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Wednesday, December 17, 2008 raddi, Community Member, asks

Q: is my mom schizophrenic?

im not sure, but i have a pretty good idea the answer is yes. it would be nice to hear that im wrong...

 

im 29 years old.

when i was little, she was super fun, funny, nice, and loving. when i stepped into my teenage years, things slowly started changing. first little things, like she stopped hugging me, or telling me she loved me, she always thought i was lying about the smallest things. then bigger things like a falling out with our neighbor who was a good friend and business partner of hers. she insisted that she was stealing from their small company. shortly after, they moved away, and i woke up one morning to her crying in the livingroom. i asked her what was wrong, and she told me that "they" shot at our house and tryed to kill us. apparently she had called the police, but they found nothing. she was my mother, and i fully believed her, untill recently. shortly after the shooting incident she started believing that my stepdads mother was tapping into our phone lines. she took the phone apart several times looking for phone tapping equipment, and she knew this because she could hear a clicking sound on the phoneline, and my step grandpa worked for the telephone company for 40 years. i believed her. we would go to the store or out, and when we came back she was sure "they" had been in our house. "they" moved chairs around, and went thru her things. "they" were looking for information. i get older and i wanted to be a teenager. i wanted to pick out my own clothes, and spend the night at friends houses and dye my hair, go out at night, just be away from home, but that wasnt allowed. not because she said i couldnt, but because i was constantly grounded. for YEARS. over things i didnt even do. she would accuse me of stealing money from her or my little brother. i would wake up to her literally ripping my bedroom apart looking for stolen money. she'd chase me out of the house screaming at me and lock me out, so she could go thru every peice of my bedroom. she never found anything, and most of the time she would find what she said i had stolen in her room, and then tell me i had somehow put it there. it got so bad that she sent me to live with my step grandmother. the same one who was tapping our phonelines. then, ofcourse, i was in on it with her. i moved back home after a year, and things got so bad that i started running away. at 17 i moved in to a boyfriends house, whos father was nice enough to take me in. then she accused me of sleeping with him. eventually they moved because of the people tapping the phones and all of the neighbors who were against her and hated her.

they moved to a quiet town, where the neighbors live half a mile away, across a creek, and up ontop of a hill. things seemed to be better for a while but then they got worse and have seen insteady decline untill where we are today. she has cameras and audio servalence cameras all over the outside of her house, with several tv's going and its all videotaped. she says she can hear "them" outside. she says "they" sit on the hill by her house and talk about trying to kill her. all night long. every night. "they" are mostly the neighbors ascoss the creek. she calls the police on them everyother night. she lives in a very windy town, and because she has audio survalence she can hear twigs and pinecones hitting the roof/side of the house but they arent twigs or pinecones, they are gunshots from a pellet gun. she says they throw shards of glass at her head, they killed our dog, they tryed to hit her with their car, they are trying to kill my ten year old brother. she can hear people a mile away because shes "trained her ears" to hear that far. she knows their names and they says things like "she bit his penis" and "she cant take it much longer, she isnt emotionally strong enough" and "just one more night, we can do it". her car battery died, and she spent hours trying to take it apart because shes convinced they put a tracking device on it, even though she parks in the garage. she has the whole house alarmed. im not allowed to have a key or know the code. shes started shooting back at them, by shooting a pellet gun out the windows at anything that moves. she called me tonight and now she thinks theyve put antifreeze in her water and shoved something in her furnace. she told me the cops wanted my telephone number so they could confirm these things, and she told me that i need to tell them what theyve been doing to her. she said "remember? youve heard it, tell them" and i told her i couldnt, because i dont hear what she hears, and she told me that she knew she could never count on me and hung up on me. and now its not only the people across the street, but her brother inlaws wife and someone else, but she doesnt know who yet.

im worried because...well for obvious reasons. but even more so because my stepdad works out of town, he owns his own business and he HAS to work to support them. she hasnt worked for years. and also because i have a 10 year old brother whos there with her, and he encourages her in these thoughts. he simply does not understand this at all and he will things like running in the house with a scared look on his face and says "i heard them! they said they were going to kill us!!". then she goes to her tv's and turns the volume all the way up and listens untill she hears it too. he thinks its a game, and he does this often.  ive tryed to tell him its not a game and he just cant do this and to please call me when she gets very weird, and he just gets mad and tells me either hes NOT (wich is not true, because ive seen him), or he tells me im making him angry and runs off. hes very immature and....hes a weird kid. but smart and hes got an awesome imagination, wich is great, but bad in this situation.

 sorry for the rushed, and sloppy letter, but im totally freaked out. theres so much more in her behavior and what she does, i could write a book. i have no idea how to handle this situation. my stepdad is afraid to do anything, because hes dosent want her to leave him. and im almost sure she would. my middle brother who was pamperd and spolied by her became a compulsive liar and a drug addict and is now in prison. she has one sister who still speaks to her and has always been close with both myself and her, but she lives a few states away, and my grandparents live several states away and are quite elderly. i am engaged and i have a 1 year old, his family and many friends, so i have a suport system, but im afraid it would be just me trying to get her to seek help, and im sure she would cut me out of her life. my fiance might lose his job, because he helps my dad run his buisness. if that happend we would lose our home.

im at a loss. she simply can NOT be allowed live like this, its must be total hell for her.

what do i do?

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Answers (5)
Christina Bruni, Health Guide
12/18/08 7:18am

Hello raddi,

 

I feel for what you are going through and I'm sorry you've been going through it.

 

I recommend the book, I Am Not Sick, I Don't Need Help by Xavier Amador who couches people on how to talk to someone who lacks insight that he or she has an illness.  Anosognosia, the lack of awareness that one has an illness, is a symptom of schizophrenia that effects up to 50 percent of the people with this diagnosis.

 

Of all all the people I've recommended this book to [I'm keeping a running ticker now, you're number 16], your situation, I'm sorry to say, sounds the most extreme.  Unfortunately, the criteria for admittance to a psychiatric hospital is that the person is a danger to herself or someone else.

 

Too often, it's a waiting game, and things get worse before they get better.  I know it's hard for you to believe that it could get much worse, and I'm sorry to report that it will have to get worse before most staff at psych hospitals would admit her.

 

There is, though, one thing you could possibly do:  claim your mother is a danger to your brother.  I would, if I were you, be alert to any actions she takes that could jeopardize his health, and even if she doesn't get that far, I would make the case she is a danger to herself and to him, to try to get her the help she needs based on what you've told us.

 

I'm not exactly sure why you feel your stepdad wouldn't want to get her the help she needs, especially when her paranoia has taken over her life and that's not a healthy way to live.  You may have to risk his displeasure or anger right now.

 

I hope you find some peace of mind and a solution to this for your mother's sake and for the sake of you and everyone involved.

 

Respectfully,

Christina

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ohokay, Community Member
12/17/08 11:04am

Someone asked me to log on today so that I could respond to your post based on my experiences with my parents.  Your mother doesn't sound like my parents though, what she is going through is more like what my grandmother went through.  "They" were always spying on her, coming in our house at night, stealing from her and conspiring to kill her.  We could never convince her that it was not really happening.  We all knew that she was mentally ill, but because it upset her so for us to not go along with it, we just tried to ignore it as much as possible.  There was nothing we could do to convince her that she needed help and my grandfather actually encouraged us to just go along with her.  That was how he protected her dignity allthough he was quite embarassed by her stories.  I don't think she would have ever believed that she was imagining things and even if she had figured it out, she would have never admitted it.  I was raised by these grandparents.  We had bars on our windows, three german shehpards,  and if we could have afforded it, I know she would have put up surveilance cameras everywhere.  She finished her life in this mental prison.  The good news is that despite the upheaval that she caused, most of the family would still come visit her and she was never left isolated or lonely, which is amazing.  The other good news, for you is that you have a good support system and that your brother will probably wise up in a few years despite what he must be going through.  The bad news is that it will be extremely difficult to pull your mother out of her prison long enough to convince her to seek help.  I have no idea how you would do that and it is impossible to force someone to get help if they are not putting lives in danger.  I'm sure the police in her area are fully aware of her problems, but there is nothing they can do.  This is such a tough situation for you, especially after everything you went through as a teenager.  I wish that I had some advice for you, but it is such a touchy situation.  It's not like you can just talk to your mother about this.  I hope you get a better answer, I wish that I at least knew some books that could help you.  Best of luck.

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Merely Me, Community Member
12/19/08 5:37pm

Hello Raddi...

 

I am so sorry for what you, your mom, and your brother are going through.  This is a tough situation indeed and one that I fully recognize.  I lived with my mom alone...for 22 years.  She would do many of the things you are describing.  As a child I didn't know any better...and wanted to believe what she was saying.  She would not allow me to talk with friends anymore that would formerly come to play.  She cut us off from family, neighbors..and everybody before she would have her psychotic breakdowns. 

 

It is hard to get a parent who is going through this...into a hospital for treatment.  I had to get very creative sometimes to convince her to go.  Sometimes I was successful and sometimes not.  The advice given to you already is correct...the person has to either be homicidal or suicidal to be committed. 

 

Does your mom have a social worker or any links to the mental health system?  I would keep calling people within your local mental health system until someone listens.

 

Please do let us know what happens....I am just so sorry you and your family are going through this.  I do feel for you.

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Nary, Community Member
5/19/09 2:07pm

Hey Raddi, 

I did an account ONLY to reply to your article. Please read my message until the END. You will find it VERY useful. 

First I am sorry about your mother. 

I am an 18 year old girl, I am egyptian and I currently live in Egypt. The situation your mom is going through is EXACTLY what my mom is going through..

My mom always imagines that some people want to kill her and kill us and that they stole our money and that they are making us live in hell.. You know the rest !

My mom also always assumed that I am a liar and she always blamed me for alot of things I never did. 

We knew something was wrong when she became so violent and she started hitting me and my siblings, and she then reached a point where she wanted to make us STOP going to college and school anymore. 

If I want to explain my mom's behavior in detail, just like you, I would write a book. 

My dad called a physcological hospital here in Egypt. He explained her symptoms to the doctor and the doctor diagnosed her case. I am sorry I can't remember the name of this disease. Anyways, they HAD to take her without her knowing because as you know she is refusing any treatment, claiming that she isn't crazy in a violent way. She would scream and say 'You want to say that I am crazy so 'they' can steal our money! Don't fall in 'their' trap!' Ofcourse, you know the drill.

Anyways my father planned with the hospital that they will take my mother to the hospital by FORCE. I didn't like the idea one bit ! Anyways, they told my dad that they would give her an injection that would put her to sleep and erase her memory on what happened the day they took her (She would never again remember what happened to her the day she was taken), then take her to the hospital for treatment, that way she would be under control. 

She stayed at the hospital for a month and a half being under treatment. They would be sure to give her injections that would erase her memory partialy (They would only erase the part of her memory that imagines things and that she believes). Then, after one month and a week of her stay at the hospital, the doctor claimed that we can visit her. When we went to visit her, she was talking to us normaly about how school and college was (Remember, she STRONGLY refused to let us go back to school before she went the hospital). I have never seen her so calm, and she kept asking us why she was in the hospital in the first place. (The injection she took made her forget everything that happened that day). But, the treatment wasn't 100% complete. She still assumed that some things are happening, but in overall, she was wayyyyy better than she was before she went to the hospital. I talked to the doctor and told him that she still says this and that but I explained to him that she was NOTHING close to how she was before. He told me that she will have a week more of treatment and then she will be out of the hospital.

Now, its been 6 months since she got out of the hospital. As soon as she got out of the hospital, we realised she had forgotten so much things, she acctually forgot what college I went to ! But the doctor assured us not to worry as these empty gabs in her memory are only temporary and that she will eventually remember everything (this doesn't include the bad things, she wont remember the bad things) in a month. 

Anyways, today my mom still says that there are people who want to kill us and that they stole our money and all that old story. She had remembered everything thank god and some of her imaginative stories came back. But shes NOTHING like she was before, and if she talks about 'them' and that 'they' want to kill us and steal our money, she only talks about that every once in a while. Before the hospital she used to constantly talk to herself about 'them', she would be talking about the stuff she imagines 24/7 !! She would lock herself in her room and reject seeing anyone and she would never go to family gatherings and keep herself away from people.

But now, even though she still has some of her mixed up thoughts, she is wayyy calmer, she sees people, she stopped depressing herself like before, she stopped talking to herself, she stopped blaming me for alot of things. So this is way better than before.

I doctor told us that we took her to the hospital very late and that she was in a late stage in her disease. He told us that if we had waited just abit more, she would have killed one of us or even killed herself. 

Raddi, I GREATLY ADVISE you, to call a doctor as soon as possible to prevent this from getting worse! From your article I can see that its been so long since your mom has been acting this way !

My mom has been sick for only 7 years, and the doctor thinks we took her in late !

SO again, I ADVISE you to call a doctor as soon as possible. This treatment plan will not cure her 100% but will cure her 70% which is wayyyy better than NOTHING. And when she is cured to 30%, thats when you can easily persuade her that he thoughts aren't true. You can also help your brother greatly when you do this.

At first me too I always believed her and I always thought she made so much sense !!

So again, call a doctor, you can even explain to him my situation, he would know what kind of treatment your mother needs.

I really do wish you the best of luck.

Take Care

Nary

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CW, Community Member
9/12/09 9:00pm
From C.W. Please know that after reading your article that I do not believe your mother is schizophrenic. Instead other elements might be at fault. Perhaps the neighbors want your family to run away from your home selling it for a cheaper price. Also, people take for granted that all people everywhere will allow other people to live aside them in peace under most circumstances and despite the lack of social support. Life doesn't have to be that way; in life tunnel vision is not within the social norms. Neighbors can accept or reject other people simply because they want to. I believe as long as your mother doesn't intentionally go after people for the sake of hurting them because she believes they are evil, bewitched or for some other amazing reason, or hear voices in her head other than her own, i don't believe she is mentally ill. I live around mentally ill people and now realize that they cause problems for society and need medication to stop destruction acts. You never mentioned whether or not your mother goes out to destroy other people's property because of voices. This would be a sure sign of schizophrenia. Bye. Reply
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By raddi, Community Member— Last Modified: 10/26/11, First Published: 12/17/08