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Interacting with family members who dislike people with mental health problems

  • Thread starter Lundi_Hvalursson
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Lundi_Hvalursson

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Hi everyone.

I was wondering how users here interact with family members, whether they be direct family or extended family, who really dislike people with mental illness and/or believe that people with mental illness are "making it up".

For example, aunts or uncles, or even parents who think that people with, for example Asperger's or anxiety disorder or really any mental health issue, should be locked up in mental institutions for life. Or if they believe that people with depression or OCD are deliberately acting that way to piss off everyone else and/or get attention.

This is quite common especially in families from third world countries, where mental illness is not considered a health issue, and anyone with mental health issues is more or less categorised as "crazy". Often in third world countries, sometimes families even try to get people with OCD, anxiety, autism, etc. locked up in a mental institution. Perhaps in Western countries this is not as prevalent.

Would you stop interacting with them or try to interact with them less? Or would you continue interacting with them but try to "act normal" when they are around?
 
elliepaige20

elliepaige20

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Hi there,

I've definitely run into a few people in my life who don't believe that mental illness is a real thing. These are usually older people who clearly haven't experienced it themselves. The fact is, these people aren't experts and really don't know what they're talking about. If mental illness wasn't real, there wouldn't be half as many people suffering with suicidal tendencies etc.

Personally, I tend to stay away from people who dismiss my thoughts and feelings as their values don't align with my own. A lot of third world countries probably don't have the knowledge or access to information regarding mental health and so will most likely dismiss it. Some older relatives of mine and their friends have completely dismissed me and my emotions and so I decided to stay away as I don't believe in pretending that I'm fine for their benefit.

As time goes on, people are becoming more and more aware of mental health and therefore becoming more accepting. We're not quite there yet, but we're slowly but surely getting there. There are so many resources for mental health that weren't available to people before which is definitely a great thing. Some people just don't get it unfortunately, but a lot of that is just ignorance.

Pain is pain at the end of the day, no matter how silly it may seem to somebody else, if it's hurting, then it's hurting. I don't want anybody in this world to think they can't open up and express how they feel on the inside. I hope this helps in some way xx
 
hicks

hicks

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I think my parents have some idea of what we're going through as a family, but I reckon 99% of people I describe our issues to (including family) really have no clue, or don't understand the impact.
How could they? I didn't even appreciate or understand it, until we had first hand experience. People joke about being a bit 'OCD'. They have absolutely no clue. It's no joke.
 
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Worriedyin

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Is it possible that you're expecting too much from them? They may never understand what you're going through but they will still love you - could you spend more time with them getting to know you as a person without mentioning your illness and see how that goes?

You shouldn't have to pretend to be 'normal' or anything like that, just be yourself. I'm sure they're proud of you for some things?
 
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Lundi_Hvalursson

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Personally most of my family/relatives are from the third world. Say that you stated that you had OCD, anxiety, autism, depression, Aspergers, whatever. It is very common to hear, "Back home in my country, we would throw a crazy person like you in the mental asylum, then throw away the key!"


My mother, who has even less mental issues than I do, still has Aspergers, mutism and anxiety. When she was a child in the 1960s and 1970s, she told me that relatives would call her retarded, mute, mental cripple, fit for the asylum, and other things.


Note that in many third world countries like Malaysia, Jamaica, etc. it is perfectly legal and even common for parents and teachers to discipline children by beating them. In the Orient they use the rattan cane and in Central América, South América and the West Indies they use the sugarcane to beat people legally. In these countries it is common for family to do this as punishment for children and even adults for not acting "normal".


I once read in a magazine about a Thai man who had a few mental issues. He said that his father, who was a blackbelt in muay thai, practised muay thai on him both as a child and as an adult, because he did not act sufficiently "normal" for his father's liking.


I am not sure if people here are used to these cultures, but they are extrêmely different from the West.
 
sadpunchingbag

sadpunchingbag

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i just wouldnt i have aspergers and mental health problems if any family member said some dumb ignorant shit i would just cut them out my life just because someone is blood it doesnt mean anything
 
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Lundi_Hvalursson

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Most of my family do not believe that Asperger's or autism exists. I am used to comments about how people with autism spectrum disorders are just using that as an excuse to act abnormal and piss off other people.

OCD, anxiety, depression and related are usually called "acting crazy".

However, even if I did not have OCD, it is quite annoying when family insist on sneezing and coughing, wiping their nose when they have colds and flus, then insisting that you touch whatever they touch or else be yelled at or deemed being an arsehole.

I remember once when at an aunt's house, and she was cleaning after her dog because it had just defecated and urinated. Then without washing her hands she went to peel an orange and eat it bare-handed. Then offered me some with the same hand, and got offended for not accepting. Apparently in order to "act normal", I would have had to eat her orange slices despite her not washing her hands and her having offered me with her own dirty hands.

Many family members believe that OCD, just like ASD, is just a case of people trying to be arseholes and willingly pissing people off instead of acting normal. Getting berated regularly is so common that it seems like just being oneself is grounds for getting yelled at.

Although most family members also have said openly that they believed that vegetarians and vegans are basically weird idiots who are not real people. And that eating vegetables is for pansies, i.e. weak people. I remember when I had a friend over as a teenager and since he was a vegetarian, he declined the meat that was offered at my house. Later I got asked about why I would befriend a vegetarian and if I would convert into his vegetarianism disease. Hearing things like that makes me lose a lot of credibility for them, even though I eat meat and am not even vegetarian/vegan.
 
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Lundi_Hvalursson

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Sorry but your family are complete and utter idiots!
Well when I used to hear that, I kind of ignored it because I did not know much about ASD. Until it was discovered that both my mother and I had Asperger's, that was when I started to seriously doubt those relatives. Although before she knew that she had it, relatives used to call her retarded and weird, so it is not like it mattered anyway.

This is actually tame considering I have heard on more than one occasion about people with AIDS being justfully punished with that disease, especially when referring to a cousin that had died of AIDS in his 20s.

I am not sure why, but as a teenager I started to try to eat a lot of meat to be like my relatives. I stopped when I gained so much weight that I went from 55 kg to 90 kg in less than a year, and got blood pressure readings of over 180/100 and LDL cholesterol readings of over 300. I got referred to a cardiologist at 15 and was told that I would not make it to age 18 if I continued the diet. So I stopped eating excessive amounts of meat.

But when someone sneezes in their hand, then offers to shake hands, and I decline, I get accused of having OCD and craziness. I do have OCD, but is it not true that most without OCD would still not want to shake hands in this situation?
 
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Turnitoffandonagain

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But when someone sneezes in their hand, then offers to shake hands, and I decline, I get accused of having OCD and craziness. I do have OCD, but is it not true that most without OCD would still not want to shake hands in this situation?
I think most people would think that was quite reasonable.

You get me thinking that these things are very variable by individual and culture, and get me wondering when does it become a psychological condition? I'm quite confused by that question in general, really.

Glad you've switched to a more balanced sort of diet, though. I mean, things like that can at least be judged by some objective standard - e.g. what it does to your cholesterol.
 
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Lundi_Hvalursson

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I think most people would think that was quite reasonable.

You get me thinking that these things are very variable by individual and culture, and get me wondering when does it become a psychological condition? I'm quite confused by that question in general, really.

Glad you've switched to a more balanced sort of diet, though. I mean, things like that can at least be judged by some objective standard - e.g. what it does to your cholesterol.
I mean I try to be reasonable and control my health OCD, but someone visibly coughing and sneezing and wiping mucous all over then getting angry that I do not want to touch stuff that they touch nor shake their hand, well...honestly all I can say is too bad. I am not going to put my health at risk.

If you are from the Western culture, you probably are not exposed to this line of thinking. At least my guess is such. If you are from the third world, you probably know what I am talking about. Although many of my relatives are basically from the third world or children of people from the third world who live in the West. So their opinions are very different than those of the people that surround them.

I still have stretch marks on my body from the fat that I accumulated from eating copious amounts of meat. I used to eat steak as a snack, like some of my relatives. I also ate way too many boiled eggs as a snack. I knew that something was wrong, because getting shortness of breath and occasional chest pain as a 15 year old is not a good sign. Now I am skinnier. But I was probably too conscious of my thinness along with relatives criticising me for not being fatter like them.

I have family who have heart disease from their teenage years and 20s. They eat huge amounts of meat, and heart attack is the number one cause of death in my family. Well honestly, no wonder. Eating steaks, roast pork on a daily basis and saying that vegetarians and vegans are pansy fruitcakes is not really a healthy mindset.
 
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Turnitoffandonagain

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Do you mean when does OCD become a psychological condition?
Not just OCD. A whole lot of conditions. But I guess that as well. Often it seems to be 'when it interferes with your functioning'. But how well one functions seems to depend on what society opne is in and what one's position is within it.
 
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Turnitoffandonagain

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I mean I try to be reasonable and control my health OCD, but someone visibly coughing and sneezing and wiping mucous all over then getting angry that I do not want to touch stuff that they touch nor shake their hand, well...honestly all I can say is too bad. I am not going to put my health at risk.

If you are from the Western culture, you probably are not exposed to this line of thinking. At least my guess is such. If you are from the third world, you probably know what I am talking about. Although many of my relatives are basically from the third world or children of people from the third world who live in the West. So their opinions are very different than those of the people that surround them.

I still have stretch marks on my body from the fat that I accumulated from eating copious amounts of meat. I used to eat steak as a snack, like some of my relatives. I also ate way too many boiled eggs as a snack. I knew that something was wrong, because getting shortness of breath and occasional chest pain as a 15 year old is not a good sign. Now I am skinnier. But I was probably too conscious of my thinness along with relatives criticising me for not being fatter like them.

I have family who have heart disease from their teenage years and 20s. They eat huge amounts of meat, and heart attack is the number one cause of death in my family. Well honestly, no wonder. Eating steaks, roast pork on a daily basis and saying that vegetarians and vegans are pansy fruitcakes is not really a healthy mindset.
My dad was from the 'third world'. But I barely knew him, so not sure I learned much from that. I think he was a bit 'different' even by the standards of his culture-of-origin. Not at all sure.
 
hicks

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Not just OCD. A whole lot of conditions. But I guess that as well. Often it seems to be 'when it interferes with your functioning'. But how well one functions seems to depend on what society opne is in and what one's position is within it.
Well that's the key isn't it - does it interfere with your functioning. I only have direct experience with OCD, but it can consume huge amounts of time. I think in any culture, if you were taking 3 hours to get up and dressed, or get ready for bed, and 1 hour for every toilet visit, and were unable to touch anything for fear of contamination, you can see how that would leave little time for anything else.
And true OCD is always a psychological condition, because the sufferer is compelled to do routines, driven by an overwhelming anxiety.
 
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