I Strive for peace at any cost Print
Written by Susan   

Dear Editor:

My name is Susan. I live in the State of Tennessee, USA. I'm a 43 year old married mother of two great children. Finding this board has finally given me long overdue validation of my feelings with regard to my battered and bruised relationship with my Bipolar Mother. I'm not alone and other people really do understand the hell I have lived thru. Amazing! I feel so alone most of the time in this! My Mom is 73 years old and I honestly can't think of a time when our relationship wasn't a struggle, something I had to bear. I sit here feeling as if all the life has been sucked out of me by her behavior. I'm so tired of trying to stay one step ahead of her. For me, looking back over my childhood I can quite literally see our family shatter years ago, when my Dad left. I adored the ground that man walked on. Dad traveled in his job and was gone 9-10 months of the year. It was like Christmas when he came home. When I was 8 years old the tension between my Dad and Mom became very obvious to even a young child. Despite my adoration for my Dad, he left permanently when I was 11. I have never been able to ascertain the truth, did he abandon us or did Mom make him leave? With only Mom's ever changing side of the story...who knows? Doesn't really matter I guess. He left me and my brother with a mentally ill woman. Who does that to their kid? When depressed Mom eats poorly, seldom bathes, escapes thru sleep, and cannot be motivated to do activities of daily living. Mom has always had a in-home pharmacy, I can't tell you how much medication she takes. My brother and I used to joke that we could save on embalming fee when the time became necessary, so many chemicals already in her body. Doctors in the US astound me...you complain of it and you'll come out with a new script guaranteed to fix whatever ailment you have or pretend to have. Never looking or considering how will react with her psychiatric meds. Mom has always alienated herself from family and friends when depressed or in conflict with them. Depressed is what she stays most often. I can distinctly remember being told to hide, hush and not answer the door when the concerned came to call. Eventually they quit stopping by. Period. She has gone thru countless relationships this way. To date I am the only one left. My younger brother threw in the towel 4 years ago. I don't blame him really. I understand there is only so much a person can take. We've had no contact with him since. From as early as I can remember my Mother treated me like her confidant and person responsible for all her problems and woes caused by impulsiveness and poor judgement. It was highly inappropriate for a child. And at the same time she was/is quite secretive about things that directly concern me. It is no wonder that the parental roles reversed. I found out several years ago after a suicide attempt that her psychiatrist labeled her Drug Resistant, highly independent, stubborn and manipulative. He said he "felt for me and wished me luck". That's about the gist of it with any her psychiatrists over the years. You call them at your wits end and they do nothing. "Is she a harm to herself and other? No. Well then there's nothing I can do." That's what they say, if you are lucky to even talk to them, most the time you get this message thru their nurse. When Mom is Manic she spends money inappropriately and has very strange ideas. Becomes agitated. Unable to sleep and slow her mind. She has never kept normal hours...staying up all night, sleeping all day. After graduating High School I got out and on my own as soon as I could. I married at a young age and started my family. It has been a happy marriage, despite the problems caused by her behavior and the toll it takes on me. I get extremely anxious when I don't know what emotion or mood I am going to be hit with next. And feel guilty much of the time. Sometimes I strive for peace at any cost. When I had my second child, my Mom informed me she had met a man and within one months time, married him, sold her house and moved away to another state. It was a blessing in disguise. Looking back, I don't think I could have taken working a full time job and two toddlers and her at the same time. Sadly, this man died 9 years ago. She returned to the city I live in and promptly went to work making me her sole everything. It has been one episode to the next with my Mom since then. 6 Household Moves, Bankruptcy, Foreclosure, losing all she had in an Apartment Building fire, constant surgeries, at least 3 a year (many I believe unnecessary) accomplished by in large by the fact that my mother was a registered nurse. She knows what to say. Has been often quoted as saying to a Doctor, if you don't perform the procedure, I will go to someone who will. After the foreclosure of her home. One she bought without my knowledge, for more than she could afford and six houses away from me...I got an attorney who informed me I could not get a conservetorship over her finances to protect her, I could only hide her assets under my name, take control and pay her bills to keep the debt collectors from taking her retirement benefits. Which if that happened might have had her living with me. I knew if that happened it would surely disrupt my happy home, quite possibly ending in divorce. Since that time it has been a constant struggle. She doesn't like the control I have over her finances. And we argue about it often. If I tell her, let me close the accounts and she can take her chances with the bill collectors, of course she says "No' to that. Since I have two children in college I have to protect my credit by staying on top her budget. She has been known to overdraw. At best she barely has much to live on each month. She says I am smug when she doesn't get her way or I disagree with her. She accuses me of treating her like a child. I feel angry much of the time and I suppose that shows. She picked a fight recently wanting to discuss past events. Going all the way back to when my Dad left. She has done this many time before and doesn't respect my request to leave it alone. I ask for boundaries in our relationship, basically exactly what she wants, but of course she hasn't a clue what she wants. Currently she isn't speaking, won't take my calls or come to the door when I stop by. Usually this makes feel horrible, the bad daughter who isn't taking care of her mother. Mega guilt. The lines of understanding what is mental, what is physical illness is blurred at this age. I try to reason and make sense of it all. But after the last fight, I find myself very apathetic. Have little compassion. Mother's Day and her Birthday are all in a few days. And I don't feel like being with her. That makes me feel bad...obligated to make the effort or listen to her laments in future of how horrible a daughter I am to not see her on her birthday or Mothers Day. But I could get there and she won't talk to me anyway. I want to walk away. I often wish for her to go ahead and pass away. I don't know what is worse...trying to take care of her or not taking care of her. It would be a Godsend if there was some organization in the United States that would assist children in my situation. I hope someday there will be. That is my story, does anyone out there relate?