Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Mother diagnosed at 46, exhausted

My mother was diagnosed with schizophrenia last year at 46 years of age. I am the eldest of three daughters, at 26.

To give a little background, my mother had me as single mom and married when I was 3, to a man I consider my father.

She was diagnosed as bipolar when I was young and I had a tough upbringing. Me and my two sisters were emotionally and pyschologically abused by her, our father tries to shield us best he could, but I have vivid memories of her alcohol and drug fuelled manic phases. My parents separated 15 years ago. We continued to live with our mother.

As the years went on she became sicker, and 5 years ago she started to become paranoid. She believed me and my sisters were plotting against her and I started to fear for our safety more then ever. My father moved my youngest sibling in with him and my middle sister left home and found a flat at 17. Neither of my sisters have spoken to our mother in many years. All friends and family of my mother are out of the picture. Unfortunately I am the last one left.

I attend weekly therapy to address the abuse I endured at her hands throughout my upbringing. This seems to be pushed to the back burner now as her health diminishs.

I recently went to her house and discovered she was living in utter filth. It broke my heart and also raised concerns as it was a major health hazard. She is delusional and slow to respond anything.

I escorted her to our local psychiatric hospital for the 10th time ( I have been doing this since my teen years ). She is non drug compliant and objects to any help from our local services.

Tomorrow she is being let out of hospital after 6 days and nothing is different. I have spent the past 6 days getting her affairs in order with no help, meanwhile questioning why I have lost the last 5 years of my life to a person who abused me and continue to loose time.

She is not willing to accept help, and now I am faced with that question, how can I continue to sustain this stress. Is this disorder worth destroying two lives instead of one?


Dear Little,

My mother was also dx’d bipolar and very abusive at times during my childhood. When I was 17, she had a psychotic break and died due to her own actions. She was 43.

Here is what I noticed: no one helped her. She had a good job and very clean house, but was extremely symptomatic at times. She was let go from the hospital instead of being involuntarily committed the night before she died. She would not take medication as prescribed.

I don’t think you should do more than you genuinely feel you can do for your mother. I would say this even if she had not abused you. Healthy, loving parents want their children to be safe and happy. The best parts of your mother wish this for you. Once you have taken care of yourself and are living your life in a way that makes sense to you, if you have any time and energy left to help your mom or visit her, then that is your choice.

You have done everything you can do. I believe the stress is too much for you.

One final task: notify in writing the hospital, the doctors, social workers, any other government officials who might be able to help, and adult protective services that there is a vulnerable, mentally ill woman who cannot care for herself living alone in filth at such and such an address and give them all of her records or history in a letter delivered certified mail so you know they received it. Let them know that she has no family or friends to assist her. If they cannot help her, you can’t either.

I really do think there might be social services in place that will step in if you let them know you are no longer helping your mother. And even if she is seen at the hospital, as you know, that is no guarantee she will be treated.

Best to you.


You have had a tough go with so much to deal with! To be honest with you, only you can answer this question. You have every right to protect yourself and for sure you need to in some way. I’m not sure where you live but is there any kind of mental health crisis team that could force her to get treatment? Here in Canada it’s called an ACTT team. Assertive Community Treatment Team, which forces my son to stay med compliant (or else they bring him back to the hospital), and they push him to get various types of treatment. It took a 7th trip to the hospital to get that, and I had to become his substitute decision maker, and a whole lot of pushing on my part, but eventually got it. Check with whatever mental health associations such as NAMI that you have where you are and find out all of your options as you should never have to deal with this alone. I’m really glad that you are getting counselling for yourself. All the best.