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Parental love and depression: has anyone else suffered from too much love?

C

cathanifrind174

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Paris, France
I am 28 years old and recently married. I am the only child of a couple who no longer live together. My mum loves me a lot but it is borderline obsession. She still sees me as a five-year old and thinks she knows what’s best for me. I know her intentions are pure but I am tired of pretending to be a five-year old just to make her happy.

My mum is particularly about my teeth, my nails, my hair – I am 28 mind you. I don’t live with her. She’s currently visiting me and my wife for fifteen days and on the day she arrived she argued with me for two hours about the color of my teeth. I take good care of my teeth and had gone to a dentist just couple of weeks before to get my teeth checked. But it wasn’t good enough for her.

I feel like nothing I do is good enough for her and she always feels sorry for me. I know it is driven by maternal instincts and love but I can’t help think how much it has contributed to my depression and anxiety. I always tell my psychiatrist that I am not good enough – that even when others think I am doing great (like my employer or my wife), I think I am an utter failure and a burden to society.

I’ve tried explaining to my mum but she gets angry if I even suggest such a thing. She doesn’t see how genuine care, when taken to an extreme, can contribute to having a lower self-esteem. I used to fight a lot with her. Now I take it all on me and try to be as nice as I can, so that it hopefully changes her heart but I just feel that nothing I ever do will make my mum happy. I think I should stop setting myself the goal of making her happy, because it has only accentuated my depression and anxiety.

Has anyone else suffered from helicopter parenting and excess maternal love and can attest to the fact that similar to negligence, overbearing love can also be detrimental to mental health?

I have come to accept my limitations but I feel like I’m always causing pain and disappointment by not being the person my mum wants to be – which is someone no one can be. She says she only wants me to have good teeth, but her obsession with my teeth has led me to develop OCD behavior with regards to almost everything as I fear the smallest mistake on my part will break the heart of others. My mother often tells me, “When I look at your teeth, I am heartbroken. I am angry at you but I am just sad.”

I know I should just listen to her and not give much thought but I can’t help complain and crib. If I had not spent months out of work because of depression, I would not have taken this so seriously. But more and more, I feel like my mother is responsible for my depression. I have really tried to put myself in her shoes but because she never does that (or probably cannot as it is hard for someone without depression to feel what I am feeling), I feel like I’m taking the entire burden on me.
 
Z

Zoe1

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Jul 8, 2019
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I would limit your time with her

you can explore the idea of going for a coffee for her once a month for instance
outside, and for a limited time like say an hour and a half
whatever suits you so that you're not affected so much
 
K

Keesha

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I am 28 years old and recently married. I am the only child of a couple who no longer live together. My mum loves me a lot but it is borderline obsession. She still sees me as a five-year old and thinks she knows what’s best for me. I know her intentions are pure but I am tired of pretending to be a five-year old just to make her happy.

My mum is particularly about my teeth, my nails, my hair – I am 28 mind you. I don’t live with her. She’s currently visiting me and my wife for fifteen days and on the day she arrived she argued with me for two hours about the color of my teeth. I take good care of my teeth and had gone to a dentist just couple of weeks before to get my teeth checked. But it wasn’t good enough for her.

I feel like nothing I do is good enough for her and she always feels sorry for me. I know it is driven by maternal instincts and love but I can’t help think how much it has contributed to my depression and anxiety. I always tell my psychiatrist that I am not good enough – that even when others think I am doing great (like my employer or my wife), I think I am an utter failure and a burden to society.

I’ve tried explaining to my mum but she gets angry if I even suggest such a thing. She doesn’t see how genuine care, when taken to an extreme, can contribute to having a lower self-esteem. I used to fight a lot with her. Now I take it all on me and try to be as nice as I can, so that it hopefully changes her heart but I just feel that nothing I ever do will make my mum happy. I think I should stop setting myself the goal of making her happy, because it has only accentuated my depression and anxiety.

Has anyone else suffered from helicopter parenting and excess maternal love and can attest to the fact that similar to negligence, overbearing love can also be detrimental to mental health?

I have come to accept my limitations but I feel like I’m always causing pain and disappointment by not being the person my mum wants to be – which is someone no one can be. She says she only wants me to have good teeth, but her obsession with my teeth has led me to develop OCD behavior with regards to almost everything as I fear the smallest mistake on my part will break the heart of others. My mother often tells me, “When I look at your teeth, I am heartbroken. I am angry at you but I am just sad.”

I know I should just listen to her and not give much thought but I can’t help complain and crib. If I had not spent months out of work because of depression, I would not have taken this so seriously. But more and more, I feel like my mother is responsible for my depression. I have really tried to put myself in her shoes but because she never does that (or probably cannot as it is hard for someone without depression to feel what I am feeling), I feel like I’m taking the entire burden on me.
The classic narcissist mom. Toxic.
 
P

Pennybrite

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A person can't argue if you don't argue back. Don't engage with her when she starts obsessing over you. Just ignore it. It will help develop boundaries.
 
C

cathanifrind174

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Joined
May 5, 2021
Messages
177
Location
Paris, France
Thank you for all your replies. We actually live far off so the problem only arises when we meet or when we talk to each other over the phone. For a while, I used to ignore her and stopped talking to her. It was great mental health wise but I was starting to feel guilty and so I started talking to her again regularly. It is quite taxing mentally. And I try not to argue but then I have to take it all in like a sink and it's hard to keep my calm. I don't argue back but I just cannot not be angry.
 
stevie_sloth

stevie_sloth

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Mar 31, 2015
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Australia
This is hard. My parents have always been a bit over-protective but not critical, but still, since early childhood (due to some other household traumas), I've felt embarrassed and also stressed about showing any negative emotions (like sadness or anger), any physical illness or revealing any unpleasant news about situations or changes in my life. Because I just cannot bear for them to worry about me.

What you said about developing some OCD behaviours because you're scared of doing anything "wrong" in case it hurts someone. That's me with my mum and dad (my mum especially).

I don't know if your mother is a narcissist. Mine certainly is not. Far from it. To me, it sounds like your mother has quite a lot of anxiety about whether you're safe, ok, healthy, etc, but often it manifests as criticism, judgment and smothering. Which then pushes you away. Which she would then notice, feel even MORE anxious, and then try to overcompensate for that by being extra controlling when she sees you and talks to you.

I wish I could offer some words of wisdom.
 
C

cathanifrind174

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Joined
May 5, 2021
Messages
177
Location
Paris, France
I know it's hard. The thing is I don't even see them that often. We live quite far away from each other. And call her once a week out of respect, that is it. Her moods keep changing. And there are times when she's less critical or even supportive. It all depends.

I just know that I can't ever confide a bad event to her without her losing it. She admits she is irrational when it comes to me. She places all her happiness on me and the pressure is awful.

If she was a narcissist for sure or some other kind of abuser, I'd have no qualms cutting off the relationship, this one is hard though. Thanks for your thoughts.
 

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