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.