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How do I respond to make her understand?


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My mother claims the reason I am not graduating on time is because they were not receiving the bill so she couldn't be on my back. (I'm one semester off) I told her:

"Mom, I'm not graduating on time bc I went on Zoloft and went spiraling into a deep depression where I didn't go to class or really want to get out of bed or do anything. It has NOTHING to do with whether or not you got a bill."

She said:

"How many hours do you have lacking, Kellye accept that you have a mental illness, you say I have it but I dealt with it and never would use it as an excuse. you need to accept it but do not use it for an excuse, lots of successful people have mental illnesses"

I'm missing ONE semester, not even a full semester bc of withdrawing. I DON'T use my MI as an excuse. But in this case, it's true, I didn't go to class, etc bc all of the sudden I was rapidly cycling with major depression underneath it all and on the medication that was making it worse with no idea what was going on with me. It's not an excuse, it's the truth. I don't want my MI to be an excuse for things, I want to forget I have one at all except for when I'm taking my meds at night. How do I make her see this? What do I say? God, I was in such a good mood today and now that's all ruined.

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That's rough...

sometimes the people you would think would, should or could be the most understanding can be shockingly callous.

My wife has a background in psychology, yet she has thrown my condition in my face during the heat of an argument. And to be fair, I have done the same to my sister - even though we are *both* Bipolar.

I mean- you are talking about 1 semester... hardly the end of the world under any circumstances, yet the whole "Why can't you just pull yourself together" crap is thrown on top of the fire. As hard as it is- don't rise to it. To answer your question about how best to respond.... I wouldn't really. If possible, take a step back and wait for tempers to cool... and then calmly let her know that her callousness was hurtful and unhelpful. It made a mountain out of a molehill... and that the proof will be in the pudding when you successfully finish next semester.

What is really annoying is that because you are the one with an MI... you will ALWAYS be the unreasonable one. you will ALWAYS be the irresponsible one that the family will second guess. you will ALWAYS be wrong in whatever stupid argument surfaces that day. And let's be honest- because of the MI, sometimes that will be true... but when it isn't, try with every ounce of your being to not give the truly unreasonable people extra ammunition.

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Sometimes there is no reasoning with a person who doesn't want to understand.

When I turned in my FMLA paperwork to take intermittant time off work because I didn't know how I would be rom one week to the next, my boss, the manager of HR, told me, "I don't care how many times you explain it to me, I will never understand how you can be fine one day and not fine the next."

And this is from a person who knows that technically, it's against the law to say this.

Sometimes these people need to *see* you at your worst to let it sink in that you are in a bad way. Sometimes, nothing works and you just have to tune them out. If so, just remember that you did the right thing by sitting out the semester.

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It would probably be easier to simply say you take full responsibility for your decision to take a semester off. Period. Leave it to her to ask why. If she does, describe what you experienced. Say it is not an excuse. It is the reason that you made the choice to not attend, and you take full responsibility for that choice.

Meanwhile, maybe send her An Unquiet Mind.

It sucks that she's being this way.

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My mother claims the reason I am not graduating on time is because they were not receiving the bill so she couldn't be on my back. (I'm one semester off) I told her:

"Mom, I'm not graduating on time bc I went on Zoloft and went spiraling into a deep depression where I didn't go to class or really want to get out of bed or do anything. It has NOTHING to do with whether or not you got a bill."

She said:

"How many hours do you have lacking, Kellye accept that you have a mental illness, you say I have it but I dealt with it and never would use it as an excuse. you need to accept it but do not use it for an excuse, lots of successful people have mental illnesses"

I'm missing ONE semester, not even a full semester bc of withdrawing. I DON'T use my MI as an excuse. But in this case, it's true, I didn't go to class, etc bc all of the sudden I was rapidly cycling with major depression underneath it all and on the medication that was making it worse with no idea what was going on with me. It's not an excuse, it's the truth. I don't want my MI to be an excuse for things, I want to forget I have one at all except for when I'm taking my meds at night. How do I make her see this? What do I say? God, I was in such a good mood today and now that's all ruined.

Dear Kelly,

I found that unfortunately, it was the people the closest to me, who hurt me the most by NOT accepting my dx, and by qualifying my behaviour and by minimising my illness, and by pooh-poohing the seriousness of Bipolar.

My parents still today ask me whether I am healed now, and when am I going to stop taking medication, and I should go to my mother's doctor, she is fantastic, she will soon have me healed of bipolar. My mother goes to a therapist.

I can almost say... grin and bear it, and walk away. I don't think your mother WANTS to be convinced. She WANTS to believe what she believes.

That is me, speaking from a bipolar point of view.

The mother in me was extremely shocked when my daughter told me, at the age of 16, that I should wake up, and see her for who she IS, not who I wanted her to be...

And I think therein lies a clue to all parents which you could possibly use.

It is hard to see our children for who they actually are. To learn from them, to accept that our children actually know more, or better, than we do. And if you could possibly use this insight in your mom's and have the patience and empathy with her? Well, maybe you can find another way of convincing her?

I really hope this helps?

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Ah Kellmate. There is no easy answer. If your parents do not have any flavor of MI it's like explaining the color purple to a blind man. They just have no point of reference. Even when there IS MI in the family it can be hard to explain your particular circumstances.

First just breath. Take this slowly. Understand she really really doesn't get it. I wonder if your Mom went with you one of your Pdoc sessions if he/she might be useful to explain things. Because like it or not, you are the daughter. She changed your diapers so I am not sure if your words are going to carry enough weight..

Just know, you are not alone. I can not tell you how many good friends I have had who don't understand why I don't just get over it. "I have bad days too, I don't need to take meds"..Yeah. It's enough to make your head spin around whilst puking pea soup.

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It could also be that your mom is in denial about how bad your illness really is.

I know it makes you feel bad that she doesn't get it, but like everyone said it isn't worth the time and effort to try and reason with her.

Just let it go and realize she probably will never get it, and somehow try to find peace with that.

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It could also be that your mom is in denial about how bad your illness really is.

Most likely, this is true. Parents don't want their children to be any type of ill. It is much easier to accept that there is mild illness over serious illness. It's about parents wanting the best life possible for their children. Best life does not include illness, but if their has to be illness, then only recognizing that there is a little sometimes is how they cope. We also tend to protect our parents from the worst, too..... And, your mom probably believes that she is trying to teach you something important - be responsible for your decisions. Sometime later educate her more about the illness. Now, she isn't ready for it maybe.

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Sounds like my mother. You think my mother with her recurrent depression would be most understanding of my struggles, past failures and present shortcomings. This is a woman I would watch STARE AT A WALL for hours on end when I was only 9 years old (and, just beginning to go crazy myself). I would find these notes everywhere about suicide, which horrified me as a child. When she started getting better, she stopped staying at home at all... she went from torpor, to "get the hell out of here" and I never saw her. For months, she would leave, and come home late at night. She never paid me any attention, and as a 9-10 year old that's kinda a big deal because you feel like you did it.

And, before she was married, she did that same torpor-and-suicide thing. So she's been there before.

Today as an adult I understand my mother has a depressive disorder, and I have one too (bipolar). But, my mother doesn't get it. She pretends like none of that crap she did happened. She does not accept she has a depressive disorder at all. And she definitely doesn't accept I have one, either.

She tells me I am fine, I just need to "learn to look on the bright side" (If I am depressive). Or, if I am more like I am now (not particularly depressive but worrying about being crazy and "hell moods") she tells me "you're fine now, you're over all those problems now" (why because I stopped flipping out as much and crying about wanting to die and I have a job that means I'm fine?)

I've given up on ever making her understand... she can't. It's frustrating, but ultimately it doesn't matter if she gets it or not.

Old people in general cannot accept mental illness, they come from a school of thought that "head shrinkers are mumbo jumbo" and "people need to grow up and accept responsibility". None of this matters, anymore than the klan matters in terms of racial equality... it's old, it will die out eventually. Even many elderly adults with mental illnesses themselves can be in some pretty scary denial, like my mother.

But, yea, none of it matters for YOU, because YOU KNOW you have a real disease and you are trying much harder to do even basic things than normal people could possibly imagine.

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Old people in general cannot accept mental illness, they come from a school of thought that "head shrinkers are mumbo jumbo" and "people need to grow up and accept responsibility".

You should avoid making general statements that aren't true.

/threadjack

Back to the original topic

My ex husband use to throw that in my face all the time. He always said that I used my bipolar as an excuse to do whatever I wanted... yeah because I wanted to drive us into debt and I wanted to be a screaming lunatic and I wanted to stay up for three days straight because I was terrified of the fucking bug in my room (it was a big bug...).

Anyway, I couldn't convince him that he was wrong. But I hope that your mom is a bit more understanding. As stacia said:

It would probably be easier to simply say you take full responsibility for your decision to take a semester off. Period. Leave it to her to ask why. If she does, describe what you experienced. Say it is not an excuse. It is the reason that you made the choice to not attend, and you take full responsibility for that choice.

That's pretty good advice.

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Thank you for all the responses guys. I think part of her refusing to understand is her refusal to admit she has a MI as well. Before I got a lot of responses, I copied and pasted what I said in my upper post:

"I'm missing ONE semester, not even a full semester bc of withdrawing. I DON'T use my MI as an excuse. But in this case, it's true, I didn't go to class, etc bc all of the suddenly I was rapidly cycling with major depression underneath it all and on the medication that was making it worse with no idea what was going on with me. It's not an excuse, it's the truth. I don't want my MI to be an excuse for things, I want to forget I have one at all except for when I'm taking my meds at night. How do I make you see this? What do I say"

She replied:

"I do see it but how many hours did you take this semester? You have to learn how to function as an adult,which you have not done. Maybe you should see about disability if you think you cannot function as a working person, but you have to do something, instead of just partying and staying on the internet all nite. Reality and the real world are tough but most of us learn how to deal with it. You need to accept reality or accept that you cannot."

I didn't respond. Partying and staying up all night? Try staying at home and then staying up all night bc I cannot be tired at a normal hour, even TRYING to have a normal sleep schedule.

Stacia, I'm going to send her that book after I read it myself, thanks for the suggestion.

The thing is whenever I tell my mother I think she's bipolar as well (there isn't a think to it actually, I know) she then turns it around on me and says: I'm a functioning adult, I held down jobs, I have a daughter, I have a husband, I live in a nice house, etc. If I can do it, why can't you? And I'm like, well first off, you were HORRIBLE and ABUSIVE to me from 12 on, you have an extreme problem with alcohol, I was there when my dad took the vicodin out of your room bc you were planning on killing yourself over telling me you hated me over laundry when I was TWELVE, the list goes on. And it's great you think you're fine without meds or tdocs or pdocs, but I'M NOT YOU! I want HELP. I CANNOT do this alone. sigh

thanks for listening guys, seriously, and thanks for advice. ;)

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I think one of the most frustrating thing is that many people seem to think the condition is merely a lack of will power, rather than the truly malevolent force that it is.

Other conditions don't have the same problem. Cancer for instance... if you were diagnosed with cancer, had a similarly turbulent semester, and the chemotherapy had made you too ill to go to class, would your mother say "It is your fault you took on too much then stayed up partying all night". Of course not.

I also find that when one has worked so hard to keep themselves balanced, and in general has their condition under control... but has a momentary slip where things unravel, it is then where others are the most callous and unsympathetic. As if it our fault for supposedly "not trying just a bit harder"...

For instance, things are very tight financially and I have 2 stepkids... and I have completely reigned in all urges to spend irresponsibly. Talked myself out of getting a few extra credit cards to indulge my spending desires (things I NEED, but of course, don't really), and limit myself so that I really only have an extra $10-15 cash in my wallet per week to try to minimize any potential damage. That's all fine and good- but the one time I irrationally spent $50-60 on some impulses... all of the sudden I am accused of not having any self-control, selfish, etc etc. Nevermind the fact that $60 doesn't even show up as a blip compared to what a true bipolar spending spree is like, but the frustration that I don't even get credit for doing so well 95% of the time... and that I even managed to keep the unravelling to a minimum.

Same for you- your degree got delayed by a semester. Again, that is nothing in the grand scheme of things and it sounds like you did a great job minimizing the potential damage. If you were rapid cycling, it could have really gotten out of control where you actually would have had to drop out of school completely... not just lose a semester.

Anyway, hang in there.. and next time your mother mentions someone she knows with congestive heart failure or someone who recently had a stroke or someone who has cancer... reply "Tsk tsk- they shouldn't have been out partying all night"

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For instance, things are very tight financially and I have 2 stepkids... and I have completely reigned in all urges to spend irresponsibly. Talked myself out of getting a few extra credit cards to indulge my spending desires (things I NEED, but of course, don't really), and limit myself so that I really only have an extra $10-15 cash in my wallet per week to try to minimize any potential damage. That's all fine and good- but the one time I irrationally spent $50-60 on some impulses... all of the sudden I am accused of not having any self-control, selfish, etc etc. Nevermind the fact that $60 doesn't even show up as a blip compared to what a true bipolar spending spree is like, but the frustration that I don't even get credit for doing so well 95% of the time... and that I even managed to keep the unravelling to a minimum.

Here here! It's very difficult for the norms to see these things because they don't have to do them. They don't have to exert self control to not spend money. They don't have to force themselves to stay home, or stay off the internet, or not go on a sex spree... So they *can't* understand the effort it takes not to do something.

It's difficult to explain how a broken bone feels to someone who's never had one. You'd just have to break their arm and let them experience it themselves (but of course, you'd never do that).

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I was devastated when I was in a place where it seemed NOONE understood. I know that if you could have made yourself better, you would have! Who wouldn't?!

It was said that I was using my illness "just to get attention"!

Crazyboards is a place where people who have been just as sick and can relate and support you. It has been my lifeline for a long time.

Just take care of yourself and not worry so much about making others understand. When I did that I took a lot of pressure off myself.

I do agree seeing if your mother would read An Unquiet Mind. It gives a semblence to what it is like to be healthy and to slowly fall into depression. Is your mother a reader?

Don't get hooked in if no one gets it though. There are MANY people here that understand and can speak the same language.

Thinking of you,

Sunshine Outside

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Thank you for all the responses guys. I think part of her refusing to understand is her refusal to admit she has a MI as well. Before I got a lot of responses, I copied and pasted what I said in my upper post:

"I'm missing ONE semester, not even a full semester bc of withdrawing. I DON'T use my MI as an excuse. But in this case, it's true, I didn't go to class, etc bc all of the suddenly I was rapidly cycling with major depression underneath it all and on the medication that was making it worse with no idea what was going on with me. It's not an excuse, it's the truth. I don't want my MI to be an excuse for things, I want to forget I have one at all except for when I'm taking my meds at night. How do I make you see this? What do I say"

She replied:

"I do see it but how many hours did you take this semester? You have to learn how to function as an adult,which you have not done. Maybe you should see about disability if you think you cannot function as a working person, but you have to do something, instead of just partying and staying on the internet all nite. Reality and the real world are tough but most of us learn how to deal with it. You need to accept reality or accept that you cannot."

I didn't respond. Partying and staying up all night? Try staying at home and then staying up all night bc I cannot be tired at a normal hour, even TRYING to have a normal sleep schedule.

Stacia, I'm going to send her that book after I read it myself, thanks for the suggestion.

The thing is whenever I tell my mother I think she's bipolar as well (there isn't a think to it actually, I know) she then turns it around on me and says: I'm a functioning adult, I held down jobs, I have a daughter, I have a husband, I live in a nice house, etc. If I can do it, why can't you? And I'm like, well first off, you were HORRIBLE and ABUSIVE to me from 12 on, you have an extreme problem with alcohol, I was there when my dad took the vicodin out of your room bc you were planning on killing yourself over telling me you hated me over laundry when I was TWELVE, the list goes on. And it's great you think you're fine without meds or tdocs or pdocs, but I'M NOT YOU! I want HELP. I CANNOT do this alone. sigh

thanks for listening guys, seriously, and thanks for advice. ;)

Oh wow, I am sorry your mother treated you that way, and it's horrible she is being so judgmental when she has this disease herself and didn't do such a great job of controlling it.

Yep. She's in a bit of denial I think, regarding both her mental illness, her success/functional level, as well as the reality of what it was like for you growing up with an unmedicated bipolar parent.

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She replied:

"I do see it but how many hours did you take this semester? You have to learn how to function as an adult,which you have not done. Maybe you should see about disability if you think you cannot function as a working person, but you have to do something, instead of just partying and staying on the internet all nite. Reality and the real world are tough but most of us learn how to deal with it. You need to accept reality or accept that you cannot."

When you calm down, this seems to deserve a response. Maybe say that although you'd rather spare her what you were actually experiencing, it is important that she understand that partying and playing on the Internet are what healthy college students do. Instead, you were dealing with........... Clarify that the purpose of getting treatment is so that you can live a normal, healthy life. That it is taking a semester (or more time?) does not mean that your goal is disability. It is so that you will be able to excel in a job, have a family, and be fully responsible for yourself. Heck, throw in the cancer comparison if you want. ??? Anyway, the point is to focus on objectively informing, not disputing or arguing.

The thing is whenever I tell my mother I think she's bipolar as well (there isn't a think to it actually, I know) she then turns it around on me and says: I'm a functioning adult, I held down jobs, I have a daughter, I have a husband, I live in a nice house, etc. If I can do it, why can't you? And I'm like, well first off, you were HORRIBLE and ABUSIVE to me from 12 on, you have an extreme problem with alcohol, I was there when my dad took the vicodin out of your room bc you were planning on killing yourself over telling me you hated me over laundry when I was TWELVE, the list goes on. And it's great you think you're fine without meds or tdocs or pdocs, but I'M NOT YOU! I want HELP. I CANNOT do this alone. sigh

Don't tell her she has bipolar. Let that go. If she is not able to admit it, then she will hold you to the same standard she holds herself. If she can't recall or admit her symptomatic periods or the things she screwed up, then she won't be able to acknowledge the severity of your symptoms or how devasting the DIY treatment plan would be for you, too. It's probably better for you to distinguish your experience and life from hers.

And, as others have said, your mom may never be able to accept it. You can't make another see what s/he doesn't want to see. It's better to just give info and then let it go. Otherwise, you can end up banging your head against the wall of another's stubbornness and that will only make you feel worse.

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What everyone else said :( I know from my own experience my mom can hold 2 contradictory thoughts at the same time and it can get really frustrating.

My dad took meds and my mom would tell him he was a weak, horrible person and that the meds were a crutch and he would flush them to make her happy (which it never did) then off he would go crashing and burning. When he was manic and offering to wax everyone's cars in the neighborhood and playing Nintendo for 3 or 4 days straight she would accuse him of being on drugs because "no one has that much energy". ;):) When he would get suicidal she would say he was just trying to get attention, and tell him to have the courtesy to go outside :) if he was going to blow his brains out. She didn't want any blood on the carpet or walls. ^_^:P:(

At the same time, she noticed that I had severe depression but she did nothing. She also accused me of being on drugs (which was patently untrue) and when I offered to go get a blood test, she told me that I shouldn't have to prove anything to her, but she knew I was on them anyway. Even with proof this woman will not change her mind and I have had to live with that.

The best advice I ever got was from my dear hubby. When I was in my late 20's he had a long talk with me about my mom, my issues, her issues, and how destructive my mom was to my happiness and "functionability" He told me to cut the cord and move on, and to stop trying to convince her of things, or make her respect me or think I was good enough. I was finally able to gt it in my head that she is who she is, I cannot change that, and who she is is not a reflection on me and her opinion of me is warped and inaccurate. I am much healthier and happier now since I finally, really, truly no longer seek or need her approval, but it was a long process to get there.

Sorry to ramble. I am bad at that :( I guess I just wanted to say me, too. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt. Hopefully you will be able to make peace with things in time. You mom is who she is and nothing you can do or say will change her mind about things. Belief systems are like that, and your mom sounds like she has one in regards to MI. Acceptance of this will give you peace.

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