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just don't know the degree. My mom is 81, had aggressive breast cancer in 2010. Finished chemo and radiotherapy and followed up on her health state but stopped about two years ago. I'm not sure if it's come back as there's no medical help being seeked. My mom doesn't want to see a doctor, and i don't blame her although it is irresponsible, I know, but she is over everything else INCREDIBLY depressed, death appeals to her tremendously. Every day is a battle to figure out how, if possible, to get her our of the deep black, sad hole she is. My mom has always been extremely critical and judgemental, but now it's that times 10,000%. No one other than me can take care of her, she hurts people. She hurts me too, has always, but it's the only way she knows to be. At this point, when she's so down, which is always, and she tells me that she wants to just die (always too), and/or I can see her physical/mental pain, like a desire to get out of her own body and skin! It's so unbelievably hard to watch, and NOT KNOW what to do. Please help with any suggestions. Some times I tell her I need help with something so she gets up and out, and mostly she does, but then she blames me for making her do things that will make her sick (she gets colds, suffers from really bad body pain, so many side effects that live with you after chemo, too many!). She's a very intelligent woman and an intellectual being. She does Facebook and writes beautifully but can't see well, a cataract surgery has become so hard to accomplish because of her personality too, that would help her a great deal! To see, read better.
My question is how do you take out of the shadows someone that wants to die, and that needs constant mental simulation to not be in the darkest places. I think I really cannot reach her. As gralbinforfation we live overseas (I moved from the US to be with het, not working now but have some savings). My mom has been diagnosed in the past with AR and "light" lupus, chronical bronquitis and like I mentioned, not sure where we are with cancer. Never diagnosed but obvious, deep depression, anxiety and hypochondriac behavior (yes, aside from the illnesses she has). I don't want to make this about how I feel, I just need help understanding how to help her. Thank you! !

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Hopeful I try to be, and I do hang on to my fait;but keeping up is incredibly difficult on a day to day basis. No matter what I do I'm criticized by the person I'm so desperately trying to assist. I am like I said walking on eggshells not to interfere with the cataract surgery, which although I know it's her decision, I also know she wants it, it's just her eternal need to address life through conflict and complications that's horrible, that's the way she knows how to live. It saddens me and I feel incapable.. Today she said something very hurtful, implying that I don't care about her and I mistreat her -I swear, if I was quieter and calmer I'd be a piece of furniture-.you may wonder why have I selected that approach? Because I tried trying to make her see the wrongness in her ways, or pointing out in a respectful way when she was being hurtful, and all that does is to get her to say that I'm the worst daughter and then she doesnt eat and antagonizes all my suggestions even more. Since my purpose is to HELP her, that's why I quit my life temporarily (I'm not sure for how long) there's no point in me fueling a situation that gets us farther from the goal of actually improving a little her quality of life. I know you may isee the wrongness of the approach but with my mother I know anything else equates her telling me to go away, not allowing me to do anything for her and to letting herself go. That I cannot do, no matter how much I try, it's my mother.
So, I will continue praying for her health, her reaching some peace of mind, if possible, and me not dying in the process! And I mean that as a joke, because in these situations, if you don't force yourself to laugh, you can truly hurt your soul more than it already is.
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Rosses, I feel better just reading what you wrote. The hope in your writing came through. I wish that feeling of hope was contagious and your mother would catch some of it. I wish they packaged hope and happiness in a bottle or pill form. I have a feeling they would be the most popular product on the market.

I have my fingers crossed for the cataract surgery. Maybe a little more light on her retinas and seeing things more clearly will make a difference. Good thoughts and hope coming your way from here in Bama.
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Thank you so much for your answers, they all are helpful, specially because they remind me that I'm not alone, so many people struggle with similar situations, I know. It's I think one of the most complex and heartbreaking problems to have to deal with. I will say though -and this I know does NOT have to be the case for everybody- that inside my heart I know I did the right thing for her to move here, and the right thing for me and my peace. Although yes, I'm in a way tortured, pretty much so and almost consistently, and I'm guilty of not having seeked help for myself, nor an outlet. It's hard when the day goes by and you don't stop, I don't have time with all there's to do here, but I know I need to do something. Need to get a job here too, urgently, but Gosh, I don't know how because my mom seems to need 24/7 care, more than the physical aspect, it's the mental/emotional support, if I don't try to pull her out of the hole she is in, she'll go down deeper and that defeats the purpose of me being here. I know I cannot cure her depression, but my presence here is meant to try to at least help brighten her life, if I cannot do anything else, it's just that I don't feel I'm successful most of the time and like you said, it's a horrible feeling of failure, guilt, etc. On the bright side, I think (please wish us well) that she finally will get the cataract surgery done this wk. her basically not seeing pushed her to make the decision, but each day I have to walk on eggshells so she doesn't change her mind. Yesterday she was saying she shouldn't do it because it's proven that everything is against her, that her bad luck just follows her everywhere, and of course that it's not worth it as she will go soon. I told her that definitely if she didn't want to have it done she shouldn't, praying that because she always goes against what I recommend, that would push her to actually do it, so I hope it happens.
It is SO hard to feel that you have the entire life of another human being in your hands, specially one that you love, despite their personality, despite if they are mistaken in the way they live their life and the way they impacted yours and keep impacting you negatively. It's SO hard, when it's two lives you need to take care of, and one of them is yours, it becomes an easy choice, yet bad choice, as to who needs to sacrifice something, in my case that choice is me, because I know if I don't pull the weight for both of us, we both will sink. I so hope that surgery goes well and she recovers quickly, oh, and she had to get her blood tested for the surgery and her results were all great! Her hemoglobin was higher than ever since the chemotherapy, I'd like to think that the fact that I'm now here, cooking for her and making her eat (she was by herself before and many times told me that she hadn't eaten anything and it was 9pm already), so I've been here two months and hope my presence is making in a few ways, some difference. I know God will help me rebuild my life, I need my faith and I have it. He knows the importance of what I'm doing. For those of you that also struggle and feel you cannot deal with it anymore, if you have faith, hang on to that! It's sometimes all we have, but it's also all we need!
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I just checked "Leaving Las Vegas" and saw it was about alcoholism, instead of depression. Had to check and correct myself. It was a very real movie, though, about how hopeless rescue attempts can be.
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ChurchMouse had excellent advice. The situation you are in reminds me so much of the Nicholas Cage movie "Leaving Las Vegas." Cage played a depressed man who didn't want to live. We watched the movie with hope that will or love would save him. It isn't the way it works. Rosses, you can be there for your mother, but you can't make her feel less depressed. You can't be the doctor for her. The choices she is making are her own. You can only try to influence those choices. It would be hard not to be pulled down with her. I hope you will keep more of an emotional distance and maybe work with a counselor to help you navigate the things going on in your life. One of the most difficult things to work through with someone is depression. It seems like there should be something we could be doing, but nothing seems to work well. It makes us feel like we are failing. It is up to your mother to get help and up to you to not be pulled down with her. Big hugs coming your way. Wish there was some sure fire thing that would work.
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My question is: *should* you try to take out of the shadows someone who is hell-bent on staying there?

Your mother won't see a doctor. Not to get her cataracts treated, not to get checked out. Well, those things are her choice to make. And if she feels that she doesn't want to see a doctor because she doesn't want to get pushed into accepting aggressive treatment, she has a point. If that's so, it might help you to see if you can find a good palliative care specialist who wouldn't push her to do anything. Ask around.

I am sorry that your mother has had such wretched times. I don't minimise them, or blame her for not handling them better. She has had a heck of a hand dealt her.

But all the same I'm more worried about you, actually. What does it do to a person to be constantly rejected by the mother s/he's trying to save, especially when that mother really does need help and there really are things that could be done for her?

Get allies. You don't need your mother's permission to research services in her area and find out who the best suited specialists and advisers are. Then you speak to them and get their advice on what to tell her about what might be possible. After that, you can present practical options. If she still refuses them, you're no worse off.

And whether she refuses them or not, you need to take care of yourself. I think you are being tortured. What might help you protect yourself?
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I do feel for you. It's a very difficult thing to deal with and no easy answers that I am aware of. Unless the person will stick with one doctor and get diagnosed with depression, anxiety, etc., it's difficult to get them on meds or into therapy. It's taken years for my family members to get halfway there. I have repeatedly said that she was under stress that was making her sick, of course, she didn't believe me.

Do you know what her doctors have told her? Has anyone diagnosed her? I've read that some people are labeled as having "thick file syndrome." Of course, it's tricky when the patient really does have actual medical conditions like cancer and heart disease.

I stopped responding to health complaints after the doctors said that her complaints were not substantiated with actually illnesses. Tests revealed she had a great heart and arteries, but she couldn't accept it. All good news was downplayed by her. I finally stopped responding and would ignore the multiple and continuous complaints and just say, see your doctor, if you must.

Finally, she told her primary that she thought she needed to see a psychiatrist. I have no idea why. Plus, she went on meds. Counting my blessings.

Since you live long distance, it might be possible to write down your feelings for her. How would you feel about that? Could you beg her for a psychiatric evaluation or would she shush it? I have thought about getting my own mental health therapist and getting advice from them as to how to handle it. I still may do that. It's almost as stressful for the family as the patient.
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I want to ask, how long have you been dealing with a narcissistic mom, but that seems rude

so, let me point out that you can't be responsible for someone else's happiness. no matter what you do, she won't be happy.

Options? call Hospice. if she really wants to die and wants no further treatment, her pain should at least be addressed. It's also an opportunity to have a serious discussion about her end of life choices and documenting them through an advance directive.

normally, I'd suggest getting her to a geriatric psychiatrist to address her psychic pain, but she probably won't go for that.

I would put a timeframe togeether for yourself. are you willing to do this for another 5 years? 10? keep your options open as to resuming your career. and read some of the other threads on here about folks who have moved with their elderly parents.
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