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TherapistMarryAnn
TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5840
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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I have an ongoing situation with my mother and I finally

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Hello, I have an ongoing situation with my mother and I finally decided to reach out for help in seeking answers to see if my mom has a mental illness. All my life I have had to tip toe around her never saying or bringing up anything negative about my childhood or feelings about it. She on the other hand can yell, hang up on me and pretty much do or say what she wants. She does not like social situations and resents anybody attending a function calling them freeloaders and shameless. When I was younger she expected me to be loyal to her to a fault; by not speaking to people she was mad at, raising my kids according to her believes and saying things that would cut down my own choices for living. The reason I'm so concerned now is because her health is in pretty bad shape. I have tried to have her live with me but all she does is show me how miserable she is and what my family is not doing for her and all of heard is how much she wants to die. She has tried in front of me to stab herself with a knife, tell me in detail about how she plans to kill herself and bounces back from happy to hating life,,,especially men. She will not be honest with the doctor about her symptoms and telling him what is really going on with her. She will tell me later "I didn't tell the doctor this but I was bleeding but didn't want to stay longer in the hospital. Or I know I have cancer and will die soon. She has also never been empathetic when I'm ill, her answer is usually I have the same thing or I'm sicker than you are. Any mention of what she did to us as children gets met with soon I will die and be out of your life..I hear that all the time!!! I'm to a point that I don't want to deal with her anymore but I know she needs more assistance now because of her health. Help!

Hello, I'd like to help you with your problem.
From your description, it sounds like your mother might have a personality disorder, possibly narcissism and/or borderline. Personality disorders are typically ingrained behaviors that someone develops, usually in response to being raised in a dysfunctional home. The person could not get their needs met (for unconditional love and attention) so they developed other ways to get what they needed which usually involved dysfunctional behaviors. When they grew up, they continued these behaviors even when they were no longer needed.
Knowing what your mother might have and how to react to her behavior can help. While there is no way to diagnose her without seeing her for an evaluation, the behavior you describe sounds like narcissistic or borderline type. Here is a link that can help you figure out what she might have:
http://www.nmha.org/go/information/get-info/personality-disorders
Many people can have some traits of one personality disorder or they can have some traits of a couple of personality disorders. By finding a personality disorder that seems to fit, you can at least know what you might be dealing with.
When dealing with someone with a personality disorder, it is helpful to keep in mind that they are not reacting to who you are as a person or even what you are doing. They are going by cues they learned long ago on how to relate to their world. And their responses can seem overwhelming and out of touch with the actual situation. They can also be very hurtful and hard to cope with.
If your mother won't get help or change in any way (common with someone with a personality disorder), you may have to change how you interact with her. One thing that helps is to see what she does as about her own issues and not you. Also, think of one phrase you can say to her that neutralizes anything she might say. such as "I'm sorry you feel that way". That usually shuts down the person and you can make a quick exit out of the situation.
You can also talk to the professionals in her life about what she tells you and the symptoms you are seeing with her. You can contact her doctor ahead of time before her appointment to tell him/her what is going on with your mother. The doctor may not be able to share with you without a consent, but you can tell them anything you need to. You can also tell any social workers or other professionals involved what you are seeing and how your mother denies any problems in front of them.
Also, learn more about personality disorders along with joining groups that can help you feel less alone. You may not be able to change your mother, but you can get more support and learn other ways of coping. Here are some resources to help:
www.nami.org
http://psychology.about.com/od/personalitydisorders/a/personalitydis.htm
Unlocking Your Family Patterns: Finding Freedom From a Hurtful Past by Dave Carder M.A., Earl R. Henslin, John S. Townsend and William Henry Cloud
I hope this has helped you,
Kate
TherapistMarryAnn and 2 other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Thank you very much for the positive rating and bonus. I appreciate it!
My best to you,
Kate