My mother has been depressed all my 40 years, and longer. She has tried every non-traditional method of dealing with it, but kept going to quacks and therefore never was even properly diagnosed. She started finally taking antidepressants in 1997 because she was suicidal, but the dose is so low that it's not doing much other than keeping her on the planet.
My father passed away in April, after a long bout with cancer at the age of 78. Since then, my mother's depression has escalated to the point where she does not remember saying things that she has said 30 times to my sister and I, she has no positive thought capacity, and she is convinced she is "losing her mind".
I have had her referred to a geriatric psychiatry facility finally, and she accepted because she is so confused and afraid - she starts in September. In the meantime, she is driving my sister and I mental.
She has nothing good to say about anyone or anything, criticizes any action we or our husbands do, freaks out over any possible obstacle (telephone not working, etc), and totally catastrophizes. The latest was when I spent a half an hour on the telephone with her so that she could explain how her telephone wasn't working (she was talking on it at the time) because she had tried it earlier and it hadn't worked, but she couldn't get through to the telephone company, she had tried for "2 hours" (so she had used her telephone for that length of time to complain that it wasn't working) - and that my generation should stand up and revolt and stop accepting Bell Canada's automatic system and demand that we access a human being, although they wouldn't be able to help either because my generation makes a lot of mistakes and doesn't care about not doing a good job.
I have no advice, but I just wanted to bump this up because I know there are some really helpful people here who will be willing to help you out, but maybe haven't seen this yet.
So come on, helpful advice-givers! Let's go! We have a situation here!
Wed 3 Aug, 2005 09:14 pm
The only thing I can suggest is to limit your exposure to her and let her know how much you'd enjoy tallking with her about what's right with the world, but she's bringing you down by focusing on what's wrong with it.
My father was very negative and 'cranky'. I didn't have too much contact with him, but when he got nasty I'd say I had to go and hang up.
On the other hand, I'm always a little cautious about walking away (or hanging up) too quickly because part of me is afraid of how I'm going to act when I get old. I never know how much control someone has over their thoughts and expressions so I try to cut them some slack.
September isn't very far off, although it must seem it right now. Hopefully she'll get some proper mental health care once she's admitted and you'll have an opportunity to have some 'good' times with her.
I dunno, J_B, walking away from an 80 year old mother doesn't seem to me to be the right thing to do. Maybe when you're 40 and your mother's 60..... But, at 80, maybe it's time for parental patience.
O'Sue, it almost sounds a little like dimensia. Has senility or altzheimer's been ruled out?
Wed 3 Aug, 2005 09:34 pm
that is what I was thinking as well.
Dementia can also be brought out by heavy drinking in older people..
Wed 3 Aug, 2005 09:40 pm
I agree with you, littlek. From the sounds of it though ottawasue is at the end of her rope and has already run out of patience. Rather than get into a fight with her mother, I'd rather see someone limit their contact to that where they can stay civil.
I know from my own experience that once my father started on one of his rants, the only option was to walk away or start arguing. I'm not much for arguing so walking was the only thing that worked for me.
O'sue. Maybe you can let your mother have her rants and then come here to blow off steam. We'd be happy to listen and you can vent all you want.
Wed 3 Aug, 2005 10:03 pm
J_B - I think both our points were good ones.
Wed 3 Aug, 2005 10:07 pm
Move her to Florida. Canada will drive anybody nuts.
Thu 4 Aug, 2005 03:38 am
Having mom treated at a geriatric psychiatric facility sounds like a wonderful idea. And September is only a month away.
I am sure that they will evaluate her depression as well as whether she has any age-related declines in memory or signs of dementia. And they will re-evaluate her current medication as well.
Your mother is still in a state of bereavement, so whatever problems she had with depression before are compounded by her loss and by the changes in her life and her routine which have come about since your father's death. I would imagine that her world has considerably altered. Her criticism and her complaints may reflect her anger about these changes and she may have difficulty handling any kind of stress (like the phone not working) right now.
Don't expect her to be fully calm and rational right now. If you don't expect such things she will drive you a little less crazy. Just try to listen to her, as much as you can, and let her know you understand whatever it is she is feeling at the moment. Agree with her, as much as possible. Encourage her to maintain some social contacts. Make sure she is taking care of herself. And, when you've had enough, or find her hard to take, tell her you'd love to talk more, but that you have things you must attend to.
You have made arrangements to get your mother the right kind of help she needs. You might even contact the geriatric psychiatric facility and speak to someone there about the best way to deal with your mom right now. I'm sure they have a lot of experience helping family members.
Hang in there. September is just around the corner. I am sure that once your mother gets the proper help her life, and yours, will be much easier.
Thu 4 Aug, 2005 06:01 am
wow - thanks!
wow, what an overwhelming response considering I posted less than 12 hours ago.
thanks for all your support, I laughed, and cried. Move her to Florida, that was cute :wink:
I have to go to work right now, but I plan to review your responses more in depth later tonight. for now, thanks.
I have not personally had the experience of having a family member that has such severe depression. But i have worked with many elderly people with severe depression. Some times coupled with dementia and stage 1 pr 2 alzheimers. Handfull??? That is an understatement.
I dont know what kinds of things she is complaining about . from your post it doesnt sound like she is delusional.. but it seems like she is moving that way. 2 hours on a phone that supposedly doesnt work? Hmm
Does your mom drink tea's? If she doesnt can you maybe get her too?
You can try giving her some chamomile tea. chamomile will calm her nerves ALOT. Im sure part of the reason that she is just flipping out over little stuff is because she is anxious , uncomfortable, and has not adjusted to the missing part of her life, her husband. Her home is now empty when it used to be busy.. her mind is racing with the ' what do i do now, what do i want, where do i go' grief cycle. This is confusing enough for anyone who looses a spouse. Chamomile is a very light , very simple way to calm someone. If you are physicaly close enough and can handle the time at her house, try giving it to her 2 times a day. Once in the morning and once in the afternoon. This wont cure everything, but it may make her a little more tolerable until she gets into the facility.
My only other suggestion is to get her to up her anti depression meds.. but since she is going to the facility in less then a month, even if you were able to get her a Dr appointment TODAY- you still may not see results for another 3 weeks or so.
I can tell you to keep your patience.. but that would be preaching to the choir. Seems you have drummed up more patience then you have . Your sanity at this point must feel like it is slipping away.
If she is safe with herself, meaning she wont wander out of her home or doest forget to turn off the stove.. or other possible dangerous things like that...limiting your time and exposure to her is probally going to be your best bet. If you cant do that, try taking someone along everytime you go see her. Dont go alone. You will bear the brunt of her angry tongue.
Dont take your husband .. because he will to. Maybe just your sister if possible or one of your mothers friends.
It is almost over. September is just around the corner.. easier said then done I know.. but a little more patience..just a little. ;-)
I wish there was something I could tell you to make it easier and better. Something you could do to stop the stress and make your waiting period comfortable.. but aside from the tea.. I cant think of anything.
There are TONS of people on this forum who have gone through.. or have seen someone go through a situation similar to yours . Come here and vent . Anytime. Vent honestly, vent angrily.. but vent regularly.
One of the posters here Noddy.. once told me that venting is what kept the murder rate down.. HAHAH!!
I do hope things get better for you. They WILL in september.. but right now that must feel like a world away.
I do have one question.. What if september rolls around and she changes her mind? Do you have aback up plan?
If not.. now would probally be a good time to start working on getting one in place.
Thu 4 Aug, 2005 07:36 am
Welcome to A2K.
Remember you are also grieving, both for your dead father and for the ideal mother that you never had. Assuming the burden of making what will be end-of-life decisions for your mother on top of natural grieving is very hard.
From your initial post it seemed to me that there was an irrational corner of your mind hoping for a magic potion or a silver bullet that would either cure your mother or at least spare you the brunt of her annoying, irrational behavior.
Sorry. Wistful thinking is a dead end. Believe me, I know. My husband is headed into senility and I have days when I have to remind myself that this isn't just happening to me--that it is happening to him and I happen to be involved. It isn't "fair"--but then life isn't always fair.
Right now your project isn't "Dealing with Mama"--your project is "Survival with Dignity". Listen to her for as long as you can manage and then excuse yourself. Yesterday's Lulu Performance was the Phone Out of Order--muster up some curiosity as to whether she can top that today with an even bigger irrationality.
Don't forget to take care of yourself. You're going through hard times and there is no telling when the hard times will end.
Mon 8 Aug, 2005 06:53 am
You all have so many good ideas, and I am so glad I posted, I feel a huge amount of support.
To answer the dementia question, we wondered that too and she went to the Memory Disorders clinic last year, where they said that she was showing no signs of developing Alzheimer's or dementia, but that her memory was the way they would expect it to be at her age after so many years of depression (she also had electric shock treatment in her 30's, in the 1950's, which they believe may also have affected her memory). I do believe that her symptoms are of depression, although the psychiatrist at the intake for the program she starts in September questionned bi-polar, I guess we'll see.
Also, thanks Noddy for the reminder that I am grieving too, I miss Dad and his death was traumatic for me because he suffered and was afraid. My minister just kept saying "they're only afraid until they get there", and that was reassuring, but the fact remains that it took me a couple of months to get rid of the flashbacks to his moaning and yelling out in fear. He was the antithesis of my Mum, he was positive and accepting and non-judgmental, and we had a special connection that I miss.
Again, thanks Noddy for pointing out that I am looking to fix Mum, I have been trying to stop that tendency with my Psychiatrist, but it's a hard one to let go of. I am a trained counsellor by trade, and of course I know I can't do much work with her because of our relationship, but I know a fair amount about depression both through my work and my own experience with it, and it frustrates me to know that she could feel better than she does.
I will keep you posted, the latest was that she called me in tears from the cottage because my sister had lost patience with her and they had a screaming match - funnily enough my Mum had NO CAPABLITY whatsoever to see any input she had into causing it, she spent 20 minutes telling me how sick my sister is, how she has a problem with anger, how no wonder she is on her fourth husband, etc. I was able to see the humour in it fairly quickly, since I know how hard it it not to blow up when Mum is on her 50th complaint of the day!
I am about to take the van in for servicing, and plan to spend the day with my 3 year old, in the pool in the park because it's 30 degrees here yet again (has been all summer) and - oh yeah did I mention that I'm 7 months pregnant?
thanks for everything.
Mon 8 Aug, 2005 08:23 am
Tell your sister, next time it is your turn to be the Apprentice Crazy Lady. After all, you're training with an expert.
Glad we could help--and we'll be here.
Hold your dominion.
Mon 8 Aug, 2005 11:33 am
Thanks for the update, ottowsue.
Your plans sound like a wonderful way to spend the day.
Sat 10 Sep, 2005 12:40 pm
Here it is, 11th of September 05 and I found this discussion because I am, at this moment, waiting for my 80 year old husband to die, at home. He got to the stage he is in now because he was chronically depressed but never really wanted to commit suicide. He preferred to starve himself to death "because life was no longer worth living". It has taken him a few years to get to this day. Smoking and arthritis agrivated his health as well as being a WW2 Veteran and suffering from some sort of 'anxiety' or depression illness that was never really tackled properly by his doctors. I am no longer in the 'grieving' mode. That happened a couple of weeks ago. Now I am just waiting for him to take his last breath. Then I will be able to move on with my life. I am only 64 and we have been married for 30 years. I don't know why I am bothering you beaut people out there with this story, but while I am typing away it is helping me a bit to pass some time because I cannot sleep, it is around 4.30am and there is no one around to talk to. Maybe I should do a crossword puzzle. I keep fearing that people will think I am cold and unfeeling for not being a crumbling mess of tears, but what good would that do me? I have been a really good wife and tried above and beyond the call of duty to make his life as best as I could, so I really don't feel guilty for feeling the way I do now. I did the best I could with what I had. When I think about what ottawasue first said, about her chronically depressed mother and her father dying in April aged 78, it makes me realise how darned fortunate I am that my situation is nowhere near as heartbreaking. I've had my share of grief, don't get me wrong. Back in 1985 when my first born son got killed while out riding his beloved motor bike. He was only 24. That tore the heart out of me, but I managed to survive. I told myself that he had only just gone ahead of me, and that I would be catching up to him eventually. I want to believe in an afterlife. I soak up any stories about Near Death Experiences and recently I saw on TV a documentary where SCIENTIST have PROVED that we really do go somewhere else after we have died. That has done more for me than anything else (i.e. religion) and I have tried to find comfort in believing in NDE when death is surrounding us.
Sat 10 Sep, 2005 01:02 pm
A practical suggestion: I gathered from your post that you are the primary caregiver for your 80-year-old husband and you badly need a break--a taste of life.
Is there a Hospice setup in your area? They could give you a bit of physical help as well as some face to face conversation about the mysteries of dying and death.
Do you have a church? A minister you could talk to? You sound very alone and under the circumstances your husband is not sustaining company.
Over the years because of your son's death and your husband's attitude toward dying you've done a lot of thinking about death and the hereafter. For you, death is not a taboo subject, but a matter of curiosity.
Grieving before a death is going to become more and more common and more and more people exit life slowly, with their bodies wearing out rather than breaking down.
Post here when you need to vent.
You might consider starting a thread of your own on the problems of a a caregiver; the problems of letting go; the problems of grieving in advance of a death.
You have a great deal of experience to share.
Wed 14 Sep, 2005 11:46 am
Thank you for words of wisdom Noddy.
It is just gone 3.15am here on Thursday morning. The nearest thing I have here to a hospice is a very good nursing home minutes from my home and hubby is going in there on Friday if he can last that long. It was all arranged yesterday.
Churches are here, as well as the guys who work in them, ministers, but I am better off without them.
Hubby was never really impressed with any of them anyway.
Strange how things are now turning out for me. It's just hubby and me and there is NO room for any grief.
I am flat out just trying to make his last days here as comfortable as possible.
When the nurses from the hospital told me today that he would be able to go into the nursing home on Friday I felt as if I had sprouted wings, and I was not ashamed of the relief I felt. Definately no room for grief right now.
After it is all over, and I sit down to watch some home movies, that is when it will probably hit me, but to be able to leave the house and take as long as I like to do the shopping is definately going to dull the pain of grief.
When my son died, I took huge solace in thinking about his demise from his point of view. He was a science fiction fan. He loved Space Odessey 2001. In that movie it took about 9 years for the space travellers to get to their destination. I pictured my son being one of those space travellers.. in a space ship going to Jupiter. He would be in hybernation for the 9 year journey. Well, by now he would have been returned to earth, but during the wait, the pain of grief got less and less.
We all have to die, how we do it is the big question. My goal now is to start getting ready to fix up my own life and my chattels so that I don't make it too hard for my remaining loved ones to feel too bad when it is my turn.
One way to do that is to TALK about it a lot. We have to stop treating it as something people don't like to talk about.
By talking about it. it makes it more normal and acceptable. When we plan a holiday we spend time making plans, where to go, what to take, etc. And we talk a lot about it too.
Well, I want to straighten up my life, discard the things that are no longer necessary, tidy up my home, have things "just right". Nothing worse than leaving a mess behind for others to clean up afterwards.
One of my girl friends lost her husband 2 years ago, and we talk about this sort of thing a lot, instead of pretending "it is never going to happen to me".
She did a good 'spring clean' of her home because she said she did not want her children to have to come in after she had died and expect them to sort everything out. I want to be like her.
Naturally how I feel about what is happening to me now would not be the same as if my youngest son (28) were to die suddenly. I don't even want to go there. But when we get to old age, that is when we can be more accepting of the inevitable.
Big sighs going on here right now. You know what I mean. VB
Wed 14 Sep, 2005 04:29 pm
I'm glad starting on Friday--tomorrow for you--you'll be able to be a part time caregiver and have professionals carrying some of the burden you've been carrying all alone.
The older we get, the more matter-of-fact we become about the nitty-gritty details of death and dying. Being able to linger in Frozen Foods or Produce might not seem important to the young and idealistic, but for years you've been curtailing your life to be sure that your husband is safe--and sooner or later, curtailing your life can rankle.
Your intentions of tidying your life and winnowing the Mountains of Stuff is not only kind being kind to your survivors--it will be a way of sorting yourself out and finding out who you are.