How do I stop letting my mother make me feel guilty when I won't go to see her when she wants?

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My mother is 80 and has great trrouble walking. She has suffered from depression since she was 19, on and off. Now is an "on" time, and it's getting worse. She has been under a doctor's care for this, and I am basically used to it. (I also suffer from derpression and anxiety.) And, I think she may have early dementia, and my dad thinks so, too. My dad takes care of her, and she can get out, but chooses not to. I am an only child, am a teacher, and I have triplets in first grade. I have my own set of problems in my life, some of which have been very bad this year. I call my mother every day, but do not go and see her as often as I did because I get so depressed from listening to her complain and/or make excuses for things. I also hate seeing her laying in the bed and not getting dressed, except if I have a "planned' visit with the kids. (I have been in a badly depressed myself, lately.) I can see a change in her personality. She complains about my dad, constantly, tells me the same things over and over, and gets mad if I don't do what she wants. For example, my mother-in-law, who is a sweet lady, is going to go and fix her hair for her today (Mom hasn't done anything with it since the fall). Last night, Mom asked if I was coming today. I said I hadn't planned to (i will see her tomorrow for my birthday dinner, and just saw her Sat. afternoon.) She then responded that she used to get hurt by me not coming, but she is now used to it. She also told me (and has many times) that she always did things with her mother, never told her no, but that I haven't wanted to do things with her since I got married (1995). I know I am not perfect, but I do talk to her everyday. My own sanity is being chipped away, due to work issues, my kids, my husband's attitude, and my depression. Oh, and Mom will hold a grudge, too, if she doesn't like what's going on. I fear she may do so at the birthday dinner. What is the best approach to handling this situation?

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You are doing everything you can. It does seem as though she is showing signs of dementia. You may want to talk with your dad about getting her to a specialist for this kind of examination. It may be wise to use a general reason for taking her to the doctor so she doesn't balk at this type of exam. She might actually feel frightened about her memory loss and underneath all of her complaining she might be grateful.
You don't need to take this kind of abuse. You have triplets! You have your own health problems and a full-time job. Your dad is there to watch over her. You'll need to learn to detach from her verbal abuse and just say, "I'm sorry you're upset, Mom. I'm doing all I can. I come back and see you at a better time." Then, assuming your dad is around, you can leave. If she finds she can't bully you, she may improve. If she does have dementia, you can talk to the doctor about how much of her verbal abuse is dementia and how much is conscious manipulation. Either way, you need to take care of yourself or you won't be able to care for your children, let alone your mother. Please get some counseling for yourself if you can't learn to detach on your own. You are doing your best. You job is to absorb this truth.
Take care,
Carol
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I can relate to so much of what you are saying. I agree with Carol's advice. If you can gradually detach on your own; it will help you so much. I've lived much of my life with my mother's manipulation and constant guilt trips. It is vital for you to take care of yourself and self-preserve in whatever way you can. Listening to the constant complaining for a lifetime is damaging enough. I'm the one who was always was there for my mother; my sister lives 3000 miles away and detached long ago. We both have similar feelings in just mentally preparing to even talk to her on the phone. Constantly listening to the negativety is draining.

I just love Carol's advice about " you are doing your best. Your job is to absorb this truth." Such enlightening words. Believe me, I know it is not easy, but through the help of counseling, I've learned to cope. Distancing oneself from controlling behavior is so therapeutic. The behavior never changes, it only gets worse with dementia.

You are a wonderful daughter and my heart goes out to you. Take care.




u You are a wonderful daughter and you have enough on your plate.
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You are a wonderful & loving daughter! You have so much on your plate. I agree she needs to see a dr about dementia. It's so much more difficult when your mom has a mental illness. My mother was bi-polar, so I do understand. I too suffer from depression. You are doing the best you can, so don't feel guilty. Good luck!
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Buy and read "Coping With Your Difficult Older Parent : A Guide for Stressed-Out Children" about $11 on Amazon. Extremely helpful.
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