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Coronavirus

anxiety by one member of the family

(122 Posts)
Kali2 Sat 17-Apr-21 15:01:13

Hello- there has been a lot of discussion recently about some people being particularly anxious about Covid- and cutting them off from family and friends.

This seems to have got worse now as restrictions are now less stringent. That is hard for individuals- but what can be done when one member of the family is so anxious, that they are controlling whole families and preventing get-together?

Our DIL has not been out or met anyone since last March. Our son wanted to visit his brother recently, quite legally according to new rules, as he has been through a very difficult time and he wanted to go and see him to support him. DIL said that if he wanted to go and see his brother, he would not be welcome back home and would have to find somewhere to isolate from her and children afterwards for 10 days.

We are not allowed to visit either, and she won't let son and children come to see us either. This is very hard- and feels like cohersive control. We do normally get on very well with her- and have had many happy times and holidays together in the past. What can we do? (and I suppose the answer is 'nothing').

M0nica Sat 17-Apr-21 15:35:32

No, it is not coercive control. It is one exceptionally anxious woman trying to protect her family.

This is a medical/psychological problem and should be tretaed as such. Help needs to come, ideally through her husband who should talk to her gently about her fears, why is she so anxious about the dangers of COVID when numbers of cases are plummetting and so many people have now been vaccinated? What kinds of re-assurances would she require before she is able to relax?

Do any of you know why she should be so over-anxious. Has something happened during the pandemic or before that frightened her and triggered her current anxiety?

You do not say how old the children are. Are they school age? Are they back at school.

There are a number of websites with help for those getting anxious during the current emergency and I am sure later posrers will be able to recommend some.

If all else fails she may need medical treatment and should be encouraged to see her GP who may want to prescribe approrpiate treatment or recommend councilling.

The one thing to remember is that this is not coercive control or anything like it. Do not go down that road. It is a very anxious and fearful woman desperately trying to protect her family, whose fears have got out of control and who may need medical treatment of some sort.

Ilovecheese Sat 17-Apr-21 15:58:46

A few days ago I might have thought that your daughter in law was a bit over anxious, but having seen the lack of social distancing going on in our area now that the restrictions have been relaxed, I am inclined to think that maybe she is the one that is right and the rest of us are being a bit over confident.
See how she is after a few more weeks, if the rates keep going down then maybe do as MOnica suggests, but if the rates look like leading to a third wave, maybe she is just being sensible.

keepingquiet Sat 17-Apr-21 16:02:52

I want to focus on your son. Did he go to see his brother and then go home as normal, did he see his brother and then stay away from the family home so his wife felt safe? Did he choose not to go?
You say you are not 'allowed' to visit them? I take it they have not visited you either? Do you do video calling? I'm sure you've been in touch in other ways as we all have had to do.
I think you have to leave your son to sort this one.

Kali2 Sat 17-Apr-21 16:03:31

Thank you both. Yes, this is hard, I agree. But it is also hard that the over ? anxiety of one if having such an effect on the children and the whole family- including grand-parents who are not allowed to visit either.

Children are young teens and back at school. But it is so hard for them, after a whole year, to see their friends beginning to meet up, go for cycle rides and play sport - and they are the only ones kept apart from all apart from school.

AGAA4 Sat 17-Apr-21 16:04:29

Your DILs fears are overwhelming her and restricting her life. I agree that this is not coercive behaviour as she is in genuine fear of Covid.
There are websites to look at: Anxiety UK or Mind to try to help and understand her but she may need medical help firstly.

Kali2 Sat 17-Apr-21 16:07:08

Son did not go and felt really bad he could not support his brother at this very difficult time. No family visits at all. Yes, Skype and Facetime- but it is not the same is it. Other families are beginning to meet, outside in gardens- but she will not consider any visits whatsoever, even outside.

Question is, for how long? Another couple of weeks, 1 month, the whole Summer, the whole year- or beyond. Her needs and anxiety are one thing - but it is so hard on the children, sibblings, and all, including 2 sets of grand-parents.

keepingquiet Sat 17-Apr-21 16:15:46

Kali2 I am in the same position, though my DIL's issues began long before Covid.
How don't know how long either- it may be forever. I have no control over it so I see people who are happy to see me and enjoy my company.
Are you in touch with the other grandparents? How are they dealing with it?

Peasblossom Sat 17-Apr-21 16:26:43

Well, I guess you’ve been vaccinated and like me you’re starting to feel more confident and relaxed about things. It’s amazing the difference that vaccine makes to what I feel comfortable about.

There seems to be a feeling that it’s all over now and we can just go back to normal, but we won’t know that for a few weeks until the effect of this easing becomes apparent. After all schools are still taking stringent precautions to ensure the children’s safety and to limit carrying infection to family members.

Was he meeting his brother outside? Do you want to meet up outside? Or are you thinking back to normal with family get togethers?

It isn’t over yet!

Kali2 Sat 17-Apr-21 17:47:13

Other grandparents live abroad- and not allowed to come and visit by daughter. And they find it very hard too.

All in family are concerned about the scenes in pubs and restaurants, etc. All realise that we are not ready to go back to 'normal' at all- but we all feel, apart from DIL, that meeting close members of family outside should be allowed now or in near future.

It is just the way she shouted at son that if he wanted to go and see his brother to support him, he would not be welcome back in the family home and would have to stay in a Hôtel for 10 days. Makes him feel totally pig in the middle, and yes, controlled- even though he knows it is her anxiety at play.

She will not consider counselling or help/support - he has tried to discuss this with her, but she won't hear of it and gets very angry.

Kali2 Sat 17-Apr-21 17:48:33

Kids at school are likely to be with other kids whose families do not follow guidelines- so could put dil and family at risk.

Lolo81 Sat 17-Apr-21 18:18:48

Totally agree with Monica - this is NOT coercive control. This is someone with a different comfort level than you do around this pandemic.
How have the extended family behaved during the lockdown? Have they followed guidelines? If not that could give you insight as to her reaction.
Personally I’m not comfortable and don’t think I will be until I (and my immediate family) are fully vaccinated.
The worst thing in the world for someone with anxiety is to be told what the “need to do” and to have pressure put on them. If her husband is seriously concerned about her mental health, then he could maybe contact their GP or a mental health charity for advice.

Kali2 Sat 17-Apr-21 18:39:16

Yes, I understand. And yet- when a large extended family is affected- with no end in sight- it is hard. Hard for brothers and sibblings not to be allowed to support each other- and for grand-parents not to see grandchildren for many many months.

The point being- that so many are prevented from seeing each other sensibly, outside- for so so long- because of one person's anxiety.

And how long for- another month? 2 months, 3, 4 - how long more. The 2 brothers have not seen each other since last March- and same for grandparents on both sides.

Kali2 Sat 17-Apr-21 18:50:52

And very hard for granchildren not allowed to see cousins or best friends- even outside. Thank goodness they are back at school next week.

ElaineI Sat 17-Apr-21 19:06:01

Your son and DiL are in charge of their own family and need to be respected in the way they have protected them. It is no one else's business how they have done it. The problem is not with them but with you complaining about it so much. Many people are anxious about lifting restrictions and she is right to be cautious.

M0nica Sat 17-Apr-21 19:37:40

Kali2 What would be your response to your DiL's behaviour if instead of having mental problems, she had been diagnosed with cancer or Multiple Sclerosis?

Would you be grumbling about how much longer you are going to have to run your life around her illness, look after the children because she is ill, avoid seeing her because chemo therapy or radiography has damaged her immune system. There is no difference whether she is mentally ill, or physically ill.

I get a real feeling that you continue to see this situation as one where she is trying to control you and, to use an old fashioned idea, you think she ought to just snap out of it and stop being so silly. Try changing your attitude to her. See her as someone who is not well, because she isn't.

I doubt if she is happy as things are, with that great burden of fear and anxiety on her mind and shoulders and I am sure she can tell how irritated you are by the whole situation, whch can only make her more anxious. You say She will not consider counselling or help/support - he has tried to discuss this with her, but she won't hear of it and gets very angry. that is a not uncommon reaction from people in her situation, they see themselves as being incapable of being helped.

Here are links to two sites that discuss how to help someone in her position. They are full of advice of how to approach people in this situation. I learnt a lot from reading them and wished I had known what I now do when looking after a relation with depression. www.beyondblue.org.au/personal-best/pillar/supporting-others/10-ways-to-be-there-for-someone-you-re-worried-about
screening.mhanational.org/content/what-do-when-they-dont-want-help/

M0nica Sat 17-Apr-21 19:42:24

Those two links have not come out very clearly.

screening.mhanational.org/content/what-do-when-they-dont-want-help/

www.beyondblue.org.au/personal-best/pillar/supporting-others/10-ways-to-be-there-for-someone-you-re-worried-about

Peasblossom Sat 17-Apr-21 20:02:09

I think we all have different levels of anxiety over Covid, depending on our experiences. One friend in the SouthWest is very nonchalant. Infection levels have been low and she doesn’t know anyone who has been ill.

I live in a high infection area. Even in the Summer we were in local lockdown. My next door neighbour died of Covid. I watched him carried to the ambulance, grey and gasping for breath.

In the Summer my nephew brought me a birthday present and left it on the doorstep while I waved through the window. Two days later he tested positive. The distancing we laughed over saved me. I knew then how easily infection travels.

You do sound a bit as if you want to mix a lot of the family together. Brothers, siblings, grandparents close by and abroad, cousins, friends. I wouldn’t be comfortable with that at present.
Perhaps she is wary of the amount of mixing that you do?

keepingquiet Sat 17-Apr-21 20:52:24

I think we're only at the start of a mental health pandemic.

keepingquiet Sat 17-Apr-21 21:02:38

Kali2

Other grandparents live abroad- and not allowed to come and visit by daughter. And they find it very hard too.

All in family are concerned about the scenes in pubs and restaurants, etc. All realise that we are not ready to go back to 'normal' at all- but we all feel, apart from DIL, that meeting close members of family outside should be allowed now or in near future.

It is just the way she shouted at son that if he wanted to go and see his brother to support him, he would not be welcome back in the family home and would have to stay in a Hôtel for 10 days. Makes him feel totally pig in the middle, and yes, controlled- even though he knows it is her anxiety at play.

She will not consider counselling or help/support - he has tried to discuss this with her, but she won't hear of it and gets very angry.

I have a large extended family and we have not been together for well over a year. We are slowly begin to visit each other in back gardens etc in small numbers, but it will be some time before we can really be together in ways we used to be.
It is hard when you feel your child is being subject to unfair behaviour, but he's an adult and has to fight his own battles.
My DIL does not see herself as ill and will not seek help either. It is the most destructive thing as she is increasingly isolated with the baby.
I am in a constant state of anxiety myself but get any help I can, including counselling and medication, to help myself. I really don't understand how people suffer needlessly when there is so much help out there, and never will.

Kali2 Sat 17-Apr-21 22:06:06

Peasblossom- not at all. We have not any big meet up in mind at all. We have not seen anyone since last March. We just hoped that soon we could have both adult sons, our dil and 2 grandchildren together for a special anniversary in the Summer - so 6 adults and 2 children- outside.

I am concerned too that her anxiety will be passed on to the grandchildren- and that they are being kept away from some semblance of 'normal' life, by their very anxious mother.

eazybee Sat 17-Apr-21 22:40:33

This is a situation between your husband and his wife and family and I do feel you are pressurising him to allow access for the wider family. His wife is obeying the rules; she may be overly cautious, but it is her family, and you have to leave them alone to resolve this themselves.

Hithere Sun 18-Apr-21 02:55:46

Legal rules for pandemic do not really match the seriousness of the situation

Just because the law says you can do x, y or z, it doesn't mean it is safe at all.

Summerlove Sun 18-Apr-21 03:10:21

Anxiety over covid is normal.
Fear of getting sick is normal.
Fear of loved ones getting sick and dying is normal.

Instead of deciding she has a mental illness you need to fix, you need to take a step back and stop complaining about her level of comfort.

If her husband is upset, they need to deal with it together. No one wants to hear “my mother thinks you are damaging our wider family and going to give our children a mental illness.

It’s hard, but you need to be supportive and patient. Support your daughter in law. DONT undermine her

Kali2 Sun 18-Apr-21 13:51:36

No I have never said anything to either him or her- pressured, undermined, or whatever. Which is why I wanted to discuss this here, where I know the discussion will not affect them in any way whatsoever.

And that is the thing, she is not obeying the rules at all- as rules have now changed. Son meeting his brother would be perfectly legal. So would a meet up of 4 of us + 2 GCs, or even 6 of us + 2 GC- in a garden. That is the whole point.