My MIL is mentally ill. She is Schizoaffective, which means she is Schizophrenic w/ Bipolar Mood Issues. She has lived for years with another of my husband's brothers and his family. In October of 2012, the brother and his wife got back into drugs and it came down to getting the MIL out before she had another psychotic break. We thought we were the only place she could go in a hurry. We went down to get her, and emphasized that it was only temporary until she could get on her feet financially. So, in she moved. We don't have a large house and had just started trying to conceive to have our first child. She was very manic at first, but we helped get her straightened out. Eventually, we even saw her show some improvement. We found out in August that we were expecting (yay!) and that has been a huge blessing. But, of course, that meant really trying to nail down a time frame to get her out. Between her age and her mental regression from the disease, it was agreed from the beginning that she would never keep our kids unattended. Plus, the stress of having her live with us has driven me batty more than a few times. So, this past October, after talking with my husband, we started talking to the best candidates among her own siblings to arrange a permanent living situation that had offered previously. That's when we found out that she only wants to live with one of her grown, married kids or possibly remarry again. She has no social skills and is socially handicapped from the disease, so as much as a new husband would be wonderful, we don't see this as a very realistic expectation. Something to definitely pray for her, but, you know. So, she went, in my mind, from being a poor, pitiful, homeless, mentally-ill 60-year-old that had no where to go, to being a selfish old bat who wouldn't have went anywhere else and sees us as a retirement plan. My husband has finally agreed that we would both sit down with her and discuss her at least staying somewhere else for 6 months after I deliver. It will not be easy. He is currently student teaching to finish his master's and is stressed to the gills already about that. Adding to that to ask his mom to leave, even temporarily, I know is causing issues. He can't work on what he needs for his master's when he's home because she is constantly pestering him. (Updates on TV shows she's watching, talking about the weather, questions about things she needs done that she wants him to do).
For me, personally, I have had to fight tooth and nail just to be able to put my own dishes in the dishwasher or clean something, as she feels that she should be doing it. She tries to help with our two big dogs, but is more likely to undo their house-training than actually help. And looming over all this is this feeling that if she is still in the house with my newborn, she'll constantly try to pull him from me to do things that I WANT to do for him. I show love by doing for people. She thinks that by doing all my housework and taking over everything, she is helping, when in fact, it makes me feel like I'm no longer worth anything and being lazy. I have started getting much sterner with her. (I WILL be doing some of the dishes. I WANT to do them and it doesn't matter if you don't want me to.) But I just don't know how to get her out. While I want to ask my husband when we will have this little confab with her, he gets so stressed over school that I feel bad about asking, like I'm pestering him too and adding to his stress. I feel that she adds an enormous amount of stress on him and he would be doing better if she was gone. But he has had to battle feeling guilty and trapped. He is finally getting out of that, but I still feel stuck. It's like having a 13-year-old that happens to live in a 60-year-old's body living with us and needing the same kind of attentive care. Sorry for the long post, but there are times I feel so alone in my feelings about her and my attitude toward her. I know in my brain that my husband is with me 100% and has said so numerous times, but between the prego hormones and only having a few people I feel comfortable opening up too, it makes it pretty lonely.
Thanks for listening,
Having a permanent, difficult houseguest during this time, with your DH busy with school and you guys welcoming a baby into the family, is a recipe for disaster. That's not how you guys will want to remember your early years as a young family. You say your DH supports you 100%, but he's avoiding confrontation with his mother and changing the parameters to just a 6-month break instead of a permanent change.
It was very kind of you guys to take her in for this past year-plus, but if there are other family members willing to share the burden, that's what needs to happen, whether that fits in with her ideal preferences or not.
Are there other care options available to her, such as assisted living? I think you should explore every option you can find, and sit down with her an explain what her options are.
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- my blog on small town homesteading.
You are right that this is a totally unworkable situation. Perhaps you could learn what services are available in your area - housing, support, treatment, I don't know what all may exist to help folks with mental illness.
A national organization is www.nami.org (National Alliance of Mental Illness). If NAMI has a branch in your area (by state or county, depending) they will be a wonderful resource for finding services for her, and support for yourself. They have classes specifically about the stresses of dealing with a family member with mental illness, also support groups and more. Even out of your home, you could use some support defining the relationship between her and her new grandchild.
Helping your MIL get settled into some workable, sustainable situation will be a relief to all the family.
All the best,
Rhu - mother,grandmother,daughter,sister,friend-foster,adoptive,and biological;not necessarily in that order. Some of it's magic, some of it's tragic, but I had a good life all the way (Jimmy Buffet)
Thanks for the responses, ladies! It has definitely helped me to start looking at all the housing options. It's a touchy situation, as she can have relapses caused by stress, as well as depression if she is alone all the time. It can be incredible the issues someone can have with this disease, especially after reading up on it. Educating myself has helped over the past year, but that doesn't make it easier.
I have asked my husband that we sit down alone together and work out when we are going to speak with her. Especially with her starting to display inordinate excitement over his birth in three months, I want to make sure she doesn't get her hopes too high before she finds out that we are making her leave and then suffer disappointment/stress that can affect her illness. That has been the worst part. Walking this tightrope between her illness and our rules has been hard. But I know this will have an end and soon. 3
She needs a very well supported housing situation or she is at risk of being homeless. If she ends up that way and die, it will destroy your DH and your family.
I know it all sucks but she is his mother.
I agree, but our home isn't the well supported housing situation that is working. That is why we are trying to help find her a suitable alternative. But it comes down to I can't be a full-time caregiver and a full-time mom. And with the current sized house we have, we can't have anymore kids either as long as she lives with us. There simply isn't enough room.
I'm not discounting the reality of what you said, but it has been taken into account. That's part of the stress of finding an alternative.
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