She repeatedly changes the locks on the doors. She will post "no trespassing" notes on the front door when she leaves. Recently, she asked my brother to change the heating vent covers in the house. He forgot to put the cover back and came back the next day and she had taped a paper over the hole. On the side of paper facing inside the hole she had written "I know you're there you sick perverts".
She's suspicous and critical of everyone.
She told my brother that she thinks people are "zapping" her in the middle of the night- which is causing spider veins in her legs...She's had them for as long as I can remember.
I am so worried about her, but don't know what to do. Please help.
Of course, she doesn't believe there is anything wrong with her, and refuses help. Also her paranoia waxes and wanes, sometimes she goes through periods when she is completely fine, but I think there are underlying paranoid thoughts during this time; she just doesn't act up.
As for your mom, If there is any way to get her to go to a doctor or hospital, take her with the help of your family. This is the best thing to do, however very difficult for paranoid people to accept.
I just read some things on a website that maybe helpful in terms of your own interaction with her:
Sorry this is so long. Hope it's helpful in some respects.
I am not a professional. I am a nursing student who recently finished a psychiatric rotation at a county mental hospital. I am also an individual with a family member who for years has suffered from delusional thinking that involves paranoia and conspiracies. We are close and I see her daily. She is distrustful of most professional assistance so much of her care falls on me and the rest of our immediate family. After almost 20 years of various approaches to dealing with this family member I found many of the conversational techniques I learned in my mental health class and clinical rotation to be infinitely helpful.
I'll try to list those for you in a moment. Before that let me say that nanojath makes a good point about how much of this advice, including mine, should be taken with a grain of salt. The sad and tricky part of mental illness is how diverse the issues are and how relatively new we are as a culture in dealing successfully with them. Also bear in mind that my advice revolves around my personal experiences with my family member and the people I've worked with at my job in healthcare and my clinical rotation in a mental health facility.
Here are some of the techniques that nurses may use in similar situations:
1. Accept the person's need for the false belief, but indicate you do not share the belief. They must understand you do not view the idea as real.
2. Do not argue or deny the belief. Say things like: "I find that hard to believe," if you say anything directly about the delusion at all. Arguing the delusional ideas serves no useful purpose and impedes any trust in the relationship.
3. Reinforce and focus on reality. Discourage long ruminations about the irrational thinking. Talk about real events and real people. Discussions that focus on the false ideas are purposeless and useless and may aggravate any psychosis.
4. If the person is highly suspicious, promote trust by being honest and keeping any promises you make about anything. Don't ever promise something that may not be able to be fulfilled. Say you don't know if you don't know. Avoid any behavior that might seem threatening. Examples may be physical contact, laughing loudly, whispering to others in the room or competitive activities.
5. Keep stimulus to a minimum. Turn off noisy tv's, talk radio, have relatives that make excessive noise leave. Stress needs to be kept to a minimum when possible.
Basically when my family member goes into one of these phases, there is some triggering event that has happened that is upsetting to her. If I can get her to tell me that event and we can address that, then the delusions subside somewhat. I don't challenge the delusion. I don't ask her to tell me more about the delusion. They're fascinating and tragic, but digging around in them just solidifies them more the next time that delusion comes up. I try to remain calm regardless of what she says - sometimes the delusions is me doing something awful and for years this pained me greatly to hear her say such things. But it is absolutely not about me at all.
For instance, one day she told me after seeing tortillas in her yard that someone else in our family was issuing a death threat to her. It didn't matter that the tortillas had probably been dropped or littered by some random person who was probably walking down her street. She thought it was specific to her. At one time she had a friend that fed his dog tortillas as a snack. That dog died. Even though it had nothing to do with tortillas I think that's where she connected the two. Without denying this threat that she saw as actively real, I asked her to tell me more about what had been happening earlier before she noticed the tortillas. I'm asking her to focus on what we both know is real. Eventually I was able to get out of her that an acquaintance she liked had died a few days earlier. It had nothing to do with tortillas or death threats. It was about her sadness of the loss of someone she knew and her fears of death. We were then able to talk about that.
Distraction is also a huge tool I use when dealing with this family member. I'll ask her to go for a walk with me. The physical activity calms her. The stimulus of the walk distracts her from whatever current problem is creating her need for delusional thinking.
My nursing text book was especially helpful if you want to check it out. It was an easy read, clearly explaining current nursing approaches to mental health: Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing by Mary C. Townsend 5th ed. It's expensive - go to your local medical library or nursing school/med school text book store if you just want to thumb through it.
Perhaps most important: know what your own limits are. You are not responsible for any of this. I know that sounds so simple, but it is so easy to try and take over for someone that is ill. To try and think for them, feel pain for them. And you cannot do that. It takes some personal strength that can seem cruel at times. Nursing school is the most stressful thing I've ever done in my life and often my family member has asked me to sacrifice my time when it was not available. I simply have to tell her: "I'm sorry, but I can't deal with this now." Sometimes this demand that she depend on herself, that I need her to do that, is what she indirectly needs from me to do that.
It is a puzzle. Good luck to both of you and your family. I'm glad he is getting professional support. Don't ignore your own needs. Email is in my profile if my story is at all familiar and we can talk some more.
posted by dog food sugar at 1:05 PM on January 4, 2007 [6 favorites]
I need sample for my PhD research on paranoid personality disorder. Can you help me in this regard and let me know if I could have indepth interviews with your relative or you about the developmental changes in their social behaviour over life time. Can you also find me more subjects suffering from PPD.
Please contact me if you can help.
Waiting for your response,
Thanking you in anticipation,
***this post is edited by moderator *** *** private e-mails not allowed **
Thank you all for your honesty in posting. My mother is the same but it took me 15 years after I left home to begin to understand this. She feels persecuted by her family, regularly tossing around phrases like "you always bully me" with heartfelt venom and anger at any imagined slight. She believes she's the kindest, sweetest, most demure person around, who has been forced by her ungrateful family to learn to "answer back" to maintain her sense of self in this cruel world. She is argumentative and defensive, fast to counterattack any imagined insult with deep and hurtful venom, completely out of proportion to the reality of the conversation. She bears grudges for years based on exaggerated and often completely false beliefs. She has an unshakeable belief in her own views, and any attempt to gently point out evidence or reality is met with even more distrust. She believes her family are constantly "plotting against" her, and if I spend a few minutes alone with my ill father she will find a way to corner me with interrogations about what "complaints" he had about her. She's convinced my dad has cheated on her countless times, sometimes concocting bizarre stories about him having sordid affairs with her sister or the nanny; all completely untrue. All our lives she's tried to convince us that he's bullied her and abused her mentally but she stayed around and sacrificed her life "for the kids sake". What makes this even more difficult is that this is not a consistent behaviour; at times she seems like a normal, loving mom. And then something triggers her and she turns spiteful, paranoid and manipulative. As a child you think you're the one at fault because that's what she drums into your head. But as I grew older the evidence didn't fit and more and more holes in her stories emerged, and slowly I've begun to realise this is all in my mother's head. Now I look at my siblings; outwardly successful, but I know each harbors a childhood filled with issues that I don't believe will ever be fully understood or dealt with.
When I read through all the posts, and read that there is no certain cure and that we'll have to live with it, I broke down to tears (really). It pains me to know that, like all of you, my mother won't ever be the same again. My dad cheated on her four years ago, but then has long since stopped. He's been asking for forgiveness, but then she never forgave him. They were abroad together that time, so then my siblings and I had no clue of what was happening. And it turned out, she's gone extreme in her delusions and suspicion. My dad was compared to a puppy tied tightly on the neck. My mom took all his licenses, his passport, she spat on his food, woke him EVERYDAY at the witching hour by means of punching him on the face, spitting on his face, covering his face with a pillow. A lot more, she threw out their computer from the second floor down to the open road, she loved burning his clothes, his cd's, everything. When they came home, at first, it was sort of normal, then it got worse. The last horrible thing she did was burn the bed where my dad was sleeping on, WHILE he was asleep. I just can't accept it. I just can't. And reading that it's mostly genetic, I have this hunch that my two sisters have got it. As 'young' as they are, they're so negative about everything. And not just negative like it's just their personality, it's not normal. Well, I'll just put my hopes to my Lord, and trust His ways. His ways are always greater than ours.
Thank you to all for sharing your stories. The statistics suggest this affects more men than women but our forum here appears to indicate the opposite. It is comforting to know that this illness is more prevalent than any of us probably realised (certainly growing up). It may even be more prevalent than professionals think.
As a child you suspect something is wrong but because you keep getting told by the one you love and trust the most that you are conniving and flawed and you get blamed for everything you just dismiss the possibility that it is not your fault. You are literally too scared to think when there is constant shouting and arguing all the time. You never have any control. Life is chaotic. You apologise for doing nothing wrong. You grow to believe you are the worst person in the world. You learn to hide your feelings and never express your needs.
Hi there-I have the same issues but with my brother in law. His paranoia is getting worse every day & seems to always be targeted at my husband & I. He is convinced we are always talking about him to anyone that will listen. He will take the most meaningless comment & turn into support for his accusations. He creates scenarios such as my husband talking behind his back to his ex-employer, that my husband has stolen money from his safe, that I have instructed our children to "give him hard time". He will make up elaborate lies & stories to try & catch us & he is an extreme narcissist. My husband is older & always taken care of him since their dad left them when they were kids. He has other issues such as a history of depression & substance abuse. My mother in law is also paranaoid as well as her mother. He refuses to believe there is anything wrong with him & gets very angry if you even suggest this. I really want to cut off all ties with him but my husband feels such an enormous guilt & responsibility where he is concerned & is convinced he is somehow helping him by defending us every day. It really is affecting our marriage.
All of these situations sound much the same as my own and it is comforting to know I am not alone. Only until recently have I pondered the idea that my mother may have some sort of paranoid disorder. Everything adds up, but I can't help but feel extremely guilty for even thinking she might have a mental illness. She always says things like "oh you think I'm crazy too" and "you want to have my put away like everyone else." It is extremely difficult, as I'm sure you are all well aware of. Some days we have normal conversations, good conversations. Other days they are extremely irrational and frustrating. I've learned that I really need to watch what I tell her, because she will think about it and come up with some weird idea. This is hard because she is my mother and I want to tell her everything. (I'm 23 and her only child, she is a single parent and I have never met my father. I just moved away from home about a year ago to go to university which has been a difficult process in itself). Anyway, today I told her that my boyfriend lost his wallet. She went home and phoned me back a couple hours later (she had been drinking, I could tell, and these delusions are magnified and even worse when she drinks) and she basically told me that she thought he was lying and didn't really lose his wallet and that he was just trying to use me for my money. (Because without a wallet I would have to pay for everything). Also this week, I made the mistake of telling her I might be going out with some friends for drinks at the tavern. She then called me back after awhile and told me to be careful. She told someone she knows about something she saw on TV about a drug, and that said person is up to no good and wants to "cause trouble for us." And by cause trouble, the person would somehow send someone to put this drug in my drink. Another top complaint is that her television won't work. Where I live, the analog signal for basic channels or whatever is pretty much obsolete as of recently. She does however get one channel still, but when the channel disappears for a day or two...all hell breaks lose. She is phoning me shouting about it, how people can't get away with that. One time she had a theory that someone in her apartment building had connections with the Hell's Angels and that they went on the roof and twisted the antenna so now her tv won't work.So on top of this I worry about her because she sits at home all day, doesn't have a job or friends or family other than myself. Life for her seems to be extremely miserable. She has some health problems that have always been an excuse for this. There is so much more to say about her. And someone mentioned above about worrying if this was genetic. I too fear this. I am even paranoid right now that she will somehow see this post (even though she doesn't use the internet). Thanks for reading.
I have only recently started reading blogs like these, up to now I thought there was actually something I was missing about my mother’s condition and that it was all my fault that she’s lonely, unhappy and paranoid. But these posts are helping to validate my life, I donl;t feel so alone dealing with this awful, harrowing situation. My mother is 89 and has vascular dementia. - she has always been a bit paranoid, very suspicious and never trusting anyone, very unsociable, nobody is ever good enough to be a friend. She delights in telling people “the truth” about themselves because she is always right and they She can be vindictive and spiteful (this is getting worse as her dementia progresses) and I’m constantly walking on eggshells wondering what will trigger her off again. I could write an epic about my childhood (like everyone on this blog no doubt). She has recently started to talk about people living in her bedroom, tunnelling under the floor, taking her things etc, tells me to shut the door and whisper so they can;t hear, accuses me of being on "their" side if I don;t believe her and wanting to "put her into an asylum" etc etc. She phones me all the time (sometimes in the middle of the night to ask me about these people), she also phoned the police once to tell them her husband was crawling down the road (he died 25 years ago), - It is absolute hell. I feel like I'm living in a kind of limbo waiting for the next drama to happen. She's had numerous appointments with doctors, nurses, psychiatrists, therapists, etc. etc. but they all go away and leave me to deal with it. She refuses to take any medication for her delusions because to her these people are real so how can a pill get rid of them?! She has carers to remind her to take her medication, and to prepare her food (although she manages to get me to do most of this stuff for her ) (her short term memory is very bad now) The delusional ideas are driving me insane because she constantly demands answers and there are no answers. I try to distract her but she won't let it go and keeps on and on at me,. Sometimes she will have a normal conversation, she will do some housework, then out of the blue will start making accusations about people living under her bed or the neighbours stealing things etc. Looking back, I can remember from my childhood that she was always paranoid about neighbours, family etc (so was my father, so they were even stronger together in their distorted beliefs). I always felt that something wasn;t right, but in the end, like most people on this blog, you just believe there's something wrong with you instead and blame yourself for everything wrong in the house. I have always felt guilty and responsible for her happiness and wellbeing etc. I’ve never really been free of her, she has clung to me and looking back I can recall that she would try to turn me against everyone, friends, other family members, doctors, shop assistants, (even my own children at times), but now realise she probably has always been narcissistic and paranoid - I can see why she does this, to ensure my full focus is on her , so that she’s not abandoned and she has a scapegoat to dump all her anger and frustration on. I have given up work for a while to make sure she is getting the right care, because she wants to continue living in her own house (although at times she accuses me of selling her house and that she is living in some kind of care home). I don’t know what the future holds, reading some of these blogs makes me dread what might lie ahead. My only advice to anyone in this situation, If I could change things I would have made sure I carried on working and just trusted the carers to do their best, and that I’m not fully responsible for what has happened to her. I tell myself every day that I’m doing my best, and if that’s not good enough then she should have made a better job of bringing me up - Pass the blame back to where it belongs – I know it doesn;t solve anything but at least it might help to remind yourself you were just a child and had no control over the choices they made with their lives. You need to maintain your identity, because they will try to undermine your life and strip it away from you . Try not to be available or be at their beck and call all hours of the day and night, and harden yourself to the fact they will have to accept whatever help is available, because you can;t make their world perfect for them. No one can. Good luck to us all (and let’s hope we don’t all go the same way!)