My mom has bipolar disorder and depression, she will spend a couple months never leaving her room and watching tv. Then will be super happy for a week, making family dinners and trying to bond with me. Oftentimes her mood swings are timed with her work, she free-lances so when she’s working her moods regulate, but she hasn’t had work for a few months so its been a downward spiral.
She and my dad have are stuck in a very bad relationship and I think she believes that my father and I are allied against her. Because my dad thinks I have the same opinions of her that he does I can’t be enthusiastic about things she says when we are all in the same room together. But I am supportive and enthused when she and I are alone.
In the last few weeks the way she acts towards me changed. In the past in her depressed phases she would still speak and act pretty human towards me. She might have been a little withdrawn but she would still have some kind of emotion. She wont even look at me now.
When I interact with her she wont respond. she asked me if I wanted anything from the store and my answer was normal and friendly but she didn’t even speak or nod or anything she just turned and walked away after getting my answer. I don’t know what I can do to help her. She is on medications and in therapy. Should I just leave her alone? I know how to handle her normal mood swings. But she’s getting worse. I’m worried because there is a lot of self-destructive behavior happening. Her diet is a pattern of scam powder diets and binge eating ice cream. which is very unhealthy, she wont go to doctors, she’s smoking cigarettes excessively. she wont talk to me about any of this because she still sees me as the child and I’m worried because my dad isn’t really looking out for her. should I try to confront her about this or would that do more damage than good?
I appreciate the struggle you were having with your mom. But I do not think confronting her is the right thing to do.
Emphasizing that your dad needs to step-up would be an important way for you to help your mom. Having an in-depth talk with him is important. Explain that you’re not going to be around, that you’re in college — and eventually will have more of your own life — and not be there to help. If she’s getting worse and making a plan together to help her might be valuable. Working together with your dad and talking with him about your concerns is an important step.
Your dad may offer to go with her to therapy appointment to explain that there are some issues at home. Most therapists would welcome this from a family member.
Secondly you may want to talk to your college counseling center about resources in your area for family and friends of people with mental illness. You may also want to take advantage of the counseling services offered by them. This may help you cope as you continue to grow and take care of your own needs while dealing with with the family dynamics at home.
Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: http://www.dare2behappy.com/. He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.
APA Reference Tomasulo, D. (2018). My Mom Won’t Look at Me. Psych Central.
Retrieved on September 18, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2016/08/23/my-mom-wont-look-at-me/
Last updated: 8 May 2018 Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018 Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.