Anyone here know someone with OCD, schizophrenia, Asperger's

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Anyone here know someone with OCD, schizophrenia, Asperger's

Post by fkwan » Sat Apr 26, 2008 3:47 pm

Okay, I'm at my wits' end.

If you check my HabitCal you'll see I'm doing great at everything except the last calendar, which is my attempt to not want to strangle my mother-in-law, with whom my husband and dogs are obliged to live. She is 80 something years old and not physically ill enough to go to the nursing home, nor demented enough in a cognitive sense to ditto. However, to put it bluntly, she is stark, staring, barking mad.

In her entire life she never has given a royal rat's patootie about anything except herself, and her desire to accumulate THINGS, which takes the textbook classic OCD model of (a) buying things, (b) going into debt and (c) hoarding the !#@#ers until her part of the trailer (yes, trailer, i.e., small) looks like Miss Haversham's quarters in "Great Expectations" (any movie version allowed :D). This is why she has been thrown out of every abode she's ever lived in, and why her cousin-niece (unsure of relationship), a "good Christian lady from East Texas", finally threw up her lily white hands and sicced her on her only son, my husband. Her entire existence revolves around a twice-monthly excursion to Walmart. She has the classic OCD horror of "germs" and won't ever bathe, but douses herself with alcohol, Lysol and Brut (I am not making this up, as Dave Barry used to say). She won't eat anything fresh or that has not been boiled.

Never mind that she has repeatedly told said son that she wished she'd never been born, and treated him so badly that he ended up in a children's home when he was young, and herself in the bin undergoing shock treatment. She also allegedly told him that he should divorce me should I not have children, which I chose not to have at the age of 20 something and underwent tubal ligation.

I don't know why, but I've never, ever been able to stand the woman. I've had some difficult relationships in my life, but this one is the worst. While I don't wish to explode violently in her direction, nor do I wish her harm per se, I can't be in the same room with her without an anger so huge that it gives me chest pain. No amount of meditation, chanting or even Reinhard type programming seems to help. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to observe that she represents my deepest fear of ending up just like her when I get to be that age, or worse, even younger, even though I don't have OCD and have gone to the opposite side of the spectrum Buddhist-wise and am loath to accumulate things, and prefer wide open, empty spaces (gee, I wonder why... :)). She would never admit there's anything wrong with her and won't take medication.

The husband does not want to go through the power of attorney thing or declaring her incompetent because she will put on an act that would put Vivien Leigh to shame and convince the judge there's nothing wrong with her. She will never go to a nursing home until they drag her there unconscious on a gurney, and she won't live in public housing because they have "concrete floors".

Even though she eats total crap and gets NO exercise whatsoever, she's in terrific health and might live another 20 years.

If anyone can give me some kind of advice to deal with this, I would be eternally grateful.


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Post by kccc » Sat Apr 26, 2008 6:28 pm

I don't know about the OCD spectrum, but I would recommend a book called "The Dance of Anger." I read it in my 30's, and it helped me tremendously in terms of setting boundaries with family. The basic message is that anger is a "harsh friend" - a signal that changes are necessary. Of course, you need to tune into your more rational, problem-solving side to figure out what and how! :)

Some random brainstorming... please take what you can use and let the rest go by...(I am only trying to ask questions that help you think and problem solve, and of course some will not be applicable).

1) Do you HAVE to live with this person? Is it because she needs care (in which case can you live nearby, and check in regularly) or because you have no other options (in which case, that's the issue to address)? Can you put a trailer near hers, so you each have your own space?

2) What in particular makes you angry? The odor, the mess, particular habits or issues? Start trouble-shooting those. I used to have a few "regular" fights with my mom, and the Dance of Anger not only helped me identify them, but gave me some tools ("broken record technique") to defuse them. Eliminating just those few hot-button areas improved our relationship dramatically.

3) How does your husband fit into this dynamic? Is he taking responsibility, or leaving you to deal? What can you do if he isn't stepping up?

4) What can YOU do in terms of setting boundaries, finding your own space, calming rituals, etc? (Your Buddhist teachings will help you here - there's a lot there that is SO practical!)

I hope you can find a way to address this situation, because it's obviously a source of unhappiness for you. Best wishes for productive steps forward.

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Post by noSer » Sat Apr 26, 2008 9:46 pm

I don't know why, but I've never, ever been able to stand the woman.
After all the problems you've had with her, I had to laugh at that line. I think I may have some idea of why.

Not that what you're going thru is funny. It's not. Contact your local department on aging and/or a social worker to see what your options are. Before you kill her and end up in jail.

Seriously, life is too short to live the way you are.

Hang in there, and be proactive.
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Post by kccc » Sun Apr 27, 2008 1:38 am

noSer wrote:Contact your local department on aging and/or a social worker to see what your options are.
Good advice! Didn't occur to me to check out outside resources, but I'm sure there must be a lot.

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Post by fkwan » Sun Apr 27, 2008 2:19 am

Thanks, KC and Nos!

She has a social worker. Nice lady. She essentially told us there's not much we can do.

She has to live with us, or else rot in the street.

But thanks for the book rec, I will look it up at my library right now :)

hugs f

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Post by MitchellKing » Thu Aug 21, 2008 8:08 pm

One Word ... TASER !!!!!!
A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any invention in human history - with the possible exceptions of handguns and tequila. ...

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Post by anndelise » Fri Sep 12, 2008 3:58 pm

how's the book's info working out for you?

one other thing that can be mentioned, there ARE programs you can get her on (at least in the usa); Unfortunately, some of these may fail if your husband has power of attorney over her.

* is she on social security disability? if not, get her signed up for it. Let her know that it's in her best interests to get on it because you're going to help her get her own place where she can do as she pleases and won't have you/other nagging on her all the time. ;) Make sure to encourage the benefits of her having her own place and her own income instead of being dependent upon you and your husband.

* sign her up with your local housing program. They have their own homes, or she can also apply for section 8 which means that they'll pay for an apt or such. There may be a waiting list, depending on your area/county.

If she goes onto a housing program, then she'll have her own studio or one bedroom place, no housemates. They will be the ones who'll check on her each year to see how safe her home is or isn't. If she wants to keep her place (and freedom) she'll have to abide by their regulations (which, even a clutter bucket can get by on). If she's consistently unsafe, they can notify someone (such as a social worker) who can get her someplace safer for herself...and not in YOUR home.

* also sign her up for foodstamps and medical.

I can't imagine that a judge is going to insist that you and your husband take care of her.
The social worker isn't going to do anything to help you because ..*shrug*.. you're already taking care of it yourself. If the woman was kicked out of your home, then the social worker would have to step up to the plate and do her job.

Remember that there's this thing called "tough love". Usually it's applied to teenagers and 20-30something 'kids' who are still living with their parents. But the same concept can be applied to an aging parent..even a disabled one.

I'm guessing that there is nothing legal forcing her to stay with you. Is there?
If not, then the only other thing that seems to be keeping her there is any "shoulds" you have given yourself, or from your husband, or his family, or even her. But remember, "shoulds" are ideals, not facts, and not laws. We can easily "should" ourselves out of having a life, out of living our life. Perhaps you could review the shoulds that apply to you supporting this woman, and see if any of them can be altered or tossed.

And I agree with the person who said that anger is a signal that we need to do something, that we need to take action regarding something. Even if we don't always know which course of action to take, nor which may be best for the situation and those involved.
Getting angry isn't a personality flaw.
Getting rid of the anger is only helpful if you've no intention of ever changing the situation.

Whatever you do or don't do, I sincerely hope that you find some kind of resolution so that you can live your life while you have one. *hugs*

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