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SIL- Food Issues-Bigger Issues(18 Posts)
Sorry if this is a bit long but I’m feeling like a cow but also know that I’m going to lose the plot. Sil and I get on ok, she’s can be quite fragile mentally at times. Nothing diagnosed; OH’s family don’t ‘believe’ in mental illness, they’re very much of the buck up and get on with it type.
We’ve encouraged her gently to look for help; she’s refused point blank. She gets periods where she comes out with very grandiose ideas; and if there’s a ‘get rich quick’ scheme she’s first in line. DN is now of an age where he can talk her down/around, in the past if any of us tried to express concern she’d cut contact .
During these times she barely eats or sleeps; tends to exercise obsessively at the same time; she comes across as nearly high; not wanting to armchair diagnosis but it comes across as a manic episode.
Anyway one of her ongoing issues is around food; if we ever go to hers from the second you’d get in the door she’s forcing food on you, any refusal is a sign that you’re not enjoying yourself and gets her upset.
If she comes to us she’s in the kitchen constantly, near dragging plates off people to wash them; overfilling glasses etc. We’ll have just finished dinner and dessert and she’ll want to make sandwiches-just in case, that wouldn’t be too bad, but then she starts nagging people to eat them, even pointing out that we’ve just eaten a 3 course meal doesn’t stop her.
It got to the point if she was coming over I’d only have the food we were going to eat that day in so she couldn’t do it; the first time it was ok, the next time she snuck out of the house and drove to the supermarket and came back with bags and bags of food, sandwiches, pies she must have spent about £70-80.
It doesn’t matter if it’s only the 3 of us or more so it’s not a crowd issue.
It got to a point where she was making people so uncomfortable they started refusing invites which again upsets her; but we all know if you say anything; instant cut off and we don’t feel that that’s fair on DN as he feels he has to do the same to show loyalty to her. So we decided to try not doing ‘events’ in our houses but doing dinner in restaurants.
So the first few times was fine; she was the most relaxed in company I’ve ever seen her.
We’re all quite sociable so there’ll always be sharing of starters or sides, being invited to taste each other’s food.
So a few months back it was just the 2 of us, her and DN. DN commented that one of the specials was her favourite, she ordered it and then cancelled the order because none of us would ‘share’ it with her; DN because he dislikes it and OH & I as we’re allergic to separate components of the dish.
We tried to encourage her; but no it would be a waste as she won’t eat it all and she hates waste; so we did the it doesn’t matter; you can box up and take home the leftovers etc, but no.
The next few times she started getting a bit stressy when people were ordering trying to organise people in to ordering dishes that could be shared insisting that no-one ordered fish as one of the party is allergic and it wouldn’t be fair that he couldn’t try it.
But last night was the worst; she actually started taking food off peoples plates to put it on others.
Oh you haven’t tried some of DN’s steak
No that’s fine, thanks
No No, I’ll just put it here
No it’s fine, I’m having steak too
Oh he can try some of yours then
Even DN snapped at her to sit down she was giving away all his dinner didn’t stop her.
We ended up finishing early; people just wanted to get away it was so uncomfortable; but they all know if they say anything she’ll refuse to see/speak to them for 4-5 months.
We can’t have any sort of event that includes any family without inviting her as she gets upset & hurt. I mentioned that I’d been to a new place with some friends and she started to get tearful that we aren’t closer and we never do anything just the two of us.
I’m finding it really difficult to cope with her; she’s getting worse. After this last incident I said to OH we need to get her to go to the GP or someone; she’s driving people away, but as he rightly said if we do that she’ll cut us off for several months and while I would horribly welcome the break it’s not fair on DN, he ends up being her only support and social life.
And selfishly it's getting to us too; we feel that we can't do anything without her 'cause the minute she hears she'll be upset that's she's been left out, but when we do invite her we're both on edge that someone else is going to upset her.
We really don't know where to go to from here. . . .
Any advice is welcome.
If DN is a child then that's your way in. The poor kid having to live with this and manage her with a severe mental illness <cry>
Omg. No useful advice sorry but she sounds nuts. Does she have depressive/ withdrawn episodes too? Maybe they could be less noticeable or more of a relief for you guys. I feel sorry for her son. How old is he? Have you ever tried to gently talk to him about it?
Sorry I just re-read my comment and it sounds really flippant. I think your SIL might have a genuine problem and shouldn't have said nuts in that context.
Sorry also to diagnose on the internet! Not my place.
Just upset you've all stood by while this poor boy is exposed to this. If she's like this in public HOW DO YOU THINK SHE IS AT HOME <cry>
Thanks for the replies DN is very late teens. She wasn't anything like this when he was younger.
We always tiptoed around her when he was younger so that she wouldn't cut us off and she's never been such that would have caused concern with anyone official.
We've never seen her in what I'd call a 'proper' depression. She gets upset, but not hysterical or withdrawn.
I did wonder if DN getting older and having more of his own life has triggered some issues. They do have a very close relationship, though we do (kind of) joke that she will be the ultimate MIL from hell.
He does talk to us about her, he does know that this isn't normal behaviour, and has suggested GP etc to her, but she has no insight into her behaviour and thinks she's being a good host.
Honestly? I'd tell her and tell her straight. If dn is late teens and old enough to deal with her he is old enough to have his own contact with you irrespective of whether she tries to cut you off.
Sorry; we've always let him know that he can tell us anything, and we're here anytime day or night.
He is very comfortable with us; we're the ones he calls for advice; if he ever gets in to any difficulties.
As I said she wasn't at all like this when he was small; we have had some bereavements in the family and between that and DN growing up I wonder if it's a cumulative effect
I think you have to (gently but firmly) challenge her more extreme behaviours and keep encouraging her to get help. She may well cut you off but what is the alternative? Keep the lines of communication with DN open (you can do this privately if he doesn't want to seem disloyal). Make it clear to him that he's not responsible for his mum and it's fine for him to have his own life, go to uni (if he wants to), move out of home etc
I' agree with pottering, I'd also tell her straight. Nephew is old enough to have his own relationship with you.
I had a relation like this and she was eventually diagnosed with extreme hyperthyroidism
If you have always all tip toed around her then of course she has gotten worse. This actually irritates me, all dh's family are like this with his mother "oh that's just her" "oh you know what she's like" "say nothing now it's not worth it"
silence = condoning the behaviour. So what if she falls out with you? She sounds no loss anyway to be honest but if enough people start telling her it's not acceptable then she will have to change, or be alone, either way dinner time sounds a lot more enjoyable
I think the best way to support your nephew is to demonstrate clear boundrys with her. He needs to know it's ok to say No, this isn't ok. He will look to the adults around him for clues as to how to deal with her behaviour.
In your shoes I'd have a conversation with your dh. It's really not ok for her to use up all your food while everyone meekly observes. After you've spoken to dh and established some boundrys I would communicate this to nephew. He can either support you or cut you off in support of his mum.
For your DN's sake I'd intervene somehow. He shouldn't be burdened with this alone.
Could ye do a type of intervention like families sometimes have to do with alcoholics. So a big family meeting. First telling her how much ye care. Then maybe telling her its not fair to her ds. Don't criticise but be all concerned. Then the plan. She might find it harder to fall out with everyone at once. That poor boy he sounds lovely.
It does sound like possible mental illness, but I wonder if framing it as physical illness / hyperthyroidism (which it could also be), would be a good way in to accessing medical help? Get the rest of the family on board with that? Less shaming / stigmatising.
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