Tips on managing my Mother

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    • #126725

      Hi everyone,

      I’m a 39 year old female with recently diagnosed inattentive ADHD. I completely believe that my Dad also has ADHD, his symptoms are extremely obvious. The difficulty is my Mum. She definitely has signs of ADHD, but at the same time I’m not sure whether it is.

      I generally have a good relationship with my Mum, but the problem arises when I happen to say something to her that she takes as a criticism. My Mum has a problem with mood regulation. She often gets quite down and moody, gets down on herself, her weight, and there is nothing you can say to make her feel better. Everything is just terrible. I often end up just having to remove myself when she’s like that because it actually ends up making me feel depressed as well.

      Today was a typical example of my Mum’s overreaction. And this is what I struggle with a lot. I hadn’t been awake long and I’d gone downstairs and my Mum was eating breakfast. We were talking but as she was eating she was chewing with her mouth open. My Mum has always been someone who believed in manners, I was always taught table manners and that you don’t put your elbows on the table, you hold your knife and fork properly and don’t eat with your mouth open. I personally hate to see food in people’s mouths, and every mouthful of banana and yoghurt my Mum was putting in, the first few chews she was doing with her mouth open. I tried to ignore it for several minutes until I just couldn’t bear it anymore, and said something. I think I said ‘do you have to eat with your mouth open.’ Well this did not go well. She got REALLY defensive. Her usual response is to hit back at me with an example of something I do, this time it was the fact I catch my cutlery on my teeth when I eat, she actually mimicked it but exaggerated what I usually do. The reason I often do that is because for years I’ve suffered with painful mouth ulcers and I would eat that way to avoid touching the ulcers. It’s become a little bit of a habit, so I don’t scrape my mouth with the cutlery. Then she said to me ‘I don’t want YOU looking after me when I’m old.’

      So Mum ended up getting annoyed with me and decided she wasn’t going to talk to me because I’d said this to her. About half an hour later I asked her why she wasn’t speaking to me. This is when I got the over emotional outburst of ‘Well I don’t have anything to say, I’m just keeping out of the way. I always thought I was someone with good manners, now I’m being told I’m rude and disgusting.’ She starts to cry and get angry at me ‘You know you’re getting old when your children tell you you’re wrong and tell you what you should be doing. And that they’re always right.’

      This is a common theme with my Mum, that any criticism is that she’s wrong and stupid. That is the first thing she jumps to. It’s very hard to have reasoned and open conversations with someone who jumps straight to being wrong and stupid about everything.

      I just don’t know how to handle these outbursts and how to speak to her. I tried to tell her she’s overreacting, and she knows she’s overreacting. She will apologise and admit it later, but it’s like she can’t see what she’s doing when it’s happening. One of these outbursts can leave her in a bad mood for hours or even a day sometimes. Sometimes it leads to worse arguments where she’ll scream and shout, slam doors, cry on the bed. She’s always been like this as long as I can remember. She once had an outburst at my Dad and threw potatoes at him, another time she threw the car keys and they stuck in his foot.

      Our household can be so volatile. Especially since we can all have outbursts now and then, and it’s worse that two of us most def have ADHD. I tend to recognise when I’m feeling on edge or argumentative and try and stay out of the way. I also very rarely have outbursts like my Mum. I can get defensive about criticism, but I don’t go way over the top like she does. Also when my Dad or I have an outburst, we tend to calm down quite quickly. But for my Mum it can hang over the whole house for hours, with her banging around, slamming doors, being in a mood, and making the whole house generally feel miserable.

      In my head I’m thinking that most people’s response to what I said would be ‘oh sorry, I didn’t realise I was doing that,’ and they’d close their mouth. They wouldn’t take the comment as a slight against them, or a criticism as if they were the worst human being in the world. That’s another of my Mum’s saying’s to come out with. If I’ve ever said something about a situation where something upset me, where I’ve tried to be open or honest about how something made me feel, her reaction is ‘oh well I’m the worst person in the world, I’m the worst Mother you could have ever had.’ and then she gets in a bad mood. She will then come back with something that I do, or something she doesn’t like about me. I guess she feels hurt, so she has to try and hurt me with something as if to prove a point.

      I guess I just needed a bit of a rant, but any input or things you think I could do or say would be helpful 🙂

    • #126811

      Hihi KitanasFan
      I’m so sorry to hear about the distress and arguments in your household, communicating while navigating the oft higher emotional intensities that go along with adhd AND family relationships AND eating issues must have made the scenario very difficult for everyone!

      Offering tips as requested 🙂

      I think this might help a bit as a direction to explore to perhaps help with understanding your mum’s reactions:

      How ADHD Ignites Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria

      Food/eating awareness:
      If food is turned to for comfort it becomes such a vicious cycle when it goes hand in hand with upset about weight…which as we get older is not about looks so much/only but fears about health and more self blame etc…and any moment that the activity of ‘self-soothing’ by eating is interrupted or challenged or shamed in anyway, brings the whole volcano of emotions to the surface at once when we were already in the process of trying to ignore or overcome them because we couldn’t cope anyway.

      I am going to also share that in this line:
      ‘She will then come back with something that I do, or something she doesn’t like about me. I guess she feels hurt, so she has to try and hurt me with something as if to prove a point.’
      I sense that it is unlikely that she intentionally wants to try to ‘hurt you back’ but rather to connect the two of you as ‘the same’. Because one of our core primal needs is to belong, we attempt to point out where we are not very unlike others in our behaviour…if that can be agreed, we can go back to belonging to our tribe even with our faults.

      The ongoing anger of failing to forgive oneself:
      I know personally that When I am ‘angry’ and fighting back like that, or having to expend physical energy by banging doors etc…behind what feels most safe as anger I am full of terror and shame and want to be hugged and loved more than anything. That might be true for your mum and even you too 🙂

      non-violent communication:
      Words, sense of rejection, sense of isolation are processed in the brain the same way as physical pain – my gentlest tip would be to find ways to inspire by being gentle with your own communication which will help others feel safer and more accepted and you can ask the same of others more easily when offering it yourself. This has the wonderful knock on effect of helping people be gentle in the ways that they speak to themselves as well 🙂

      Good luck with everything <3

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