Sunday 12 July 2015


For reader Sandie, home life was so unbearable she couldn't take it any longer…

Sandie says:
We were a happy family, once. I am an only child and my parents both worked; we had a good life, until Dad lost his job and couldn't find another. His mood got darker and darker until Mum and I were walking on eggshells around him. Sometimes he'd flare up for no reason and accuse us of hating him, making him feel useless. Mum said he was worried about money and it wasn't personal, but it felt personal. Mum had to work longer hours and when she wasn't around I'd hide in my room because I was scared; I felt I didn't know Dad anymore. When Mum wasn't around, he would say terrible things to me… that it was my fault he'd lost his job, my fault he'd had to marry mum, my fault he was stuck in this no hope town. He called me terrible names, things that frightened me, but I didn't tell Mum - I was trying to protect him.

One evening I thought he'd gone out and the kitchen was a mess, so I started tidying for when Mum got in. I was in the middle of it when Dad came in, and he went mad. He told me I was trying to make him look bad. He started smashing plates and throwing things around and when I tried to get past him he grabbed me by the hair and hit me. I was so shocked I just stared at him, my cheek numb from the slap. It felt like every bit of me was numb. I could not believe what had happened. I went to my room and pushed a chair against the door in case he tried to come in. That night I told Mum what had happened. My face was visibly bruised, but she told me not to make a big thing of it, that Dad was stressed and this was a bad patch we had to get through.

I felt betrayed. I knew I couldn't stay there… I was too scared. I packed a bag and left the next day. Our cat tried to follow me along the street, and that was the worst… I felt like a traitor leaving her, but I had no choice. I went to my auntie's house and stayed there. Mum knew where I was. She came to see me, but she didn't ask me to come home. I felt like the bottom had fallen out of my life. On the fourth day my auntie told me that the doctor was worried about Dad's mental health. In the end, he had what Mum called a complete nervous breakdown and was taken into hospital. I don't visit and I haven't told my friends. I have a social worker looking out for me now. I'm back home again, but it's hard to trust Mum - she let me down when I needed her. When Dad comes out he will live in assisted housing for a while, and we are supposed to go to family therapy to try to work out how to repair our family. I am not sure we will ever do it. I love my parents, but I'm not sure I will ever trust either of them again.

All names have been changed. Picture posed by model Caitlin.

Cathy says:
This is such a heartbreaking story of a family crumbling under the strain of unemployment. Have YOU had to cope with the fallout from a parent's metal health issues? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more.


  1. My dad was unemployed for nine months, so I know what it's like to be under that pressure. But he didn't do anything like that to me!~El

  2. My dad suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder, which means he can get depressed in the winter time when there isn't as much daylight around. He can get quite moody and irritable sometimes, but it's nothing on the scale of the story above. My mum has issues with expressing her emotions, as she finds this a challenge, and isn't comfortable talking freely about how she feels. She can be quite cagey and can have some quite nasty mood swings, but unlike my dad won't admit she has a problem, even when it's been recommended she seek treatment by a GP.
    Mental illness seems to run in my family, because I suffer from bi-polar disorder myself, and I was a self referral to the GP, and then to an Early Intervention team; and my younger brother is showing signs of social anxiety and an eating disorder.

    I think a lot of mental illness nowadays is caused by the stresses of living in a modern environment where everyone seems out to get one another, like a dog-eat-dog world. It's awful, because although there are many campaigns to encourage talking about mental illness more often, there is still a lot of taboo and discrimination surrounding mental illness.

  3. I wish I'd been able to leave but I was only 4 when my father started hitting me - or at least, that's the first time I remember it. I didn't even know it was wrong until I was quite a bit older. I thought everyone got beaten by their dad so I just sort of quietly accepted it although I internalised a lot of anger towards him. We didn't have family nearby and I was a bit of a loner so there was nowhere I could go. I considered running away a few times but life being beaten seemed better than life on the streets. I tried to kill myself a few times after reaching the conclusion that no life would be better than being alive but it didn't work (obviously, I'm writing this so I'm clearly alive!). My father hurt our cats too. He hated our cats because we all loved them more than we loved him - the fact the cats didn't hit us with belts was probably why but I didn't say that because I would've probably been thrown through a window for such cheek. I remember once, one of our cats got in his way and he picked him up by his tail and threw him at the wall. He was unharmed, thankfully, but shaken. I hated him for that, no one hurts my cats! I understand he was mentally ill but I don't think that excuses his actions. Mum, my siblings and myself all suffer from depression and my brother has anger problems and I have social anxiety but we've never hurt defenceless children or animals. My brother got into fights with older kids and my sister and I took out our mental anguish on ourselves. Not great ways of dealing with it, seriously, do not do that, but we wouldn't dream of hurting our pets or someone much younger and weaker. I don't think anything excuses that. It's cowardly behavior, really.

    1. Stay strong and be brave through the days to come. Remember, strong walls shake but never collapse. :)

  4. I feel so sorry for you. Just keep believing in your dreams. Never give up

  5. My dad hit me once, he would have done it again but I cut off all contact from him- unfortuantly i'm stilll in counselling to repair the damage to my heart.



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