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Adult child of Alcholic Agoraphobic Mother

Community Member
Hi All,
It's my first post here. Please call me Harlo =]
At twelve years of age I remember looking up through my bedroom window and saw my mother, who was on her way home from work, frozen in the street. Both hands, white knuckled holding onto the neighbours white picket fence.
I ran across the street and helped her cross the road. I made her lunch - but she wouldn't eat.
That day changed my life.
My mother never went back to work and she has never been able to make it past the letterbox alone again.
She went untreated for many years. Her medicine was alcohol.
My parents went bankrupt, we moved many times, I started working at 13 years old to help my dad with the rent.
I always struggled with the fact that if I needed my mothers help, her mental illness stopped her from coming to rescue me.
Somedays I felt like I didn't have a mother, other days I was angry that I had to look after her.
I'm 28 now and I feel guilty some days for feeling cheated out of my teenage years.
I have anxiety myself that use to only be based around a phobia. But now when my fear triggers it spirals because I have the fear of fear. I panic because I'm panicking.
My biggest fear is that one day I also won't make it past the letterbox and I will fail myself and everyone around me.
Are there any support groups for children (or adult children) of parents with anxiety?
Thank you for listening and letting me share.
- Harlo
4 Replies 4

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hey Harlo,

Welcome to Beyond Blue forums.

There's some pretty big responsibilities put upon you at such a young age, especially in lieu of receiving nurturing from your mum. I can only imagine that it was a terribly tough ask of you emotionally. That traumatic experience and your parent's self medicating with alcohol would have only added to the difficulties you faced.

I can relate to fear of fear and panicking because you are panicking. This is a pretty common thing that perpetuates the cycle of anxiety. There's a great explanation in the anxiety section. While my anxiety isn't fuelled by anxiety itself, I have friends who have panic attacks caused by anxiety caused by fear of panic attacks. I taught one of my friends some mindfulness ways to grab the fear before it's processed and examine it like a curious kid. He finds it helpful.

The fact that you are talking about your fears and anxiety leads me to think that by just being aware of agoraphobia you're less likely for that to happen. A further way of reduction might be to relax in to the fears when they arrive and catch them as I mentioned above.

My sister taught me something powerful about disturbing emotions. An emotion is only an emotion. It cannot hurt you and feeling it doesn't mean it's real and it doesn't dictate what's real. These are easy words to say and read, but they require a bit of thought and practice. I'm definitely not discounting the reality of having a panic attack or feeling anxiety - those are real. More so I'm referring to any of the triggers that induce fear.

I wonder what advice others can offer.

Take good care Harlo.


Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

dear Harlo, I'm so sorry, but it's a situation when one problem has started here on this occasion it then leads onto another problem, so which problem needs to be addressed first, the alcohol or your mother's agoraphobia or your fear of anxiety so it's a complex situation, but that doesn't mean that there no help or solution available.

Could something at your mum's work have started this, maybe being sacked or bullied so that she resigns, or her workmates letting her down, so it would be great to get your thoughts on this, because her alcohol drinking has been caused by something for her reaction.

It's easy to say that when anyone has a problem they turn to alcohol, I know that because it made me drink but unfortunately was one part that ended my marriage, never the less there was something that happened at work  that begun this spiral downwards.

Please I would be really interested to know what you think. Geoff.

Community Member
Thank you Lats & Geoff for your replies. It means a lot that you've taken time out of your day.
Drinking has been a problem of my both my parents longer than I've been alive.
I've tried to ask my mother about her anxiety and what triggered it in hope that it will help mine... But all I've been told from her is that it was sudden - and that she never had anxiety before that day - and that she doesn't know why she panicked.
My dad tells me differently. He has told me that my mothers life was very very difficult before she met him, and that things happened to her that she won't even tell him.
I think she has always drank to numb the pain. And drinks even more now she's housebound to numb even more pain.
I don't think her anxiety was the very beginning of mine. I've been very fearful my whole life. For as long as I can remember I've been very sensitive with anxiety.  As I've grown it feels like my anxiety has found a place to settle in - and that's my fear of turning into my mother.
Lats, I think you're right. I'm much more aware of anxiety, I have a support system and I know what I don't want from my life... And that will probably lead me to never end up like my mother...
My brain doesn't ever stop thinking though that everyday could be the last day that I can enjoy life and support my family by stepping outside.

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

dear Harlo, I must say that I love your avata