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I'm in a really messed up situation...Any ideas?

My younger half-sister and I live with my step-dad (my sister's biological father). I've never known my real father and my half-sister and I haven't seen our mother for close to five years now. She has bipolar disorder and when she had a mental breakdown, my step-dad gained custody of my half-sister and I (I had no family to go to). 

I love my step-dad. He took me in and he treats me the same as he treats his daughter. The problem is that he always tries to put all these horrible ideas about my mum in my head. He told me he would disown me if I tried to see her. I really miss my mum and want to see her and try and establish a relationship with her again. My sister and I had a heart-to-heart the other day and she was crying about missing mum. I'm also feeling really conflicted at the moment because when I last saw my mum she said and did some hurtful things. I was too young at the time when I last saw her to understand about her bipolar. I also feel as if I will have to choose between parents and I'm too scared to approach my step-dad about seeing my mum again. So I was wondering if anyone could suggest some ways to talk to my step-dad about this? Also, how do you go about contacting family anyway, is there an agency which can help with that kind of thing?


Another problem which I'm having at the moment is caring for my step-dad. He has mental issues as well (he hasn't been treated for mental health for several years though) and a marijuana addiction. He blames us for his marijuana addiction and is in denial of his addiction. He has been known to spend $125 on marijuana in his peak and it can take up to half of his pension which he uses to support our family. At the moment he isn't smoking much because he recently quit it for three months, but I know he will get back on it again and I don't know what to do to stop him. He has lots of mood swings, sometimes becoming depressed or angry and paranoid and I have to take a lot of responsibility in the household (cooking dinner, cleaning and looking after my sister). Since I got my part-time job, I've had a really hard time helping to maintain the household. I really don't want to quit my job because I've made a lot of friends and it is an escape from my issues at home. I also need the money to help provide for my sister (too young to get a job) and myself, also to allieviate the financial pressure from my step-dad. I got really good grades last term at school, but I feel as if the stress of everything is causing them to slip and I have barely any time for homework anymore.


I'm only 15 years old and I don't know if there is really anything I can do about it at my age. Does anyone have any suggestions? (Confronting him probably wouldn't work because sometimes he can become violent). I also hate the fact that feel as if i'm betraying my step-dad and I love him so much but he's hurting my sister and I emotionally so much at the moment and we don't have any family to support us or to stay with to have a break from him sometimes. He's not receiving any support for mental health or his marijuana addiction at the moment. 


P.S. Sorry if this is a bit of a mouthful.. lol. I kinda just wrote everything that was bothering me in this post. Any ideas on what to do would really be appreciated. Thanks. 


Smiley Happy








Re: I'm in a really messed up situation...Any ideas?

Firstly you sound very intelligent, responsible and mature for a 15 year old- that is the first thing that strikes me.


It is not clear what are the motivatations of your stepdad from keeping you away from your mum.. I am not sure if he has legitimate safety concerns, or if he is being possessive and selfish in regards to the situation.


You want to be careful because if you don't have much other support and he withdraws his support because you see your mum then you might be in trouble. But saying he will "disown you" for seeing your own mum sounds like a nasty and self centred thing to say.


What you need to find out is: Is your mum currently taking medicine and mentally stable with her medication?


Is your mum using any serious drugs like Methamphetamine, Cocaine or Heroin? (If she is using any of these she is likely very unstable and may pose a serious danger to you).


And the other question is: What sort of person was your mum when she want not unwell? If she has been successfully treated and is complying with treatment and does not have serious drug addiction problems then it DOES sound like a good idea to see her.


It doesn't sound like your stepdad is going to change his views, so your only chance to contact your mum may be to carefully do it WITHOUT your stepdads knowledge, but try and find out as much about her situation as you can beforehand.


As for the Marijuana, some people use it to supress personality / emotional problems that they have. Its not problematic for everyone, but it sounds like your stepdad has many issues, and if you are looking after your sister, it doesn't sound like he is doing very much except letting you live in his house? This is just the impression I get from what you have written.


Please do not give up on seeing your mum, but consider the safety issues I said above, it is important she is stable and being responsible if she is going to have a healthy relationship with you.


You sound really nice and don't deserve all the stress you are dealing with, I really wish you the best finding solutions to these problems.

Re: I'm in a really messed up situation...Any ideas?

Hey Armageddon,


It sounds like you've got some massive stuff going on in your life at the moment. I can imagine that you must miss your mum a lot and it must be really difficult for you to feel like you have to chose between seeing her and stayng with your step dad. You sound like an amazing big sister, juggling so many things to care for your younger sis. And looking after your step dad when he needs it. That's a huge burden for one person to carry. Let alone someone who's trying to stay in school and have a life of their own!

I wonder if it might be a good option to see if you can get some support for yourself. If you make contact with your local Headspace they will be able to help provide you with emotional support as well as providing some help negotiating things with your step dad so that you might be able to begin contact with your mum. There are also services like Kookaburra Kids that provide fun and socialising for young people that are required to care for family members with mental health issues. (They are in NSW though)

Do you have someone in your life that you can talk to about this stuff? Have you ever tried seeing a counsellor or someone like that?

Re: I'm in a really messed up situation...Any ideas?

Hey I just wanted to add that you could try calling Family Drug Support (FDS)and see if they have any suggestions for you. It might just help for you to talk it through with someone who listens and understands because this is a lot for you to be managing on your own. The counsellors at FDS are trained volunteers and in many cases have lived through one of their own family members with an addiction. It could be a good place to start
keep reaching out

Online Community Manager

Re: I'm in a really messed up situation...Any ideas?

Hi, and thanks for your reply Smiley Happy

In response to your post, unfortunately I haven't seen my mum for close to five years now and there is no way to contact her through any of her friends. I am unsure of her condition at present, however I know she has never had a drug addiction (unless you count cigarettes). As for medication, she was under a treatment order but I am unsure if she is still under it. She has been known to deviate from her medication and this is when she goes off the rails.

When my mum was under medication I can say that she was capable of living a normal life, more or less. Since we stopped seeing my mum, she lost contact with her friends too (which my sister and I still see). They also want to see her again too, but they don't know how to go about it either.

How would I go about seeing my mum without my stepdad's knowledge anyway? As far as I know, I don't think I would be able to go through an agency without them informing my step dad. If so, do I need to just bid my time and wait until I'm 18? Or can I just go with another adult (for example, one of my mum's friends) and they could help me get contact with her without my stepdad's involvement?

Well, in some ways, my stepdad provides for us. He makes sure there is food in the house and that we have a house to live in, but that is about it.

Sometimes he will cook or tidy up if he's in a good mood, but the marijuana makes him dopey and lazy so he often just sits on the couch watching TV. We have some really good times with him, but I really wish he could understand that I want to have a relationship with my mum as well.

Re: I'm in a really messed up situation...Any ideas?

Hi NigioC, and thanks for your reply.
I still talk to one of my mum's friends (who she lost contact with at the same time as my sister and I), and she has been there for my sister and I for our entire lives. We have talked to her about everything, and it is great to talk to her and get an adult's perspective of the situation. She doesn't have many ideas on how to deal with the situation though, which is why I thought I would post something on this website and get some other people's perspectives and views, so I can make a decision on what to do. My mum's friend has offered us her spare room if my dad ever becomes to difficult to handle and we visit her frequently. Every second week we go to the cinema and see a movie with her which is a good release from my issues at home.

I've never tried seeing a counsellor, primarily because I wouldn't know who to see in the first place, and secondly, because I'm not really ready for my stepdad to know my feelings yet, and if I went to a counsellor I would like it to be kept confidential.

Do you know if there are any services like Kookaburra Kids in SA?

Re: I'm in a really messed up situation...Any ideas?

Hi Sophie, and thanks for the website link, I'll definitely check it out later.

I think the main problem with my stepdad' addiction is that he has trouble admitting that he has an addiction. He doesn't understand the impact of it either. When he's without his marijuana fix he becomes angry, violent and irritable, and as a low income earner it is not really something he can afford either.

He goes without buying any clothes or essentials for himself and then blames my sister and I for it, saying that he spends all his money on us and can't afford anything for himself. One time in response to his statement I said "Ok, so you buy $125 worth of marijuana a week and smoke it, purely for us?" One of my friends told me that it was 'emotional abuse' and he just wanted to make me feel guilty. That was partly why I got a part time job, so he couldn't do it to me anymore.

Thanks, and I really appreciate your advice Smiley Happy

Re: I'm in a really messed up situation...Any ideas?

hey armeggedon,


 Headroom is based in SA and should be able to put you in contact with local services. You have a few different things going on in your life and it would be so great if you could get some support for them. It's great you have our mum's friend to talk to and spend time with. Having someone like that in your life is invaluable. And maybe Headroom can help put you in touch with places that can support you with the practical stuff too.