My mom has had anxiety issues for as long as I can remember. It used to be sort of quirky and not disruptive of our lives, including (but not limited to):
- Touring each room of the house to make sure everything was unplugged if not in use
- Feeling the oven/stove to make sure they weren't hot, even if nothing had been cooked that day
- Feeling around on the light switch (presumably to make sure it didn't feel hot)
However, over the years (especially since I have moved out) this behavior has escalated. Her old behaviors still persist, but there is a new behavior which (I feel) is inhibiting her ability to live a normal life. This is as follows:
Never leaves the house (with the exception of work) without someone at home to watch her dogs. She says she's worried the house will 'burn down with them inside' or that some other wild event will befall them.
She has even almost passed out while driving home from work because she saw a smoke plume in the distance (not even in the direction of our house) and convinced herself it was our house.
Both dogs are young, ~2 years old, large dogs, with no medical issues. She will not even run a 20 minute errand if it means they will be alone in the house.
Here are the reasons why this is making such an impact (least to greatest):
She is secluding herself, and doesn't seem happy about it.
I understand some people are happy being alone a majority of the time, but my mom doesn't seem to be. My dad is often running his own business or out farming, and my mom constantly complains that she's always alone at home by herself.
When I am home, we can't go anywhere.
My mom expresses how much she'd like to be able to go pick up a pizza together, or go shopping, but that she 'just can't leave the dogs' to do so. Even 15 minute ventures are off the table.
Her actions make my dad and I feel belittled and untrusted.
My dad has offered to stay home to check in on the dogs every couple hours but this wasn't good enough. I've wanted to be home on days my mom is working and this isn't allowed because she is concerned I'll leave something plugged in, leave, and the house will burn down with the dogs inside of it.
She gets really upset when I won't come home, but she won't come visit me.
I live 1.5 hours away (which is considered 'close' where I'm from), and am constantly (bi-weekly/monthly) asked to make the trek home because she misses me so much. She hasn't visited me in over 4 years now. Any time she 'plans' to come visit, she finds dramatic reasons why she can't at a late notice and instead asks me to come home.
Additionally, there aren't official dog sitters where she is located and she cannot bring her dogs with her to visit me as my apartment complex would not allow it. Sneaking them in is not an option as they do not listen very well, so I'm almost positive they'd cause damage.
My mom and I's relationship is being strained lately because of this. Ultimately, I'd like for my mom to feel free to go wherever she pleases without having so much anxiety about her dogs spontaneously combusting while she's away - with a focus on her ability to visit me.
Unfortunately, neither of my parents have a strong belief/interest in the importance of mental health, so I'm not sure how to go about addressing my concerns. This also makes talking her into receiving professional help seem like a long-shot.
Given these circumstances, what can I say/do to help my mother through her extreme anxieties?
Other things you might want to know:
I'm an only child
My mom is in her early 50's
My dad is not a viable option in helping me with whatever route I choose to pursue, as he doesn't think her anxiety is a real mental barrier, and that she can just "choose to stop feeling that way"