25, mother, 'carer' and I've F'd it all up.

This is very long, so I apologise in advance. I’m looking for encouragement mainly, my friends have already passed judgement on the issues raised below so I’ve already had the talks about morality and owning up to my decisions.

Quick recap of my life. I’m 25, mother of a toddler with a loving and supportive partner, ‘carer’ to my mother who has Complex PTSD, incontinence, insomnia, some sort of fluid retention and chronic pain.

I’ve been taking over as a carer since I was around 15, with basic roles such as sorting out benefits and arranging GP/hospital appointments. These increased over the years to cleaning, finances and house maintenance. Only carer for my mother, for years she refused outside help, but recently has been more open to outside help yet if I bring it up to ask around she says she’s not up to doing it.

Anyway, to the present. I’m manic depressive and probably bipolar (family history and showing symptoms), and struggling with my mother. The last year I’ve been showing signs of a slow-burning nervous breakdown. It started with sleeping less, then I was eating more junk food, increase of mood swings and behaviours that weren’t normal for me. I’ve become lethargic and in general just a shell of myself, it’s massively affected my bonding time with my son and my partner as I rarely feel able to ‘love’ them. I don’t even want physical contact with my partner, which is horrible for him. Not even a hug most days.

My mother lives inside 90% of the time. She’s allergic to synthetics, so can’t use any pads or special pants for her incontinence. Then she has chronic facial migraines so constantly has to drink to stop herself being in pain. It’s a vicious cycle. Her mental health issues mean she suffers from severe anxiety and gets panic attacks if her phone goes off or the door goes, visitors only allowed if I’m there. I will be the first to admit that I never put 100% in. I’m ashamed of my behaviour in relation to sorting things out. But if it’s any consolation, I literally forget to eat and drink everyday, so trusting me to remember to organise things is doomed to fail.

My mother is an interesting character. She has been a victim of horrific abuse, but finds it hard to push past seeing herself as a victim. If I say I’m suffering from any sort of mental health issues, she always says that it can’t be as bad as hers because of the abuse she faced. Any pain I get isn’t as severe as hers, and I have no excuses for slacking. However, on the flip side, she’s constantly diagnosing me with disorders such as autism, Asperger’s and borderline personality disorder. Her favourite thing to do is tell me that I would be evil to bring any children into the world with my family history of bipolar and ‘psychopaths’. So she’s all sunshine and daisies.

I mentioned before that I’ve been seeing unusual changes in my behaviour. One of those behaviours was stealing money from my mother. Before last year the only time I stole from my mother was a single £5 in my teens. Not exactly a serial thief. I don’t know how much I’ve stolen, over £1k though. Which is the most atrocious thing an adult child can do to a parent. She had some inheritance given to her last year, so has been living off that and not off benefits (apart from PIP). She knows I’ve taken money, however she’s accusing me of doing things that I haven’t done (purposefully not told her how to pay rent, left the room to pay for bills etc). She doesn’t know how much I’ve taken. During the year I never felt guilt for stealing, it almost felt like I was being repaid for the constant psychological and emotional abuse I faced. That’s abnormal I know.

She’s demanding she has an accountant to go over her finances. I’ve agreed as there’s no way of avoiding her finding out for sure I’ve stolen. But my mother doesn’t forgive. She already calls me evil and says I lie to her and she can’t trust me. But this is the first bad thing I’ve ever done in terms of anything criminal. The ‘lies’ I’ve told don’t add up as they’re not things I would say in the first place. My partner (who she hates) has been at the receiving end of the lies too, she claims he has said things that would be out of character for him.

I’ll admit to the stealing to her, it is out of character for me, but she’s adamant I’ve been stealing since I was 15 (just like my father I MUST be an evil, conniving serpent of a human). She won’t forgive me for this and has already said previously that she will not see me or my son (the only grandchild) if I ever do something unforgivable. I’m her only carer, and there are no family or friends to look after her.

Just so people know, I have tried getting professional help for myself, the waiting list for psychotherapy is 2 years long in my area. I have been denied any short term therapy due to complex issues. My mother also is not under any psychological help, mainly due to her being housebound.

TLDR: my mother is a nightmare to care for. I’m a horrible and disgusting child for stealing from her and i’m sure I just ruined any relationship I had with her.

Hey Evie

First up, let me say well done for being so brave and open. It takes courage and strength to be honest and is also the first step towards change.

I would say that what you really need to do now is focus on yourself and your son. As much as you feel responsible to your mum, you now have a bigger responsibility towards your child. Contact your health visitor and see if they can give you some support around building a healthy relationship with your son. You may be surprised at how much help they can offer, as being unable to bond with your child is something they often see in people with postnatal depression.

Step away from your mum’s control and be prepared to face up to any backlash that may come from your stealing. If you do not want to leave her completely in the lurch, call your local adult social services and let them know that you are stepping away as her carer and they need to assess her and provide any support she needs whilst you deal with your own “stuff”.

Keep being brave and put yourself first.

Thank you Stephanie. I phoned Samaritans last night and talked to a lovely woman for over an hour. Her response was the same as yours.

My mother will always see herself as a victim first, and that means she instantly feels attacked when there isn’t one. Paranoia is a wonderful thing, especially when the person who is paranoid vehemently denies being so. She thinks it’s another way for me to undermine her.

I’ve written up a letter to give to her, explaining the stealing and my mental health. It’s also essentially a resignation letter. I’ve put in that I’m going to stop caring for her, but I will accompany her for medical appointments and when the benefit reviews are up as I still have the most knowledge of what’s wrong with her and how it affects her. It takes away the main stresses for me but also lets me stay a part of her life without the sense of impending doom. I can officially be a visitor instead of a carer which she says I am already so won’t be different for her in her eyes.

How she takes it is another matter. Most likely she’ll cut contact with me, refuse entry to anyone and try to starve herself to death. It’s happened before years ago. But at least I know the options and can hopefully prevent anything nasty happening.

Hi Evie,

Welcome to the forum. I hope we can help you. As children, mum always takes charge of us. Some mums struggle to accept that we grow up and are adults and have lives of our own.

As a mum yourself, your child deserves top priority, whatever your own mum thinks about it!

First, a few questions to clarify things a bit.

Do you live with mum?
Does she own, or rent her home?
Have you ever had a Carers Assessment from Social Services.

Hi Bowlingbun,

I don’t live with her (she kicked me out aged 18 but refuses to acknowledge that and says I left willingly) and she rents from a housing association (I’ve always paid her rent and bills no issue, she’ll be back on benefits soon).
And no, I haven’t as of yet. I do have an appointment for the local borough carers unit in August. But by then she doesn’t want me as a carer. I have received no help from social services since being a carer from age 15.

I’ve never stepped up to caring for my mother, and it’s easy to pass blame on her. I never put enough effort in prior to me having a child. But now my child is the priority and I don’t have the time to give any effort for her.

Hi, I read all you wrote. As always, i just cant say much, how to help.

I just can imagine your stress dealing with this.

And know its hard, but the best way is try to say “ok, this how things are”. Just dont dare to feel like you are doing something bad or any like that, you dont have the fault, no, not at all.

Try to find ways to avoid the stress and the “no sense” situations. And no, steal some money is waaaaaaay down on the bad things to do list. If she cant process the relationship she have to have with you, its a problem she have, you cant blame yourself for about the bad desitions she take.

Good luck.

Hi Evie, how are things at the moment?


I have to say your situation sounds very similar to mine. Eventually, I decided after lots of advice to step away from my mother.

I feel sad she cannot care for herself. But the victimisation makes it impossible to help her. The more I helped the more it turned her into a victim and so without realising I was causing her pain too.

I’m much happier having stepped away. I actually had to cut contact for a year entirely and only speak occasionally by email. She was very angry at first.

But it was the only way I could break the pattern. It means not going to any of her hospital appointments either. I had to realise that my Mother at 48 years old was old enough to go to her own appointments and take care of herself - or she’d have to figure it out.

Best of luck!