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Sandra Dean – Registered Member

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My mum – from Schizophrenia to Dementia in 60 years

Let me start by saying I have not edited this post. It was enough to write it than to re-read it and make any corrections…

I want to share with you a little of my ongoing journey with my mum’s mental illness. Her and my dad’s 60th

mum and I Dec 2015 (a rare smiley photo of my mum)

mum and I Dec 2015 (a rare smiley photo of my mum)

wedding anniversary came and went last week. The day was all good until mum turned, and began shouting in the shop and refusing to move.

Sixty years ago, my mum was sectioned, and taken to a psychiatric hospital for a year. She was diagnosed with catatonic schizophrenia. Whatever they did to her, including electric shock treatments and medications (I shall never know the full extent of her treatments), she didn’t know who my dad was when he visited and she had to learn about living again. At first, she was like a child, being taught how to buy something in a shop. She never did get to a fully responsible adult stage, but had four children, of which I was the last and the only girl.

We were a dysfunctional family and have all suffered in one way or another for our experiences. There has always been lots of anger, resentment etc thrown at us by mum; dad receiving most of it. I felt sorry for her but often hated
her too. Not a nice feeling. I still loved her as my mum, though, and made the most of our good times. However, as an adult, I worked through my issues and own mental health problems (Borderline personality disorder, anxiety, depression and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), over most of my life thus far. I’m now in a good place, and back to feeling like I know myself and like myself. I’m now a therapeutic counsellor and author of several books, including ‘My Alien Self’ which is about my mum, and I.

But, back to mum. Although she was able to go out on her own and look after me etc, she couldn’t pay a bill or take responsibilities like that. So, she had a simple life, of going out on buses and coach trips and holidays alone. It’s what she wanted. She was still my mum and I did spend a lot of good times with her as well. She had a few episodes in psychiatric hospitals including when I was six. Visiting her is a memory of nightmares.

She had a fall down the stairs two and half years ago, and nearly died. During investigations, it was found that she had too much lithium in her blood – so she’d become delirious. We thought it was quick onset dementia or something and despite three trips to the GP he had diagnosed it as high lithium levels. Strange now, when I think of all the signs she was showing. Delirium, shaking hands, confusion etc.

She survived her massive injuries and after a few operations, and a lengthy stay in two hospitals and a care home, she went home, back to dad. She has a social worker, who we rarely see, and regular carers coming in, as well as one group day care per week. Any more than that, and she retaliates. She feels very sorry for herself and continues to take it out on my dad. He has always been her carer in one way or another, but now, as a full-time carer, it really is taking its toll. He wakes with panic attacks for a start and cannot relax.

But, as time has gone on, I have seen my mum disappear. She was diagnosed with Vascular Dementia; the type where the person suffers TIA’s (mini-strokes) that make the dementia progressively worse. All the good, funny, bits about her are disappearing fast. She’s forgetting, crying, angry, nasty, or seemingly normal at any one time, and she swings in a split moment.

The heartache of her journey has been a great strain on my resilience, and it has made me very sad to see her personality disappearing. I feel very sorry for her, and my dad. Last week we had a nice lunch, then she became very abusive and said I was nothing to her. She’d very clearly forgotton who I was, thinking I was a friend who didn’t matter to her. I am not ashamed to say that it can be very embarrassing when she flips when we are out in public, very upsetting when she loses her memory, and heart breaking to see her get so upset (she knows she is losing it). How awful it must be to be in such an isolated world, mentally. I know about feeling isolated, mentally, but I am better now. My mum has suffered with that for a great proportion of her adult life.

Next, is a two week stay in a care home for my mum, to give my dad a respite break from caring for her – he’s 86 years old now and is finding it increasingly hard. It will be difficult to get her to go but it’s a must. After that, no doubt, in the short-term future, she will have to reside in a care home full time. I deal with the social worker side of things, as dad has enough of a job, and the two-week respite took five months to organise! I am not impressed with the undue stress caused by social workers and do not look forward to the future when we will need them most.

Since I was young, I have had a fear of my mum or dad getting Dementia, and here we are. I see it as a frightening disease. I do not cope well with being in care homes, as they are sad places, but that’s all to come again if I am to visit my mum. However, I am preparing myself, and my resilience shown in my counselling practise does fill me with inner strength, and I know we will all get through these difficult times. For now, I continue to see mum and dad on a regular basis, taking them out every week for a meal or day out, and I concentrate on enjoying the good moments. J

I just wanted to share this, so that people going through the same feel less alone, and those who are not can understand a little of what it’s like.

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2 comments to My mum – from Schizophrenia to Dementia in 60 years

  • Mary

    Amanda, I am impressed with your website and the vast amount of subjects you touch upon! You are an incredible role model.
    My husband and I just completed a book on his 40 plus years as a psychiatrist and plan to put it on E-books. It is a daunting task to say the least! You have given us the inspiration to continue as the air in our tires are deflating. We need a cover, a website and we need a blog. (I just want to take to my bed!) Thank you for your inspiration! I hope you are very successful with your career.

    • amandagreenauthor

      Hey thanks Mary for reading! I wish you both all the best to publish your book. The first one is always the hardest but so worthwhile! 🙂

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