I have a similar situation with one of my daughters. She has a delusional disorder that has not been formally diagnosed, but is obvious to my husband and me. It started in her teens (we knew nothing about psychiatry at that time and assumed it was part of her experimentation with drugs so we focused on that); she is now in her mid-40s. (One of her grandmothers had schizophrenia, and her younger sister developed it several years later in extremely obvious ways, so there’s a hereditary element.)
We love her dearly, and believe she loves us, but whenever we’re in our presence she truly believes I am inserting my thoughts and perceptions into her mind, and that I am also aware of her thoughts, feelings, and needs. So on the one hand, she feels constantly intruded upon, since she reads incredible things into anything I say or do or even my expression; and on the other hand, she believes that I do things “wrong” on purpose out of some desire to harm her. Like not folding her laundry properly, or topping off the sugar bowl “because” I “knew” she had been planning to wash it instead. Her rages are terrifying.
After decades of trying desperately hard to manage to be in her presence without setting off one of her heartbreaking screaming tirades, we’ve finally concluded that it’s best all around never to be in her presence again. Even phone calls are impossible, since she believes I can push my thoughts into her head through the phone line!
Thank God for Face Book! After her most recent explosion, last spring, I very gradually started clicking “Like” now and then on things she posted. After a few weeks I dared to type a comment agreeing with her. No outbursts, so I progressed to making slightly longer comments and adding some factual information (she’s very intellectual, even brilliant).
Now, months later, we have a friendly and positive Face Book interchange every few days, always on neutral topics. She has remained stable. I treasure this contact, and believe it’s important to her as well. Sadly, her father has not been able to manage this–she will not respond to him at all, apparently still furious because he stood up for me last year when she’d grievously hurt me (emotionally, not physically) during one of her paranoid episodes.
She and I will never have the warm relationship I’d long hoped would emerge; she’s simply not capable of it, as some important parts of her are stuck in the early teenage years. That’s just who she is and there’s no way to change it. As long as our contact doesn’t happen in person or on the phone, she and I both feel loved and she stays stable. I’ve accepted that I will not hear her voice or see her in person for the rest of my life. I give her the best support I can, which ironically is to keep this distance.