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Parents who need help... but wont get it

Community Member

I have a long history of my own mental health issues but I am dealing really well at the moment but things have escalated in another aspect and i need advice..

My MIL had a mental breakdown back in late November due to overhearing a conversation from her own mother saying nasty things like she wished she never had children because they're all terrible people etc. The situation only escalated when she thought it was a goo idea to start drinking. It got to the point where she was crying, shaking, screaming and throwing things across the house.

We eventually got her calmed down but everyone has been on edge for a while. More recently she has seemed really well and things had been going ok but she often sent messages to my husband and her eldest daughter about the youngest one and her boyfriend who live at home with my MIL and FIL, saying how much she hates them and cant wait for them to move out etc, which they are doing at the end of the week.

Well last night she was helping the daughter pack for their move and everything was good.. until it wasn't and she lost her sh*t, saying she was sick of the way she was being treated and again cant wait for them to move out etc. She was crying, screaming, throwing things at her daughter and even hit her daughters boyfriend multiple times. We tried to talk her down over the phone but it resulted in her basically saying she didn't want anything to do with us either. My husband called my FIL and said as parents they should be showing their support for their daughter not messaging other kids talking about her behind her back. He also said they if they kept going and MIL didn't get any help she would end up alienating everyone and he as her husband needs to get her help and be proper parents to your kids and FIL just hung up on him.

The daughter and boyfriend are now likely staying away from MIL's until their move but... there is a history of BiPolar in the family.

MIL used to be on medication for a non-mental health related condition but came off of it just weeks before her first episode and after doing some reading I am lead to believe the use of certain medications when stopped can cause episodes of manic with people who have a history of things like BiPolar. She has never been diagnosed and refuses to see the doctor about it because she doesn't think there is anything wrong with her. We've tried talking to her but we get nowhere as she gets very defensive...

Can anyone offer insight or advice???

Thanks 🙂

4 Replies 4

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Dear DamagedPrincess,

Welcome to Beyond Blue and well done for reaching out.

I am sorry to hear of what you have been going through lately, with your extended family. It's awful when we see people we love who are clearly struggling, but can't see it themselves. They think it's everyone else's fault.

I had that same type of thinking about my drinking (hint; username 'soberlicious' ..... I have now been sober for 23 years) and blamed everybody else about everyTHING else, EXCEPT for looking at my own drinking and my own behavior. It wasn't until everyone else decided they'd had enough of my behavior and wouldn't have anything to do with me, that I finally got help. I had no-one left to blame because they had all walked away from me, and out of my life. Parents, sisters ..... everyone. I had not one ally left.

Maybe, and it may seem harsh, but maybe if everyone does just leave her alone to her own devices, she might then be able to see the reason that people are unhappy with her? It's a risk, I know, but sometimes a bit of tough love can go a long way? At least by leaving her alone, you are also protecting yourself from any further harm, yeah? Some who is making a habit - whether intentional or not - of screaming at people and throwing things, needs to learn, one way or another that it is unacceptable behavior, no matter the cause or reason.

I guess what I am trying to say is that when someone does not want help, then don't help them! If a horse isn't thirsty, then you cannot make it drink. Leave them alone for a while and maybe, just maybe, some self reflection may begin to happen, and then maybe, just maybe, she will realise she does, in fact, need help.

Anyway, I don't know if that helps or not, but I hope it does. Even if just a little. Take care. I'll be thinking of you. xo

Thank you Soberlicious and congratulations on being sober for 23 years!

Once the youngings are out of the house I don't forsee them or myself and husband keeping contact or initiating contact with her. My husband actually said that if this is the kind of person she wants to be he doesn't care if he never hears from her again. It's harsh and I know it hurts him but he is so much stronger for it.

The medication she was on was something used to treat the likes of BiPolar and depression but they were using it to treat another brain related condition that she has and after being taken off of the medication she has had these manic episodes, which start out without alcohol but it's almost like ones the episode starts she feels the need to calm down so has a drink (or 10) and ends up in a full drunken manic rage.

Coming from a history of mental health issues I tried to talk calmly with her after the last episode saying things like 'I know youre still getting headaches, have you considered seeing the doctor about going back on the medication' and 'I know things can be hard some times and if you wanted to get help I am happy to help you organise things or do whatever I can' and the responses were basically 'there is nothing wrong, I was just stressed and I'm not going back on medication'..... so I didnt bother trying again. When this episode happened it actually got to me a lot more because I was personally attacked as part of it but looking back I realise she was not herself and she was another person at that point.

The only thing we can do now is speak with her practitioner about our concerns. We know they cannot discuss anything about her with us, but we are allowed to voice our concerns and leave it in their hands. From there my hands are tied and there is nothing more we can do until she realises herself that there is no one left to blame and maybe she does need help.

Once the last of the brood are out and it's just her and her husband things will work themselves out, or not.

They both have a drinking problem and won't listen and if they want to treat their children this way they are likely going to lose them all, and their grand kids, but instead of blaming us for not contacting I hope they sit back and really ask themselves the question of why are they ALL not talking to us...

In the mean time I'll just support my husband and sister in law's as much as I can without damaging my won mental health.

DP x

Hi DP,

I noticed that you again mentioned the drinking thing: That "They both have a drinking problem".

It is with this in mind that I would like to mention the Al-anon Fellowship. Al-anon is a fellowship of peer support, where the friends and family of those who are affected by someone else's drinking meet regularly to support each other. There are no dues or fees, you can go to any meeting at any time, and there is no requirement for membership other than there be a problem with alcohol of a friend or relative.

The website for Al-anon, if you would like to know more, is: www.al-anon.org.au/ and the number to call is 1300 252 666 if you would like to call someone to talk about it. I myself actually started in Al-anon before I got to AA, and it was because I could see other people getting well in Al-anon when I wasn't getting well, that the penny dropped and I began going to AA.

And I can tell you, that getting and staying sober, is the BEST decision and action I have EVER taken in my life. I wouldn't be here today if it weren't for the loving care of the people in those fellowships. I really mean it. They helped to save my life, and brought unconditional love and joy back into my life!

Also, if you would like to check out some more info on Alcoholics Anonymous, you can go to www.aa.org.au or call 1300 22 22 22 for more info and/or someone to talk to. To find out when and where your next/nearest meetings are, just go to www.aameetings.org.au and type in your location and your preferred day and time, or just select 'any day' and 'any time'. Most meetings are 'open' in that anyone who is interested to learn about AA and what goes on, can turn up any time to an open meeting. Alternatively, if you don't get through on the 1300...... number, then you can call the head office in Sydney on (02) 9599 8866.

Hope that helps a bit more? Take care. I'll check back in tomorrow, if you would like to know more. xo

Hi Soberlicious,

Thank you for that information, it is really appreciated. I think it may be a good idea for all of us who have been affected by the drinking to attend a meeting, at the very least to see if it will help us cope or understand better.

I am so glad to hear that these meeting helped you, I am sure the road to recovery is never nice but having a support system always helps.

Unfortunately they wont get help themselves at the moment and there is so many underlying things outside of the drinking that also need to be addressed such as MIL's mental health and potential bi-polar and FIL's lack of compassion and blatant jealousy of his children's accomplishments.

Sadly, some of their generation simply do not believe in mental health being a real problem or actual illness and it is this outlook that needs to change, along with many other things of course.

I guess it's just hard coming from a home of a narcissistic drug abusing mother and having to deal with all of that myself and seeing these poor children (who are my age of course) going through the same thing I've been through a million times over. It's hard to explain how and why they need to worry about themselves first but I hope that I can stay strong enough to help them where I can.

DP x