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Help with mum and dad

(6 Posts)
mittenstring Thu 22-Oct-15 11:38:15

My dad is undergoing chemo as part of his treatment for stage 3 bowel cancer. He was misdiagnosed for several months and became very ill over the summer, we were told by the surgeon that had they left things any longer he would have died. However he recovered from surgery really well, and was pretty much back to how he was before the illness.

My mum took this all very hard. She copes very badly with stress at the best of times, and has pretty much been on the verge of a breakdown since he was unwell. She didn’t cope at all well with him being ill and having to look after him after his surgery (not that she didn't want to, just found it very hard).

He is now at the beginning of a six month course of chemo, and although he is coping wonderfully, my mum is really struggling. She is against chemo in general due to it attacking both good and bad cells, and is terrified that he will get sick again, having only just seemingly got better. She is aware that choosing to have treatment or not is his decision and she said she will support him whatever he chooses, but she is really struggling to deal with his choice.

She is not doing this on purpose, but she really isn’t any support to him as she is so upset all of the time. I genuinely think she is depressed, to the point that she needs medication as well as talking therapy of some kind, as her reaction to things is completely irrational (this has been the case with stressful events before my dad became sick). However she thinks a doctor will just ‘dose her up on tablets’ and so she is not interested in seeing the GP.

I have tried to reason with her, but when she is in this mood she completely withdraws into herself, and spends a lot of time in bed and crying.
I am sympathetic to my mum as she has gone through a really traumatic experience, but so has my dad and he should be able to lean on her and he is spending his time worrying about my mum when he should be focusing on getting through his treatment.

She really isn’t a drama queen, or looking for attention, she a lovely woman who i believe is in the grip of very bad depression and is therefore unable to see things clearly.

Does anyone have any advise as to how to help them both?

cailindana Thu 22-Oct-15 11:50:29

Make an appointment with the GP for her and just bring her to it. That's what my DH had to do with me when I was depressed.

mittenstring Thu 22-Oct-15 12:30:21

Hi Cailindana, can I ask how you reacted when your husband did that? Were you angry? My worry would be that even if i could persuade my mum to go in with me, she wouldn't take anti depressants (assuming she was prescribed them) and not for the period of time for which they need to work ( i know they say to allow 4-6 weeks for them to take affect). And there is a huge waiting list in the area for counselling.
She is very much into alternative medicine and gives the GP short shrift, especially after they misdiagnosed my dad.

MatildaTheCat Thu 22-Oct-15 12:43:58

It may be worthwhile for you to phone Macmillan and ask about any support they might be able to offer your mum.mif she would be resistant to that then perhaps support to the family. Is there a liaison nurse at the hospital you could talk to? My dad has recently finished radiotherapy and there was a named nurse available and she was great.

I imagine this is a common problem. Maybe your mum doesn't need pills but other coping strategies. Not saying she doesn't need treatment, rather that she sounds terrified and dealing with that may be enough. Of course a GP should be the one to assess that.

Good luck.

mittenstring Thu 22-Oct-15 12:51:22

Thanks Matilda, i will definitely look into that.
I agree, she is completely terrified, but I do think it runs deeper than that. There have been a few events over the last few years, which whilst stress inducing, are certainly being reacted in an extreme way by mum, and this just seems to have tipped her over the edge.

cailindana Thu 22-Oct-15 12:55:30

I wasn't angry. I did protest a bit but really I wasn't thinking straight and in some ways it was good to just have someone sort things out for me.

As you say, your dad needs her. She may give the GP short shrift etc but she can't continue like this and leave everyone else to suffer. I think you need to be quite firm with her and tell her that you want her to just go to the GP, see what she says and then take it from there. Don't sugar coat it - say that she's not well and needs treatment and remind her how she would feel if you or your dad refused to deal with an illness.

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