I love my mom… I really do. She’s my mom. She practically raised me on her own after my dad left us when I was only 2. She’s been there for me for everything, the good and the bad. She was always more like a best friend than she was my mom. She was the cool laid back parent that pretty much let me get away with anything I wanted so long as the cops never brought me home (which they never did).
But she has this problem… well, it’s actually an injury that just creates problems . When she was around 20 or so, she was involved in a car accident that ejected her from the vehicle and hit her head. She was in a coma for 3 days. My family told me that the doctors said she wasn’t expected to survive and a priest was even brought in to read her the Last Rites. Defying the odds she woke up, and was sent home the following day. Without proper medical care and followup treatment, my mom had to relearn how to walk, talk, and most things you can imagine after a head injury, all on her own at home with the help of her family. But she did it. Looking at her, you wouldn’t think anything was wrong or had happened… until you see her behavior and mood swings.
Even the smallest brain injuries will affect a person in unpredictable ways. Add that to our family history of depression and anxiety, and 30+ years of time passing since the accident without any treatment for the injury or the depression, and you have what I am dealing with… what I’ve dealt with since as long as I can remember.
Mom was never the easiest person to deal with. As long as I can remember, she’s had mood swings, anger issues, and unpredictable emotional outbursts. Her rationalization skills were always lacking, and her memory wasn’t the greatest. I know my father leaving us really killed her spirit, and even to this day I know she still loves him. But him leaving only added onto her already fragile mind state. She didn’t become a stronger person after he left… it only started her slow and steady shutout of the friends, family and world around her. And now after 29 years, I am finally coming to the end of my tolerance of her problems and lack of self-responsibility.
Now that grandpa is gone and our lease is ending, I’m ready to move out and finally start my life. But I cant. My mom doesn’t make enough money with her business and so far had been refusing to look for work. She picks up job applications, but doesn’t fill them out or return them. She cries about her business failing and calls herself a ‘loser’ and follows it up with excuse after excuse. She managed to get a job delivering newspapers at night, but quit after one night because she “didn’t have a dome light in her truck”. Ever heard of a flashlight? After that answer, she blamed me for not going on her route with her. She’s an adult, I can’t hold her hand during a evening paper route, a route in the town she grew up in, when I have a job of my own to be at before 7am.
I’m trying so hard to help her get her stuff together and give her the courage to stand on her own feet, but it’s not working. I’m looking for low rent/income apartments for her and I set up the viewings and drive her to see the place. I’ve registered her for the housing assistance program and filed for her replacement social security card because she has suddenly lost it. I printed out the application for Public Aid and upon seeing it was 18 pages, sat down with her (prepared for arguing and tears) and told her I would help her with the whole thing, only to have her fill out the Name/Address/Basic Information section, flip through the rest of it and then start crying and putting herself down before telling me I don’t know what’s she’s going through and then shutting herself in her room and laying in her bed.
I know she’s depressed, I dragged sharp metal objects across my skin for 10+ years so I definitely understand the feeling of being sad, lost and helpless. I reached my breaking point, or as I refer to it, my “scared straight moment” and forced myself to face and fix my problems. But for years I’ve watched her wallow in her self-pity and now that time is seriously running out, and she hasn’t reached her wake up point… I don’t know if she ever will. I don’t know is she can.
She yells at me and says I have everything figured out and a boyfriend to help support me, therfore I don’t understand her feelings and frustration and accuses me of not caring. However, it’s obvious with her mind state that she doesn’t see the problems I am facing within the situation.
I have a mother with depression.
A mother with a brain injury.
A woman who is emotionally spent.
A woman who has given up.
A mother who cannot love herself or try to help herself.
A person who cannot function in the day to day Real World.
I have to worry about all of this. I feel like it’s my job to save her and to help her and try to give her the strength and belief that she is not the loser she calls herself. That she can find a job and stand on her own two feet. I can’t fix her brain injury and I can’t make the depression go away. But I can try to help her and support her, and suggest methods of self support and urge her to try and find ways to better herself, her life, her feelings.
But everything I do is shot down. All my suggestions and encouragement is met with excuses, resistance, fighting, tears, self-pity, accusations of not loving her and abandoning her, and name calling. I try telling her that not everything is her fault and how to work on the things she can control. She may have no control over the fact that she has a brain injury, but she does have the control to treat it… to seek help. She would qualify for medical disability but I can’t convince her to see a doctor because of “insurance”, where as if she would just quit coming up with excuses, she would find out that she can see a doctor and disability will provide her with insurance and help to pay for her bills, both medical and financial. There are programs out there that she can access, that will help her, that she does qualify for…. but if I can’t get her to fill out the paperwork or give me the information I need to fill it out for her, or see the doctor, or quit resisiting…. then I’m lost too. Her refusal to work with me seems like a white flag, a surrender. Her life choices cannot keep effecting me so negatively.
I feel like it’s an episode of ‘Intervention’. She’s the addict and I’m the substance. Her belief that her life will never get better and that it is what it is, and that if she can just keep me with her forever… is just enabling behavior if I stay. She’s too dependant on me when I know she has the strength to do it on her own, or with minimal help. But her refusal to belive it, or make an effort for positive change or any type of independence is driving me to the brink of giving up on her. If she continues to refuse to try and do anything for herself, I have to walk away. I have to do it for myself. I cannot allow her this guilt and power over me to keep my life from progressing and growing.
If she won’t get help and won’t let me try to help her help herself, then I have no more words… I have no more answers or ideas. I love my mother. She gave me life and raised me to be a strong fighter… but how do you fight for someone who refuses to fight for themself?