please allow me to introduce myself first. I'm a successful professional (a tenured professor at a major research university) who is originally from Eastern Europe. The question is not about myself but rather about my mother. Please bear with me - an introduction to our situation is needed here.
My Mom joined me in the US 5 years ago. Before that, I spent 9 years in the US on my own studying in the graduate school and working. My mother always wanted to join me here - she's been divorced for a long time and I have no siblings. She always felt very lonely back in the "home country" and fell into a serious depression; most of all, she missed my presence. Her entire life is, essentially, about me...
After she came to the US I hoped her depression would get better. She keeps taking her medications here as well (amytriptiline); unfortunately, the things are still not that great. She feels very dejected here because she hasn't been able to find a full-time job since coming to the US and now she's dependent on me financially. She's only in her early 60's...Given that she worked all her life before coming to the US and was always financially independent, this has been a severe blow for her. She has to live with me and, of course, all of this is quite hard on her. She speaks fluent English but she was an English teacher back in the home country and so here she's without a profession. We live in a small college town so there are not many options for her around here. She's also in that age where trying to acquire a new profession is not very meaningful. She's often quite depressed, extremely anxious and irritable. Sometimes, she can lose her temper at the slightest provocation. I'm trying to walk on the tiptoes around her but I"m not always successful. Often, I feel like I'm the one to blame for this situation - if I didn't decide to settle in the US, she wouldn't be left on her own back there and wouldn't have to come here just to be with me.
I would like to help her somehow but I'm not sure what to do. I would love her to talk to a local psychiatrist but she does not want to. Back in the home country, she tried many other medications before starting on amitriptyline and many of them had bad side effects (rashes, hives, even fainting). Now, she says that a doctor will try to make a guinea pig of her and she doesn't want that anymore. I'm always trying to be extremely tolerant and respectful; we have been always very close throughout my entire life.
Do you think you may be able to suggest some new approach to this situation? Perhaps, I need to do more to help here morally but I'm not sure how. It pains me greatly to see her suffer like that for years now.
I'm not a doctor but you mother truly needs to see a psychiatrist to get on a different medication along with therapy. This is a very difficult situation for you both...but YOU are not to blame in any way. Your mother was lonely in her country and now lonely here...and she's with you! We as mothers want our children to grow up and follow their dreams even if it means they move away. Our country is in a recession so jobs are hard to come by plus, at her age she can't compete for the jobs due to all the younger candidates flooding the job market. I would suggest she do volunteer work, this gets her out among other people and makes her feel worthy and needed. Plus, she may be able to network and obtain a job through her new friends. As your mother I know you don't want to disrespect her in any way but I feel it's time to have a heart-to-heart talk with her. Tell her it's imperative that she see a psychiatrist because you feel this may start to affect your relationship and you never want this to happen. Explain that there are so many people in her situation with families to care for and they have lost their jobs and can't find another, so we need to count our blessings. Tell her it's okay that you take care of her...she cared for you for many years and tell her you're happy to do it. Tell her you'd like to see her accept that although the job market is tough right now, you have each other and you both are healthy and that's what really matters. Tell her she is earning her way by helping out around the house (she needs to feel she is carrying her own weight). But the first step is to get her to the psychiatrist, tell her you've checked him out thoroughly and he is excellent and has helped many people. Once you do this and get her to start volunteering, she will snap out of it. You shouldn't have to walk on eggs in your own home even though it's your mother. She has to be willing to get help for both herself and you. If she still refuses to get help...it's time to be a little more blunt with her. Yes, she's in a bad spot right now but it's not going to change until she gets some help...you're meeting her half-way, it's time for her to meet you the other half. Google activities in your area that she may enjoy, as well as volunteer opportunities. During all of this have her continue to look for work. But tell her not to define herself by not having a job....there are millions in that same boat and she is very fortunate to have you who is willing to support her. You may at some point ask if she would like to return to her country...I know this would be hard to do, but in her mind she may want this and doesn't want to tell you. Communication is very important right now between the two of you. I hope this helps and I do wish you both all the best.
The medicine is important but a lot of it is cognitive. I have seen a lot of people come into treatment just because they lost their job at and older age and they have no sense of purpose any longer.
The best thing I can suggest is to figure out a way to get her into some type of volunteer work if it's possible. Not only does she not have a purpose anymore, she also likely feels like a bum for staying with you. If you are wanting to help her don't feed off her depression and let it fill you with regret. Sometimes too much empathy causes codependent behaviors that hurt both you and her. Recover from anything, but especially deep depression, has to be tackled on three fronts; mind, body and spirit. Try to figure out what you can do to help out with those three things.
Mind- Like I said the medicine plays a big part in this picture. Also routine and recreational time helps with the mind. When you talk to her be really present in the conversation without worrying about your chance to talk, which people are often guilty of. Turn her negativity into positive thoughts. Thought stopping is and important part of this recovery because thoughts cause feelings which cause behaviors and emotions. Also seeing a therapist or a psychiatrist is likely important. They have a way of bringing the truth out because the truth is life doesn't suck. Life is a beautiful thing, and it is never too late to start living it again no matter how old you are.
Body- some sort of activity or exercise is important for your body. Also a descent diet will help tremendously in the energy she has. This is something I have to make my mom realize everyday. She doesn't like to eat for fear that she will gain wait. She ways about 120 and it is the most ridiculous thing to hear when she talks about gaining weight but I let her talk and I don't entertain her obsessive thoughts, I just offer to make her something she likes and try to get her to eat.
Spirit- This is the most important part. A lot of people go to church and I think it is nice but it takes a little while for it to work. I am a spiritual person now rather than religious. Not that it really matters but I had to look for something else since. and it is a way of living that differs from religion but I do believe in God and his healing abilities.
Anyway read this for information but the way you put some of these in practice will change based on the time that you have and her resistance to the whole thing.
Thanks - I just realized that this is not the forum I intended my question for. However, I did receive several answers from the community members already and they have been quite helpful. BTW, can you suggest how I can ask the question to Dr. P. Forster directly as well? I tried looking at his forum but I can't find any way to submit my question there. I realize that this is a purely technical problem but still...
Hello, I do not know which site Dr. P. Foster is on. As Bubulous suggests, you could contact moderators. There is a doctor site for mood disorders, I don't know if the doctor you are seeking is on there. Where did you get his name from?
I read about your mother and i empathize with your situation. I also read the comments that were made and I know that this is really not my place to say any thing but i would like to suggest yoga for your mother.
Being a Hindu by religion i suggest yoga because it is a perfect blend of physical and mental well being,connecting body to soul ,finding the meaning of life and hence finding happiness from within.
If she denies yoga you could do it with her and trust me you would feel a lot better too. You don't have to spend a penny you can just hit youtube or download yoga sessions online.
On an entirely different note you mentioned that your mother wanted to change her profession so i would also suggest you to spend time with her and get to know her hobbies or what made her happy it could be art or cooking and you also have to help her pursue her hobbies. You can also get her a pet probably a dog the really fill your life with joy and happiness. :)
Thank you very much for your comments. I do believe that I'm guilty myself of cultivating somewhat codependent behavior...We have always been very close - my father left us when I was about 2 years old and my mother never remarried so I grew up with just her. Very often it fills me with the deepest sense of guilt when I begin to think that she spent all her life on me and now...Well, she's here, in this country, only because I'm here and that made her leave whatever she had back there just to join me. I feel to a great extent responsible for her misery. Since I don't have a family of my own ( I live in a small college town and it is a little hard to date here, but I"m trying :-) ) we spend a lot of time together and I do get to think about this a lot.
Recently, I've been somewhat unhappy about my own job (I would like to move to a bigger city) and somewhat irritable myself. I just said to myself that I shouldn't whine too much about this because sometimes when I express my frustration my mother says that all of this is happening because I left myself for the US many years ago against her instinct...and that I destroyed everything around myself just to live here and make my career here and that, as a result, both of us are miserable. I used to get angry at this kind of comment but I sometimes I think that I'm to blame for everything that is happening in our lives.
I believe I should make some changes in my own worldview...do you think I"m right? Thanks again for your insightful comments.
You really need to get counseling yourself. You say that you feel the deepest guilt that your mother chose to spend all her life on you. A mother's real job is to raise a child to be on their own and for the mother to have a life also. That is not at all your fault. Most mothers, yes including the many single mothers, do not expect their children to nurture them for the rest of their lives. How many others do you know whose mothers expect so much from their children after they are grown men? And in spite of logic, you will have this guilt that she has created. You definately need counseling of your own. Does your college offer that to you? You can say it is about your mother's depression, which it is. You say that you are miserable. It is no wonder with a depressed mother who blames it all on you and you believe it. Please get counseling before both of you go down into terrible depression. Really wish you the best. Sara
Copyright 1994-2016 MedHelp International. All rights reserved.
MedHelp is a division of Aptus Health.
This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information.
The Content on this Site is presented in a summary fashion, and is intended to be used for educational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended to be and should not be interpreted as medical advice or a diagnosis of any health or fitness problem, condition or disease; or a recommendation for a specific test, doctor, care provider, procedure, treatment plan, product, or course of action. Med Help International, Inc. is not a medical or healthcare provider and your use of this Site does not create a doctor / patient relationship. We disclaim all responsibility for the professional qualifications and licensing of, and services provided by, any physician or other health providers posting on or otherwise referred to on this Site and/or any Third Party Site. Never disregard the medical advice of your physician or health professional, or delay in seeking such advice, because of something you read on this Site. We offer this Site AS IS and without any warranties. By using this Site you agree to the following Terms and Conditions. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your physician or 911 immediately.