HELP! My mom is a schizophrenic


#1

Hi!

I’m new here. My mom is a schizophrenic, paranoid schizophrenic is the exact diagnosis type. When I was a pre-teen my siblings and I were taken away from my mom. She was in her early 30s at the time. Nobody in my family really knew what was going on with her odd behavior until a family member was enrolled in a psychology course that covered the topic of Schizophrenia.

The family member put 2 and 2 together and opened a child services investigation. At the time it was an unfortunate event. I remember lying to the social workers telling them how my mom was the “best mom in the world” and there wasn’t any issues. In reality she was abusive and the living conditions were extremely horrible. Our apartment was infested with cockroaches, she didn’t open the blinds for whatever reason, so natural sun light never came in. It was literally a cave, but most of the people in our complex were low-income families. As a kid, I really didn’t think anything was wrong. I just thought thats how it was. I love my mom and my siblings and didn’t want us to be apart. The day eventually came when we were taken away. I was sad, confused, and had no idea what was going to happen next. I remember being told by the social workers and police that it was only temporary and my mom and siblings will be together again in a few weeks.

Till that day forward I remember thinking that I never, ever wanted to be in that position again. I know this hits an emotional trigger because as I’m typing this tears are trickling down my face. 6 months later after being taken away and when all was settled my mom ended up living with my grandmother (her mom), my siblings with their father, and since I had a different dad I lived with family members. The family member who opened the investigation became her conservator and made sure she had SSI.

I ended up having a normal teenage and young adult life. I did athletics in high school, I ended up with all-state honors, I went to college and graduated as a student-athlete. Looking back, most likely none of that would have been possible if I lived with my mom. The unfortunate situation become a fortunate situation, for me at least. I read a few chapters out of “Surviving Schizophrenia: A Family Manual”. It mentioned that sometimes the offspring of schizophrenics become overachievers. I guess you can put me in that bucket.

Fast forward today, I’m in my late 20s and she’s in her early 50s. I have what most would call a dream career. Anything I put my mind to, I end up achieving. Except one thing, making sure my mother is happy. About a couple years ago she had a delusion that my grandmother was trying hurt her, it was the last strike of many psychotic episodes. My family did I good job making sure I wasn’t involved with these dramatic events. However, now that I’m an adult I’m starting to connect the dots. She thinks that she’s some “star” and psychics are communicating with her. She says one day celebrities will find her and make her famous. My grandmother isn’t doing to well health wise so after my mom called the police on my grandmother, thinking her life was in danger, my mom’s conservator had to put her on a 5150. She was unable to live with my grandmother anymore because her condition started to get out of hand. My mom ended up in the hospital for about 6 months, later was transferred to a therapeutic center that was locked (I had to request visits). Now she’s at an adult living facility for the mentally ill. The facility allows a lot more freedom then the locked therapeutic center. She doesn’t think she has a mental illness. She calls it a disorder, but doesn’t own up to the fact of how to cope with the symptoms. I try to help her out by explaining to her what’s going on and that the celebrity delusions aren’t real. It seem like it goes in one ear, and right out the other. I’m learning to be more patient with her but it seems like she’s deep into her delusions. I can’t seem to help her cope with the symptoms. The best thing I can do now, is basically listen. I can’t challenge her delusions. She ends up saying I’m brainwashed if I do.

Now that you know the backstory, I’m looking for some advice on what I should do as her son. Recently, she expressed that she doesn’t want to live at the facility anymore. The facility provides food, transportation to doctors, room and board, roommates, and nurses to make sure she takes her meds. It’s supported by SSI. Since she doesn’t know how to manage money well, her conservator and I give her spending money when we see her. Small amounts. If we give her more than $50 she will go on a shopping spree and buy a bunch of useless “stuff”. She wants to move into her own apartment. She keeps saying she wants to move to the apartment complex that my siblings and I were taken away from or an apartment in the surrounding cities. Listen, I would love to get my mom an apartment, but I’m learning that it might be more complicated than it sounds. If she moves into an apartment she would be extremely lonely. As much as she wants to be independent, she’s a very dependent person. She keeps pitching the idea that one of my brothers should live with her. However, my brother she wants to live with shows signs of psychosis and has been put on 5150 holds himself. I’m not sure if that’s a great idea to have them living together. I often think that I should upgrade my own apartment or buy a house so my mom can live with me. But I hold myself back from going into that direction for several reasons a) I’m worried about my well being b) my life is stable…I have a girlfriend, soon to be wife, that I’m looking forward to building a future with c) I have so many career and meaningful goals I would like to continue pursuing. I can get agitated when I’m around my mom too long. I start snapping at people. Not good for work and not good for the people around me.

I beat myself up as times, I want to help. I just don’t know how. I guess the best I could do is earn more income, so I can get her a full-time caretaker…but even then I’m unsure if that’s what she truly wants or needs. I think what she really wants is for all my siblings to live together with her again. She doesn’t understand that we are all adults now and that scenario is highly unlikely.

How would you help your loved one in need? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!


#2

Welcome to the club that No one chooses. I’m glad you were able to get out of that situation and congratulations on your accomplishments. It sounds to me like your Mother is in a good place and if you take her out of there her life might be a lot worse. I’m also pretty certain your new married life will be robbed of the happiness you deserve.
If you look at some of the posts here, it is a very tough existence of caring for someone who doesn’t know they are sick, frequent hospitalizations and trying to make their life better. There isn’t any rhyme or reason to this illness. I would suggest you love and Support her and visit her and go home and enjoy your life. If she lives with you, every aspect of your life will change. That is my opinion. I wish you all the happiness you deserve.


#3

It sounds like your mom is in a really good place with lots of support that no one could provide in-home. For example, what would she do during the day while you were at work? Just one of so many examples.

As a mother, I would not like it if my child gave up attaining goals to try and take care of me, unless I was homeless. I would like visits, holiday family times, outings if possible, getting to meet my child’s friends.

She needs more care than anyone without lots of money can offer in home. You can give her so much in the situation she is in.

If someone else in the family goes for it and moves her into an apartment, just maintain good boundaries and a good relationship with the care facility in case the move doesn’t work out.


#4

I am a short-timer in caring for my loved one, SonOfSzMom, but I am a mother…and I mirror the sentiment of those who have spoken above.

It is very difficult to see our loved one in some kind of duress, especially when we think there is a possibility of us mitigating it. In this illness, and just like when you were young, there is no awareness for our loved ones in what position they put us in, or awareness of what complex and struggles their illness creates for their family members. Later, and when we accept the role to take care of them, this does not change. Their wants may be real, but often they are not realistic or best for them. Sometimes they are not best for us.

You can love your mother, but know that living your life happy, successfully, and being able to be a voice in the world about how devastating this illness is to families would be your best legacy in having a mother that is schizophrenic. Especially a mother that sounds like she is being cared for right where she is.

I wish you the best now, and in all ways in the future that you may love and support your mother getting her needs met.


#5

Your mom cannot be a good judge of what is best for her. Please don’t give in to your guilty feelings. Just stay strong and dont give in! It would be extremely unhealthy for you, your future wife and your mom to live together.
I was raised by a schizophrenic mom, and i only wish they would have taken me and my brother away from her. I didn’t know she was schizophrenic until now (2017) But as an adult raising my own family i had enough common sense not to live in the same city with her. (Had i known she was sick, I would have gotten her help. But I didn’t know)


#6

Thank you! It’s nice to know that I’m not alone. I’ll definitely check out the posts on the forum and contribute where I can.

I often feel guilty. As a child she would consistently reinforce that when she grows old and I’m an adult, I would take care of her. Of course I said I would. Now as an adult, I’m learning that it’s more complicated. As her son I don’t want to let her down. I’m working on moving past these emotions. I know her symptoms are something I can’t control.


#7

I often think that too. I would rather my mom be in a place with people around then in a place where she would be alone.

She has delusions that people are stealing her stuff. I think it might be worst in an apartment by herself. When I was young she would often say people are coming into the apartment when we are gone. She still says people are stilling stuff till this day. It’s almost became a situation of “crying wolf”.

In the best case scenario I could see the apartment working out. In the worst case scenario I could see it going south, really quick. As optimistic as I am, I think at this time it might not be realistic. I need to work past the guilt I often get consumed by…thank you for your comment!


#8

That’s my struggle. My mom thinking something is great for her, when I know it might not be the best idea. She views things at the surface level. I’m thinking about the whole picture along with the variables. I’m not sure what to say anymore when we come to a disagreement.

That quote really hit home. Thank you so much!


#9

A lot of my guilt comes from my siblings and I being taking away and being apart for all these years. I feel like I have a sense of responsibility as the oldest child to bring the family back together or make things right. My mom is consistently telling me this too. I’m starting to feel a lot of pressure, not from anyone else but my guilt and what my mom tells me.

Here you are saying that you wish the opposite. That’s very helpful to hear. Thank you!


#10

LEAP method of communication elaborated by Dr. Xavier Amadour in his book, “I’m Not Sick. I Don’t Need Help.” might improve your communication with your mother. Agree to disagree is one way of getting along he describes.

Also, to make yourself feel better about her not having an apartment, try to find out and write a list of every single thing the adult living facility does for your mom or helps her do. Most of those places really do a lot.


#11

In your case taking care of her is deciding on her behalf what is best for her. And that means let the professionals take care of her.

The only suggestion that i have is keeping an eye on your siblings if they are still in the risk age


#12

Unfortunately my brother has mild symptoms of the illness. I do my best to educate him and his father. He seems to own up to the symptoms but I sense a bit of in denial sometimes.


#13

This story really hit home! Sounds exactly like my situation. I was taken away at the age of 3. I have siblings that grew up with their father and I was raised by my grandparents in my mom’s side. She has been in a home for a few years. However, she really wants to live with me. I’m under pressure to figure out what is best for her.


#14

Try to find a good social worker you can trust. Community supports are available and will help you make sure you are doing what’s best while taking care of yourself.


#15

Since the time I posted this I’ve been seeing a family therapist. I found that talking about my upbringing with a non-bias professional has been very helpful. I’m able to see the situation more clearly. I almost feel like a foggy lens has been lifted.

My mom is still in a home. She has been moved a couple times. Everywhere she goes the same dramatic episodes happen. Literally the same story, different place and change some people around. I’m able to trace similar stories of absurd behavior down to my early childhood.

I am learning how to create boundaries and remain her son. I stopped fulfilling every demand she requests and pause to make sure it’s a logical decision. Sometimes I have to go into parenting mode which can be odd because I don’t even have children of my own, but is clearly the reality as far as emotional intelligence goes.

Unfortunately her behavior at this time is too toxic and unpredictable for me to feel comfortable having her live with me. Some of the episodes she has sounds like a teenage girl still in high school (she is in her 50s).

Don’t forget to take care of your well being first. I personally feel I’m more helpful this way.


#16

Almost a year since I posted this and wow the same thing is going on. This time I’m more prepared and have a clearer perspective. I really want to help her but her version of help is a lot different than mine.

She’s acting up again. Same type of stories. She is starting to exhaust her resources. The home she is in wants her out because she is disturbing the residents and making accusations about the staff. Truth is she’s been like this my entire life. Her accusations are aligned with exactly what I would experience as a child.

She’s can be a wonderful person. I want the best for her but she is seriously stuck and set on her ways.

I see my family therapist today. Stay strong. This is a sad illness.


#17

Can they evict her if she has no place to go?
Also, if she’s depleted he resources she should be eligible for Medicaid and assisted living care.


#18

I don’t think so, but she’s walking on thin ice. She is on SSI and technically she is in assisted living. However, there are levels of care and her case worker is having a hard time finding a facility that can manage her behavior.

I think the moment she becomes a danger to herself or to the other residents they won’t hesitate to get her hospitalized again.


#19

I agree with the others that it might be too difficult for her to live with family. Can you and your siblings or other relatives take turns visiting regularly? It might help give your Mom and the staff a little break from each other. I don’t know if that’s an option or if you’re doing that already.


#20

My siblings live out of state and I’m about an hour drive away from her.

I was visiting every weekend last year, which I know is nowhere near the same amount of time for family that are full-time caregivers. I commend those that have taken that role.

I too thought it would help but she started to have more expectations of what she thinks I should be doing for her. I had to cut it back to about 2x a month because it was taking a toll on me and my personal life. When I do see her, I take her out to lunch or breakfast and usually treat her to a nice outing if I have some extra time. These visits are starting to feel like she is taking me for granted. She shows appreciation for the most part but when she gets mad at me or if the visits are too short she says I’m dumping her off and that I don’t want to own up to the responsibility to take care of her. In her mind, I’m the oldest so responsibility to take care of her is all on me. I grew up with this thought in the back of my subconscious my entire youth and teenage years.

“You will take care of me when I’m old, right?”

When you’re 5 years old and have no idea what mental illness really is, of course you’re going to say yes. Its your mother. You can only imagine how hard it can be for me as an adult to shatter this belief.

Other family members try to visit when they can. I am more consistent with my visits than others.