Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Step Father has left my schizophrenic Mother a week before I am supposed to emigrate



I’m not quite sure where to begin as this news is hours old. I’m 24 years old, recently graduated.

My Mother was diagnosed a couple of years ago after suffering from various mental breaks in her adult life. It has taken some time to find the right course of medication and other treatment for her, now her mental health is much much more stable. However, her personality has completely changed, she is very quiet, reclusive and distant. Alongside this, she has issues with alcohol, in that she is known to drink a little too much at night and too often. All of this has lead to problems with her relationship of 15+ years.

In May this year her partner (my step dad) announced that he would be leaving as he was struggling to cope with her illness, their change in relationship and debt. He found a home to rent only a few roads away as he wanted to be close for their 10 year old daughter (my half-sister) and to continue to support my Mother to some degree. Since then they agreed to seek therapy to work on their relationship with my Mother making vast improvements with her illness related vices.

Fast-forward to today and my Step Father has announced that he is leaving her for another woman. This is without word of there being any further issues, in fact things seemed to have improved between the two of them. Of course this has come at a great shock despite events earlier in the year. My Mother is extremely hurt and upset, as anyone would be.

At this point in time, she isn’t fit to work and doesn’t feel ready for the added stress of a job whilst she’s trying her best to regain some normality. She cannot support herself because of this and there are plans to sell the family home leaving her stuck for living arrangement.

I am extremely concerned, upset and torn on the situation as I’m supposed to be emigrating to America in just over a week’s time (21st October) to get married to my American boyfriend. I now feel I have a responsibility to help my Mother through this but after living apart from my partner for three years it would also break my heart to not go. I feel as though I have a responsibility to my Mother to support her, get a job here and wait at least another year to bring him here. I feel terrible for thinking about myself at this time and also extremely guilty that I’m possibly leaving in a matter of days. She isn’t alone here, my brother is 21 but I’m worried that he lacks the maturity to fully help the situation. Other than him, my Mother’s father lives over 2 hours away and her Mother lives down the road but suffers with dementia and requires carers.

During the few hours I have spent talking to her she doesn’t want me to stay, she wants me to go and live my life but I cannot shake the guilt. I know the rest of my family are likely to say the same as her but the responsibility I feel to help and support my family is great.

She is lucky enough to have a health visitor that can help her claim support that she is entitled to but I’m concerned of the mental implications this could also have. She has made such good progress and I feel she could fall back into old habits. In addition even if she is able to work at a later time (which she wants to) I fear that she could become very lonely in the long term, once my brother and sister have left the house. I don’t see her in another relationship later on due to her reclusive nature and social anxiety.

Has anyone been in a similar situation? Any advice would be so greatly appreciated.

Thank you.


What a tragic situation all the way around. I’m so sorry for what your family is going through. And here you should be excited about your upcoming marriage and move and you have this to worry about. I am not sure this should be your responsibility to the point of delaying your move and marriage…It’s not like she’s totally alone, not in treatment, not doing well…are you supposed to change your life around for things that might possibly happen…what does your step-dad say he is offering as far as support-since he and your mom have a daughter together, what does her treatment team say about where she is at?


Thats a really difficult situation. Do you have any other family members (aunts, uncles, etc.) that might be able to help your mother?

Most 21 year old guys are not in the mindspace to be able to help your mother in this situation. THough - perhaps your mother doesn’t need that much day to day support? Are there any other resources in your country that can help your mother?

We have a list of support groups worldwide here - perhaps there is a group you can talk to in your country:


It sounds like financial concerns are being looked into and being taken care of which is a good thing. I think that your mom is right about you living your live as best you can. It sounds like your mom is stable, doing good and has a lot of support. I know that mental illness can put more strain on a family as the ‘what if’s’ become more prominent. We never know from day to day what is going to happen. Wherever you go you are only a phone call away and sometimes that alone can make a world of difference. If circumstances change and she needs you, then you can at that time look at moving back. I’m guessing that making yourself happy will also help to make your mom happy.


Please don`t feel quilty. It sounds like your mom is well enough to tell you to do what is right for yourself. Maybe before you go, you can build a support net for your family. Who knows-maybe you and your husband will end up back with your family at some point. You can always call and visit. I know it is a tough choice.
Good luck to you