a self-destruct mode - ie I would hate birthdays and feel huge anxiety where I would actually create problems to ruin the day for myself. For a long time I felt I didnt deserve happiness. I spent a lot of my childhood feeling insecure, even though my paretns were always around and very involved in my life. In partiuclar, I felt insecure around my mum as she would often lie to 'protect me' even into my teenage years, and I felt i was never free to become a proper adult until i left home at 24.

Since I have properly left my parents' home and moved out 3 years ago, I feel I have changed a lot. I feel better in myself, and more secure.

As a child I remember being told very often that I was a 'little hitler,' and told that I was a show off and out of control (these memories are from around age 6-7). Both parents used to hit me if I was creating a scene, but to the point where clumps of my hair would be pulled out when I wouldnt go upstairs to bed (perhaps thats fair enough!). I remember always feeling suspicious of my parents as they would often do things and not tell me...from minor things to big things (if i asked if there was a certain food in a dish they would lie, or when i was older and my boyfriend sent me cards they would intercept them and hide them). i never felt i could sit down and talk to my parentss, particularly my mum, as she was so obsessed with being in control and making decisions that she thought were best for me, any conflcit would just result in hysteria on her part. looking back, i was extremely shy at school and i never felt confident in myself, and i know that my bad behavior (and it was bad, i know it was at times) was 90% of the time associated with feeling very insecure around my parents. is this even a thing? it has only just dawned on me that perhaps since i moved out i have recovered from all this.

my paretns are good people and very supportive of me, but even now when i am around them i am treated very much like 'theirs' rather than just 'me,' and i do feel a lot healthier being apart from them. i guess i just wonder if this is me blaming them for what ive had to recover from, or whether my suspicions are right and their choice of parenting was to blame...maybe i was just a really awful kid.

Pullingpants Mon 14-Sep-15 18:55:11

That sounds like a really abusive childhood. No kid deserves that. Sorry x

thefinalbid Mon 14-Sep-15 18:57:28

pullingpants my parents literally did everything for me, though. i went to an amazing school and they would spoil me every birthday and christmas etc. they were massively proud of me and i have never not felt loved.

thats why i feel confused.

SilverBirchWithout Mon 14-Sep-15 19:08:35

I had an emotionally absent father and a pretty controlling mother, until I had a breakdown in my 30s I would have thought I had loving and caring parents and I was just a problem child. Inadequate parenting takes many shapes and forms.

I have no doubt they did what they thought was best in bringing you up, however controlling parenting can be very damaging. Lying and inconsistency can be very stressful in any relationship, let alone parent to child. They obviously love you, but you did to learn to keep them at arms length in order to flourish emotionally.

Pullingpants Mon 14-Sep-15 19:10:57

My parents were a bit odd in many ways. I had counselling, which helped me make sense of it.

thefinalbid Mon 14-Sep-15 19:13:52

yeah, they definitely did what they thought was best, no doubt about it.

it is since i moved out that i have felt so much different.. more of a person and able to enjoy life properly (sounds awful doesnt it). i love seeing my paretns and i do miss them...theyre a good laugh and we have nice times, but i have reliased it is MUCH better when we meet on common ground as opposed to in their home.

it's strange, now i am an adult i can look back differently. i just think there is no way i would call a child little hitler...and i believe lying to a child is, 90 percent of the time, wrong. so i must have learned something from it.

perfectlybroken Mon 14-Sep-15 19:27:11

When I was pg with ds1 I reflected a lot on my own upbringing. It was happy and my folks are great, but some things were a bit off and it did me good to work out what, and things I would do differently. I read a book called 'how much is enough?' can't remember the authors but the cover has a picture of a kid teetering under a pile of cds, toys etc. The book looks at the different ways that parents can give too much or not enough, not just materially but also.attention, activity, control etc. Its not made me love them any less, but helped me understand myself and them better. Maybe it would help you. Hope ur anxiety conitinues to improve. Xx

sliceofsoup Mon 14-Sep-15 19:48:34

I can relate to what you are saying OP, though my parents were lacking in different ways to yours.

Having clumps of hair pulled out is abusive and I am not sure lots of presents at Christmas makes that OK. The lying is also abusive.

I had to go NC with my parents recently, I won't go into detail here, I have a few threads on the subject. But I am definitely feeling much calmer and more able to be myself than before. It is like a weight has lifted.

Would you consider seeing a counsellor about these issues? You say you still have anxiety, and when you said this Both parents used to hit me if I was creating a scene, but to the point where clumps of my hair would be pulled out when I wouldnt go upstairs to bed (perhaps thats fair enough!). I wonder if you actually don't realise how abnormal your parents behaviour was.

I started seeing a counsellor earlier this year and honestly I feel transformed.

Twinklestein Mon 14-Sep-15 19:59:14

i never felt i could sit down and talk to my parentss, particularly my mum, as she was so obsessed with being in control and making decisions that she thought were best for me, any conflcit would just result in hysteria on her part

My mother was exactly the same. It's like having a management committee running your life, there's a lot of control, but no support. I was informed of decisions that had been made with no input from me. And the hysteria! All that's quite stressful.

I don't think I had an on the level conversation with my mother until I was about 27.

springydaffs Mon 14-Sep-15 20:14:17

Yes it does sound like your mh problems are down to aspects of the way you were parented. There are a number of red flags in your op that are very alarming.

I also thought my childhood was more or less OK ('normal') until a major life crisis propelled me into therapy - and that's where it all unfolded that the way I was parented was extremely disordered, dysfunctional and abusive. It made a lot of sense of a lot of things in my life! Once you see it you're amazed you didn't see it before, it's so obvious.

I was also a 'troubled' child - now I know why! - and was not called a little Hitler but certainly the family machine bore down on me with great force and I was deemed the 'bad' one. I was revolting - not surprising. You justify having your hair pulled out, op; I thought it was probably reasonable I was hit a lot etc..

When a child is acting out like this and the family go into family therapy 'to straighten out the difficult child who is ruining the family', the family is often very surprised to hear the unwelcome news that the child may be acting out for a reason ie that the child may be manifesting something serious going on in the family. [This isn't always the case though of course - but in my family it was and it sounds like it was in your family.]

Ime my family wholly refuse to accept anything is wrong with them (even though it's eye-watering stuff) and it's still All Her Fault. I've had to make choices re contact: some (most) no contact, some reduced contact. I know eg my mum loves me but she also facilitates the family system that has me nailed to the cross for the sake of family 'peace'. It's not straightforward...

Get into therapy and get this unpacked. It's not easy but the alternative of stuffing it under the carpet is far harder, especially in the long run.

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