Help! My mom's crazy!

back General information:
Gender: Woman

Background information:

My parents always seemed to have a great relationship until I started college and things started to appear to me that they had never really had a good relationship, or at least for a while. My mom found out that my dad had been looking at porno sites on the internet and possibly cheating on her, and she left him when he wouldn't admit to it. They tried counseling, but dad wouldn't say much while mom spilled her tears and guts. Now, my mom thinks that the counselor is stalking her. He's a pastor. She believes that he runs what's on TV and the radio because they all relate to her. He is not stalking her-in fact, he's staying so far away from her that he put a restraining order on her. My mom has always been rational and a very religious person, so I don't understand. She is menopause age, but I think most of her depression comes from her general mistrust of everyone and also of technology. I think she needs help, but she is refusing to go to a counselor or back to church. I'm scared and worried for her.


What do you think is happening to my depressed mom? What can I do to help her? How can I stay mentally healthy too while worrying about her?

Andy's answer:


Dear young woman,

Your mother's thinking that the counselor is responsible for what's coming through the TV and radio is a clue-in to some serious mental illness. The term "paranoid schizophrenic" comes to mind. She needs help, and the sooner she gets it, the better. The only way you can get her to be checked by a mental health professional without her consent is by having her committed, which can only happen legally if she shows indications of hurting herself or someone else. In which case you can call the police, and they can Baker Act her, or whatever that law is called in your state. Short of that, you can try other family members reaching out to her, perhaps in an "intervention" format, which simply means all at once, in a loving yet confronting session. You may want to consult with your pastor to help you organize this. A true paranoid reaction to an intervention however, is that it just confirms their suspicions, but still may be worth a try.

Why is this happening to your mother now? Who knows? Maybe a "flip-out" response to the break up of her marriage, and a very indirect, psychotic way of dealing with devastating feelings she simply couldn't handle. Eventually, with some help of medications perhaps, she could come around to feel these things without being so devastated by them. Till then, you can only do your best to care for her. Frankly, it doesn't look like an easy road ahead.

Take heart that you can at least make good loving effort to get her the help she needs, even though the outcome may be out of your hands. I think you need to gather your own support so that you're not taking all this on by yourself. This may sound cruel, but I think it applies: "If someone is drowning, jump in to save them, but if they start drowning you, push them away". I know we're talking about your mother, but you must be sure you keep yourself safe and supported while you reach out to help her. Otherwise there will be two victims.

Good luck.