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Sole caregiver to my 80-something mum. Healthy but suffers from severe depression. Her modus operandi is to make everyone else around her miserable. As a result, she is constantly reminding me of everyone who has ever done her wrong and what they did. Over and over. She does not have dementia. She obsesses with people who have wronged her (not many have. she wasn't a defence lawyer or anything like that....). It's incessant. Non-stop, all the time. When I remind her that we promised she wouldn't talk like that, when I beg her to stop imposing her memories on me, she says this: "All I have is the past. If I can't talk about it there's nothing." She has a dog, she's healthy, she does not need to obsess negatively about people she'll never see again. Many are dead, for heaven's sake. But she can't let it go. By the time I leave spending time with her, I'm totally depressed too. If I fight back, because she's a severe depressive, she'll go to bed for 3 days until I learn my lesson. I love her but the incessant negative memories she insists on talking about are doing me in. I have no one else to share the tasks I do for my mum.

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Try the suggestion from Jjariz, to join in the complaining, saying, "Oh, you are right, she is an awful person". You might be surprised at the next words out of your mother's mouth:
"Well, she wasn't all bad", as Mom defends her!
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"I have no one else to share the tasks I do for my mum." Do the tasks with headphones on. She is manipulating you with her 3-day bedridden temper tantrums. You have a choice to listen or not. The way to break the cycle of her complaining and you enabling it is to stop listening.
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If you can't get her medically treated don't spend much time with her. Then she can just add you to the litany of those who have done her wrong. Don't sacrifice yourself.
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First of all..............about Seroquel? I was prescribed that off-label to help me sleep. What it did do however was cause me to experience two of the worst nights of my life. For whatever reason, it created PTSD symptoms where I felt like I was reliving the night my Mom died, right down to the smells and sounds. I ended up walking the streets in the middle of the night in the pouring rain cause I really felt if I stayed inside I was going to do something stupid. So, I would check with your Mom's doctor. Maybe the Seroquel has something to do with your Mom hanging on to the past. Just a suggestion.
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Going to comment on this: "all i have is the past. if i can't talk about it there's nothing." Feedback: she wants to talk about it. Incessant. Obsessive, until someone understands. I think sometimes often the negative points way back in past are a reference point that lead/led to a positive memory. Those positive memories can be taken for granted because there is nothing else to add but they were happy. The negative memories/incidents are something she really wants to talk about. I get it. Can't just listen if not part of the memory after continuous repeating, so hard to get a word in or fully empathize. Probably easier to fix if part of the memory, but often easier when not part of the memory. You would be surprised how much progress you might make when that comes up, you serve a fruit: one for you, one for her or a snack you both like or a vanilla latte. Then it sounds like you're just reminiscing. Meanwhile, you are both are eating/drinking/sharing. But agreed, should not do this after 8pm. Have to wind down at some point. Take a new approach and just note it may take one a bit longer than you and you might not have all the facts or she might not have explained it well enough. There's more to story. Find the lesson in her past, but cannot change it. New approach will pay dividends. Good luck!
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Next time, join in the complaining, and see if she begins defending "those people." This was the only way that I could ever get my Mom off the complaining jag.
Blessings,
Jamie
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Talk to her doctor - even if HIPPA is in way, you can convey information. Doctor needs to know what is actually going on. And there are so many new medications - in this area of medicine, 30 years is practically antiquity.
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Wow, that took me over a half hour to finish...because I got a call...and wanted to listen.
All the above posts weren't there yet.
Happy that everyone who knows showed up for you! Welcome Susann!
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Distract, redirect, interrupt, walk out of the room, return with lemonade or tea, have an attitude of there's you, and there's me now Mom. Stop defending, stop criticizing. Validate instead.
Still, you don't have to listen more than a few seconds-stating I know Mom, that was hard on you, hugs, start another topic-you will become a master communicator.
It is an insult to keep repeating to her that everything is in the past. My friend cries that her adult children do that to her, and it feels like her concerns are discounted. If a person has PTSD, it can feel like those things are happening to her now. But she does get stuck, and caught up in the most distressing stories.

As an older person, it amazes me how much the younger generations repeat, almost like a mantra: "That is in the past, don't talk about it". Maybe I myself don't have any good stories, but many lives are rich, full, and interesting, we should listen occasionally.

Still, I understand, and sympathize that it makes you ill. That happens to me when I feel I must listen, again, and again.

Start with redirecting her to a few good memories in the past, then move the conversation to today, to now. Don't feel rude if you have to interrupt at first.....
Mom, Mom, Mom! Did I leave the kettle on? I was making us some tea. Or, are you hungry? Or, Here, drink this. Then start talking.

Hoping you feel heard and understood. Hope this has helped you.

I am sure others will come and give you better techniques and advice so that you don't have to suffer, or lose a relationship with your Mom.

It will help you to vent your concerns here. Just let it out more....then it will be in the past for you too. Each day brings enough frustrations anew, I'm sure.
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Mom's psychiatrist needs to know what her current behavior is like. I doubt she is telling that. Meds need adjusting. Maybe add one, maybe drop one or two. But this is a medical problem and needs medical attention.
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A lot of people are negative. I have one acquaintance who is so negative that it is like having a wet blanket fall anytime we talk. My mother is negative, but not quite that bad. What I do is just listen with half an ear, knowing that is her. It does wear me out. It also makes me feel more negative about things, so not good to take too much of it. I live with my mother so find a reason to leave when I I've had as much as I can take. She doesn't mind and it helps me keep my mood up a little.
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Lithium is generally used for bipolar disorder and seroquel is an antipsychotic. So, do YOU talk to the geripsych about how she is wallowing in depression?

What worked for her 30 years ago may need changing.
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thank you. my mum has a geriatric psychiatrist, yes. she's on lithium and seroquel and has been for 30 years. adding another drug isn't ideal.

maybe i should take it? LOL i'm on nothing.

thank you!
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Is her depression being treated?

What she's doing is called rumination; there are antidepressants that specifically target this dysfunctional aspect of thought pattern.

Do you have access to a geriatric psychiatrist? Care giving for someone like this is soul-killing and can affect your mental health.
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