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TabernakAttack's avatar

How to fix a bi-polar mother?

Asked by TabernakAttack (354points) June 26th, 2009

Ok, before you assume I’m just some kid who’s in a fight with his mom and wants to vent, that’s not the case.

I’m 19, the youngest child in my family, all my other siblings have moved out. In my house it’s my mother, stepfather and myself.

So to my point, my mother craves attention and has all her life. She’s mid 50s and my stepfather is her third husband, after cheating on her last one with his best friend (who’s now the stepfather). She alienates absolutely everyone, has no friends because she’s driven them all away, and her mother was diagnosed with bi-polar. She refuses to get herself checked out and the last person who suggested it delicately (my cousin) was thrown out of this house and told never to show his face here again. She complains about no one more than her husband, and he’s the only one who she hasn’t driven away, but that’s because he doesn’t have a job nor a place to live if not here, plus he’s not doing so well medically.

If she doesn’t smarten up, i’m not paying to have her put in a home. I will legally disown her as a parent and let society deal with her. I’m asking for a solution, how to get her “fixed” so to say. As i’ve said, she drives away everyone before they even try to help her, and anyone who mentions her issues gets it even worse. I’m contemplating some chloroform and bringing her to the nearest mental ward.

P.S. I believe she knows she has issues, but refuses to deal with them. I say this because she keeps making little jokes about “it’s so weird that she’s nothing like her mother” who, as i already said, has been diagnosed with a problem.

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11 Answers

evolverevolve's avatar

Could be menopause

aprilsimnel's avatar

Unfortunately, as a grown woman who’s not doing violence to anyone, there’s nothing you can do. She cannot be forced to do anything she wants to, and that includes getting help. My (former) legal guardian is a schizophrenic and that’s what the psychiatrist in the mental ward she was sent to for three days for beating up one of her co-workers told me. She was released once the meds they gave her kicked in. Of course, she has not gotten any more meds or help since, and lives in a crazy world in her own mind. Nothing anyone tells her about getting help has gotten through. This, however, is in America. If you’re in another country, I don’t know what the standards are.

But for you… do what you can to get out of that house for your own sanity. Staying will hurt you in the long run. Once you are directly out of the situation, you will have a clearer head with which to discuss with your siblings what, if anything, can be done. I would call the nearest mental health facility and ask for help.

dynamicduo's avatar

You can’t just bring someone to a mental ward and have them committed. It doesn’t work like that at all.

I would follow suit with your siblings and move out. Fixing your mother is not something you should do give your current attitude towards it and given your lack of knowledge about her disease and possible treatment options. If you want actual help, go talk to a medical professional and they’ll point you in the right direction. But you have no skills or knowledge to attempt to fix the problem yourself, and I fear that any moves you make on your own will only make things worse.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

You are in error if you are thinking this can be “fixed”. It can be treated though.

Talking to a therapist is a good start.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

the first thing I thought was ‘kill her’
of course I’m joking
at least I hope I’m joking

my mother sounds a lot like that
I’d be lying if I said I never felt life would be easier without her

wundayatta's avatar

You can’t fix your mother. If she wants to fix herself, you can help her. You can’t make her want to be fixed.

There is a huge stigma about mental illness in most of the world. Far too many people feel it is a sign of weakness and a moral failure. You can’t control your own mind and feelings. I wonder what kind of messages you’ve gotten in your family about this? Is it all about personal responsibility? Is it scorn for those with mental problems? Sounds like it, if she is not sympathetic about her mother.

One thing that might help is information. Bipolar and other mental disorders are, in fact, illnesses just like cancer or AIDs or kidney disease. It has to do with brain chemistry. There is a little you can do about brain chemistry via self-help means. You can get a lot of regular exercise. You can sleep regularly and properly. You can help others. You can have a regular schedule. You can have responsibilities.

You could offer to run with her every other day. You could ask her to join you in volunteering somewhere. You could urge her to sleep properly, or set a rule to turn off the TV at 11 every night. You could ask her to help you with your schedule. If she bites on any of these things, it might help. But there’s a limit. After that, it’s medication. But you have to comply with medications, and if you don’t believe you are ill, you won’t do that.

Does she get depressions? Manias? Does go on spending sprees? Does she have times where she has a million great ideas, but doesn’t follow through on any of them? Does she have the remains of a hundred projects in her office? Has she always worked on her kids to help them with “self-improvement” projects? Does she fall into depressions where she can’t get out of bed? Where she wants to die? Where she acts angrily in response to the slightest thing? Are there periods of time when no one around her can do anything right?

If she gets an annual checkup, a good physician will ask about these things, and if they see a problem, they might suggest a psych consult, or even prescribe meds that might help. On your own, you can only do these oblique lifestyle things. I suppose you, being the youngest, feel a great deal of responsibility for her. This is not a bad thing. However, if she feels bad about herself, she is going to make it extremely difficult for you to help her. She will push you away at every turn. If you go away, this will confirm her opinion that she is shit.

However, there is only so much you can do without ruining your own life. I hate to say this, because the only reason I was diagnosed and helped with my bipolar is because my wife gave me support at every turn, even though I tried my almost very best to push her away. I knew exactly where the boundary was, though, and I didn’t quite push hard enough to make her get rid of me, but I could have. I’m glad I didn’t. Even though I was the worst husband and father in the world, and even though the only thing I deserved was homelessness and death, I had enough to know I didn’t really, truly want those things. I wanted to be saved. Not everyone with bipolar is as self-aware as I am. Not everyone can see what they are doing. Not everyone can moderate it.

As a sufferer, my feeling is that I hope you stick it out with her. As a person who knows how difficult it is, and values your life, too, I know there is only so much you can take without ruining your own life. I hope you don’t go there. I hope you get out before she makes you crazy, too. But I hope she decides she wants to get better before she drives you away.

cwilbur's avatar

You can’t fix her. You can’t fix anyone. You’re lucky if you can fix yourself.

The desire to get better has to come from her, if it’s going to get anywhere.

Darwin's avatar

You can’t fix her. Only she can decide to make the effort to change how she deals with the world.

Bipolar disorder appears to be caused in part by the wrong amounts of various brain hormones so she would have to not only decide to seek medical help but also to take her medicine on a regular basis. Unless she is declared incompetent and you are named her guardian you cannot make her do that.

Bipolar disorder can be somewhat controlled by behavioral tools, but again your mother would have to be receptive to learning those tools. You cannot force her to do that.

What you can do at age 19 is move out on your own and take care of yourself.

BTW, because there is a genetic link to mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder, make sure you watch your own behavior and go get help in dealing with your life if you think you may be having a problem.

cak's avatar

I really hope the chloroform thing was said as part of just being fed up…that’s highly illegal and highly immoral.

If you want her admitted, the only thing you can do is to have her declared legally incompetent. That’s not an easy task. I know, because I had to do it with (for) my sister. I also had to deal with a lot of hate directed at me for several years. It was worth it, though, she was safe. It didn’t mean it fixed things, either. She wasn’t ready to get better, anyway. It took several more years, several more highs and lows and a few crimes committed, as well, before she accepted treatment.

To have someone declared legally incompetent is a tricky process and the details depend on the state in which you reside. It’s not the best way to go simply for the reason I stated above. If your mother isn’t ready to admit she needs help, she won’t work at it, she won’t try and she will continue on the path she is on, now.

I agree with @Darwin, completely. The only thing you can do, is take care of yourself. Start the plan to move out, start your life.

One thing, if you mother asks why you are leaving, don’t lie. Tell her why, but tell her with love. She may or may not be bi-polar. She may be going through menopause from hell. She may have other issues going on, it isn’t always bi-polar as the disease. I will say your mother is probably dealing with an amazing amount of guilt that she needs to deal with – for her past transgressions. I’m not passing judgment, but that self-hatred alone, is enough to push someone over the edge.

I understand the frustration and even the anger. I know from dealing with my sister. Understand that it’s not an easy fix and getting angry and fed up to the point where you are only dealing with her, out of anger, is a clear sign it’s time to back away a bit and regroup.

Good luck.

loser's avatar

You really can’t make her do anything unless she’s a threat to herself or others. You can try this though:
Good luck!

skfinkel's avatar

Lots of good advice here. But since you are 19, you are old enough to begin living your own live. It’s sad about your mother, but from previous posts from you (re: pot and what you were like before you found how much it helped you), you may have some issues of your own that you need to take care of right now. Figure out how you want to live your own life. Let you mom know how you are planning to take care of yourself. Maybe she will be inspired, and do something about her life also. But, as others have said, you can’t fix someone else—only yourself.

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