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Am I stupid, am I being conned? Is something wrong with me?


Sometimes I just don’t get it. So I went to my daughter’s doctor’s appointment for the first time a couple of weeks ago and said nothing. Just listened to the symptoms and med management. Heard about psychotic features and how the meds affected her. I have spent a lot of the last 15 years waiting on court cases and waiting for her to get off probation. No longer, the last time she was excited about only having six months to be off probation, I said to myself, “Wait, don’t get too excited, another one is probably around the corner.” Sure enough, she was charged with shoplifting and got another year added before she even got off that probation. First time I knew of her stealing was shoplifting a $1 item when she was 12. I cried so hard, but punished her and chalked it up to a childhood thing.
Then in high school I got calls from the school saying she was stealing gym clothes, ect … from the other girls at school and money from a teacher’s desk. Of course she says it was not her fault, she was being abused by the other girls, being made fun of and they actually threw the items at her and she was set up. Did I believe that, No! Her first court appearance was in high school when she was accused of stealing another student’s credit card and running it up and sending the items to the girls house. She denies that, but got 4 years probation. We then sent her to college and she gets involved with a real thud and steals my jewelry and runs up by credit cards over $10 K, and this is in the middle of a divorce. She claims she did it only because her boyfriend threatened to kill her if she did not supply him money to buy drugs. Okay so that’s over. Then one day I find a credit card in my name run up for over $1 K. Then she gets a really great friend and they both get arrested for multiple check and credit card theft. She says the other girl did it all, but she goes to jail for 1 year. Then she tells me she is using coupons and selling the discounted items online. She is arrested for shoplifting and she gets another year of probation for that. At the same time she claims to have a very good job with a good income and all the while she is stealing my identity and 401K and IRA plans. I am almost 60 and have worked so hard to save for retirement and have a low paying job and am scared and wondering if she is a sociopath or schizophrenic and go to a lawyer and the police to protect myself. The detectived says to me, “Looks like it is time for an eviction notice”. But I tell him, “She was diagnosed schizophrenic, and cannot take care of herself.” I have not yet heard that diagnosis, only she says it is diagnosed. Now there is the, once again court case pending. Her dad is remarried and wants nothing to do with her and he and her brother think she is just spoiled, my dad and me think she is sick. Well, me — most of the time. I can’t stop thinking about when she was about 4 and saw things that were not there. Not in a child like way either and her hospitalization at 12 and 13 years old. At that time her psychiatrist said she would rather live in a mental hospital than at home. I truly believe her dad is a narcissist and could not get in between their arguments no matter how hard I tried. Whatever, am I a bad mother? Sometimes I think something is wrong with me. In spite of trying so hard to get her the help she needed through the years, sometimes I really think I failed her. Is something wrong with me. I feel like I will never get over this. Does anyone have even the most remote experiences? I know this is long, but I am really struggling with all this.


That is sad to go through and I can see where you would lose trust. I don’t have exactly that same problem but there are people here who can relate to kids who can’t seem to learn lessons like normal children and adults due to their illness.

It is never to late to be there for your child but you have to protect yourself also. Set clear boundaries and unless you need credit, freeze it so it won’t happen again. Get help and therapy for yourself so you can help your daughter in the future.

I wish you both the best life possible.


Thanks so much. I did freeze my credit, but it is ruined already. I could not get credit to buy a stick of gum at this time. It’s heartbreaking to see that she is not learning from past mistakes. She even talked about all the “friends” she made while in jail. Very disturbing. It’s not so much about the money, even though it is hard to scrape to pay bills. I never was really well off, but could afford for us to live decently. I always paid my bills and did not use credit. It is now not fun to have my utilities cut off, taxes not paid, taxes and credit run up that I did not incur. I’ve spent money I can’t afford on a lawyer to defend her because I was afraid a public defender would not fight to get her into a mental institution for a full evaluation and try to help her. Court is coming up soon and I absolutely do not have any more money to spend for any further legal fees. I love her, but need a rest all at the same time. This is hard right now. Maybe not as hard as others have it, yet hard on me. I feel paralyzed, not able to move in any direction with this at the moment. Family members say it was foolish to spend money on a layer to help her and that it won’t do any more good than a public defender. I guess that remains to be seen. I will keep you updated on her court case.


You’re not a bad mother and there’s nothing wrong with you. I know someone who’s a schizophrenic and was diagnosed two years ago as a sociopath, which would explain why she’s so uncaring, self-centered, and jealous of other people. That person also has ADHD and bipolar disorder. I’m suddenly wondering if the same person I know is your daughter because that person also had a boyfriend who was a drug addict and she did drugs and smoked marijuana a few times. She’s been on probation a few times, but I don’t know about jail. The mother has taken her to therapists and psychiatrists, and every year is the same thing. She knows she is going to do something bad and will do it anyway. She does not care, she won’t apologize or forgive, she lacks a conscious. People are people. Your parents are/were people, your cousins, your friends, and neighbors. We all have progenitors and perhaps some of us may have descendants. We cannot choose those we come from and we cannot choose those we give life to. You cannot control their way of being, it’s in them. Wherever it’s because of genetics or environmental factors, they have made their choices and will continue making them. And if you’ve tried to help them and be there for them, do not feel bad about not succeeding. You are only as human as they are and it is not your fault.


Yes, I’ve heard that one on new friends before. You’ve done what you could and need to set boundaries. We all pay a price for this illness but in different ways.

You have to take care of you also. Otherwise you won’t have a thing to give her. You do need a break.


I think sometimes we get so caught up in our experience, we lose sight of the boundaries we have allowed our loved ones to cross, and the line gets blurry. We find ourselves unable to pull back because we are in too deep. I am not saying this is your experience, but I know it is necessary for me to take some personal inventory at times. To reel myself in, and maybe not while there is a crisis for my loved one, but realize that there will continue to be various levels of crisis when our loved ones are not able to, or not willing to do their part in this illness. This illness with my son is bigger than me, and from the beginning, I took a disproportionate part of the responsibility in “making it better” for him. I have reevaluated my role. I also am more gentle to myself for what I didn’t know, didn’t understand, or what decisions I look back on and struggle with.

I hope you find a way to your own forgiveness for what you and all of us cannot possibly know how to navigate at times. I have come to the conclusion that I might not like the way things turn out at times, but the path that I chose around whatever we were dealing with at the time truly was the best decision I could make at the time. Sure, we scrutinize that when we are on the other side, and sometimes it is helpful to see what worked and what didn’t, but it doesn’t serve anyone for us to be hard on ourselves. Instead, today is another day…and today, look forward. There is so much in this illness that is left in a state of unresolve, which is probably the most difficult thing for me to get used to. I have come to learn that while I was beating myself up over incidents that I struggled with, didn’t do very well with, or are are left unresolved, the new chapter starts and there are a multitude of new decisions and challenges in front of me…and I was a wreck and overwhelmed…already tired, before a new challenge needed me.

I am not very good at this yet, but in my own journey with my son…I have decided to get clear on what I can and cannot do, what I am equipped to endure or not, and draw some solid boundaries around myself so I can function in my own life, and in the parts of my life that I need to be available to support my son.

I pray you find some peace, rest, and perhaps get some guidance or support to help you with what may be the best direction for you to take in the relationship with your daughter.


Wise words and great advice. Thank you


You are far from stupid. I was reading your post and I felt as if I was telling my own story. My daughter is 27 and has been in and out of various legal trouble for over half of her life. I, too, struggled with the idea of whether or not my child was a sociopath or just mentally ill. After years of doctors appointment that ranged anywhere from depression to schizophrenia, I was exhausted. When my daughter finally came to me to let me know about her symptoms and how long she had experienced them, I was awestruck. It was the first time that she was truly honest about what went on in her mind after years of confusing behavior. I sympathize with you, truly, because it is impossible to see what another person is thinking. When we finally buckled down and demanded a diagnosis is when the true healing began. She used to spin incredible tales that no normal person would ever believe. I came to learn through group therapy with her, that these were her thoughts. They were as real to her as normal thought are to you and I. If you daughter has exhibited the signs since such a young age, then you are probably on the right path with schizophrenia. Does it run in your family line? Sociopaths do not apologize or feel any empathy. Is this something that you notice? If not, you are dealing with a child that needs a strict medication management plan. It’s been one year since my daughter has been on injectables as well as other antipsychotic medication and life has taken a full 180. She’s able to function without the need wind up stories. Something you might try is what my therapist suggested and sit down with her and ask how she thinks her behavior has affected you. Ask her, without judgement, to explain to you what her world view is. These are ways to gauge where she is at mentally. Whether it be paranoid, delusion or normal. There were many times I thought I was being scammed, but that is an easy way to feel as a caregiver for someone who does not base their thoughts in reality. Try to ask her if she can explain what her normal is and see how it differs from your own. If she shows compassion or empathy, you are not dealing with a sociopath, just a sick child that needs to be kept on medication and continue therapy. Good luck to you.


One other thing I wanted to address in your post, there are some schizophrenics who will cling to anyone who shows them any sort of kindness, if you daughter experienced that in jail, it doesn’t necessarily mean that she “made friends”. Are these people she is still in contact with or just people she remembers? I had to try to learn what went on in my child’s head and when she explained it to me outside of a psychotic episode she told me that her friendships were with anyone who was kind to her and accepted the chaos in her head. I’m so sorry you’re dealing with so much, but from one mother of a daughter who was in and out of jail on impluse control, I will tell you that with medication and determination, things can get so much better. We still have a long road as her physician is trying to balance meds, but I can see the improvements daily and I count those as little blessings.


There is no room for guilt here, it will not help you in the long run. You have done the best you can. Pray for your daughter and continue to show support for her when she is doing the right things, But (and this is a big butt), you must at all cost protect yourself(and your family) from being too emotionally drenched in her problems. Take care of yourself, eat well, exercise and get a support system. I was there, my husband and I have been there dealing with a bi-polar daughter who took her life and now a schizophrenic son(diagnosed 6 years ago). Until we stepped back and looked at it from the perspective of this is a child that God gave us to raise and help, we do the best we can. We guide them in the right direction, get them help when they need it, LOVE them, do not enable bad behavior and sit back and pray and watch all that God does. It is a slow process, but I am praying for you and your family.