My Mother is miserable and constantly taking it out on me. Any advice?

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She lost her husband to cancer and is disabled by arthritis. Help?! After my father passed away from colon cancer my mother naturally became depressed. She started neglecting her health and eventually had a stroke. Her depression from losing her husband of fifty years was just too much and she didn't try very hard to rehabilitate herself. She also found out she had Lupus and it was the type that causes debilitating arthritis. I had moved back to my home state/town after 20 years to help my mother wth my dad before he passed. I had begun working so I decided to stay instead of moving back to Florida. Anyway, her health wasn't getting any better she just sat on the couch all day.. Arthritis has disabled her right hand and left foot . She can not walk.. She is German and prideful and would not reach out for help until she needed someone to live wth her.. She asked me and the agreement was for a year and for her to really try to rehab herself . Well, she just became dependent on me more and more no matter what I tried or suggested. She had given up the will to live or have a life . And granted we never had the best relationship so I knew this was a risk for me because all my life I could never do anything right in her eyes. Well, it has been two years now and she has just become more miserable . She doesn't want to go to a home and I dnt blame her .. But the last year has been hell on me . I finally had to hire some help so I could have a couple days for myself . The days that I am there are just brutal . She is constantly questioning what I am doing and why. And why didn't I do it like she thinks. I am 50 years old and feel like I'm in high school. She has become paranoid from being immobile and being able to lift her head a lot because of the lupus.. Home health comes twice a week and they have tried and suggested to the point they have given up on her too.. But I'm the only one she is condescending to. She acts at times like I owe her this and she never says thank you or that she appreciates me.. As a matter of fact she has never told me she loves me but I believe in turning your cheek so to speak or trying to. What ever I suggest to her to help her or just engage her she says I'm griping at her. I am married and my spouse has been wonderful for these two years but at what point do I say enough is enough .. We are newly weds and barely got the time off to get married. My mother never even said congrats. I love her and it's sad to see her give up. Granted , I can't begin to imagine what it's like losing a mate after so long. However, I am doing my best ..'I dnt sit down all day and yet I can't do anything right ..'she is very cynical towards me and it's not fair. She has her mind completely. I just do not know how to not get upset at her and make her understand that I'm not an emotional punching bag.

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Thank you so very much for responding I so needed some insight and advice .
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Has there been any attempt to treat her depression, by a geriatric osychiatrist, say? There may be meds that could ameliorate her anger and depression.

I agree with all that Jeanne wrote, but of paramount importance, please don't forget that you are the only one who can stand up for YOU. "If I am not for myself, then who will be? And if not now, when?"
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The agreement was for a year, and it has been two years. Hmmm...

If she were mentally disabled -- for example if she had dementia -- my attitude would be different. But as it is, I suggest you don't set boundaries you don't intend to enforce. But boundaries (enforced) are a good idea.

Depression is treatable, but that takes willingness to be treated. Your mother's ailments are all very sad and very debilitating. And they are Not Your Fault. And if she will not follow the treatment plan for them, that is Not Your Fault. If she will not accept or seek treatment, that is Not Your Fault.

I would not remain in a situation where I was used as an emotional punching bag. I just wouldn't. But some people have different approaches than mine. If you decide to continue in this toxic situation, I urge you to also seek counseling to help answer your question about how not to get upset.

I don't know all the reasons people put up with emotional abuse from the parents they care for. But from what I've seen on here, if you are doing it because you've never had a good relationship and you are hoping that this may earn you her love, that never seems to work out. I don't know if that is your reason, but think about it.

One option for you is to reduce the time you are in your mother's presence. How about reducing the days you help her to 2 per weeks? (or 3 hours each day, or whatever you might be comfortable with). She can hire the help she needs the rest of the week.

Another is to detach emotionally.You do not need her approval. We all seem to want to know that our parents approve of us. That is normal. But even if you never get it, even if you can never do anything right in her eyes, even if she constantly criticizes you, you can be a healthy, happy, productive person. Don't let her apparent opinion of you take up so much space in your head. Stop trying to encourage her. Let her make her own decisions about whether to have a life or give up.

I'm glad your husband is so supportive. He deserved to be your main focus right now.

My own advice is to set and enforce boundaries, reduce your interactions with her, and downsize the space she is renting in your head. But if that isn't the approach you want to take, then please get some therapy to help you cope with continuing on as things are. You deserve all the support you can get!
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Hummingbird, I know what you're going through and know there are no easy answers. If it weren't our mother, we could just walk away and not look back. My mother is much the same as yours. One thing I have been thinking is that my mother has too big of a presence in my mind. It is like her concerns are huge and mine are trivial. I know it shouldn't be like that. I know that we need balance in our lives.

It sounds like you've done well in getting help to come in. It is so hard to deal with depression -- maybe harder than any other illness. Is the depression caused by the lupus, on top of your father's death? I had a friend with lupus and her depression was terrible when she was having an episode.

I don't feel very qualified to advise you, because I haven't found any good answers. I do know that a parent like this can make us feel small. It sounds like a good time for you to build a good life with your new husband and let that be the big thing in your life. I hope that your mother's depression doesn't pull you in the pit with her.
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