A personal account of a mother’s paranoid schizophrenia

I came across your organisation through a friend and think the work you do is amazing. My mother became mentally ill when I was 12 but was deteriorating for a number of years before that. It was a very difficult and confusing time in my life. No one spoke about it to me or told me what was happening to my mum, my dad would come and go and in the end, told me he couldn’t cope anymore.

I guess you could say I pretty much blocked it out as much as possible. I would go to school and act like everything was normal. At home things were chaotic and my mum’s irrational fears grew worse as the voices became louder. She had completely changed and was no longer the mum I knew. She refused to go to the doctor to get help. She thought everyone was her enemy including her family. I was the only one on her side the one she had to protect.

We were living in Geneva at the time and she thought by moving to America she would escape the voices but they were not left behind. My mum’s erratic behaviour grew worse and yet still refused to get help, no one could get through to her not even me.

To cut a very long story short it was 20 years till my mum finally got the help. She was diagnosed a paranoid schizophrenic and was given sheltered accommodation and prescribed medication because caring for her became unbearable. It was only then that I too started to feel the pain and trauma of my childhood but with a very supportive husband, I was able to get through it with counselling and my Faith. I grieve the mum I lost but am so thankful she finally got help. The voices haven’t gone but the medication has definitely helped a lot meaning my mum comes and spends time with us once a month and her grandchildren love her to bits.

It is so important to support young people whose parents are suffering with mental illness I wished I’d had that growing up. Thank you for reading my story.

Thank you Diane for sharing your story with us.