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MIL depressed and drinking, advice please.

(6 Posts)
alargebarplease Mon 30-May-11 11:02:18

MIL has been very down, stressed and behaving erratically since FIL left her 2 years ago. This has manifested itself in bouts of heavy drinking, not eating, not cleaning or tidying and just appearing on edge the whole time. We have tried to be supportive and she was getting counselling and had stopped drinking which seemed to have improved things.

Yesterday she came to babysit for us for the first time, when we left for the evening she seemed fine. We arrived home around 11.30pm and she immediately had a glass of wine. Dh and I went to bed, she said she was staying up to watch TV a bit longer.

When I woke with dcs this morning at 6.30am MIL was nowhere to be found, bedroom empty, front door open. There was an empty bottle of wine and 3 empty cans of beer on the side. I phoned her mobile, no answer.

Understandably we were very worried. Thankfully she called back, she had got a train home. No explanation, she just wanted to go home.

We are quite worried and don't feel this is worrying behaviour. Any advice on what intervention if any we should try, and any other advice much appreciated.

Thank you.

NanaNina Mon 30-May-11 18:04:23

Well it sounds as though your MIL is depressed (I too suffer from depression and anxiety though it fluctuates with me) Depression is almost always about loss, and you say this behaviour started since her H left her. Thed way you describe her not eating or cleaning etc, is another indication of depression, as it results sometimes in a complete lack of motivation to do anything. Lots of people with depression do self medicate with alcohol and of course this makes things worse, although it may provide some temporary respite.

I understand about suddenly wanting to go home - this is anxiety and I have experienced this many times over the last year. It does seem strange though that she left either late in the evening or very early in the morning (the times when trains are not usually running) how did she get to the train station from yours.

Has your MIL been prescribed medication from her GP. If not, I think she should visit the GP (if you could go with her so much the better) and tell him/her about her symptoms. It sounds a bit like she might not want to be honest about how bad she is feeling and this is quite common. You did mention she had counselling so maybe she has seen a GP.

Has she any relatives (other than yourselves) who could offer support, any more grown up children who could support her. How far is she from you?

I don't honestly know how I would have got through the last year without my DP (of 40 years!) and my women friends. I am in my late 60s with grown up kids and grandchildren, and they of course know of my illness (I was on a psych ward for 3 months last Easter) but I try to hide it from them as the last thing I want is for my children or my grd chdrn to see me crying and in a state. It really is a horrible illess.

You mentioned that her behaviour was erratic - what did you mean exactly. I ask because sometimes depression (If severe enough) can tip over into a psychotic episode, when the person is out of touch with reality.

Hope this lady can get the help and support she desperately needs and of course does need to stop drinking but I'm sure you already know that.

alargebarplease Mon 30-May-11 19:32:31

Thank you for responding NanaNina, sorry to hear that you yourself suffer from depression but very helpful advise. I mentioned that I felt she needed to see the gp when on the phone to her this morning but I think either she's in denial to herself as to how bad things are or not wanting to let others see it. I will continue to press her.

When I confronted her about the alcohol she just fobbed it off as a one off. Sadly I think she has reached the stage where she is unable to have just one drink and therefore needs to cut alcohol out completely.

She Lives a 2hr train journey from us but the station is very near to us. She said she didn't know what time she left the house sad. She has friends nearby but no relatives.

By erratic I mean things like forgetting entire conversations, saying she doesn't have enough plates for us all at lunch when I can see a large pile on the side. Dramatic mood swings.

What you have made me realise is we need to be more supportive, it's been hard as we feel a bit caught in the middle between her and FIL. However FIL is doing fine so I think we do need to concentrate on MIL right now.

NanaNina Tue 31-May-11 19:24:22

Hi largebar (presume chocolate!) I think you or your DP/DH must somehow or another get her to a GP and tell him/her the truth about what is happening. She probably knows she will be asked about drinking and doesn't want to admit this to anyone, let alone a GP and she most certainly is in denial about the drinking.

Forgetting entire conversations and the thing about the plates can just be anxiety and a lack of concentration rather than anything more sinister. However the dramatic mood swings sound more worrying - I hesitate to try to diagnose (as a non medic) but this can be associated with bi-polar disorder, feeling high as a kite and impulsive, very talkative, lots of energy, spending large amount of money, are some of the highs of the disorder
and then it is followed by severe depression. Does this ring any bells with your MIL?

Whatever you need to get her to a GP and tell him/her everything. ADs might help to lift some of the worst of the symptoms, but she is also going to have to do something about the drinking, as this is a depressant too. Is your FIL sympathetic to his wife.

Incidentally you sound like a very caring dil - such a change on MN!

alargebarplease Wed 01-Jun-11 18:16:27

MIL and I have spoken again and she has agreed to get help. She has a list of people to call about getting further counselling and has admitted she needs to stop drinking entirely. She said she felt ashamed of her recent behaviour but thinks it might have been the wake up call she needed to get some help. I have repeated that we are there to help and support her. Fingers crossed this is the first small step to her feeling a bit happier. Thanks again NanaNina, (and yes, it is chocolate smile).

NanaNina Thu 02-Jun-11 14:32:47

So please largebar that your MIL has been able to be more honest about her drinking and that she needs help. I can understand her feeling ashamed about her drinking - I think deep down this is what a lot of alcohol dependent people think. She is lucky to have such a caring DIL and here's hoping this lady gets the help and support she needs.

Still think ADs might help - sounds like she has been struggling since her loss 2 years ago and maybe her grief has got "stuck" somehow and so she drinks to numb pain.

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