So stressed today about mum

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by Long-Suffering, Aug 12, 2015.

  1. CeliaThePoet

    CeliaThePoet Registered User

    Dec 7, 2013
    614
    Buffalo, NY, USA
    Can relate so much to others here, as only child of difficult parents I didn't/don't like or love. Preparing to visit demented mom thus afternoon as I do every week though never feel my presence makes any difference. I feel as you do, LS, and hope you feel less alone and better for having let it out.
     
  2. patsy56

    patsy56 Registered User

    Jan 14, 2015
    839
    Fife Scotland
    What that is just terrible I am just so gob smacked
     
  3. patsy56

    patsy56 Registered User

    Jan 14, 2015
    839
    Fife Scotland
    just been looking through all the post and girls I feel so much for you. I can't say whether I had a good or bad childhood, I know I wanted to run away a few times, and mother did hit me for things my sister did wrong, but being the elder I took the blame..............I think I have just forgotten the bad times, but yes when you saw other friends families I used to ask myself why are we not like that.
     
  4. Long-Suffering

    Long-Suffering Registered User

    Jul 6, 2015
    425
    Hi Amy,

    Thanks for such a long reply and sharing your story.

    Yes, I am confused, but I am kind of used to that. Nothing has ever been simple with mum! I guess I had always imagined that in their later years, mum would be the one whose mental state would deteriorate more and more, and I always worried how dad and me were going to cope with someone who was already a nightmare. Then lo and behold, it was DAD who developed dementia. This threw all my plans out of the window.

    Thankfully, I don't have issues like a lot of other abused kids have. I don't feel I was to blame and I haven't gone on to have relationships with abusive men (though there was a danger of that when I was young). More than anything I just feel the sheer exhaustion of it all. Exhaustion. Compared to mum, looking after dad with his dementia is a piece of cake. I think that is why I have so much patience with him. He's up all night, I get no sleep, he's talking rubbish, he asks the same question a million times, he pees himself... none of it gets to me - I just feel a deep sadness for him. Compared to mum he is a picnic. There is no mental abuse from him, no clever manipulation, no hitting. His delusions are all harmless stuff (he thinks he has been on holiday, or it's snowing) he doesn't have psychotic delusions like my mum. My relationship with my mum has been like looking after a very violent, psychotic dementia patient since I was old enough to walk. There's this thing called "parenting" which doctors use to describe when roles are reversed and a child is forced to look after their parent by a mentally unstable parents. That's what I had/still have.

    The reason I continue this situation is exactly the same reason you give: I wouldn't be able to sleep at night if I didn't try to do my best for them. I have to do what is "right" in my mind, no matter what happened in the past and continues to happen.

    It sounds like your mum is very similar to mine. Some people can't make proper emotional attachments to other people. These people shouldn't have kids, in my opinion, but that's never a matter they think about beforehand. They have kids and then discover they can't cope and they don't like it, or they just plain don't like kids and the responsibility that goes with them. But at the end of the day, I always have to remember that my mum was and is seriously mentally ill, and I do have a lot of sympathy for her in that respect. She has had a miserable life and I would hate to be her. She was also let down by the people around her - was my dad her victim or her enabler or both? Her parents didn't do anything to help, but then her dad was also mentally ill and her mum was disabled, plus in those days no one knew anything about mental health issues. Treatment for my grandfather was to sit him in front of a fish tank to watch the fish! Like I say, my family situation is too complicated. I shouldn't think about it too much.

    My family situation is similar to yours in that I'm an only child. dad's whole family live in Ireland and we haven't seen much of them, but we have kept in touch by phone. My dad was always keen to hear from them. Mum has one brother and his wife and 2 nieces. They live only a mile away from her, but the relationship has always been distant to the point of estrangement. My uncle is 9 years older than mum and as they were war kids and uncle was evacuated, they didn't really meet very much until he was already 14 and my mum 5. Then a few years later he was off to the army, so mum only spent about 4 years with him and she has always thought her parents favoured him over her. For that reason, we saw very little of them when I was growing up and I wouldn't recognise my 2 cousins if I passed them in the street. However, for the past 10 years, I have been making an effort to go and see my aunt and uncle every summer when I go back. I wanted to establish some sort of relationship with them before it was too late. They even came to visit um and dad a couple of times, but mum has never gone to visit them. There is no support from that side. They are too estranged and uncle and aunt are too old now. My aunt is in ICU with heart trouble and it's not looking very good for her. My uncle is 83, and he is in no shape to help out. My cousins are strangers. So as for family support with mum and dad, I am very much on my own.

    So like you, I can't really relate to the family situations of most folks on TP and I guess my comments might well come over as harsh to a lot of people who have had loving relationships with their parents. I maybe should have a footer that says "Former abused child caring for parents who don't deserve it" or something like that! :eek:

    My husband understands quite well as he and his sister were brought up by an alcoholic single mum and she neglected both of them. She's 74 and continues to cause them grief. Last year we discovered she had drunk away her savings, hadn't paid the mortgage and they had to move her out into a smaller house and deal with her loan companies, creditors, etc, while all the while being called every name under the sun by her. So my husband knows well what it's like to have bad parents and he is sympathetic, but not practical. He never comes to visit them with me or offers help because he hates my mother.

    TP is also a great place to come to. There are quite a few people here in the same boat as me. Maybe we should have our own board "I am in a dysfunctional relationship with a person with dementia" :rolleyes:

    Take care, Amy and thanks again :)

    LS
     
  5. Long-Suffering

    Long-Suffering Registered User

    Jul 6, 2015
    425
    Hi In a Whirl,

    Regarding the three points:

    Point one, my mental health, is always a cause for my concern, but I've been in this situation with my mum for 47 years. The logical thing to do would of course be to remove myself from it, but like I say, all family relationships are complicated. Abusive ones even more so. In fact it is easier to cut off ties with non abusive people than with abusive ones b/c the abusive ones control and manipulate.

    About SS, they are fully aware of what's going on and have been for several years. The problems with them are that they are overworked, dementia patients get absolutely lowest priority, they are very disorganised and lack communication with other parties like the GP and the local hospital. I have spent a lot of time on the phone or emailing them (and because of the 8-hour time difference, I am often doing this in the middle of the night). Things have recently come to a standstill. The Community Carer I had been mailing for months trying to get a diagnosis arranged for my dad finally mailed me back and basically said "Here are the GP's care coordinators contact details - do it yourself"! I am having a rest from them. Trying to get the SS to do anything for you is like trying to push a truck uphill.

    I am married but sadly have no kids (I lost my only one in the past and that's not something I really want to talk about). My husband is supportive as he has his own nightmare alcoholic mother. He doesn't suffer in any way directly, but it upsets him to see me upset.

    LS
     
  6. Long-Suffering

    Long-Suffering Registered User

    Jul 6, 2015
    425
    Hi Janetlyne,

    Thanks for the post.

    When people hear about my childhood they often say "that's terrible" or "horrendous" or something, and it's hard to explain, but that always makes me feel like a fraud. I don't mean that what I have said happened didn't happen, but to me it's just very matter-of-fact and I don't feel much emotion about it. I almost feel embarrassed when people sympathise. I guess this must mean that I am so hardened to it that it just seems normal to me. The stress for me now comes from my sense of powerlessness in my current situation.

    From what you say about your mum she is pretty much exactly like mine except not violent. Mine was diagnosed with schizophrenia, but she may actually be bi-polar. All the things you say ring true for me. It may be that our mums were/are jealous of us and had low self esteem. In my case, I think my birth made her feel insecure in case my dad loved me more than he loved her. I think that was a prime motivator for a lot of her awful behaviour, especially as she felt her parents had preferred her brother to her. Maybe there is a similar dynamic in your own family? Jealousy? We both also had meek, henpecked dads who enabled our mums to do whatever they wanted.

    Thanks again for the message and the PM offer :)

    LS
     
  7. Long-Suffering

    Long-Suffering Registered User

    Jul 6, 2015
    425
    Hi Celia,

    I understand. In situations like ours, dealing with your parents is just something you have to do, part of a routine, rather than something we want to do or even look forward to doing. We just go through the motions. Do what is expected. I do feel less alone, thanks. I like TP. It is good to talk to people in the same situation.

    Hope your visit with your mum wasn't too bad this week.

    LS
     
  8. Long-Suffering

    Long-Suffering Registered User

    Jul 6, 2015
    425
    Hi Patsy,

    Yes, I guess it is. When you're a kid, everything that happens is "normal". It's not till later that you realise that it isn't. That was just the tip of the ice berg. I could give you endless stories like that. It only really hit me one day when I was the same age as she was at the time (33) and I was teaching some 6-year-old kids, and I suddenly remembered that scenario and thought "What if I now took one of these kids aside and asked them to choose if I should kill myself or not?" That was when the full implications of it struck me. That was when I realised how terribly wrong it was for a woman of 33 to behave in that way to a 6-year-old (or to anyone else for that matter).

    I think we have all had bad times. We have survived, that's the important thing.

    LS
     
  9. Amy in the US

    Amy in the US Registered User

    Feb 28, 2015
    4,619
    USA
    LS,

    Nice to "see" you here, and how kind of you to write personal responses. I'm touched, I really am! You don't need to thank me; I'm the one who needs to thank you. So now we've both thanked each other and we can move on (that was humour).

    I wanted to tell you straight off that you made me laugh out loud with your suggestion that you get a personalized footer that says "WARNING: former child of abusive parents now caring for them, not that they deserve it" or whatever you said. That was the first laugh I've had today, and I needed it, so thank you.

    Then I got a second laugh with your suggestion about us having our own board! Um, moderators, are you listening???? Bring on that dysfunctional group!

    So many thanks for that.

    I especially appreciated your anecdote about realizing at age 33, how inappropriate it was for your mother to say what she said to you, when you were six. It is odd, isn't it, how one doesn't always realize just how bad things were when one was a child. Oh, listen to me, I sound like the Queen talking in the third person. Let me try that again.

    It can be very disconcerting to have the reality of your rotten childhood smack you in the face. I've always known my mother did and said things she shouldn't have, but I never really thought on it much. What good would it do? It doesn't change how things were, plus it's upsetting. (I'm working on this right now with my therapist and not sure I'm getting anywhere, but we will see.)

    Just on the off chance that this will resonate with you, or even make you laugh, I'll risk being self-centered (because we really ought to be talking about YOU, and I do not want to hijack your thread) and trade you an anecdote. I've been making the rounds of support groups where I live. At one of these "test visits," I gave the group facilitator (there were two group leaders, one regular group member, and me present, so I got rather a lot of attention) a short history of the situation. She listened carefully and then leaned forward and said, in a very meaningful tone of voice, you know, you are not the first person we've had here who grew up in a dysfunctional family.

    This is the part where you can laugh: I was so taken aback I didn't know what to say. (My husband will tell you, I'm not usually at a loss for words.) I literally could not speak. I was telling my therapist about it the following week, and she asked me why was I so surprised? To which I replied, well, nobody has ever said that to me before and it never occurred to me that I came from a dysfunctional family! To her credit, my lovely therapist did not let her professional mask slip, but in retrospect, it must have been funny. But how on earth could I have gotten to be 45 years old and not realise this about myself?

    I think it's as you said in your response to Patsy: as a child, especially a young child, things just...are the way they are.

    But back to you (YOU are the star of this thread!). I can see what you are saying about your dad's dementia being a shock, in terms of, you knew your mother had mental illness and that wasn't going to change, and knew sooner or later, as she aged, there would be issues to deal with, but didn't see it coming with your dad. That makes a great deal of sense and also, I think, throws some light on your agony about the situation, although I'm not sure I can explain what I mean about that very well. Sometimes it's much harder to do this sort of thing in writing, than to talk about it.

    But at any rate, it sounds like not only were you blindsided by the dementia diagnosis, as anyone would be, but more so on a deeper level because, hey, wait, MUM is the crazy one, Dad and I were going to cope with her together, this messes everything up, this can't happen to dad, hey universe, ***?

    Frustratingly, just as I feel I'm getting somewhere, I have to go, but I promise I'll check back in later. In the meantime, be as kind to yourself as you can, and hang in there.
     
  10. Long-Suffering

    Long-Suffering Registered User

    Jul 6, 2015
    425
    Hi again, Amy. I'm glad I made you laugh :)

    I think there must be a great number of us out there: people who are having to look after parents who didn't look after them as they should have done in their childhood. One thing that really makes me have to grit my teeth is when people give me a patronising smile and inform me that as my parents looked after me when I was a kid, now it's time for me to repay that love and care by looking after them. Sometimes I come very close to giving them a good piece of my mind!

    I spent far too much time looking back at my childhood trying to work out what went wrong - so much time that I wasn't thinking about the present and I wasn't enjoying my life because of that. I regret that now, but I think to some extent it is inevitable to want to try and work out how and why your life got so ****ed up. Oh well, hindsight is a wonderful thing.

    Your anecdote makes me laugh, and it also reminds me of a documentary or interview I watched with Pete Burns, the singer in "Dead or Alive". It's a bit of a bizarre connection to what you said, but it might be interesting for you to watch this documentary he made about his childhood with his mum. It was very dysfunctional (and very similar to my own. Some parts made me shiver they were so similar). Anyway, there was this one part where he said he had been telling his partner about how his mum behaved when he was a kid, and the partner said to him "You realise what she did to you was abuse" and Pete said it was the first time anyone had ever pointed that out to him. He must have been in his 40s as well at the time. So it isn't that unusual, I think. What happens to you as a kid is "normal" until someone who knows what normal really is tells you otherwise.

    With my parents, honestly I don't know which one is dottier at the minute. It changes from day to day. Dad is vacant and forgetful and imagines things, whereas mum is angry and paranoid and on her own planet.

    And BTW, please feel free to talk about your own issues on this thread. It isn't just for me. I like to hear other people's stories :)

    All the best,

    LS
     

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