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Looking after ourselves

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Supporting mother while struggling with own mental illness

Hi all,

This is my first post on any SANE forum and I would really appreciate any help or guidance from you guys. For some context, I am a young carer (19 y/o) and I'm currently caring for my mother, who has psychotic episodes and delusions, depression, anxiety, obsessive tendencies (I don't have a definite diagnosis but this is what her doctor told me). Being a carer is new to me, and I've only been doing this for roughly 6 months. The reason for this is that when I was quite young, I made the choice to leave my home as living there became too toxic and difficult, and that I knew that if I had continued to stay, I would present a danger to myself. My mother has always been extremely controlling of me, in part because of her psychotic delusions, and would often direct me on how to act (e.g. when to blink, eat, sleep, or leave my own room) when I lived with her. She was also physically and verbally abusive.

 

Flash forward a few years, and my mum has come back into my life. After I had left the home, she went missing for a period and was hospitalised before her social workers contacted me again. I allowed her to move into my apartment and made the appropriate adjustments and steps to become a carer. However, due to our strained past and her behaviour towards me before I left, I was wary to let her back into my life and only allowed her to live with me under the condition that she would take active steps to take care of her mental health. 

 

It has been 6 months since that move, and her mental illness has only exacerbated. She's refusing to attend any appointments with doctors and social workers, and has refused to also take her medication. She also spends most of her days inactive, mainly just laying on her bed. Every time I offer to help her with her medication or booking an appointment with a doctor, she becomes defensive and aggressive. Her controlling tendencies are also coming back and she has taken to 'directing' me to do specific things. Given my difficult upbringing, this is extremely hard for me to deal with - I too have clinical depression, anxiety and PTSD. I feel like I'm in the same position as I was when I was younger and that, if she doesn't take active steps to improve her own health, my own mental health will suffer. 

 

How do I approach this situation? Communication is extremely difficult for us, and as stated, she does get defensive and aggressive whenever I bring this up. She also actively mocks me and changes the subject when I try to talk to her, or ignores me when I speak. She's my own mother and I do understand that I have no obligation to help her if she doesn't help herself, but I feel an overwhelming sense of guilt because I know that she's also vulnerable and acting out. I'm her only family. After she went missing, I had fears that she harmed herself and the aspect of losing her again (she will definitely cut out all contact with me if she leaves again) will only destroy me again. 

 

Apologies for the splurge of information. I really do appreciate any feedback or support because I feel so lost and overwhelmed right now. Thank you.

4 REPLIES 4
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Re: Supporting mother while struggling with own mental illness

Hey there @blackjeans1 firstly you sound like an intensely compassionate and giving person. It's a big task to care for your mother again, especially as you mentioned with the existing ptsd as the result of your childhood. You've been doing all the right things so far, it sounds to me you just need a little more support and mentorship. Firstly do you have a counsellor of your own? Also I would recommend you check out The Young Carers Network which is run by Carers Aus. There will be a wealth of knowledge in there for you. 

 

You love and worry about your Mum, but she definitely needs to meet you halfway, in terms of communicating this to her I think the team at The Young Carers Network could support you quite a bit in this area (as well as our forums of course Smiley Happy). If you click on your state here you should find an appropriate number.

 

In terms of your own self-care do you get to take some time away on your own at all to do any of the things you enjoy?

Re: Supporting mother while struggling with own mental illness

Hello @blackjeans1, checking in to see how you are today

@outlanderis also a young carer

letting you know that you are not alone my friend

what thing do you enjoy doing xx

@Darcy

Re: Supporting mother while struggling with own mental illness

hello @blackjeans1
I am a young carer myself and am more than happy to talk to you, hope to hear back from you soon

Re: Supporting mother while struggling with own mental illness

I feel for you so much. This is so hard for you. It is wonderful that you provide support to your mum however you can't do this at the expense of your own wellbeing and mental health. She needs to take some responsibility for her own care - at the end of the day you can't help someone that doesn't want to be helped. Please reach out to a counsellor for some support for yourself and also about putting some boundaries in place to protect yourself. I know it's really really hard and you are doing a great job. Please reach out as you can't do this on your own and you deserve to take care of yourself too. Caring for parents under these circumstances is so difficult and you are doing the best that you can. 

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