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Forums / Welcome and orientation / New and in isolation caring for elderly narcissist

Topic: New and in isolation caring for elderly narcissist

3 posts, 0 answered
  1. Junah
    Junah avatar
    2 posts
    10 April 2020

    Hi. New to this forum but not mental health issues. I've got anxiety and depression regularly but now am having even more trouble coping. I live with husband and son, relationships there pretty good. Also my mother who I am caring for as she's over 80s. She is basically a narcissist and also a hermit (I'm the only person she likes, she won't speak much to her grandson and she converses with my husband but everything she wants done has to come through me). She hardly ever leaves the house, and if she does it's always with me.

    We have always had a difficult relationship. She was an alcoholic when I was growing up and even when not, very neglectful. I'm an only child, she mostly a single mother.

    We're living in a very small place, taking self isolation very seriously as she has COPD. Only one person to a room, with shared kitchen meals area and 1 bathroom. She contributes financially but barely lifts a finger to help with housework / cooking, and she wants me to guess all her needs (I can but I can't handle the mental load). She has no $, no place else to go.

    With isolation, I'm really retreating into my shell. I can't talk with anyone on phone or in the house as she will overhear. She disapproves of just about anything I do.

    I know how to react to her, and I know she's not going to learn, I just can't stop my emotions, I feel awful pretty much all the time. People tell me what to do and what to say to her, but it doesn't stop me from feeling bad. No matter what, I feel bad. I know when my depression is getting worse and it's definitely on its way down right now.

    My saving grace has always been creating distance between us (we're from another country, she's only lived here 18 or so months). With self isolation I can't do this. My husband moved into the living room and to be honest I don't want him to move back into our room because this little space I have is the only space that's just mine in the world. He wants to but I feel like I can't have anyone penetrtate my shell.

  2. therising
    Valued Contributor
    • A special award for members who go above and beyond to support others here on the forums
    therising avatar
    2194 posts
    10 April 2020 in reply to Junah

    Hi Junah

    Sounds like an incredible challenge, without a doubt, and my heart goes out to you.

    Do you find the deeper the challenge in life, the more potentially depressing it is? Like it's no great challenge to get the dirty dishes washed but as soon as a life long challenge renters the frame, BAMM, it becomes a serious trigger for a lot of emotion. You've obviously faced the challenge of 'managing your mum' for most of your life. Putting aside the mental programs of 'Mother/child relationship' and 'Loyalty, no matter what', how would you like to manage this person (your mum) while she's staying with you? Would you like to say 'My phone conversations are not open for discussion' or 'I'm happy to hear you vent your stress but only if you're looking for a solution'?

    Being a sensitive person Junah, other people around you have a duty of care when it comes to such sensitivity. They should care not to bring you down, they should care to raise you to moments of happiness and peace, they should care in a way that allows you to vent toward finding solutions. The list goes on.

    How would it feel if your mum was to say 'I'm feeling vulnerable and stressed and really appreciate the great care that's been given to me regarding support'. Sounds reasonable, don't you think? Do you think it's also reasonable to say to her 'You need to be more sensitive toward me and the challenges I'm facing at the moment. I can only be around thoughtful sensitive people at the moment, so you gotta get with the program or look forward to expecting less interaction from me while you're here'?

    I imagine this is not what you want to hear but you're going to have to expect resistance/conflict. This is what we get when we go from enabler mode into healthy self-esteem mode. I'm facing this transition with my husband at the moment, so I know it's far from easy. I've spent years being somewhat of an enabler and now, having transitioned into a healthy level of self-esteem, I'm regarded as 'difficult and argumentative'. I'm lucky to have my teenage kids reassuring me I'm a loving, sensitive and reasonable person. They don't allow me to doubt myself for a second.

    Regarding your husband, consider an agreement for when you share the room (giving you some time to yourself). Conditions of entry: Massages, bedtime stories (so relaxing to have someone read to us), get him to brush your hair (again, relaxing) and so on. Have someone serve you, giving you simple things to look forward to.


    2 people found this helpful
  3. Junah
    Junah avatar
    2 posts
    10 April 2020 in reply to therising

    Thank you theorising, there's many helpful suggestions in your post.

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