Guilt and Trauma with a schizophrenic mom

Hello,

Thank you for taking the time to support me. My name is Chris and I am 35 years old. For the last 29 years I lived with my schizophrenic mom. Being the youngest of her children I felt the pressure to live with her for as long as I could. Throughout my life, I recall my mom in and out of behavioral health. I remember episodes of manic depression, hallucinations, hearing voices, and acting out. When I was little my mom would pretend she was dead and I would have to call 911. Only for her to wake up upon their arrival. As I got older, I would be on the receiving end of her mood swings and manic episodes. She grew very dependent on me. Often telling me she couldn’t live without me. That we would be together forever. It wasn’t until I was 29 that I made the step to move out. She had had a manic episode because I went to lunch with friends and left her alone all day. This turned into her calling me a Bitch. I realized then this wasn’t healthy for my emotional or mental health. Here I was at 29 venturing to find my own apartment.

During this time, my mom didn’t take this well. She was alone now no one monitoring her meds or keeping her company. She would constantly leave the house and go missing. 911 knows her well. I would come to visit to find mirrors and TVs covered with sheets as she was hallucinating seeing demons in the reflections. It wasn’t until her last episode where doctors advised us she couldn’t live alone and her level of care was beyond us.

In the last 7 years she was placed in an assisted facility with a mental unit. For the first time in my life I had peace that she was safe. Last month I received the heart wrenching call that she discharged herself. She walked off the grounds and left with a stranger. Keep in mind we do not have power of attorney or guardianship as she fought us on it and can put on a good show. She is very manipulative at making people believe she is the victim. My mom is now 67 and essentially homeless. She refuses care. She refuses assisted living or group homes. Her solution is to live with me. I just know emotionally and mentally that is not the best option for either of us.

I struggle with trauma and guilt. My mom called me to tell me she would still be in her house if I hadn’t left. That I shouldn’t have left with a man. I am now married and started my life at 32. However, I feel guilty for living and angry that she won’t receive help for her condition. I don’t know how to enjoy my life when she is in the back of my mind without a proper shelter. How do you help someone that doesn’t want help?

I don’t know what to do. When is it enough?

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You crossed the line ‘enough’ a looong time ago. You are obviously a loving person and faithful daughter but you owe it to yourself, husband and future family to create strong barriers and distance yourself when possible.

Guilt and Shame are powers we give to others. Refuse to engage either. Keep the faith.

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One of our most frequent recommendations is to tell people they need to work with a therapist. The first time I heard it I wondered "Why do I need a therapist? It seemed to me that I was not the one who is “sick”, surely I am not the one who needs help.

But we family members do need help sorting out our lives, we have to keep our lives on track while dealing with our neurodiversive family members. How to do that is a struggle we have all faced.

One of the first lessons they teach at Nami’s Family to Family is the importance of keeping our own lives up and running.

If the idea of a therapist for yourself makes you uncomfortable, try to think of a therapist as a life coach. Do your best to be “coachable”. Listen to advice and follow it.