Elderly Bipolar Mother Refuses Treatment
My mother has bipolar but denies it strongly. We have watched her cry for weeks, suspicious of everyone around her, but then there is the dominating cruel side to her. Then she genuinely seems to forget all the above so when one confronts her, she is devastated and accuses us of lying. Her horror appears genuine.
It has become impossible to be near her and we all keep our distance from her.
Problem is she is now 80 years old and needs assistance and we are forced to spend more time with her. She detests us one day, cries and sobs the next day, plots against us most of the time and generally makes our lives a living hell. My family has refused to associate with her so I am left with her and bearing the brunt of her cruelty - making me her target.
I am desperate. I take tranquilizers before I see her but even that doesn't always help.
I was advised, many years ago by a therapist, to keep away from her but now that is impossible.
This is a difficult situation. Your loyalty to your mother is admirable, but it's obviously taking a huge toll on you emotionally. Even for parent without bipolar disorder, it would not be easy to be the only one responsible for her well being. If you could use some social services in your community, or any other available benefits to help provide for her care, it would be a good idea.
Your mother's bipolar disorder seems pretty out of control from your description (what would be called "labile mood.")
If she were getting the appropriate psychiatric care, it's probable that her behavior would be much more reasonable. If you could somehow get her to at least take a natural supplement, like Fish Oil and vitamin B complex, daily, it might help a little. But if you don't have much influence over her daily care, and her diet, and she denies she has Bipolar, and refuses medication, you're in a serious bind.
As for your family, it really isn't fair that you should have to bear this alone. I would ask for their support, in whatever way they are able to give it - which may include financial. If they can't deal with her face to face - they should help pay for an in-home nurse, psychiatrist, nursing home or other type of assistance to take some of the burden off of you.
I'm not sure where you live, but in California, I've seen cases like this where a family member has to become "power of attorney" - meaning they have certain legal authority to make financial and other decisions for the parent. And often the parent is placed in a convalescent hospital (perhaps one with a psychiatric specialty), and once they are there, there are steps that can be taken to medicate a person even if they are refusing it (if their behavior is severe enough to warrant it). In any case, this is more serious than one person can handle alone. If you want to preserve your own sanity, you need to pull together a team and make some hard decisions, even if it causes you some guilt.
Ben Schwarcz, MFT
Santa Rosa Psychotherapist
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