Mom is going crazy

I am hoping that some may be able to provide insight for me on how I can help my mother and know what shes going through. She is 49 years old, 50 this year, and has been diagnosed with Diabetes a few years ago. In my house lives her, me (21, male, physically challenged), my sister (27, along with her 2 children aged 6 and 5).

For about the past year she has become very different. There is a lot of stress that she is carrying. My sister has had many problems with her ex, the father of the kids. Since they were born there has been MANY court cases, he has bad things to say about all of us. Most recently, it was ordered for him to drop the kids off here at the house when his visit is over. When the kids come home, they always have things to say about him and the bad things he does. This is all stuff my mom has to bear as we all do since we live together. My mother also takes care of me; others in the family help but it is mainly her. She also takes care of the kids when my sister works.

As for the past year, her behavior has changed quite a bit. She becomes very angry at the smallest things and this can escalate to a blow-out. For example, she may get angry because my sister didn't take care of something she asked her too. Then her anger just stays and sometimes escalates. She then is angry about things in the past relating to my sister, angry at me, others. It wont be a while until she is calm. If we try to argue, she gets worse. She also is tired a lot. My mother gets angry a lot regarding things with the father of the kids. My sister's attorney will tell my sister certain things about what they can do regarding him. My mother will be fine and understand but later when she gets angry, its as if she never thought that way and disagrees. She does have a problem with memory but some of these things will be so different from what she originally said.

I know that the whole stress with the situation regarding the kids is something she doesn't need to have. Its difficult to avoid when we are all in the same house and right now my sister can't afford to move out. In the past, she was able to handle it all but now its like she's losing her mind with anger. She will sometimes say the only way she feels she will be free is if she takes off and leaves without telling. She did try going to therapy but the therapist was a joke and did nothing to help her. She has tried several medications but they don't seem to work. She had to stop one because it only made her 10x crazier. The one she is on now doesn't do that but its as if there is no change.

I just need to know what she is going through. It almost seems like a psychotic break of some kind but she doesn't have hallucinations or anything like that. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank You!

Concerned Son

Ben's Answer:

It sounds like your mom is simply depressed, and extremely stressed out. Some people get depressed and hide under the covers of their bed all day. Other's are depressed and agitated (angry). This is especially common when they cannot avoid or escape their responsibilities (like taking care of a household, kids, etc.) So she's exhausted, stressed and depressed, but has to keep on going, and this makes her angry. Getting angry may be the only way she has to release the pressure she feels (but obviously it's not working too well).

It's too bad she didn't find a good therapist. Every therapist is different - some are pretty ineffective, some are good, and some are masterful. Just because one therapist was lousy, isn't a reason to abandon the idea of seeing a therapist. It pays to shop around until you connect with someone that works for you.

It sounds like what your mom needs most is a break. She needs something to look forward to - a place to retreat to, someone to pamper her - or a way for her to pamper herself sometimes. Just that alone, could probably help her greatly.

I suggest you all sit down as a family (without the kids), and discuss your concerns with your mom, to see if you can all come up with some ways that she can get a rest, and get some effective therapy. It could change her life.

Best wishes,
Ben Schwarcz, MFT
Santa Rosa Psychotherapist

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