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I don't know what to do about Mum (Long!)

(12 Posts)
Jammee Thu 29-Aug-13 13:32:50

My mum is single, and has been since she got divorced when I was 3. She doesn't have many friends (her best friend died of cancer a few years ago), she doesn't live near her family and can't drive to see them. One of my brothers and I live very close by but we see her rarely and don't talk to her much (this is for a number of reasons). She is socially isolated and I made her go to the doctors as I believed she was depressed and not looking after herself properly. The doctor agreed and started her on ADs a few months ago but as yet, I have seen no improvement in her.

She does not look after herself. She hoards things and has a filthy house. She never cleans it (as in, her bathroom hadn't been cleaned in years until I intervened). She doesn't wash. She washes a couple of times a year at best, and she stinks as a result.

I told her when I was pregnant that I could not have her involved with my DD if she didn't sort herself and her house out as she is so unhygienic. She made a token effort on her house but still lives in an awful house and still doesn't wash.

I know that she lives like this due to depression and emotional issues but she is also like a child. She gets into a massive huff if you say something she doesn't like. She interrupts when people are talking and starts an entirely new conversation. DH struggles to talk to her at all because it's impossible to keep track of her conversation. She doesn't seem to enjoy anything and brings down everyone's mood when she is around. She is also helpless.

She just called me to say that she has an interview. It is for a job doing fewer hours than she currently does and she can't afford a pay cut. It makes no sense at all. I asked if she had showered as she won't create a good impression if she isn't well presented. She hasn't. I told her to shower. I asked how she was getting to the interview. She said she would cycle (it's a few miles away, it's hot here and my mum is very overweight). I said she would find rushing there on bike stressful and that it would make her sweaty and worn out and to get a taxi which I would pay for. She said she would consider it. She then said she didn't know any taxi numbers and couldn't look online so I had to look them up for her. She just seems go be getting more and more helpless. She seems to be incapable of looking after herself and so far, the depression doesn't seem to be any better. I know more contact with DD, my brother and I would make her happier but it is not viable when she is in such a state (I know that sounds harsh but I have tried everything to help her that I can think of and she refuses to change, and I have a dirt and contamination OCD so I can't overlook her hygiene issues).

What can I do? I feel like I need to help her and spend more time with her but I can't unless she changes and she won't. I don't want to leave her to it as she has a miserable life ATM.

Any wise words or recommendations of professionals that can help? I am only mid 20's and mum isn't even mid 50's but I don't feel like a have a mother, and have felt this way for dome time now. DD is only 7mo and I want her to have a happier, healthier nan but I just don't know what to do.

AgathaF Thu 29-Aug-13 13:46:25

Would it be possible for you to speak to her GP about this situation, either with or without her present. The GP won't be able to give you information but you could tell them about how she lives and ask for their intervention, or recommendations for agencies you could contact yourself.

Has she always been like this or is it something that has grown over the years, or did it come on suddenly?

I second what Agatha has said. Hope your poor mum finds help.

Jammee Thu 29-Aug-13 14:06:14

If I spoke to a GP about her, what could they do without her finding out that I have spoken to them?

I don't think she would react well if she found out. She is very defensive and said that she would have nothing to do with me when I pushed her on it last year.

Is it better to get doctors involved to try and get it sorted and risk her refusing to speak to me (and thus make her more isolated) or try to come up with another way of managing the situation myself? My brothers will not help.

thegreylady Thu 29-Aug-13 14:18:06

Take her out for the day and hire a team of cleaners to sort the house.Buy her some lovely toiletries and go through her clothes to see that they are clean/pressed/fresh.If she is depressed the effort will be too much to start with but if it is done she may be able to keep it like that.
I know you will say she will be angry at the intrusion but it is the only way unless you and your brother can do the work and get a friend to take her out.

AgathaF Thu 29-Aug-13 14:24:43

I think you are in such a difficult situation, given her defensiveness. If you speak to the GP though, at least they will be aware of the situation and may be able to work around it without dropping you in it - perhaps they could do a home visit unannounced (unlikely!), or ask her more pertinent questions.

You don't say how recently this all started, or if she has always been like this. She is clearly out of her depth at the moment. How does she cope at work? Does her lack of personal hygiene cause problems for her there?

Jammee Thu 29-Aug-13 14:27:13

I did that last year. I spoke to her about getting things sorted before DD was born.

I was 30wks pg, hired a skip and got DH and DB to help me clear her house while she was at work (she knew we were doing it).

When she got home she went crazy about things that had been thrown away; stupid things like a 10 month old magazine that she wanted because it had a crossword in it. She kept phoning me up and asking where things were and crying. In the end we had a big argument and she said not to bother speaking to her again. The only way I could put it right was to give her a load of money so she could replace the things she felt she so desperately needed.

Paying professional cleaners would be too expensive for me, and she would probably let it go again; she has filled her house with more things since I made a dent in the hoard last year. I even offered to pay for a cleaner each week if she could get it sorted first but she has no desire to and as I am now not working, I feel it unfair to ask DH to keep paying out to get her house sorted when she makes it worse again afterwards.

AgathaF Thu 29-Aug-13 14:28:22

Does she own her own house or is she renting? If renting, could a landlord help? Is the house too big for her, would downsizing to somewhere manageable and (to start with) clean help, perhaps putting her hoarded stuff in storage?

You must find it utterly frustrating. To some extent, she has to reach out and accept help for herself and accept that she has a problem that she needs help with.

Jammee Thu 29-Aug-13 14:32:05

Agatha she has always been bad but I didn't notice it when I was younger. It has got progressively worse over time and has been much worse in the last 7 years or so. She has been more socially isolated and depressed since her friend died 3 years ago, I think.

She doesn't cope well it work. She had a history of walking out on jobs if they say something she doesn't like. She has stuck with her current job for some time but has to get a short train ride and then cycle from the station to work. This seems to stress her out and her doctor signed her off for a while (she only works during the term time so hasn't worked for some months now but is due to go back next month).

gamerchick Thu 29-Aug-13 14:33:27

Personally I would risk her wrath and ring social services for help or advice. Hoarding is a fire hazard for starters. She may need help that you can't give her.

Jammee Thu 29-Aug-13 14:34:47

She owns her own house. I have tried to get her to downsize; a fresh start and an opportunity to throw out junk but she comes up with excuses, and her house is in such a terrible state at the moment I doubt she could sell it sad

AgathaF Thu 29-Aug-13 14:44:11

I agree with gamer then really. She has big problems that need specialist help. Speak to her GP and see if they can help. At the very least they will be aware - she probably downplays stuff to them. I suspect she really needs a mental health referral - possibly a CPN to support her at home. SS may be an option. Perhaps your local council too - from a public health point of view?

She clearly needs more help than just ADs, but unless agencies know of the issues, they won't know how to tailor support to her particular needs.

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