Post # 16
- Wedding: July 2012 - The Gables Inn, Santa Rosa, CA
xstaticsummers: You don’t have to tell her that it wasn’t her fault to forgive her. It WAS her fault, but that doesn’t make her a terrible person. It makes her someone who made a mistake and that’s what you tell her. And you tell her that she can’t make that kind of mistake again because lives are on the line. You have to ask her WHY she lied to you, and why she made the choices she made. It sounds like she’s never been the primary caregiver for the rats, you always have, and suddenly you weren’t there. But she didn’t want to make you feel guilty (as many parents with dependancy issues do) so she told you she had it covered, but obviousy she didn’t. Again, it doesn’t excuse her behavior, but she didn’t meliciously starve them or WANT to hurt them. You need to have a serious conversation with her about if she’s up to the task of caring for them properly or not.
Post # 17
If she starts crying and says she is a terrible person, gently tell her its ok to be upset but she isnt a terrible person, she just made a few mistakes. Try to be prepared for her emotions and steel yours during the conversation. Or if you are emotional as I am, its ok to cry, just remember what needs to be said. Write it down so you have notes to look at if needed.
Post # 18
Thanks all for the helpful comments. Outside insight gives me the perspective I need to approach the situation without all the overflowing emotions I have attached to the situation. I am also thankful that I found the situation when I did and will try my best to talk her into communicating the situation to her therapist and hopefully getting any additional help she needs.
Post # 19
xstaticsummers: No, I get it. It sucks when people don’t live up to your expectations of them. But you know she has an illness. Even if she was before, she isn’t capable of taking care of small animals now. Arguing with her about it isn’t going to do either of you any good. Just learn from it and make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Post # 20
Bless you for being so thoughtful and taking care of the situation. I don’t have any experience with something like that, but I think taking a few days (or however long you need) to reflect on this might help you calm down. You say you don’t think she did it on purpose; I would think she didn’t either. So in that case, perhaps it is a symptom of her mental illness or something else. It is easier to forgive when you realize that it was not on purpose or out of malice. Maybe because it was outside of her routine, she slipped and forgot. Talk to her and ask her what her habits were with the rats, and maybe try to get a feel for how things worked out… without directly saying anything like “why did you not feed them” which may cause her to shut down or get defensive. Perhaps it’s something that with a bit of work she can take care of them again, or it may mean she needs more supervision or intervention.
Post # 21
- Wedding: November 2014 - 11/15/14-Vineyard
Ok I don’t see why you are upset with her!
Yes, she may have loved them when she took care of yours, but YOU bought her animals without even asking her and gave them to her and now you are upset that she’s not taking care of them when you KNOW she is mentally ill.
Sorry, but I think YOU were in the wrong for giving them to her in the first place. Take some of the blame yourself, stop being mad at someone when it was clearly your fault.
I love animals too and will take care of them for friends/family but that doesn’t mean I want one as a gift.
Post # 22
MrsTtoB: OP didn’t say what her mother’s mental illness was, but did say her mother was fully capable of taking care of animals and had raised two children, even with the illness. So I don’t think OP is to blame at all.
OP, I suggest taking some time to yourself about this, and you can approach your mom if/when you feel better about the situation. At least you noticed and are able to help nurse the rats back to good health. I would definitely check on the cat as often as you can, even if your mother assures you the cat is fine and you don’t need to check up on her.
Post # 23
MrsTtoB: You don’t know the entire story, and frankly it’s not possible for me to write out every single detail about the situation in a post. When she was watching my rats she begged me to leave them with her for a while longer, she went on about how happy they made her and how much she loved the company because her cat can be very standoffish. She always asked me to bring my rats over for visits and would hold and kiss them and call them her grandchildren because she was so in love with them. I don’t just dump animals on people, I’m not an idiot. Maybe you didn’t read my responces but I also was the person who bought all of the food and frequently cleaned their cage. I did it for my MOM because I love her and it breaks my heart that she spends almost every day of her life alone in an apartment. Because I am one of the few family members who still is willing to give her my time. Because I love her and I want to make her happy. And she loves the rats, probably more than someone who is not so lonely could ever love an animal. Am I completely right for being mad at her? Probably not. Did I yell at her or otherwise blame her? No I didn’t. I handled the sitation calmly but I am still entitled to MY OWN FEELINGS.
So how dare you tell me whether I can or cannot be angry with her. I have the right to feel however I want to feel. And you have obviously have no understanding of the situation. Do you think people with mental illnesses are not capable of taking care of things? Do you think she should be locked up all alone? Do you not realize that she is a grown woman who is intelligent and suffering and damnit, she is my mom. And I would do anything I can to make her happy. Maybe it was a mistake to get her those rats but I can tell you they brought her happiness and peace for months. They let her escape from the torture in her own mind and express her love and compassion.
You’re a jerk.
Post # 24
I did not read the entire thread, but what mental illness does she suffer from? This could be a good indication your mom is not functioning as highly as you originally thought.
Also has she been mentally ill your entire life? Or is this a new onset of illness?
I feel for all involved.
Post # 25
MrsTtoB: Wait a minute, it’s the OP’s fault her mom starved her pets? The mind boggles… Get off your high horse!
xstaticsummers: What mental illness does your mom have? I have clinical depression and generalized anxiety disorder, and most people in my family have similar ailments. I’ve always had pets; if anything, taking care of my cats helps me manage the depression. It’s one of the few things I look forward to.
Post # 26
lavishlv: SexyCatLady: Her diagnoses has changed a lot over the years. I think generally the best description is that she has a form of a personailty disorder. For many years she was being treated for bipolar disorder but I don’t think she is being treated for bipolar specifically anymore. She also has PTSD from a traumatic past and usually shows signs of depression. Her cat is actually a “prescribed” companion animal for her, and I agree that caring for animals has always been a way for her to help manage her illness.
I don’t spend a lot of time talking about her illnesses with her. When I am visiting I use that time to try and talk about happy things and to distract her or entertain her as much as possible. We have a sensative relationship, she has done a lot of wrong to me in my life but I am not willing to abandon her and I love her very much. I also suffer from anixiety and often seasonal depression but I cannot begin to imagine the type of suffering that she goes through every day.
Post # 27
- Wedding: October 2015 - Haddonfield, NJ
I think it’s really important to add that mentally ill does not equal incapable of doing anything. People who are suggesting she not have access to animals or anything similar because she is mentally ill – that thinking does more harm than good and adds to the stigma of mental illness. OP already mentioned the cat is well taken care of, so obviously the mother is capable of taking care of a small animal. She is also alive and well, and it was clear she was raised by her mother. Caring for small animals can be really, really helpful for those who suffer from certain MI.
OP – I hope your rats get better, and you’re able to mend your relationship with your mother. It sounds like this was a really awful mistake, and I hope that’s what it was. I have two fur babies myself, and they’ve been hurt by negligence of someone else, so I feel you. It’s really hard to let go, but I hope you’re able to work through it.
I know you were looking on advice on how to cope with the situation, and just venting, but I noticed a lot of people giving advice on how to deal with your mother. The most anyone knows about your mother, and her illness, is in the short paragraphs you wrote. Your relationship, and her illness, are incredibly complex, and I hope before you take any measures you seek help from professionals in the field.
A lot of people on this forum are quick to respond to medical questions with “See a doctor!” and the same applies for mental illness. Again, this is a response to what some posters were responding with, not your original post. I know that’s not what YOU were looking for.
Post # 28
SamGoesWest: Yes thank you. I was also frustrated because I want to make it clear that my mom is not a child and just because she is mentally ill doesn’t mean that she can’t take care of things. I am going to talk to my therapist about this whole situation for sure. It may be possible for me to have a joint therapy session with me mom as well but I will see.
I’m mostly worried that she is going to call me today or sometime soon and I wont know what to say/do. I don’t want to ust ignore her and have her thinking that I hate her or something but I am also not sure if it’s right for me to just pretend like this whole situation never happened? I guess I am just really shocked because this was all out of the ordinary. I never could have predicted this would happen and therefor I just have no idea how to handle it.
Post # 29
As an animal lover this made me feel so sad. I completely understand how you feel. I also have a mother with mental illness. However in my opinion your mom can take care of the cat and herself and has raised 2 kids so I would really question why the rats haven’t been taken care of. It can’t be forgetfulness as you were reminding her by calling. .. I think it definitely requires a conversation to ask why she thinks she stopped feeding them. If she gets upset and says she is a terrible person remind her she isn’t but it is important you both work out why the sudden change and the she understands what went wrong here.
Good luck it seems that you do a lot for your mom and I feel for you during this time.
Post # 30
xstaticsummers: I can relate to having a sensitive relationship with my mom. She has bipolar disorder (and probably other disorders that are undiagnosed, like your mom) and was emotionally abusive. We rarely speak, but I haven’t completely cut her out of my life; I don’t want to hurt her. We never talk about anything serious.
After my dad died, my mom put their cat outside. The cat had never been outside in her life, plus she was declawed! Luckily, the cat still lived a long life. It took me a long time to forgive her for that, though.
Do you know if anything happened to trigger your mom’s behavior? It’s odd that that just happened out of the blue, especially if she’s normally good with animals.