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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5804
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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After my parents divorced over a decade ago, I have only seen

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After my parent's divorced over a decade ago, I have only seen my mother intermittently, sometimes not for years at a time. Now I am 21 and a full time college student and my mother has returned to visit me after about six years. This time, however, she is clearly displaying signs of being overly paranoid of others, she has delusions of grandeur and talks about a time that is to come when she will be the most powerful person on earth. She also claims to have ultra-sensory communication methods with powerful people who are giving her this information. She is unwilling to find a job because she is waiting for her 'era' to come.

She is capable of taking care of herself, she can cook, clean and is capable of working but not of making good social relationships. I believe that she has not made any friends while on her own. Unless she starts talking about her theories, she acts friendly and normal- albeit always looking like she's bothered by something. I don't believe that she is currently a threat to herself or to anybody else. But it is clear that she truly believes in her delusions and I think that things will only get worse from here if I don't get her help.

She is also extremely stubborn and in no way suited to listening for advice or criticism. I know she will not go get help willingly no matter what I say. She will consider me one of her 'enemies'. I read about the mental health commitment laws in Illinois, a person that may have bipolar or schizophrenia can be committed for up to five days if their condition is most likely going to just deteriorate. But after the five days there must be a court hearing. She is extremely suspicious of government and has already had a bad run in with the court. So I want to know how this process would work and what would happen after the five days. Also, whether there is anyway to get someone involuntary professional help without involving the law and institutionalization.

Thank you for your time.

Hi, I'd like to help you with your problem.


It sounds like from what you said your mother possibly suffers from schizophrenia. This is a very difficult condition to cope with, particularly for family members. I sympathize with your situation.


First of all, you are not responsible for your mother. That is not to say you cannot have a strong desire to help her. But taking on this burden can be extremely stressful, especially if you take it on alone. Support is a very important component to helping you cope. One way is to contact NAMI- The National Alliance for Mental Illness. They are at


I agree with you about the Illinois commitment law. They may allow your mother to be committed, but only if she is deteriorating. From what you said, it sounds like your mother is stable at this point. If you should see her becoming worse, such as her hygiene declines, she is not eating or otherwise not caring for herself, I would attempt to bring her to the ER for an evaluation. You may also call a local mental health center and see if they agree that she meets the criteria for admission to a MH facility. They can offer you options for dealing with the situation.


Surviving Schizophrenia: A Manual for Families, Patients, and Providers by E. Fuller Torrey is a good book to get to help guide you through this. You can find it on or your local bookseller may be able to order it for you.


Most of all, remember to care for yourself. Take time to have fun, get away from the situation for a while and build a support system for yourself to fall back on if needed.


I hope this helped,



Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Thanks for your reply,

It sounds like what you are saying is that the best I can do is to keep in contact with her and keep an eye on her general in case her condition deteriorates.

I am concerned because she can be quite the drifter, and before she came to visit me recently she was living out of her car.

She is starting to see me as someone who is evil as well, in fact, the more time we spend together the more reasons she finds to get mad at me. Ironically, sometimes I feel guilty for not spending that much time with her and she accuses me of the same things. My dad has been helping me out and before we realized that she has a serious mental problem, he suggested that I tell her that I am busy often in order to avoid confrontations, because she basically speaks about outlandish theories. But today after finals I had no excuses to be busy and she came over for a long talk and ended up trying to disown me because she perceived that i was trying to trick her. It was a long ordeal all night as I tried to persuade her to at least keep in contact with me but she would yell at me and have a frightening haunted look in her eyes. I really wanted to just call an ambulance so she could get medical help right then and there, but didn't have a basis since she could still stand on her own two feet on the outside world.

What I am scared of, is that if she does leave and does not get back into contact, I will never know if she is deteriorating and won't see the warning signs. It's difficult because technically she is an independent free adult that has never lived with me or anyone else that I know for the past 15 years. However, I think me and my dad and stepfamily are the only people who really know about her problems and care enough to do something- so if I really have driven her away I'm very worried.

In a way, i am relieved that she will be on her own because previously, she believed that as long as she was reunited with me for a month or so, she would not have to seek out work and some new era of greatness will come to her that will basically make her a god. Now that she has decided not to stay with me she I believe that she will try to find a job selling products at flea markets and so forth.

I guess I want to know if I should have tried harder to get her treatment before finally letting her leave my apartment.

If it was wrong of me to try and stop her from leaving in the first place.

And how to deal with her from now on without getting on her bad side. She really thinks that me and my dad are in cohorts as evil demons of some type.

Sorry for having to unload so much, I feel worried and uncertain right now. I wonder If I should just suck it up and move out of this apartment that I share with roommates, so that my mom and I can get our own place and she can perceive that I care about her and I can keep an eye on her better. On the other hand, she's so difficult to deal with and one of my goals right now is to get into medical school so that I can provide stability for her as well as my other parents in the future. Its very stressful to study with her always wanting to talk late into the night about her delusions.

I completely understand what you are saying. And I can't say it enough- you have done nothing wrong.


You are attempting to make sense out of something that does not make sense. People who are afflicted with Schizophrenia deal in a world of delusions that make reasoning with them impossible. Oftentimes, it is the people they are closest with that bear the responsibility of the person and therefore become the easiest target for the person's delusions.


Keep in mind that Schizophrenia is a true disease. It occurs in 1 out of 100 people. Because it is a disease, you need to view it as such. Keep an eye on your mother but don't attempt to try to cure her. Until she is unable to care for herself, the law allows her to act on her own. That is why I suggested you contact NAMI to gain support and help you find answers to your mother's situation. They will be able to guide you and help you cope with your mom's behavior. Also you may want to consider some individual counseling or family counseling (for you and your father) to help you deal with your feelings about your mother's situation. The stress alone can be difficult to deal with and the more support you have, the better.


Please keep in mind that in the situation, you are doing everything you can. It is a helpless feeling to be unable to make your mother better, but in my experience, even the most qualified professional with years of experience could do no more than you are doing right now.


Take care and I wish you the best,




TherapistMarryAnn and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX to a friend and to my father about this and we agree that there is little we can do that will change anything, My mom did end up leaving yesterday because she was angry and I'm not sure if she will try to contact me again or not. I hope that eventually she will. My main worry is that we will lose contact, but under the laws there is little i can do to control her decisions at this point. It also sounds like there is little to nothing I can do to make her 'better' and further contact with me seems to only hurt her more since she takes everything I do rather personally. Thank you for talking with me, it has helped me put the situation into perspective.

I am so glad I could help. And I appreciate you letting me know. I know this is difficult, but you are doing wonderfully. Your mother is lucky to have such a caring daughter.


My best to you,


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