Dear Mary: My mother went into meltdown and accused me of terrible things
Late last year we took my mother, who is in her mid-seventies, on holidays to our apartment abroad. My dad couldn't go due to health reasons but he really wanted my mum to have a break as we all did.
My mother had a total meltdown each and every day - it started at 6.30 the first morning when she stormed on to the balcony and had what seemed like a complete breakdown saying one of our young guests had been "cheeky" to her on the flight.
I held her hand and calmed her down as much as I could but obviously I knew that her reaction was wrong. In fact this child is a great child.
Each day there was a meltdown over something completely trivial. She even went missing over a period of two days when we had to dispatch everyone to look for her. Me and my brother found her and I held her hand and asked her what was upsetting her so much. She shrugged off my hand, saying: "I'm not talking to you because you try to reason everything out and that is not the way I work."
We were all seriously concerned about her - even in her sleep she was shouting words like "lost" and "broken". The only time she talked and seemed normal was when we were in the airport on the way home.
But what happened when we got home was treacherous. She said dreadful things that I had 'done' to her on the holiday. I never reacted or responded to anything she did except with love. All the other people on holiday with us have confirmed this.
My mother has always had issues where complete surrender or compliance was required or else the house lived in absolute hell. You had to apologise even if you had done nothing wrong. But we are on another scale here where she is making up vicious lies. My dad rang screaming at me the other night that I had to sort things out.
I have spoken to a psychologist to try to help me deal with things, especially with the fall-out from my dad, whom I love very much. He was always the go-to parent when we were growing up. I think my mum has always been jealous of this relationship and now her lies are actualising the dream of destroying my relationship with him.
The psychologist did not diagnose my mother as she hadn't dealt with her but all the signs were pointing to Borderline Personality Disorder. When I researched this, it was like a Eureka moment in my life.
We had a dreadful Christmas Day when her accusations came out. I only heard two or three things that she told my dad and I actually just couldn't listen to the vilification any more.
I've hardly slept or eaten since then.
I know that her mental health issues are not mine but I'm so afraid that something will happen to either her or my dad and that my dad will die believing her lies.
I am so afraid that I will be left with guilt even though I haven't done anything.
Mary replies: Mental problems are so difficult to deal with because one is not dealing with a properly functioning mind. I'm glad that the psychologist was of help to you but you still need some reassurance that none of this is your fault.
It may be helpful for your brother to speak to your father and explain how difficult your mother was on the holiday, as you then won't feel quite so alone. He could also suggest that your mother needs medical help - your father probably wouldn't act on it if you suggest it.
Your main concern is to ensure that your relationship with your father is not damaged.
He has known your mother for far longer than you have, and you can be sure that he has his own thoughts on her behaviour no matter what he says to you.
Try to have some time with him on your own where you can talk about other things and reassure him of your love, but be sure to take care of yourself and your own mental wellbeing.
You are the most important person in all of this.
You can contact Mary O’Conor anonymously by visiting www.dearmary.ie or email her at email@example.com or write c/o 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1. All correspondence will be treated in confidence. Mary O’Conor regrets that she is unable to answer any questions privately.
Sunday Indo Living