Mom is mentally ill, refuses to take medication, living on her own, and relapsing. How do I get her help she needs besides involuntary commitment?


Mother has been diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic. She is narcissistic, mean, verbally abusive and swears horribly. She receives SSI and lives next door to me. My three brothers have nothing to do with her. Two of them having charged up her credit cards, stolen from her, and left her for broke. I (and my husband and children) are the only ones left to care for her. Yet, I am tired of her abuse and anger. She emotionally drains me. It feels like she is sucking the life out of me. My husband says he feels the same. Our boys are in college and do their best to help out by giving her rides to the grocery store and stuff, but nothing we do for her is ever good enough...or just...enough. There is always, always something else she needs, and if we don't hop to it immediately, then "we don't care" according to her.
She refuses to go to the dr. and refuses to take any meds even though she responded to resperidone fairly well. She said the medication made her too zomby like, though in reality, she seemed at a more normal state than all wired up or extremely depressed and negative. I have been dealing with this for over twenty years now, and just wish to be done with it all. I do not want guardianship, because her behavior is toxic to me and my family.
My mother told me last week that she chooses to be "weird or crazy" and that" I will just have to deal with it." At this very moment, she is sitting in a dark kitchen with about two inches of water on the floor because she tripped the circuit breakers and flooded the house. She just gave away her bed to the salvation army. Her couch, dining room table and chairs to one of my thieving brothers, and her bedroom furniture to my youngest son...which we just moved to her storage shed because she said she would get rid of it if we didn't. She has no tv because the dish company was ripping her off. She let go of her home phone because the phone company was ripping her off. She has her purse and a money box locked in her fridge (with a chain and pad lock) because she says someone is stealing her food and her money. She has no clothes to wear, she says, because someone is stealing her clothes, even her used underwear. Her house reeks of a horrible smell that makes you want to vomit upon entering. Her dogs are kept locked inside with her. She recently painted their noses purple because she thought the dogs were imposters and she could tell it was them with the purple on the nose.
So, the question is, do you, as a daughter, respect a mother's choice to be weird and crazy, recognizing that everyone is entitled to their civil rights, or do you try to force medication such as involuntary hospitalization, hoping to improve her way of life? This is what I am struggling with now. She is paying her mortgage as far as I know. She is aware that she needs a roof over her head and when she is paranoid of me or my husband or our kids, she has called a church to ask for help. They sent someone to drive her to the store. Of course, this person did it for a fee but the point is, she IS resourceful.
Usually, when she says "someone" is doing something to her, it has come out that she thinks its one of us. The paranoia seems to be directed at the family members that care and try to help. Perhaps because of the family relationship, her mind feels "safe" to accuse one of us because we are still there for her after the accusations. I don't know. I just know, I would like to get her into some type of home. We cannot afford to constantly fix up her damages to her home and neither can she. What is "too far gone mentally" to not do anything?
I feel I shouldn't have to become her slave to make her happy, which is what she wants. She wants someone there, all the time, helping her to do the things she wants to do. Like hanging wires across the ceiling because she thinks someone is coming through it. Isn't that enabling her delusions? Where is the line between being supportive and doing the right thing by an elderly parent and enabliing a crazy person?
She has said in no uncertain terms that she would never agree to leave her home. I do not want guardianship of her to get her in a home, it means I will have to deal with her more than I am now, and I already intensely dislike her, for she is not the mother I knew growing up, that mother has been dead for years now. This is an ugly shell of a person who is so demanding that the devil would throw her back.
I want all who reads this to know that all of the above things, with the water, the dogs... are nothing compared to past issues. Sept. 18th, 2009, caught her on our web cam entering our home while we were at work, that night, my husband and I were deathly ill, could not even raise our heads to get off the bed. One month later, to the day, mother came over, saying we should get a will, someone might be out to try to harm us.
Just how obligated should I feel towards her, because with each passing day, I am feeling colder and colder towards her.

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My mother is also mentally ill. It took me a very long time to figure it out because she is so manipulative and controlling. She is abusive and mean. When I was younger it was physical, but now that I am an adult all of her abusive is verbal or done in back handed ways. I often felt guilty or was made to feel guilty if I didn't put her needs above everyone else's, especially mine. I have been to therapy in the past because my relationship with my mother was in fact effecting my relationship with my husband. One of the things I came away from therapy was how the therapist came right out and said my that mother was a very mean person and she sounded to be mentally ill. At first, I took offense, but then realized that she was an objective 3rd person making an opinion based on professional experience. The funny part of it, was that when I told my mother that I was seeing a therapist she was so dismissive about it and said that therapists were no good and always blame the parents.

She now has stage IV lung cancer and does not have much longer to live. I stopped everything in my life to be with her because she told me that she only had 2 months to live and that was two years ago. She continues to be mean and verbally abusive and she continues to smoke cigarettes, more now than ever. She does not accept the fact that smoking for 40 plus years has anything to with her getting cancer or could care less that we are being exposed to her second hand smoke. She even mentioned that she thinks she got cancer because of one of her previous jobs? Again, there is no telling this woman anything different than what she already believes.

I spent about four months with her in her house, thinking she was going to pass away and had about enough of her being manipulative and verbally abusive. She even went off on me in a rage when I asked her to stop smoking once. I just removed myself from her presence and left the room. I did not engage her because that's exactly what she wanted me to do. Then, if I were to say something hurtful back, she would rally everyone in the family against me. She just wants more ammo in arsenal. I know better now to give it to her.

I have since moved out and moved very far away. My husband found a wonderful job in another state that he left once so we could be by my mother's side and the company really wanted him to come back. We were not going to pass this opportunity up again. Too many opportunities have been lost on my mother's illness already. I've called her, thinking we could keep in touch by phone, but she was just as awful as ever. Still tying to cause trouble for me from so far away. She is unchanged, despite all the medications she is on (and if she is even taking them).

In my heart, I have said my goodbye and truly feel like I have done all that I could for her. I'm not calling her anymore and I'm not so sure if I will be attending her funeral, which has already turned into an ugly situation with the rest of family members and I don't want anymore hurt or abusive from the members of my family. It is time to let go of all her hurtfulness and time for me to be there for me and my family. It's hard to let go of someone you love, but at the same time if that person is being harmful and abusive, then it is for the best. It wasn't a decision that came lightly to me, but I knew it was finally time. I hope you can go forth with the same courage and place your needs first, otherwise you may never break the cycle.
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Survivor: One more thing I want to ask/recommend. What is your reluctance to get social services or APS involved. There could be medication that would help your mom. She could be placed and given meds to help relieve her mental issues. My guess is that they could keep her long term or forever, as she needs the meds and can't be trusted to take them on her own.

Wouldn't that be better for her? To be someplace safe and to have a chance at having calm in her life. You are not saving her by letting this continue. Plus, you have your family and yourself to save.

I'm sorry for what you have been through for 20 YEARS It's time to make some changes and regain your lives. Love and hugs, Cattails.
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I agree with the others you need to at least call social services before she harms herself or someone else-bipolar people like having their minds wired that seems normal to them-it is better to get help for them then to have someone else report you to APS -which will happen sooner or later-she does need medicial help and so do you-her actions are not that of a normal person-even calling the police would help but I would start with social services and if they so not act immediatly call APS and report what is going on-it sounds like she tried to kill both of you and you must have suspected something going on if you installed a nannycam-action is need ASAP-two weeks have gone by-that is much too long already
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You are not at fault. Nevertheless, to do any less than what has been recommended in the above post would be irresponsible on your part. Please take action. It's not just your mom's life that is at stake. Please keep us posted. Cattails.
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Please call APS! They will see that she is evaluated!! It sounds as though she should be placed in a care facility. The best thing you can do for her and your family is to follow through with the advice you have been given♥!
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I really feel for you in this most devastating situation. I agree with everything Burned and Jeanne recommended. It truly is out of your control. At this point, Protective Services needs to be called in as was suggested. The mental illness has clearly taken over and it is so destructive both to your mother and to you and your family.

My mother has mental illness, but not to the extent of your mother. I can relate to many of the examples you gave such as resisting medication, constantly lying, saying people steal her things, faking illnesses, etc. Professionals have told me that my mother had resisted medication because she actually "likes" the way she feels and wants to be in control. She has delusional disorder, dementia and narcississtic personality. These all require medication. Long story short, she is in a nursing home - is finally on the right combination of meds which help control the spiraling out of control moods. The meds don't make her a zombie at all - they help make her more "normal".

There have been many occasions that she has almost been sent for evaluation to a mental hospital as the staff were not able to control her outbursts - but is doing much better now with the meds. Protective services were called in on my mother's case through Elder Services. They were a lifesaver for me and saved my sanity. I know they could help you too. I know it is gut-wrenching going through this - and they might recommend guardianship through the State; where a guardian will be appointed to take over her care. And that is OK too - something like this is beyond your control. By calling Protective Services you are taking care of your mother by allowing others to take over in what is a most serious situation that only professionals are qualified to handle. It's not pleasant, but it is necessary. Protective services "told" me I needed to talk to a therapist - they were insistent and I am glad they were. My children came with me as this effected all of us; and it was the best thing I ever did. Blessings and prayers to you. Take care and lots of hugs
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Did you get anymore answers? I have a very similar situation. I have been searching for an answer for years and feel I have gotten no where.

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That is a very sad and serious diagnosis. We know much more about how the brain works now than we did a generation ago, and we have, in general, a more humane attitude. But we are far from having cures or even good treatments. And when we do have drugs that can help, they only help when they are taken consistently -- something the mentally ill have a hard time doing.

1. This is not your fault. None of it. The disease is not your mother's fault. And while it is easy to think that her behavior is her fault, and not taking her pills is her fault, I do not know enough about what goes on in a malfunctioning brain to say that for sure. But I am absolutely certain it is not your fault.
2. Medical science, social science, the caring professions, society at large -- none of these really knows how to deal with this kind of mental illness. How can you, and individual with love but no special insights or training, be expected to know how to deal with it? Love is not enough, or there would be only a fraction of the problems mental illness causes now.
3. At one time we institutionalized people with these kinds of diseases. And then we decided that violated their "civil rights" (and incidentally cost a lot of taxpayer money) and so we let them all out, and generally are reluctant to put others in. But we have not come up with lots of viable alternatives. This, too, is not your fault.
4. In my opinion, this is not a responsibility you should feel obligated to take on. I would definitely not seek guardianship if I were in your situation. I would not be qualified to handle it. I doubt that you are.

She is not only a danger to herself, but has demonstrated a threat to your well-being. I mean a physical threat, as well as the obvious emotional torment.

Please report her to Adult Protective Services. I'm not sure what power they will have to do something but I think that is a place to start. You are not equipped to handle this. See what they can do.

And I agree with burnedncaringst -- you, your husband, and your children deserve some counselling. You have gone through some traumatic experiences.

Again, none of this is your fault. No guilt, please.
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She need full eval this is not ur mom and she is off ur meds and if you have her poa then u can get help force her in psych hold for at least 72 hrs which is the maximum they allow and yes if she is that paranoid called social services and adult protective services...may seem cruel even tho you love her but not in the way she is now but who she was u need to hold on those memories. You need to do this and get the support of ur lackluster brothers and if they ignore ur pleas then fight it on ur own just shows where they stand. in this case you won't regret but its necessary and a must if you want ur own family to improve...and after i suggest u seek counseling to deal with the stress. There is no way she is of sound mind...sending prayers ur way:)
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