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I suspect my mom has always been suffering from depression/anxiety and is possibly bipolar. She is an alcoholic. She has been on Benzodiazepines for decades just to make it through life. I believe my dad helped keep her under control over the years. Well, dad ended up with dementia and I had to place him in a memory care home 2 years ago. Mom refused to take care of him and spent her days mostly drunk and passed out, so he started wandering, etc. and had to be moved out for safety's sake.


So, she lives down the street from me in their home, alone. BTW she's only 76 so not super-aged. We've been on a roller coaster of drinking, Benzo abuse and withdrawl, falls, multiple hospitalizations, 2 stays in a mental health center, etc. Right now she is hospitalized for the fourth time in 10 months because of falls & injuries from either drinking and/or prescription drug mis-management. Also, there have been regular suicide threats for years.


I am 51, work more than full time and am responsible for managing my dad's care because she refuses. I am also an only child. I suspect due to mom's basic physical health she will be in my life for at least another decade, possibly more.


For so many reasons, I cannot take her into my home, it would ruin my life. But I am stuck with her living 4 houses away from me. I don't know what on earth I am supposed to do with her in the upcoming years. She does not have dementia, she has money, she has a house & 2 cars, and persistently says she will commit suicide before considering assisted living or anything like that. She says she will "die in that house".


It's ruining my life. I can't properly live my life and I feel like my future is on hold indefinitely. If she lives as long as her mother did, I will be 70 when she dies. I can't handle this for the rest of my middle-aged years.


I guess I'm mostly venting, but if anyone else is dealing with a kook, rather than dementia, etc., I would love to know what & how you are doing.

It sounds like she was abusive toward you as a child. Threatening suicide to control a child is abuse. Most mental health professionals advise children of abusive parents to not be their caregivers. There is nothing you can do without durable power of attorney. You cannot force her to do anything. She is making bad choices and, until a court determines that she is incompetent, she can make as many bad choices as she chooses. You have enough on your plate with your father. You have to take care of yourself first, earn money, plan for your retirement, save for a rainy day because you do not know what the future holds for you. Please don't put yourself in a situation where you try to save your mother and end up losing your health and wellbeing because of her. She is an addict. She is an alcoholic. Learn to accept that and let the hospital social workers arrange a plan for her treatment.
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Reply to NYDaughterInLaw
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You are not going to change Mom at this point. And I doubt if she is going to live a ripe old age. She probably has already ruined her liver by drinking and drugging. Unless she is ready, sending her to detox won't happen. Also her habits will probably attribute to eventually having Dementia. When she comes to the point she can no longer care for herself and ends up in the hospital don't allow them to drag you in. Tell them you cannot care for her so the state will need to take over her care. I would not get involved with her drama. She has done this to herself. You are not responsible for her bad choices.

Live your life.
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Upstream Jan 23, 2019
Thank you!! Sadly I sure hope she does not live to a ripe old age. I have reached the point where I know it's more or less "her or me" and I am not willing to go down for her. She seems to have the opinion that her & dad's lives are over, and how can I just go on? She actually said something like that to me at one time. I was like, I am 50 years old...what do you expect me to do?????????
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I’ve recently been going through the book Boundaries and have become convinced that we all need it. It’s a great help in knowing what to let in and what to keep out of your life. Your mom is sadly a long term addict and there’s simply nothing you can do to change her. But you can change yourself and how you respond to her. I hope you’ll consider boundaries to help your life be better
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Upstream, your reply to me yesterday said “So yes I brought her the cigarettes and she laid a big guilt trip on me. Probably shot my day at work and I have a big deadline I am working on. She is pretty much homebound at the moment and has no friends or other family. The situation is just miserable.” I was so genuinely sad to read this. Wow, has your mom got you trained like a whipped puppy. I hate to see anyone live like this. What do you think she has no other friends or family? Her demanding behavior has driven them away! But she’s trained you to take it and come back for more. You’ve done a good job explaining her and the mess, you acknowledge that it’s causing problems with your marriage, which needs to be a far higher priority than trying to fix what can’t be fixed with mom, but you won’t commit to anything to change this. The change has to come from you. Please have the courage to take action and step back from this. Concentrate on your marriage, your job, your wishes and life. Your mom will be okay, she will figure out others to do what she wants. So many here often root for people to make changes before they end up with issues they don’t see coming, bad health themselves, divorce, financial crisis, etc. We may be strangers but we want better for you
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AT1234 Jan 24, 2019
Actually, I want her to move and change her name! Run Forest Run! If you can’t do that, you’re going to need some serious boundaries and get on with your life.
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You are going to need to draw boundaries with the help of a therapist. I'm also wondering if you can get a social worker involved who can take care of the roller coaster ride of hospitalizations, etc.

She will only ruin your life if you let her. There are others (paid, through govt services, etc) that can take on some of this burden. Look for them. If your mom has money -she can pay for them.

Otherwise - you are right. You will be sucked in deeper and deeper.
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Adult Children of Alcoholics and Dysfunctional Families has helped me tremendously. Mom had attended AA years before her massive stroke last summer. There's a great saying I learned:
The 3 C's
I didn't CAUSE it
I can't CONTROL it
I can't CURE it
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Upstream, this bit:

"...So yes I brought her the cigarettes and she laid a big guilt trip on me...."

Uh? Why, did you?

Pause for thought.

Two lists.

1. Taking the last six months, say, write down the tasks you have done on your mother's behalf.

2. In principle, write down what you believe are an adult child's responsibilities towards its parent, making due allowances for particular, explicable extras. E.g. assisting with travel insurance proposals, because I care to see it's done right even if she doesn't. Or, taking her to the mall once a month because she likes it and it's no trouble.

Once you've done that, take a highlighter to any tasks that appear on 1. that are not sanctioned on 2.

Then think what you might say to anyone who told you, for example, that they felt forced to leave their place of gainful, purposeful employment, where they were busy, in order to buy cigarettes for their solvent, able-bodied mother.

As others have said, this is about boundaries; but in your case it is also about resolving the issue, in your own mind, as to whether your mother is or is not a competent adult. If she is, it's right to enforce normal standards of acceptable behaviour. If she isn't, it's right to seek (and if necessary impose) support from outside so that you're not carrying the whole burden. But the pattern that's been established so far is heads she wins and tails you lose.

Are you just going to stand there and take it?
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Reply to Countrymouse
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I feel for you - sounds similar to my story. My mom is not on benzos nor drinks a drop (probably would help her to have a glass of wine now and then!) but is OCD/High Anxiety and now depressed as my dad passed from ALZ last year.

She wont TAKE anti anxiety meds her MD wants her to take as she is too vain to think she needs them. Some people here have suggested she is narcissist, but I always associated that with very "look at me", loud, aggressive people but she is very shy almost, etc. but people say there are overt narcissists and covert ones. She saves her aggressive said for being demanding and unappreciative of me.

Not much advice to add. You are right to not take her in, as I refused to do. With my mom I have also set up boundaries, in my case I will give her one day a week for me to do for her what she wants, and up to one more day a week for special situations. (she doesn't drive, so Dr. appts., social events she wants to attend). Sounds bad to have to put boundaries on a parent who did a lot for you growing up, but if you don't, they take full advantage of you. Some of her friends think I am mean for doing this, as they don't know the whole story, but others of her friends know how difficult she is and have expressed their sympathy for me in having to deal with her. She still calls me multiple times a day to dump all her anxieties out on me.
In addition to the boundaries, I just flat leave town for a week every couple of months (I do travel for work too, so get out now and then) but just need to be away so that she is forced to ask my brother who lives in town for help.

My longer term goal is to get her in senior living so the burden is off me, to a larger degree.

Anyway, we can only try to mitigate the hassle, there is no avoiding it so I very much feel for you.
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Upstream Jan 23, 2019
I am also beginning to think my mom is a narcissist. Like your mom, she does not fit the "look at me" profile, but now that my dad is no longer around to kiss her a**, I realize that she expects that from SOMEONE else, and that's me. Maybe your parents were like my suspicions about my own: mom spent most of her life on the edge of coming unglued, and my dad was the band-aid that kept things in check. Without dad, mom is a dysfunctional mess.
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My 91 yo mom qualifies. She's got narcissistic personality disorder and possibly also bipolar, overlain with dementia. She lies, is amoral, delusional and ignorant but thinks she's brilliant.

I was running myself ragged driving her and my head-injured brother to stores and doctors after she lost her license. They do say thank you but my mother has manipulated the whole family into her personal cult. My mother hides within this circle of yes-people who use and flatter her at their convenience but don't help.

After a couple of months of running them around I realized that I had given up myself--I had no medical or dental insurance, wasn't exercising or socializing and had no life plan. So I backed off before I ruin myself.

My deceased father was also a piece of work. Both have personality disorders and were terrible parents. Everything was about them and their dramas.

You could do some things for your mom but not answer every call. If she wants something she'll find a way to get it. If she wants to kill herself rather than go into assisted living, it wouldn't be the end of the world. It might be the beginning for you.

Self help books and you tube videos by Jerry Wise, Scott Bassett and Abdul Saad have helped me more than counseling, and they're free and can be done 24/7.

Many psychiatrists and counselors say that mean, crazy people often live long, long lives. Your mom could live well past 90. Mine is frail but will likely exceed 100.
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bettina Jan 24, 2019
"Many psychiatrists and counselors say that mean, crazy people often live long, long lives."

Good point! I think they can do this because they are literally sucking out their enablers life force. Their primary scapegoats/servants *ahem* care givers are the ones that are losing their lives.

What so many dont' understand, and I too was like this for many years. is that your demanding, chaos loving, selfish, childish parents can likely live a very very long time off your efforts. They actually enjoy crisis as they are the center of attention. We adult children rush in to help thinking only of the crisis at hand and don't realize until it's too late that there will be a crisis every week, sometimes every day or few days for years on end.

And that a great deal of the crisis are easily avoidable or just plain spoiled
demands. But when these types of demands come on the heels of a real health crisis or even during, it's easy to lose sight of the distinction and you start trying to do it all.

Toxic people thrive on crisis, actually need crisis to feel alive, to feel excitement and to be the center of attention. Normal life is boring to them
too drab, too normal and not dramatic enough. Since they're too damned lazy to make this happen for themselves in a healthy way such as an interesting hobby, getting involved with some kind of volunteer work, creating a dynamic social circle, they settle for toxic drama instead.

If they can they will cut your life short with their demands to "enjoy" a long life filled with toxic drama.
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"Kook"...haven't heard that word in a while!

My mother seems very similar to yours--the abuse of drugs, the suicide threats, the "look at me, give me, do for me" thing---daddy DID keep a big old bandaid on this for a long time.

Since he has passed, she is ours to deal with. Lives with younger brother, but begs me relentlessly to have her move in with me. NO WAY.

Add in that Narcissitic personality--ugh, you have someone you can barely stand to be with. Mother is kind of obsessed with all the men at the Sr Center "wanting her". It's kind of icky.

You can't change her, you can only set tight boundaries and stick with them. And roll your eyes a LOT.

And learn that "no" is a complete sentence.
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Upstream Jan 23, 2019
Haha, "Kook". After I posted that I realized this seems to be an international forum and I'm not sure if that is a world-wide recognized term!!

How did our lives march up to this point? I have worked diligently all my life and kept my nose clean and my business to myself. I never ever brought drama to my parents since I've reached adulthood. I had life plans, but they are on hold. I am sure that is the case for many of us on this forum!
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