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Is it ever a good idea to be a bit more 'forceful' with a depressed person?

(30 Posts)
crushedvelvetlava Tue 19-Jun-18 10:54:16

I've posted about my DM before, several NC before.

I just don't know where to go next, I'm at a complete loss. She hasn't seen me or her GC for 18 months now, despite living only 4 miles away. Noone is ever allowed to come to her house, and she will only communicate with me by text. She doesn't see anyone, or go anywhere - only goes out to buy food, as far as I know.

She will sometimes say that she hopes to come and see us in a few weeks, but this stretches on and on and on, to now - 18 months. It's tragic. I just gently wondered to her there if she might think about coming to visit before we go on holiday (5 weeks away). She's replied that she won't be fit enough then. How does she know that already??

I am at a complete loss as to what to do. I don't think she actually realises how consumed I am with pain over this situation and how many hours I spend racking my brains trying to figure out how to help. I do want her to know this, in the hope that it just might turn things around –but maybe I'm deluding myself on this.

She refuses - or rather - deflects for the time being - any help I offer. For example, she hasn't had a working washing machine for 2 or 3 years now. I can only guess she washes all her clothes by hand in the bath. The thought of this makes me want to cry, she's nearly 73. I want to tell her this! Should I? So I offered recently to order her a washing machine and have it delivered, but she replied "Thanks, but it's too soon." Too soon for what?!? Everything is like that –evasive and vague. I want to scream.

I think she thinks I trundle along happily in my busy life, not giving much thought to her from day to day, and that the way she lives doesn't affect me much. I want her to know that it does! I am so fed up of speaking (texting) gently and skirting around issues, and nothing ever changes, in fact it's getting worse. She will often now reply to a text only to say she will reply to my text tomorrow, or in several days' time. How can this be safe, at her age? I have no idea who her doctor is, btw, and she won't tell me –she'd consider the thought of me contacting him/her as an outragous breach of privacy.

I'm sorry for rambling, and sorry if this story sounds familiar to anyone, I have been here before. Just in case any of you have any magic solutions, but I think I know the answer ...

SuperLoudPoppingAction Tue 19-Jun-18 10:58:30

No magic solutions. It's ok for you to tell her you miss her and value her presence in your life but you're making that very clear already.
What about asking her if she'd like it if you gave her a break from texts etc for a month? Would this give her a bit more of a sense of power?

If you're worried about her wellbeing, it's entirely appropriate to refer to social work first contact team. You don't need to know her GP to do that. It's not a breach of privacy to be concerned about a loved one.

I'm so sorry though. She's got her own problems and it sounds like her life is hard, but it also sounds like this is very sad for you. I think that her behaviour is not intended to hurt you personally, but it is, clearly.

Sparklesanddiamomdsforever Tue 19-Jun-18 11:01:01

I would write her a letter telling her exactly how you feel.

crushedvelvetlava Tue 19-Jun-18 11:13:35

SuperLoud, I know what you mean, but I feel she does have all the power over our communication as it is, and I basically have to sit back helplessly and wait for her to contact me. I only text her if I haven't heard from her for maybe a fortnight, just asking how she is. But maybe that's an idea, thanks.

I might do that, Sparkles. I did a couple of years ago when we'd had a misunderstanding, which sent her into a dark depression for a year, and it took her two months to work up the courage to open and read my letter (and there was nothing bad or critical in it!). I just wonder how much I'm 'allowed' to say. I want to say that I don't think she has any idea of the enormous impact her condition has on me, and spills over to my family too –I know it just seems selfish and unhelpful for me to do that ... but if it might help shock things into changing, in even a small way ... I don't know.

crushedvelvetlava Tue 19-Jun-18 11:15:28

Forgot to say, I said in a text the other month "the kids would really love to see you" and I got an angry text back, written in capitals, telling me not to put pressure on her and that she'd come when she was able.

The problem is, I feel that might be five years away.

user1499173618 Tue 19-Jun-18 11:22:26

I think you should speak to your mother’s GP. They may be able to arrange a gerontologist assessment.

crushedvelvetlava Tue 19-Jun-18 11:49:09

Unfortunately I don't know who her GP is, user, and she won't tell me. I suppose I will have to go down the social work route, though the thought horrifies me because I know she'll see it as a massive betrayal. If someone contacts her she'll know I referred her and will probably never speak to me again.

Even if they do contact her, she won't ever allow anyone to come to her house. It feels as though her privacy is the most important thing in her life –more important than me and the kids – and she'll eventually be dragged out of her house kicking and screaming, when she's unable to look after herself. Or, I won't hear from her for a month and have to go with the police to have her door broken down, and find her dead inside. This is what I feel is at some point in the future. sad But she has no idea of all this and I feel I don't really have the right to tell her and burden her with all this, too –right?

fuzzyfozzy Tue 19-Jun-18 12:06:15

Would social services deal with it confidentially? She doesn't seem to be making any progress in her way, although I have no experience in these matters I don't think I could do nothing.

HollowTalk Tue 19-Jun-18 12:09:53

Is she a hoarder as well? I wonder why she doesn't want anyone in her house.

It's an incredibly difficult situation. To answer your question in the OP, I did get really tough with my ex husband and told him that if he didn't go to the doctor, I'd divorce him as I couldn't bear to live with that level of misery when there was something he could do about it. He went to the doctor (but later we divorced anyway.)

Ploppymoodypants Tue 19-Jun-18 12:11:14

I was quite ‘forceful’ with a very depressed person once. They were literally bumming off me, lying in their pit all day and not engaging with anyone and refusing to go to GP.
Any basically write a letter giving them 6 weeks to get a job, start paying back the £££& they owed me, start buying their own food and cleaning up after themselves or to get out of my house. I felt that I was enabling their behaviours. The other option was for them to go to the GP.

They did miraculously sort their shit out and I was at the time glad I did it and they thanked me after about a year.

However now I am more enlightened about depression and mental health I don’t know if I would do the same again. I was lucky it worked. I do sometimes reflect an think ‘gosh what if they had taken their own life etc’. As grateful as they were for the kick to get going, I do appreciate this was a gamble and I am not sure I would do it again.

HollowTalk Tue 19-Jun-18 12:15:40

The thing is that the person living with the depressed person is just as important as them. And there's behaving like an arse, which can be done whether you're depressed or not.

NotTakenUsername Tue 19-Jun-18 12:16:21

She doesn’t want anyone in because she is unwell. She doesn’t own a washing machine. She likely doesn’t have great personal hygiene. I can’t imag she’s cleaning the house.

She’s very unwell but she is not stupid - she is likely very ashamed.

crushedvelvetlava Tue 19-Jun-18 12:26:49

Yes, I'm pretty sure she's a hoarder and is ashamed. But I don't want to get into her house, I just want to see her, and have her see her GC, whom she adores. My oldest is 13 and if she doesn't see him soon, the boy will be gone forever. My youngest has lost all his front baby teeth since she last saw him, and now looks so much older. It's all just so sad.

I have suggested meeting in neutral places like a cafe or a park, but every suggestion (after several days of thought from her before replying) is turned down. I'm just at the end of my tether and thinking I'm just not skilled enough in the situation to say the right things and be able to make a difference. I wish I had someone to tell me what to say/do. sad

DN4GeekinDerby Tue 19-Jun-18 12:52:32

Another issue, beside hoarding, is difficult in self-care and hygiene which might be part of why she doesn't want to go out along with the difficulties depression can cause in going out.

It's hard to say what would be best to say or do, it's so individual and what can help one person might hurt another (or even the same person, what works at one point might not at another), but in the title question, yes it can be a good idea to be forceful with a depressed person. I've done so with others and had others be kindly forceful with me.

dirtyprettything Tue 19-Jun-18 13:12:15

I’ve been in a similar situation. Almost broke the door down once but she (sister) just said she didn’t want to talk or see anyone.
Ultimately there was absolutely nothing I could do.

It’s why depression is such a terrible illness. Its very nature isolates people from help.

Sorry, probably not much help.

NotTakenUsername Tue 19-Jun-18 13:12:48

She probably doesn’t want her grandchildren to remember her like this.

BackToTheFuschia7 Tue 19-Jun-18 13:51:36

No magic solution I’m afraid but I think you’d be doing the right thing by raising a cause for concern with social services. Perhaps ask them not to mention you, it could quite easily be a concerned neighbour raising the alarm too.

She’s probably living in very poor conditions. If she’s hoarding that’s not only bad for her health (she won’t be able to clean properly) but also a massive fire risk. I believe the fire service keep a record of homes known to belong to hoarders and visit them regularly to make assessments.

She could be in a bad physical condition if she isn’t washing or living in a clean environment.

It may have got completely on top of her and she could need outside agencies to come and help her make a fresh start.

What’s her housing situation? Does she own her home?

LivingMyBestLife Tue 19-Jun-18 14:10:12

Ah yes, I recognise the 'pressure' statement, applied to anything they are not in control of. No answers, unfortunately!

I have a relative who won't speak to anyone on the phone (and doesn't use text either!) when they feel bad. I've spoken to them once since February! They do speak to others though, and got a third party to ring me recently to say thanks for a card I'd sent.

It is both frustrating, worrying and fecking annoying. My relative has no friends, has fallen out with most family apart from immediate relatives and even they are not always spoken to, may have to take their place on the rota of acceptance so doesn't get out much at all either. Nor is it confined to family, they have been extremely angry over the phone with some utility companies and I live in dread that they'll be denied service at some point.

The relative doesn't like living like this much themselves tbh, but can't seem to stop themselves getting so angry about minor stuff that the rest of us wouldn't even notice. I don't know why they are so bitter and angry either - there's really no reason!

flowers to you, OP. Are there any other family members that your mother would speak to or who could get involved?

NotTakenUsername Tue 19-Jun-18 14:25:51

The tone of this thread is disappointing. I can’t imag the physical illness that would be referred to as fecking annoying.

Abra1de Tue 19-Jun-18 14:31:11

There is nothing wrong with the tone of this thread. The OP loves her mother and is concerned about her illness.

HesterShaw1 Tue 19-Jun-18 14:35:57

The tone of this thread is disappointing. I can’t imag the physical illness that would be referred to as fecking annoying.

If people can't sound off here, where can they?

My DH has depression at the moment at won't do a thing about it - won't admit it, won't see anyone, prefers to blame external factors i.e me rather than take ownership and admit he needs to get help. It is "fecking annoying" - as well as painful, frustrating, hurtful and heartbreaking. I'm very close to breaking point with it and told him this morning that if he is so convinced he would be better off on his own, go right ahead and move out.

I'm so sorry OP - it's an awful situation to be in. Ultimately unless the person in question is at risk of actual harm the only person who can do anything is her. It may be different with an elderly person, but if they are deemed to still have full capacity, then it's down to them.

LivingMyBestLife Tue 19-Jun-18 14:50:46

On the contrary, I expect the symptoms of many physical illnesses could be described as 'fecking annoying' too, as well as mental health ones. It's the impact that it has on others - mental illness affects far more people than the sufferer. That is what is being discussed here.

Bombardier25966 Tue 19-Jun-18 14:55:43

@NotTakenUsername, I'm with you on that. Whilst most replies have been understanding, comments like the one above are out of order.

I don't know why they are so bitter and angry either - there's really no reason!

Wouldn't you feel pretty angry if your world was falling apart? Because that's what mental illness is like, everything you know collapses and you can't see any way out of it.

OP, for those with mental illness the world can be an extremely overwhelming place. So you retreat to a safe place, your own bubble. And you don't want anyone in that bubble because they might disrupt your (not so) happy medium. I don't do calls or texts often either, if you're struggling to stay calm then any disruption can be really upsetting.

From your point of view, the best you can do is to let her know you'll always be there when she's ready, but more than anything to accept that this is the way she needs to live her life. It's not conventional, it's not particularly healthy, but it's the best she can do right now.

You could contact social services, but in reality they're so underfunded that they won't do much at all. Also weigh up the negative impact that a brief intervention may have, a check in with no follow up is likely to make her feel worse, to reinforce that idea that there is no help there for her.

Bombardier25966 Tue 19-Jun-18 14:57:08

I expect the symptoms of many physical illnesses could be described as 'fecking annoying' too

By the sufferer, yes, not by a loved one that clearly needs to learn more tolerance.

DashingRed Tue 19-Jun-18 14:59:08

OP how long has this been going on?

Was there a significant event that has triggered her behaviour? Can you remember a time when she was happy?

Unfortunately I don't think getting tough with her will do any good, it'll likely push her further away.

Do you have siblings or any other family who can support you (and her)

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