I’m new here and joined because I’m a bit scared to be honest.
My mum has come to live with my partner and I after a suicide attempt two and a half months ago. She’s hoping to move out as soon as she is financially able (in process of divorce/financial settlement)
She has been “home” for nearly two weeks, after a two month stay in a mental health hospital.
She is capable of physically taking care of herself but her moods are very erratic.
I find myself absolutely dialled into however she is feeling (up and down) and it’s exhausting.
It has only ever been my partner and I at home and we’ve worked hard to make it a calm space. I can feel mum’s mood infecting everything.
Does anyone have any tips/advice as to how I can pull all this off without getting on mum’s mood rollercoaster?
Sorry if I seem a bit selfish. I know I should just be grateful mum is still alive.
Mum needs counselling, private, ongoing. It was life changing for me, I can go to see my counsellor at any time I need to. I haven’t seen her since Covid, but will go again to offload a few things. She helped sort out being constantly torn between disabled son and mum when I was also disabled, and as mum was dying I had lots of support. Mum should take her issues to counselling, not you.
My home is also a calm space. There’s me, eldest son, and his son, and my son M with severe learning difficulties. We don’t or won’t have arguments despite all our many challenges.
That really isn’t selfish. It can be exhausting. Ask almost all of the people on this forum how we know!
I think the important thing is to make a bit of space in your head that’s just for you and to remember three things:
- It isn’t your fault. You are doing your best, just like your mum has done. You are no more responsible for her mental health than you would be if she broke her leg falling down a flight of stairs.
- You need to make a bit of space in your head that’s just for you. She’s not well. At the minute, I am living with my partner who is also not well. I can feel some of her depression seeping into the way I’m talking to people outside. That’s a really good warning for me.
- There is no shame in saying you can’t do it and taking some time out. I would not be a good partner tonight were it not for the fact that I went out with my dog earlier. It’s important not to forget little stuff like this - I could neglect my dog (and he’s old, so he wouldn’t even mind that much) but it is better for all of us if we look after ourselves.
Good luck, @PMAWJ - we are here if you want to sound off.
Thank you @chris667
I really appreciate you taking the time to share some advice.
It’s great advice. The analogy of the “broken” leg is actually really helpful.
I do have a really nice meditation practice which I can usually rely on. Unfortunately every time I meditate at the moment I spend the whole time thinking “oooh this would be a really good one for mum” .
Mum is due to resume counselling this Friday.
I’m hopeful this will help
Maybe you can think of some appropriate words to use when mum is winding you up? She is a guest, your house, your rules. Whilst I’m sure you are glad she is still here, does she have any idea of how stressful it was for you?? I have the feeling it’s all about her? Well Christmas should be all about you and your partner having as quiet or busy, active or lazy time as you feel like! What is she doing as her contribution to the Christmas meal, for example?
Have to agree that you are NOT being selfish. I agree with BB although she has been ill she is a guest in your house and therefore needs to follow your rules. I do hope counselling helps your mother and that she can make plans to go back home. Caring is so very hard and emotionally exhausting and totally draining. Please remember that you CANNOT care for anyone else unless you care for your own physical and emotional health. Thankfully this Forum taught me this.
There is a real danger that the longer she lives with you the harder it will be for her to leave, so some sort of “tough love” may be required so she spends an increasing amount of time at her own place. Only you and your partner can say when and how you achieve this.
I don’t think mum has much idea how upsetting and stressful the last few months have been for the rest of the family.
She’s not a bad person but she is very much in a bubble of her own most of the time. Which is sad and frustrating in equal measure.
I have had a few difficult conversations with her to try to carve out time for myself which, on the whole, she has respected.
It’s just her inability to do anything official (make calls, fill in forms and etc) that I find really stressful.
My other half is being really good and helping with lots of things but it’s hard for me as I work full time as well.
A belated welcome to the Forum!
I wanted to share a few thoughts on top of the great advice you’ve already received.
If you’re already cultivating your meditation practices you’re probably aware of Kristin Neff - but just in case: here are some free guided practices: Exercises
You may want to explore the ones around self compassion, self-kindness and setting boundaries
As carers, we’re all empaths - doing beyond our aspirations in absence of other support…SO
I’d advise that you and your partner discuss what healthy boundaries look like.
Like you said, your Mum may have no idea, comprehension or awareness of the impact she is having on you both…so you’ll need to set your own lines. From what you’ve described about having a few difficult conversations - BIG BRAVO and KUDOS! - you’ve managed to get some of the message across…sometimes making things painfully obvious is the only way to keep your own sanity! So I’m just cheering you on and to say keep doing what you’re doing…it’s not easy or simple but you’re finding and navigating
TBH if she can’t do calls, forms etc get the Lasting Powers of Attorney sorted out and ask her to relinquish those controls. @Charlesh47 or @bowlingbun can share more about deputee ship or mental capacity act…but it sounds like if she’s staying in your house, and has mental health issues it could be easier for you IF THATS SOMETHING YOU WANT…Be mindful of making intentional decisions versus slipping into it.
You sound like you and your partner are very self aware. Keep talking to each other and leaning on each other. That’s such a retreat and soulful space in itself!
perhaps for you having a chat with listening services or someone who understands suicidal ideation is something you deserve to do for you, to release those emotions?
AND to print-post in your Mum’s room for her to use if she chooses?: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/guides-to-support-and-services/crisis-services/helplines-listening-services/
sending empathy, best wishes and hugs
I think she needs to go home with appropriate support asap. However, as she is divorcing, what is happening to the marital home? Was she OK before the marital problems?
How old is mum? My dad always dealt with the bank accounts, paperwork etc. I was dismayed at mum’s utter ignorance about running a home, bills etc. after dad died. I bought a lever arch file to keep all her papers in, she rang me to say she wasn’t strong enough to pull it apart! At 74 she had never met a lever arch file! Once you accept that nothing is going to change unless you take charge, you have to talk to mum about what she wants in her future? I recommend a book called Starting Again by Sarah Litvinoff, which I used when my life fell apart at 54 when my husband died suddenly. It’s very easy to read. Maybe get 2 copies, one for you, one for her? Is mum paying her way in your household? She must do this, as part of accepting the financial realities of life going forward. I’m really worried that she is in real danger of becoming an “elderly toddler”, totally self focussed expecting everyone to run round her so she doesn’t have to do anything for herself. Feel free to challenge me on any of this. Do you give her chores to do while you are at work? Empty dishwasher, prepare veg, vacuum?
I know you’re right about it being our home and mum being a guest but I think I might have made a rod for my own back on that front.
When mum was in hospital I got a bit desperate for her to know that she would fit right in at ours and said things like “I want you to feel like it’s your home”.
Since she’s been home I’ve realised I can’t live like that…it’s invasive. So I’ve basically spent two weeks trying to carefully unpick everything I said before.
It’s causing a tension between my partner and I because I have to pluck up the courage to keep saying difficult things (I’m not one of life’s naturally compassionate communicators unfortunately so I have to get things scripted in my mind before o say them)
Do not beat yourself up = she is your mother and of course you wanted to help and reassure her. I think it is perfectly normal to ‘overpromise’ and then struggle with the reality. Would it help if you wrote her a letter? Explaining how much you love her and want to support her but it is YOUR home and you are struggling too. I realise she is still quite vulnerable and I was hoping that maybe the counsellor could encourage her to move into her own place?
Sending cyber hugs.
It’s so easy in a crisis to make promises in a crisis you later regret, hugely. You are not alone.
With Christmas approaching, how are you all going to manage?!
Your partner should be supporting you to say something to mum along the lines of “It’s time for us to help you to…” He has every right to a say in this as it’s his home too.
I was widowed at 54, the future without your partner seems a scary place.
Maybe ask her what she is would like help with most, moving forward?
Just because she has never done something in the past doesn’t mean she won’t in the future.
Catching a plane on my own for a holiday was incredibly scary the first time, but the more I did it the easier it became. Now it’s all routine.
What did mum last do that made her happy? (You cannot make mum happy, mum has to make herself happy, ultimately)
@PMAWJ - I was thinking about your situation last night.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with being assertive, and you do your mother no favours by hiding reality from her - she can’t live in your home rent free and have you as a live in servant. I’m not saying that’s her intention, but it is what’s happening.
People with mental health problems are often stuck in their own heads. Much of the time they don’t have the headspace to think about how a situation affects those around them.
Let’s assume that your mum’s difficulties aren’t permanent - the way she feels now is not the way she’ll be feeling in the future. Do you really think she’d want you to do what you’re doing for her if she realised it was ruining your life?
Perhaps a plan for her to move forward would be better for both of you.
@chris667 You are spot on. People with mental health issues can be incredibly draining and expect the world to revolve around them. I think @PMAWJ you need to be fair but firm with you mother especially with Xmas and establish boundries. I do know it is so easy for me to type this and so hard to do in reality as you sound very caring.
@Victoria_1806 thanks for your advice.
We are really trying to maintain our mindfulness practice and even encourage mum to join in.
I think perhaps I’ve been expecting a bit too much of myself. Working from home in a busy job is not easy when the energy in the house shifts so quickly and dramatically.
I’m aware that nobody can make you feel anything really but that sure is hard to remember when you’re tired and irritable and desperate for someone to be happy.
Funny how I really believed I had been making some progress in my own life before all this. It’s really shown me how much work I still have to do.
The difficulty is actually stopping mum from doing things. She finds it almost impossible to sit still. She really is trying though. I see how hard it is for her.
I definitely hear you on the “elderly toddler” front.
I’ve been making an effort to not speak to her like a child.
We have no problem getting mum to do chores. She’s been hoovering and polishing and we’ve cooked a few meals together. If anything I’d really rather she slow down so we could all feel more relaxed (I do say this as she whips away everyone’s plates the moment they’ve finished their meal ).
I’m so grateful for your advice.
I can tell that you’re talking from experience and hard work so thank you.
Do you WFH as your Mum needs 24/7 supervision or because that’s the nature of your job?
It is hard to not take on another person’s mood especially when with them all the time.
S does that with bowls and plates too and starts clearing the table around me! I’m not slow - he is fast. It’s preferable though to asking him to wait for me to finish, as I then feel the need to rush.
It sounds like your Mum’s coping strategy is keeping busy. Gives her less time to think. Always wants to feel useful and needed.
Would voluntary work work for her? It would give her a purpose, get her out the house and she’d be in the company of others.
Is she under a local GP - social prescribing could be an option.
In the meantime perhaps think of some jobs you need doing but never get round to do doing for her today or see if you can kickstart any old hobbies she had.
Hopefully her divorce settlement will come through asap. Will she be renting or buying. Perhaps start looking at what’s available with her, would be a good start?