I have a “cleanaholic,” hypochondriac, drama mama; both my parents were medical professionals.
My eldest brother looked after my father who had Alzheimer’s and died four years ago. Now my mother’s eccentric behaviour is getting worse. But my elder brother currently has his own health problems so can’t help, and my other siblings refuse to deal with her.
She won’t leave her already-spotless house until she cleans imaginary dirt and dust. She made one brother late for his father-in-law’s funeral and my sister late for her son’s university graduation. Now if our mother’s not ready for something, they just leave her.
She’s also constantly convinced she has a serious illness, though our family doctor and specialists who’ve seen her found nothing wrong. She uses a cane for show only, to draw sympathy. Our family doctor discovered she was seeing three doctors for the same reasons and faking illnesses. We all held a family meeting with the doctor and asked her to go into treatment and counselling. She refused.
Then, at a recent gathering, she told a tale of woe of all her “problems,” some of which don’t exist. Her sister, who’s also a medical professional, was present. She threw the cane away, marched her out of the event, and drove her to a facility to get her hospitalized.
My mother was diagnosed with a mental illness and depression, and is now on medication. She still has issues, and it’s a struggle to get her to keep medical appointments and stay on her medications. However, because of her past behaviour, my siblings refuse to deal with her. I’m the only one doing so, as she needs support. How do I get my siblings to help out?
Call another family meeting and present the facts, not the old labels. Your mother has mental health illnesses. Her behaviour signaled these conditions long ago, through her obsessive-compulsive cleaning activity, seeking constant attention, and obsession with her state of health. Unfortunately, because her behaviour was labeled “eccentric,” those signs of a deeper underlying problem were missed, and everyone reacted rather than pressed her doctors to investigate for causes.
This is beyond your mother’s “fault.”
She needs help and no one person can handle it alone. All the siblings should help or contribute to pay for caregiver assistance. Some may even have to consider genetic factors and realize that “eccentric” traits may occur in others in the family. So family compassion could provide a benefit to more than just your mother.
My husband was transferred overseas to a bigger, higher-salaried position in his company.
We moved here six months ago with our son, now age three.
I’m on my own a lot, but can afford babysitters when needed. My husband goes out most weeknights with his co-workers, saying he needs to become part of the team. There’s a lot of after-work socializing in his field.
Am I selfish to think that this promotion may erode our closeness, or is this just an adjustment phase?
Get pro-active on the adjustment and how the job transfer can work for you both. Many companies with international offices pay for re-location counselors experienced with helping employees and spouses adapt. They can help find areas of interests you can pursue, including child-centered and adult activities, sports, courses, etc.
Suggest that your husband join you in meeting with one of the counselors. You’re also on his “team” and need to balance your relationship with the socializing.
FEEDBACK Regarding your advice-seeker who couldn't find friends (January 1):
Reader – “I've joined various “Meet up” groups www.meetup.com where you meet new people in person.
“I join the social groups - we meet at restaurants, coffee shops, ice rinks, go for weekly walks.
“There are other groups for mothers, business people, sports groups, dog-walkers, etc.
“Most of the people attending are open to talking to new people.
“There's no obligation to make serious friendships and get overly involved unless you want to. It's meeting people with no stress.
“Initially, I felt shy talking to new people, but now I've done it so many times, it's fine and I enjoy it.
“It's expanded my comfort zone and hopefully I can make some good friends in time.
“I find that people my age (mid-40s) at work, or at my hobbies, have their own family and friendship circles. So the groups are my only way to meet new people.”
Tip of the day:
Don’t let behaviour “labels” obscure a thorough health investigation.