Relationship My mother is destroying my mental health

benny22

New Here
I (28F) am currently working full time in an European country. My mother and stepfather live in another European country. For years their relationship has been rocky and my mother has tried to move in with me. I can't really afford it. Not only I am house sharing but I have a lot of debt that I am trying to pay off. A large part of this debt is because I took a loan to help her out. She had had money put aside for a new car and my stepfather didn't know she spent it all (some on meds but others on other stuff that were not necessarily urgent). I have continued to help her every month where I can. In 2020 she came for a visit and ended up staying in a spare room due to rhe pandemic. Those were the worst months of my life.

My mother's mental health is very poor. She has anger management issues and she also gets these anxiety attacks that absolutely destroy her rationale. She yells and insults me and when I tried to tell her she needs help and that is okay to need help given some of the traumas she faced, she told me I am a narcissistic child who treats her as if she is insane. Before coming to stay with me temporarily, she kept telling me how unhappy she was with my stepfather. Then once she was with me, she told me she prefers going back because I make her unhappy. Now she is back in the other country. My stepfather nearly lost his job because he refused vaccine. They both asked me if I could help them move over to where I am so I can help them as vaccination rules are more lax and the jobs are also better paid. I refused. They don't know the language and I know I will end up being the one in the middle of their fights. Their proposal to move where I am started after the daughter of one of my stepfather's work colleagues helped her dad move over. They keep reprimanding me, 'oh how come you can't do that, she helped her father?'. But it's absolutely not the same. The other person is in a better position financially. Her father is also more independent. She has a family of her own to support her.

My own mental health is in the gutter. There are days when I struggle with some pretty dark thoughts (not suicidal, but obsessive and negative thoughts which are tied in with my generally poor self-worth). I have debt that I am trying to get out of. I am very unhappy where I am in my life and trying to change by gaining new qualifications and skills. I am having to constantly put that on hold to help my mother. A couple of years back I got out a pretty large loan after she told me she's afraid my stepfather will find out she's spent a large part of the money for a car. My mother has told me I am selfish and I will regret it for not being more supportive, as I am behaving like other relatives in the family who have cut each other off.

My mother didn't believe in the discussion around mental health until I educated her. She still dismisses it as she thinks mental health discussion equals calling her insane. She dismisses my mental health because she doesn't think I have such big problems. Just because I had a better childhood than she did, it doesn't mean I can't have poor mental health. When I try to point out how I cannot live with her but I am happy to support her in other ways, to help her become more independent and address her own mental health, she just gets angry and starts making me feel like a disappointing daughter. My mother keeps saying she will give me another year before she moves over but I have no idea if my situation will change. I will certainly not change my mind about not wanting to live with her. I don't want to be responsible for her because she also makes me responsible for her mental health, and that is obvious from how she always says I am her 'battery'. She doesn't want to find a job although I have tried to help her in the other country where she is. My company is hiring. I know the process, I can help her.
I love my mother and I understand that she had a rough life so that's why she has the problems she has now. She was emotionally and physically abused growing up, by her own parents. She did better than they did, but I think her own PTSD is catching up with her in terrible ways. But she makes me feel like crap because she feels crap. She doesn't get that it doesn't have to be intentional to be toxic and harmful. She passed on some terrible financial habits that I had to learn to break out of. It took me years to realize that part of why I hate my own body is because she wasn't as body positive as I used to think. I remember one time she told me I look like a 'chunk of meat' because I was slouching at a table, in front of all guests and I don't think I ever stopped looking at myself in that manner. I was 11.

She was never physically abusive. I know others have had it so much worse. I was spoiled as a child. I was loved as well. But my mother lost her job and her health and she made mistakes. I don't think I can help her in the way she wants without losing myself. I will break my mother's heart but if I don't, I will just break down myself.
 

PlainJane

Moderator
@as839 Hi, and welcome to the forum! Just a couple questions, to make sure your thread is in the right area of the forum. I want to be clear, you do not have PTSD, correct? What you are wanting is help on how to deal with a loved one who has PTSD, as a supporter?

My own mental health is in the gutter. There are days when I struggle with some pretty dark thoughts (not suicidal, but obsessive and negative thoughts which are tied in with my generally poor self-worth).
She doesn't get that it doesn't have to be intentional to be toxic and harmful
She was never physically abusive. I know others have had it so much worse. I was spoiled as a child. I was loved as well. But my mother lost her job and her health and she made mistakes. I don't think I can help her in the way she wants without losing myself. I will break my mother's heart but if I don't, I will just break down myself.

Do you have a solid support system?
Are you currently in therapy? Is that something you are willing to consider?
 

Sweetpea76

Moderator
You are not in charge of anybody’s mental health but your own. Even if you did every single thing she asked, she’d keep changing what she wants, and you’d still be at fault.

It’s hard being a supporter. Don’t let them suck you into the pit.

You have to let go of the guilt so you can set some boundaries.
 

arfie

MyPTSD Pro
gentle empathy, as. i've been on both sides of the ptsd support desk --both as patient and peer supporter/community volunteer. for my therapy nickel, the support side of that desk is the harder to recover from. as a patient, i was seldom fully aware of the impact i was having on the world around me. as a supporter, the blows are often unbuffered and painful reminders of just how much each of us impact the world around us.

healthy boundaries are part of all healthy relationships. healthy boundaries are even trickier with unhealthy people. with unhealthy people, those boundaries can be a matter of self-preservation. nobody ever saved a drowning victim by drowning with them.

gentle support while you maintain the healthy boundaries you have already established and fine tune them to peace and serenity.
healing hopes for all. no exceptions.
 

benny22

New Here
Thank you all for your helpful and supportive answers. I think I won't have a choice -- I have to work with myself to put distance. My conundrum is that my mother is dependent on my stepfather currently and they are wishing to split. Without him, she has no home or income. She is inevitably putting me in the position where I am either choosing my health/independence or leaving her to become homeless (the rest of the family is estranged and therefore no help will come from there).
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
Is she entitled to housing in the country she is in? Every European country is obviously different, but both the ones I am from have systems in place. Even if it is being deemed homeless and being placed in whatever accommodation is available on the day they present for accommodation (which may be a bed in a hostel or a self contained flat).

But just wanted to say: you're not leaving her to become anything. This is her situation that she finds herself in.

Whatever you decide to do, hope it works for you.
 

benny22

New Here
She is not entitled to housing, as I've checked it before. It is also, unfortunately, not a conversation I can have with her as she'll just blow up. Thank you for your message :) I appreciate that.
 

lostforgottensoul

MyPTSD Pro
I am a PTSD sufferer and will try to keep this supporter focused. But as someone that has gone through many of the things you describe your mom going through I had some things to add.

None of this is ok (her behavior towards you). First, you mention anger outbursts. I had those. And it was MY job to figure out what triggered them and to figure out how to control them and no one else's.

Her calling you names because of you mentioning the, the very healthy thing, of getting help for mental issues, and you even going as far as saying "dude, no shame. It's ok" is not ok.

It isn't your job to take care of your adult mother. Period. She is an adult. I understand the want to. A very valid want. But, even with people without any mental health issues that had very normal childhoods still do not have that job. It is her job to take care of her and you have mentioned some very valid mental health concerns as well as financial concerns that this is harming you in these ways. So, when do you take your own mental health, physical health, and financial health into consideration? What is keeping you from setting your foot down and saying "enough" and asking her to move out? You may have typed it and I missed it but she is being abusive and is effecting you negatively both mentally, physically, and even financially and you are seeming to have issues laying down your foot. My question is what's keeping you from just laying down your foot and saying "enough"?
 

NoWhereKnowWhere

MyPTSD Pro
None of this is your responsibility. I believe she will continue to f*ck up her life because she knows you’ll bail her out. She’s a user there’s obviously a reason her family had to cut ties with her and honestly I think you should too. Move and don’t tell them where change your number. Make no mistakes this is abuse, emotional and financial.

She’s not your responsibility. She’s married he can take care of her or give her half of everything and bail.

Seems harsh but I’ve seen this before. A couple years down the line she’ll be living with you while you work yourself like a dog to keep her and come home from 12 hr shift to her abuse. “Why didn’t you pick something up for dinner, I’m so lonely (then you can’t socialise with your friends without guilt), I can’t work I don’t know the language”. I’ve literally witnessed this exact thing happen. If she’s not even willing to admit she has any mental health issues, she’s never going to get help or therapy, she’s never going to be any better than this. We have a tendency to treat abusive family like they’re not and she’ll continue to take, take, take from you until you have nothing left to give. Then move on to her next victim.

I’m a suffer there’s no excuse for this type of behaviour.
Cut her out.
“But she’s my mother” isn’t a reason it’s simply a statement of fact. We deserved better mothers but we have what we have.
 
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