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Is it OK to let my mother-n-law stay w/us because she's scared someone is hurting her, or is that giving into the illness?

By March 30, 2009 - 10:13am
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My MIL has been diagnosed with schizophenia and started her medication, but within the last few weeks has be wanting to be with someone constantly,is it okay for us to let her do this? And is a person with schizophernia able to care for child if she can not be trusted to care for herself? Does anyone have any advice or opinons, thx.

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My SIL took my MIL home last night even though she was told that she is not to be alone with the little girl. She seems to think she is okay wth her. I have told her over and over again that she should not be taking care of her. My seems as if my SIL doesn't want to take on another issue with her mom so she is let her keep the little girl as a companion (not as a daughter). I know that she does not want to tell her mother that she can not take care of her, but I know that eventually someone is going to see that is not the best place for her to be. I feel it will seriously affect her(the little girl's) mental health in the future. If she is told these lies by "her mom" how will shw ever know the truth. I feel completly helpless. I know that it will tear us appart because I'm not going to support my MIL having Guardinship at all even if there is an improvement, because her can always stop taking her meds. I know it is just a movies but I always think of A Beautiful Mind the part with the baby in tub, it's scarey. Also my SIL won't even leave her childern with her mom, so why is it okay for her to take care of one? I don't know.

And yes currently two of their cousins are diagnosed with schizophenia and my MIL aunt killed herself because of the illness years ago.

April 6, 2009 - 9:25am

Well just as i was feeling a little relieved i was told that schizophernia runs in the family. Does this mean my husband and childern are at risk? How and when would I know if they had it? My husband just turned 30 would we already know if he was schizopranic?

April 6, 2009 - 8:25am

Amberlee, I am so relieved for you. I'm very happy that you were able to attend one of her psychologist's meetings and that you came away with some understanding and some guidelines. It must help so much to know that she's not to be alone with the little girl. And perhaps it will help your husband come to terms with the fact that his mother is truly struggling with an illness right now and that it can't be ignored or denied. Those are the first steps to figuring out true solutions.

Please allow me to echo Susan's comment about your being a guardian angel for this little girl. Clearly you are in her life for a reason, and the fact that you stood up to the challenge speaks volumes about who you are inside.

April 3, 2009 - 4:11pm

I just wanted to update. I attended one of her psychologist meetings. He informed us that at least for the next month she is not to be alone with the little girl. The changed some meds. and next month we will talk about guardianship. That was a big weight off my shoulders that it came from the doctor and not me. He also addressany other concerns about her recent behaviors to let me know that it was normal. I think that the talk really helped me to understand her and will help my relatioship with her. Although I do still have long terms corcerns for the little girl I will give it a month and see what happens with the med changes before I take any further action. Thank you all for your advice. I will stay in touch.

April 3, 2009 - 9:02am


I wonder if you and your husband would benefit from a trip to see your MIL's counselor? Of course he/she would not be able to talk about your MIL specifically, due to confidentiality. The point of your visit would be simply to understand schizophrenia and to get some insight on how to work with someone who has it. This might help your husband deal with his denial, as well.

Here are a few books you might be interested in checking into. They all have reviews on Amazon.com from people who have read them. I tried to pick ones that have a family or loved-one emphasis. Your local library may have them as well.

Surviving Schizophrenia: A Manual for Families, Patients, and Providers
By E. Fuller Torrey


What Amazon says about it: "Since its first publication in 1983, Surviving Schizophrenia has become the standard reference book on the disease and has helped thousands of patients, their families and mental health professionals. In clear language, this much–praised and important book describes the nature, causes, symptoms, treatment and course of schizophrenia and also explores living with it from both the patient and the family's point of view. This new, completely updated fifth edition includes the latest research findings on what causes the disease as well as information about the newest drugs for treatment and answers to the questions most often asked by families, consumers and providers."

Be sure to scroll down the page and read the consumer reviews, which are written by real people, most of whom have dealt with mental illness in the family.

Here's another book to consider:
I Am Not Sick I Don't Need Help
By Xavier Amador


Apparently, about 50% of people with schizophrenia don't understand that they are ill and need treatment. Here's an excerpt of what one reader said about this book:

"Xavier Amador has performed a tremendous service for families and therapists by translating the research on insight into mental illness into a highly readable and very practical book. Family members and therapists who read this will find their frustration with a "non-compliant" consumer melting away to be replaced with empathy and compassion, qualities that will enable them to begin laying the groundwork for a cooperative relationship with their loved one/client. Step-by-step methods for developing that relationship are clearly laid out, making this one of the most helpful, hopeful books to come along in a long time for those who treat or live with a mentally ill person. I Am Not Sick ... adds to the number of excellent books written for families of the mentally ill, and, in my opinion, tops the list. I just wish it had been available 20 years ago when my sister became ill. I am convinced that she would be much better off today if we had had access to this information."

And one more:

When Someone You Love Has A Mental Illness: A Handbook For Family, Friends and Caregivers
By Rebecca Woolis


"This is not one of the many books on "understanding" [a] serious mental illness. This book is a step-by-step guide to more successful interpersonal relationships between family and patients. No doctor or therapist will ever give you these essential tools, because therapists needn't live a life with your loved one - and may not even know what that life entails in a real and daily way. My daughter is a bipolar patient, diagnosed in 1981. Using this book, I have for the first time negotiated a crisis while knowing what to do and maintaining communication with her throughout the crisis. It is the book I always knew I needed. There is much more to serious mental illness than symptoms and medicine. This is the only book I found that addresses the "more." "

Hang in there. We are here and will help with anything we can.

April 1, 2009 - 8:43am

Okay thanx so much i will check these out

March 31, 2009 - 2:47pm

I'll look into some book resources, and be sure to check out the website Susan C. mentioned above: schizophrenia.com - http://www.schizophrenia.com/coping.html

I'll get back you later tonight! :)

(wow! Four kids! I just have one toddler and he's a handful!)

March 31, 2009 - 2:37pm

My kids are 11,9,6,&3. They are not affected because they are never left with her. They know shes sick. I am trying to find a good book or something about it and the best ways to recat to her when she says these thing or maybe comfort her. Thx for caring I do need any advice I can get

March 31, 2009 - 2:31pm

Hi Amberlee,

I just wanted to respond, and offer some more support for you. I am a SAHM also, and am wondering how old your kids are? Do you feel like they are being effected, in the same way as your MIL's 4 yo niece that she has custody of?

I agree with the other women who have posted and have given you great advice. Contact the girl's pediatrician and school, to let them know the situation. Susan's suggestion to write notes "report style" is so important...it takes out the emotion and provides dates, times and observable behaviors of your MIL...and is something that you can share with these professionals upon their request.

Seek out a support group to learn more about the disease will help you and your husband as well. It is understandable that he is in denial, but he can no longer afford to be. He needs to step-it-up and be "present" in all meaning of the word (mentally and physically) for his mom, for you, and for the rest of his family. This means not only understanding the basics of this mental illness, but also what his role is in helping and providing support.

This mental illness/disease can be scary, and your MIL is acting appropriately by definition of the disease. I hope with medication and other treatments that she will have less symptoms of this disease, but in the meantime, it sounds like your priority is exactly where it needs to be: finding an advocate and support for the little girl.

Please let us know how you are doing.

March 31, 2009 - 12:59pm

My MIL has stay with us off and on and yes i do feel safer with her here but I'm busy baseball appt. thing like that and she does not like to leave the house. When she is here she still does the samething wondering the house checking locks windows waking me up to tell me someones down stairs, she even threw away the little girls food one time and just said she doesn't eat this at home, it was scambled eggs. When i start saying things to her like don'rt throw away her food, or if I say that i don't belive that peopple can control your thoughts she seem to get upset and want to leave. As for my husband this is hard for him I think he is still in denile. He does get upset when she throws my food out, but for some reason it is only me she says these things to about mind control. Before we got her help and she was staying with us she would spend hours in the bathroom yelling and fighting with no one, I mad emy husband listen to it on the phone so he would believe me. Little by little he is seeing it but not like i do I have spent alot of time with her because I am a SAHM and he works.

March 31, 2009 - 10:17am
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