How to help a crazy person?
January 4, 2010 5:19 PM Subscribe
Parent with mental issues (in Maryland) at end of her rope... how do I help without enabling or having to provide long-term financial support?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
So here's a rough one, I'm posting this anonymously with as much detail as possible, but also with a throwaway email account (firstname.lastname@example.org).
I'm a 30 year old woman who had a rough childhood living with a single mother who was a few crayons short of a full box for much of my life. Starting when I was around 10-11 she started exhibiting behaviors like:
- Thinking people were coming into the house stealing things.
- Thinking there were "shadows" that were evil other worldly beings
- Thinking people were "after her"
As I got older, these fears/issues magnified into:
- Thinking *I* stole her things, for myself or for other people (and I was yelled at for hours for stealing them)
- Thinking that other people were coming into the house and taking things/making things dirty
- Thinking people were "after" her (including relatives)
She began cleaning obsessively, carrying bags of "important things" everywhere and talking/yelling at people who weren't there (not sure if she was thinking they were there or they could hear her, or what) almost all day long. She was very angry almost all the time.
She had trouble maintaining any sort of regular job, but still had some money she had inherited to live on.
I finally left home and the crazyiness at 22 - though it was a bumpy departure. I never got the chance to go to college because my grades were destroyed in high school, but have become relatively successful in life by most standards.
The mother continued to call on almost a daily basis for some years until about a year ago I told her I couldn't speak to her anymore because her craziness was too much for me to deal with. Haven't spoken to her much since. Been much happier, overall.
Now, she's gotten back in touch with me and I suspect she has met the end of the line when it comes to money and will be asking me for help.
If I give her money, I know there will be no point when she is "back on her feet". She's mentally ill PLUS desperate the way people who have no money are desperate. I don't think she is capable of holding down a job, and I don't think in this economy she would even be someone that anyone would hire over anyone else.
I am torn between the guilt/obligation of family and not wanting to be involved or in any way giving up my hard-earned money to a crazy person who made my life hell (though I'm sure she couldn't help it.)
Is there something in between? Can I use this "rock bottom" to force her into some sort of mental hospital where she can get some help? How much does that sort of thing cost? I don't know what she would be diagnosed with specifically, but I'm pretty darn sure she's not right in the head.
Before she lost her marbles, she was actually a very intelligent, lively person who worked in politics and for a relatively famous author. She was not always "crazy".
Are there any services in Maryland that I can point her to for support instead of just giving her a handout? Or mental health places that deal with this sort of thing?