DEAR AMY: I think my 38-year-old married daughter may be descending into mental illness. She takes any criticism or piece of advice and turns it into an all-out war, attacking all of those around her. During these episodes, which may last for days or weeks, she is convinced that everyone is against her and that I am the all-time worst mother. She calls everyone in the family and argues her case. The family calls me to find out what is wrong with her. She has had a very good job for about 10 years, but I don't know how long it can last. She has had to leave work on occasion because she just can't hold it together. She also sends me nasty and hurtful emails. I don't know how her husband of 10 years stands it because he is the subject of her wrath, too. The only one she doesn't attack is my 11-year-old grandson. I adore him, and he is a witness to all of this. I have suggested counseling, but she refuses, saying that they are all against her. Antidepressants put her into attack mode again. When she is not like this, she is fun and personable -- and everyone likes her a lot. Any suggestions?DistraughtDEAR DISTRAUGHT: I agree that your daughter's behavior could be an indication she is mentally ill. Realistically, you cannot force another adult into treatment. Because of this, you need to do everything possible to steel yourself to her rages and cushion your grandson from the fallout of life with someone who is unstable. Continue to be supportive of her husband. You can imagine that he walks on eggshells at home.
Your reaction to your daughter should be consistent: "You are raging; I don't like it. I'm worried about you. I hope you will get help. You can feel better if you get a diagnosis and treatment." Beyond that, you don't have to explain her behavior to other people. Continue to be an understanding, stable, loving and supportive grandmother.