Distress when mum, sisters push me away

I feel like I am going mad. I desperately need your help.


I FEEL like I am going mad. I desperately need your help. I sold my furniture, bought a caravan and had it towed to the Riverland to be closer to three of my sisters and Mum, who needs a fair bit of help. I thought I could help with appointments, when the others are busy, and do a few things to make it easier all round.

But I got picked on for everything I tried to do for Mum, even by her. There was one thing after another until I told them I’d had enough, because this has happened over and over again.

It was the same with Dad decades ago. I lived in a caravan to help Mum with him. Then he had a third stroke, so I decided to return to Adelaide. But Mum was angry and said I caused nothing but trouble. I was almost suicidal, and went back to the van. Then a sister gave me a dose. They all went against me. Finally I did go back to Adelaide. Is it best to cut my sisters off again, for good?

I am 67 now and can’t take it like I used to. I have peripheral neuropathy and early stage dementia. I can’t sell my van; things don’t work in it. I can’t tow it. I can’t find any place to live. I have lost contact with my children.


First, the panel congratulates you for wanting to help your mum and to ease the burden on your sisters. Your generous nature and good intentions are very evident.

The most important thing you can do at the moment is look after yourself, directing your energy into finding a place to live and taking care of your health. Many services can assist, both government and non-government, including AC Care, CentaCare, BaptistCare and UnitingCare Wesley.

The government’s national My Aged Care contact centre (phone 1800 200 422 open 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday and 10am to 2pm on Saturday), will be able to direct you to suitable services in regional and/or metropolitan areas, including accommodation support services that can help you find a place to live.

It would also be a good idea to see a GP to explain your feelings of distress, as well as having your medical conditions reviewed. Once you are settled in accommodation and feeling less distressed, with the help of a counsellor you could examine if it is worth pursuing and rebuilding relationships with family members.

They may suggest ways that you can emotionally protect yourself and also assist you in gaining an understanding of why your relatives may be reacting in the way they do. The above groups offer counselling services, as do Relationships Australia who have services in regional areas including Berri.

Most importantly if you are very distressed and depressed there are 24-hour telephone services that you can call for support: Beyond Blue 1300 224 636, Lifeline 13 11 14. If you don’t have a phone the emergency department at public hospitals have staff trained to assist people experiencing severe emotional distress and depression. It is important to remember there is always help available and no matter how bad your situation may seem things can and will improve for you. Reaching out to the services available is the first step.

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