Independence and mental health

So since I graduated from university in 2021, I’ve been living with my mother and also stayed with her during the covid lockdowns. I’m turning 24 in April and would really like to live independently but I’ve accepted that I’ll most likely have to have a roommate or possibly a friend to live with me which is fine. My mum is wonderful but I don’t enjoy living with her - She’s constantly babying me with everything and always finds something to complain about whether it’s something small like an outfit, or bigger like a career choice, or where I’m going out. She talks to me slowly, widens her eyes and always interrupts me whenever we’re with people or tries to speak for me all the time. It makes me feel like a baby and I’m in my 20’s. I know she only cares but whenever I’ve shown a place I’m interested in with possible roommates that don’t mind the fact that I have epilepsy, she just yells and says I cant do these things. My sister told me she thinks she needs me more than I need more right now but that just makes me feel bad! How am I supposed to branch out and do more things in my 20’s when I’m constantly held back all the time, spoken for, and told what to do constantly? My seizures usually last 5-30 seconds and I usually have partial ones more frequently instead of tonic-clonic seizures. I bought a bracelet that triggers whenever I have seizures as I just flew away by myself abroad for the first time which made my family worry but everything was fine. I feel awful saying this because she’s my mother and she only cares and is looking out for me, but she cant keep controlling me and not letting me be independent. I can feel myself constantly growing more depressed and I dont know what to do.

Hi Danielle!

I can totally relate to what you’re going through, as I have had similar experiences with my mum in the past. I am slightly older (I’m 27 now!) and I also suffer with partial seizures and occasionally tonic clonic seizures in my sleep. I love my mum to bits and she does so much for me, but she also can feel quite on top of me at the moment, pandering to me, questioning my decisions and almost judging me for them (especially when it comes to me moving out- I think it is because she is desperate for me to stay!) so I know it can make you feel like you’re being patronised and it is frustrating… She also worries sick about my epilepsy, a lot more than I do, and I can imagine your mum probably feels the same.

I think as we get older and we want our independence, small things might grate on us a bit more than usual when it comes to our parents/ people we are living with. I think our parents also sense that we are becoming more independent, and as we are more vulnerable with our epilepsy, they do start to worry about us ‘flying the nest’. So it’s a positive thing, it’s because they love us and they worry and are so used to having that maternal instinct of looking after us, that the idea of us moving out and being independent must feel so strange for them!

I know you said you feel bad- but please don’t- sometimes we have to put ourselves and our needs first for the greater good of our future, and if your soul is calling for you to move out and take that next chapter, then it will be for your greater good to do so. I personally made that decision myself a few months ago and the way I feel towards my mum and our relationship has improved so much since, because there isn’t that subtle sense of ‘resentment’ there of her convincing me to stay at home. I have decided to move to London next year, at a time that is going to be good for me, but also for her, so that I can support her at home whilst she finishes her degree.

Every situation is different, and I think whatever decision you make, it is best to try and be as considerate towards your mum (and yourself) as possible and do whatever you can to ease any anxieties she may have. I would suggest maybe sitting down with her and having a calm and serious conversation about this and come up with a way that this can work for both of you.

For example, you have your epilepsy bracelet- amazing! That’s a one huge thing that should reassure her. Maybe you could make an agreement that you will have a call around the same time every night/ week so you can catch up? Maybe you could look to moving in with friends that she knows and trusts? I’m sure if you do decide to move out, over time her worries will ease a bit and she will be really proud to see you thriving independently. :slight_smile:

These are just suggestions, you will know what is best for you both under your circumstance. Please keep in touch with how you get on and feel free to reach out to me whenever :slight_smile:

Becca

Hi Becca,

Thank you for your reply. That really helped hearing that I shouldn’t feel bad for wanting to move forward and it’s not a crime to want to put myself first in occasions. Recently, my mother has been hearing what I want a lot more and I feel like we’ve become closer in a weird way. We just spent a lovely day together talking about it and she said she’d like to come to some visits with me which I don’t mind of course. The places I am looking at are only 1 train journey or a short car drive away so we are able to still visit eachother frequently and she wouldn’t be far. The main places I like and have spoken to flatmates/landlords are close to town centre and a hospital, so in case anything challenging happened, I would be nearby which has reassured her.

Thank you! The bracelet has been very useful recently. She already calls my other sisters almost every day, so I imagine she would with me as well. She already did when I was at university in London so I know we will be able to stay in touch and keep her up to date. Moving in with friends sounds like a fantastic idea, but unfortunately the only friend she really knows and trusts in England is going through an operation at the moment and has gone back home to her family for recovery. But perhaps in the future, that is a very helpful idea.

Right now she has heard me more accurately and understands that I need to be more independent and everything cant be done for me when I’m in my 20’s.
Thank you for listening and offering your help and advice further :slight_smile:

You are so welcome and I’m really pleased it has helped. Exactly- we need to shift our perspectives and say actually, I feel bad for MYSELF if I am putting someone else’s needs first haha (in this type of scenario anyway :blush:), I’m already dreading the guilt when I move out, but it will pass and we will be so pleased with our decision.

I am so, so, so pleased that you have been spending this lovely time together and that it has brought you closer! It honestly sounds like you have figured this out in a way that works for both of you- so that you get your independence. but she also has the reassurance she needs. She sounds like she is being so supportive and you are both really lucky to have each other and to have such a great relationship that you can chat about these things and work them out.

It’s exciting now that you can get the ball rolling with looking for places and contacting flat mates!! Please do let us know how you get on. :slight_smile:

Becca

Hi Danielle

I am a parent of a young person with epilepsy and I am sure that my son would relate to a lot of what you have said! I know as a parent I worry and feel guilty that I come across as over-protective when all I want to be doing is showing my love, care and concern!

A friend of mine whose daughter has a disability opened up to me a while ago and explained that the impact of the disability was huge, and for their whole family’s mental health, it was better that her daughter moved out of home. She moved into an adapted flat about a 15 minute drive from the family home and had lots of different support put in place including a therapy dog. Mum was still close enough for emergency situations and actually the arrangement worked very well.

One thing they agreed on to ensure Mum knew that the daughter was ok, was for Mum to send her a funny animal video or meme at a certain time each morning and all the daughter had to do to let Mum know she was ok was to reply to it with a heart emoji. If the emoji didn’t appear within 15 minutes, a follow up meme was sent and then if that wasn’t responded to, Mum had the daughter’s permission to phone and if there was no answer, Mum could then turn up at the house to check everything was ok. It sounded to me like a good compromise arrangement.

It does sound as though you and your Mum are managing to talk about things and finding ways that work for you and enable her to feel reassured. Hope everything works out for you x

Hi Danielle. Thank you for your comment and sharing this with us. We’re so sorry you’re feeling this way and understand how difficult it can be to manage independence and family relationships. If you and your family need any support, then please do reach out to our Helpline Team. You can email us at helpline@youngepilepsy.org.uk where we’d love to talk more to you about this.