Mom’s paranoia is outta control

I’m about to go to college, but worried about my mom — her conspiracy theories are increasingly wacky!

Ask for help, says our elder, but don’t let it get in the way of your future.

Dear EWC

My mother causes a lot of unneeded stress in my life. I am 18 years old and about to go off to college in a couple of months and I want to be on good terms with my mother before I do. The problem is mother makes up illogical, out of pocket theories about things going on around her. For example, my sister is usually tired after track practice and falls into a deep sleep when she gets home. My mother made a theory that my sister was doing drugs with her best friend (a friend of my sister’s that my mother disapproves of) and that’s why she’s really tired. She also made a conspiracy that I was pregnant despite never having sex. She says my friend that goes to college upstate actually goes to a community college in that city. All of my mothers claims are always baseless and they make no sense. It use to be kind of humorous, but now it’s ruining our relationship because they are so out of line and baseless. It’s frustrating and I’m thinking of completely cutting her off once I get to college. I am so sick of her. How should I deal with this odd situation and my mothers odd behavior?

Ketchman replies

I’m sorry that you’ve found yourself in the situation you’ve described. I’m not a mental health professional and am unqualified to make any sort of judgment about your mom’s mental state. It does appear, from your description, that it is a matter that should be looked into a little further. That, however, should not be your job.

Your job, for the next four or five years, or more, should be to complete your education, start a career, and become economically independent and self supporting. Over the longer term that would be best, not only for you, but for your mother as well. In a very short time you’ll be in college and on your way towards those goals. I think the best way to treat your mom would be to avoid getting into arguments with her, no matter how odd her conclusions might be. That doesn’t mean you have to agree with her, only to avoid trying to rebut anything she might say.

What would be the sense of getting into an argument you’re unlikely to win? She might very well have a mental illness and, if so, cutting her off would be cruel, and might even worsen her condition. You wouldn’t cut someone off because they had another form of illness, would you?

What I hope you will do is to alert other family members about your concerns with her mental state. Is your dad in the picture, or an aunt or uncle or grandparent? Those are the people who can look into the matter and, if necessary, work at getting her some help. There may or may not be anything wrong with her that would meet the description of mental illness — she may simply be coming to conclusions that you think of as illogical. I know, in my own experience, a number of folks who I consider to be totally sane but, nevertheless, come to conclusions I consider totally illogical. Sometimes the best course is to nod your head, and change the subject to something less controversial. Sometimes starting an argument is just unproductive.

You’re about to start on a great adventure and I hope you make the most of it by not letting obstacles, like your mother’s behavior, get in the way. It can be very easy to become fixated on something like that to the point that you lose sight of your most important objectives. You have my best wishes for success. Please keep us in mind whenever you’d like a bit of advice or a second opinion on whatever might come up. There will always be someone here for you and, if you like, you could always ask for me. Thank you for giving me a chance to help. I hope I have.

Letter #: 421460
Category: Family

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