I'm not sure who is going to read this, but I would feel grateful for anyone who does, or might have some advice to offer.
This post is partially to ask for advice and assistance or suggestions, and probably part of writing this is just to vent about a situation that makes almost everyone I know feel hopeless.
My father is very mentally disturbed, and has been since my childhood. I'm now almost 32 years old.
What is especially painful about this, is that my father is not getting better. He is 65 years old, and is spiraling downward into a paranoid, vengeful, and psychotic world. Refusal to take medication. Refusal to be hospitalized for treatment.
Years ago, when we were all in family therapy, he was diagnosed as being manic-depressive, schizotypic, with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, and narcissism. He was under the care of a long list of psychiatrists, psychologists, family therapists, etc. and either ultimately refused treatment, or they refused to treat him any longer.
He was in an inpatient facility a few years ago after he punched my younger brother and I had to call the police. My brother was in his mid-twenties at the time, so the fact that any of us are grown up, has not stopped him being abusive in any way. He was released several weeks after inpatient treatment, when he had assured them he was well enough to go home. He wasn't.
My mother has suffered terribly in this, for almost 35 years. She is so beaten down mentally and emotionally that she doesn't know where to turn. I wish her remaining years could be somewhat happy and peaceful. My brothers and I keep coming back to check on her, even living here sporadically the last few years, because we fear for her and though we know we can't make anything better, feel it is our duty to help if we can. The entire family dynamic here is not good, and does not promote independence, especially not for my mother.
So, after many years of problems, here we are at the present day: my father now locks himself in his bedroom, refuses to bathe, is obsessed with Catholicism (even more than when I was a child, and that was bad), is paranoid and keeps talking about microchips being implanted in people's brains. The line between fantasy and reality has always been blurred with him, we have never known what is truth and what is not, for certain. When he talks, he makes little sense...even less than he did a few years ago.
Right now, he has withdrawn from everyone in his family, and instead spends hours a day (and most of the night) on the computer. He barely sleeps, shows almost no emotions except for anger and paranoia, and chain smokes at least two packs a day...with the windows closed, because he's afraid to open them.
He exhibits so many signs of someone who has schizophrenia, I'm wondering if at this point he has full-blown schizophrenia. But, from what I've read, schizophrenics are not violent, normally(?) My father most definitely has violent tendencies, maybe not enough to kill, but he has no problem getting in someone's face and at least shoving. The police had to be called a month or so ago because he tried to throw me down the stairs. My husband attempted to restrain him, and my father turned things around and wanted to press charges against my husband. The officer told my husband and father that they would both have to be taken away if one of them pressed charges, so the issue was dropped.
We just don't know how to deal with it anymore, he thinks my husband is "out to get him" and currently wants to file for a restraining order against him, and I am afraid somehow it might go through, because my father can look...or pretend to be well, somehow, if it suits his needs. My father told me he is going to destroy my marriage because he says I destroyed his as a child, "You made your mother take your part." (He's referring to when my mother would take my side after he would be abusive toward me, physically or emotionally.) He has tried to cause a great amount of damage, for absolutely no reason. I'm 32 years old, and he is still trying to control my life. If he can't control my life directly, he tries to take things away from me in my periphery, to terrorize me. But, I am not the only one. He does the same thing to my mother, or brothers, and is adept at financial abuse. He is so good at controlling and manipulation, I've never heard of anyone better.
He has tried to turn family member against family member, and makes it a game of choosing sides, all the while saying one of us...or all of us...are against him in some sort of way. We have never had any agency on our side, and my mother has been afraid to divulge how bad things were out of fear to officials. She can not financially survive on her own, and that she has stated was her reason for staying with him so many years.
My mother does not feel she can do anything at all, even ask him to take his medication. He was in treatment, but has not seen someone in years...I don't know how he still has prescriptions, but he does. But, I'm afraid the prescriptions he has are not for what he currently has....
If anyone has any experience with an ill parent, or has been in a similar situation with some advice to add, I'd much appreciate it. I'm not frantic about this. The terrible truth is that what I have written here is "normal"...or, it's just commonplace, at least in our family.
Our extended family, our friends, the neighborhood, all know about this--because there's no way to hide it at this point, even if we tried, out of shame. Most of my friends have suggested I disown my family. That's something I'm trying to avoid.
If there's anyone out there who has gone through it...my heart goes out to you.
I am so sorry that you and your family are going through this. Your ordeal sounds alot like what one of my cousins has been going through for years. Her father has alot of issues as well and unfortunatly it has gotten to point where they haven't spoken for over a year, she also has 3 young kids he doesn't see. I hope it doesn't have to get to this point for you but if it does I'm sorry. Is there any way that your mother could leave? Would it possible for her to live with you or one of your siblings, even for just a while until she found a place to live? I know she may be afraid or feel guilty but if he is violent she and all of you need to distance yourselves, then assess what, if anything, can be done about your dad. Again I am so sorry that you have had to deal with this. I wish nothing but the best for you and your family.
Thank you very much for your kindness, and taking the time to respond, Niknak77.
In response to what you wrote, I really do wish that my mother would leave my father, or would have left years ago when he refused treatment. It breaks my heart. My husband and I have offered for my mother to come live with us. She won't make a commitment to do that. It's almost as if she puts herself continually in a martyr-type of position, or one where she gets hurt, and us children feel its our duty to save her because she won't save herself. I've known things that my father has done to her, personal betrayals and what most people would consider unforgivable behavior. The last time I stopped talking to my father was when my mother was battling colon cancer. My father had an affair with someone online from another country, and then called a "family meeting." In front of my brothers and husband, my father asked my mother if the woman he was having an affair with could move in to their house. He then told my mother he was going to marry this other woman as soon as my mother died.
That's the type of stuff I'm talking about.
My mother doesn't like living with my father, or being in the same house with him, she speaks every day about how horrible it is. She says she hates him, she can never forgive him....But, when the opportunity is there to go, she can't.
There was always something standing in her way. Sometimes, the thing standing in her way has been herself.
She lost both her parents tragically as a teenager, within a very short period of time. Since that time, I knew she longed for a family. Not to say that she settled for my father, but in many ways she did--she married in her 30s (which was a little late at the time, not nowadays), and had me, her oldest at 33. I think she felt if she didn't marry my father, her chance for a family wouldn't be there.
I think it's terrible that my father capitalized on that--the fact that she needed love, and a family.
I'm sorry to hear about your cousin, it's sad when families have to be cut apart, but I think I'm facing that over here, too. I have a twelve year old daughter, and though I don't want to deprive her of a relationship with my parents, especially my mother, I just don't know how it's going to work, otherwise. My daughter hasn't seen the far extreme instances of my father's illness involving shoving and the like, but I know it doesn't matter, no matter how much I've tried to shelter her, I'm sure she's seen or heard something. And I feel terrible for that. I never wanted a child of mine to be exposed to that.
Ideally, I'd like my mother or brother to come visit my husband, daughter, and me. But, my father has it so that there's only one car now at the house (he refused to fix his car, just left it on the front lawn). He controls now where my mother drives, and when he's in a particularly nasty mood will confiscate the keys. He definitely wouldn't hand over the keys if he knew they were visiting me, which is so sad.
I am sorry your mother seems unable or unwilling to leave for her own sake. I am sure that it can't be easy for her no matter what he did to her. It's too bad your daughter has to be exposed to all this. I hope your mom is able to visit you sometime. I hope that things soon improve, even if just a little.
Thanks Niknak77 again, I wish all those things, too. Your kindness is appreciated.
Phoenix1, thanks for taking the time to comment. I'm not sure what the laws are here in NY state for a person being committed, that's something my mother, brothers and I have not been able to find out much information about.
I understand that there are laws in place to protect people, to make sure that they're not committed without cause, but it just seems difficult to get most any adult into a hospital if it's not their free-will decision these days. My father is most definitely ill, and I believe he does need at least some sort of treatment to help control or rein in some of his tendencies.
It seems that the person has to be a threat to themselves or others(?), but as to just how much of a threat I'm not sure, and I'm also not sure if there has to be involvement from a psychiatrist, who recommends it.
After speaking with my mother this morning, it seems the last psychiatrist my father saw was when he was an inpatient for a few weeks in a psychiatric hospital, close to ten years ago. He did regularly see a local psychologist for a time after that, but stopped treatment.
I don't think my mother would disagree to my father being evaluated, or hospitalization, in principle, but if anything upsets the apple cart too much she might disagree. She is fairly intent on "keeping the peace" or avoiding the confrontations that stem from my father's episodes.
If a doctor recommended hospitalization to my father in person, there probably wouldn't be an issue. But, if a family member was put into a position of being involved at all, or having to tell him, he would take it as a personal attack and it would turn into a confrontation...and escalate. He would also certainly do everything in his power to manipulate his way out of going by putting pressure on my mother, for her to side with him, and tell the doctor there's nothing wrong with him.
Would you, (or someone here reading) happen to have any information on what is necessary for a person to be committed for evaluation? I know I can't do much personally, but perhaps I could share some information with my mother.
It is best to speak with his doctors with regards to this; they will be able to tell you the specifics and depending upon the delicate situation, may be able to push the evaluation forward(if deemed warranted).
It may help to write down a list of questions, so you don't leave anything out.
My mother is very much like your father although I don't think it's as serious.
She has always been paranoid. Her second husband worked for the phone company. When they divorced she was convinced that he was tapping the line. Later, she was convinced that there was some sort of conspiracy at her church involving a pastor's secret lust for her. I knew people she worked with and they would tell me that my mother was very sweet but paranoid and defensive.
Finally, she got cancer and the chemo she was on made it worse. She had a blood clot in her neck and she was ranting like a crazy person. Screaming, talking about the "Christian zealots" that are plotting against her, taking over the hospital and if I leave the hospital even to go to the bathroom, the would kill her.
During this ordeal, I flew in from LA, my sister was my mother's surrogate and she lived here. Against the advice of my mom's hemotologist, who wanted to treat the clot, monitor the chemo, my sister had my mother Baker-acted and placed in the psych ward of the cancer hospital. They gave her haldol which made her seize. That was probably the most extreme I've seen her.
She is still paranoid. If she can't find the "garlic power", somebody came in and stole it. Who? I ask. They, the zealots. Who are the zealots? The people from her church who hate her because she is spanish, the spanish people who hate her because she prefers to speak english instead of spanish, my sister, her ex-husband (who's probably dead by now). I asked her what she thought made her so important that people would stalk her, torment her, steal from her? And then she just attacks me for not believing.
I know your pain because I'm there and I don't really have any sound advice to give you except to turn to anybody in your family who can support you, advise you during this time. I had some family to turn to but both my siblings are useless and my father is dead.
I'm sorry to hear of your problems too, TopamaxKillsMe. I feel for you, it is so hard to watch a family member be in that place, be that ill. There are some days when I think my father *might* have it together, if I look in his eyes and he seems healthy and rational...and for that one small second it makes me happy beyond measure. But, then it's back to the same thing. It's just an illusion, of sorts. A hint of who my father was, or who he should have been, maybe.
As an outsider to your situation, I can say from the outside looking in that your mom really does have issues *nods, and it's similar out-there types of fears/paranoia to what my father mentions. I don't know about the things that make your mother paranoid, but my father has been harping on his favorite topics since my childhood.
I don't know if your mother does this too, but if nobody agrees with my father, friend or stranger alike, he tries to prove to them why he believes the things he does. I know not all paranoid people do that. Most of the time they'll believe something and don't feel the need to prove it. My father tries. He'll start talking and trying to prove it through things people said, or did, or things he watched on tv, or books he read...but it goes in circles and circles and never really makes sense. Just like he has a whole bunch of hunches that he wants to be true (but they're not), so in his mind he has to make everyone around him believe they're true, and connect the dots.
As an update on my situation: I've barely talked to my father at all since the last time I posted here. I think I called the house once, and he hung up on me. But, that was the extent of it.
It doesn't look like anyone's in a hurry to hunt down his former doctors, everybody's back into the "just let sleeping dogs lie" mode, mainly my mother, who would be the one best suited to finding his doctors...I think. It's a shame.
I'm still heart-sick over my mother being in this situation, but I've pulled back some from her. I realize just seeing her with him is hurting, and is effecting me at this point. And, I have to concede that I really don't understand, and maybe won't ever understand, our particular family dynamic.
My brother has been doing better since he's distanced himself. I'm doing that some, and it's helping. I feel bad, but don't know what else I could do at this point.