This situation, to me, is long and complex, hence the long post. Thank you so much in advance if you manage to stay with me to the end of it. I’m not the kind of person who is used to feeling lost but I’m suddenly feeling very much out of my depth.
I have been caring for my elderly mum, because of a serious physical disability, for the past 18 months. Our relationship has taken a severe blow after a seemingly trivial incident turned bad, possibly because I hadn’t noticed and wasn’t prepared for the emergence of mental health issues. Now I don’t know what to do.
I normally care for my mum due primarily to physical disability.
However, over the past 6 months or so (it’s hard to put a time on it), mum has been behaving a little strangely every now and again and I never really joined the dots. She is generally quite coherent and anyone meeting her would say she is perfectly OK. She appears to have no particular memory or other cognitive issues and proudly recalls things from the most distant past; in other words, she’s just fine … isn’t she?
Anyway, these strange behaviours, or incidents, started with mum starring at my wife while I was talking directly to mum. She would blatantly look her up and down, repeatedly and very overtly. If I stopped to ask what she was doing, she would deny doing anything at all except for listening to me, and she said these incidents were all in my head. Of course, my wife certain doesn’t agree.
Then there were some strange incidents when we have talked about our past on a few occasions. I recalled and mentioned something significant from my own past, and mum argued that it never happened to me. Mum recounted some terrible things she claimed my dad had done in the past, all relating to affairs with other women and stealing money from her. These claims were just so utterly implausible given times, places etc… She recalled past disputes with specific neighbours concerning things they had accused me of doing, as a child. I can tell you with complete confidence that no such disputes ever happened.
She has also reported to me two of the most inexplicable telephone conversations that simply could not have taken place. They’re broadly similar in their nature and composition. She would tell me that a person would call her in disbelief or shock, because they had received a call from some other party, who had become aware of a plan or situation mum had discussed in total confidence with me alone. The question was, how on earth could either of the third parties be aware of a confidential discussion they couldn’t possibly know about. Mum emphatically denies talking to either and, actually, it wouldn’t even make any sense for her to do so anyway. These calls didn’t happen. Mum clearly must have imagined them, after presumably dwelling on the subject of concern.
Now we’re finally getting to the crunch point. So far I hadn’t thought about the above incidents as anything other than a bunch of unrelated, oddities. Then following happened.
Last week mum had something of a meltdown with me. It started with a ridiculously minor disagreement in which she contradicted something I had literally just seen happen. Before I knew it she was fully re-enacting, with me, exactly the way she used to react with poor old dad when they argued. She constantly accused him of having affairs, being aggressive and screaming in her face. Now she was accusing me of the same, except for the affairs. It felt quite perverse and very unsettling. Thankfully, she demanded that I leave and I didn’t need to be told twice. I feel guilty to admit that I felt like a weight was lifted the moment I closed that door behind me.
Obviously I have a duty of care and I have been administering that, but we have talked only minimally and we’re really not in a good place at all. She’s talking weirdly, about truth being revealed before her, in all its ugliness, of how I have really felt about her all my life. This just bears no resemblance to a simple dispute in which I told her to stop being so rude all the time.
In desperately trying to find a way forward, from here, I’ve done some reflecting and some research. I suspect all these things I’ve observed might have been confabulations, and if so, in my ignorance I have probably not managed these situations at all well. If this is the case, mum isn’t just a difficult person with a physical disability. She’s now suffering some from some mental issue and I’ve probably done exactly the wrong thing and blown any security or trust she has had in me.
What on earth do I do now?
By the way, mum would angrily refute even the notion she might be experiencing any problems with her mind. Am I completely off track here? Is there another possible explanation? Is this normal and am I the one with issues? To be honest, I’m not sure if I entirely know any more.
Thanks for any help/advice offered.