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My mother is lonely and depressed

(18 Posts)
galaxy81 Mon 27-Jan-14 16:56:21

My mom is not elderly - so maybe I'm in the wrong thread. She's only in her mid50's. But I really need advice and I'd be grateful for any suggestions on what to do. My dad left when I was 5 and mom spent much of the time since then either jumping from bad relationship to bad relationship (two of which were very abusive) or going through spells of loneliness and depression. This was hard for me growing up, as you can imagine but I now live a happy adult life with a loving partner and we are currently trying for a baby. I moved to a town 4 hours drive from my mother when I moved in with my partner a year ago. My mom lives on her own. I try and visit as often as I can, but its hard, especially because I have very little money. Also, she is extremely negative and I can find this draining. I always try to be there for her, answer her calls, and when I can I pay for us to do things together. Since most of her relationships have been disastrous, she has very little trust in people or in anything. She also is overweight and has no self-confidence. On top of it all, she has very little money and is in debt, which adds to everything. This might sound hard to believe but she has no friends at all and despite being well educated, life has taken its toll and her lack of confidence holds her back from looking for a good job. I've done so many things to try to improve her situation over the years, but its hopeless. For example I suggest she joins a club or gets out and meets people but she is very negative and usually throws my suggestions back in my face. She doesn't want to come and visit me and my partner because of the cats (she has several cats) but she phones me constantly complaining about being sad and lonely. I just feel at my wits end. I feel that if she were happy a massive weight would be removed from my shoulders. This has always been the way, and just like when I was younger I sometimes feel resentful of her and ask myself why can't she be happy like other people's mothers seem to be. I've always felt like it was my responsibility but nothing I do is right. I have hinted to her that maybe she should see a counselor or a GP but she says that if she could meet someone she wouldn't feel bad any more. But she hasn't had a relationship in over ten years. She won't try internet dating.

pippop1 Mon 27-Jan-14 17:29:14

Your mother is not your responsibility, however much she tries to make you feel responsible.

What some people do is write to their parent's Dr and ask them to call them in for a chat, check BP, iron levels and so on and have a talk with them about their life. Sometimes people respond better to a Dr telling them what to do than to their children.

If you write to her GP then the GP will probably not reply to you because of patient confidentiality but if you state that you are concerned about your Mum's health (due to weight) and state of mind and would like her to have a check up then hopefully he/she can call your Mum an over 50s check up.

It could even be something simple such as your Mum has thyroid problems. Good luck - she is lucky to have a kind daughter!

whataboutbob Mon 27-Jan-14 20:21:38

Hi galaxy. As a complete outsider, What jumps out from your post is the self inflicted nature of you're mum's isolation and unhappiness.to be really frank I am more concerned abut her than about you, because I know what a burden an unhappy ,emotionally demanding parent can be. It sounds horribly cliched,but truly we can't make others happy and repair a lifelong history of poor choices and disappointments. My mum died in her mid 50 s. I really loved her a lot,but knew she was not happy. I have been in counselling for 18 months, mostly to help me cope with a demented father and a brother with mental illness. But one of the biggest insights i gained was that I had been believing I did not have the right to control over my own life, and happiness because on an unacknowledged level, I did not think I had the right to be happier than my mother.
Maybe some counselling would be helpful,to enable you to better understand how your mother makes you respond and feel responsible for her well being.

whataboutbob Mon 27-Jan-14 21:00:49

Oops sorry that should have read "I am more concerned about you than about her".

miggygreene Wed 26-Mar-14 02:57:10

I think you can take her something else peaceful to relax her mind and to keep her away from stress or sometimes take her with you if possible and let her feel how much you value and love her. Sometimes depression can be cured in a way that you let the person feel that she/he was appreciated, loved and cared. It would probably help if you let her realize her self worth.

Arpy Sun 06-Apr-14 07:01:13

Hi, I am nodding in agreement as I read your dilemma, galaxy81. As you say, the neediness and manipulation starts early. ("Since we were conscious," my sister says)! My therapist has helped me see that I had to set boundaries so that Mum's depression and demands don't swallow me up. (Mum's 85, ailing and unhappier than ever now).

Your mum is so young! So you have to do this now, otherwise you have possibly decades of her b.....s to drag you down. When she complains about her stuff, you can sympathise without trying to provide solutions. "I'm really sorry Mum that you feel depressed/lonely...(wish I could take it away but I can't).

Whataboutbob's wise words above say it all: 'truly we can't make others happy and repair a lifelong history of poor choices and disappointments.'

Jenks83 Sun 09-Apr-17 20:35:48

I'm so glad you posted this. I am in almost exactly the same position. I'm 33 and happily married with two young children. My mother is 57 and is very lonely and has the same relationship history and negative mindset as your mother. It's so so draining. Every time I call her and text I dread what she's says because it's usually along the lines of no one ever texting etc. She's just returned from a weeks holiday to cheer herself up after a failed relationship with a conman but she hated it as she didn't speak to anyone all week.

I'm sorry I can't offer any advice but I'm with you and completely understand how exhausting it is.

Sending a big hug xx

FrangiePangie Mon 10-Apr-17 00:26:15

I am in a similar situation except my mum is now 83. She has been depressed and lonely all her life to the point that has over the years become a lifestyle choice for her and she has deliberately isolated herself and pretty much become a recluse. She lives in a big house with locked garden gates (no bell or intercom) and no-one apart from her carers can get in, so even if she had friends they couldn't visit. Until very, very recently she chain smoked in rooms without open windows and complained she was cold if you tried to get fresh air in the room.

She is 130 miles away from me and even further from my brother. He and I both have children and jobs that we can't just drop each time she has a fall or a UTI.

Tomorrow (after another recent crisis which has had me driving to her every weekend for the past month and spending the last five days here) I am taking her to a care home near me. I am doing it on the basis of respite but I don't know if she will ever go home. If she really hates it then she will come back home I suppose. She doesn't want to go to the care home at all. My brother and I are driving this as we can't be there for her when the shit hits the fan.

whataboutbob nailed it with the fact that this is self inflicted. Yes, my mum has had people treat her badly in life and victim mode is her default setting. But we do make choices and she chooses to be this way. I have concluded that my mum will not be happy anywhere. She dislikes people, she has never had much interest in my life and certainly has non in that of her grandchildren. It makes it hard to justify schlepping across the country each time she falls or gets ill. I know that sounds hard but it's how I feel. But I feel I have to respond somehow, which is why I'm trying to move her nearer me. Deep down I know she'll hate it, but she's unhappy at home and will be unhappy near me so god knows what difference it will make.

So this weekend I'm packing up her things to come home with me. I am dreading this experiment quite frankly.

No advice to give, except your mum is young enough to stop this crap. I wish I'd been firmer with my mum when she was in her 50's. I was a teenager then though and my parents were splitting up so I felt sorry for her and the rot set in good and proper then. Take charge and tell her that she needs to be responsible for her own happiness.

Learn from this though. I have watched my mother's progression into isolated old age with concern and selfish alarm. I'm absolutely terrified that I will be like her (despite the fact that our characters are very different) and I vow that I will:

a) take an interest in my kids' lives
b) not become attached to bricks and mortar so that I don't end up living in a house that is too big for me to look after
c) keep my brain and body busy
d) ensure regular social interaction (my mum has lived alone for so long she has forgotten basic social mores and has totally lost the ability to have a conversation).

Sorry to make your thread all about my problems, but it was interesting to read that others are in the same boat.

dht1969 Tue 04-Jul-17 12:25:02

Hello everyone. Its my first time chatting on here, so here goes. I've been looking for help and guidance regarding my Mum, who is also lonely and depressed. Reading the posts above, it is interesting to see there are lots of people in a similar situation.
This is how the story goes:
My Mum was widowed 12 years ago. She is now 70 years of age. She and my Dad were very close, as we are as a family, and losing him was devastating for us all.
During the intervening 12 years my Mum has been working as a home help 3 mornings a week, and my brother and i see her between us 4 times a week. My Mum also sees her brother 2 times a week . My Mum is painfully shy and doesn't make friends easily, and lacks confidence in general.
She keeps saying that it doesn't matter really where she goes as Dad isn't here it doesn't really mean anything to her (although she loves spending time with her children and grandsons)
Over the past 12 years my brother and i have done our very best to make sure our mum isn't lonely, we each go on holiday with her once a year and have lots of days out., but it never seems to be enough for her.
Life has been very difficult for my Mum since losing my Dad age 58, and despite all of the above she says she is lonely and feels that life isn't worth living and that she sometimes has 'dark' thoughts.
We have made many suggestions for my Mum to try to help her make friends, try something new, move house, go on a little holiday herself, but all these suggestions fall on deaf ears.
My Mums situation has basically been unchanged for the past 12 years. She lives in the same house, does the same jobs on a daily basis. My brother and I try to make life fun for her, but are beginning to feel at a loss to know what to do.
We are feeling guilty about leading our lives, and doing nice things ourselves with our respective families as we know that Mum is unhappy. We both feel wary of telling her what we have been doing as we know that it will be met with a stony silence.
We desperately want to help her, and think she could do with some therapy and medical help, but she will not consider this. She also wont consider moving to an over 55's development where there might be a chance for her to meet people in similar situations but she says she isn't ready for that yet. She is limited in that she doesn't drive, so relies on public transport or lifts from others.
I'm sorry to ramble on, but am getting desperate for help.
Thank you for listening. sad

ladypharaoh14 Thu 27-Jul-17 05:46:51

yo i totally feel you! I could tell today my mom is getting really lonely because she literally tried to beg me to stay with her when I was dropping something off at my house, despite me having a test to study for.

I'm 20, in college, and I'm about to be abroad for a year studying. My mom and dad are still in the middle of a divorce. I say middle because they are too poor to divorce, but are separated. My dad left my mom for another woman when I was about 15, and he lives with her. My mom and dad still talk on business matters and such and I'm still close with my dad, but of course its taking a toll of her.

To top it off our house (that I will be unfortunately moving back to for a month) is in an unlivable condition (like as in no hot water or shower condition) and i can tell it is taking a toll on her. I've tried outreach programs but nothing has called us to try to help.

I don't know. I've struggled with depression myself, and so yes it can be draining to listen to her but it's like I have to hear her out, it seems like I'm her only friend cause she invested so much of her life being a mother and wife.

She gets out to the library and movies sometimes when she has extra money, but she really doesn't have any friends (besides an ex-coworker who lives far out)

I don't know I'm getting so worried cause its like I'm going to be away for so long its like I can see that she's lonely and is tired of living the way she is.

It makes me want to cry because all I want to do is for her to be happy. I don't know what to do. I'm young and still trying to figure myself out.

Like your mother she makes excuses, like I suggested a pet and she said it would be too expensive (despite the fact I would pay the adoption fee) but I really think she needs human connection and yeah she's old fashioned so she won't do online dating.

Charlieiscool Thu 27-Jul-17 06:20:59

I have found that the best way of dealing with this is being a bit tough.
I just interrupt my mother if she starts to talk about aches and pains and say she must tell the doctor but it serves no purpose to tell me again and again. I just won't listen to it.
You have to prioritise your life and your own family. Sacrificing everyone else's happiness ends up with everyone being miserable and stressed and it wont help your mother anyway.
Step back. Look after yourself. Don't make a commitment to maybe twenty years of a dark cloud in your home. Don't buy a pet they don't want and won't look after.
Your job is to visit, liaise with services and sort out care etc. Go with her to the doctor and tell them how depressed she is. Make sure they have what they need. Find out about day centres, chairobics classes, Meetup groups, U3A and other resources like elderly action locally. Encourage all this but if she doesn't want to do any of it then accept that it is not in your power to fix her. Do not sacrifice your own happiness.

Charlieiscool Thu 27-Jul-17 06:27:16

ladypharoah You are 20, you have to live your life. If you move in to the horrible house she chooses to live in and sit listening to negativity all day every day how will you end up? Remember, it won't even help her to keep on a negativity loop anyway. She might like to do it but it won't help her depression and it will destroy you.
Why is she living like that? Why can't she move to a comfortable small flat? Are they really too poor to divorce? Really? Her choices.

theporcinegrappler Thu 27-Jul-17 06:37:16

You mustn't let her blight your life like that !
She needs to help herself and stop leaning on you so much

Ceto Thu 27-Jul-17 06:55:40

I too have adopted the tough love approach. I've been known to point out to my mother that if she just put a bit of the energy that she puts into moaning into actually doing something to alleviate her boredom, she would feel so much better. I have to admit that it hasn't actually induced her to do anything constructive, but at some level she realises that she doesn't have a sensible answer to that so at least she stops complaining for a bit.

dht1969 Thu 27-Jul-17 09:52:54

Ladypharoh, Im so sorry you are struggling. I think if you can get some support through your college that would be a good idea, just so you know it isnt you! You are doing your best
I spent 25 minutes yesterday online speaking to a counsellor. It was hard to try to relay everything that has been going on in the past 12 years in 25 minutes but i think once you start talking you wont be able to stop, especially if you have been bottling it up.
Things with my Mum have got worse these past few days. She says i was abrupt with her and spoke to her like she was a child, and that i ought to learn some respect. I apologised to her but she didnt accept my apology, so i called her later that evening to apologise again. She said ok, but has been giving me the silent treatment ever since. Maybe i was a bit abrupt with her, I didnt mean to be, i think it is all the stress thats been building up and coming out in the wrong way. It just seems that she can say and do as she likes to me and if i stick up for myself i am being disrespectful to her.
Sometimes you feel like you just cant win. Thats why i think a bit of therapy is needed to try to give you the strength to deal with the situation I know that is what i need. I have always been afraid to upset my mum even as a little girl and now as an adult (im 47 years old by the way!!) and i think she knows that.
Try to smile through the pain and try to get some support where you can, thats all we can do i think.
As long as you do your best, thats all anyone can expect of you - thats what people say isnt it??
Sometimes it just feels that the best you have isnt good enough for some.
Take care

Peterside Tue 05-Sep-17 21:21:22

Wow, i feel so relived that i am not the only person going through this. My name is Gideon and am the first child of four children. My dad divorced my mum 12 years ago and i was just 9 at the time, i am 22 now by the way but its been 12 years of pain and embarrassing situations with my mum, because my dad left her with 3 children and without a job. But my mum also happned to be the lazy type and that was why my dad left her which i totally understand, Now she has realised soo late in life how lazy she was but might not admit it and tries to make an income with some help she has been able to get. She is 51 by the way, but now she is begining to feel lonely because non of my siblings and i live with her. We go visiting once in 4 months because of school but her lonliness really affects us, especially me being the eldest. I do not know what to do and will appreciate some realistic advice.

Ceecee911 Mon 25-Sep-17 02:09:32

Hi galaxy81 & all. I am going through what looks like a similar situation as you. My mom is completely alone right now and very dependent on my to be with her. I have been married almost 1 yr now and have not been able to live with my husband full time (we were going through renovations, but they are now completed). Anyways, my mom is absolutely insisting that we build a schedule that I sleep at her house 2x a week and pressuring us to finish out basement so she can come sleep here when she needs too. However, at the end of the day I feel like this is a "bandaid" and will not help in the long run. I feel guilty when I sleep at my place with my husband and she calls me crying because shes lonely. I always say she can call me when she needs me, but she has been calling quite frequently and frankly I am worried. Just as a background - she and my dad have been separated about 10-12 years ago now (my moms decision!). My mom is still living in the matrimonial home - we have always delayed selling the house because my mom claims she's is always sick. My mom has not worked in 25+ years (shes 58) and over thinks (negatively)/has anxiety/depression. Refuses to take any medication because she is full of "toxins". It's just very upsetting and affecting me a lot. I am always tense and unable to concentrate. Any advice or outcomes to previous issues would be helpful. Thanks.

Needmoresleep Mon 25-Sep-17 20:06:34

What sad stories.

Like Bob says, we cannot make our parents happy and we cannot undo the consequences of their previous poor decisions. Sacrificing yourself in the gain hope of making your parent happier will just result in two unhappy people, and two lives unlived.

My experience, though with a different sort of difficult and manipulative relationship, has been to set boundaries. Both in what I feel is reasonable and am prepared to do. And as a form of assertiveness with my mother.

Me effectively telling her what was happening rather than her bullying me and me going along with it, led to a few months of awful verbal abuse. She really did not like losing her authority. But in the end she was more worried about losing me altogether. I was able to impose things like her moving to sheltered housing which enabled her to have wider support without me having to kill myself propping her up in her home. She is now very happy.

Admittedly my mother was older and there was some dementia thrown in, but I would strongly recommend trying to retain perspective and to avoid being sucked in to a point beyond the point you want to go.

Counselling, assertiveness training whatever. Some mother's are used to manipulating to get what they want. There comes a point where adult children may need to reverse thing a become the constructive and sensible adult.

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