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  • help me with a reply for a difficult situation please
  • kaiser
    Free Member

    I am probably known now as one of the forum’s long term neurotic moaners as I live with recurrent chronic depression and GAD which has pretty much ruined my life ..(I was also recently diagnosed at 58 with ADHD) ..or ability to cope with this demanding world.
    I have a current problem , one of many tbh and despite having been good with words in the past I’d like to ask for suggestions please.
    Because I am regularly and chronically ill and have had many years of recurrent breakdown (which none of the dozen or so therapies/ modalities have fixed) I cannot work in a usual manner and hence live on peanuts ..which having to rent a house and with zero pension is constantly stressful. I’ll try and get to the point.
    I work a few mornings for an 89 yr old woman as a handyman/painter/repairer/ computer helper etc etc .
    As have often been the case over the years ..I go beyond what many would do as it is in my nature . I do seemingly very good work and I’m sure she knows my value at the low rates I get paid. She is quite wealthy and lives alone . Her husband died years ago as well as her son committing suicide decades ago . I’m beginning to think I know why .
    She is always complaining and occasionally shouts /barks order at myself or my wife (who also helps sometimes and is fragile emotionally ) . She can be pleasant and always pays on time and I sometimes feel she makes up work for me to do that isn’t really needed (so I have some income) .
    I have worked for her for 7 yrs now and seen her upset so many people , be rude and intolerant and is seemingly oblivious of other peoples feelings . I have never seen her show any gentle emotion or be interested in someone else’s opinion. As a sensitive person it’s hard. But life is hard for many I guess and I know my issues are nothing compared to many.
    I am currently depressed ( yet again ) and could not go today as just too unwell but I will have to tomorrow
    as money is needed . If I told her the truth about what I thought of her behaviour / speech and the affect it has on people she might decide she no longer wants my help and my only source of income will disappear and I wouldn’t be able to do anything else least not whilst my health is the way it has been for a considerable time.
    After all these years she knows well about my illness but claims not to understand despite me explaining numerous times. She will have a go at me tomorrow I’m sure and be very unfair even though I am doing extra work as a favour and she is aware I am sick and seen me unwell many times.
    Do I say nothing when the criticism starts or is there a reply that might give her a subtle message that I could do with some kindness and understanding without her ego feeling threatened ?
    Guess I know the answer

    Full Member

    I’ll let the far more eloquent on the forum help with your actual question but:

    Free Member
    I am probably known now as one of the forum’s long term neurotic moaners

    ^^ That is most definitely not how you have ever come across to me.

    I just want to make that point as you obviously have a lot on your plate and you don’t need to be thinking that for sure.

    Full Member

    More than a little difficult
    You are not going to change her behaviour now in any significant way.  She may be aware of it or really may have no insight. She may also enjoy your dependency on her.  Has the unpleasant behaviour escalated?

    I think my approach would be to go as normal.  If she starts with criticism I would state gently something like ” I’m not feeling at all good.  I think this is unfair.  Do you want me to leave?”  If she says no ( which I think is likely) then say ” please do not criticise  then please  I’m doing my best”

    Full Member

    What Poopscoop said and also what TJ said. 👍 Keep it simple and polite. Maybe say additionally “I don’t feel like talking much today if that’s OK with you and I really would prefer it if you just left me to get on for now. Hope you don’t mind.”

    Free Member

    Do I say nothing when the criticism starts

    I would tell her the truth about yourself but not about her!!

    That is tell her that you are currently not in a good place with stress, worry, emotions, etc, whatever you want to tell her, and that for obvious reasons it is impacting on your ability to work.

    I would expect after 7 years of knowing you a certain amount of empathy on her part, but even if there isn’t you need to help her to understand that criticism or giving you a hard time won’t be any benefit to her because it will simply make you less available and productive.

    I would most definitely not tell her some home truths concerning her rudeness and intolerance etc, I can’t see how having a row with her will help you. If you really want to do so do it when you are in a much better place. In the meantime if you can’t cope with her rudeness etc just walk away or don’t turn up, whatever.

    Just my personal opinion…… I am not a counsellor!

    Free Member

    She’s 89 years old. She may be bitter, angry and worried/scared about things herself. That could manifest itself as being mean to people, but as she’s old and alone after having a few bad knocks (esp. the son) she may not be able to keep a lid on it.

    I know it doesn’t help, but try not to take the criticism and belittlement to heart. She’s prolly more effed up than you think – and there’s nothing you can do to help but keep being there and doing the things you’re already doing.

    Full Member

    Speaking as someone with personal experience of living with someone suffering from depression, and having never been in the situation before, it’s very difficult to understand. I’m guilty of not being patient at times, I got called Mister Snappy on more than a few occasions, and thinking about it now upsets me terribly. ☹️

    If my partner had lived, I hope I would have developed a greater understanding of what she was going through; I was actively seeking help for her, but the novel treatments that are showing promise aren’t available yet. Someone of that lady’s age, is not going to have any understanding at all, I’m afraid, she’s of the stiff upper lip generation, bottle things up, don’t show your emotions etc.

    I can’t suggest anything helpful, I’m afraid, I wasn’t as helpful as I needed to be myself, I’m certainly not in a position to give advice, other than possibly understand a wee bit what her life has led her to.

    Full Member

    I am probably known now as one of the forum’s long term neurotic moaners

    No you aren’t. Not even close.

    What you describe around the target of your care sounds like dementia.

    I’ve said this several times now but, wise words I was once told: “if you fall over, you’re of no use to anyone else.” Look after yourself first and foremost and then worry about everyone else.

    Free Member

    Tell her to take her foot off the ***** pedal.

    *Thanks Matt Berry for the best put down I’ve ever used.

    Full Member

    Various undiagnosed conditions could be the cause of her lacking empathy and straining your friendship. It might help you deal with her behaviour by being mindful that she might not be doing it deliberately.

    However I’d never suggest that you bring this up, especially at 89!

    Free Member

    She sounds very much like my elderly Auntie !

    At 89 anything you say is unlikely to change behaviour unfortunately. We are convinced my Auntie has Dementia but neither her or immediate family will look further into it

    I would be looking for employment elsewhere too to compliment this work as at 89 she isn’t going to be around too much longer !

    Although not a great ‘friendship’ don’t underestimate what you may be doing for her. You could be one of the few if not the only person she speaks to regularly, and she may be depressed herself. Giving you jobs to do may be the one thing in life that gives her something to think about everyday and keeps her going.

    look on the bright side you may be inline for a nice inheritance if you stick with it

    Full Member

    If your doing general handyman work can you not just do a bit more for folk.

    You don’t have to accept all the work but you may just get some little jobs for folk like grass cutting etc.

    As to her I bet she’s lonely and depressed which isn’t helping as she’s not got any one to modulate or push back on her behaviour it’s just developing into a nasty attitude.

    Edit. You’ve never come across as you think you have by your description

    Full Member

    Some Old people can be hard work. I think alot are in constant niggly pain, they know they are coming to the end of the line.
    Just be nice to her, see it as a game. Don’t rise to any baiting, smile, nod, agree, move on
    I wouldn’t even bring up any mental health issues, ammunition for her, different era, different ideas.
    Rock up with some shortbread, talk about the weather, do some pruning, put on your head phones fix the fence, go home, cup of tea. You’ll not change her, she wont or cant understand how hard it can be to even open the curtains on the morning.

    Full Member

    I don’t have anything meaningful to add, but

    I am probably known now as one of the forum’s long term neurotic moaners

    definitely isn’t my perception of you.

    Free Member

    Thanks to all for your kind help and suggestions . She wasn’t the nightmare I was expecting today which made things bearable . She is just so unpredictable and can be very unfair even on a good day which is such a shame and when you regularly feel extremely fragile it just seems so unnecessary and the depressed mind uses this to bolster the feeling that many people are uncaring individuals only interested in themselves . Whether or not this is true or simply exaggerated ( perhaps both? ) I am not able to know these days but often suspect that “depressive realism ” may well be the case . Once again ..I appreciate your help .(.yet again ).

    Free Member

    Spookys reply is most aligned with my thoughts/opinion in this. Hypothetically speaking she may be suffering a personality disorder, (eg psychopathy, narcissist personality disorder). It may be wise to educate one’s self on these areas as it may give you a model to understand and explain her behaviour. In my experience this is/was key to understating, coping and eventually recovering from one bat shit crazy woman I dated years ago. Knowledge is power.

    The solution, is to completely remove yourself from the situation. Find alternative work (appreciate it may not be easy) and whatever you do, do not confront her about it, as she will deny, blame shift, and not take any responsibility at all. Confronting her will add fuel to the fire and make you feel even worse than you already do.

    I wish you all the best.

    Full Member

    There’s lots of decent suggestion on here, and I’m glad it went better than you thought it would

    Full Member

    Unfortunately you sound as though you’re her scapegoat. Don’t take her behaviour personally as you are only working for her, not a relative or close friend.

    But please, please put your prices up (tell her it’s due to ‘cost of living’ rises). I’m pretty sure she’s actually very pleased that you are a good worker, honest and she probably enjoys having you around.

    As for her behaviour, at her age she’ll be grumpy, probably in pain and pissed off with her life and suffering with the start of dementia.

    I have experience of an 80 odd year old with a quick mean retort for anything said also mood swings and it isn’t pleasant. I’ve learnt to bite my lip, just wait for the time spent with this person to be over then concentrate on caring for the very people who like me and I like back.

    As others have said you’re are a valuable member of this forum and have never come across as a neurotic moaner to me.

    Full Member

    As everyone else has said, you’ve never struck me as a moaner either.

    Sounds like you are doing your absolute best in difficult circumstances; nobody could ever ask or expect more.
    You are not going to change this old lady’s behaviour. I reckon the best you could hope for is a minor and insincere apology and she will revert straight back to type. Therefore, I don’t think I’d mention it.

    Just know that you are doing a great job 🙂

    Full Member

    Self employed and depressed handyman here (that’s got Tinder profile written all over it eh?), some points in no particular order:

    1)   As others have said, you don’t come over how you think you come over.

    2)  Having postponed work earlier this week because I couldn’t face it that day, you aren’t alone in finding normal life hard work.

    3)  She may well have had dementia for a while, several lovely elderly customers turned sour towards the end, and it didn’t make working for them pleasant.

    4)  From what I can tell there is loads of work out there for Jack’s of all trades, put a notice up in a local shop and watch the work flood in! For my sanity I now only work for people I know and like, and due to family commitments only take on smaller jobs – still the work comes in.

    Feel free to PM me for a vent, moan whatever.

    Full Member

    Tell her to take her foot off the ***** pedal.

    *Thanks Matt Berry for the best put down I’ve ever used.

    , what’s that line from?

    Full Member

    I’m sure I could use my imagination and get the point across but if I wanted to use the exact quote, what word would “*****” rhyme with?

    Full Member


    Full Member

    Try “Take your foot off the Lady Susan Hussey pedal.”
    Old and unwittingly offensive…

    Free Member

    To everyone helping me out with support and advice ..I really appreciate it . I was once a very confident, outgoing and social man but having little stress tolerance and caring too much about things gradually took it’s toll and pretty much wrecked my life and left me socially isolated for the last 20 yrs hence asking for help on here . Reading your kind replies is therapeutic as it reminds me that there are some good people out there . I am kind of stuck in life with numerous worries and problems and thinking about the future just makes me more ill. I know I’m not alone though .. I’m sure there are many folk feeling the same and far far worse off . I hope to be able to help them myself one day .
    In 1992 I was on the generation game (with Bruce Forsyth) yodelling like an Austrian mountaineer in front of 10 million viewers . When I compare then to now I ask myself “what happened ” ? Funny old thing life . All the best

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