what to do when my Mum won't get help? - Mental Health Sup...

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what to do when my Mum won't get help?

ducktooth profile image
8 Replies

I'm new here, looking for advice on a situation that's not improving. My parents are in their 60's, retired. I live and work few hours away so don't see them often.

A while ago my Mum fell into serious anxiety and depression. She stopped going out for any reason, then stopped eating properly, and was hospitalised for a time. She's been back at home for nearly a couple of years now, living with my Dad (in the UK), and with anti-depressants the initial crisis has passed.

The difficulty is that she remains extremely anxious about a wide range of things, including people seeing her, and this means she doesn't leave the house. She's probably only been out a couple of times over the last two years for absolute necessities. Previous hobbies like gardening and reading have stopped, and doesn't keep in touch with any friends or family. My Dad has to do all the shopping and the majority of the cooking and housework, and I know this along with her constant worrying and anxious behaviour gets him down.

From reading around, this seems like quite severe general anxiety disorder and maybe social anxiety, with depression. However my Mum will not take any steps to get help. She avoids taking any action, and won't engage with ideas like counselling or therapy. She has monthly contact with a mental health team but won't take anything offered.

I'm scared what's going to happen in the future - while they're sort of OK now, my parents are getting older. Dad has basically become Mum's carer. I'm their only child and don't live nearby.

Is there any ways to encourage someone to help themselves or reach out for help? I understand CBT is probably the gold standard, but any suggestions/encouragement/nagging/frank conversations haven't made any difference so far.

8 Replies

Having carers may be an option, they would help with cooking and other housework but mainly they will see if your parents are alright.

Sasical profile image

Hi ducktooth This must be very distressing for you. How about suggesting some online therapy? with Covid this has become quite a common way to have therapy. If she is afraid of leaving the house this could be an option she might be more open to try.

How does your Mother see the Mental Health team, Does she need to go to the office or do they visit the home ? If they are seeing your Mam they should be able to introduce activities like going for a walk in a park or on the beach ?

Your Father could try and get your Mam to at least go shopping in the car initially she can stay in the car then over time visit the shops etc

You mention gardening, does your Mam have a seat in the garden where she can sit, it is important she learns how to gain back Her independence by doing things in little steps like walking to a garden gate etc

Have you any idea the reason for this illness


ducktooth profile image

Thanks for your responses.

There was initially regular (monthly?) visit from a mental health worker, which in recent times is a phone call. There has been offers of phone counseling or an internet-based course, however Mum avoids these and won't engage.

I suspect that its obvious that the end goal of anything like CBT / counselling or self-help course like this is to get to a more normal life, and Mum just wants to avoid all situations she finds difficult.

Small steps like going out in the garden, or go for a walk where there aren't many people, are the type of thing Dad and I have tried to suggest or encourage ... but even those are not acceptable for Mum. She'll avoid or complain or change the subject, or find all sorts of excuses why it's not a good time or whatever. The most I know she's willingly done is to go into the back garden briefly to hang washing outside, or empty the bin. I think once this year Dad's got her to go somewhere rural to feed the ducks, but that's through lots of nagging and I don't think hugely willingly.

I find it very difficult to understand how this has got so serious. A couple of years ago Mum had a very normal independent life, driving, shopping etc. Perhaps while retired Mum's life became very limited in hobbies / friends / going out, with much of her time looking after her Mum then her Dad before they passed away. Losing her Dad, and having little left to do was perhaps the trigger for the crisis ... and then life never got back anything like normal. At this point, I can't really see Mum being as independent as before (eg driving again), but it seems essential to be able to go out to shop, get a haircut, and meet friends or family etc... :o(

Beautifulrainbow profile image

Hi duck tooth sorry to hear about what you are going through with your mum, it must be awful to see her detiriate as quick as she's gone Down,and the upset that you must be going through. Your mum is really suffering from depression and social anxiety and I myself can relate to that. I myself lost both parents, and helped out with their care, lost my job, amongst other illness I myself have. I can only say how I felt when that happened to me. I became lost, I didn't know who I was anymore, I didn't like myself, and as soon as the day started I wanted it to end, wouldn't go out because I didn't want to see or speak to anyone, and I know what strain I put on my whole family, but I felt I couldn't cope anymore. So it's really important for you all to try and persuade your mum to go back to her Dr and make, a double appointment and tell them exactly how she's feeling, she will need support with that, so try to go along with her and hopefully she will open up about how she's feeling and when she thinks it all started. Have you thought of bereavement counselling maybe that might help to talk about her parents. Because, she sounds lost to me, being retired your parents should and deserve to enjoy their lifes, theyve worked hard for it. I really hope your mum feels better soon and she excepts all the help they give her. Sorry for long post, I'm sending you all my love. 💖

ducktooth profile image

Beautifulrainbow thank you for your reply. It's reassuring to hear that things can change for some people in similar situations. I hope you're doing well now.

I still don't know how to help mum take the first step.

Sasical profile image
Sasical in reply to ducktooth

I used to be housebound due to agoraphobia and I'm not any longer so it can happen. Since Claire Weekes books and recordings where so helpful to me, a suggestion would be buying the book for her and if she reads that it might help her take that first step x

Corndolly profile image

So sorry to hear you are going through this duck tooth. Bereavement can do some awful things. Have you engaged with the mental health team yourself to say this isn't working. They are the experts. Do you need a second opinion ?I would escalate your concerns. Good luck CDx

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