Throw mama from the train?
July 30, 2006 3:12 PM   Subscribe

My mother has gone bonkers, but she won't admit it on her own. How can I help her get help?

She is having all sorts of physical manifestations of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety. They are so bad that she has been seeing doctors multiple times a week and has made four separate trips to the ER (with varying symptoms) in the last month. Trips to regular doctors and various tests yield no results.

She's been through a lot, and she has been in therapy on and off for years. Generally, she says therapy makes her feel worse (though she has never tried anything more result-oriented like cognitive behavioral therapy), and she refuses to go. She also won't take medication on a daily basis, so starting out with meds isn't going to work.

The whole thing has wreaked havoc on both our lives. She has stopped working and thus has no money. I've been spending all my time trying to get her affairs in order/chauffering her to doctors and hospitals. And I've gotten to the point where I'm just emotionally drained.

I'm dealing with the stuff on my end, but I need to find a way to make this situation improve. Any advice would be very appreciated.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Is there a similar thing to "sectioning" where you/she lives?

I don't know if it'd help, but perhaps under supervision she'd take her meds and would allow you a little peace of mind.

Just a suggestion that came to mind, I'm not an expert at all.
posted by selton at 3:58 PM on July 30, 2006

I've had a lot of friends who have gone through this sort of thing, and it's beyond rough. What you need to do, before anything else, is circle the wagons. Call together all the friends and family members who are connected deeply enough to her to be expected to help in a crisis, explain what's going on, and together, work out a game plan. If she has any sort of regular doctor, you might see about getting a release so that he or she can talk to you, and include him or her in your discussions.

IANAD but what you're describing sounds a little bit like borderline personality disorder. And the key with borderlines is to vigilantly maintain your boundaries. If she is a diagnosed borderline, the first thing you're going to have to do is make a short list of things that you are willing to do for her, insist that she see a therapist, and start saying "no" a lot. You might consider telling her that you will not continue to chauffer, organize, and fund her unless she attends therapy consistently. (A borderline will respond to this with screaming, tears, threats, etc., but in my experience, it's the only way.)

In order to give more specific advice, I'd need to know a few other things, like: (1) How old is she? Can she be expected to re-enter the work force, or is she just done? (2) What is her actual diagnosis? Does she have one? (3) Is her current state simply the result of a long progression, or did some recent event push her over the edge? (4) How dire is her situation? Is she an actual danger to herself, or is she just a mess? (5) What is her financial situation? Does she have resources? Is she elligible for benefits? and (6) What do you think she would do if she didn't have you to rely on?

This, too, shall pass. Good luck.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 4:02 PM on July 30, 2006 [1 favorite]

Does mama have a confidant, someone she trusts like herself? If so, that is your approach. If not, call her doctor, describe her symptoms and your worries and beg him or her not to tell mama about the call but to nevertheless check her out on the next visit.
posted by caddis at 5:03 PM on July 30, 2006

Before even reading the other posts here, I immediately thought it sounded like your mom has borderline personality disorder. I suspect this because my own mother has bpd and the behavior that you describe sounds very, very familiar.

In my situation, setting boundaries for myself, so that I did not get completely sucked in emotionally and financially, helped immensely. If you aren't already, you may want to consider seeking out a therapist who can help talk you through the steps of setting boundaries. It is possible to be a good child to your parent without letting her control your life with her needs.

Good luck, you are not alone!
posted by la gupita at 8:24 PM on July 30, 2006

As has already been said, you will need to get as many other family members and close friends of hers up to speed as soon as possible. If she is being stubborn in addition to being in denial, it's going to take more than just your observations to convince her to seek help.

Also, I've found that the lack of consistency in care can make a bad situation worse. I'm sure she saw competent physicians every time she went to the ER, but from what you describe, she's gotten opinions and suggestions from at least six doctors in the past month. This can't be good for someone with an ambiguous, ill-defined, undiagnosed (if I am reading your question correctly) medical condition. She may be in a very suggestible state as well, making all the jargon and possibilities even harder to sift through.

Is there any way you can talk to her primary care physician (or at least, the doctor who has seen her most) privately about the big picture? He/she may have missed something or may not understand how bad or all-encompassing it's become.

Good luck. You are doing the right thing.
posted by whatnot at 10:45 PM on July 30, 2006

Can adult protective services help?
posted by onepapertiger at 7:16 AM on July 31, 2006

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