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Father (who I love) with unknown mental illness

TW: Abuse


Hi all.


Currently feeling a bit alienated. My father's dad, my beloved grandfather passed a few days ago, whom my dad cut ties with a decade ago. I am a 20 year old immigrant, having moved to Australia with my family at the age of 8 from Iran. My parents still live together because moving out is expensive, and I with them, despite my father's verbal abuse inflicted on my mum, and his bad-mouthing towards my relatives and our friends since I was a child. My entire family and extended relatives all live in Iran, which complicates my personal grieving process alongside my father's ambiguity in regards to this estrangement (strangely one-sided).


Since visiting family numerous on occasions (visits my father has not accompanied my mother and I with since childhood), his parents, especially his father even at his healthiest,  have always expressed heartbreak that their son has cut them off completely. The rest of their sons, save for one, are all living in Europe, away from the horrendous Islamic government. Weeks before his death, while in a coma, my poor sweet mum even showed images of my grandfather's sick form in his hospital bed, slowly dying, to garner some empathy from my dad; in hopes that whatever his father said or did to him would be forgiven in his final moments. To which my father said nothing to, just some verbal abuse towards her to leave him alone. I still don't know what happened. 


Presently: my father has diabetes but regularly exercises and eats relatively healthy, though suffers from extreme sugar cravings. He consumes the sweets I get within a night and never apologises for his actions, or admits to his disease being a factor of struggle, continually forcing my mum to get extra snacks as she purchases all the food in the house (and makes every meal, even with long exhausting shifts). He seems to have zero remorse for continually ignoring my boundaries and consuming eg. the chocolate or various snacks Ive gotten for a stressful exam period. I dislike that he can't share or find alternatives for himself to show he is trying his best which is what bothers me. It seems childish, but its repeated behaviour. 


My father no longer shows up to events that he/ our family of three are invited to, forcing mom to use work as an excuse when in reality he speaks poorly on all of our family friends and considers himself better than them in every way. It is my mother that urges him to call friends and ask them how they are when they are sick, to save herself of the embarrassment of his avoidance, when these friends are incredible, kind families who dearly love my mother and I (whose children I've grown up with due to them being immigrants too) and always send their love to my father. 


Background on my father: He graduated from a top math/sciences university in Iran with fantastic marks in mathematics. He was an engineer when I was a kid and when we moved to Australia, he worked at an engineering firm but lost his job when he was made redundant. Since, he's been working as an Uber driver and has told us he's been looking for a job (which I believe, on and off). Mum tells me there have been times where he could have made sacrifices that other husbands that she knew in his field did, like work overseas or do FIFO but my dad refused and has refused. My dad has been verbally abusing my mum and undermining her hardworking for as long as I remember, and my mum never responds as to not aggravate him. She is easily the strongest, most resilient person I know and says that leaving him will also be a health risk (due to his diabetes and the healthy meals she makes him) as dad has always relied on her to cook for him and clean the house.  Witnessing their arguments as a child definitely scarred me and my ability to maintain a close relationship to my dad despite him trying to be more present in my life in in my teen years. I do think my mum has a slight saviour complex... I love her to bits but she works so hard (for his affection too I believe, which she never gets).



I can't recall the last time my father left the house except for a haircut, dentist or GP to go to a social event with friends. He has online friends on this forum discussing mostly politics, which he would speak to almost daily at one point. He doesn't have any friends he sees but spends his free time studying, watching movies and seems to enjoy himself and generally being inide. Even until a couple of days ago things seemed fine, until 2 days ago. 


It hurts to hear parents of friends speak about their travel plans, their social outings etc. when my dad has cut off every single person and seems to find offence at the smallest things with the family friends we used to have/ people in general, including mum (he takes things personally). 


Last year, my dad confided in me and said he felt lonely to which I reassured him, told him I loved him and that he should get professional help. He told me more about his experiences with severe depression in university, which he said he cured with a self-help book and no medication. Evidently, he still seems depressed. I asked him about his parents and he said that his mum was verbally abusive and never praised him for his academics or anything and his father was barely present. He said he'd say the rest later, which he has never done. 


Coinciding with my grandfather's death was a time where I stashed some cake mum made in a takeaway box in my bedroom. One day my dad came in, playfully and kindly to ask how I was and how much he missed seeing me these days (I have uni exams). He saw the cake and chuckled that I need not hide food from him but just let him know that 'it's mine' and he won't touch it. I responded with resentment for all the times ive had to say nothing and told him that there have been times where he has completely ignored my words and ended up calling him a liar. I understand that this was an intense word to use and he got upset, and said I should be ashamed for being so rude. He gave me the silent treatment the next day, called my mother terrible words and accused her of being the reason why 'I am such a greedy, rude person now' apparently. This is spoken when my dad has time and time praised me for having being kind and talented and 'having a golden heart.' He's not extremely verbally affectionate but I am still proud of him for being more affection than his parents were to me, which he used to acknowledge quite a few times when I was younger.


 Mum still urged me to apologise to him for calling him a liar, which I understood. He made no eye contact when I did and seemed bothered still. For the next two days he refused to speak or acknowledge my mother and I, going into his room when my mum would come home from work, which coincided with the news of my grandfather's death. Something dad has not spoken to me about (his emotions). I haven't attempted speaking to him as I know he has always hated talking about his parents. 


I'm thinking that my dad has rejection sensitive dysphoria or Borderline Personality Disorder. He's extremely sensitive and his mood has always been a quick switch from angry to neutral, and from the ages of 11-16 grew up pretty anxious around the house. My mother has always been loving, reassuring, but my dad has always been the most understanding of my own mental health issues, always offering extra help from the self-help book he gave me. Unfortunately my dad is extremely stubborn about receiving help and rarely visits the doctor, so he has a similar attitude towards psychology and has even claimed he knows more than psychs. 

Please let me know what I can do, how I can intervene and let him know he needs help. Let me know what your thoughts on a diagnosis are (roughly) as this has been a question my whole life. I know my dad genuinely loves me and this is no question so I am quite worried, maybe he might even shut me out. 


I apologise for this length but I don't know where else to go. 


Re: Father (who I love) with unknown mental illness

Hey @peachrot ,


I hear you. Thank you for sharing a little about your family.


I hear that your father is facing a lot of challenges himself and this may be why he exhibits the behaviours that he has at times. Culture and upbringing can also play a huge part in this. For me, as a household, we NEVER spoke of mental health. It was a taboo.


Yet inside, I was dying. I lashed out, I said hurtful things, I did a lot of things I'm not pleased about. And yes, I had BPD. 


BPD ruled my life. The hardest of the emotional dysregulation and the self-harm. I showed a lot of rage and was often out of control. Yet I'd come back and feel so hurt later. 


As much as people around are experiencing pain, I wonder how much emotional pain your father is enduring?


Sometimes, the best thing is just for them to know you love them and that you are there.


What made me think about my situation was when someone asked, "Do you want things to change? Are you sick of being sick?"


That was the turning point.

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