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Confused...what do I do?

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gender: female
Region: Lower Mainland BC

Confused...what do I do?

Unread postby sardine » 31 Jul 2013

I'm new here. I just feel like I need to talk. It's hard to know where to start...like there's too much to say.
I'm the eldest of 4 kids. My mother is a paranoid schizophrenic and has been for over 20 years. I'm in my late 20's and for all that time my mother was sick, I was the one taking care of my siblings...fixing lunches, helping with homework, writing notes, and signing permission slips because our mom was either working or not doing anything at home. We got so used to it that it was our "normal" so we never questioned our mom's mental health.

I live in my own space in her home with my husband and I'm growing extremely resentful of this situation. She is now unable to work, which was basically her life, so now she has nothing to do. She won't see family or friends, she won't go out shopping or participate in any hobbies. She just won't do anything. My husband is supportive, but my mother's increasing paranoia and verbal aggression towards strangers is taking a toll on my siblings and I. If we were to move out, she'd literally be all on her own. I have such guilt over that, but at the same time I feel so much anger and resentment towards her for making us feel like we're her parents. A part of me understands it's her illness, but I just can't seem to help this negativity from seeping in.

It's hard to explain, but none of us ever had a close relationship with our mom. We rarely saw her, and when we did we were making her take her meds, making her open her mouth to make sure she wasn't hiding anything in her cheeks/under the tongue. Who told us to do this? Another family member who was rarely there. But of course we listened, because that's an adult and you listen to adults. Mom's doctors never seemed to worry about us, but I assume it's because that family member gave them the impression that he was there to support us too.

This is way too long, I know. I'd love to hear any advice. I've never joined a community about mental illness before, and I wish I'd thought to sooner. We are reaching breaking point and I just about feel like giving up.

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Re: Confused...what do I do?

Unread postby AndrewBCSS » 12 Aug 2013

Hi Sardine,
I'm sorry I didn't reply to your post earlier. I'm Sophia, the moderator here. I can help connect you with services and information. I'm not sure if it existed when you were young, but there are now kids and teen programs for folks in your situation. It's definitely a gap in service, service providers for adult mental illness treatment don't have a mandate to help young people, so they don't ask, and parents and family are reluctant to bring up the kids needs because they are worried about social services apprehending kids for neglect.

I'm so sorry you had to cope on your own all this time. Here are some tools you can consider:
If your mom is still well enough to do this, filling out a ulysses agreement with her might be a good idea. It's basically a crisis plan, spelling out who does what if her health gets bad. Usually it's filled out with the person, her family or supporters and her doctor, so everyone can be on the same page. If you are looking to shift responsibilities, it might be a good way to start the discussion and clarify what you are and are not willing to do going forward for your mom to everyone involved. It also opens the door for her treatment team to plan for when you are not living with your mother. They may look at her as being able to be stable on her own, but not realizing that she is actually not on her own and without you will need additional supports. If she's ill enough to need supported housing, now might be the time to do that. You can expect her and maybe your other family to be a bit resistant to you changing your role in the family, but if you are gentle but firm, that should settle down. Here's a book I've found personally helpful in understanding the process of changing an 'overfunctioning' role in a family: http://harrietlerner.com/pages/dance_of_anger.htm (pretty much any of her books have this content, and they should be in the local library too.)

She might also need a medication review to make sure she's on what she needs to be, and is taking the correct dose etc...

She might also need to be connected with a mental health clubhouse or other social resource.

The BC Schizophrenia Society (who I work for) has family support coordinators in the lower mainland who can also help you get connected with services. The website also has a lot of good information for families. Here's the coordinator contact info: http://www.bcss.org/category/branches/ http://www.bcss.org/branches/bcss-provi ... tact-list/

Here's the info on Ulysses agreements: http://www.bcss.org/programs/2009/12/ul ... r-support/ and some other good family info: http://www.bcss.org/category/resources/ ... y-members/ http://www.bcss.org/category/resources/ ... y-of-care/

Sorry again for taking so long to get back to you!
Andrew Stewart
Operations Manager
British Columbia Schizophrenia Society
A reason to hope. The means to cope.

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