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Please help me help my SIL

(19 Posts)
RealityIsNOTDetoxing Tue 25-Aug-09 16:29:06

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RealityIsNOTDetoxing Tue 25-Aug-09 16:29:42

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IneedacleanerIamalazyslattern Tue 25-Aug-09 17:26:13

I posted on your AIBU thread about a friend of mine and she really really sounds so much like her.
To the outside with my friend it did seem PFB and that she was a total control freak but she was very very ill mentally at the time and it wook a long time for most people to notice as she generally avoided situations where she was in the company of people for too long as she really couldn't cope with it.
My friend after something major happened was diagnosed with clinical depression.
She couldn't cope day to day with anything that went wrong. She had a strict routine for her dd that she couldn't deviate from because they fear of what might happen if she did and having to deal with the consequences were just too much for her to be able to cope with.
She would have reacted exactly the same way had the ball incident happened to her as she would have been petrified of how to deal with an upset toddler looking for a favourite toy. She had the parenting skills to do it just not the strength to deal with it on top of having to get up in the morning and just breathe in and out and keep it as together as she could until bedtime.

SO many of the things you said on your other thread just sound so much like the things that my friend would have done and to some extent still does.

I wish I could offer some way of helping your sil my friend did eventually admit and recognise there was a problem and worked very very hard with the dr's and psychiatric help she had to get passed it.
She is in no way 100% better but does cope with things better now and is a million miles away from that person she used to be.

I'm not sure how if ever you could persuade your SIL that there is something wrong her, she might even realise it herself but would she ever face up to it?

NanaNina Tue 25-Aug-09 18:32:42

Does your SIL have an H or a P - your brother? or is she your H/Ps sister. If so, could you talk to him about your concerns. What you describe is actually a form of child abuse, both emotional and physical and will certainly cause great confusion and distress for the child as you already know.

It really does sound to me as though your SIL has some kind of mental illness (as above poster says) - some kind of heightened anxiety state, or even some kind of pyschotic illness and needs help. I think you need to take action for the sake of the child. If your SIL sees it as interfering which she no doubt will, well I think that's something you have to be prepared for but put the child's needs first.

The trouble with mental illness is that it is a very "deceitful" disease and prevents the sufferer from perceiving that there is anything wrong with her. This is why it needs others who can look in from the outside, as it were, to take action.

I suggest you talk to your SIL and gently tell her your concerns, about her state of health initially, rather than about her behaviour towards the child. Maybe offer to go with her to see her GP and be honest about her symptoms. If she refuses I think you need to go to the GP yourself. Whilst GPs obviously won't discuss another patient because of confidentiality, they do understand that people with mental illness are often the last ones to realise they have an illness and it is the people who know them well that can spot it.

If you can't take this sort of action is there anyone else who can. Try to see it as helping your SIL and more importantly protecting the child.

RealityIsNOTDetoxing Tue 25-Aug-09 19:13:00

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diddl Tue 25-Aug-09 21:15:25

I put on the other thread.
These family days, why does her hubby go along with her?
Is it these get togethers that stress her out, and the onlyway he can get her to go is on her terms?
This more woman it depressed & has a mother who has tried to commit suicide?-whilst your SIL was pregnanat?
How must that have made her feel.

mamijacacalys Tue 25-Aug-09 21:43:17

Poor woman.
It is clear that her mother's patterns are being repeated.
Read your other thread too.
I'm a fairly direct person so would probably discuss my concerns with BIL directly, even at the risk of causing offence etc.
But I appreciate that there are complex family dynamics at work here and you are reluctant to go down this route.
Alternatively, do you know any of her friends and if so could you discuss with one of them so they could approach her?
My mother had PND after having my sister, who is almost 10 yrs younger than me, so I know what it is like to be close to someone in this situation.
She swore by self-help BTW and read pretty much every book going on the subject. At the time, in the 80s, it mainly consisted of Miriam Stoppard and Esther Rantzen tomes... I'm sure there are better books to be had now so maybe consider getting some literature from the library or Amazon and discreetly passing on to her?

CarGirl Tue 25-Aug-09 21:46:49

Hmmmm can you find out who her health visitor is and approach them with your concerns?

GirlsAreLoud Tue 25-Aug-09 21:47:54

I haven't read your other thread so I don't really 'get' this one.

RealityIsNOTDetoxing Wed 26-Aug-09 08:15:56

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Pitchounette Wed 26-Aug-09 09:15:39

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diddl Wed 26-Aug-09 09:42:59

She seems to feel that the whole world is against her.
Until she gets over this, I don´t see how things will change, TBH.
I know you mean well, but I can´t help thinking that she will take your talk as a criticism, and that you are another one who is against her.

RealityIsNOTDetoxing Wed 26-Aug-09 10:19:17

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GrendelsMum Wed 26-Aug-09 12:09:10

I've been thinking this one over a bit more, and I do think that the control issues may well be a sympton of her depression. When I was depressed, I had exactly the same problems around everything having to run to a fixed schedule - it's a way of keeping things under control. I also had the same problems around things needing to go perfectly well at all time - I wasn't able to bear our two cats fighting with each other, and I think a baby crying would have been disasterous. I think as well that this would be a reason for not being able to receive advice - to a depressed mind, advice may not be advice, but someone telling you you are worthless, useless, a failure and even that you are better off dead. From my own experience, I think that her problems parenting aren't necessarily problems with parenting per se, but that they are psychological issues arising from depression, and that they just happen to be projecting themselves onto her current situation, which is as a new parent.

However, I'm not saying that this meant I didn't want anyone to talk about my problems - I would have loved someone to have paid me some attention as well - no-one noticed that I was falling apart, which was rather sad. I actually had people later tell me that they couldn't tell a thing about how I was feeling from how I looked.

I think it might be worth sitting down with her - not at a party, because then there's the terror that you might go mad in front of everybody - and saying that she seems very, very unhappy, and that you want to help. Then be prepared for the possibility of insane sobbing. Again, from my own experience, I reached a point at which I was too mentally ill to be able to speak, or even to understand complex sentences, so there may be a variety of issues around communicating.

As I said on the other thread, I'm not sure that her ADs are the right ones for her, and if she's been on them for 3 months and they aren't helping, she needs to go back to the doctor to swap. ADs can also have side effects on the mind, so it may be worth looking at the side effects they're listed as having and checking to see whether anxiety might be one of them.

I wonder whether the impatience is actually concealing a very deep lack of self-esteem - that either something goes right, or she is a failure and will never be able to do it. It sounds like this may be how her mother brought her up?

I think it's very good of you to be ready to take action here - it sounds like her own husband is ignoring the problem, which is a pretty awful situation. Best of luck and hugs to you in helping her. Make sure you've got plenty of support from your own fiance and MiL, as I think it may be very tought for you.

mamijacacalys Wed 26-Aug-09 12:16:43

Good luck on the weekend.

I think Pitchounette's advice is really good - maybe find out beforehand the name of a good counsellor and drop in casually into the conversation 'my friend sees this person and has really found it helpful'.

At least you'll feel you've tried your best, even if it pans out like diddl says.

Pitchounette Wed 26-Aug-09 12:22:51

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GrendelsMum Wed 26-Aug-09 12:31:59

Oh, another potential idea. I think BiL might phone up the GP's surgery to find out whether there is one of them who is most experienced in mental health care, and then make sure that SiLs appointments are all with that GP until she can get to the specialist. The reason I'm suggesting that someone else does this for her is that if she's severely depressed, she may be able to help with the task 'make appointment with Dr X' but not with 'find out who correct Dr is and then make appointment with them'. I was lucky enough to get the right GP by accident, but I think things could have gone badly wrong if I didn't have her.

I think as well that if BiL or MiL goes in to GP with her and says that she needs counselling right now because she can't look after the baby or herself , she might well o to the top of the waiting list. I just checked on the GP's guidelines and people with childcare responsibilities do appear to be recognised as having particular needs.

The counselling may need to take place when she's well enough to cope with it, though - so it may need some different ADs which work for her.

Coming back to you, I do recognise how frustrating it is to try to help a person with mental illness. My MiL also suffers from depression, and it is often incredibly frustrating to have to listen to someone talking about how their doctor hates them, etc. I think you just have to try to remember that in her mind, this is true - her Health Visitor and doctor does actually hate her - and that because of this, she is in a very scary world. It may be that she believes the Health Visitor is trying to drive her mad, or to physically torture her.

Hope that things slowly start getting better.

RealityIsNOTDetoxing Wed 26-Aug-09 12:34:43

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CarGirl Wed 26-Aug-09 18:00:55

this is all so sad. As someone who had a near break down I really don't know what could have been said to me that would have helped?

Perhaps more along the lines of "you're really important to me/I love you, you seem unhappy is there anything I can do to help?"

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