I live with my psychotic father. How can I cope and improve my mental health?

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bravado

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I do not know where to even begin. If I could write my entire life story and all the disgusting things my father has done, I would do so. To say my father is not normal is an understatement. For years, I have analyzed the root cause of his deeply psychotic issues and I think I can finally explain them.

For those reading, I want to approach this from a holistic perspective to explain the root causes of his deranged behavior and their background: his teenage years, my grandmother, and himself.

My father was the first offspring my grandparents had. According to him, his childhood was surprisingly smooth and warm; by the age of 16, however, that would all change. My grandmother had two daughters after him 6 and 16 years apart from my father, respectively. Shortly after the birth of her last daughter, she went through a heavy depression that lasted approximately 3 years. Around the mid-1990s, my grandfather was caught cheating on my grandmother with one of their neighbors. After that, everything went downhill. My grandmother's attitude changed dramatically. Her nice demeanor waned with time, but this was the beginning of the end. She was demanding and harsh with my father. She expected him to take the role of the "man" in the house. For context, I am Latino and the traditional gender construct in these communities is heavily enforced. However, my father was not noble either. He was rather mischievous; he would wreck cars, stay out late into the night, get into trouble with friends, etc. His sisters were not very nice to him either. When my father and mom temporarily moved in with my grandmother, his older sister, around her late teens at the time, was very hostile with him and also my mom. There is one particular incident that my father recalls. One night, he and his older sister got into a big fight. The story has changed so much that I do not know what exactly the argument was about, but it led to my father going to the hospital and getting stitches on his arm. In short, my father's family is insane and this is only a grain of sand on a beach full of toxic incidents.

My grandmother is a different, even more complicated story. She has singlehandedly ruined every single relationship between her family members. She gaslights, fabricates, misleads, etc. I will give an example of just how deranged she truly is. My cousin, 8 at the time, was diagnosed with bone cancer several years ago. My aunt was in a hectic state, as anyone would be, and would drive him routinely to a city over 7 hours away for his chemotherapy. Several days after I graduated high school, my mom got a phone call in the afternoon from my grandmother saying that she accompanied her daughter to one of those appointments and was left stranded on a gas station more than 2 hours from her house by my aunt. It turns out that my grandmother was harassing my aunt and complaining about how she and her ex-boyfriend's friends (including her ex-boyfriend, the father) were helping my aunt to raise funds for my cousin's expenses. My cousin was in the car when this happened. My grandmother got so mad that she kept threatening to open the back door of the car while on the highway to leave. I am not making this up. This actually happened. My aunt instantly found a ramp exit and left her on the gas station. This is just one of the many incidents that have left me speechless. She is a staunch Christian and at one point got in contact with a woman who practices witchcraft to put a spell on a person she did not like.

My father has permanently wrecked my emotional, mental, and psychological health. He always gets mad and starts yelling over the most trivial things. He then shifts the blame to you if make any implication that he is the to blame. I have told this to my brother, "I do not care whether my father meant to tell me something in good spirit. If he says it in the most condescending, abusive, and disgusting way, I will react the same way he says it to me." I am not the only one who has gotten into arguments over the way he says things. It has happened with virtually everyone he has come into contact with–friends, sisters, sons, wife, the list goes on. This man has a disgusting way of telling you the truth but if you do the same back, he gets offended. For example, today, he got mad at my mom simply because he hated the tone of her answer to one of his questions, despite the fact that she had just arrived home from her stressing job. The man does not work at all and my mom is risking her life every day in a COVID world. It truly feels like the only thing my father is good at is making every situation worse. He then took out his anger at me. It led to me reacting the same way he spoke to me. All that culminated in him shouting and getting very aggressive, to the point where my mom told me to calm down and he said, "Calm down? I can beat you up right now." This incident was what motivated me to post on this forum. I truly despise him with every fiber in my body. My brother and I have always said that every time he leaves the house, we instantly feel better, carefree, and relaxed. That all changes when my father comes home, whether he is happy or mad.

One thing that stands out to me is the way both my father and my grandmother quickly change their attitudes. One day they are fine, the next they are angry, agitated, and absolutely insufferable. My father also has a huge drinking problem, and it has caused me to disappear from his presence when he comes home drunk. There are different types of insufferable modes that he exhibits when drunk and sober. His drunk mode is even worse. When I was around 15, I was physically assaulted by him because he got so arrogant playing a game with of his friends, who played in good spirit, and who I decided to support. After he left, he punched me in the nose 3 to 4 times, causing me to bleed and rupture two of my nasal cavities. I was in pain for days. He has a way of twisting the situation and making you feel guilty for something that he escalated. He once told me, "If I beat your mom, even if she did not hit me first, she is at fault because she provoked me." I do not know how I have managed to restrain myself from reacting violently. Any sane person would go insane interacting with a deranged individual like him every day.

I have two questions. One, what type of personality disorder does my father have? I have guessed that this is borderline personality disorder, but I am not entirely sure. Two, how do I cope and improve my mental health living with someone like him?

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notrightinthehead

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First of all Welcome! You have found a good place, full of information and support.
You seem to be very mature and clear sighted. I assume you still live with your parents and are dependent on them and therefore forced to find a way of dealing with them while at the same time protecting yourself from their disfunction.
Please check out the Personality disorder tabs for more information and the toolbox for strategies you can apply to protect yourself.
I can also highly recommend the books "Stop caretaking the borderline/narcissist" by Fijelstad and "Why does he do that" by Bancroft. All that could assist you on your journey of recovery. See you around on the boards!
I can't hate my way into loving myself.

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D.

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Welcome Bravado,

That sounds like such a difficult situation.  And in spite of everything you have quite a bit of clarity.  I am pretty new here as well, but am really appreciating the support and I believe that you will too. 

Question one:  I too have been trying to figure out the PD for my parents, somehow I felt like the label would help me...and it does some.  However, after talking with my therapist and reading a lot in this forum I am coming to understand that, although some people match up easily with a specific disorder, a lot of people are of a mixture, and ultimately usually fall within one of the "clusters", like cluster A, B, or C.  For me, that helped a lot.  It's a category w/some flexibility.  Then you mix in some other experiences like abuse, addiction, etc. and there starts to be more clarity on the specific people involved.

Question two:  As for your own mental health hopefully you have access to a therapist.  I've been recovering from C-PTSD as a result of PD parents and ex husband.  It's been a while, and therapy has been crucial in the process.  Also, reading, writing, self-care, and simply figuring out what works best for your own unique self.  I look at healing and learning to cope w/these situations as "work".  It requires effort, education and action by oneself.  Perhaps choose one step and start working on it?  For example, I am pretty focused on safety and boundaries right now.  I was not allowed to set healthy boundaries as a child or in my first marriage.  So I am just figuring out what they are for me in a lot of ways.  Then communicating them to others when needed.  There are a lot of strategies here mentioned in the tool box so picking one, or a few, then working on them could be very useful.

I found reading up on Narcissistic family patterns to bring extremely helpful as well.

I was glad you mentioned the cultural aspect for yourself.  I too am connected w/Latino culture.  And I have found it so interesting that both the latino and euro sides of my family have such similar issues around PD.  And the behavior of your father is so similar to my own.

Ultimately welcome to this board and I look forward to seeing you here again.  Posting here is a very important step on the journey and took courage Bravado.