Help needed with mum who is unstable. I just don't know what to do!

I'm 20 and my mum Joanne is 49, she got diagnosed with breast cancer a year and half ago, which was the same time I went to university. This meant that my mum had only my younger sister to try and help her. Mum developed neutropenia sepsis which meant she had to stop chemo after 3 rounds and the sepsis has left her with some health complaints (mainly cysts around her body and low white blood cells).

Shortly after I left, my younger sister was sexually assaulted and then fell into the "wrong crowd" at school. This lead her to starting smoking and having underage sex etc. My mum went through a mental break Christmas 2014 where she ran away and tried to commit suicide, though this is speculated to have been caused by tamoxifen (her cancer drug). Things seemed to improve after that but by summer 2015, she began to become violent again. This was increased by the fact that my sister chose to run away to live with a family that the police called "dangerous and a risk" she lived there till November. My mum was a heavy drinker before cancer and has continued to drink after she was allowed. She also speaks to two friends who are much older and seem content on blaming everyone but her for the problems. My father (divorced) has been no help with all of this and makes things worse by blaming my mum and myself for all of the problems with my sister and taking no responsibility himself.

I don't know what to do, I have become the main communicator between my parents, meaning that I get the abuse from it all. This takes up a lot of my time and has affected my uni studies. My mum is out of control and will not listen to reason. The friends that she speaks to have made her go to a solicitor who makes matters worse by telling her that it is not her fault. Her current attitude is "I will consult my solicitor" or just threatening people with "legal action" this is normally aimed at me, and I am the one trying to help her. Someone needs to tell her that she is mentally ill, and so advise her to get help. But I am the only one who is admitting that there is a problem! I can't cope with this, it's too much for me to handle. Currently I have returned home for my Easter break and was visiting family for the day, I came home to my mum shouting abuse at my sister and then she got violent with me, I tried to speak to her but she would not listen. I am now too scared to leave her alone so I am sleeping downstairs as she has passed out on the sofa, I am scared that she will commit suicide as she has attempted in the past.

Is there anything I can do, I called the police numerous times but she changes persona when they arrive and becomes "the victim" and I am the one who is the danger. I have asked for them to help by getting her assessed. They refused. Do I have the right to go to her doctor and ask for help? Or is this not allowed due to patient confidentiality? I just want to be able to go back to uni and not have to worry that every call I get will be about her doing something or her attempting suicide. I love my mum so much and this just makes it worse.

I know chances are slim but any response would be greatly appreciated. Xxx


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10 Replies

  • The forum can be very quiet I think on Sunday evenings and I am not in a good state myself to say the least, but I just wanted you to know I read your post and I sympathise very much with your situation. I don't think you would be allowed to go and see her doctor but I am not sure to be honest. It sounds like you yourself need support with this situation; I can understand the strain and the sense of responsibility you are feeling. Sorry I cannot reply any better than this. You seem like a genuine person in need of some help and I send you my warmest wishes. Gemma x

  • Hi Gemma,

    Thank you so much for replying. It's nice to know that there are people out there that are listening to what I am saying. I will see if I can speak to her doctor if not I don't know what I will do! But I can't let this get any worse! I just want my family to be happy and healthy and I will do anything that I can to ensure that that happens. X from Steph xx

  • Hi Stephie I am really feeling so sorry for you, it's very tough on you and you

    Naturally want your Mom to be well. I suppose all you can do is to talk to A GP about this.and state your concerns. The trouble is that people with a problem like drink or

    Even a mental health problem often lack the insight to see that they actually

    Have a problem, this then means that the other person which is you Steohie is stuck, as they cannot change the behaviour of the person and have to find a way to cope.

    If your Mom won't accept she has a problem then you might have to take a break from her and try and look after herself, if she has a drink problem, getting her to

    Change is not going to be easy and the way will be quite hard and this is a lot for

    You to cope with.

    Ideally you should have. A supportive Mom but life isn't always ideal , so Stephie I think you need to talk to your GP and see what they say. I'm not sure what age your sister Is and Social Services might be involved if they feel she is at risk. Please look after

    Yourself and talk to your GP as well. This unfortunately sounds like s very difficult

    Situation. And you may have to withdraw from it in your best interests. Your

    Mom is a consenting adult and I guess has the right to do what she " thinks" is

    Ok. So in this case there might be nothing you can do,unless she is a danger to herself

    Or others.

    Please let us know how you are as I feel your sorrow and pain and it must be awful

    For you to cope with this.

    The Forum is quiet now but others may be along later and will give you their support.

    Stephie take a little step back and look after yourself until you at least get directions

    From GP.

    Stephie I'm sorry if I'm repeating myself in this Post as I was rushing to answer



  • Hi Hannah,

    Thank you so much for replying. It's such a horrible position to be in as I feel like if I don't try and help then if something bad happens, it would be my fault.

    I don't know what to believe anymore, as she says she has stopped drinking but still acts as though she is drunk. She just threatens everyone with "legal action" which is backed up by the "friends".

    I know I should take a step back and let her deal with it, it's just so hard as I go to uni far from home and my sister is the only person living with my mum. Since my sister is also unstable this makes home very tense and there are often large arguments and threats made.

    I will try and speak to her GP i just hope they can give me some advice or assistance.

    Best wishes,

    From Steph x

  • In your own right you need support and I would recommend you talk to your Mothers GP and explain what problems you are having at home.

    You can always ask your Mother if She would like you to go with her to GP Surgery, and discuss Her concerns. She must feel and understand home life must be stressed and she needs help and support.

    Has your Mother had any contact with McMillan Nurses ??


  • Hi Bob,

    I have tried to speak to my mum many times about getting some help and she believes that the problem is with everyone else and not herself. I just hope that she will realise what is happening before something really bad happens.

    Yes, she is in contact with nurses, but the conversations she is having with them normally contain her blaming everyone for her problems and again taking no responsibility for what is happening. I do not believe that it is solely caused by my mum- like my sister is equally unstable and so the two together causes the situations to happen, but I just feel that she needs to accept that she is also part of the cause. This could also be said for my dad, he seems to care too much about his businesses and so sees the problems with my sister as an inconvenience and so makes very little effort to try and help. He also doesn't believe that my sister has done anything wrong whxih heightens the tension in the house as he blames my mum for everything.

    Best wishes,

    Steph x

  • Hi Stephanie what an awful situation you find yourself in and I am so sorry you are facing this alone. I agree with Hannah - I think you have no option but to try everything including going to your mums GP and explaining everything. They can't break your mums confidentially but there is no harm in laying it on the line for them. I remember doing this with my mums doctor and she was very good.

    If they think your mum is a danger to herself or to others then their only real option is to section her. However if they don't agree with that they will say that your mum has to agree to treatment and if she won't then there is not a lot you can do, unfortunately.

    You can only go so far with people even loved family so be aware of the need to look after yourself. You mustn't let yourself be dragged down so much that you end up by cracking up as this won't do you or them any good.

    Is there any other family who can help? x

  • Thank you so much for replying, I will go to the GP to ask what I can do, like f they could give me advice or anything like that. It's just a horrid situation as I spend most of my time worrying that something bad will happen between my mum and sister.

    I have no family that would help, as we live away from my mums family. The sisters that she speaks to made the situation worse over xmas by blaming myself and George and leaving nasty phone messages for us. My mums twin also moved to turkey the same time she was diagnosed with cancer so she is not around. This means that the friends that she have have become her only support and they are content with telling her she is fine. My dad is also content on blaming my mum for everything and so will not help. Their relationship soured even more through her threatening legal action and being verbally abusive towards him.

    It's just so hard, as I want to support her as currently I'm the only one looking at both sides and want the best for both of them. But unfortunately I am ignored in favour of the people who say what she wants to hear.

    Best wishes,

    Steph xx

  • Hello Stephanie. It does seem as if you are in an impossible situation with no one helping you. This can't go on as your own health will suffer and so will your studies.

    I think it's important to speak to your student advisor or councillor ( I don't know what they are called nowadays) and advise them of your home situation. They will then be aware in advance that your studies might be effected. It sounds cynical but you need to do this in case they think k its just an excuse if it does happen that you are late with assignments or do less well than expected. This is such an important stage of your life and you want to give it every chance you can.

    My feeling is that you might be fightening a losing battle at the moment and perhaps you have to withdraw for a while. If you can choose a time when your mother is in a calmer more reasonable mood then tell her that you need to concentrate on your studies, its not that you don't love her and care for her. Maybe you can speak to her friends and your father as well and tell them what you plan and that it's up to them to do their bit.

    You may think that you can't do this at this time but you may have to consider when the time will come and if it will be too late for you. It sounds as if you have done a tremendous amount of caring already. I think it might be time for you to think about yourself. I may be wrong. Its always difficult to gauge a family situation. Without actually experiencing it.

    I wish you and your family well.


  • You are at a hiding for nothing here and I would advise that you call 111 the Emergency line and ask for help when your Mother is acting out Her depression.

    They can arrange the Crisis Team too visit your home and decide on the best way forward.

    There are several actions they can suggest, if your Mam is dangerous towards herself or other people a Section can be performed to remove her from the home into a place of safety. The other way is you Mother could ask for a Voluntary Section to take her out of the home for treatment to calm her down.

    There are two other actions that can be performed, the taking of her to A and E may help as they will try and assess your Mothers condition as her basic health seems questionable after the withdrawal of her Cancer treatments and associated problems.

    In all these cases your excuse would be toward your Mother is that you in the family are worried for her health situation.

    Your Mother must be concerned for Her own Health and this in its own right must be stressful for her and the worries of her condition will be getting herself down.

    Have they been able to cure the cancer or is the prognosis critical and is the cancer now spreading ??. You need to find out if it could also be this that is causing the rapid mood changes as I suppose the fear of Her illness must be pulling not only you, also your family down, that is why I have suggested Macmillan Nurses who specialize in Cancer Support.

    If your Mothers health has not been improved, it may be that a Hospice may be able to step in and give support in the final stages of your Mams condition.

    I would really recommend with others here that you visit your Mams GP and discuss the problems you are having. If the Prognosis is dire there are various pathways available to you and your mother if she is a danger not only to herself, also family members.

    Sad to say I in the past has been down the same pathway and I have found is most of the aggravation from your mother could be fear of her way forward

    When it comes to your education, you need to discuss your fears and concerns with the Uni Social Worker and explain your concerns, they may be able to advise the best way forward for you and family at this stressful time. You need to be able to move on and pull back when the need arises. Other family members need to assist, even when they prefer to site back on their thumbs while you take on all the responsibilities.

    Your Sister also needs to take advise on her health grounds regarding her assault, especially if she is crumbling under her load, the GP should be approached, you could if needed go with Her and give support.

    You need however learn that you need to walk away from above and continue on with your life. If you are still at home ? I would advise you move on and get a flat through your college. The moving on should also cause family members to step up to the plate and take some responsibility for your Mothers needs. You need time and possible time for your own needs. Your education is important to you and a future awaits. If you fail because of your families needs that will just make you resentful in later life.