Need Help, Helping My Mother

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New Member

Date Joined Aug 2006
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 8/9/2006 5:14 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi all, I am new here, and hoping that someone can offer me advice on how to help my mother.  I'm 39, and I live in Florida with my boyfriend and my two young boys.  My mother is 72, and lives in Mississippi.  She has been progressively getting worse over the past two years, falling into deep depression.  She lives alone (has now for over 20 years), hermits herself away, continually complains about health problems, goes to doctors only for them to tell her there is absolutely nothing wrong with her, they tell her she has all the clinical signs of depression, but yet she refuses to believe them, refuses to take the Lexipro they keep prescribing, and moves on to another doctor hoping they will agree with her that it is something physical that gives her the symptoms(she is convinced that it is her thyroid despite many tests being done that show normal function).   She has lost weight, claiming that she just can't eat, she makes comments all the time that she is losing her mind, that any day now she is going to wake up and not be able to think of single thought, only to find herself put away somewhere is a hospital, she wakes up every night at 3:00 a.m. and can't go back to sleep, she calls me all the time, saying that she can't make it through the day without hearing my voice, and I am the only thing that keeps her going, sometimes begging and crying for me to come get her before she "loses her mind", she says she is shakey all the time, can't concentrate on anything, always misplacing things she just had in her hand a moment ago, she makes comments about "next year" and then follows them up with "hopefully I won't be around that much longer"...etc...   Yes, when she comes to visit me during her stay, although I do most definately see the waves of the depression symptoms come and go quite frequently, there are still moments when she is herself again, my mom, who likes to be on the go and have fun and do things.  My question on here is how I convince her to listen to the doctors and take the medication?  She will try it for about 2-3 days, but even then she will cut it in thirds, take it and then claim that she just can't handle the way it makes her feel (dopey) and quit taking it.  She also makes the excuse that she isn't going to take something that just makes her "think" everything is fine with her body when it is only masking the real physical problem of what is making her feel this way.  I am truly at my wits end.  I just don't know how much longer I can go on listening to her when I know she could do something about it, but just refuses to.  Through discussions with my much older sisters, and other family members, regarding her past behavior, it has become apparant to me that she has probably suffered with some type of depression her whole life.  I truly don't know how to approach this with her as she gets very angry at anyone talking direct with her.  My sister who is a Dr. of psychology, spoke with her about a month ago for the first time in 10 years due to an argument they got in, and after 30 minutes on the phone with my mom, told her that in all her years of practice that she was probably one of the most depressed people she had come across.... That she needed to be on anti-depressants, and that the next time she called her, she expected to hear that she had started taking them.  That was the last call my mom made to her, and will be.  I don't want that to happen with us, as my other sister refuses to talk to her as well, I am all she has left.  But truthfully, she is starting to push me away as well with her refusal to accept reality.  She will be visiting me next Monday for about 3 weeks.  I don't know how I am going to handle having her here again, being so depressed, and needing so much coddling,  as my patience is running thin, and I don't want it to cause the end of our relationship!  Any help or suggestions, or pointing me in the right direction would be greatly appreciated!  Thanks so much!       

Regular Member

Date Joined Apr 2006
Total Posts : 64
   Posted 8/9/2006 6:05 PM (GMT -6)   
I don't know if I'll be able to help you. Your mother is right. Anti depressants do make you dopey and unfortunately they can take up to 6 weeks to take full effect so she probably hasn't felt the beneficial effects of her drugs. However, she sounds lonely, with no passion in her life. I'm sure it's hard for you, but there's nothing that you can do to make her take the drugs. Try to redirect her.
Help her to make friends. Bring her here to healing well, find a support group in your area. Find a place that she can volunteer in her home community. Seniors associations etc. In my opinion, you are better to tell her once more about the benefits of medication and then leave it. It is HER decision.

Good luck.

Regular Member

Date Joined Jul 2006
Total Posts : 470
   Posted 8/9/2006 6:06 PM (GMT -6)   

Welcome SammyJ

You have a tough one by the tail here.  We are not doctors but rather come from the school of experience.  There are many layers to your issue as I see it:

1. Aging parents need to be able to retain some dignity and some independence.  Your sister meant well but "parenting" your mother the way she did is more likely to have the opposite effect.

2.  Your mother's symptoms and feelings are real, they are not all in her head.  Depression is not an emotional disease, it is a physical disease that manifests itself in emotional ways.  This makes it difficult for people who have depression to feel strong and confident.  Your mother needs to believe and feel that she is a strong, competent and capable person in spite of her depression.

3.  People react very differently to medications.  I took Lexapro and had no ill effects at all and many others have experienced what your mom reports.  It is real and Lexapro may not be right for her.  If she is willing to stay with one doctor, it will have to be a doctor who makes her believe that she is valued and taken seriously.  Try to find a doctor that specialises in senior citizens.  Check with her local hospital to see if they have a senior care program.  If she has someone that she believes understands, she will be more likely to listen.

4.  I don't know everything about your mother's situation but it sounds like lonliness is part of the issue for her.  Many older women are not used to doing things on their own and need some help and encouragement to rebuild their lives once their children are off on their own (no  matter how old they are when that happens).  See if you can find some local groups that are of interest to your mom.  Does she quilt? There are usually many quilting circles where she could meet other women her own age.  Does your local hospital have an adult volunteer program?  Perhaps she could volunteer at the hospital.  Does she like to read to kids, schools are always looking for mentors and adult reading tutors.  Is there a senior center in her town?  Everyone needs to feel useful and needed. Your mom is isolated and remaining that way will not help her.

I'm afraid that is the best I have to offer although I know others here will jump in too.  Unfortunately you can not "make" her listen to advice or want to get help.  She has to take charge of that part herself and want to get help.  Your mom may get angry when people talk to her directly but if you do it with love and not in a parental tone, perhaps she will know that you are interested in helping.  I know this is terribly difficult on  you but walking away from her will not make this better either and I don't think you really want to walk away.

My last thought is that being a caretaker from near or far is very draining.  Keep coming here for support while you work this out with your mom.  You need to take care of you too.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Oct 2005
Total Posts : 4031
   Posted 8/10/2006 9:24 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi SammyJ, Welcome to Healing Well.  I am sorry for all your going though, I know it is tough.  My mom is a RN and she is basically taking care of my grandma who lives 200 miles away from us and sounds much like your mom.  She refuses to move from her home so it makes if much more difficult.  Anyway, honey and stronglady have given you some wonderful suggestions, the only thing I think I would add to that is perhaps you should try to set up some counseling for your mom in her area.  If she had a counselor she went to and liked to talk to one-on-one then they may be able to convince her that taking the medication is the route she needs to go.  Also, it would give her an outlet for some of her emotions/frustrations and perhaps elevate some of that from you hopefully.  In regards to her depression, you may also look at any medical medications she is taking as some of them can increase symptoms of depression or make it worse.  I hope others will post with some more ideas for you...please keep us updated on how she is doing and you also.  Take care



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