Q & A: My parents neglected my mental health issues. Are they at all accountable for the outcome?

To give a more complete answer I need a few more details. Such as what you’re diagnosed with and how they neglected your issues. How old were you when you were diagnosed? If you were a child when diagnosed, did they accept it?

Without those details, I can only answer as a mentally ill adult. My parents knew I was brilliant, out of control, strong willed and a complete bitch. It apparently never crossed their minds that I was mentally ill until they received “The Call”. You know, that 4 am call that tells them your kid is in Emergency but thankfully no one died. That night I was transported to a locked psych ward and my parents came face to face with mental illness for the very first time.

I was in my 30’s when that happened. My parents and I both have struggled with your question. Could they have seen it? Should they have? Who else could have stepped in besides them? My father is a retired Col. from the USAF – we moved constantly. There was never a teacher or staff or church or anything around long enough to determine “hey, that girl just isn’t right”. Only my parents.

Even so, they were well aware something was wrong with me – I think both chalked it up to adolescence. My mother decided that if she loved me more, she’d make up for whatever I was lacking. My father decided he just didn’t like me, and spent as much time away from me as possible. Those were very bad decisions on their part.

That being said, kids do not come with instructions or an owner’s manual. I wish to heaven they did. I wish there had been a book out there that stated clearly “If your kid has a stratospheric IQ, is horrible at school work and can’t make friends worth a damn, they have Asperger’s Syndrome. Turn to page 64 to find out what to do.” Unfortunately no such book exists. I can only judge their actions based on logic, and what information was available at the time. My parents really screwed up, but I can’t blame them. I’m pretty sure I would have done the same thing.

I don’t know if this applies to your situation. In my case, my parents did as well as can reasonably be expected. I wish it had been different, but I also wish I had been born healthy, rich and gorgeous! I had normal parents who reacted in a pretty normal way to what turned out to be an extraordinary situation. I forgive them.

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