What Do You Do With A Crazy Relative?

Interesting that there’s a suicide thread at the moment - my Mom’s been trying to kill herself for almost 15 years. She’s had fairly tranquil periods that have lasted as long as a couple of years, and then it’s turmoil again. In fact, she’s back in the hospital today, a couple of weeks after being discharged following a month-long stay where the treatment included ECT.

WTF are my sister and I supposed to do?

She has no money, can’t work, hasn’t qualified for SSI but it wouldn’t be much money anyway.

My sister’s just barely surviving on her income, shares an apartment with a roommate.

We have a house - and twin toddlers.

My son already found one of her Effexors following a visit; fortunately he threw it up & I knew what it was & had Poison Control’s number handy.

WTF are we supposed to do? I can’t let her live on the street.

You may need to consider an involuntary commitment. Details of the process vary from state to state, so you’d need to check with a local attorney for specifics.

Does your mom have any sisters or brothers who might be able to help?

Sounds like a really bad, sad situation. You’ll be in my thoughts.

I am very sorry for your situation, and am in a somewhat similar one, but with others who can do support.

In your case, I can only say that your marriage/family takes first priority, IMHO.

As Oakminster said, I see nothing else possible but to Baker Act her, sorry.

Oops. I forgot one thing.

I highly question that she’s been trying to commit suicide for 15 years. Sometimes it does take more than one try, but 15 years? She’s playing you like a fiddle on that one, sorry.

Thanks for the replies - I’ll have to google Baker Act. My first search found that in Indiana we have a 90-day involuntary commitment period. No explanation for day 91.

She’s already receiving care at a community mental health clinic enrolled in the ACT program (which is I guess the best thing available). I want to talk to her doctors. They never call the family; during her hospitalizations over the years, none of them have shared information with me. Even before HIPAA. It drives me bananas, the mental health stigma. If it was cancer, we’d be on her Care Team. :mad:

Well, I used that language to describe the situation for the sake of brevity. I guess you’ll have to just trust me; her diagnosis is bipolar personality disorder and major depression.

It’s going to vary by state, but I’d expect that when the 90 days was up, there’d be a hearing of some type, possibly at an administrative level, to determine whether the commitment should be extended.

Another option to consider, and possibly combine with a commitment, would be having a Guardian or Conservator appointed. This would address the issues with health care information, and other things as well.

Only thing is – what, physically, would I do with her? I know that HUD has subsidized housing for retirees, but her application was denied due to her bankruptcy. How can she live on $800 a month (which is apprx. what her social security totals)?

Her brother had been living with her for the past 10 years. He just moved out.

In terms of medical care, I wouldn’t have consented to the ECT, but she’d’ve been pissed at me for that decision. As it is, she’s angry that no one talked her out of it (my sister gave it a real try).

At least she does know to get herself to a hospital when she starts feeling suicidal now, as opposed to going through the dramatic overdoses of a few years back. So, given her willingness to seek treatment, what decisions could I make that would be an improvement over her own?

My brother and I have just started this discussion quietly. Its certainly not pleasant, is it? Our parents are 66 and 64, and things are rapidly going down hill.
My father just bought a new car two days ago. Nevermind that they have two perfectly fine cars. It is a late mid-life crisis in my opinion, but who knows?
My mother came over to my house last week to say hi! and to clean my house… sigh
Mom wanted to stay for three days to clean my house, I said ok ma, what do you say to someone who wants to clean your house for free?
I should say that she called me beforehand and mentioned that she and my father were not getting along and she needed a break. Me being the good and single son, I said sure mom.
Wow, I’m getting way off topic, I’m sorry. She unpacked two not small tuperware containers of all of her medications. I’ll bet there were over twenty different kinds, one container was labeled day meds the other night meds.
Do I have a point? I don’t know. I called this evening just to say hi, my father forgot to take it off auto answer and my mother picked up and told my father to disable that .He couldn’t figure out to do it. I said call me back, ok she said.
Ugh mom? you need to shut off your cell phone… wow. next I hear fuck you and why just don’t you leave if you are going to drink every night? I knew my parents were having problems, but wow.

On preview I see this doesn’t have a lot to do with the OP. Sorry, it was recent and seemed somewhat to the point. It sucks watching the parents sort of wither away. I guess that was my main point.

fessie, I feel like I’m missing information. Have you talked with a social worker? How old is your mother? Has she applied for Social Security Disability? With all of these hospitalizations and suicide attempts, I would think that she would qualify. She might be denied the first time, but I would certainly appeal.

Have you tried changing doctors? Have her doctors tried a different medication?

What about the possibility of committment to a state mental health facility? If nothing else, call the office of the State Director of Mental Health and ask for advice.

My heart goes out to all of you. This is just terrible.

Don’t feel too bad about the ETC. If her medication is not working, I can’t blame you for trying it. It’s not the “horror show” that it was in the 1960’s and doesn’t have as many problems associated with it.

(I have depression which responds well to medication. I had a lot of ETC in the 1960’s.)

I’m glad that you know that she is not "playing you like a fiddle.

My sympathy to you gravitycrash - yes, it’s just…I don’t know what.

I keep thinking that there are lots of daughters who’ve watched their mothers lose breasts, hair, limbs to cancer and its cures. Mine’s coming apart, too, only she looks OK.

Zoe, I can’t tell you how many doctors she’s seen. How many hospitals have admitted her. It’s a large number. She’s been in therapy since I was 9 years old, which would make it 32 years of treatment. Right now she’s on 3 different meds.

There have been good years, really good ones. She had her own little company for 10 years, wrote a small textbook, taught classes for 4 years. Even worked for a Major National Accounting Firm for about a year, until she just wacked out.

But there’s always this crazy undercurrent, and it’s really difficult to describe. Like, when she was self-employed, the President of her company, it meant she could spend most days in her bathrobe in her bedroom. It was a medical billing firm (back when home computers were just starting out), so she only needed to pull herself together one week per month.

Her first application for SS disability was turned down, I think an appeal is pending. The hospital has submitted her application for Medicaid, it’s still being processed. She does get subsidized healthcare, for which I’m profoundly grateful; I just don’t know where she’s going to live.

She’s 63 years old, btw.

My best wishes to you and your family, fessie. This is a tough, draining situation.

With that said, I think you need to do what you can to take advantage of what social services that are available. 32 years of treatment? Doesn’t sound like it’s done her much good. And 15 years of suicidal behavior? It’s a cry for attention. She’s a martyr. It’s not too hard to kill yourself if you really want to. I had a friend in high school pick a nice high bridge and she took the Nestee plunge. So, where there is a will, there’s a way. She sounds like she likes the attention her depression/suicide brings her. I have a mother-in-law like this. The behavior truly baffles me, but it’s real and it’s there.

I’ve asked my mother-in-law that if she’s that unhappy, and that if she doesn’t enjoy life, what is she sticking around for? I never get an answer. But when she pulls one of her stunts, the family rallying is predictable and she feeds off of it. I think that’s what she lives for.

I guess what I’m trying to say is to take care of yourself and your family first. There are limits to the obligations we must take on. And these types of people seem to suck the life out of everyone that gets near them. I don’t want to sound like a heartless prick. I know there are people with real problems and mental illness can be debilitating. But in my opinion, there is a limit to what you are obligated to put up with just because you share some DNA.

I’ll be rooting for you and you will be in my thoughts. I don’t know you, but I’ve been there with my MIL. It’s not a fun ride. :frowning:

I know that, in Arizona at least, almost all adult applications for SSD are automatically denied, forcing an appeal which many people win. If they win the case, they get a check right away for the amount from when they first applied. So there’s that anyway. If and when she is approved for SSD, she has options of living alone in a subsized home, or in a group home. There are definitely services out there for people on SSD.

As for what to do in the short term, there are social service organizations out there. In some cities, there’s a number you can call that can direct you to organizations in the area. Look in the phone book.

You’re in a tough spot right now. Of course you have your own family to think of first, but your mom is your mom, and you can’t really blame her mental health problems on her. I wish you luck in this.

good luck fessie, It is just really hard to see parents or grandparents start to lose it.
I saw my grandparents lose their health while I was 16 and this is not any easier.
Lame advice: Remember them when they were at their best. :slight_smile:

That mode seems to help me a little. Good luck Fessie

Thanks everyone, I appreciate your good wishes :slight_smile: .

My Aunt informed me this morning that during her lengthy hospitalization, right before I visited her and she seemed AOK, normal self ---- she’d tried to kill herself in the hospital. By hanging herself with a bedsheet. Told my Aunt that she “wanted to know what it felt like.”

Which explains why the nurses confiscated most of the art supplies I’d brought at her request.

I’ve initiated a dialogue with her therapist, he has to get approval to share information with me, but hopefully we’ll find some kind of appropriate setting for her.

Obviously, you don’t have the slightest clue what major depression is like. And if you think it’s easy to kill yourself, you haven’t tried. Really tried.

ECT (Electro-Convulsive Therapy) used to be common treatment for depression, but now it’s used only as a last resort. It’s nasty shit – watch “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” someday. Trust me, if you were crying for help, and someone shocked 10,000 volts into your brain, you’d stop cryin’ right quick.

fessie, I hope everything works out. Stay strong.