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Elderly parents

DM's attention seeking

8 replies

HoraceGoesBonkers · 01/09/2023 10:56

I've posted on and off here for a while. My DF has a degenerative diseases and is currently in a care home. Everyone, apart from DM, hopes he doesn't have long to go as it's really horrible watching him deteriorate.

Over the last few years there have been various emergency hospital admissions and possible end of life situations, so it really has gotten quite a lot and my own mental and physical health has really suffered as a result - I've been trying hard to rectify that as I've got two small kids and they need me to function.

Dealing with the DF situation is hard but my DM is making things much, much worse for everyone by constantly trying to create dramas and generate attention for herself. It's particularly bad when the focus would naturally be on other people.

Examples are her making a big fuss about finding disabled parking bays at the maternity hospital when I'd had a bad birth and was very ill myself (this was long before DF had gone into the home and there was no shortage of disabled bays), sending me a big update about DF at 7am on my daughter's 4th birthday, and complaining about me behind my back because I'd had a shorter than usual visit because my then 9 year old was ill and had thrown up. It's gone on for years.

I've really cut back on what I tell her. My DS got diagnosed with autism recently and I don't want to tell her because I am virtually certain she will be dismissive and then try and create some sort of competition for my attention.

We had a period when DF was at home after a lengthy hospital stay and it was a horrible doom loop of her refusing to send him into a home but also phoning ambulances for minor issues and expecting us to rush down to see them (they stay rurally). The GP eventually put his foot down and insisted on residential care.

I'm feeling particularly upset about it at the moment as a sibling has had a cancer scare recently and needs an operation. Sibling has done loads for DM but DM has been very dismissive of my sibling's health issue. Pretty much as soon as my sibling had a date for the op, DM has tried to engineer a drama about whether or DF should have his winter flu vaccines (we've had previous episodes of her "consulting" with us about things and she'll just ignore what we say anyway, it's all for show).

There's no point trying to speak to DM as she will become the victim, start crying, complain she has a hard life etc. And she won't go to counselling or anything either.

I feel bad for her but the way she's dealing with this is completely burning everyone else out and I'm back to feeling really depressed and weepy. It's not been the first time we've had a family illness or bereavement and she's behaved like this, so it's a cumulative effect.

Sorry this is so long, has anyone else had this? It feels horrible because I can see she does need support but not constantly at the expense of everyone else.

OP posts:
MissMarplesNiece · 01/09/2023 15:19

I understand, OP. My DM is a bit like this and it is wearing. Its also sad because my siblings and I don't tell her anything about our lives anymore because of her reactions. It's a bit like being with an attention seeking child who can't bear it if attention is focused elsewhere.

Cherrycola29k · 01/09/2023 15:23

Gosh it sounds exhausting OP, you have my sympathies.

EmotionalBlackmail · 02/09/2023 10:39

Sympathies OP, it's very difficult. Mine is like this. I've put boundaries in after the time she managed to turn the death of my close friend (someone she didn't even know!) into a drama all about her. So I limit what I tell her and don't see much of her.

HoraceGoesBonkers · 18/09/2023 11:09

Thanks all.

It turned out my sister did have cancer, which is obviously horrible for her and everyone around her. She needs more surgery.

The day after we found out DM sent us a rambling message about DF getting a new wheelchair and didn't ask how my sister was feeling or anything. I should call DM but I feel very angry with her right now. If it was one of them that had cancer they'd expect us to drop everything and rush down to see them.

OP posts:
Poochypaws · 18/09/2023 14:05

Jeez your mum sounds exactly like my mum.

When my dad was dying (about 5 days before he actually died) the GP had to remove him from 'this toxic environment' which was his own house where my mum was screaming and yelling and swearing and abusing everyone about her 'sore back'. She does have osteoporosis and gets painkillers sometimes but fuck me - person lying in bed, skeleton like, clearly seriously ill and it's still all about her.

This was the pattern of their relationship. It was always all about her and god forbid anyone who tried to take that attention away. After he died she would call ambulances all the time. If she was lonely - ambulance. Night before my dads funeral - called police threatening suicide as nobody was taking her to my dads funeral. Lots of sympathy from police and they even offered to take her. Just one problem - I WAS taking her so it was utter bollocks.

My mums GP must be so relived that she has gone into a care home. She gave him so many problems he must have wanted to kill her himself. She would weep and sob, we'd take her to doctors who would give her antidepressants and then she would refuse to take them. This happened 3 times. Just one example.

She had LOADS of support. Housework done, admin done, taken out regularly and she did nothing but complain. Taken to appointments, everything done and organised for her at the expense of others health and she'd be grateful for about half an hour and then the next complaint would start.

Complete sympathy to you. It's a utter nightmare that has a huge effect on your own health and well being. Worst of all - she still seems to have no idea that she is like this. Everyone else is the problem, she's just perfect according to her. GP did say he thought she had a personality disorder.

hotcandle · 18/09/2023 14:41

I can only suggest you grey rock her. A thumbs up to any of her ramblings and don't ask questions, comment or engage with her about anything that isn't urgent or is directly relating to your father's illness.

The drama around the flu shot? Ignore. Don't respond to the message.

She starts complaining on a call? Respond with 'thats crazy' and make an excuse to come off the phone.

Concentrate on your sister for now and don't get too upset about how your mother isn't concerned about her. Be aware your mother's behaviour might escalate for a while when she's getting less attention but she will hopefully and eventually mellow out.

hotcandle · 18/09/2023 14:44

I would also suggest you use the 'let them' mantra to disengage yourself further.

Her behaviour isn't going to change but your reaction to it can do a complete 180.

Try and start to be bemused by all of this rubbish rather than stressed by it.

Lots of luck op! You'll be brilliant.

HoraceGoesBonkers · 18/09/2023 15:51

Thanks all.

I already do quite a lot of grey rock-ing and have disengaged a lot over the past couple of years. At one point I'd totally piled on the weight, was drinking too much and on Prozac because of the stress of dealing with her and a family bereavement. Although I guess I'm upset now I deal with things by going out for a run rather than reaching for the wine and haribos, and I cut back a lot on visits. So I guess I am doing a lot better than I was, it's just some points are harder than others.

She's always trying to come up with DF related things that sound more urgent than they actually are. It's gotten a lot easier since he moved into the home which means she doesn't have leeway to call out ambulances and the GP, but she will still try and generate drama.

That's good advice re: her possibly getting worse in the short term. I was speaking to DH and he said if she moans about anything at the moment I can just say I'm focusing on my sister. I'm going to cook her some dinners for when she gets out of hospital.

@Poochypaws I'm pretty sure that some of the time she was calling for an ambulance for DF because she was bored! And yes, it is everyone else that has a problem, not her. If I ever pull her up on anything she phones up other relatives and complains about me - no matter how outrageously she's behaved (and we've had some really quite gobsmacking episodes over the years), it's never her fault if people are upset with her.

She's also a bit bonkers about the GP and local health services. I feel sorry for her GP too.

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