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When your own mum had mental health difficulties

(21 Posts)
loretta1 Thu 28-Apr-05 13:35:17

How do you cope or how did you cope if your own mum had depression or significant difficulties with anxiety or a label like scizophrenia or bipolar disorder and now you are a mum? How do you feel? How did you feel if you've been a mum for a while. I am one of those mums too.

psychomum5 Thu 28-Apr-05 13:44:14

Hello.

I am also one of those mums who has a mentally ill mum. My mum was diagnosed with severe post natal depression shortly after having me. By the time I was 6 months, she was in a mental hospital, and from the time I was 18 months, I have been in complete care (obviously not now... I be a grown up!!).

Its extremely hard for me to cope with her, to the extent that I have huge problems whenever visitations come up. I didn't have a close relationship with my aunt, who took eventual custody of me, and I really feel it now. When I was pregnant it was especially hard as I wanted to go to my mum to ask her what it was like for her, and all the memories as me as a baby, of which she is just confused and all jumbled.

Even writing it down now makes my heart go and I feel sick.

I have had poorly children, and lots of things go on, that I just wish I had a mum to turn to for. As good as my MIL is, she's still not my mum.

I guess I compensate by having lots of friends, and now have lots of children so that they have each other to turn to, as I had no full siblings who knew what I was going through.

It also doesn't help that the children see my distress, and I feel guilty that I am not able to give them a normal view of mentally ill people - not just my fear.

How is it for you?

psychomum5 Thu 28-Apr-05 13:48:06

I feel guilty for how I feel, but I feel that it would have been easier for me if she had died, so that I'm not living in limbo. You can grieve then.

I'm not taking anything away from those who have lost parents - I know from people who have that they would prefer to have them in any capacity. But I feel that I can't move on... I have a mum, but I haven't got a mum too which makes it so hard.

Does that make any sense? I feel it sounds so insulting to women who have lost their mums, and I don't mean it to be insulting, its just how I feel it would have been easier, than living like this, in my own personal situation.

psychomum5 Thu 28-Apr-05 13:50:13

I feel guilty for how I feel, but I feel that it would have been easier for me if she had died, so that I'm not living in limbo. You can grieve then.

I'm not taking anything away from those who have lost parents - I know from people who have that they would prefer to have them in any capacity. But I feel that I can't move on... I have a mum, but I haven't got a mum too which makes it so hard.

Does that make any sense? I feel it sounds so insulting to women who have lost their mums, and I don't mean it to be insulting, its just how I feel it would have been easier, than living like this, in my own personal situation.

psychomum5 Thu 28-Apr-05 13:50:20

I feel guilty for how I feel, but I feel that it would have been easier for me if she had died, so that I'm not living in limbo. You can grieve then.

I'm not taking anything away from those who have lost parents - I know from people who have that they would prefer to have them in any capacity. But I feel that I can't move on... I have a mum, but I haven't got a mum too which makes it so hard.

Does that make any sense? I feel it sounds so insulting to women who have lost their mums, and I don't mean it to be insulting, its just how I feel it would have been easier, than living like this, in my own personal situation.

psychomum5 Thu 28-Apr-05 13:53:18

Oops

fostermum Thu 28-Apr-05 18:22:42

my mum is a manic depressive(bipolar)and was for as long as i can remember when i was 5 she first went into a hospital and was in and out up untill i was 18,when she was home i cared for her and my brother, dad helped spasmodically, she went through stages of being completely dependent on me, when i was 18 they put het on lithium and for the first time ever i heard my mum laugh, she goes through times where she stable but still takes time off her pilld when not watched and goes off on one again, i love my mum she has made my life hell and made it great at times, i suffer from depression so i can understand how she feels at times,it was hard being the carer when i was a child still is now im juggling my kids and her care but i wouldnt be wiith out her

foxinsocks Thu 28-Apr-05 19:11:56

Message withdrawn

psychomum5 Thu 28-Apr-05 19:29:35

Forgot to say earlier.....she was actually diagnosed with schizoprenia when I was 18mths, hence me going into care and me now finding her so hard. She is still in a mental care home now, and has been for as long as I remember (even escaping to find me when I was at school....leading to severe bullying, which didn't help), and now can have no drugs to help control it as they have used each type for her and after a while she actually reacts violently to them.

Her schizophrenia and postnatal depression were triggered by drug use before and during her pregnancy with me.

mummydear Thu 28-Apr-05 19:48:06

My mum was diagonised as clinically depressed some 5 yrs ago , after a few years of illness. It was very difficult seeing her in an mental health hospital and my dad found it very difficult to cope. Mum is now settled in a nursing home and getting the right care and they seem to have found the right drug balance.

The hardest thing for me was living many miles away and her not seeing my second son until he was 1 year old. I found that very hard and thinking about it now gets to me.

people often say how I look like my Mum etc and at times I wondered whether I will turn out like her re her mental state, especailly when I was coping with PND.

Foxsinsocks- Yes I think the same when I,m having a bad day. Am I going to turn out like Mum ?

I love Mum very much I wish I lived closer to her so I could see her more often and so that she could see my children who as we know grow up very fast.

I too have a gteat MIL , but she is not my Mum and will never have that bond especaillay when MIL has a daughetr of her own. i get quite envious sometimes about their relationship.

I have a very loving husband and two great sons but I still miss being with Mum.

fostermum Thu 28-Apr-05 19:56:28

i found visiting the hospitals scary and not knowing what she would do next, never being able to bring people home,and being to embarrassed to say why, it has changed me as a person and as a mother,i over compensate with them i think, give them all i didnt have.

psychomum5 Thu 28-Apr-05 20:23:43

Me too fostermum, me too.

The amount of friends I have that say I give them too much and am too soft at times......I grew up scared to even look at my aunt, I am not having that for my kiddies and yes, they do play-up sometimes, but only as much as, if not less than, others of the same age.

snafu Thu 28-Apr-05 20:29:24

Foxinsocks - I couldn't agree more with your comment about mourning the mum you don't have any longer whilst also dealing with the one you do have now. It is exactly like living in limbo.

My dm is currently in an acute psychiatric unit for the third time in less than 12 months. I do find it terribly hard to cope with the guilt and the frustration and the sadness of it all. I love her to bits but she's not really my dm anymore, she's this desperate person that sometimes I hardly recognise or understand. I hate myself for some of the things I've said to her but I am grieving for the mum I used to have (and sometimes still see tiny flashes of, but increasingly rarely).

Now I'm a mum myself, I do worry. I worry that it's genetic, that no matter how much I fight it, one day I'll end up that way too. That scares the hell out of me. I worry that one day ds will end up feeling like I do now - guilty and sad and angry. I don't ever want to make my misery his problem, ever. I'm quite fierce about that. I don't have a mil or a dh to depend on, although I do have my friends and my lovely dad, but I think it's made me close down a little part of myself. I think it's made me realise that we're all on our own, really. No matter how much you love someone, you can't live in their head, you can't make them see the world the same way you do, you can't make them better. It's horrible. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.

saffy202 Thu 28-Apr-05 20:49:23

Joining a little late but so agree with snafu's comment of closing down a little part of yourself. I think for me it is a survival mechanism.

My sorry tale - mum had nervous breakdown when I was 6??. Then progressed to alcholism. Childhood spent visiting mental hospitals, throwing cans of Special Brew down the sink, ashamed to bring friends home - she would get drunk at parent's evenings - that's if she ever made it there

Try to live a normal life for the children as that's all I ever wanted but sometimes I feel I can hit the self-destuct button and then I wonder - am I going mad?

Another thing that gets me sometimes is when DS1 aged 11 gets stroppy and starts behaving like a spoilt brat and I think you just don't know how lucky you are.

foxinsocks Thu 28-Apr-05 20:51:51

snafu - I too worry that it's genetic and also that if it doesn't affect me, it may affect one of my sisters. I never really worried about it when I was a working mum but I've found staying at home with the kids, for some reason (maybe because it's what my mum did) has made me question the genetic link more.

I also find that when I get nervous for something (say a job interview) I find myself questioning myself 'is this normal', 'am I more nervous than the average person'. I have a fear of flying (was involved in a minor air incident when I was younger), and rather than just dealing with it, I find myself asking whether it's just the start of agoraphobia etc. etc.

It's sad but it is something that definitely lives with you everyday.

Yes, mental hospitals - very frightening (and my mum has been in 3 different ones so far!). I often wonder if I should volunteer for something like that because I don't think any of these places are geared up for family/child visiting and I think they really should be.

What I find extraordinary though is the fact that when my mum is well she looks and acts like any other person would. I think that is hard because you can definitely convince yourself that things could get better (but obviously it's just appearances).

I find it all so much easier to deal with now (in my 30s) than I did as a child though. Hugs to you all.

foxinsocks Thu 28-Apr-05 20:54:19

oh and thanks for starting this loretta. It's good to read other people's experiences.

snafu Thu 28-Apr-05 21:00:43

The genetic link is a bit of a strange one for me, because my mum was adopted when she was only a few weeks old and has never known her mother. And so of course I often wonder if perhaps one of the reasons her mother had to give her up was because she suffered from mental health problems herself. This was in the late 40s and so of course there was not the same provision for mothers as there is now. So I have the same thing as you, when asked about my medical/psychiatric history I think 'well, I don't really know'.

I am much more aware of my very slight tendencies towards, for example, OCD-type behaviour. I know that I clean a lot in times of stress. But I suppose in a positive way, I know the dangers and the triggers. I am much more informed and aware. I fight against it a lot, I think, maybe even without consciously realising it. And maybe that's a good thing. I'm very straightforward and down-to-earth and will shrug things off much more easily than she will. Partly that's just personality and I do now think that it's partly also an actual affort on my part not to follow the same self-destructive paths as I have watched her walk down.

MargeMN Fri 29-Apr-05 06:10:53

Thanks for starting this thread, loretta...while unfortunate, it's reassuring to know that other women have shared similar experiences to mine. My mother has been struggling with alcoholism for years, and she has been diagnosed with everything from bipolar, OCD, depression, you name it. She's wonderful with DS but I'm always wondering if she is drinking (she is very good at hiding it) and I just don't think I can confront her one more time about it. (I've had to bring her to detox more times than I care to remember and she's been through treatment several times.) I told my DH last week I sometimes think it would be easier if she had died because of the same reasons psychomum said earlier in this thread.

However, at times when I find myself discouraged and wondering if it's inevitable that I am going to follow in my mother's footsteps, I try to remember that awareness is everything. As children of a mentally ill parent, I believe we have an advantage -- we know what we don't want to become and can hopefully take the steps necessary to prevent it.

fostermum Fri 29-Apr-05 08:37:53

one thing i find is im always looking for signs of it in my children, many a time mine have come home crying over some normal adolecent thing and ive sat wondering is she gonna be a depressive?

fastasleep Fri 29-Apr-05 08:45:21

I'm sort of in the same boat although we've never been able to get mum actually diagnosed with anything... she's an alcoholic and the drinking seems to increase all the delusions and anger etc.... she seems to still blame me for everything that's ever gone wrong... she's always been completely strange and I just thought it was normal for so many years I thought it really was my fault!

In the last year she went off the deep-end a bit more than usual, and then one day she told me she never wanted to hear from me ever again and that was that I know what you mean when you say MILs just aren't mums I wish I had a Mum who talked to me .... and I get really scared of turning out crazy like the rest of my family! Argh!

fostermum Fri 29-Apr-05 09:24:39

my mum used to have times when her mind was stuck in the war and she in her mind saw me as a german, while i was trying to care for her she would be trying to hit me,but i know the signs in me now when im getting down and how to deal with it to stop it getting over whelming,i think when you have always lived around it you know how to recognise it in your self

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