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How can I cope with my mom being overly obsessed with things?

June 18, 2013

Huntington's Disease Youth Organization

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How can I cope with my mom being overly obsessed with things?

Q. How can I cope with my mom being overly obsessed with things? it has gotten worse since she has gotten sicker and I cant handle it.

Ashley, 17, England

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A. Dear Ashley,

Obsessionality is a very common problem in HD & one which family members find difficult to cope with. That is, your distress is a normal reaction to a very upsetting symptom. It’s not your mom’s fault that she is obsessive. It’s not your fault that you find it upsetting.

Sometimes the HD person obsesses over the one thing, including family members, and sometimes over all sorts of different things. It is very difficult for the HD person to control these obsessions. Often they don’t realise that the obsessions are very upsetting to their family. Arguing or reasoning with them often doesn’t help, even when the obsessions are obviously incorrect or silly.

There are a few things which you can do:

  • Obsessionality often responds to medications. It would be good if your mother’s doctors knew about her symptoms (she might not see that there is a problem & so not tell them) and reviewed her medications
  • Psychologists and neuropsychologists can often come up with useful strategies that family can use to make obsessions less severe, for example providing distractions (such as doing something else) and preventing circumstances where they might arise. This is much better than challenging her or getting into a fight
  • All family members need to have regular breaks away from the HD person so that they can have a mental rest and look after themselves. By doing so and recharging your emotional batteries you’ll be better at helping your mom over the long term.

Many teenagers feel guilty if they are not helping out, but all carers of someone with HD need regular breaks.

As a 17 year old it’s very important that you see your friends, go to school, study, play sport and do all the other things that a normal 17 year old wants and needs to do. Finding the time to do these things will not betray your mom, but will help you to manage her obsessionality and other symptoms of HD better and at less cost to yourself

Sometimes talking to someone you trust and who understands what you’re going through can be really helpful.

I hope these ideas help you. All the best in what must be a difficult time,

Andrew Churchyard