I am one of three daughters. My sisters and I have a mother who has suffered from schizophrenia for nearly 30 years. I was 9 years old when my mother was committed under the mental health act (we are in NZ), my younger sisters were 8 & 5. We all remember the day we accompanied our mother to the psychiatric hospital, and were left in the 'care' of mental health patients while we could hear our mum screaming in protest as she was held down and given mediation to sedate her. Needless to say she had been very unwell for nearly 18 months and things were dire - we were malnourished & not properly looked after simply because our mum was too unwell to be able to look after us adequately. The day after she was committed, we went to live with our dad.
Over the years she was in and out of hospital, but it wasn't until I reached the age of 21 that I had to do what I had been dreading - I had to have my mother committed. A young psychiatrist who had seen mum when I accompanied her to an appointment previously had told her "I am confident you have grown out of your illness [acute paranoid schizophrenia] so I am going to take you off your medication". Mum was overjoyed, she didn't believe anything was wrong with her anyway. When she left the room, I told the doctor he was making a big mistake . . . The day he came with the mental health team, he could barely look me in the eye, particularly when I confronted him and said "I told you this would happen".
Having to do that for my mum was the most difficult thing I have ever had to do and it broke my heart when she turned to me and said through all of the fractured thoughts in her mind, "Oh Angie, what have you done?".
After this relapse, she was well for 12 years. This was a blessing and the longest time she had been stable for. She had a far better social life than I did, she was a patient advocate, she took classes, volunteered in charity shops, went to Church . .. over an 18 month period, she slowly began to isolate herself. In 2009 I had to go down that road again. Things have never been the same for my mum, she hasn't been able to regain the confidence and support networks that she had during those 12 years of being stable. I have recently had to have her committed again, and much to my sadness & dread, I have recently learned that as people who suffer from schizophrenia get older, they relapse more and more frequently over time. There is an added issue now, my mum has diabetes and had been taking metformin for a number of years, but now requires insulin as her pancreas is no longer producing it. She does not comprehend this and is refusing to have insulin. I now worry that I will go around to see her one day and find her either in a diabetic coma, or worse.
I am struggling to find a balance now. I am the only one who lives in the same town as my mum and although my sisters help as much as they can, it falls to me to attend meetings etc because I live here. I am finally reaching out. I need to talk to other people with families (I am married with two young boys) who have a family member with schizophrenia. I need ideas on how to find a balance . .. Also to talk to children of parents with schizophrenia. It's hard. *sigh*
I wish that I could let you speak with my father actually.
How surprised he was when I showed up at about five in the morning telling him that I was being haunted by the devil, which I was, probably should've kept that to myself, oh well, live and learn right.
I don't know why schizophrenics always seem compelled to keep it a secret, how could they bottle it up like that, well, unless they were being threatened of course, but that would cause paranoia.
From what I understand it's very common to keep their symptoms to themselves. I guess in a way it's an issue of pride - for my mother, at least.
I will never turn my back on my mum, she gave birth to me. It has been a long, hard road and my sisters and I have found that over time our relationship with our mum is constantly shifting, but ultimately she is our mum and the only one we will ever have. She didn't choose to have schizophrenia.
Thanks. She has had a sh*t of a life, I would love for her to have a repeat of those 12 glorious years. Part of the problem is that she has never once spoke of her illness, or admitted that she has schizophrenia and I can understand why she hasn't, there is a stigma attached to people with mental illness which is so wrong! I explained it to my nearly 6 year-old son, who loves his Nana - "Nana is just like you & I, only her brain doesn't work as it should sometimes and she needs her medicine to help her brain work properly". He has visited her in the unit and has made things to take to her. I have fought for her and defended her most of my life and as tempting as it is sometimes to turn my back on her (I will admit that), I never would, because what she has been through is far more stressful.
I think it's great that you are open about schizophrenia, it really is. I used to try and get my mum to talk about it but she never has/never will.
I almost feel like I am reading my own life as I read ur post. I am the middle child, the one that is in one town over. My siblings live about 4 hours away. My mother and I have always had a strained relationship and with her most recent relapse it has given me the chance toREALLY learn about her disease. I now know what I always thought was her personality was really part of her disease that has stolen my mother. Growing up she was such a strong woman, she had to be....raising 3 kids on her own. But when I was 10 she had her first break down. Hallucinations, delusions....then she was controlled for years and then had another episode in which she was hospitalized again. I was 15. She has been maintained on meds and doing well since. But just this week I had to have her put back in the hospital. Unfortunitely, this is the worst one yet. Feeling sad and angry that someone especially one that has given her life to God has to suffer like this!
How are you coping? It's so hard having to do that for a family member, particularly when they are so ill and don't see the need to get well. My mum has been lucky this time and the last time (2 years ago) as I guess because she has such an extensive history of mental illness, I just notice the first signs that she hasn't been taking her meds and I can contact the mental health team, and they take her to hospital, rather than the previous times when she would be wandering the streets, barely able to string a coherent sentence together, turning on strangers and accusing them of following her and of being detectives, talking to people who aren't there . .. I'm digressing! I hope you're doing ok, make sure you take time for your family, have some space, it's a hard situation (and very emotive) to be in.