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How can I help my mom?

By May 30, 2015 - 4:52pm
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Hi everyone, before I begin to explain the things my mom is going through I feel it necessary to provide a little bit of background information that will perhaps allow you all to better understand what's going on.

My mom and dad "separated" back in the summer of 2008. By "separated" I mean my dad stayed back home in Florida while my mom, me, and my two siblings came to our hometown in Canada to supposedly tie up some loose ends, such as put our old house up for sale, etc. I was 15 at the time and I'll admit I wasn't the most helpful or attentive person. In short, I didn't really know what was going on between my parents until my mom broke the news to us that we were staying in Chilliwack (our former hometown) and that my dad was staying back in Florida. It was then that I realized what was going on but even after my parents physically separated my dad provided financially for a few months until my mom was able to get "on her feet" and provide for us herself. After months of staying at a family friends' place, she ended up seeking assistance from the government to help her pay for rent and groceries and we found our own place to rent. During this time my mom was dealing with a bratty, selfish teenager (me), a toddler (my 3 year-old sister), and my 17 year-old brother who was experiencing severe depression and generalized anxiety at the time (and had been for several years prior to my parents' separation). In short, she was dealing with A LOT. My dad, over time, almost entirely cut ties with us, save for a phone call or two every month to see how we were doing and maybe a little bit of money sent to us here and there. Two summers later my mom became really sick and had to get her gallbladder removed. During her sick days and her recovery days, things sort of spiraled downwards. She became very depressed (I'm sure she was dealing it with previously but during this time she really let it out) and my brother was also doing very bad in regards to his own mental illness struggles. Since then, my mom has had her ups and downs. She never pursued a job until recently but she only worked a month before they laid off a large percentage of their employees (including her). She later had an opportunity to return but she did not take it. Since 2008, that has been the only employment she has had. She continues to receive assistance from the government but it is not enough to be financially stress-free. She often has bills and debt that she cannot afford to make payments towards. My brother is doing much better, although he too refuses to find work and depends on a monthly disability payment from the government. I moved out of my mom's place almost a year ago but my siblings still live with her. I should also mention that we all suffer from depression and anxiety disorders (including my little sister who is currently 11 years old).

Currently my mom's situation is this:

She feels sick or pain somewhere in her body DAILY (be it a headache, back pain, muscle pain for no apparent reason, etc.) She is not employed nor does she participate in any volunteer activities or any extracurricular activities besides going to church on Sundays and other church-related activities once or twice a week. She does not do any form of physical activity (besides the occasional walk and chores) and she does not eat a well-balanced diet. I often invite her to my apartment for breakfast or dinner or even just to watch a movie or do our nails together but she always refuses. Since I moved out she has visited me 4 or 5 times. 4 or 5 times in almost a year. I visit her at least 2-3 times a week, but usually more. Some weeks I stop by daily just to say hi and spend a few minutes talking. I ask her to exercise with me, to eat out with me, to go shopping with me, etc. and she always says no to those requests as well. I explain to her how important it is that she take care of her body in the form of eating right and exercising but she gives no importance to my advice and suggestions. I respect the fact that she is religious, but she relies SOLELY on her religious beliefs to make her feel better and "cure" her. I believe it is important to have faith but I don't think that by laying in bed praying her problems will disappear. She needs to help herself and take action over her life in order to see a change in how she feels. I tell her all of this over and over again but she never takes any of it seriously. I am incredibly concerned about her physical and mental health and I feel that she is not making any effort to change her life. I suspect that she is going through mental struggles as well, although she will not admit to it. I want to help her, more than anything, to get her life back on track and make the changes she needs to make to become happy and self-sufficient. My grandparents are very loving and supportive and are always there for us, even though they live in Florida. She also has many friends that care about her and love her. What can I do to help my mom? I want her to be able to look forward and walk away from her past misfortunes and struggles. I want her to help herself! I love her so much and it pains me to see her unhappy and unhealthy.

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Hello theskyisyours,

I am so sorry to hear about your mother's situation and I'm so proud of the way you have handled things.  You have a wonderful approach and mind-set.  

Often times, (especially women, as studies have shown) take comfort in religion when they feel powerless to take control of their own life.  You have seen this first hand in your mother.  Unfortunately, it sounds like you have done everything possible to show her that she can take charge of her own life.  

In the end if she wants God, a husband, or someone else to fix her life, she will most likely wait till that happens instead of doing it for herself.  

Perhaps you can use yourself as an example when talking with her.  You did not wait for your parents or someone else to "save" you.  You took charge of your own life without much family support or a husband.  Leading through example is vital.

You should definitely keep doing all the things you are doing already, but in the end she will not change unless she wants to.


May 31, 2015 - 1:06pm

I forgot to mention that my mom has visited our family doctor on countless occasions concerning her headaches and body aches. They have done all sorts of physical assessments and blood tests and have found nothing at all wrong with her. Our doctor has recommended she take up physical activity such as swimming and lifting light weights as well as eating a healthy, balanced diet and drinking sufficient water. He also recommended taking multivitamins. Despite all of these visits and recommendations she has not taken up anything he has said....

May 30, 2015 - 5:00pm
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