Hi, I’ve been struggling to help my mum. I’m not sure how to help her, what to say or where she should go to find help. She is 53 years old, fit and healthy. She is currently going through menopause and has been married to my dad for over 30 years. For the last 3 years (since my parents moved from the western suburbs to live on the beach) my mum has been acting completely out of order. She is extremely jealous about when my dad is happy. My mum makes these ideas in her head that my dad is going to leave her for someone else and that everyone (me, my sister and my dad) are all against her. She acts irrational by throwing wooden chopping boards across the room when she is completely aggravated. I fear for her well being and my dad’s.
I’m not sure how to help, because when she’s in this frame of mind there is no way of talking to her. When she’s happy again I don’t want to bring up my concern because of how she will react. I don’t think she is suffering from depression or anger management but i just don’t know what to do. She is controlling, jealous and doesn’t want people to be happy because she is not happy. I don’t know what to do to make her “happy” because when I’ve asked her, she doesn’t even know. I feel that she is very lost. DO and HOW do i get her to see someone for help. Like a therapist? or, do you know what these symptoms are a tell tale sign of? Thanks for advice. (age 27, from Australia)
This is an interesting question and I’m not sure what could have caused the change that you are describing in your mother. Maybe the move has uncovered or triggered something in her, maybe the hormonal and mood changes that can accompany menopause could be a factor, or maybe there is something else going on entirely.
However, I do feel that it is appropriate to speak to her about your concerns. It might be best to first speak with your father and sister so that you are all on the same page, and you might even want to plan a time in which you all sit down with her together to share your concerns, rather than you taking it on alone.
It will be important to speak to your mom at a time when she is calm, rather than during or immediately following one of these episodes. Make it clear that you are speaking to her out of love and concern, not judgment. Have some resources prepared such as information about local therapists or mental health agencies, but I would suggest that she start with a medical exam to eliminate potential physical causes. Having said all this, I must also say that you can’t force your mom to follow through on any of it. She is an adult and will make her own decisions but I hope that when she sees how much you care, she will look into getting some help. I wish you luck.
All the best,
Dr. Holly Counts