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I am trying to get my symptoms under control...

Willow7733 profile image

I am trying to get this forever ongoing “flare” under control. I am doing all the right things. I am eating better. Exercising more. And I am trying to reduce stress in my life. Since March, that has been so difficult.

My father died March 2nd, leaving my mother totally depressed and a mess. I just moved to this new city, 3 hours away, for my work. My mother has never been alone in her life (married my dad at 19. She is 77 now). The pandemic hit and Where we lived closed down. She has many close family around her, so they were with her when she and I were not able to travel to see each other. Every day, since March, she calls me to tell me how this friend or that friend’s daughter was so much better than me...because the dropped everything to move back in with their widowed mother to take care of her. My mother is very mobile, healthy, and totally capable of living on her own unassisted. I call every single day (and I get spoken down too every single day. She refuses to do things she loves to do with close family and friends because I am not there. When I go visit, all I end up doing is hanging out with. A bunch of 80 year olds, watching them play cards. This is not the life I want to be living right now. And yet, I am SO stressed and feel so guilty.

I don’t know what to do! I can’t move back home - there are no jobs and I have a huge student loan to pay back for going into medicine. I love my job and I live living here. I needed to move away. My dad’s last words to me and my mother was that my mother needs to let me go live my life. But she isn’t making it easier. I think this is what is causing most of my stress, which is causing me to have these asthma episodes. I just started a new job in neurology ICU, which also adds to my stress (but I love it!). I just don’t know what to do.

Sorry to post this, but I am at a loss on how to deal with this.

35 Replies

Aww Willow, bless you! That’s tough when you feel that kind of pressure from your mum! I’m in a totally different boat but live with my parents at the mo...my mum has Parkinson’s disease & my dads just old, but I do feel very trapped sometimes and just want to be able to live like a 42 year old rather than like an old lady already!!! I really think it’s important for you to have your own life! Really don’t feel guilty! Of course you and your mum will both be grieving and will deal with things differently, but somehow, your mum will have to learn to deal with her own stuff & find her way, whilst she lets you find your way too. Unfortunately if she’s not supportive, she’ll have to accept the level of relationship with you that leaves her with...but that’s her issue, not yours. It sounds like you do an awesome job& you need to look after yourself and your own health so you can live and enjoy your life as fully as possible.

🤗 Dee x

Willow7733 profile image
Willow7733 in reply to madonbrew

Dee, thank you for your kind words. You have no idea what that means to me today. Thank you. I took yesterday “off” (I had the weekend off work and I didn’t answer my phone. Just did a what I wanted to do and relaxed.). My mother called me four times. This morning she yelled at me for not picking up the phone yesterday - like I am just sitting there waiting for her call? That makes no sense! (Monday I start a 9 shift stretch and I need to do things this weekend to get ready for that!) It is like she is suddenly 5 years old! She worked in the local hospital for 35 years and did very well. She doesn’t have any dementia, or mental incapacity to be acting this childish. She has always been highly emotional. But I can’t juggle my life and hers right now. I have nothing left. And yet, I feel like a horrible person.

I can so relate...I am 47, and the people I mostly am around these days are 80. I want to be with my friends and people my own age. I want to do things like kayaking, hiking, traveling. Some friends went wine tasting the other day. If I have to sit through one more game of BINGO...I will go nuts.

madonbrew profile image
madonbrew in reply to Willow7733

I guess your mum is suddenly having to figure out life for herself again & is almost using you to meet her need...but you in yourself have your own life to live too! 😊 And like DollyDutchGirl said...our parents should hopefully help us step out into the world and live purposefully & successfully within it. Go and enjoy a wine tasting night & your kayaking hun!!! And carry on enjoying your job! When I was in counselling a helpful thing I learnt was that I can’t change other people but I can change my own reactions/actions etc! So your mum might not change, and you’ll still love her, but you can put your own boundaries in place, so that she is not controlling your days etc .

Big hugs 🤗!!!!

PS...I know what you mean about Bingo 😂 I remember once...was a little thing...I was wrapping up presents before Christmas one year& had my paper and sellotape all over the floor & my mum came in moaning that she’d trip over everything.Which was true...she might, but I just felt in that moment that I didn’t want to be continually on guard

Willow7733 profile image
Willow7733 in reply to madonbrew

So true. So very true! Thank you.

madonbrew profile image
madonbrew in reply to Willow7733


Willow, are you able to communicate with any of the other close family members you say your Mum has around her. If so, perhaps you could chat with them, explain how grateful you are for the care they have shown your mother but, also let them know that as your mum is very capable, mobile and healthy, you are doing as exactly your father had instructed you - and your mother - by moving away and making a life for yourself. Please don’t feel pressured by anyone into feeling guilty about doing so. The older generation (of which, at 74 years old, I believe I am) have had their opportunities and it is their duty to encourage their children to step out into the world and to take advantage of every opportunity that comes their way, to improve their lives as much as possible and, if they are fortunate enough to find the love of their lives.....grab it with both hands and enjoy every nano second. Please, stay strong, talk to any friends you may have made in your new job or in the neighbourhood that you now live. Go out and enjoy the life that you deserve...😊x

That’s such a well rounded response DollyDutchGirl! 😊


Thank you for your kind and thoughtful words. I have put my live on the side for everyone else, for so long. I am finally living my life for me. And I want my own life! I am positive all this is causing me to not be able to breathe (both figuratively and literally).

Willow, it’s so easy for a parent to play the guilt card but, it is dreadfully unfair of them if they do. This is your life - and I believe that you only get one chance at it. (I appreciate that certain religions believe there are multiple chance - but, I’m a here and now person.). This IS your time, please enjoy the company of your friends, relax and enjoy YOUR life...you deserve it...😊x

Right before my father passed away,,we were in palliative at the hospital, and my mother took me to the family room to tell me “I owe her”. By that, she told me that I need to drop what I am doing and go back home to take care of her. My father saw,,when we came back to his room something was different and spoke to me separately and in private. That was the first time I ever saw him very angry with my mother. He made sure she knew and I was there to hear it that “we had our time, now it is hers. She needs to live her life.” Still, he is not here now...and she is constantly telling me I am a bad person for not moving back. I am so tired. Like, deep down bone tired.

My job is taking care of people. My mother wants all my spare time to take care of her. When do I take care of me? Or is that not an option?

Willow, NOW is your time to look after you....!!!! You are are NOT a bad person. It’s definitely time to stand up against your mother’s selfish behaviour and remind her of your father’s words. Tell her that your job is dedicated to the world of the unwell. You are not selfish, you are working in a situation that benefits many. If she wants you to relinquish helping the many in order to be at her beck and call...you cannot do that. Your father would not have wanted that, he stated that he didn’t want that. Go forward lovey lady, lead your life as you know your father wanted....and be proud. 😊🎉

I totally echo DollyDutchGirl! You are NOT a bad person and it seems your mum is being very unfair towards you. You are worth looking after! And it’s ok that you live your life! 😘

Willow7733 profile image
Willow7733 in reply to madonbrew

It is awesome to know all of this is not totally my fault. I may have more than two hours of sleep tonight! :)

No, that is not what he wanted for me. He made that clear to us both. I had to call in sick for my shift (something I never do) because I really was having trouble with asthma. Nothing was working. Then I was ok for Friday knowing I was off the weekend. And tonight it is getting bad again. I have tests this week to see what is going on....but I wonder if it is stress?

Please, feel free to hat with with me when ever you need to...🥰

Thank you. 🥰 I already feel less like I am drowning!! Thank you SO much. 😊

It would be helpful for you to get some counselling perhaps that would give you support to reinforce and consolidate your boundaries. Your mother’s manipulating tactics and coercive behaviour is quite toxic in my view and will be a stress factor in your current flare. It sounds like you understand that but it is difficult to withstand the barrage on your own, so enlisting help of any sort is good. Guilt is such an unproductive emotion and is very stressful and corrosive physically and emotionally. A counsellor could help you to develop tools and strategies for keeping firm. It may be that your mother is quite far along the narcissism spectrum and cannot see you for yourself but rather than as extension of herself. When you first come to see narcissism unmasked like this in a person you previously may not have suspected it in, it’s quite shocking to witness, as it’s so hard to fathom that someone doesn’t have empathy and altruistic thoughts like you, that someone doesn’t have your best interests at heart, only theirs. It may be that her solipsism is only temporary, but it may be that it has always been there, given the remarks your father made, which I find quite telling, as if he had learnt it the hard way. A counsellor may help you to for example be able to tell your mother that you value your relationship so it is best, so to be able to give her your full attention, to reserve a couple of appointed times in the week for a good telephone chat, and not to be so available on the phone at other times. And how to be firm about it.

How to be firm about a line in the sand, no matter how hard she pushes.

I suspect though she has always been solipsistic to some degree or another and you and you father have always been taking care of her, a dynamic maybe that has perhaps led you to put others’ needs before your own. A learned dynamic and habit, that sounds like you are learning to break, which is fantastic. I do hope you get help to break free of it, as it’s quite hard mental work that’s very draining on you (internal debates) and really you want to be spending your time and thoughts on, quite frankly, more interesting things.

I agree totally! I am going to look into that. They offer counselling through the hospital I work for.

Perfect advice 🙂

Morning W, I’m sorry that you are in a whirlwind of emotions at present!!

I’m 70yrs and my soulmate John was lifted to his spiritual life 18mths ago, and I am grateful for all the blessings that I receive from family and friends.

Your mum is grieving, as are you, and emotional support maybe a help for you both- separately!

I am receiving great support from an organisation W E T

and I’m happy to say that they are a great support!

I’m am a bit clingy sometimes and mither my daughters sometimes, but I’m proud of myself and I am gonna be ok!!

We all have a right to be happy and please don’t let your mum dictate and hound you into submission 💕

Maybe write down a plan of action

1 send her a kindness card and let her know that you love her

2 Explain you are prepared to be in touch with her if she can respect you and the choices you make.

You have got a great life opportunity my dear girl, go ahead and enjoy!!

Your mum is gonna have to have a reality check- she can enjoy her life and be happy- if she counts her blessings

Tell her it’s up to her to feel fulfilled and be proud of you- a beautiful daughter XTHERESE

Good morning! I am so sorry for your loss. Life can sure throw us difficult situations at times. My mother is actually receiving grief counselling and keeps telling me that she was told nobody can tell her how or for how long her grieving process lasts. Which makes me nervous, because I can’t live like this for several years to come. She has always been a very highly emotional person. Lots of drama all the time. Her sister is the same but even worse. I am at a total loss on how to deal with such a strong personality.

Thanks for your reply W

Please don’t let your mum cause you to be unhappy, your dad I think could see the writing on the wall so to speak hey? None of us can read the future, but your mum is able to choose her daily routine and you can either write her a card or through a family member to tell her that you are entitled to make your own decisions . Maybe a cooling off time will give her the impetus to get her motivated! 💕😊

So many wise words from everyone, especially the suggestion to seek counselling. I had counselling twice, once after a tough bereavement and once for stress at work. It was the best thing I could have done and gave me the perspective I needed to work through tough times. My GP recommended counselling on both occasions and his support with my asthma at the time was invaluable.

I find it interesting that your father's last words were about your mother letting you live your own life. He obviously knew her extremely well and foresaw the current situation. That's the perspective you need to keep sight of - your father's last wish. Your mother will be ok and she has to learn to deal with her own grief and change in circumstances by herself. Obviously her family who are geographically close can give her some support, but no one should rob her of rising to this challenge and this opportunity to learn many new things, like self determination. This is an opportunity she shouldn't shrink from as she'll be all the happier for it.

Personally, I think the daily phone calls are a hindrance rather than a help, like a circle of reinforcement of her bad behaviour (allowing her to say what a poor daughter you are). Maybe you can start to ration your time that you commit to your mother and break the cycle of dependency. But definitely seriously consider counselling as this will be the first positive step and put you back in the driving seat and allow you to grieve your father.

Wishing you all the best and condolences on the loss of your father.

Willow7733 profile image
Willow7733 in reply to Poobah

The daily phone calls are starting to get to me. It is a cause of stress, because if I am tired when I get home (some shifts run 18 hours li g if my relief is late or a no show). And sometimes, I just want to eat and go to bed to be ready for the next day! Or some busy days, I just want to come home and not talk at all. Just relax. It is a stressful job. I deal with code blue situations daily. But she gets SO angry if I don’t answer the phone. (To be totally honest, some days I put the phone on mute to just get a break). Maybe that is wrong...but for sanity’s sake, I have to. I can’t talk to her. She gets angry at very little and then I have her yelling. I don’t need that these days.

Poobah profile image
Poobah in reply to Willow7733

That sounds quite irrational behaviour to me and demonstrates a complete lack of empathy on your mother's part, whether with your grief at losing your father or with your extremely demanding job. It's very difficult to deal with unreasonable behaviour in others and it definitely takes training and practice.

I equate it to fire drills. Why do we have fire drills regularly? Because we have to learn to respond to an unusual and rare event in a way that helps us ignore our usual and common behavioural responses. If only the phone calls were rare!

We have to sometimes unlearn our normal behaviour and responses in order to find a healthy and safe way to deal with a threatening event, especially one that's relentless. Your description of those phone calls sound unhealthy, as a minimum.

I hope you find the time to seek the support you need to break the cycle and to create a more healthy mum-zone, on your terms.

All the very best. 🤗

She’s controlling you by her anger, what a bully, but you do not need to be afraid of it. See it as impotent, like the Wizard of Oz, a little man hiding behind a curtain. As long as she continues to be successful in getting her own way by being angry, she will continue to use anger and rage. But do not give her that power. Start by responding only to her good behaviour, teach her how to treat you. You are not her servant, slave, or whatever, even though she has cast you as one. Just refuse. Refuse being used and abused. Start reading up about codependency. Stop trying to please, appease, or placate her. It’s up to you now. You are not helpless, or powerless, like you were when a little girl, and must step out now from the roles she is assigning you.

have you tried writing all this down in a letter to her -explaining everything you've just shared with us -dont be confrontational or angry with her but clearly explain your need for a life of your own , like your dad wanted for you , the stressful job you do and how you need to relax after a shift and so on.I urge you to send it but even if you dont I think it will help to clarify things in you own mind.I know how wearing a needy relative can be but she is grieving in the only way she knows how I think

Hi Willow, just another thing. This is a link to a very good video from Sue Blackhurst. I hope you enjoy it. She has many more, all helpful when dealing with and understanding different personality types. youtu.be/2gRJ_GPtJbg


Willow7733 profile image
Willow7733 in reply to Poobah

Love it! Thank you!!

I don't know why mothers do this - mine was a nightmare. When I was in counselling, I told her that I would ring her once a week and no more. Then I would talk to her about the weather, the children and the price of bacon. I would not have her criticise me or my family in any way and if she did, I would put the phone down. It took a while for this to get though to her, but eventually, it did. I was supported by her friends in this. The joy of modern phones is that you can see who is calling, and not answer if you don't want to. You have nothing to feel guilty about. If necessary, stop talking to her altogether for a bit. Focus on your life and have fun. It sounds cruel, but it's not as cruel as emotional blackmail.

I just ran around town for her to print $10 coupons for a restaurant where she lives. It cost me $100 to get the ink for my printer to print those stupid $10 coupons for her. At least I won’t have her asking every day: “ did you print them? Did you print them? Did you print them? Did you print them??” I am tired...

Even if you could get another job and move home I don’t think your mum would be happy!

I feel she is trying to manipulate you and her situation.

You also need time to grieve.

Start telling her you can’t be contacted by phone when working and if need be don’t tell her when you not working. That way you might get some time for yourself!

Willow7733 profile image
Willow7733 in reply to Bevvy

You know what? Dad died, mom lost it, Covid happened, work was crazy (at the time I worked in the ER), then I transferred to neurological ICU....my dad was my best friend. He and I were very very close. I haven’t even cried yet. I don’t have time. I can’t grieve now. That, to me, is so sad.

Go and talk to your line manager. You need help with your situation.

Aww willow, agree with everyone else's advice. Speak to line manager I think maybe you need time out for a bit to grieve/cry.

Absolutely counselling you'll never look back where your mum sadly has stripped you down you will gain the tools to build back up 🙂.

So glad you had that bond with your dad especially at the end, interesting what he said to you though.

He's obviously seen it over the years and knew how her behaviour would escalate and the impact it would have on you because your a loving, caring daughter trying to juggle everything and feeling guilty.

Emotional blackmail, manipulation, controlling behaviour - you're either a nurse or Dr I'm a nurse, think about your safeguarding training if this was your patient and her family what would you advice and encourage them?

Your mum needs to learn boundaries and to respect them or she'll lose you completely.

As others have said daily phone calls? That's too much especially after a shift let alone long stretch should just be a text - (can she text) to check in then call on your day off or twice a week, whatever works for you.

You need to put yourself first atm or your no use to anyone if this continues. Your important too. Big hugs. 🙂💐🥰

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