Burnout Blues Cycle.

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I would like other's comments on my situation. I am in a bad burnout cycle, caring for my parents who live with me. Dad (83) has stroke and mobility issues. Mom exhibits dementia onset, and is a controller. The constant stress of hospital visits for Dad and arguments with mom have taken its toll on my health.
About 6 weeks ago, I fractured 3 ribs. The slip and fall was caused by insomnia medication and the dizziness that followed. The insomnia was due to stressing with my parents and worry. Previous to this, I had bronchitis, ear aches, you name it. All stress induced, I believe.
Do I get any slack for my own health issues? No. After the initial fall, they seem to dismiss any of my pain, etc. They forget that I can get sick or hurt, just as they can and do. Mom provokes me on purpose, as a child would. For example, she nags that I don't pay my bills fast enough. Unlike her, just because I don't pay them THAT SAME DAY WHEN IT COMES IN THE MAIL, doesn't mean I wont get to it on my own time schedule. Usually, when she gets on that kick, I just ignore it. Now that I am in pain myself, I snap back.
So, how do you control a controller? Specifically, how can I get her to STOP commenting, critiquing, and nagging about my own personal mail? She waits each day for the mail as if it's a race to see who gets there first. She begs me not to get my own PO box because she is afraid her mail will be diverted to it. I am at a loss because this ongoing fight is never resolved.
Incredibly, I can deal with my father's physical health issues much easier than I can deal with mom's paranoia and manipulations.
Any comments about techniques to deal with controlling parents in general, or advice for my own situation are greatly appreciated.


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Oh that so rings a bell. My mother's favourite words were "It's about time YOU ... clean the car, weed the garden, buy new clothes, do something with your awful hair ... blah, blah, blah, blah.
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Don't leave your bills where she can see them.. Just tell her you took care of it already.. "All done Mom"..
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My sister who was a psychiatric nurse told me never to argue with a controller. It just feeds their appetite for more manipulation and control. It's taken me awhile to heed that advice and put it in practice, but it does work.

Next time she starts on about paying the bills, just agree with me, then leave the room - go outside, to another room, but leave so she doesn't have a chance to make an issue of it. If she does follow you and provoke you, just keep agreeing with it - in other words, cut her off w/o giving her a chance to make an issue.

Is there anything she can do to help out, something you can suggest she do instead of nagging you?
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To add a bit more to the book I just wrote -- I was reading about caregiver syndrome (or caregiver stress syndrome) before getting on the group tonight. I have a very difficult mother and it has been taking a huge toll on me. The discussions of caregiver syndrome were spot on. The remedies some of the articles suggested seemed a bit naive, but it was nice to have my feelings validated. Constant traumatic stress can have a huge effect on our health and emotional well-being.
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SukiZee, I know exactly where you are coming from. I moved in with my parents when my father was still alive. The thing that has made it hardest on me the last 6.5 years is my mother's controlling, belittling, and mean behavior. She has vascular dementia, which make it all the more difficult. There is no reasoning with her.

There is something about mothers that they tend to see their adult children as willful teenagers. This seems to be particularly true when it comes to daughters. Many elderly, particularly those with dementia, lose their ability to empathize. This may be mostly because many elders worlds shrink smaller and smaller until soon they see only themselves. The worries and suffering of others doesn't register with them. You might break an arm, only to hear something like, "When I was your age I broke both my arm and leg and still walked uphill both ways to the grocery store in the pouring rain." Being silly here -- sorry, but I know you probably know what I'm talking about.

The bad thing is that it will probably get worse, so you have to decide what you can do. Over the next few years your mother will most likely become more dependent on you, but will still want to keep control.

Something I wondered is if at the moment you need to be living with them. Would it be possible to live elsewhere and help when you visit? In early stages of dementia, people are still competent to do most things for themselves. That would shorten your exposure to the toxic behavior. Do you have people who could share the responsibility with you, or could your parents pay for some assistance? These are things to consider that will help keep your sanity.

A bad thing is that when our parent is misbehaving, we feel guilty like it's our fault. And often they say we're the ones to blame for their behavior -- if we weren't so bad, then they wouldn't have to talk to us so mean. We have to find a way to put aside that guilt. It is a very hard thing to do, but we owe it to ourselves to not let ourselves be treated badly. If you are being treated badly and there is a way to put some distance between yourself and your mother, I would. You sound like a very good, caring person.
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Suki, sorry it took this long to respond back... sometimes new postings get pushed down by much newer ones.

What happens when a grown child moves in with parents or parents move in with that child, the parent/child dynamics takes over. The grown child once again becomes "the child" and the parent still has that need to teach and train that child. Thus the reason why your Mom keeps trying to instill into you to pay your bills on the same day the bill arrives in the mail. I know it can be annoying to hear that on a regular basis.

My sig other pays his bills the same day, too, but I have 101 other household chores to do and I will get to my bills when I can. He is also obsessed over the contents of the mailbox, surprised he hasn't tripped and fallen racing out to the box. My gosh, the mail isn't going to evaporate into thin air if not pick up immediately :P
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