Dysfunctional Family: How Do I Deal With Bad Anxiety?

Allison feels she is responsible for her parent’s divorce. She's grown up in a dysfunctional family and now everything’s falling apart and her anxiety is bad.

Allison's Question:

Allison: I've been dealing with anxiety for the past couple of years. I’ve grown up in a very dysfunctional family. Well, my father is my best friend, but that's kind of the problem. My mother hated that my entire life. And she's been very jealous of me and my father's relationship. So, I haven't had a very good mother my entire life. They just got divorced and it's pretty much my fault.

Dawson: No, it isn’t. Not True!

Allison: My dad was just always spending a lot of time with me. He was my coach growing up. So, we were gone all the time and my mother started cheating on him. And I started having some real big trust issues with my mother because she was really tearing our family apart. And now my parents are divorced. My father is very happy and I'm very happy for him. And it’s like - life couldn't be better right now, but everything's kind of falling apart on me.

Dawson: Like?

Allison: I guess, from being put through so much abuse, I just developed pretty bad anxiety.

Dawson: You’ve been to the doctor?

Allison:  Yeah. I’m seeing a doctor right now. I’m on medication. I just don’t feel like it’s working.

Dawson: It takes a while. Who are you living with now?

Allison:  I live in my guest house with my boyfriend. He was a pretty bad kid before we met, and when we met. Our one year is coming up and he's completely changed his life. I respect him so much and he treats me very well and I'm very happy. But he hurt me too by cheating on me and just seeing what my dad went through.

Dawson: That relationship could be in trouble.

Allison:  Me and my boyfriend?

Dawson: Yes. Well, not only that, not only the cheating part and your fear of that, but just your anxiety attacks and what all that means to a relationship. He's not ready for panic attacks.

Allison: Yeah.

Dawson: What do you want me to do for you, Allison?

Allison: I just don't know what to do anymore. I try and it's an everyday battle. Like some days I'll be so happy and just lately, I've just been very stressed out. I have two jobs. My dad's been away.

Dawson McAllister's Answer:

Dawson: Okay. Okay. There you go - you got all kinds of problems with your boyfriend. He doesn't know what to do with the attacks. Plus, the cheating thing has you going. Your father's gone. You're doing way too much work. And you haven't forgiven your mother.

And so, there's only so much we can medicate over that. We can take the sharper edges of anxiety attacks and panic attacks from you. But in the end, we're going to have to get down and deal with those core issues of trust, resentment, and fear.

When a parent is toxic it takes a toll on everyone. Learn how to set boundaries with toxic parents.

TheHopeLine Team
For over 30 years, TheHopeLine has been helping students and young adults in crisis. Our team is made up of writers and mental health professionals who care deeply about helping others.
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