How do I stop arguing with my aging mom who is depressed?

Asked by

How do I stop arguing with my aging mom who is depressed. I feel angry that this is a state of mind she seems to be choosing. She makes up stories about her (and our life) rewriting them to be depressing and/or critical of everyone in the family just so she can eother feel superior or depressed about her "awful" life. She came as an immigrant and worked hard no doubt. But she has lived and extraordinarily privileged life...with caring children and a husband she NEVER appreciated but who is still talking care of her. She is so narcissistic and conitnues to see life through her own lens. She can turn ANY event into death or negativity. For example, she sees a happy family with a new baby and dog, she tells them to keep an eye on the dog because it could kill the baby. My father takes her laundry upstairs and all she comments is that, "he always does that, waits for everything to be folded and then he takes it upstairs." Meanwhile she could never take them upstairs herself and would be insulted if he tried to help her fold the clothes and accuse him of belittling her. In other words you can't win with her. She is ALWAYS the victim. I feel like my I can't stop myself from correcting her delusional memories or accusations but all it does it make things worse and then I feel guilty. HELP!!!

Answers 1 to 10 of 13
Top Answer
You are not going to be able to change her. She will always be the victim. You can't win. And correcting her or arguing with her? Well, see, she told you she was a victim, even her own kids pick on her. Sigh.

You can't change her but you can control your own behavior. Can you, for example, minimize the amount of interaction you have with her? Just roll your eyes and leave the room when she starts on her revised version of history? Detach and keep your distance?

There are a lot of posts on this site by persons dealing with narcissistic parents. I hope you'll find them useful.
Jeannegibbs...thank you! This was my first post...and it really just helps to write out my feelings and then to hear from others. I'm learning to detach...but for now can't seem to resist to correct her revisionist history...I'm learning....day by day...I hope you are coming along well in your own journey
QuechuaCare67, thank you for your question! I can relate... my mother is 81, in good physical health, but emotionally it's a roller coaster. She is negative and critical much of the time and has high anxiety..She insists she needs NO help but complains all the time. I walk on eggshells all the time. She is easily angered...do NOT disagree about anything, esp. politics or she'll scream and wave her arms around and have a 2-3 day pity party. I hate seeing her this way. I myself take an anti anxiety medication and an antidepressant and can't imagine living in the world she sees through her lens. This is my first time posting and for several weeks just been reading others' posts for insight and to know we can relate to eat others' situations. Keep coming back! Glad you are here :-)
I don't have exactly this same issue - my mom isn't particularly depressed, I don't think, but she's becoming an expert at throwing toddler-style tantrums which only upset me greatly, and get me to fighting with her over them. (she won't eat - she's 85#, she needs to eat...she walks down to the mailbox by herself - she's almost 91 and rickety, she can't DO this on her own...etc., etc.)

She refuses help in the house (I live with her now, in her lower level, but I'm nearly a prisoner since she's not safe alone), she won't go to a care facility, and so forth.

All of these things frustrate me and sometimes anger me and...I've started to detach myself from her when she gets like this. I walk away. Say to her, "fine, be that way" and I walk away. I have to. Unless she's in imminent danger of some kind, I...just...walk...away.

And no matter what I do or say or put in place to keep her safe, she circumvents it. Until she's so far gone that she's truly incompetent, is unaware of her surroundings much of the time, and I can emotionally deal with placing her into a facility, I have to kind of let things go for my own sake and deal with the clean-up afterward.

I just said to someone that, every time she has an incident (she just broke her collar bone after going out to water flowers at 3 a.m.; now she's in a rehab facility), a piece of her mind is lost forever.

Well, every time we have an argument about her not eating, going outside without telling me, etc., a piece of me is lost forever too, now.

So I simply don't argue anymore unless it's truly life-threatening, and I happen to catch her at whatever the behavior is. I don't always succeed but I'm getting better at it.
Hi Quechuca - learn about her condition, as much as you can, and how to deal with narcissism and depression. Also learn about how to detach/emotionally distance yourself. It is well worth it, and will relieve the stress on you. Also, if you can, drop the guilt. You have nothing to feel guilty about. Your mum installed stliled buttons in you long ago, and pushes them now. Remember not to respond out of FOG - fear, guilt, or obligation, as your mum will use those to manipulate you. As much as possible "let it go". You will benefit. Those are her issues and not yours -Work on separating her issues from yours. You are not responsible for her stories, or her behaviours, or her unhappiness. Good kuck and let us know how you are doing! (((((((((hugs)))))))) Joan
1.Read and say The Serenity Prayer.
2.Accept that you do not have the power to change another
3.Take courage and change your behavior: focus on ways you may be able to help your Dad who has to live with the negativity daily. Focus on positives with him, a good joke-an uplifting family or community story-a brief stroll outside-some calming music etc.
4.When Mom spews her negs, excuse yourself and leave the room or the house.
5. Take things ONE DAY AT A TIME rather than focusing on the rest of HER days that probably will never change.
6.Let Go--and Let God!
Try this: when your mom complains, reply with something neutral like: "That must be tough for you." or "sounds like you're worried about the baby." or "so Dad always carries the folded laundry upstairs for you." whatever validates and mirrors what she is saying, but does not agree with or disagree with her negativity. Remain calm and pleasant no matter what she says. If she says," You sound like a parrot," you can reply, "I sound like a parrot?"
This is just a suggestion: arguments go round and round. The desired motion is upward - feeling better, more positive. Try honest complementing, positive comments, put interesting photos pictures on the wall. Some times it is a cloudy situation but with some pleasantries interjected the mood will change. Also - we are all over burdened. Does is hurt to spend 15 minutes to be "in love" with the person right where they are at.
I know what you mean, Quechua. My mother makes me doubt my own sanity. Several times lately I've wondered if I am a borderline personality because I have all this anger in me so often. I feel irritable, even though I try to keep it hidden. I am glad there are things that I can throw. It helps.

My mother has her own reality. The trouble with her reality is that I am always the bad guy in it. She can take things and twist them to make herself right. If I have an idea on how to do something better, she'll adopt the idea as her own, then chide me for not doing it her way all along. Talk about crazy making! Arguing is pointless because she is always right and her reasoner is broken. So I just walk away. I walk away a lot.

Thank goodness for the gym. The equipment there is so good for working out frustrations. Maybe I can get the fireplace fixed and learn to chop wood. :)
responces:Wow never knew that....Your right i never thought of it that way.. You have had a hard life... Its amazing you are so strong... thank god you are here.. i never would of thought of doing that... That is a easier way ... (Then you walk away smiling knowing that you just blew her mind and no fight and she is just sitting there wondering what the hell just happened.) Self preservation is key.

Share your answer

Please enter your Answer

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support