Getting frusrated and upset with my mum who has ptsd & depression. Trouble accepting that she isnt getting better.
This may be a long one, my mother has suffered from ptsd and depression for about 7 years now and everytime she visits or vise versa i have this expectation that "she is going to be better this time" she never is, and i feel as if this unrealistic expectation just makes it harder to cope with the way she is.. I just get super frustrated with her and the way she behaves and interacts with me puts me in a bad head space. I really love my mum and love spending time with her but i feel like its getting harder for me to cope with.
I've identified the 3 behaviours that mostly effected me last time she visited and im almost certain that these 3 behaviours have always been hard for me to deal with. Please let me know what you think about why she behaves these ways, ive put what i think, but really i'm just assuming and i dont know, (which is kind of funny when you read the 3rd behaviour.)
1. She says shes a really empathic person that picks up on others feelings, but she constantly makes decisions and acts in ways, that completely disregards others feelings. I beleive that she is actually incapable of empathy as she herself just feels numb due to the depression or the antidepressants hence why she diregards others feelings as she doesnt really understand them.
2. she constantly tries to prove herself as being smarter and more capable than others i beleive this is due to her personal insecurities, i'm pretty sure her ptsd has alot to do with insecurity. This i really struggle to cope with as i guess im a little insecure myself. she doesnt give my thoughts or opinions any weight and alot of the time doesnt actually listen to what i have to say, it can be very belittling and upsetting.
3. She makes wide assumptions based on little fact it's to the point where she assumes what im going to say befor ive even finished talking, this is really frustrating and makes it hard for me to want to talk to her. I think this has a bit to do with the above as its very similar behaviour, but i read somewhere that making assumptions on things is a way people cope with understanding there surroundings and situations. which i totally agree with as thats basically what im doing here lol.
Maybe i'm just being overly judgemental, i mean nobodies perfect right? Any advice or tips with coping with the above behaviours or advice on how to accept that she is probably going to suffer from this for the rest of her life would be greatly appreciated.
thankyou in advance for your help. 🙂
Welcome to the forums and thanks for being here.
Ohh this is a great question and has definitely made me think. The great thing about this site is that you'll get lots of different kinds of perspectives so just a heads up that if mine doesn't resonate hopefully someone else's will!
It sounds like these 3 behaviours are really the big worry right now so I'll try and address them as such.
1. Depression does affect people's ability to show compassion and empathy, but doesn't necessarily mean your mother is incapable of it. I have had a history of mental illness as well as been a carer of someone with mental illness so I can see both sides of the coin. In severe depression the mind can kind of 'take over'. We become self-absorbed in our own worries, thoughts and feelings; feeding them with negativity. When the depression gets so painful, it can be difficult to see a way out or even to try and really engage with someone else. So even though it isn't intentional, it's really painful for both you and your mother to connect.
2. I think that you might be right here. A lot of the time trying to prove things (mental illness or not) can be a bit of defence mechanism. We don't want others to see that we're imperfect or struggling!
3. Assumptions to help people cope with their surroundings makes total sense. This particularly makes me think of her PTSD as in trauma it can affect the way we see and process our own surroundings; as well as being in the 'here and now'.
I don't think that you're being judgemental at all; I think that you're worries and concerns are totally valid and I can really see how this would make you feel frustrated and upset.
For me personally, I think a big part of coping with this is knowing and understanding the 'why'. As an example if someone comes home and yells at me, I'd take it personally and be offended, but if I know they've had a hard day and they just haven't processed it then I can see them as a bit more human and find a bit of compassion for them. Sadly you're just on the receiving end here and it's not your fault. I think if you can try and find a bit of compassion for your mother and see that this is just her pain talking and it's not personal; it might make it a little easier to cope with.
Also - compassion for yourself, and boundaries. You talked about how she can make you feel belittling and upsetting and I can understand that. Even though there's no way around changing her behaviour; you can change yours. Knowing not to take things personally, setting personal boundaries in how you talk to her and what you say (there might be certain topics that you don't talk about if she can't respond appropriately) and being able to set expectations for what you want/need. And finally - taking care of yourself personally. It can be incredibly hard when you're not having those needs met; so finding other ways and other support systems who can give you that avenue; whether it's to vent, cope or someone to talk to is so important.
Hope this is helpful!
P.S Sorry about the long post! I tried to cut it down but it all felt important 🙂
Thankyou so much for your reply romantic_thi3f, this has very much resonated with me, so much so i cried reading it 😞 lol im a tad emotional like that.
It's good to know that my thoughts and concerns with this are actually valid and im not just being picky or judegemental.
The way youve explained the 'why' of these behaviours definitely helps put it in perspective and thankyou for explaining that it is just her pain talking and its not personal, i definitely need to work on finding more compassion for her and not taking it personally. I will definitely work on setting some personal boundaries as well as i think this will also help alot.
Thankyou again for your very thoughtful reply it was all very helpful 🙂
Thank you for your post. Your feedback on what I said means the world to me; I'm sooo glad it resonated with you and you feel like it's helped you out a little (heh I'm a big crier so it's all good!). You're absolutely not being picky or judgemental and I'm really happy that I gave you that reassurance.
Please feel free to write in again if you'd like or to browse some of the other 'supporting family and friends with a mental health condition' threads here -
I just wanted to jump in here because what you're going through is so hard and I wanted you to know you're not alone.
My Mum suffers depression, has done for over 30 years. She is my absolute best friend and has had some incredibly horrible things happen to her and I STILL get frustrated and angry and hurt and sad because of her illness but I have to remind myself constantly it's her illness, not her. When she isn't suffering she is the most amazing person I have ever met. When she is suffering she can be selfish, demanding, rude, careless and just a different person. It's like grieving the loss of someone you love over and over again.
Its not easy and I don't have heaps of advice because I wing it myself, but just know you're not alone and your mum loves you so much and you're allowed to have these feelings. It's very natural and it doesn't mean you don't love her, you don't love her illness but then neither does she.
I hope it helps slightly to know you're not alone and if you ever want to chat, I'm here 🙂