My mom has always been very anxious along with some mental health issues. It has been common for her to start talking about a family member and criticizing, then before the conversation is over she is praising them as if they had no faults. Recently came across a reference to splitting which common with Borderline Personality disorder. It is where a person will "blow up" and basically attack someone verbally, "I hate you" and "I love you" in the same episode. Though my mom has had episodes like this, I don't necessarily think she has BPD. However, more and more I realize she does this in many different areas, and more frequently. One minute she only wants one type of food, the next she only wants something completely different. One minute she only wants to wear one type of clothing, the next that doesn't work for some reason. She listens to the news constantly, one minute she praises one candidate, the next the other side. It is like she literally cannot see "the big picture" in order to make choices, she only sees one at a time. She either avoids decisions, or makes a decision and then keeps switching.

I have read when dealing with BPD episodes, learn to stay away from different subjects. And I certainly try, but it is a little hard when it can come from anywhere.

Does anyone deal with something similar? What has helped you besides avoiding the most emotional subjects (even when they need to be addressed), and counting to the proverbial ten?

Find Care & Housing
After a (former) friend and I went through a traumatic experience together, she began splitting with me. It was scary and exhausting. She seemed oblivious to her extremes but they must have frightened her. I started avoiding her and kept my answering machine tapes in case I opted for a restraining order. She called almost daily for 6 months (sometimes several calls per day), alternating between screaming about how much she hated me and sobbing that I was her only true friend. Perhaps there is a pattern to what sets off your mother. So you can avoid her triggers, reduce her anxiety and/or redirect her.

I use distraction, re-direction and extinguishing.

Personally, I really dislike engaging in "pointless" conversation that is not engaging, informative, edifying or has an ultimate point with people who are basically irrational and illogical. When my Mom launches into negativity or conspiracy talk, do one of the following: I point to something in the room or outside and ask her a question like, "When did you put that there? Has that always been there?" etc. Or, I turn the conversation in a direction that may be more fruitful or get her mind in a better place (neutral, if not positive) and then leave on that note. Or, I abruptly change the topic to something neutral or positive/uplifting. If she gets flustered and continues to go back to the negative talk I say the exact same thing again or something different but also positive/neutral. I keep doing it as if I didn't just hear all her nonsense prior. She may or may not answer respond to the new topic. If she doesn't, I hang up or leave. Or, start an activity, like cleaning up something in a different room, or put on music loud enough so she can't talk over it. I just cannot suffer negative, pointless talk -- but that's just me. I do one of the above strategies at least once a day with my Mom.

Has your mom always been indecisive about subjects? Some people are this way. Maybe it is a mental disorder, or perhaps, it’s a personality trait of hers. The only way to know for sure, is for her to be evaluated by a psychiatrist.

Has she ever been prescribed meds for her anxiety?

Splitting and all or nothing thinking are common features of several mental health conditions.

Is she a Libra?
Hee hee, kidding you here, but I am one, and am kinda a fence sitter. So to say:
I can hear one candidate and think "Yeah, that sounds good", then hear the other and think "Oh, wait, yeah. There's THAT. Now the other doesn't sound so good".
I think some of us are just "like that".
Getting older, with perhaps some aging issues, doesn't help.

I think basically this is just a matter of trying not to respond overmuch. Let them just work it out for themselves. They are sometimes just thinking out loud.
Notice the INSIDE of your own head, how you might argue options in your head without saying a thing: Such as "Irma drives me NUTS with all that calling for my opinion! I can't TAKE it. On the other hand, I sure would be peeved if she went ahead without giving me the choices"......

With aging we get a kind of disinhibition where we work out that mess stewing in a circular manner in our own heads OUT LOUD.
It drives folks nuts.

We can read the DSM-5 till our faces go blue. They just added "Prolonged Grieving Disorder".
Guess getting it coded gets shrinks paid.

It just doesn't much help getting annoyed, because they will be on to something ELSE in seconds. It's so much easier just to let the waters flow gently under the bridge.
Good luck!

Start a Discussion
Subscribe to
Our Newsletter