Struggling with my mums mental health.
I am currently going through the process of my Mum who had attempted suicide. She has mental health issues (depression & an ED). I am currently 37 weeks pregnant with my first child and can’t help but blame myself. We saw each other earlier in the week and had a disagreement and she gave me the silent treatment afterwards. I tried to talk to her, asking her to talk through it all. I said some things that clearly upset her and she did too. She left and a day later and it happened.
This isn’t the first occasion and she has been in and out of hospital throughout my life for her mental health concerns. We have throughout the years had our disagreements, as most Mother's and daughters do.
I feel so many emotions, I keep replaying every single moment. My partner has been a great support and was here when we had the disagreement and is at a loss that my Mum took so much offence to what I had said.
My mum is in hospital in another town, over 1.5 hours away and it’s not recommended that I travel due to being heavily pregnant. I have been speaking to my Dad on the phone daily to see how she is. But I feel so much guilt, sadness, anger about this and also how much stress I feel under this late in pregnancy.
I love my Mum endlessly and want the best for her. However, her mental illness has caused quiet a bit of trauma to me over the years. Seeing her in many states has been very difficult and I have tried to put boundaries in place for my mental health. Often this is met with her not respecting that or again giving me the silent treatment after I try to communicate that with her.
I have seen a gp for a mental health plan because I wanted to be able to deal with my own mental health before it got any worse. I have struggled to find someone I ‘gel’ with so far.
She has now awoken and won’t speak to me. I can’t comprehend how she could be like this during what is meant to a happy time for myself and our family.
I can't imagine how hard it is to have your mother attempt suicide and to be dealing with this so far into your pregnancy. Please know you cannot blame yourself for this outcome though, as it is not your fault.
Suicidal thoughts and behaviours come from a place when we are so disconnected and sad that we are no longer our self. It's a scary thing to experience yourself or when someone you care about experiences it but we can never blame ourselves. I can tell from your post that you care deeply for your mother and I'm sure she would know this deep down, but she is just suffering internally.
I understand you're eager to share your pregnancy and new baby with your mother right now (as anyone would be!) but I think for now give her a bit of time and space to heal and get on top of what she's experiencing. Don't take it personally and remind yourself that she is unwell and in need of care before she will be strong enough to be there for you - but she can get there!
Thank you so much for sharing your story on this forum. I relate to what you have said deeply. I also have a mother who has had major mental health challenges throughout my life, including addiction issues and frequent suicide attempts. For most of my teenage years and 20s I carried extreme guilt about this, and it's something I still struggle with occasionally. Similar to your Mum, my Mum would also take the most innocuous statements as deep insults, and always seemed to be looking for ways to start family conflict and drama.
For me the solution was setting ironclad boundaries, that I just wouldn't budge on. Naturally this took years of practice and failed attempts, as I felt like a monster whenever I tried to set boundaries, and Mum would always circumvent them by going through other family members, or just showing up un-anounced at my house (even after I'd moved to a different state to escape.) On some level Mum also knew how much guilt I was carrying, and how to exploit this. Eventually she was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, and after reading up on it, it made a lot of sense.
Sticking to my boundaries, no matter what, got easier with time. I gradually realised I actually wasn't the right person to support Mum through her mental health challenges, despite how much she was demanding my attention and sympathy. Being a close family member, I not only loved her a lot, but we had also been through many shared traumas. Her distress would cause me great distress, which would then make her more anxious, prompting worse behaviours, prompting more distress from me, and so on.
I believe these sorts of patterns are so common that close friends and family are often not the right people to provide support to those experiencing really serious mental health issues. A level of professional detachment is necessary for support to be sustainable. Does your Mum speak to a professional? You might point her towards her GP, or services like those Beyond Blue offer (although it's not your responsibility to ensure she takes your advice!)
I found setting really tough boundaries with my Mum eventually made her better off. She gradually started taking the advice I'd given her, e.g. joining social groups to deal with her loneliness etc. She made other changes to her life too. Long story short, I think by setting boundaries to support your own mental health, you'll be not only helping yourself, but likely your Mum too. Wishing you all the best.
From your post it appears you probably may have already given birth and are busy with your little one. However in time I hope this post finds you well. I too have struggled with a parents mental health (that being my father) ever since I was too young to even recall the first time. He suffers anxiety/depression and can become very aggressive, negative and hard to be around.... and my mother never left him. Therefore she too has her own mental health challenges. I knew that was not what I wanted for myself and have grown up to be so much the opposite and am so grateful and proud of myself for this. It can be very challenging for me but I keep focused on my own family. After you have children you find yourself realising that you need to take care of yourself in order to take care of your children. I find that putting my parents to the side is the only way I can move forward. I lived in a very different household from when I was child to my life now. I made a choice to focus on what I can control and to bring my children up in a safe and happy environment. You will find your way too but you need to put yourself and your family before your mum's illness. It doesn't mean you don't love her but it does mean your children will have the relationship you may have always wanted with your mum. My 10 year old daughter was very upset the other day and said that she doesn't want to grow up. She says she wants everything to stay exactly as it is now. I gave her the biggest hug and told her 'that means I have done my job'. I told her there are much bigger and happier moments around the corner waiting to happen. Today was just the beginning.
I Pray that all has gone well with your pregnancy & birth of your baby?
I really feel for you at this time. Knowing your mum's reaction to an argument is quite shocking & dare I say, not your fault?
It's not your fault.
Everyone's choice to react in any way is totally on them.
I know this doesn't make you feel any better and you've probably heard it all before but it needed to be stated quite clearly.
People not so much entangled or enmeshed with family (or friends) agree.
I am speaking from experiences very similar to yours, sadly. At least you know that there ARE other mums who've had extremes of behaviours exhibited by their own mums. Hugs!!!
For now I'll give you my gentle suggestions:
~ please look after yourself at this most important of times in your life, your baby's life & your husband's life.
~ take lots of photos!
~ use any helplines, whenever you need them; 1800RESPECT, The Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA) & ofcourse our Beyond Blue helpline,
~ keep checking in with your GP, ObGyn, Paed, Baby Health Nurses, medical professionals supporting you, (it was my Baby Health Nurse who visited & saw the demanding dynamic in my home with my mum and told me I would need Counselling, she was right!)
~ see if you can have some continuity of Counselling. Mine is thru Baptist Care (formally Unifam), over the phone. They've been the most understanding of this dynamic than anywhere else AND the least dismissive also.
~ try to make / maintain contact with other new mums (ABA is a great!). Not everyone's journey is all froth & bubbles!
You are allowed to send a Congrats card to your mum and dad. You are allowed to text photos. Your mums issues cannot allow her to see the hurt this is causing for you at this really important time.
Remaining "linked in" & connected through the trials with your mum, even when it's the last thing we want to do because we feel awful, is ultimately the BEST thing for us.
Sending you lots of loving thoughts,