Mental Health Dilemma

Health, well-being, medicine, aging.

What to do with a mentally ill family member??

Seek intervention now.
11
61%
Put my head in the sand, wait until things escalate, then seek intervention.
4
22%
Force the daughter in to deal with it.
3
17%
Hope for the best, and do nothing.
0
No votes
YOUR solution **added in a post.
0
No votes
 
Total votes: 18

crash 99
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Mental Health Dilemma

Post by crash 99 »

Unfortunately, this is going to end up being a "book." sorry

I have noticed of late that there are a number of posters on here that:
A) Have been directly effected by mental health issues (be it personally, or family/friends.)
B) Seem to think that they know what these poor souls need though they have little or no experience with them.

In saying that, Here is my story and my dilemma:

Story:
A number of years ago, my Aunt came to live with our family, after finally being diagnosed with schizophrenia. (which I might add, took a very long time.. She finally had to be arrested because she posed a danger to society at large and subsequently was placed in care, to get her on medications, and "balanced.")

Throughout the years, she has maintained very well, until well meaning family members step in and tell her that she is doing so well, that she should stop her meds. ( :smt013 <--Me) Generally it would take 2-4 weeks before we would have to have her arrested again to get her placed back on her meds. In the meantime, every time that she was off of her meds for any length of time, they (Dr's) would have to start fresh, because her tolerance, etc would become so out of whack that it was a new issue all around. Pretty nasty business for the person that is trying to get "sorted" as while they attempt to determine what "new course" to take, she usually ended up in a "zombie state" for the beginning of the month, normal/ lucid/ and functioning for the middle of the month, and becoming agitated, more aggressive, and extremely paranoid by the end of the month. (Nice way to live, hey?? :( )

At some point throughout all of the "lock downs" & interventions, the Dr's finally found a treatment plan that ROCKED! Daily pills. ~No more monthly shots, etc...yada yada yadas.

She maintained for quite a number of years like this, until someone set her off, and she stopped taking her meds. In the course of this, she refused further assistance from MHA, refused further service from her family GP, etc. (which incidentally, is perfectly allowed, IF she is not posing a danger to herself, or society. :( ) The wonderful people from MHA came by on our request, and interviewed her. Because she can "appear" extremely rational, they HAD to take a step back, UNTIL such time as she may pose a threat again. **20+ years of medical effort, gone!! All because "someone felt that they knew what was best for her."

Amazingly enough, she has kept it together throughout this time, to a certain degree. (Outsiders never hear the many personalities that she has going on at any given time.. :( ) Of late, she has been getting away from her manic compulsiveness, and changing up her daily "routine." (which anyone used to be able to set their watch by) Add to this, the fact that there are certain "tells" that are rearing their heads again. She is displaying behaviors that "in past" have preceded her extremely psychotic episodes.

Dilemma:
My Aunt has a daughter that she pretty well abandoned in her pre-teens. She has 3 siblings still alive. She has a whack of nieces/nephews, etc. spread across the country...

My Question:
Because I am faced with the decision as to how to approach this and which direction to take, I am "putting it out there" to all of you, to ask your opinion on which direction to take.
See the above Poll. :wink:


By the way, thank you in advance for any & ALL opinions put forth as long as they aren't abusive, or derogatory towards the mentally ill!
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musiclover
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Post by musiclover »

Hi Crash,

I too have family members with mental illness and it is hard to sit by and watch when you know the eventual outcome but until they hit rock bottom you can't force them to do anything. I would continue to kindly suggest that she get back on the med's and then try to keep an eye on the situation so you can hopefully stop it before she gets arrested again. I feel for you as it is painful to see what mental illness does to a person we love. Hugs.
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Piecemaker
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Post by Piecemaker »

Sorry for your Aunt's suffering (and that of those who love her and are trying to assist her).


I am guessing you have already sought support and information from the Schizophrenic Society, as well as researching the illness. Support and education for caregivers and family advocates is very important.
There are new and better medications entering the market all the time to treat those with a mental illness. Perhaps there is something new that can assist your aunt.
Having said that, unfortunately, the older an individual gets the more difficult it is to medicate effectively. The elderly metabolism and other system functions vary significantly from that of a younger person. It is "easy" to over medicate an elderly person. This makes it so difficult to find that magic medication balance to that provides them with optimum functioning.
It must be painful for you to know your Aunt is sliding to that place where forceful intervention may be required.
She is so fortunate to have you. All you can do is what you are doing, unless the family member who suggested she stop taking her medication is willing to step in and care for her.
Take care, Crashy.

P.S.
On a lighter note, I heard BriTer wants to adopt an aunt...
It's possible to do all the right things and still get a bad result.
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ferri
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Post by ferri »

Piecemaker wrote:P.S.
On a lighter note, I heard BriTer wants to adopt an aunt...


that's a done deal!

i worry about her too and have noticed little changes in the last few weeks especially. (for those of you that don't know, BriTer and i rent a downstairs suite from Crash). her daily walk times are all out of whack, in the last week when she walks by she glances in our window, which isn't a big thing, but for her it is, because it is supposed to be 'head down watching the feet straight ahead charge!' those might not seem like big things to most, but when you have watched her everyday for almost 3 years it is huge.
“Weak people revenge. Strong people forgive. Intelligent people ignore.”
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BriTer
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Post by BriTer »

Piecemaker wrote: P.S.
On a lighter note, I heard BriTer wants to adopt an aunt...


Seems whenever she is 'off' she is MY Aunt.
That's okay, I get along with her/them very well :) :126:
Catz
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Post by Catz »

I sent you a PM, Crash.

I am sorry that this is delt to you.
Deepest hugs go out to you. :smt056
crash 99
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Post by crash 99 »

Thank you to all that have taken part in the Poll so far. :124:

Musiclover It definitely sucks when it's someone close and we're powerless. Thanks for the hugs. :126:

Piecemaker, Yes...I have many years of being involved in this situation and learning all about the illnesses involved. Unfortunately, ANYONE that even slightly suggests that they have something to do with the medical profession is a NO GO to her. (I tried to find a previous post relating to this...but it's been sent to the landfill I guess :smt090 )

Ferri Yes, she's definitely out of her "normal rituals." :(

BriTer Yer a brat!! :12077: (he is referring to the fact that she has some variation of MPD, but she LIKES him!! **in most of the personalities) :12077:

Puffy Thank you so much for the PM & the call. :126: THIS is sooo not what you need to be worrying about right now, but your support/advice is hugely appreciated. :130:
Last edited by crash 99 on Jan 27th, 2008, 8:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
Catz
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Post by Catz »

Sorry the phone died...
I will try and help you when ever I can.

You are a sweetheart! :126:

Off to bed...have a good evening :smt023
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grammafreddy
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Post by grammafreddy »

Huge Hugs, Crashy-girl.

The day my mother died, a good friend was stabbed to death by his schizophrenic son. He was out of the mental hospital for summer holidays with his family.

I have no experience with this and so I have to say intervene now, before somebody gets hurt or worse, based on the above.

But what do I know??????? Nothing. Just have hugs to offer ya.
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CoffeeCanuck
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Post by CoffeeCanuck »

I honestly didn't know how to answer your poll. I dont believe you should burry your head in the sand and do nothing of course. Thing is, your Aunt is an adult, and therefor from what I understand, cant be forced into any kind of intervention or treatment against her will, unless she were to act out in a manner that would allow the authorities to pick her up. We just have to watch what is currently happening to Brittnay Spears to see how mental illness can affect not only themselves, but their friends and loved ones.

I worked in a senior care home that had a couple residents with schizophrenia, so of course their drug treatment was closely monitored. This is far different though. I guess my only suggestion would be to call a family meeting with everyone involved (excluding your Aunt) and have either a medical professional or someone from the schizophrenia society to be present. Have an open and very honest discussion about everyone's concerns. I would wonder why someone would tell your Aunt to go off her meds to begin with. This may be from ignorance and they need education.

So sorry you are going through this, but know it or not, your Aunt is fortunate to have you care so much.

~D
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gardengirl
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Post by gardengirl »

I understand trying to go along with your aunt's wishes. Howver; she does live in your home. You have your own mental health and safety to consider, along with that of your family.

Knowing what you do about her condition and what happens when she is off her meds, I don't see many choices. Waiting until her condition deteriorates does not sound like a sensible solution to me. I would go along with some of the other posters (was it Coffeecanuck?) who recommended a family meeting with the MHW.

Perhaps there is a way for your aunt to be kept under observation to determine the course of action. Is there a facility where they do this?
Keeping in mind what recently happened in Vernon, I would not want to see something like that happen in my home.

If your aunt refuses to stay on the medication, I would seriously consider having her move out. You could contact her other family members to advise them of the situation, but you must be concerned with your own household first.
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crash 99
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Post by crash 99 »

Gramma, CoffeeCanuck, and gardengirl,

Thank you so much for your input. :124: :smt023
It is very much appreciated.

CoffeeCanuck...sorry, the "head in the sand" option was probably more sarcastic than anything.. ( kind of my own psychological dig towards the family members that have done just that.) "If I don't look, I won't see it. If I don't see it, I don't have to deal with it." (which btw, has given them absolutely NO SAY in whatever direction this goes.)

Gardengirl, you are very correct! :124: Not only is "her" safety at risk, 5 other lives, various pets, and my home are at risk as well. :(

To explain my Aunt a little further, in past, it took a very short time for things to escalate, after she went off her Meds. THIS time has now been 3 years. For the greater part, (until the past few months) she has maintained better than she has in 30 years.

Her fear of the medical profession is so great, that last year, she did a "header" and I was positive that she had broken her arm. There was absolutely No Way that I could get her to go and see a Dr. (KGH, walk-in ..nothing!) Amazingly enough, I had a cousin staying with me at the time, and he had her convinced that he would take her in and get x-rays and personally guaranteed that he would not let them "keep her." I fully believe that she would've gone with him. Unfortunately, that's right about the time that he decided to pull a disappearing act. She was forgotten about because she was low priority, I guess.. and no one else could get her in. :( ( btw, If it was broken, it has healed, as she has all of the strength back, etc.) ~small bonus there.

As I ponder this whole situation, I know that I have to be pro-active. I just don't know what will be the least traumatic to her. I will have to involve her daughter, as any kind of recognition of "guardianship" with respect to MHA, passed along with my Mom. With the exception of the RCMP from years ago, my name is not "on the record."

That being said, when we realized that she was off her Meds, we called her daughter. She came out immediately, and we demanded an assessment by MHA. (which, as I've stated they complied with, and had to follow their rules/laws etc.) From that time, my Aunt refused any contact with my Mother and her daughter, because they had "gone against her." Thank god it never came to light that "I" was the one that phoned her daughter..otherwise we'd be in one heck of a pickle now.

Plus! I don't want to panic her daughter, but I do need to let her know the seriousness of the situation.

*Sigh*.. :smt090 What to do...?

Thank you again for all of the input and the confirmation that I need to do something. :124:
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CoffeeCanuck
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Post by CoffeeCanuck »

crash 99 wrote:Plus! I don't want to panic her daughter, but I do need to let her know the seriousness of the situation.

*Sigh*.. :smt090 What to do...?
I would say the daughter does need to be panicked. How old is your Aunt?

Working in a seniors home with residents that presented with a variety of health and mental issues, I have seen the family dynamics involved first hand. Some family members are very involved, some overly involved and others who are not involved at all. I learned early on to not judge the ones who are not involved, as they generally had valid reasons why they had to distance themselves. Sometimes we had a lengthy history on the resident, many times we did not.

I dealt with a middle age man who has the same issue's as your Aunt. Working closely with him, I was able to identify triggers that would bring on an 'episode'. If I was lucky enough to be working with an RN who would immediately give him a needed prn med, generally a full blown violent situation could be averted. Yes, there is a real danger that can present itself very quickly, and you do need to protect everyone and everything around your Aunt. I would seriously recommend calling a family meeting and lay everything on the table. There will come a time that your Aunt will need an intervention of sorts and someone has to be responsible. I dont know all the ins and outs of POA, dont know if your Aunt has reached the stage where she needs a POA. The time will likely come though and someone needs to step up, and it sounds like you want to, which I commend you for. If you can arrange a meeting and have some professionals present, all the better.

~D
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