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Question
Posted by: Sad | 2012/04/24

Depression, drinking, drugging and complete disinterest in life

My dad died 2 years ago - it was a very sudden death 3 weeks from diagnosis to death. It shocked us all as we were a very close family. Since my dad''s death my mom has gone off the rails. She is acting like a person we don''t know. I recently (end of last year) convinced her to go and see someone about her depression which she did reluctantly and got onto some anti depressants and anti-axiety tabs. I told her she needs grief counselling, but she says she can''t talk to someone she doesn''t know. She makes no effort to make female friends. The meds have helped, but she is living a really reckless life, she is hanging out with men 20 years her junior (men with no jobs, house, money etc.), drinking all the time, smoking joints, bongs etc as often as possible...like nothing else in her life matters. We have tried to encourage her to get a job, or find something to keep her busy but she refuses, she would rather sit at home all day and then go out at night with her many ''guy'' friends. We try to include her in our plans but she ends up embarressing us by drinking too much and passing out, so I have stopped inviting her. My sister has tried to speak to her about her complete lack of respect for herself but she hasn''t changed. I know this is a terrible thing to say, but I feel like she died when my dad died and that she is a person who through the 39 years of marriage and the mother I knew that doesnt exist anymore. I dont'' know her, nor do I want to...honestly I dont know what to do. She is my mother and I can''t just let her waste her life (she''s in her early 50''s) but I feel guilty ignoring her. Just before my Dad died he asked me if I would take care of her if he died and I said I would....but I have a husband and 2 kids of my own to think of. My sister speaks to her and all my mother speaks about is bragging about her reckless behaviour - like she has nothing else to talk about and has lost the person she is. It''s making me depressed, I can''t sleep and I feel helpless.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

Its a common concern, or excuse, that one expects to find it difficult to talk to a therapist because they['re "a stranger" - but of course everyone you meet is a stranger at first, and a therapist has particular skills to help make it easier to get used to talking in this situation.
In her 50's she should require "taking care of " at this stage of her life, but the request suggests she feels very shaky and insecure of her ability to take care of herself. Counselling / psychotherapy is Definitely needed, so continue to work towards persuading her to move ahead this way.
I agree with Anon that some books may be helpful, IF they are written by and based on the work of genuien experts. I very strongly do NOT recommend the book Anon mentions, because it is foolishly based on the false and totally discredited work of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. I knew Elizabeth, and while we got on well personall, she made wild claims abour having done "research" she never actually did, and eventually chatted about being visited in her hotel room by friendly hairy-chested angels,and there was a major scandal at a treatment center she ran in California. The "Stages" theory is utter hogwash, and all good evidence shows there are not and never were 5 stages in any sense of the word "stage". Her misleading "stages" were simply a commercial re-packaging of well recognized and common ways of responding to loss and alarm, that are not stages, do NOT occur in any particular sequence, and therapies based on her theories have never been shown to be useful and indeed have often been found to cause more problems than they relieve.
In fact its a reliable test of any self-help book on grief or dying - if it mentions Kubler Ross and her stages with approval and without criticism, then it is not to be trusted.

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

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Our users say:
Posted by: Raymond | 2012/05/16

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Reply to Raymond
Posted by: Sad | 2012/04/25

Thank you for your advice, and whilst self-help is good...I''m not sure she even wants to help herself. I will try and get her a book. You have recommended what NOT to get, can you recommend something which you think would help? How do I stop feeling guilty about avoiding her? Or is that my issue I need to sort out? It was a promise to my Dad that I ''look after'' her, I suppose not from a day to day kind of terminal patient lokking after, but more of a look out for her. I can''t be a mother to my mother.

Reply to Sad
Posted by: Anon | 2012/04/25

If your mother feels uncomfortable talking to a stranger about what she is going through you should perhaps consider finding a good book on the subject of grieving and encourage her to read it. Ofcourse, it''s no subsitute for counselling but it''s worth a try if she isn''t willing to seek help. It might give her some perspective or help her better understand what she is experiencing at the moment.

On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, I think this is the book that my uncle bought and passed to my mother and grandmother after my grandfather passed away and it helped them all a great deal.

I think it''s important for you to remember that you have already done a great job of fulfilling your role here, you have been caring, supportive, encouraging and even included her in your activities so that she doesn''t feel alone...but ultimately she, as an adult, will make her own choices.

Reply to Anon
Posted by: cybershrink | 2012/04/25

Its a common concern, or excuse, that one expects to find it difficult to talk to a therapist because they['re "a stranger" - but of course everyone you meet is a stranger at first, and a therapist has particular skills to help make it easier to get used to talking in this situation.
In her 50's she should require "taking care of " at this stage of her life, but the request suggests she feels very shaky and insecure of her ability to take care of herself. Counselling / psychotherapy is Definitely needed, so continue to work towards persuading her to move ahead this way.
I agree with Anon that some books may be helpful, IF they are written by and based on the work of genuien experts. I very strongly do NOT recommend the book Anon mentions, because it is foolishly based on the false and totally discredited work of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. I knew Elizabeth, and while we got on well personall, she made wild claims abour having done "research" she never actually did, and eventually chatted about being visited in her hotel room by friendly hairy-chested angels,and there was a major scandal at a treatment center she ran in California. The "Stages" theory is utter hogwash, and all good evidence shows there are not and never were 5 stages in any sense of the word "stage". Her misleading "stages" were simply a commercial re-packaging of well recognized and common ways of responding to loss and alarm, that are not stages, do NOT occur in any particular sequence, and therapies based on her theories have never been shown to be useful and indeed have often been found to cause more problems than they relieve.
In fact its a reliable test of any self-help book on grief or dying - if it mentions Kubler Ross and her stages with approval and without criticism, then it is not to be trusted.

Reply to cybershrink

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