Need help coping with my schizophrenic mother. The guilt and worry is eating me up

First off I’d just like to say that I am new here but am so grateful that i found this group because i’ve been going through a lot trying to cope on my own with my mother who has schizophrenia.

She has had schizophrenia my whole life, but over the past couple of years it has fully taken over her and in my heart I feel that i’ve lost her. my childhood was pretty rough as i’m sure a lot of you can relate to, but things got much worse when my brother and i both moved out when i turned 18. i moved to the other side of the country, which i believe the distance has helped me to recover my mental health from the turmoil i went through as a child. as her condition has worsened over the past couple of years i have felt a lot of guilt and selfishness for leaving her.

my brother also moved to a new state and my mother was living with him until a couple months ago when he just couldn’t handle it anymore. she is so paranoid she becomes very angry and lashes out on all of her family which i don’t take personally because i understand it’s not coming from her, it’s coming from her illness. while she was living with my brother he was constantly calling for help which would result in her being taken to a mental health hospital for a couple days then just being released again with no real help. the last time she was taken away he told her she could not come back to his house anymore and she has been homeless since.

i have been constantly feeling immense guilt for not bringing her to live with me but i am afraid. i know that taking care of her will be a full time job and i have been trying to focus on school and building my career so i know that it would hurt me to take her in. i also live with my boyfriend and i don’t want this to take over his life too. selfishly, i have been the happiest i’ve ever been the past 2 years by keeping my distance from my family and am terrified to face this again.

the last time i saw my mother was 2 years ago for christmas, when she invited a homeless drug dealer to stay the night with us. i was terrified and was luckily able to run to my aunts house down the street when they went to the store. i was angry with her, but during this visit i was finally able to see how serious her illness had become. i cried as i watched her get spooked by things she was seeing in the room that weren’t really there. reality finally hit me that she was gone.

i can no longer have a normal conversation with my mom and it breaks me. she will only talk about all of the people and family she thinks is out to get her, which i know is not her fault and i hurt for her. i always just listen but i know she needs real help and she just refuses to accept it.

she recently ran back to the small town i grew up in without any money or plan. i didn’t find out until she called me from the airport and was already there asking me for help to get a hotel room. i felt horrible saying no, but i had already spent $1000 on hotel rooms for her the past few weeks and knew it wasn’t helping. it’s gotten to the point where she only calls me if she needs money and financially i cannot do it anymore as much as i want to. she was calling me for help every day until about 5 days ago. i haven’t gotten any calls from her and her phone has been turned off. i’m extremely worried for her because it’s freezing cold where she is and she was refusing to go to a shelter. i’ve called all of the shelters in the area but she’s not there.

I truly don’t know what to do anymore. i’m scared for her and this has been destroying my mental health. my brother has given up on her and so has everyone else in my family but me and my grandma. my grandma is in her 80s though and can’t do much to help other than to show she cares, so i feel all of the responsibility is on me.

i have no one to talk to about this as no one in my life really understands. i’m clueless on how to deal with this situation in the right way and always feel like i’m handling this wrong. so i appreciate any comments or anyone who took the time to read this :heart:


I feel and hear your pain. I am 57 years old and still carry pain from my childhood. My mother also suffered from sz. I cannot tell you how many times she attempted suicide. I remember the guilt I carried from her attempt when I was 18. My dad had left me in charge of “baby sitting” her while he went and played golf. She was really doing bad with the voices and delusions, I remember her coming out of her bedroom saying she was going to lay down and take a nap. I remember thinking why don’t you just take all of your pills and die.

Hours later my dad came home to find her overdosed in their room.we rushed her to the hospital they saved her. My dad divorced her after that attempt and she pretty much lived in foster housing.
Our relationship was never good. Loved her Hated the sz.

My last emotional disconnect from her was years later when I had her at my house for the weekend and she took all of her pills in a suicide attempt. That was when I was pretty much done. My children were 5 and 7 at the time. (How Dare She)…Foster care wanted me to call 911 I told them no. If she dies she dies. ( my children were not going to be subjected to what I had been). She went on to live to
65 years old.

I have lived with the guilt, been in therapy etc…My biggest fear all my life was I was going to end up like her. I didn’t ,but my youngest son did. He was admitted last week for psychosis I pray he can get help. WE WILL ALWAYS BE THERE FOR HIM… Thats what a parent does for their child. Not what a child is suppose to do for their parent. Please allow yourself to be selfish and stay happy.


So very sorry for your situation. This breaks my heart and I know many of the long-time participants can empathize with your struggle.

We all desire to love and support our family (spouse, parent, sibling, child,etc) that has an SZ diagnosis. Yet we acknowledge that our ‘family’ is bigger than any one person, and further, that we have our own dreams and needs.

Frankly, it sucks. Choosing one over another (including ourselves!). The constant challenge of finding an acceptable answer for ‘what does true love look like for this person in this situation’ is overwhelming.

Having boundaries is of course critical but MUCH easier said than done. Facing the constant threat of drawing a necessary line that may go tragically and unintentionally wrong (ie, drug-use, suicide, homelessness, fear, loneliness) is an impossible burden.

I’ll admit that my faith sustains me. Knowing that I’m not alone via this Forum strengthens me. No easy answers. Keep the faith.


Welcome to this site, the best thing you can do is come here to read and when you feel like it to post.

It is very true that NO ONE in “regular” life understands severe mental illness. It took me years to understand that no one at work, no one of my more distant relatives, none of my friends had ANY idea of what it was like to have a loved one start living in an alternate universe to the regular world because their mind was perceiving unreal things. I got so much BAD advice trying to appeal to others who had no personal reality with schizophrenia.

You MUST take care of yourself, in order to care for your mother. You need to try to stop feeling guilty. The worry I’m afraid will always be there as long as she is not doing well. But please do not lose your own financial security to help her, as then both of you will be in trouble.


Good advice @marcywendy . You went through a lot yourself.


Ive had similar…my mom.was homeless.for 2 years, raped 8 times. I only made 5 dollar an hour myself.but used credit help.her…eventually.a lady.took her in a half
And she got off alcohal.and got lithium and.other meds and worked…till later in life we had to pay for her again.
The mental hospitals would be good, food, psych, meds, counceling…
I.felt.guilt and frustration till after she died…lots of yucky stories…thus i married 3 x abusers who left me.with zero…narcissists.


Glad you found this site. It’s a God send. I’d recommend contacting your local mental health agency to see what resources are available for your Mom - meds, housing, etc. Does she have any resources? Would she qualify for low income housing? What resources are available for homeless?

It’s a tough situation with no easy answers - at times seems impossible. I agree with others - need to take care of yourself first. Do what you can to help (without hurting yourself). Take care.


I hope you are doing OK now, @C11


Sometimes, we have to let humanity and in my case God care for those whom we are temporarily unable to care for. You may be surprised how resourceful and resilient they can be despite the mental illness. In my case, I feel guilty not being able to give my brother the best he could have. I just have to keep working on it. Stay well…

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So true. We’ve all been there. Or will be there if we’re honest with ourselves. My son was doing well. Working at a pet lodge as animals calm him. 4 months. A few dramatic days but overall good. Then, 2 days ago, he quit.

Why? Because he’s tired of living in the Matrix and New World Order coming soon regardless.

Tells me he’s likely going to get another job but just needs a few days off. (Yeah, those are called vacations and you don’t have to quit to take one).

Point being, every fng day is an adventure. Some days we can manage. Some, nope. And yet we muddle onwards. Or backwards. Or sideways. And we are NOT ALONE in our pain. I believe in God. And that He lives in our hearts. And when I read an encouraging word, then God is using that person to minister to me (and others).

Just my 2 cents. Take them, or leave them on the counter…