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Just her personality or the dementia?

DesperateofDevon

Registered User
Jul 7, 2019
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My mother-in-law had that official diagnosis of NPD before I met my husband, along with anxiety disorder. That's one of the reasons we didn't realise the disorder had developed into dementia, because her behaviour had always been demanding and self absorbed. And to outsiders, as you say, she came over as wonderful. When she died last year, family didn't want a funeral, as my husband and his sister didn't want non family members saying how much she would be missed. My sister in law couldn't bear the thought of a vicar or other facilitator preaching how wonderful she was,when she wasn't. In the end, we had a direct cremation, with no mourners. When we announced to the few family members left this was happening, there was no objection. I don't think any family member cared.
Yes I can imagine. I was told by my godmother that I was lucky to have Mum..
sadly she didn’t want to know how lucky.. at least last year my Dads sister spoke up so at least someone knows the truth!
 

Champers

Registered User
Jan 3, 2019
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My mother-in-law had that official diagnosis of NPD before I met my husband, along with anxiety disorder. That's one of the reasons we didn't realise the disorder had developed into dementia, because her behaviour had always been demanding and self absorbed. And to outsiders, as you say, she came over as wonderful. When she died last year, family didn't want a funeral, as my husband and his sister didn't want non family members saying how much she would be missed. My sister in law couldn't bear the thought of a vicar or other facilitator preaching how wonderful she was,when she wasn't. In the end, we had a direct cremation, with no mourners. When we announced to the few family members left this was happening, there was no objection. I don't think any family member cared.

That is a very, very valid point Rosettastone57. My husband recently said he suspected my mother had been suffering from dementia for a lot longer than we realised, also due to her unreasonable, unpredictable and illogical demands. She’s always rewritten history but that has probably evolved into confabulation without us being aware as we were so used to her constant contortion of facts. What you’ve said and experienced makes perfect sense. I know her having a diagnosis of NPD wouldn’t change anything - and she sounds so similar to your MIL - I guess it would just help me reconcile my feelings towards her.

I’m trying to view her as a very sick old lady, not the abusive bully she was. Not always easy.
 

Rosettastone57

Registered User
Oct 27, 2016
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That is a very, very valid point Rosettastone57. My husband recently said he suspected my mother had been suffering from dementia for a lot longer than we realised, also due to her unreasonable, unpredictable and illogical demands. She’s always rewritten history but that has probably evolved into confabulation without us being aware as we were so used to her constant contortion of facts. What you’ve said and experienced makes perfect sense. I know her having a diagnosis of NPD wouldn’t change anything - and she sounds so similar to your MIL - I guess it would just help me reconcile my feelings towards her.

I’m trying to view her as a very sick old lady, not the abusive bully she was. Not always easy.
It's the product of a sick mind,whether it's the mind of a person with a personality disorder, or dementia. It was the complete lack of empathy for anyone else's experiences or feelings that my husband, in particular, found the hardest part to deal with . I think that unless you have personal experience of either dementia or personality issues, people have no idea of what we're dealing with
 

Sarasa

Volunteer Host
Apr 13, 2018
4,147
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My mother, before dementia, sounds like a less extreme version of some the mother's mentioned here. However she was also great fun, and I enjoyed going out with her shopping or to shows. I certainly never tried to depend on her for emotional support. Now she has dementia all her behaviours seem more extreme.
At the moment I'm staying with my mother-in-law for a couple of days while my brother-in-law, who is her carer is on holiday. She too has vascular dementia and is the same age as my mother. In lots of ways she is far more confused, it is obvious she can't always remember where things are in her house, she gets very muddled about things and forgets words and ideas mid-sentence. Not helped by being deaf and having limited mobility. However she was always a wonderful support to me. When I met her when I was thirty she became the mother I probably should have had in the first place. She still has a lot of empathy (though very annoyed that her son has gone to Italy without her) and is a pleasure to be with.
Partly I think it is because she was an academic, it seems like her disintegrating brain has something solid to work with, unlike my mother who although a very intelligent woman had very little formal education. Mostly, though it is due to their very different personalities.
I do think my brother-in-law is going to have to consider more help for her. Day to day he calls in twice a day and can be here in ten minutes in an emergency, but it is obvious she can't do many simple day to day tasks reliably. She isn't going to be happy about that.
 

DesperateofDevon

Registered User
Jul 7, 2019
3,280
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Stuff the neighbours!
Actually feel incredibly sorry for Mums neighbours
It's the product of a sick mind,whether it's the mind of a person with a personality disorder, or dementia. It was the complete lack of empathy for anyone else's experiences or feelings that my husband, in particular, found the hardest part to deal with . I think that unless you have personal experience of either dementia or personality issues, people have no idea of what we're dealing with
its the dramatic mood changes that carers & family experience - when the hostess mode drops it’s a big shock for those who haven’t seen the reality of the situation.
It’s such a sad disease affecting everybody differently.
 

Glokta

Registered User
Jul 22, 2019
62
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It’s interesting you should say that as we are worrying about funeral arrangements for the very same reason! There are so few people who will have anything good to say, and I cannot bear to think of trite comments being made by outsiders. But my Aunt (by marriage) has been tormented with guilt because when her difficult and abusive mum died she just put her name and DOB/DOD on her memorial stone. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t! My mum has already paid for a splendid catholic burial, like she had for my father. My father was incredibly popular, their neighbours all stood on the street to see the hearse off, three priests chose to officiate at the funeral and people had to stand outside the church as there was no room inside. I can’t imagine anyone but family attending my mums funeral. It’s so sad, but you reap as you sow I guess.
 

Rosettastone57

Registered User
Oct 27, 2016
1,636
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It’s interesting you should say that as we are worrying about funeral arrangements for the very same reason! There are so few people who will have anything good to say, and I cannot bear to think of trite comments being made by outsiders. But my Aunt (by marriage) has been tormented with guilt because when her difficult and abusive mum died she just put her name and DOB/DOD on her memorial stone. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t! My mum has already paid for a splendid catholic burial, like she had for my father. My father was incredibly popular, their neighbours all stood on the street to see the hearse off, three priests chose to officiate at the funeral and people had to stand outside the church as there was no room inside. I can’t imagine anyone but family attending my mums funeral. It’s so sad, but you reap as you sow I guess.
Very sad ....my husband and my sister in law just couldn't find anything positive to say about their mother . They had a family gathering at a later date to try and celebrate the few positive aspects that family members could share. Which actually worked quite well
 

DesperateofDevon

Registered User
Jul 7, 2019
3,280
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Very sad ....my husband and my sister in law just couldn't find anything positive to say about their mother . They had a family gathering at a later date to try and celebrate the few positive aspects that family members could share. Which actually worked quite well
I’ve thought about this long & hard - it’s an inevitable hurdle I will have eventually.
I’m going to ask my Mums friends from before she was married to talk to the vicar & share their memories of a person I didn’t ever know! That way it will be positive without my negative experiences effecting proceedings.
Yes it’s a sad situation but I can’t see any other way of being positive about an event that is inevitable.
Hope that helps
X
 

Spamar

Registered User
Oct 5, 2013
7,697
0
Suffolk
When my father died my cousin and I were wondering exactly the same. But a long talk with a minister who caught exactly the way he was calmed both of us. So, ‘a man used to getting his own way....’.was perfectly understood by everybody. Plus several more similar expressions.

My biggest shock was leaving the church and somebody said ‘ hello Spamar’ in my fathers voice! Another cousin that I hadn’t seen for many years, who not only sounded like his uncle, but looked like him as well!
But it has been said I look like his mother!
 

Trojief

New member
Sep 15, 2021
3
0
It's the product of a sick mind,whether it's the mind of a person with a personality disorder, or dementia. It was the complete lack of empathy for anyone else's experiences or feelings that my husband, in particular, found the hardest part to deal with . I think that unless you have personal experience of either dementia or personality issues, people have no idea of what we're dealing with
That’s absolutely true! This post and earlier ones got my mom perfectly. Unless you’ve dealt with it up close and personal, outsiders wouldn’t understand. Besides, people who have narcissistic personality disorder tend to be able hide a lot of that ugly behavior quite effectively. People would say “oh your mother isn’t really like that.” I just gave up explaining. Close family members see it though. These posts are very helpful. I’m glad to be part of this community. Thank you.
 

Muttimuggle

Registered User
Dec 28, 2021
30
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I am not sure how this thread appeared from a couple of years ago but I have found it so, so useful. It is so comforting to feel less alone. I am grateful for the truthful words expressed here.
 

Rosettastone57

Registered User
Oct 27, 2016
1,636
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I am not sure how this thread appeared from a couple of years ago but I have found it so, so useful. It is so comforting to feel less alone. I am grateful for the truthful words expressed here.
There's a wealth of experience and information on this forum, which makes it invaluable
 

Bettusboo

Registered User
Aug 30, 2020
55
0
There are two ways of looking at situations like this. One, your mother's personality is being 'simplified' as dementia strips parts of it away, and there's a core part of it which is tied to you and the way she's always treated you. So you're getting treated badly, as usual, and on top of all your other concerns it's making life frustratingly difficult.

Two, your mother is losing grip on everything she's ever known or trusted. She used to be in control of everything -- for better or for worse. Now she increasingly feels like she's in control of nothing. It is the most terrifying, confusing time of her life and it's only going to get worse... until she is no longer capable of being your mother at all. Part of her may know that. If she's lucky, she won't.

One of the lifelines she's clinging to is the strongest tie any of us ever have... to our closest family. She will yank on that line hardest of all because she's drowning as the dementia tide rises and -- just as it's common for drowning folk to put their rescuer in danger -- your mother will put you in danger, mentally.

Which is why I have some happy, clappy scribble similar to this waffle hung up next to my bed as a reminder. Because god only knows (that's the notional god of Beating Your Head Against A Brick Wall) there are times when I swear my mother's just trying to put me in an early grave for the sheer fun of it!

Shes not. She's just a pared back version of the Mum who could always be hard work, who raised four children and ran a business on her own, and never, ever suffered fools gladly. Some days I probably seem pretty foolish though, repeating myself endlessly to try and get essentials done, 'forcing' her to do things she doesn't understand or think necessary. No wonder she kicks off!

On a good day for me I'm only dealing with a muddled old lady with dementia. But that's a bad day for Mum, because she's under the water somewhere. On a bad day for me, Mum's at the surface, thrashing around and aware enough to resent the way our roles have reversed. A lifetime of her being the matriarch is gone. She's become the child, and boy, in her situation I'd resent it too!

Maybe none of this is applicable to you and your mother. Maybe I'm just projecting elements of my life onto you. But one thing is certain... one day you'll miss this exaggerated but still identifiable version on your mother. Breath. Count to ten. Try to remember something nice she did for you when you were young. And accept her anger and manipulation for what it is... a cry for help that nobody on this entire planet can give. We can only give time and patience... and cling to lifelines like this forum when it all starts to wear us down.

Good luck. Caring over a distance is very tough, even if you have carers to act for you.
‘A cry for help that no one on this planet can give’ struck an chord with me today and was helpful. Thank you.