Moved nearer parents - big mistake

goodwithsaving Posts: 1,311 Forumite
First Anniversary Name Dropper First Post
I pop up from time to time....and really need some help. Not judgmental help, but constructive 'maybe try this' sort of help.

I returned back to where I grew up last year and have struggled ever since. I had a great job and house elsewhere, but felt I had to return to help my mother with my father who has dementia. My (retired) parents don't have a healthy relationship and it is very toxic to be around, and the constant sniping really is very trying.

In conjunction, I have moved back for a job in which I have been bullied endlessly and have reported, but nothing has been done. I am currently off sick with stress and soon to start another, higher pressured job but which requires me to spend part of my time elsewhere. It is with another company and is exciting, but currently I feel so overwhelmed by life that I am worried about it. 

I think spending time elsewhere will be a good thing and the professional experience will be brilliant too. However, I worry about my mental health and ability to cope with everything. There is nobody else who can help, but I also need to live my own life.

When I told my mother that I had been signed off with stress, far from being sympathetic or perhaps appreciating being part of the cause, she said "well now you know how it feels". Any time I try and stand up for myself, she cries which feels almost manipulative, but I appreciate the pressure she is under. I have said before that I am struggling and it was brushed off, and 'well at least you have family around to support you'. My family are breaking me, not supporting me. I didn't want to go away with them and said "I have things to do, I have a life" and was told "well at least you have a life, I don't".
I often get the full itinerary of their week and...I just don't care. I don't want to hear it. I can barely deal with my own. 

I will be here after they are and need to live my life. I would sooner no longer exist than know this will be my life in 2, 3, 5 years.

I can't take time out - I have no funds to do so. I often find myself guilt tripped into popping round to theirs and having to listen to their bickering. 

It's really getting me down and in all honesty, much of the time I don't even want to live anymore.

This isn't a cultural thing, I was always close to my Dad and I think that was a driver behind my returning. 

How can I create better boundaries without being cruel? How can I ensure their behaviour doesn't affect my stress levels in the new job, nor jeopordises the job?

Please don't be judgemental as to why I help. I just do. 



  • Maskface
    Maskface Posts: 219 Forumite
    First Post Name Dropper
    The simple answer is to move again unfortunately.
  • pickledonionspaceraider
    Good morning

    Personally, I think creating boundaries - and I am talking creating boundaries that have never existed, in a life long relationship  - is difficult.  The relationship has existed all this time with zero boundaries and to instil them now would be difficult to make people follow - but it is possible but it is you that has to be strong - ie dont go round unnecessarily to hear them bickering.  Or just get up and say 'Right, I will be off now, bye' - if the visit resorts to this

    The toxic relationships are going to drain your mental health down to zero.

    My family have caused me more stress/ pain and upset than anyone else on planet earth.  Families are meant to support each other but mine got me in to such a state that i needed counselling.  There is such a pretty picture painted of perfect families but I do not think that exists.

    With love, POSR <3
  • FrankRizzo
    FrankRizzo Posts: 226 Forumite
    First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    edited 7 June 2022 at 12:03PM
    Bottom line - people dont change e.g. your mum, work people, etc.

    Only you can change/adapt - its hard.

    It sounds as though you have hit rock bottom - this is a good moment now to transform yourself into the person who will adapt to any toxic people/environment...this may include just accepting these people and/or removing these people, until such times you have the money, energy, etc to get yourself out the situaiton.

    Congrats on your new job - this is a major positive!! Use this positivity to drive yourself to smash the challenge ahead.

    Motivational podcasts helped me when I hit rock bottom.

    Writing down a plan with milestones & timescales will help you - keep revising the plan as you go, which will help keep you motivated. Only you can decide what will work with your family e.g. include in your plan a set day/time you will visit or take your dad to a specific place that we enjoys or take your mum herself to a place she enjoys, etc - pick what you feel is best for you and stick to that, say no to everything else.

    Dont give up.
  • FrankRizzo
    FrankRizzo Posts: 226 Forumite
    First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    edited 7 June 2022 at 11:52AM
    just to is dogs sh***t....keep going....
  • Scorpio33
    Scorpio33 Posts: 745 Forumite
    Name Dropper First Anniversary First Post
    First of all, I would say get some help. The way you are talking, you are not coping. Speak to your GP or local mental health place (near me its talking change - Even if it is just to get you on tablets to stabilise you a bit. Your own health has to come before anyone elses. You can't help anyone if you are not good yourself.

    Secondly, I would say that you can't control what other people say, think or feel. You can only control how you react to it. So when you are a bit stronger and your parents are getting on your nerves, be honest with them too. If that doesn't work, tell them that thier actions is making you not want to support them. Try and give them boundaries and consequences, and follow through with them.

    Lastly, I would say put aside a day or two a week for yourself. Think about what things you enjoy. So if money were no object, how would you fill your days? Work out what you enjoy and take the time to yourself on that day or two. It doesn't need to cost the earth either. For example, if you've wanted to learn an instrument, you can buy a cheap one and book from a charity shop and try and teach yourself. It doesn't have to be much, but make sure that day is your and yours alone.

    I think once you have grounded yourself a bit more, as well as taking time to yourself, you will be able to cope better when your parents are bad.  
  • diystarter7
    diystarter7 Posts: 5,202 Forumite
    First Anniversary First Post Name Dropper
    Change you job and move if you need to. Move about an hours drive.
    Look after yourself first and then you can look after your parents.

    When you dont have to fear going to work, you will feel better.
    When you live a bit further away, you wont get sudden urges to visit more often.

    Sadly, dementia can change people for the worst and if your parents were already at each others throats, the fact is it is only going to get worse

    I'm assuming you are the only child or one close by and not married/partner etc.

    Who did you consult before jacking in your job and property and or what did you expect? Was you very happy at the previous works and property?

    Sadly, stress can have a vicious circle and even affect your decision making, reasoning capacity.

  • diystarter7
    diystarter7 Posts: 5,202 Forumite
    First Anniversary First Post Name Dropper
    Btw, contact the dementia carers group and see what they say re respite care etc for your mum. 
    They can guide re benefits, carers, what help is around etc, its worth a shot.
    The bottom line it will be up to your parents to accept, pay for help and 
    you could meet real people in a similar situation . Trust me there are many and all looks good from a distance
    until you get to know people

    Good luck
  • TBagpuss
    TBagpuss Posts: 11,205 Forumite
    First Post First Anniversary Name Dropper
    This sounds like an incredibly difficult positon to be in,  and it sounds as though you've been doing a lot and are at a point whaere you can't cary on.

    Also, you mention you were close to your dad and he has dementia, so you are also coping with that, and the grief of losing the person he was before he became ill. Be gentle with yourself.

    you say "How can I create better boundaries without being cruel? How can I ensure their behaviour doesn't affect my stress levels in the new job, nor jeopordises the job?"

    It's not cruel for you to set boundaries, and to take care of your own mental health as a priority. However, there is probably no way to set boundaries without upsetting your mum and she may well feel / claim that you are bing unkind or cruel. 

    What I would recommend is:

    1. Book an appointment with your GP and ask for help.Be as iopen as you can, particuarlly about the fact that feel so overwhelemed that you don't want to live. They should nbe able to help. Don't discount medical help such as anti-depressants, if your GP suggests them, things like counselling and practical support can be highly valuable but sometimes you need a bit extra or soething to help get you up to a point where you can beneift. I am not sure how advanced your dad's dementisa is but if he is well enough you cna also have this conversation with him. While your parents GP won't be able to discuss their healthwith you without their consents, you can contact their GP to express your concerns (e.g. that your mum isn't coping, that you are unable to care for them due to you own health issues)   

    2. Tell your mum that you are not well and won't be able to help as much as you have been doing. Suggest to her that she talks to her GP and Adult Social Services about getting help - if you feel up to it, you could do a bit of research so you can give her phone numbers / contact points, summary of what she can ask for / might get.  If you have the mental energy you could look into whetherthere are any services such as a day centre where your dad could go sometimes so he gets some company and your mum gets time to herself (they may be able to arrange volunteer drviers for transport) , local support groups for her or him or both of them, etc. You can't force them to use any of those but you can give threm the information and let them know that the resources are there. 

    3. Think about what level of support you *can* offer , and then tell your mum and dad.
    You may find it works best to try to set a specifc time that you go over to help - e.g. one evening per week. That way, if they call to ask you to pop round for something then you can say "I can't come now, but you know I'll be over as usual on Wednesday so  can help with that then" . You're not saying 'No', you are saying 'Not Now' 

    You may find that you also have to prioritise - if you decide you can go round for 2 hours twice a week, you may find that they save up 6 hours worth of stuff each time - again, you'll need to praictice setting boundaries "I'm not going to be able to do all of those things, which is most important?, I'll start there but won't be able to do eveything."  You can also flag up when any of the things that they want you to do are things they could get help with in other ways - e.g. "I won't be able to come to take you to the hospital, but if you call [details] then thepatient transfport service will be able to help" 

    Also think about what you want / need from your visits. If part of what is important to you is spenidng time with your dad, then make that a priority - that might mean telling your mum that you can come round and take your dad out for a couple of hours, so you and he can spend some time together and she can rest / see friends / do something she wants to, rather than going round and spending the whole time doing DIY or shopping or whatever. 

    This will be difficult, and it sounds as though your mum will try to pressure you to go at other times, do more, or make you feel guilty. That's not "almost manipulative", it is manipulative, and it will be very hard. It may help to think of it as putting your own oxygen mask on first, as the flight safeyty instructions go. Here, that means focusing on your own mental health and welbeing first and then helping others if you can once you have taekn care of yourself. 

    Depending on your finacial position, you could also consider whether it would make sense to offer to pay for some help for them - this might involve something like arranging and paying for a cleaner to come a couple of times a week, or for a carer to come in for a few hours regualrly so your mum can have some time for herself.

    4. You might find the Captain Awkward website is useful - it's basically an advice column but there  is a lot of very helpful and insightful advice about setting and maintaining boundaries, and coping with difficult family / relationship issues.

    5. Your mum (possibly dad too) are not going to be happy when you start to set boundaries and they will try to make you feel guilty or that you are not doing encough. However, if you are firm then hopefully they will adjust. 

    If you feel able,  book a week away somewhere after you tell them what you can do moving forward, and give them allthe suggetions for other sources of help, so you are physically out of reach.

    Best of luck, and try to remember to be as kind to yourslef as you would to a friend who was going through this. You're clearly a compassionae person who is thrying to do their best, and the demands being made on you are not reasonable, even if they are not intentionally malicious. 
    All posts are my personal opinion, not formal advice Always get proper, professional advice (particularly about anything legal!)
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