My mother in an un-diagnosed manic depressive. Only un-diagnosed because she refuses to see a therapist and is enraged whenever its mentioned. Ditto for suggesting any medication.
When she’s in a downswing, she is beyond morbid, black, angry, sad, and likes to shut herself away from the entire world, including myself and my toddler (who is constantly asking for her). Nothing helps her. No amount of pep talking or consoling. Not one thing I say makes anything better for her, it just upsets her more. I’m 30. I’m a working mom. I’m busy. And we’ve been through this so many times that lately when she gets like this, I’ve just refrained from contacting her until she feels better. But I feel incredibly guilty about my silence. To me, this is the only way to deal without letting her drag me down into the abyss too, but I feel like I have a responsibility as a daughter to be there for her. Tired of the tightrope. Wishing I could help but realizing I can’t and switching to self preservation mode.
Not sure what my question here is. Any insights?
Manic depression is bipolar disorder, but it sounds like you’re describing major or persistent depressive disorder rather than something bipolar. (You mention the negative aspects of her depression, but you don’t mention the negative aspects of any manic episodes. Believe me. If she were manic, you would be complaining about that too.)
The fucked up thing is that there’s not much social stigma around a depression diagnosis these days, but there’s still tons of social stigma around a bipolar diagnosis. There really shouldn’t be. (Honestly, I’d much rather have someone in my life who has bipolar disorder than pretty much any of the personality disorders.) Regardless of whatever disorder your mom ultimately has, the problem remains that she doesn’t want anything to do with treatment, and that really puts you in a tough spot.
Obviously, your mom needs some professional help. Thing is, you’re not her doctor. You’re her daughter. You simply can’t be the one who helps her the way she needs to be helped. It’s true, as her daughter, you do have a responsibility to her, but at the same time, you are not responsible for her. You have to learn the difference. Your mother is responsible for her own mental health. You are only responsible for yours and your child’s.
Basically what I’m telling you is that it’s okay to step off the tightrope. You don’t have to do that anymore. If your mother isn’t willing to take care of her depression, then it’s reasonable for you to establish boundaries and not let her drag you down. Stop feeling guilty for protecting yourself and your child.
As her daughter, definitely keep encouraging her to seek treatment, and don’t let her anger dissuade you. Let it strengthen your resolve to maintain boundaries for as long as she refuses to help herself. That’s not just self-preservation mode. That’s the best thing you can do for her, for you, and for your child.