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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
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Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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My mother has lived with me for 1.5 years. I'm bipolar with

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My mother has lived with me for 1.5 years. I'm bipolar with borderline personality disorder, I'm on medication and I see my doctors regularly. I know I'm not a joy to live with as I have frequent headaches and no social life and a child with behavioral problems and Aspergers traits. My mom helps a lot around the house. She has taken on the yard work and most of the house work. She does it, she says, because she doesn't know where she stands with me and she feels the need to earn her keep. If I do something, like wash dishes or reorganize my closet, she kind of sulks and asks why I didn't wait for her and is she not doing a good job and goes on and on about why she didn't get to it before me. When we have fights, she says she's nothing but a housekeeper and she should just stay in her room with the door shut and other mopey things. Sometimes she complains of being underappreciated, slams doors, sighs, mutters bitchy things just loud enough to be heard. Today, she was telling my daughter that her finding amusement with her farts was something she should quit, and came to tell me all about it, then told me that none of her friends farted and laughed like that. In fact, they didn't fart at all around her ever I think she said. I made the mistake of telling her that my friends did (I am 34) when I was a kid, and I just talked to a teacher who told me it is normal for the age group (my child is 10) and they usually grow out of it. "Well, my friends didn't do that..." she said, I made another mistake by telling her she was never that intimate with anyone. To which she got very defensive and said she had been to a couple of girls' houses a total of two times, she played outside with kids, and went to holiday parties. I made the further mistake of saying that doesn't constitute intimacy, and that she had an abnormal childhood (which she has even said herself to me) but she got really defensive as if I were attacking her personally. I was thinking, what the hell? I said her childhood sucked, her parents fought like cats and dogs, she was treated like a little adult from an early age, and she's got poor people skills (which is true). Is that an attack on my part? I thought I was repeating what I had been told. My mom doesn't understand children. This was just an example of a behavior pattern. She's very upset at me now, she said I was beoing passive aggressive, but I was just presenting my opinions like I am here now, with you. Kind of emotional now, this sort of interchange has been going on for a while. She tells me I am not a doctor and I need to stop diagnosing her. I'm frustrated because she won't see a doctor. She says she is happy for the most part being a hermit and having no friends. I told her basically she came by that naturally, her childhood, although filled with a few memories of cowboys and indians and a Halloween party, wasn't healthy. I'm tired of her getting so neurotic on my daughter. My daughter has problems, but she is so much more friendly and happy than I was as a kid. I think my mom wants me to be what is called a "helicopter parent." When I zone out when Audrey is babbling or being annoying or getting on someones nerves, she says that is a problem. Is it? I feel overloaded. I'm a single parent and Audrey is active nonstop and needs lots of attention. If my relatives are bothered by something Audrey does, instead of talking about me behind my back, saying "She's just let her run wild" why don't they just correct Audrey? What do I need to do? I need advice. I have Audrey in counselling, for the last almost 4 years, I homeschool her (her IQ is about 170 and public school wasn't working to accomadate her needs), I keep her healthy. My mom has this neurotic, uptight mindset, she is easilly stressed out, complains a lot. It feels like poison. I have problems of my own. All of this doesn't help. What's wrong with my mom? What's wrong with me? What do I do?
Hello, I'd like to help you with your questions.

It sounds like your mother may have some personality issues of her own. She may live with you, but raising your daughter should be up to you and she should not interfere. Being there for you and your daughter is one thing, but expecting you to allow her to comment on your daughter's behavior and your choices is crossing the line.

It sounds like you are doing a very good job with your daughter. You put her needs first and you have her in therapy to help her. She does not need to hear from your mother about her faults, which may undermine her progress in therapy.

Your mother also crosses boundaries and may be a bit manipulative when it comes to how she does the chores. She seems to want to help, which is very nice of her, but then she uses the chores as a way to control you. For example, getting upset at you when you try to do the dishes or other things around your home. This is your home and what you do is your choice. If she does want to help, filling in on chores you can't do is the biggest help, not using the chores as a way to make you feel bad or control your behavior. That does not help and that is about her issues, not yours.

What may help is to sit down with your mom and draw up some boundaries. Ask her what she wants to do around the home then list those things. Tell her that you appreciate what she is doing. Then let her know what you are willing to do. That way, both of you have boundaries around the chores and if she crosses them, then you have reason to ask why. Also, talk with her about your daughter. Make sure she knows that you want her in your life and your daughter's life, but that you want her to come to you with her thoughts and not your daughter. Also make it clear that you are the parent and any choices you make are up to you and she should not question them.

You may also want to suggest attending therapy together. Living with each other can be nice, but it also can bring out the issues between you. By talking together in therapy, you can have the therapist help you sort out the conflict and help you set boundaries that work for both of you. It is much harder for your mother to argue in front of a therapist than when she is just with you.

I hope this has helped you,
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