My mom is driving me crazy.

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My father died 18yrs ago and since then I've been taking care of my mom financially (she's been living with me all this time)…and she's driving me crazy. Today she asked me to take pictures of the decorations around the house, I asked her to give me a break since I had just woken up and was starting to pay the bills. Well, she got mad and took down all the decorations in the house and started crying…she's been diagnosed with anxiety and depression but never wants to be on medication.

She constantly makes me feel guilty…today she even said that if these were her final Christmas that she hoped I felt bad because I had ruined them for her. She feels that since we are each others only family and that she's my mom that I have to drop everything to do whatever she wants and when I don't she becomes upset…that I do more favors for other people, like my friends, than I do for her. Anything can set her off and then she spends days in that mood. I feel that I don't have anyone to talk to…I don't want my friends to think she's a bitch if I share with them every time she does something that upsets me.

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I went through a caregiving situation similar to what I am hearing from you all. I cared for and lived with a family member who I think had narcissistic personality disorder and was a lifelong sociopath. It was tough because these unhealthy aspects were patterns set decades ago when I was a child, and those sort of patterns are really hard to break.

I firmly believe, unless the person has dementia, the only way to make it "better" is to stand up for yourself. Stop apologizing, stop letting them tell you what you should think and how you should live, and stop letting them set the tone of every interaction.

Standing up for yourself as adult doesn't mean being a bully or being overly harsh; it means doing what you have to do, even if it's hard. For me, I took some time to really think about what I was no longer willing to tolerate, and when I had my thoughts in order, I sat down and said what I had to say. Don't leave the topic open for discussion, just say your part and that's it.

A few words of warning, however: don't say things you don't mean to follow through with, that just undermines your authority. Also, be prepared for outsiders and family members who aren't involved in the caregiving to hear the other side of the story, which will probably include distortions if not outright lies about what you say.

People will, sadly, treat you the way you let them many times. Good luck, I hope you all find some peace and relief in your situations.
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Well I had a real horrid weekend, my dad 88 was mean, and intolerable to me and my mom 86 is demanding me to do things every 10 minutes. My father refuse in care help with showering, my mom is so worried about spending a penny yet she can't do anything but berade me, insult me and get my dad yelling at me. Just venting. Need to let it out because I don't want to go crazy. Anyone have some suggestions I certainly will listen.Thanks
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Welcome to the club. I'm halfway's crazy already from dealing this this crap. It's a curse that many have to deal with. I wish it on no one.
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You have all help me feel better that I am not the only one, I will be coming on just so that I keep my sanity. My mom has been so cruel and mean saying I hate her, that I want her dead just because she doesn't get her way and won't help herself get well.
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Onmyown, first of all, big hug. Your living situation is no fun for you. And your family situation, there being just the one of you, and just the one of your mother, isn't so great either. Though having said that siblings aren't necessarily all they're cracked up to be…

I'm not surprised your mother's driving you round the bend. There's another lovely lady on the forum too who loves her mother to pieces but is exhausted by her need for constant attention, even though that attention is positive. Having any person being emotionally entirely dependent on you is so, so wearing. You feel responsible for making her happy, but how on earth can you do that? Responsibility without power… not something to be wished on anyone.

Warning: there is a 'but' coming. Here it is. The saddest part of this problem isn't the guilt you (or I) feel, or our natural impatience with someone who seems not to want to help herself. The saddest part is the way your mother is feeling. She's afraid, she's lonely, things she used to enjoy (Christmas and all the trimmings, e.g.) lie in ruins, literally - and yes, whose fault is that?! But they still do. Her landscape is pretty bleak, and the only bright part in it (yes that's you) is (from her point of view) trying to get away.

I don't mean you're not absolutely right to take steps to have some life of your own. I agree that you certainly should, it will make you a happier person and a better caregiver; and I'm trying myself to make some moves towards doing that. But meanwhile, what sort of thing can you do to comfort and reassure your mother? She desperately needs to feel loved. Not just looked after as in not homeless, but actively loved. Don't we all?

After the life she's had, I don't think I will ever succeed in making my mother believe that she is important, that her wishes matter, and that I and everyone she knows well love her. But after things got to a really low point for her this time last year, and a terribly low point for me this summer, I'm now working every day on making her feel more secure. My goodness this forum certainly helps me with that, too.

Carry on the good work of building your own friendships, networks, life outside home, that's really important. But instead of - I don't know how to put it, in my own case it felt like trying to hide away from my mother, trying constantly just to get away from her for a short time, get some relief from her misery. Anyway, instead of that, however you'd put it yourself, when you are with her, be extra loving. A quick hug instead of a cross word, even if the cross word is a completely natural reaction. "Give me two minutes and I'll be with you" rather than "For God's sake, does it have to be NOW?" That kind of thing.

I expect you're already a lot better at coping with your mother than I was earlier this year (you couldn't be much worse), but maybe you can think of some of responses that could be kinder than your first reaction to how she behaves?

Medications can/do help - SSRIs, once they start working, really do work especially on the disproportionate anxiety. But your mother's problem isn't all in her head. She does have real things to be depressed and anxious about that the meds can't cure. Cuddles can help those, if she's the cuddly type, or whatever equivalent form of sympathy suits her personality. I really hope things start improving for both of you very soon.
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She sounds more bi-polar and narcissistic than just "anxiety" or "depression" - whether she is your mother or not, she does not have the right to treat you the way she is treating you, and you do NOT have to put up with it.
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Don't share it to anyone that can't even solve your problem. Talk to an expert to help you with your mother's problem. That ain't easy, I know. You always carry the guilt but you shouldn't have to! You have to do something to start her medication right away!

and you deserve a hug for sharing this.
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Taking DOWN the decorations you worked hard to put up before it is even Christmas strikes me as almost unbearably cruel. Unless she was confused and thought Christmas was over already...see if she realizes what she did or not, not to berate her but to try to find out if she was just being mean in which case limits have to be set, versus losing her concept of time. And, maybe she would be willing to put them back up, maybe she would grasp the emotional blow to you was not something she should have inflicted. My mom could be almost that harsh sometimes, someone would send a card or photo and she would want it thrown away, she would not even want me to keep it if I wanted it.
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Sounds like you would benefit the most at this time going to talk to a good therapist, 18 years is a long time to be playing this game.
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blannie, you are correct…my mom has always been a handful, it was just easier when my dad was alive. Even her brother and sisters and nephews find her difficult…she has offended some of them when we have gone back to Puerto Rico on vacation. We are a latin family and having your children live at home till they are married is not uncommon…as well as having a multi-generation home but my mom being a handful has never made it easy on me. I have gone to christian counselors, and would love it if she would go with me so that we could get counseling together but she would never discuss family issues with a stranger. I have set some boundaries over the years, some she does respect others she doesn't, why? because she is my mom and she thinks that that trumps everything else.

I have lived on my own before, I've been a flight attendant for almost 20 years so I have spent a lot of time away from my family. My parents helped me with my 1st apartment. The first 5 years of being a flight attendant are hard, specially financially so when my dad and brother died I was living at home with my family to save some money. After that there was no reason to move out and leave my mom on her own…my family was involved in a car crash, my mom and I survived but my dad and brother didn't. She is partially handicapped so she really can't keep a job and I've tried talking to her about going to church with me, or going to one of those senior centers but it's always NO. I just wish I could find a way to express myself without her taking offense to anything bad I say and for her to also express herself so that I can understand where she's coming from
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