Thursday, February 18, 2016

Reaching Out

I've struggled with whether or not to post about this.  I've thought about it many times in the wee hours of the night when I can't sleep.  I've been encouraged by some sweet blog friends to post about it.   And, I've decided to go for it.  There are probably a lot of people out there struggling with similar situations.  Maybe, together, we can help each other out...even if it's just to know we're not alone.

I'm going to try to simplify as much as I can.  Bear with me as I struggle to figure out how to put this all into words that make sense.  It's hard to even figure out where to start.  Here it goes...

I guess I'll start with saying how my mom has never seemed to like me.  Throughout my entire life she's told me what 'she' thought was wrong with me.  That includes a lot of things that have never been true.  She's always been a negative person who looks for bad stuff.  Even good things in life can somehow appear to be bad things to her.  If she can't find a negative, she dreams it up.  I guess that's how it works.  I've never been able to understand.  

Thankfully, I've always seen that as a way NOT to be and it has caused me to strive to see the good in life, people, and situations.  She taught me a lot of things but I don't think she intended to teach me this.  It's turned out to be the biggest lesson, the biggest gift, and the biggest impact on my life.  And, even though I'll never have a mom that's proud of me (one of the things kids want most in make their parents proud), I'm going to be ok...more than ok.

Lately, my mom's negativity towards me seems to be magnified.  Really magnified!  All she talks about is what a horrible person I am.  She's making up stories about how she thinks I'm stealing money from her, that I'm an alcoholic, that I'm trying to ruin her life, that I was a terrible child, etc., etc.  None of it is true!

Her mind is changing.  And, it's not in a good way.  We think there's something like dementia going on.  But, we're not sure.  My brother, our dad, and I took her to the doctor.  She failed one of the tests and was referred to gerontology and for further tests.  We lovingly explained that we care about her and that's why we brought it up and want her to be checked to see what's going on and what can be done.  After all, we'd want someone to love us enough to do the same thing.

I understand that it must be SO hard for her.  I want to be there for her.  To talk with her and love her and hug her and walk by her side as she deals with it.  But, she's become angry.  Very angry!  She got in the car a couple weeks ago to try to run away from the whole situation.  I guess that's what she was doing.  No one really knows where she was headed.  I like my mother-in-law's theory that my mom was trying to go back to how things used to be.  I know that's not a place but it makes perfect sense.  But, she was angry and yelling and we already know she's become an unsafe driver (I've seen her run a red light, weave in and out of her lane, cut people off, change lanes without looking and cause someone to swerve....I've filed a driver safety form with the department of motor vehicles for her to be tested).  So, we were scared!  I asked my brother-in-law who's a sheriff what to do when that was happening and he told me to call 911 and file a "Silver Alert".  I did.  Luckily, she got home safely.  

My brother and his family were heading over to visit as that was all happening.  But, she locked the doors and told my brother to "GO AWAY!".  After a while, she came out with her car keys and wanted to leave again.  My brother wasn't about to let her drive in that condition.  It wouldn't be safe!  She could hurt or kill herself or another person!  The situation became intense.  My dad was crying and my brother was having chest pains from the stress of it all.  Eventually my sister-in-law got her calmed down.  My brother later took mom's car key and told my dad.  He seemed supportive.  I'm sure that angered her when she found out.  But, it was the right thing to do.

Since then, we've become terrified of going over to our parent's house and the chance of that happening again.  So, we all go over there together.  But, sadly, even that backfires!  We had a nice visit the next weekend.  My dad enjoyed it very much and we enjoyed seeing him and my mom and that our time together went smoothly.  But....she's complained ever since.  She says that I "smiled and acted like nothing was wrong".  What did she want me to do?!  Bring it all up and provide the opportunity for her to escalate the situation again? NO WAY!  That won't help anyone or anything!  The conversation would have just gone in circles and upset everyone.  

My brother and I talk a lot these days.  Sometimes daily.  It's SO hard knowing what to do.  But, for right now, we're figuring that she is going through an anger and denial stage and that we're only going over there together....with my brother's sweet sons.  Because, in front of them, she's less likely to cause a scene.  We're hoping that in time she'll calm down and welcome our love and support

My poor dad.  He calls me when she's not around and tells me how hard this is for him and that he doesn't know how much longer he can stand it.  She's been repeating the same false and negative stories over and over and over.  She's so angry!  And, sometimes she cries.  If only she'd allow us to love her through it!  We've decided that all we can do right now is take it all a day at a time and deal with each thing as it comes up.

We're not sure what's wrong because she's refusing to go to the doctor.  Although, we have another appointment scheduled....fingers crossed we can get her there.  I've heard that a person with dementia can get mean, make up stories, and even pick one person that they take their frustration out on.  I seem the one that gets that role.  And, even though I've been told that she really does love me and that it's "mental illness" that's causing her to do and say these things, it's really hard.  I'm having to work very hard at finding ways to try to let it go and relieve my stress.  I'm so lucky to have such a supportive husband, daughter, brother, cousin, family, and friends!

Have you or do you know someone who's gone through something like this?  I'd appreciate hearing from you and hearing your stories about how you've dealt with it or are dealing with it.  I knew that the day would come that I'd need to help my aging parents but I never imagined something like this!


Tammy@T's Daily Treasures said...

You certainly aren't alone. I have two friends right now going through the same thing with their moms, both with dementia. Neither have gotten angry but it certainly can be one of the symptoms. Since it sounds like your mom has always been somewhat negative and angry, those characteristics will only be amplified in her condition. One friend's mom caused a 5 car pile-up on the highway so they have to take her license away and do so in a loving way. Not easy because once someone loses their independence, they can either lash out or become depressed and withdrawn. The mom of my other friend mainly just repeats herself over and over and over again. One freezing night she did go out alone at night, wandering the streets looking for them, even though she had been told they had gone to a family funeral which she refused to go to. No doubt your mom takes things out on you because she knows she can. If you've always felt like she didn't like you, then there probably was some jealousy involved. You have to know that it has absolutely nothing to do with you and everything to do with her. I realized that when my dad stopped talking to me 10 years ago. I know I didn't do anything to warrant it. And I know that it is his problem, his loss. Not mine. I hope your mom will start to cooperate for her own good. The whole family is affected by this and pushing everyone away with anger and negativity won't be of any help to anyone. But if she's already in a state, then getting through won't be easy. Just remember to preserve your own sanity. Take care of yourself. I know it's hard, but don't take anything personally. Your dad has a great burden right now and will need lots of support. Wishing you and your family all the best. Hugs and blessings, Tammy

Cindie said...

I feel for you. I wish I had an answer for you other than that if you can get her to the doctor perhaps they can prescribe something to help calm her. It's helped with my mother to be on Zoloft - it's not a fix but it helps.

My mother and yours may have been separated at birth - I never got anything from her growing up other than abuse, real abuse. My father was a kind, loving, gentle man but too weak to really protect me, he escaped from her in his own ways. But I was lucky to have him - we would work outside and in the garage on projects to get away from her and I was very lucky to have my maternal grandmother living next door - she was a loving encouraging wonderful woman. I'm not sure why my mother is the way she is, she's always been an angry person.

I moved my parents west (I had moved west to escape my mother) as they aged so there was someone to help during their elder years. My father passed away 9 years ago and now I'm left with an abusive mother who also has the beginnings of dementia which makes it even more difficult. My brother still lives back east and is of no support - the few things we ask of him that he can do to support me he won't do - he just wants to hide his head in the sand and pretend there's no problem.

She has finally agreed not to drive anymore, I've been working on it with the doctor for over a year. I talked to the doctor privately about it and he ordered her to take a driver's evaluation test at the hospital - it cost $325 and all they did was talk to her for 45 minutes and tell her she's fine to drive to the familiar places. If they had taken her out on the road they could see she's a danger. Her doctor suggested I ride with her once a month, I did it once and she scared me to death - I told the doctor in front of her that I won't get in the car with her again. I think she must have had a scare before the holidays for her to say she'll stop driving. We'll be getting rid of her car soon so it won't even be there to tempt her.

I wish I had an answer for you of how to deal with your mother, if like me I know it must make for much stress in your life. I know it can make me physically ill at times. I just try to take it day by day. I have to work up to even calling her on the phone because I never know how she'll treat me. Tonight we're taking dinner over - it's always good to have my husband go over to her place with me as a buffer as she won't abuse me so much with him around.

If you ever want to email just to vent to someone that understands I'm more than happy to be on the other end of that email. I have no real answers but I am going through the same thing.

Carolyn Johnson-Beem said...

Oh Cheryl...several parts of this is how it was with my mother. I too grew to not be like her. She has been gone for 30 years now and it still hurts. I just try to remember her good side. Yes, if you dig you can find it :). You can't stop trying though because your dad is a sweetheart and he really needs you now. I hope a doctor can give you the support you need. Sometimes the situation is taken out of your hands by elder care or doctors. I will be praying for your strength in this. Is her sister seeing all this too? Message me anytime, if you want. I understand.

Quinn said...

I don't have any wisdom to share, but I'm so sorry you and your family - and your mother, too - are going through this. I hope there will be a medically-treatable diagnosis. And whether there is or not, I hope you and your family members will be provided with information and resources to help you cope with what may be a long period of stress.
Best thoughts to you!

Bonnie Wilson said...

Sounds a lot like narcissim. My mom has that personality trait. Look it up. You may be surprised!

Hang in there!

Sandi said...

Some similarities to my Mom. She does strange things that must make sense to her, though not always to others. Sometimes she says horrible things, cruel, crushing, untrue things. Where does that come from? She's angry, so angry. It has been this way in small degrees for decades, though time seems to have made it worse. A lifetime of choosing foul thoughts makes a foul life, maybe? It is horrifying. Like your Mom, she seems to pick one target person to be the most mad at, someone to "win" against. It's me now, but it was my sister for many years and others before that. She doesn't trust doctors, so that's no help.

Every time my kids hug me and tell me they love me, every time I feel like I am doing this (life) right, I am so thankful...dear God, don't let me become like her. Is that a horrible thing to say? Maybe, but it is truly how I feel. Grateful. Terrified.

I am sorry to say you are not alone. Lots, lots, tons of people understand us completely.

I can tell you, though, that prayer helps. Sometimes she seems to be improving. Sometimes I do too. God is real and He really does love you.


Sandy O' said...

It does help to talk/write about it. Ever since I started reading your blog, I was always inspired by your creativity, your zest and the love you share with your family. Try to keep that part of your life in front of you. My thoughts and prayers go with you and your family.

Delighted Hands said...

Yes, this is dementia in its early stages. I am so sorry because it is a long road. I'm so glad you have a good relationship with your brother and his wife; you will need to make so many decisions together. Your Dad is overwhelmed. He needs you. You will need to help him; even if your Mom is not a nice person, she needs your help.
Sending a hug; this will stretch and grow you as a person in ways you can't imagine.

Laurie said...

I'm so sorry that you're having to go through this. It's very sad when our parents start to deteriorate in some manner. My grandmother developed dementia and became mean. She always thought there were strangers in her home that were after her and she would physically hit one of her daughters. She spoke harshly to family that was just trying to help her. I'm sorry to say it sounds like what your mother is going through. I hope not and I hope the doctors are able to help. And I agree with the others that your dad will need your support. Prayers and hugs for you and your family!

judith said...

My heart goes out to you. I don't really have any advice for you other than keep loving your family the way you have always done. I'm surprised by you revealing that you were raised by an unloving mom. I think you've turned out great despite of it. My parents were always very loving, we lost both of them before any dementia problems came up. I do remember my Grandfather being a very mean and unkind person and from the stories told by my mom and her siblings he never showed any love toward any of his 13 kids. Sometimes we have to rise above the situation and just keep saying "I love Mom" even though you may never hear anything like that from her. She needs help, medical help. Keep taking the keys, that's a good idea, I was thinking you could remove something from the engine to keep the car from starting, we did that with my uncle.

Michelle said...

My family has started having issues with my mom, too. So, I do feel your pain. My mom also doesn't want to each much and is rapidly losing weight. Watching your parents struggle with aging is very difficult. Prayers.

Joe Summers said...

You captured it perfectly sis. I should start a novel from what seems to be fiction in our lives now. These past months make me appreciate my wife, sons, and you so much more.
As you said, we are who we are from our parents. I know that my crazy path in life led me to Candi, and my wonderful son Sean. And now my two adopted sons. My path was hard, but certainly blessed.
You are not alone, and although we have always walked to a different beat of the drum I will always be here for you.

Love ya sista!!

cristina said...

My father suffered from dementia and he was very violent and never even knew us, knew not who we are. Sorry for you to go through this, but at least in my country there is no cure for this disease. We had to admit the father in a nursing home because of violence befall anyone and none of us could calm him. In the nursing home it went well, but the brain has suffered irreparable degradation and one could not do anything for him.
Try to suggest to the doctors an investigation for Alzheimer and if they confirm the diagnostic, try to give your mother the best medicine for this disease, but prepare yourself, because this is a one way journey, unfortunately. You have to be strong and listen, don't take anything personal from what she says or does, she's not her anymore and will be less and less her from now on.
Once again, I'm sorry.

Amy at love made my home said...

First of all know that you are a wonderful person, and that you haven't ever done anything wrong or anything to deserve this.

I think that you are totally right about your fears of dementia - not that I have any sort of training, background or authority to say that I should add. I think that your Mum is probably aware of what is happening and is very frightened because she knows what is happening, but cannot do anything about it, and that partnered with her natural personality traits is causing these things to happen.

I am afraid that I have no advice to give as I have no idea what I would do in this situation. But, I am, as I have said before, here to listen and support and to tell you that you are doing really well because you are. It is great that you are in such close contact with your Dad and brother, you all need to support and help each other and it is good that you are doing that. All being on the same page will make it much easier for you.

You know from what you have read on my blog that we are having our own tricky times, other family members and the person concerned do not want to acknowledge that there is a problem, and if we try and talk to the person concerned there is great anger.

Talking to a friend of mine who is a retired doctor said, about our own situation, that there is probably nothing we can do and we have to wait until something else happens that then forces the issue. It is difficult, but that is where we are leaving things right now. Our own family member is still driving, and at some point in the last two weeks hit something with their car and has damaged it and we cannot find out anything else, but don't know what to do.

Sorry to go on about my situation, I wanted you to know that you are not alone and that these things are happening to others as well.

Don't ever feel badly if you want to share on your blog - or if you don't want to either! - do what is right for you as and when and know that your readers will be here to support you because they will.

I am sending massive virtual hugs of love and understanding your way!!!!!!!

Amy xx

lynn cockrell said...

I am so sorry to hear this. It is heartbreaking. I wish I had enjoyed a better relationship with my mother but she was closer to my other siblings and, especially, my brother 18 months older than me. I have lived at least 2-3 hours from the town where I was from, so that might be the reason the others(and their children) were closer to her. I was a daddy's girl and that might have been part of the rub with her. I was too much like my father! My parents were married for well over 50 years before my father passed away, but they never really agreed on much and I cannot say it was a happy marriage. I could go on and on, but that would not help your situation at all.

My father passed away before he turned 75 and mother lived to be within a few days of 92. Up until just a year or so of my mom's death, she was still pretty much in charge of her faculties. She fell, breaking her hip and went downhill pretty fast after that.

One of my dearest friends, who had always been extremely close to her mother, did go through a situation like yours. The suspicions, accusations and fabricated stories and snide remarks made behind the back were heartbreaking for my friend because, as I said, they had had a very close bond. My friend took it very personal.I tried to encourage her because I had known both of them for a long time and I knew this was Not her mother's actions, but the disease(Altzheimers). I knew that her mother would have been appalled and mortified had she realized the things she had said and done.

It is hard for you, but your father is probably going through more than you even realize. He is with her 24/7 and this situation might have been going on longer than you know. He might have been reluctant to tell you and was hoping it would pass. He really needs your love, support and help now. It is good that you are moving forward with trying to sort out the situation and finding out what the root of the problem is. At least, your father, brother and family all seem to be in agreement. You are doing the best thing for her and for the family.

I have heard Altzheimers referred to as "the long good-bye." If you discover that is your mother's problem, even though your relationship has been strained in the past, I hope that you can still find some good times to remember. I will pray for you and your family to find resolution and peace in this sad situation.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry for what you're going through. I agree with others who said it sounds like some form of dementia, which my own mother had. I encourage you to continue to try to get her to see a doctor. In my mother's case, the addition of another dementia drug (trade name Nameda, I believe) to the drug she was already taking helped a lot with her agitation. I mention this only to give you hope that there may be medical steps that can help. Best wishes in coping with this difficult situation.

Anonymous said...

I know exactly what you are going through. I tried to stop my sister from driving but received no support from my niece. She did have a wreck and totaled her car but thankfully she did not kill anyone. She did go missing for a night but returned on her own. I was afraid of her after I took her car because she threatened me. I had been the one she trusted the most. It was a long dreadful story with my niece apologizing many time. Finally one day my sister collapsed and was taken to the hospital where my niece told the doctor she couldn't take it any longer. My sister was observed for a week and given four wonderful drugs. She is happy and loving and tells me how blessed she is and she doesn't know what she would do without me. Some days I'm her sister and some days I'm her daughter. Doesn't matter to me. She lives in a home with her own furniture and we are able to visit anytime. She is much happier now with the medication than the years when she was struggling with her sickness. Life is much happier for all of us and we are able to enjoy being with her now.

Mereknits said...

Look at all the love poured out for you on your blog. Look at all the understanding and friendship that has been sent your way. You are wonderful, inside and out and all of us know that. You never know why a Other or anyone acts so negative and why she takes it out on one particular child. It is not you, you are not the reason because even through all she has ever done to you, you still want to be there to help. That tells me what you are inside, and she should be proud of you. Who knows what really has happened to her in her life, and who knows what chemical imbalances have caused her to be like this. Dementia will make it worse, that is what seems to happen, the negative aspects can get much worse. Even very docile people when younger can turn into raging people with dementia.

I have another blogging friend who is going through the same thing. Her Mother hits her, kicks her and rages, she is alone with her father being gone and her sister not participating at all. She is exhausted and she tries to visit, but finds there are days she just can't. I want to reach across the computer world to help her and now you.

I think you are very brave to let this out. We are here for you and this is a safe place to do it. I hope you know that all of us want to be there for you as you travel this very tough road. Having lost both my parents in the past two years I know some of what you are going through. My Dad, while difficult was not this bad, but I was the primary one responsible for them so I understand that part of it.

You are in my thoughts and prayers, I am here if you need to chat. Remember you are wonderful, kind, loving and a fantastic Mother and Wife.

Susan said...

Having aging parents is a challenge. We are still saddled with (for the most part) all the baggage we've taken on since childhood and all of a sudden the roles are changed. I have found that it is rarely the case that a person's 'good' points come to the fore as they sink into dementia and Alzheimer's. It is usually the bad bits that get worse. My heart goes out to you. We are facing dementia with my dad.