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To say that some people use their mental health for attention

(81 Posts)
ODGU Wed 13-Mar-19 09:06:09

Firstly I'm not bashing people with mental health, I have struggles myself.

A member of my family lives with a long term mental health diagnosis, that much is undisputed and it must be incredibly difficult for them to endure. I get that.

However, they regularly make the decision to stop taking their medication which they know they need to stay functioning and well. Their choice to stop their medication always coincides with something important going on in somebody else's life, think weddings, babies or big life events.

I'm about to give birth and this person has decided to stop their medication once again, causing a big panic within the family and worrying my DM sick, taking her focus and excitement away from her impending granddaughter and making it all about them. The same thing happened when I announced my last pregnancy, when my son was born, when I announced DD's pregnancy and now she's almost about to arrive.. they're doing it again.

We don't live together so babies are not a stress trigger for them.

She also did the same when my DB got married and my DM almost missed his big day because this relative (her sister) was causing a big fuss, again stopped taking her tablets.

The tablets work well and when maintained the mental illness is unrecognizable.

Today I told my DM that she's an attention seeker who uses her MH to control people around her.

AIBU to say that this is the case in a (probably very small) number of people.

Gatehouse77 Wed 13-Mar-19 09:10:24

Like pretty much anything in life there will always people who 'abuse' what they've been given - how much of the daily news is about such topics?

HighestMountains Wed 13-Mar-19 09:12:18

I think YABU, sorry. I think this is part of the person's MH issue. For whatever reason they find big changes stressful, and/or perhaps worry that they won't get support they need when everyone is distracted with something else. So stppping the meds is maybe a cry for help kind of thing?

I expect this person would love to be "normal" and just enjoy these happy events like everyone else can, but they can't.

Also, if weddings and babies are a big point of stress for this person is it maybe because those things didn't happen for them though they'd have liked them to?

PlainSpeakingStraightTalking Wed 13-Mar-19 09:12:53

This is your sister, I'm guessing ?

MrMeeseekscando Wed 13-Mar-19 09:17:10

Allowances should always be made, but when things are causing others this amount of pain and hurt something needs to give.

SerenaOverjoyed Wed 13-Mar-19 09:21:01

I can understand your frustration, but there are many reasons why people stop taking medication. SSRIs, mood stabilisers and anti-psychotics can all be pretty yuck for side effects.

It could also be that the milestones in other people's lives prompt conflicting feelings, especially about being on medication long term?

It's not impossible it's for attention. People tend to use what is available to them to get their needs met.

Some people use their physical health problem for attention
Or their fitness
Or their pregnancy
Or their children
Or their wealth
Or their lack of wealth
Or their relationship issues
Or their happy relationship

BiglyBadgers Wed 13-Mar-19 09:23:48

What is it you think you're achieving by saying this? Serious and chronic mental ill health is stigmatised enough. I can assure you it's far harder to get people to take people chronic mental health conditions seriously than to dismiss them as attention seekers. All you are doing by generalising on here is adding to that stigma.

There are a lot of reasons people stop taking medication. I can assure you psych meds are no walk in the park and a lot of them have crippling side effects. It seems you want to make this relatives decisions all about you when quite probably it's really not.

Home77 Wed 13-Mar-19 09:24:33

Sometimes, stress can make MH worse. Could it be that as well, or maybe along with the meds? Might not be as simple as you think. It can cause severe withdrawal to just stop without tapering so not a good idea. Sounds frustrating, all round.

Home77 Wed 13-Mar-19 09:25:15

It might help if people didn't make a fuss / panic though

YouSayPotatoesISayVodka Wed 13-Mar-19 09:26:34

I think it’s more about their personality than their mental health. If this person didn’t have mental health issues then maybe they’d still find something to try and get attention from others. I have a family member like this (and I too have long history of mental issues myself, which I don’t like to draw attention to) and it’s infuriating at times. I try not to get too tangled up in their drama but still be supportive.

ssd Wed 13-Mar-19 09:28:13

Sadly I agree with you op

gamerchick Wed 13-Mar-19 09:28:51

A different approach maybe? You know when it's going to happen. Tell your mother it's coming so she can mentally prepare for it. Shell join the dots herself eventually.

I think that's all you can do.

SaucyJack Wed 13-Mar-19 09:30:53

Of course YANBU, but you’re not going to win any prizes for saying it out loud.

The wider family needs to take responsibility as well though for feeding and enabling this unhelpful behaviour pattern.

Jinglejanglefish Wed 13-Mar-19 09:33:29

People can use anything for attention if they are so inclined.

Mental health issues can also be used as an excuse. There was a thread a few months ago where op was treated her partner awfully, in fact abusively, because she had anxiety from previous relationships. Like that makes it okay.

These are the minority of people though, if it wasn’t their mental health it would be something else. Some people just need attention and can’t take responsibility for themselves.

Birdsgottafly Wed 13-Mar-19 09:33:38

I know people who have physical illness, who stop taking their Meds. There is usually no outward sign until they end up in hospital.

It's connected to a self loathing and anxiety.

In some people's cases, it's the Meds that bring home the fact that they aren't 'normal', or why they can't sustain a relationship/decide against children.

As said, there are lots of reasons why people don't take their Meds. People of all ages and lifestyles do it.

The people that you know might do it to attention seek. I know a Woman who does. She couldn't even cope with her Sister's funeral because the attention wasn't on her. She tried to stop her Mother going and took herself to hospital, faking ill health.

But I think that is also within the spectrum of Mental Illness, especially personality disorders.

ODGU Wed 13-Mar-19 09:40:23

I'm not trying to offend anybody and apologise unreservedly if I have. I'm no stranger to MH problems and do understand that people who suffer with them would obviously far prefer to be well and not have to deal with them at all.

There is a definite pattern with my aunt though, my DM recognises this but her default reaction is to worry and rally round which her sister clearly likes.

This isn't a generalisation about people with serious MH issues just my own speculation after observing my aunt for many years, thus thinking there must be others who use it to manipulate others too.

Spiritinabody Wed 13-Mar-19 09:42:02

When my family member, who suffers severe treatment-resistant unipolar depression, feels particularly depressed the first thing they do is not bother/forget to take their medication. They don't make an actual decision to cease taking it. Could this be the case with your relative?

If someone has, say, a personality disorder then perhaps what you see as attention-seeking behaviour could be part of that disorder.

It's a very difficult situation but I would air on the side of caution in deciding your aunt is just attention-seeking.

clairemcnam Wed 13-Mar-19 09:46:56

Yes I agree OP. Also no stranger to serious mental health problems.

BumbleBee27 Wed 13-Mar-19 09:47:51

This will be an unpopular opinion but I do think that mental health issues have almost become fashionable especially with younger people. By trying to open the issue to discussion and break down taboos it's almost made MH into a trend and I see many people banding the term around willy nilly without understanding the horrible and damaging effects that genuine MH causes.

I have suffered from anxiety myself and would never attempt to trivialise it or stop people from talking about it. But it is a very easy thing to abuse - read up on mental health, go to the doctors, say the right things and your signed off work for two weeks.

In the case of the op's relative I wouldn't like to say if it's deliberate or not and maybe the attention she desires is a key symptom of genuine MH issues.

Supersimpkin Wed 13-Mar-19 09:52:17

OP, YANBU. It goes without saying that 99 per cent of people don't do this, but I know one woman who used to withdraw deliberately every time the spotlight dared fall on anyone else in the family for a minute.

Weddings were a nightmare - inevitably interrupted by the police ringing to say they'd found her in a hotel in Aberdeen -- and as the children grew up, having babies was the main trigger. This posed practical problems as the DCs, who were in labour, couldn't drop everything to institute a manhunt.

Finally the DCs and their GPs got together and said If you do this again, you're going into a home. Previously there had been no chance of this because there aren't any NHS homes any more, but they'd worked out they could afford to pay privately.

Woman knew this was no idle threat. She's never done it again.

warriorprincessandwidowed Wed 13-Mar-19 09:52:20

I agree.
Mental health is thrown around too much.
Already had a doctor offer me antidepressants for my husband's death at christmad. I'm not fucking depresses I am angry and grieving. No pills for that you have to live it.

If your mother's sister did it randomly then I'd say your just being sensitive but as it's standing from what you have said she is a drama queen and a grown ass woman who knows she needs to take the medication.

You are not wrong. And people getyj v offended by this post need to cop on. Stop being so sensitive if I am expected to cope then why the helm shouldn't everyone eles.

Simple. Take her meds and be fine. Don't take them ruin everyone's life and your mother needs to take a step back. It's her sister your her daughter your supposed to come first. Nothing wrong with that what so ever.

clairemcnam Wed 13-Mar-19 09:56:38

Some people are manipulative and selfish. And that includes people with physical and/or mental health problems.
One of the key things I realised is that people with severe mental health problems still have their own personality. And how their mental health problems play out is affected by their personality. Even when people are psychotic, their psychosis is still affected by who they really are,
Trivial example - Someone I knew who has bipolar and is also very careful with money. With bipolar manic episodes, overspending is common. This man in a manic phase went round charity shops buying bargains. He probably spent no more than £20 in the week before he was admitted to hospital, buying useless very cheap tat. It stayed so low because his personality of being very careful with money was still intact.
What I am saying is that without mental health problems, I suspect this person would still be attention seeking, but perhaps in more socially acceptable ways. Next time, don't respond when they stop taking meds. Simply say you think they should take their meds, but it is their choice. Because the truth is at the moment you are all fuelling this reaction through the way you all respond.

Mummyoflittledragon Wed 13-Mar-19 09:56:58

I agree with yousaypotato this is about personality type.

The only thing your mother can do is refuse to comply. It sounds as though this will be very stressful for her to do so. But your aunt is manipulating her. Once the reward is no longer there, she will either find another victim or stop. Your mum needs to take back control.

Op says her aunt has decided not to take her meds putting her mother in a tailspin. If this weren’t a wilful decision, she would take meds when prompted.

EssentialHummus Wed 13-Mar-19 09:58:37

Your sister, I presume. YANBU, though there is a possibility that the impending big event/lack of attention legitimately does something to her MH and therefore to screw up her meds.

I sympathise. My mother, not diagnosed with anything but very apparently with some MH issues, will do similar when other people are likely to have attention on them (births, weddings, actual illnesses). It's a very clear pattern.

EssentialHummus Wed 13-Mar-19 09:59:03

Whoops - aunt, sorry.

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