Thursday, September 20, 2007

Don't Know How To Help

Posted by Selzach.

My mom is bipolar. She suffered post-partum psychosis after my birth and tried to kill herself. She was hospitalized for a year and eventually got well when the doctors realized she was bipolar, not just depressed, and got her onto the right meds. She was an great single mom and was mostly stable for over 20 years.

About 9 years ago she suffered neurological damage, we think from her meds. Her then-psychiatrist wasn’t monitoring her as frequently as he should have. It was awful – at one point she didn’t know who I was and couldn’t do simple tasks like dial a phone or balance her checkbook. Eventually another doctor figured out what was going on and put Mom through a series of neurological tests and got the meds straightened out. Mom improved, but was never the same. She went on disability because she can’t cope with stress and can’t really learn new skills. She now averages 3-4 visits to the psych unit a year. Her personality has changed as well. She used to be fun and kind. Now she’s judgmental, rude, and has a warped sense of entitlement. I don’t like what she’s become. If she was a friend or acquaintance, I would have written her out of my life years ago.

She’s pushed my husband to the point where he wants nothing to do with her. We do what we can to help her and we get complaints and a nasty attitude in return. I don’t feel like I can talk to him about it, because he’s (rightfully) angry at her. My dad understands what I’m going through, but has little sympathy for my mom after all he went through with her…it’s hard to
hear one parent be brutally honest about the other. Most of my friends have no idea what it’s like and have little comfort to offer. A few others ignore the subject when I bring it up – I guess the stigma of mental illness is too much for them.

This weekend my husband and I had her involuntarily committed. We went out for a few hours and she took an overdose of some meds. It’s not clear if she was only trying to go to sleep or was hoping to die. I sat and held her hand while my husband called the sheriff’s office. I don’t know what will happen when she’s released from the crisis unit. She can’t live alone, and staying with us isn’t enough anymore. I’m so scared for her, and I’m near my breaking point.

I don’t know how to help her or if I can help.


Stacy said...

I'm sorry for what your dealing with. I don;t ahve any advice only that I will send up a prayer of peac for you and yoru family.

michele said...

I'm sorry for your pain. While I don't have any concrete advice for you... There is support out there in the blog universe for you. Karen has - a bunch of us support each other - or just vent. There's another one, but it's private, so if you want that, please email me, and I'll let you know who to contact. In addition to emotional support for you, some of those ladies might be able to give you some concrete advice based on their experiences.

Anonymous said...

Your Mom needs residential care. You can't take care of her any more, and her presence is destroying your life.


Anonymous said...

I agree that your Mom needs to be in some sort of group setting, like a group home or residential care.

I am so sorry you are going through this. I'm sorry for your loss--the loss of your former mother.

And yeah, mental illnesses are still a huge stigma, which makes thing worse.

Anonymous said...

first, i am so sorry that you are going through this.

second, see if there is a mental health center in her town. with the assistance of case management, she can be a fully functioning individual. they will monitor medicine compliance and assist with keeping dr. appts.

is she going through menopause or done with it? sometimes bipolars have a rough time with the hormonal change, and require med changes to keep their moods stable--not just psychotropic meds. some need hormones.

i am not a doctor, but i do know a little bit about this. hopefully it will help. good luck and hang in there.

flutter said...

I am so sorry for your pain, and hers. For her good and yours she needs residential care.

selzach said...

Thanks to you all for your kind words and support.

Michelle - I'm going to check out the site you recommended.

Anonymous - the hormone suggestion was an excellent one, but she had a radical hysterectomy decades ago.

Mom was discharged last week, went home and took a bottle of Tylenol and called me to say goodbye (thank G-d she did). No permanent damage from the Tylenol, but they're taking her suicidality more seriously and she's been court-ordered into a 4-6 month treatment program.

Yes, she does need to be in a group home or other residential facility for the long haul. Unfortunately she refuses all treatment other than meds, as is her right. She refused the community care offered to her, which would allow her to live independently with monitoring. She doesn't want to live in a group home and can't be forced to. Her solution would be to have someone, preferably me, take care of her 24/7 so she can give up.

There is no solution. I'm praying that with time she'll get back to a somewhat stable state, but I realize she'll crash again and again.

Jodi said...

Well, first of all, like the other's said I am so sorry for all your pain and sorrow. My sister is exactly like your Mom. She also has a personality disorder and has 8 different personalities. She is a mess. Half of her personalites are addicted to drugs, which has led her down a bad path, as you can imagine. She is living in a lock down treatment center right now with the threat of prison hanging over her head because she's on probation and keeps having dirty drug tests. It's a horribly sad situation, especially for her children. I have no advice for you expect to say to keep trying to live your own life and keep putting YOUR little family first. It's sad and unfortunate, but even mentally ill people have the right to make really bad choices. And if your Mom or my sister don't want to get better or don't want help there isn't much that anybody can do for them. Hang in there and find somebody to talk to so that you can keep your sanity intact!

kittenpie said...

This is really hard. My own mom suffered a psychotic break and several repeats of it over a few years that totally altered her personality, too, so I know how very hard it is to look at someone and remember what they used to be and mourn for someone who is lost, but still sitting right in front of you. I am lucky that my mom's state is not nearly as bad, and has evened out a lot over about 10-15 years, so I don't have a lot to offer in the way of advice except to remember that you can only do the best you can, be there for her when you can, but ultimately, you may not be able to change it, just to try and figure out how to accept it. It's a tough thing to try and let go a little so it doesn't consume you, though, when it's someone you love and it's guilt-making. I wish you and your mom the best, and my heart goes out to you, honey.

Anonymous said...

It is always wrong to commit someone, no matter what. It only does harm, never good. Whatever else might happen, hold on to your own soul and don't put that on yourself again.

Of course your mother doesn't want to live in a group home---no one should live in such a place.

I don't have a solution, other than keep your hands clean and your soul clear by not forcing her to take drugs or collaborating in any state attempt to force her.

It's hard to understand how the drugs could have caused such disability, is there something else that could have caused it you're not telling us?