Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

At My Wits End With My Mom's Illness

My mom has been suffering from frequent psychotic episodes (which my siblings and I believe to be schizophrenia, though she has never officially shared her diagnosis) for the past 15 years of my life. She will be fine for a couple of years at a time, but then she gradually slips into another recurrence. Her delusions typically have to do with the end of the world/Biblical themes. She sees and hears demons, voices telling her she’s going to or is already in hell. She doesn’t sleep during these times, is very anxious, and can easily smoke 3 to 4 packs of cigarettes in a 24 hour period. She’s been hospitalized 4 times in the last 5 years. Her stays are usually just a day or two at a time, and with antipsychotics, she’s back to normal within a couple of weeks.

The problem is that she refuses to stick with medication maintenance and therapy, so my family is having to deal with these episodes every year or two. Because I am the only one of my siblings who is single and childless (and because she currently lives with me), I have to take on the brunt of her care. Fighting with her to take medications, hiding her car keys so that she doesn’t try to drive in the middle of the night, and also dealing with the financial burden of her being out of work because we share expenses.

It doesn’t help that I also have a mental illness (OCD) that is triggered by her episodes, so I become uncertain of my own health as well. It’s just an all around bad situation. I depend on her in certain ways because I do not drive due to my anxiety, and whenever she goes through her episodes, I feel shame because I’m reminded that I still rely on her at the age of 26. I wish that I could take my siblings’ stance and create a life completely separate from this madness, but I know that in current circumstances, both of us would struggle.

I’m sorry to rant. I’m just needing some support and don’t really ever get the chance to talk about how I feel in relation to her illness. For my family it’s easier to either make light of the situation or not speak about it at all, you know. But anyways, thanks in advance for listening.


Hi callie09,

It does sound like scz, sorry that you have the brunt of her care, glad that it does work for you in other ways.

I hope the rant helps you, it usually works for me. Sometimes people do need to actually talk about life with mental illness with other people who are familiar with the issues.

Have you ever thought about attending Family to Family? The class is sponsored by NAMI and is free. Or maybe a local NAMI support group? Some people attend support groups regularly, other people come when they are in a crisis, either way is fine.



It’s why we’re all here - to find answers, support each other, and rant. Do you have someone you can talk to? It seems there is usually one primary caregiver who bears most of the burden so being able to take care of yourself is very important. Walks, visit the library, relaxing baths, support groups. As much energy you put into caring for your mother, double that for you. I wish I had a better answer but know that you are not alone.



Callie09, first off give yourself credit for doing what you are for your Mom, despite having your own problems. Many of us here have our own issues as well or live with spouses that are challenging and one sets off the other.
I try my best to take care of myself and exercise each day. Find something that you enjoy and do it. Also try to connect with others who understand. This forum is wonderful and I share things I wouldn’t necessarily share with my family.
We are all different and in my own family there were siblings that just didn’t feel the need to take care of my mom when she was ill. I have no regrets that I did and treasure the memories we shared as a result. I’d like to share one now for you.
Mom loved healthy food and we had a cafeteria style whole food type store in the city. I would pick up some of her favorite food and surprise her when she lived at home. When she had to go to a nursing home as her illness progressed, we would go there about once a month for an outing.
At that point she was in a wheel chair and she would spend time at the card area and read each one and pick out her cards for the family. This was after she got to try whatever looked good to her on the menu. She would then touch all the flowers and admire them.
I miss her so much. She only had about a two or three hour stamina and I have noticed this with my son too.
I know things are tough for you though right now and I hope you will see some good days too. This is definitely a cyclical illness I have observed. I wish the best for you both.

1 Like