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  1. #1
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    Default My mother has an untreated anxiety disorder. I don't know what to do

    I'm lying here awake thinking about this. My mother has an anxiety disorder that she won't seek treatment for. It seems to be episodic so when it's not triggered she's ok, but when it is she spirals into this madness.

    The last few times it's manifested has related to her daughters - my sister and I. We made choices, or looked to her like we were making choices, that she felt would ruin our lives. These were separate incidents, years apart. It resulted in my sister and I becoming estranged from the family for about two years each as she wouldn't let the rest of the family talk to us (out of fear she'd lose the plot completely).

    My brothers tend to react to this by trying to keep everyone happy by finding a middle ground. This never works because she's irrational and is generally making outrageous demands.

    I feel like my place in my family is dependant on me only making important life choices that she agrees with. I'm in my mid 30s. I love my family. I don't know what to do.

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    Subbing to reply later as you are telling the story of my life. I will reply in more detail after work but firstly - the biggest hugs to you. Your life is YOUR life and if your mother doesn't seek treatment (as mine never has), it should have no bearing on your life choices. You are your own person and you are strong enough to make choices for yourself - mistakes too. Feeling responsible for someone else's mental health & wellbeing bred a lifetime of low self worth issues for me that I'm only now starting to get over at 31.

    Much love xxx

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    Sally1981  (01-02-2016)

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    Your priority is your own well being, and that of your immediate family (partner/children).
    You have to do what is best for yourself, and them. If your mother won't get help then there isn't much you can do except protect your own from her.

    My mother has untreated issues also, so I get it. But I got to the point where I had to leave mother behind and progress my own life to where I wanted it to be.
    Last edited by Cicho; 01-02-2016 at 06:11.

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    Sally1981  (01-02-2016)

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    Thanks ladies. You're right. I just don't know how to extricate myself. My parents help us out financially in a number of ways (they do for all their kids except my sister because she chose a partner my mum doesn't like). Mum also minds my son once a week while I go to work.

    This is coming up now because she did something really bad. We terminated a pregnancy at 22 weeks last year for medical reasons. I'm confident that my husband and I made that decision on our own and although I grieve for my son I know we did the right thing for us.

    My mother lost her mind during the testing process. She ended up screaming down the phone at me that if I didn't end the pregnancy I would have a disabled child and my life would be ruined. Although we made our decision on the medical information available to us I had to make that decision with the knowledge in the back of my mind that if I didn't end the pregnancy my mother would starve herself and spiral into untreated mental illness. Even that didn't make her want to get treated.

    I'm struggling now because I'm pregnant again and getting monthly scans. I'm terrified something will go wrong again and I can still hear her screaming, hysterical voice in my head. She's already made me promise that I can terminate another pregnancy if it comes to that.

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    I just stopped talking to my mother recently because she was always negative towards me and had the audacity to tell me it was all in my head...I go to councelling to deal with self esteem issues due to this, and I haven't spoken to my father in ten years because he is an alcoholic who doesn't think he has a problem, and treats everyone else like sh!t. At the end of the day, we all think our parents should want the best things for us, but in reality some of them couldn't care less. Your mother won't seek help for her anxiety if she doesn't think she has a problem. She may never see that she needs help. My mum just couldn't admit that she is always negative towards me, and I have gotten to the point, where i don't want to deal with it anymore. It's sad because my kids miss out and I am 35 weeks pregnant with my 3rd, but sometimes you have to do what's best for you, not everyone else. It took me 38 years to realise that. Good luck with your pregnancy and with this situation.

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    What your mother did during your incredibly traumatic previous pregnancy was not just really bad, it was serious emotional abuse and manipulation. She also managed to turn this traumatic situation that YOU and DH were going through into something about HER and her feelings and needs. She needed to support you not divert your emotional energy into worrying about how she was coping.
    You can't fix her or change her. She's an adult and it sounds like this pattern of behaviour is not new. Has she been called out on it? Does she acknowledge it but refuse to get help? Or does she refute there is a problem? I think all you can do is seek some counseling support for yourself to go over these issues with an objective third party to develop some strategies for managing the relationship or ending it.
    Big hugs. My DH is estranged from his mother (about 15 years now) as she refused to sort her problems out so he refused to have that destructive force in his life any longer. He's very happy he cut her off. You've gone through enough (too much) Sally you don't need this taking up your head space xx

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    @Charlie74. I'd never heard of CAT. That might be good. We could only use it though when she's really off the rails. It's weird, she seems to be able to control herself around my dad and around her friends and doctors. She really only lets it all loose around her kids (all are grown up). It makes it hard to get people to believe how bad it is.
    @gingermillie. I think you're right. It felt like emotional abuse. That phone call was so bad that I don't think anyone believes she said the things she did. They keep trying to say that I would have been upset and not hearing things right (I know exactly what I heard. I'm actually quite a controlled person). She doesn't actually threaten to starve herself. She just gets so worked up that she can't eat properly for weeks or months and she starts to get completely emaciated looking. She's admitted she has a problem during crisis periods but says she can just lean on her children until the crisis is over and things go back to normal. Then she never speaks of it again.

    She's gotten away with this type of thing for a long time. Any suggestion that this may have a long term effect on her children is met with accusations from both parents that we're playing the victim and that we're ungrateful.

    I'm seeing a counsellor already due to my pregnancy. Maybe I need to shift focus to mum for a while.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sally1981 View Post
    She's gotten away with this type of thing for a long time. Any suggestion that this may have a long term effect on her children is met with accusations from both parents that we're playing the victim and that we're ungrateful.
    so your dad backs her up and reinforces the idea that you kids are ganging up on her/playing the victim/are ungrateful?

    see that's not healthy either. he's basically enabling her and reinforcing belief structure. she's far less likely to admit there's a problem/seek help with such strong back up in your dad.

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    Quote Originally Posted by turquoisecoast View Post
    so your dad backs her up and reinforces the idea that you kids are ganging up on her/playing the victim/are ungrateful?

    see that's not healthy either. he's basically enabling her and reinforcing belief structure. she's far less likely to admit there's a problem/seek help with such strong back up in your dad.
    That's pretty much it. I don't entirely blame him as he hasn't seen the worst of it. He'd have to rely on the words of his kids over the words of his wife. I suppose from a marital perspective he's backing his wife, like we're all told we should. Trouble is that in this case she's actively hiding things from him and as you said she's far less likely to seek help without him being involved.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sally1981 View Post
    That's pretty much it. I don't entirely blame him as he hasn't seen the worst of it. He'd have to rely on the words of his kids over the words of his wife. I suppose from a marital perspective he's backing his wife, like we're all told we should. Trouble is that in this case she's actively hiding things from him and as you said she's far less likely to seek help without him being involved.
    he's taking his vows a little too
    literally in this case. she's obviously unwell and needs help, I think that's pretty clear. he's not really doing her any favours by enabling her but I suspect he's doing it to keep his own life as peaceful as possible. he's the one who has to live with her, he probably figures it's easier to appease her and go home and not have a huge blow up about it or have to put up with her moods than it is to confront her about it. then he'd have to actually commit to helping her address the problem.

    he's basically taking the ostrich approach and letting you kids cop the worst of it. he probably figures you all go home to your own partners/houses/lives and the impact is minimal.

    maybe you should call a family meeting with him only and your siblings and tell him how bad it's all gotten?


 

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