Any advice on how to avoid having a mental breakdown?

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I am at my wits end with my mom. I am working to find a good assisted living type setup for her when she gets out of rehab next week. She is so upset that I am not going to bring her home ... and to make matters worse, I am the adopted child -- the other two kids are disabled and cannot help out at all (except my sister ... mom brings out the beast in her!)

My mom is saying terrible things to me -- you don't love me like you would if I were your natural mother, you just want to get away from me, you are throwing me away. She throws up to me how she adopted me and took care of me when she was in her forties and fifties. She actually said, "This is a fine way to thank me and your father for adopting you."

She claims that what I am doing is an attempt to "move out" from home. I am 34 and never moved away from home. She is afraid that if we don't live together that I am going to become wicked and she would rather die than have that happen. She has no grounds for thinking this. I work full time as a college professor and being wild is the last thing on my mind. Goodness - I just want some peace and quiet!

She has always been my best friend, my most trusted counselor, my protector, and my mom. I am trying to do what is best for her -- and basing my actions on her safety and best interest. She has dementia, neuropathy, and CANNOT learn how to properly use the walker because she forgets between sessions of physical therapy.

She is losing her independence, and she has always had a fierce determination to overcome any obstacle. I respect her right to be upset. I sit there quietly while she says these things and reassure her that I love her and have her best interest in mind. Even though I know she is not in her right mind, when I get home at night it all starts to bother me. Emotionally I think I am about to break. I have to go with her to the doctor tomorrow. Any advice on how to avoid having a mental breakdown?

Answers 1 to 10 of 11
MacMac, you sound like you are doing the best possible in a sad situation. You could not always be there to make sure she didn't fall and hurt herself. I understand her anger and how she felt you should rescue her, but it is not at all like it was when she adopted you. Raising a child is completely different than tending to an elder with dementia and mobility problems. Please know that you are doing what is most likely the right thing for her. What I hope is that she'll come to like living in assisted living, where she can interact with people her own age. You'll know she is safe and can visit her as a daughter. The only advice I can think of in this emotionally charged situation is to pull yourself back from it and do what needs to be done, while remaining her loving and attentive daughter. Please let us know how the doctor visit goes tomorrow.
Top Answer
MacMac, Going ahead with your plans will avoid the mental breakdown, no matter the difficulty. You will find a modicum of peace on the other side of things eventually.

I'm so sorry your mom is playing the adoption card, given your close relationship. Guilt comes in all forms and even birth moms play the same card. I heard the words, "How can you come from me? I raised you? I don't even know you anymore and I don't love you anymore. How did I ever?" I admire your ability to sit quietly. Ours turned into a screaming match in front of my son, something I will always regret. But she was yelling at me for a month or two before that and I ignored her. And my mom is mostly in her right mind, just physically immobile.

You ARE basing your actions on her safety and best interest. She is incapable of understanding that and is afraid. That is not your fault that it's come to this. I repeat, NOT your fault. It's so hard to accept the role reversal as the responsible one to our now fragile parent. It's going to take some time to process all of this.

I've been there and have felt the incredible guilt and the stinging words. They still hurt but now I realize they were a result of the stressful time and situation.

If I can get through the whole ordeal of moving my mom to an AL, you can do this. I think the stress enabled me to just be a little bit numb. I look back over the past two years and am amazed that I made through so many difficulties. The road may feel so lonely right now, but if you look down at the path, it is well traveled. I wish you strength to look back and marvel at yourself that you made it through. I'll be praying for you tonight. You can do this and there's a marvelous support group here in the days ahead.

Stay strong!
Wow! You are doing so well when you are with your mom. Now if you can just be as reasonable with yourself when you get home as you are with her in rehab, you'll retain your sanity just fine!

How close are you to arranging a placement? Will you have it by the time she is discharged? It will be much, much worse, I'm afraid, if you have to bring her home and then take her to a care center.

Since she has dementia and mobility problems, is she a suitable candidate for assisted living? I'm wondering if she might need more care/supervision than that setting provides. What does the staff at the rehab center recommend as the next step?

The arguments your mother is using are not at all sensible. This has nothing to do with being adopted or wanting to be wild. But she has dementia so nonsensical arguments are to be expected. Don't try to reason her out of them. She is losing her ability to reason and that will just be frustrating for both of you. Reassure her of your continuing love, but don't try to "prove" it.

Do come back and tell us how things are going. We learn from each other.
Here's a very literal answer regarding mental breakdowns: Try getting professional help. I went back on psychiatric medicine as I felt like I was losing it dealing with my mother. I've had a lot of problems with depression and anxiety, and while I've tried to be brave and go without the meds, I just couldn't do it anymore dealing with my mom and her crazy-making ways.
Cycloops, I have diabetes. Do you think I should be brave and go without insulin? Does bravery have anything to do with treating diabetes? I wish I didn't need to give myself shots, but my pancreas just isn't producing the amount of insulin I need (and I need extra because my cells resist taking in insulin), so I am extremely grateful that medical science understands the disease well enough to have a solution. I feel the same way about depression and anxiety. If our bodies aren't working correctly I'm grateful that humans have brains that allow coming up with solutions.
Hi MacMac. So sorry your Mom is being so unfair to you. And it is unfair. I don't know what she was like before the dementia but from what I have learned dementia can make people so mean. It is an unfair disease for you and her.

I agree that you should continue with your plans to find her a good placement. As for having a nervous breakdown -well- it does happen. I know. I had one. It started with panic attacks and then progressed to non stop shaking and then lying in bed shaking and panicking. It lasted for about 2 weeks about 10 Year's ago and I am still recovering from it. I have OCD and anxiety and I ignored my illness until I broke down.
Your anxiety sounds situational but do not ignore your stress. Don't wait for the break down because recovering from one is very hard.
A good immediate thing to do is exercise and eat healthy. Getting your body physiologically sound will really help and then find a good therapist. If therapy doesn't seem to be helping there are some good drugs that can help. You can take them for situational stress. My MIL, a past hater of pharmaceutical help, just recently finished a round of SSRI drugs to help her cope with her 95 year old Mother's transition into a NH. She was on celexa( I think) for about a year and is now off of it and doing well. I am on Paxil and clonapin and managing much better. But the break down was really really hard. I lost 20 lbs in 2weeks-I think from shaking non stop. Please don't let it get that far.
Blessings to you and your Mom.
Jeanne- yes, I'm planning to stay on medication this time because it finally sunk in. Been going on and off meds for 25 years. There's always something that puts me over the edge. These days it just happens to be my mother. So anyway, I know what you're saying. Mishka-- glad you're doing better
Well, the doctor visit went OK. The speech and cognition therapists had my mom make a list if everything she wanted to talk to the doctor about. The doctor was really sweet to mom ... and put her on some memory medication. She was distressed to see my mom in a wheelchair. The doctor knew I was planning to put non in some type if assisted living ... and she supported my decision but ignored me for most of consultation, focusing entirely on my mom. I felt like this reassured my mom that she is still in control of most of her life. Mom seemed calmer and actually thanked me for going with her. :) She still had me stammering by the time we got back to rehab but I am glad she seemed more content.

Let's hope this attitude of your mum's continues. Yay for the doctor supporting your decision for assisted living!!! Things are looking up for you!!!
MacMac, get your mom the simple walker without the seat and hand brakes. My mother-in-law has to have one of those because she will never remember to press the brake and stop it from flying out in front of her. Kaiser wouldn't pay for the fancy walker, because they knew. What do your siblings say about your mom's attitude? I know they aren't 'hands on' but they still can talk to her. She needs an attitude pill along with her dementia meds. :)

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