A little background, I sincerely believe my husband's mother is self-harming. She's very self-centered and believes the world revolves around her. She also abuses her medication. For my family's sake, we have pulled back from her majorly. We went from 4 - 5 calls a day that we were answering to 2 - 3 calls per week and we call her. Visits once a month. On top of this, she is diabetic and I believe her to be sincerely personality disordered. She constantly lies to make herself look good or to save herself from a situation she has created. Her family are a family of enablers. On to the current situation, back in December she landed herself in ICU over her diabetes. We had been away and were distancing ourselves and not allowing her to change our minds at this time. I sincerely believe she removed her insulin pump and went to bed. She was in the hospital for a week this time. We did not go running. We helped where we could, because we already had those suspicions. Now she has fractured her hip. I had a hard time figuring out how that could be done purposely, but several things add up to that she was planning on creating this crisis. I just think she didn't necessarily mean to go this far, but it has gotten her quite a bit of attention. I truly believe she was inebriated on sleeping pills when she fell. I will add that she is not even old enough to be on social security yet. She has made herself feeble and helpless and her entire family (with the exception of her two children, who are tired of the abuse and tired of being her sacrificial lambs and want to live their lives) are enabling her to do so. Does anybody have experience with this? Where do we go from here? I believe she needs a thorough psych evaluation. I'm just not sure we can get her one.

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
What would be your goals in having this investigated? I think it will be hard to prove she deliberately broke her own hip. But if you could, to what end? If you have already established clear boundaries for yourself and your husband, are you hoping the other siblings will also establish better boundaries? Are you hoping to have her admit her basic personality disorder or find ways to better deal with it? It's just good to establish your goals.

Family dynamics are extremely difficult to change. I think you are doing the right thing by limiting your involvement. Maybe you and your husband could discuss the issue with a therapist to see if there is anything more you could be doing for your own family. I don't think you are going to successfully fix your MIL.
Helpful Answer (16)

I agree with the previous comments completely.

The one thing I wanted to add is small but important.
You're an outsider, to some degree. So it's so much easier to see her for what she is. That being said, it's probably best to keep your assessments to yourself ,when it doesn't directly impact your family.

Hubby may come to resent you, even if he agrees with you because, after all, she is his Mom.

I know for me, when I saw exactly what my brother was doing, I was the first to call it out. When my husband would start putting his two cents in, after the first three minutes I'd get pissed. I felt offended! How dare he raddle his face off about my baby brother who has a problem! He doesn't know how awesome my brother is underneath this issue!

Recognition is fine, but don't go overboard. It will backfire. He has plenty of loving, gratuitous, and special feelings towards his Mom from childhood. Even abused kids protect their parents.

Just tread lightly, you don't need hubby to develop resentments toward you. He may not even tell you he's carrying them.

Just continue to keep your distance. Come here to vent, rant and complain all you want, we're here for you!
Helpful Answer (14)

This person is very manipulative, and the rest of the family should not allow her to manipulate them. However, there is nothing one can do if family members choose to be enablers. You seem to be doing the right thing - keeping a distance from her.
Helpful Answer (11)

Marcia, this is true. I think keeping their distance is good. My MIL lied to my husband telling him I said something negative to her. Turns out what I had said was turned around and had nothing to do with her. Another time she told an Aunt I wouldn't allow her to have my daughter. Aunt knew that wasn't true. I just started staying away from her.
Helpful Answer (10)

She should be seen by a geriatric psychiatrist for a workup of her mental health issues.
Helpful Answer (9)

What I got from the post was not so much she did it on purpose but that she overdosed on pills which made her unsteady on her feet.

I like "personality disorder". My MIL lied to get out of something she didn't want to do or get out of something she did do. She could be nasty when she didn't get her way. She took on other peoples illnesses as her own. To the point she told my BIL she had breast cancer to get him home for Christmas. Her sister told us she was like this as a child. Her being like this was hard on the DILs. Never knew if she was telling the truth. Its a mental sickness. Keeping your distance is a good thing. My MIL moved to Fla 2 days ride from us. TG she chose to stay there aft FIL died. Visits were nice but a week was enough.
Helpful Answer (9)
I think if a DIL says "I think she's self harming" after an episode of uncontrolled diabetes and a broken bone, she better have some proof or she's going to come across as very unfeeling- and a little nuts herself. She may be right, but if there are family members who are enmeshed in the drama, they aren't going to welcome her insight.
Rarely can we save someone who isn't willing (or is no longer able) to help themselves. Their capabilities for change / improvement, as well as our own, may already be set. We love the person. We don't want to abandon and we don't want to enable. We do what we can and try as much as we can to be loving, not judgmental. There are few rules of thumb, except to be as kind and helpful as we can while keeping the physical and emotional distance we need to preserve our own mental and physical health and our ability to keep being there for them.
Helpful Answer (7)

This is so much like my mother and her 40 year run of diarrhea. She has used it as a ploy to get out of everything from school plays to my wedding to my father’s funeral. No doctor can find anything wrong and if you insist she do her husband’s funeral...she will fake vomit. It’s pituful and enraging at the same time. I recognize it’s a mental illness and she’s been selfish and “me” oriented her whole life. Sadly she lives with us so there’s only so much we can distance ourselves from her drama. We get the last laugh as we just bought a new house with an apartment outside the house so we no longer have to view the illness 24/7. I applaud you putting some distance between you and her, but proving how she is will be difficult.  My mom fooled her neighbors for 21 years that she was a nice, loving, but sickly lady.
Helpful Answer (6)

I like Surprise's advice - if she finds herself hospitalized for some possibly self-created issue, suggest a psych evaluation. Although - unless she brags about it if she does indeed have one - it may be hard to find out what it is due to privacy issues. Others have suggested your getting advice from a mental health professional on ways to deal with her issues and how it affects you and your husband/family; that professional could give better advice if he/she knew what the MIL's diagnosis is.

To a lesser degree, I have a similar situation. My dad passed at 53; my mother was the same age and my sister (middle child; I'm the baby) stepped in to assuage her own guilt - over what, I don't know. But sister did everything for and with Mom. I warned her to stop, step back, because Mom would come to rely on her and years down the road, sister would be burned out. Well, guess where we are now? Mom is 84 now and has Alz. My sister is still her go-to and now, sister can't step back...much. She and I have our own dynamic - she's mad I didn't step in earlier to do "my share," and I'm angry with her that she was co-dependent. We've both fessed up on our issues and are about as united as possible in dealing with Mom going forward, so we're lucky there.

How very sad that your MIL isn't even Social Security age yet. Set your boundaries and stick to them, but be prepared to be cut out of the will. She could be a vindictive person and make a show of pitting her children against one another. Turn the other cheek. Good luck.
Helpful Answer (5)

If you find yourself at the hospital, you might mention to a nurse that she's "self medicated" in a variety of ways before and you would not be surprised if she'd been drunk on pills when this happened. That might be enough to trigger an alert, and you would feel like you had told someone. After that, step back. Adults have a right to be stupid and make bad choices. It's not up to you to stop them, only to protect yourself from harm. I'd go low contact to stay out of the way of her self-destruction. Maybe even move. But I sure would not allow her to be near any of my children, ever.
Helpful Answer (4)

See All Answers
This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
Ask a Question
Subscribe to
Our Newsletter