Saturday, September 29, 2012

My Current Crazy

This one's tough.  I want to be honest and express what I'm struggling with while still treating the subject delicately.  I don't generally do delicate very well.

While I do believe my current depressive state is biochemical, it comes closely on the heals of a rather big stress storm.  And I have to be careful talking about it because the center of this storm is my mother.  No matter what she's been or done in my life, she deserves to be treated with respect.  I will try to honor that.

But I also deserve to share my story.  Sharing my story when it is closely entwined with hers is tricky.  Here goes.

My mom lives a few miles from me.  She and my dad are still married and living together.  I'm not really sure why.  But I gave up worrying about that a long time ago.

My mom went off the deep end when I was born.  Not that she didn't want me or blames me, but that's when her mental health tanked.  She had an emotional breakdown.  Long story short, she ended up addicted to Valium for several years.  So much more to the story, but that's not mine to tell.

She beat it.  They stayed married.  Life went on.  Again, lots of history.

Jumping ahead to where we are now.

I am the only daughter.  My whole life my mom has told me how important I am to her.  How I am her refuge.  That we stand united amidst the men.  (Kind of against the men, but that's another therapy session.)  For most of my life she's considered me her confidante.  Her closest friend.  The one who understands her.  That's a heavy burden.  Please don't do this to your children.

I've written about some of the other parts of my home life.  It was not a mentally healthy environment.  In order to heal and figure out who the heck I was and who I wanted to be, I've had to distance myself from them over the last few years.  Even though we live in the same town, I could go a month or two without talking to them.  It's not usually that long, but sometimes.  We pulled back from family events, putting in an appearance but leaving before I got triggered.  It's taken a lot of work and a lot of therapy to get to a place where I felt healthy with them.

But recently my life got a shake up again.

Over the years she's struggled with her emotional health.  I've watched her try this and that to make it better.  I've watched everything fail.  I've watched her mental health get worse and worse.  We are now at a point where she can't be in the room with others for long unless it's silent and dark.  She is no longer capable of listening to more than a sentence or two from anyone else.  She has bad ADD and struggles to stay on topic; she often can't finish a sentence.  She can't sit still.  When she's at my house she sits, gets up and moves, sits again, gets up and moves.  Over and over.  And she talks and talks without getting anywhere productive and without hearing anything we have to say.

She's 70-years old.  She's still married and he is healthy.  I didn't think I'd be put in the position of being her caretaker so early.  We're not quite there, but it's close.  She wants to put me in charge of things but also accuses me of trying to be in control.  She says she wishes she'd had a mom like me but tells me how much I'm like my dad who she can't stand.

Current situation.  On many meds and hormones.  Takes them as she feels she needs them, kind of close to as prescribed but not really.  Very much self-medicating.  She goes to her room and won't come out when my dad is there.  She waits until he's gone for the day before she comes out.  She leaves and stays gone all day, practically living out of her car.  She won't come home until she knows he's gone to bed.  She's a compulsive shopper and hoarder -- which leads to the many money fights I've been hearing about my whole life.  Her rooms (apparently she needs more than one room to herself) are so full there's about a foot wide walking path.  She's put wallpaper up to cover her bathroom mirror.  She's hung dark blankets over her windows with masking tape.  She has a mini-fridge, microwave, toaster, and food in her room/bathroom/closet.  She almost never eats at her house unless it's junk food in her room.  She's on a backward sleep cycle.  She never sleeps before 2am.  She doesn't function in the morning.  And she sleeps on the floor of her bathroom or walk-in closet.  Not on a mattress or anything, just a thick rug.  And she recently told me she has bad cataracts and needs to have them taken care of but hasn't felt well enough.  Because of the cataracts, night driving is very difficult for her.  But she keeps doing it anyway.  Her need to get away is apparently greater than her concern for her own or others' safety.  I have expressed my concern.

My dad knows most of this but has lived with it so long he just accepts it.  I think he feels helpless.  Theirs is not a good partnership.

She's recently been coming around more, leaning on me more.  She'll show up at our house and talk for several hours two or three times a week.  I feel held hostage in those moments.  She's asked me for prescription meds (I didn't give them to her).  She tells me things and wants me to keep them secret from my dad, from everyone really.  She's shown up at the church a few times while I was trying to perform my calling.  She's very needy and has no friends.  The only people she has in her life on a regular basis are me, my dad, and my adult niece who lives with them. 

On the bright side, I've had plenty to talk about in therapy.  My therapist has helped me define what my responsibilities are and what they are not.  He's helping me set boundaries.  I will no longer listen to her tell me everything awful about my dad for hours.  I will change the subject or leave.  I will no longer let her take over my life.  I will give where I should but draw lines as well.

She says she's going back to therapy (at my suggestion).  And her primary care doctor (who is a pediatrician -- don't get me started on that) says she has to get in to see a psychiatrist and an internist within the month or he won't see her anymore.  He's worried about her psychological health.  Yeah, me too.

I'm trying to keep my out-of-state brother informed, because I don't want to carry this information alone.  I am leaning on others.  And I've done great with boundaries the last week or so.  But it is a heavy burden that's likely to get worse before it gets better.

And heaven forbid they finally do decide to divorce!  I can't imagine what my life will become if that happens.

So please forgive me if I let you down recently.  Or if I'm not up to getting together.  I'm doing the best I can.

And I'm so scared of turning into her.

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Blogger Rubye Jack said...

Ugh, what a miserable life she leads. And how terrible she can yours. I'm sorry Robin. My own mother was rather crazy, to put it nicely, and I left for California in my 20's just to get away from her. Sometimes there is simply nothing we can do to help another person, particularly our parents. Hopefully, we can keep them from destroying us in the process of their craziness. I'm glad to hear you're setting boundaries with her.
I hear you in how difficult this is for you. Hang in there!

September 29, 2012 at 12:00 PM  
Blogger Heather Jo said...

I wrote a big long comment but for some reason it didn't post. It ended with this though which was the main point I wanted to get across: I'm sorry you are having a hard time. I got the sucky mom card too and it sucks.

September 29, 2012 at 12:05 PM  
Blogger Jessica Grace said...

I'm sorry your going through this, its so hard to be mad at parents because they are people and parenting is so hard on its own throwing in the burden of enduring this crazy place with that its difficult for everyone. I wish it where easier for people in general to discern the blurred lines of boundaries because everything we do has an effect on someone. My parents over share with me too and I wish I didn't have to know some of the things that I do. It can be a good thing too though I have learned from their mistakes with out making a lot of them. I think a lot of it comes with age we are blind to so much when we are younger till we really gain out own life experiences. I don't want to be like my parents, I think most people don't. I hope my kids would always view me as a roll model and I wouldn't mess up and make them disappointing in some way. Its like some relentless circle of too much pressure, and again I wish you didn't have to deal with this. Wow this is coming across so pessimistic. I don't intend that, I just mean its so hard to be the kid, and we all know its so hard to be the adult and I wish qll the pressures of the world could just melt away because life seems so short. I think its time we both look at puppies and kittens. :p if you need to talk or anything you know where to find me. sending nothing but support your way, hope things look up.

September 29, 2012 at 12:14 PM  
Blogger Jessica Grace said...


September 29, 2012 at 12:16 PM  
Blogger Jessica Grace said...

man that's a lot of typos.

September 29, 2012 at 12:17 PM  
Anonymous Erin @ The Grass Skirt said...

I'm so sorry about this, Robin. It's great that your mom promised to go to therapy though. I hope that she gets something out of it and really takes advantage of each session. I feel terrible for you, but you should be proud of yourself for venting your feelings and going to therapy. Don't worry about turning into her- you will choose your own path. Have faith.

September 29, 2012 at 2:26 PM  
Blogger Running Circles said...

Robin I'm so sorry that you have to deal with this. It is a terrible situation to find yourself. Perhaps you can ask your brother for more help--you shouldn't have to carry this burden alone. Boundaries are hard with parents in desperate situations, I know all too well, but take care of yourself first. You are not your mother Robin.

September 29, 2012 at 2:56 PM  
Blogger Yolanda Renee said...

Turning into our mothers is the curse we all fight. You are doing the right things for you, and her.

Good luck.

September 29, 2012 at 4:32 PM  
Blogger Melissa said...

It is clear that people care and support you both online and offline. You are doing a wonderful thing even if you may not always realize it .... :)

September 29, 2012 at 5:24 PM  
Blogger The Lovely One said...

Turning into one's mother is a fear that I think we all have. Good luck to you!

September 29, 2012 at 5:36 PM  
Blogger Sorta Southern Single Mom said...

Let us down? Oh my! WE should be the last of your worries! You do have a heavy load to carry, but it does sound like you are making every effort to be healthy and NOT be her. Keep leaning on those who will get you through and share the burden!

September 30, 2012 at 4:38 AM  
Blogger Katy said...

Oh, Robin! So, sorry. If you need a place to hide, my door is always open. :)

September 30, 2012 at 2:05 PM  
Blogger Bonnie said...

Second the place to hide. SO glad you have a great therapist. And friends. Love you.

October 1, 2012 at 8:55 AM  
Blogger Kim said...

You are in a difficult spot indeed. Glad to hear you have a therapist who is helpful and you are creating boundaries. It is difficult to hear the kinds of things you are hearing from your mom. Prayers going out your way.

October 1, 2012 at 9:52 AM  
Blogger Kristin Leamy said...

what a terribly hard spot to be in!! You've not let us down - we're here to learn about you and your life, the ups as well as the downs. I'm very, very glad to hear you have people to lean on as you walk this difficult path.

October 1, 2012 at 2:29 PM  
Blogger Blond Duck said...

I'm so sorry.

October 1, 2012 at 6:13 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

I'm sorry that you've had to deal with this for so long.

October 2, 2012 at 6:38 AM  
Blogger Anne said...

I had the same fear for a time and I tried so hard not to be my mother. Now, I've realized there's no point. I just try to be my own person and know that what I become is entirely up to me. This gives me more peace.

October 4, 2012 at 3:45 AM  
Blogger Andrea said...

Sending prayers for healing and peace for you and your family.

October 5, 2012 at 10:25 AM  
Anonymous Mothering From Scratch said...

{Melinda} Oh, Robin, I am praying for you and feel your stress and heartache. Your story has some eerie similarities to my own. My mother suffered from untreated mental illness. She died of cancer when my kids were small, but before her physical illness, we had many, many difficult days trying to help her cope and come to terms with seeking and accepting treatment for her mental illness. It is a heartbreaking, frustrating journey. xoxo

October 8, 2012 at 10:40 AM  

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