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I feel like the worst daughter...

Lately, I've been feeling really terrible because I've become so frustrated with my mom. I know she is going through a hard time, but I find it so upsetting that she is doing literally nothing to help herself. I understand that it has everything to do with mental health, and lack of good mental health, but I am really struggling with her and how I'm reacting to it. Here is a little background on the matter, and any advice would be amazing.

My mom has always been interesting. Although she can and wants to be the most kind and loving person ever, her attitude and mood have been an issue within the family for as long as I can remember. I remember being a kid and almost finding my mother's mood swings comical because they often seemed ridiculous and unjustified, as terrible as that sounds. We have always had to tiptoe around her as she can be easily set off. In addition to that, she has always wanted to be very involved in her children's lives to a point of almost over-generosity, if that makes sense.

Now that I'm older, I am beginning to understand why my mom is the way that she is. She had a pretty terrible childhood. Although she "had everything" in a sense, her father was abusive, her mother, although amazing, just stood by and her sister had a sickly upbringing. My mom moved to Canada when she was young and was forced to learn English in a very forceful way and was often teased as a kid. She has never really had friends, and continues to not have friends and seems to lack very basic social skills even to this day. I know that hurt children grow into hurt adults if they haven't been helped, and I am beginning to see that a lot with her. As it stands, both her parents are dead and her sister has turned into a really awful person (they no longer have a relationship).

Over the last few years, her fears and anxieties have exploded including an intense fear of driving (she can drive, but she can not be a passenger and is finding it increasingly difficult to hop onto the highway). She seems to be fearing irrationally lately and a recent trip to the family cabin ended with everyone having to leave due to her fears. This past year, she has also had some intense physical issues come to light. She was diagnosed with extremely high cholesterol (like dangerously high) and she has had increasing issues with stomach and back, to the point where some days she can't walk.

At this point I am extremely worried, if not terrified for her. She is aware of her serious physical and mental issues but refuses to do anything about it. She has a very delusional approach to things and when she has eaten well for one day, she takes it as a means to then completely fall off the rails the next day. She hardly exercises anymore, she has never eaten well, and even with her dangerously high cholesterol she isn't making any changes. She won't take the medication the doctor prescribed because she finds it too harsh. Regarding her mental health, we have asked and begged her to seek professional help, but it's always an excuse and she often tries to find a way to turn it on us. Literally all three of her children and her husband go to therapy for one reason or another, but in her mind she feels as if we're unjustifiably trying to get her into doing nonsense.

I am s scared that her anxiety, stress and poor physical health are going to lead her into a state of no return. I am crazy worried that she will have a heart attack or stroke (my dad had a stroke 5 years ago primarily due to stress). I am worried that maybe she is suffering from some sort of depression and she has lost all hope and care for herself. It devastates me to see her like this, and I am finding it hard to cope.

I love my mom so much, but I am finding it hard to be around her. I find myself avoiding her because I can't mentally deal with her fears and problems. This past year has been straining for me too. I am currently in a "depressive state" and I am finding it too hard to muster up the energy. I feel shut off and shut down when I'm around her. I am deliberately telling her lies to try and curb her habits.

At this point, I don't know what to do. Should we be having some sort of intervention? Do we just let it slide?

My heart is breaking. Any advice would be helpful.
3 Responses
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134578 tn?1614729226
You said "Now that I'm older," how old are you and your siblings? Are you all out of the house and going on with your lives?
Helpful - 0
134578 tn?1614729226
Here's why I asked. If any of you are still living at home, this problem more directly impacts you, and active measures on your part (or on your father's part) might be more appropriate.

But if you are all adults living your own lives, given that she doesn't see the need to try to change or get help and would resist you trying to make her do so, it seems like you have to get out of her life and stop trying to manage her behavior or fix it. Her life is not your life, now. Your job now is maintaining your own sanity, not trying to force another human being to do what she doesn't want to do. Your mom is in a difficult spot because her mental issues keep her from seeing she is in trouble. That's sad and a shame, but if she won't listen to anyone about her health, short of your father committing her to a hospital for care, it's her own life (to ruin or save), not yours.
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2 Comments
Thank you so much for your response! I'm 30 and I've been out of the house for 10 years, give or take. My siblings are close in age as well. I think there was a definite switch from the time we were living at home until we all moved out. I think she might have started to lose her sense of purpose and found it unnecessary to care for herself well.

She doesn't at all grasp the severity and reality of this situation, and sometimes I wonder if my dad doesn't seem to know either. He's more of the type to "not start a fight" or want to cause tension. I get where he comes from too, because we have all tried and it usually ends up in a fight or with her feeling down and guilty for a while - but never truly acknowledging or changing.

You're right, I need to focus on me. But it's so hard. This is my mom, someone who has sacrificed her life and everything for me. I am finding it too hard to turn a blind eye to this, but ultimately I can't force her.

Thanks for your honesty and input. I think I might have known this answer, but it feels so wrong to not try and help someone you love. In turn, and selfishly, I worry about where this will put my family in a few years.

Thanks again!
I disagree.  One of the reasons people with mental health problems don't get better is because everyone close to them abandons them.  The mentally ill are very difficult to be around, they are very needy, often cranky, etc.  I know, I'm one of them.  I also know that I would have benefited if someone had helped me when it all first hit, but instead I was left to deal on my own.  So there is a time when you have to cut bait, and there's a time when it is really a blessing to be involved.  If you are, as you say, suffering a mental problem of your own, you know what I'm saying because you've probably experienced it.  Now, that being said, anyone who absolutely refuses to seek help can't be helped.  If it goes on for years, it's unlikely a person is going to change, and it gets much harder to fix these kinds of things when you age.  Young people are a whole lot more adaptable, even though they often don't see it that way.  As for what she grasps and doesn't, I'm guessing you don't actually know that.  People keep a lot inside, but it doesn't mean they aren't aware of it.  A lot of parents don't tell their kids much about them or how they got that way.  Not everyone suffers from hurt as a kid -- we all have bad times as kids, some a lot worse than others, but most of those people will grow up fine.  It's very hard to say why some people suffer this way and others don't given that life is pretty awful for everyone at various points in their lives.  It's something we don't really know.  What I can tell you is, if she continues to avoid the things she's becoming phobic about, like the driving, the anxiety will get worse, but that doesn't mean there's actually a fix out there.  Therapy is the only cure we know of other than a problem just disappearing as mysteriously as it appeared, but medication can help with the symptoms and when they get out of control therapy can be very slow and hard to do.  But to do that she needs to seek help, and again, if she's too scared to do that, it's very very hard to fix.  I would personally say an intervention couldn't hurt, as nothing else is working, but that would require the rest of your family to agree to do that and it doesn't sound like they're all on board.  If you're in a very bad place right now, you probably can't help her as much as you will be able to when you get past that, but helping others can also help us forget all those awful thoughts we're thinking that make life seem a lot worse than it would otherwise.  Nobody can tell you what to do because nobody else but you and yours are there and are seeing this up close and personal, but yeah, it my opinion, if every family tried to help those in need, there would be fewer people in need, but it won't help everyone.  Sorry this is happening to your Mom and to you.  Life is very hard sometimes.  Whatever you do, what you can't do is let her problem destroy your life.  Helping is something I believe in strongly, but never to the point where two lives are destroyed rather than just one.  But love can do a lot sometimes nothing else will.  
973741 tn?1342342773
Wow, what a loving daughter you are!  I also want to say that it is okay to be disappointed in someone who even though our logical side knows it is because of their mental health challenges but they aren't seeming to engage in getting better.  They aren't doing the things that we know COULD help.  And that their mental health challenges have negatively impacted YOUR life and family as well.  It's reality.  I think taking a moment to hear that you count too even though she is ill is important. I am sending you hugs because I know this is hard. Even if you are living your own life, we don't stop caring about our mother and dang it, you want a mother like you see your friends having.  Active and healthy and THERE for you.  

I do agree you need to focus on you.  Building your own best life with a compartment in it for your mom. That part that encourages her to get required help both in the psychiatric area and the physical health area.  In that compartment, you may tell her that you are going to schedule X (psych visit, doctor's visit, physical therapy, etc.) and you would like her to do it.  (and it is so much easier as so much is done online these days.  My son sees both his psychologist and psychiatrist virtually now and various doctor's visits can be telemed, etc. so your transporting her would be less to these things). I'd make a priority list and tell her that from your perspective, these are the health priorities. And then break it down to small bits for her so she isn't overwhelmed.  I think for me, it would be unrealistic to not try to help her.  But when you aren't in the mom/help mom compartment, you let it go.  So, you deal with it when it's the time to but try not to let it effect everything else in your life, if that makes sense.
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2 Comments
Meaning, you may have a certain number of hours a week in the mom/mom help compartment.  You focus on her at that time. And then the other hours of your week, you are NOT in that compartment so you focus on your life and the positives in it. That way you are still helping her but your own life is not consumed by it.
One other point though.  If you have your own family now, they come first.  I'm a mother and wife.  I have to put my own family I've created needs in front of others, even my much loved original family.  So, you have to also work in those confines.  But I see you have a father and siblings. You sound like you've taken on a lot of this on your own. Perhaps a schedule so that everyone is taking part in her care would be in order. But you are right.  You sound like you are VERY supportive and have been there for her but she still does not attempt treatment.  That's very hard.  I think that perhaps a therapist for yourself to talk through the hurt of this situation on your own life, your own sadness about it and anxiety you feel about her health would be very helpful to you. And I guess, keep her in the compartment that doesn't allow her to affect your own mental health.  hugs to you
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