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View Diary: This will be short. I think. (80 comments)

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  •  OK, I'll share something here (41+ / 0-)

    To help back up what you've shared. I've never told anybody about this situation but my best friend. My mom is mentally ill. I'm not sure what she was diagnosed with, but from what I've witnessed over my life, I think it's a combination of paranoid schizophrenia and dissociative disorder. But she stopped going to a psychiatrist a couple decades ago and is not on any medication or getting any treatment.

    A few years ago, when I was visiting Mom and Dad from out of state for a week, I washed the dinner dishes and left them in the rack to dry. Mom told me I had to dry off the sharp knives and put them away in the drawer. I was tired and argued that they would dry just fine in the rack. She insisted, saying that if the knives were out, somebody might stab someone with them. I said to her, "Nobody is going to break into the house and stab us with these knives!" Her response: "No, I'm not talking about somebody breaking in." Then she confessed to me that she had thoughts of stabbing Dad and me, so I needed to put the knives away, because if she saw them out in the open, she might get too strong of an urge and not be able to control herself.

    I dried the knives and put them away, but nevertheless I didn't have the best night's sleep that night on the sofa right next to the kitchen. But an even scarier thing is that Dad had bought a handgun a few years before that, and he keeps it loaded under his bed. And he's starting to show signs of Alzheimer's.

    •  Rough situation. (12+ / 0-)

      Have you asked him to lock it up? Maybe it would be worth it to get a permit and "borrow" it.

      Don't confuse my lack of religion for a lack of spirituality.

      by Mxwll on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 09:58:39 PM PST

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      •  It IS rough (10+ / 0-)

        He's a raging conservative with all the standard arguments, so he won't consider anything that "infringes on his 2nd amendment rights." And I live in California and they're in Florida. Also, I couldn't tell Dad what Mom said about the knives. He wouldn't have received it well, then they both would have turned on me and attacked me verbally. That's always been the family dynamic.

        My brother lives on the East Coast and is more in a position to intervene, but I couldn't tell him the knife story either, because he and his wife were estranged from my parents for a while (on account of Mom saying crazy things to his wife due to her mental illness), but they finally all made their peace again, such as it is. I'm afraid if I tell him about Mom and the knives, and he tells his wife, she'll be afraid and insist they don't get involved with them anymore. My brother's been helping with their recent medical issues, and if he and his wife back off again, nobody will be there to help them out.

        •  {{{chantedor}}} What a rough situation. (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          chantedor, Naniboujou, koNko, StellaRay, DvCM

          if a habitat is flooded, the improvement for target fishes increases by an infinite percentage...because a habitat suitability index that is even a tiny fraction of 1 is still infinitely higher than zero, which is the suitability of dry land to fishes.

          by mrsgoo on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 10:26:38 PM PST

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        •  Ugh (6+ / 0-)

          If it were me, I would crack open the whole can of worms, but that is easy to say from a distance. Life can be so very complicated. I hope it all works out for your family.

          Don't confuse my lack of religion for a lack of spirituality.

          by Mxwll on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 10:26:53 PM PST

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          •  Don't think there's anything I can do (13+ / 0-)

            Last time I told my brother something Mom had said, this was what caused him and his wife to cut off Mom and Dad completely. And Dad got mad at me for telling my brother and blamed me for the estrangement, instead of Mom for doing and saying what she had, so then he and Mom temporarily cut ME off. The family dynamics are too crazy for me to do anything involving any of them that would actually help.

            Anyway, I don't think anybody with a bad mental health history should have a gun allowed in their household, even if it belongs to another family member. I have a friend whose father was mentally ill, and she spent much of her childhood in a lot of fear and dread, because when he'd get mad at them, he'd get his gun and wave it at them, telling them that when they were asleep, he was going to kill them all. Thankfully he never followed through on it. But she still has nightmares about it!

            •  that pattern is fairly common form.... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              koNko, DvCM

              of spousal abuse.

              Not sure what to say about dad and mom and the gun.  Seems precarious.

              You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

              by murrayewv on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 04:28:24 AM PST

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            •  chantedor, here's one possible idea. (7+ / 0-)

              First of all, I'm really sorry to hear about your situation.  "Between a rock and a hard place" doesn't begin to cover it.

              This is just an idea to think about, and only you know your brother well enough to know if it would work.

              I don't think you need to tell your brother the knife story.  As horrible as that incident was for you, it did happen several years ago, so telling your brother about it now might open a can of worms about which neither of you can do anything.

              You can, however, tell him about the gun and your worries about it RE: the Alzheimer's symptoms. That is a real and immediate threat. I'm not sure if your brother already knows about the Alzheimer's symptoms, but try some radical transparency. Find some time to talk with him alone, and say something like:

              "I want to tell you something that I've been wrestling with alone for a while. I trust your judgment and I'd really like a person to help me think things through. It's about Dad and Mom and I haven't said anything because I know that you and [wife's name] have been so hurt by Mom in the past.  If I'm honest, I really don't want you to tell [wife's name] because I think it would really upset her, and [wife's name] has been hurt enough already.

              "Dad's behavior has really been scaring me lately. He's not acting like himself. [Name all the Alzheimer's symptoms.]  You know that when Dad's acting like himself, he's safe around guns.  But now he's very erratic and there's a loaded handgun under his bed.  It's not something either he -- or anyone else -- should have access to under the circumstances.

              "I'd like us to think this through together. Honestly, I'm not sure what to do from here. I don't want [wife's name] to worry about this and I know you don't either. The most important thing is that the entire family is safe."

              chantedor, this may be a stupid idea but it's just one thought. I wish you well and may this awful worry resolve itself soon.

              I am simple, complex, generous, selfish, unattractive, beautiful, lazy, and driven. ~Barbra Streisand

              by GreenMtnState on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 06:12:01 AM PST

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              •  just an idea to help (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                GreenMtnState, chantedor, stormicats, DvCM

                if you want to take it on--but it will be bitter.

                Your mom has a diagnosis; does your dad? You can go to an attorney and talk about taking control for their welfare. The situation sounds volatile to say the least, and if you have the desire, You can fight to insure their safety.

                My mom prudently gave me a durable power of attorney for all medical and financial decisions. She could see that a time was coming when she would need help. Your mother has as much as admitted that she needs help with her compulsions. She MIGHT help you.

                As you well know, your dad is dangerous and will be a problem. But he presents a danger to your mother, and you, and perhaps the community. Does your dad go to a doctor? While the doctor may not share much with you, you could inform the doc that your dad has a gun in the house. The doctor may not be aware of that.

                This is one of the problems of having stubborn aging parents: knowing when, knowing how, and having the earnest desire to take on the task of interferring exhausting frustrating time-consuming caregiving custodian. There are no rule books, no thanks, no end of problems, and lots of gnashing of teeth.

                My mom is 87. Her mother's family lives to extreme old age. My Aunt Lou (her mother's sister) lived to 109; the other sibs all saw 100+. I've lost 3 sibs, two in the last two years. My only remaining sib lives 2000 miles away, will give money, but likes the insulation of NOT having to face this reality.

                So it's my job to care for her. I am reluctant, worn-out, and taking her to the grocery this morning.

                Your situation sounds awful. I wish you peace and fortitude.

                •  Thanks for the advice (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  zett

                  I appreciate everyone's ideas here. Before my brother's last visit several months ago, I had talked to Dad extensively on the phone about how helpful giving one of us power of attorney would be. Dad had been in the hospital when the stock market tanked and lost a lot of money, so told me he thought power of attorney was a great idea, since one of us could have handled his investments while he was ill and he wouldn't have lost so much. He was really on board with the idea.

                  Then I talked to my brother about it, told him I'd gotten Dad warmed up to the idea so much so that he really wanted to do it, and I emailed him some information with details of the various types of power of attorney and online forms that he could simply print out and get notarized. I told Dad this too and he was ready to go to the notary and sign them.

                  I also described to my brother every symptom I'd seen in Dad and the ones Mom had observed in him and told me about. I talked on the phone again to both my dad and my brother while he was there. I'd thought it was best if I persuaded Dad to sign the power of attorney to my brother, so Dad wouldn't think one of us was trying to get over on him or take control (which he might have if the same person did the persuading who was asking to have power of attorney).

                  So after my brother returned home, we talked again, and I asked him how it went with Dad and the power of attorney. He said he didn't do it. He didn't even bring it up with him. The problem is, as somebody else posted above that it sounds like an abusive situation, Dad was very abusive and had an explosive temper growing up. As the scapegoat of the family, I usually bore the brunt of it, but even so, and even though I'd paved the way for my brother, he was too scared to broach the subject and risk my Dad's wrath.

                  I guess I'll have to deal with all of this myself somehow on my next visit out there: getting power of attorney and, as someone suggested below, getting the gun out of the house, perhaps turning it over to the police.

        •  And how many times after a tragedy do we say (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          koNko, cybersaur

          "Why didn't anybody who knew SAY anything?"
          My experience with life is always anticipate and try to prevent the worst, and not just hope it'll all work out.

          Ash-sha'b yurid isqat an-nizzam!

          by fourthcornerman on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 03:43:01 AM PST

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    •  My heart goes out to you (7+ / 0-)

      and your parents. What a difficult and frightening situation; I hope you have some support to help you handle it. Posting about this stuff is hard, I know. Sending good thoughts your way.

    •  It's very scary. (13+ / 0-)

      My ex-husband's father had a more than hellish experience in the Pacific during WW2 which involved him being left for dead in a trench with another corpse for some time, and them only discovering him alive while being carried back for burial with the other "dead".   He suffered from schizophrenia the rest of his life, altho his last few years he finally seemed to find some peace and a med that worked.

      My ex was in Nam, and most likely had borderline personality disorder...although at the time we didn't hear much about PTSD or agent orange aftereffects.  

      There were a few years when I'd wash the dishes and leave the kitchen knives in the dish rack, only to find them missing.  Later, they were there.  I thought I was going nuts!   After a year, during marriage counseling, my ex confessed that he'd hide them while he slept (he worked nights) because "the voices in my head said you'd use them to kill me while I slept."  

      I still remember the chills running up my back when he told me about that.   Oh yeah, a few years before that he carried a gun as a night security guard.......  Wonder if he heard the voices then?    

      "Because inside every old person is a young person wondering what happened." -Terry Pratchett

      by revsue on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 10:43:21 PM PST

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    •  If it were me (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      chantedor, DvCM, jared the bassplayer

      I'd take the gun during the next visit, disassemble it and dispose of the parts in several different dumpsters around town.
      Sometimes you have to take actions to prevent the ones you love from hurting themselves and others. The presence of that gun poses a lethal danger to your family.

      --- Keep Christian mythology out of science class! @cybersaur1

      by cybersaur on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 08:48:52 AM PST

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      •  On my next visit (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DvCM

        which will probably be late summer of 2013, maybe I could take the gun to the local police station and tell them about Mom's mental illness and Dad's Alzheimer symptoms. Or do you think the police would return it to them?

        •  Not the police (0+ / 0-)

          I really don't see the value in taking it to the police. The important thing is to remove the lethal threat to your family.

          --- Keep Christian mythology out of science class! @cybersaur1

          by cybersaur on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 10:57:06 AM PST

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          •  But (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            DvCM

            I don't know anything about guns and might accidentally set it off if I try to take it apart or even unload it. I know somebody whose husband is a police officer here in CA. Florida's laws are different, with that crazy Stand Your Ground law, but I just emailed my acquaintance to see if her husband has any advice about what I might do. Maybe he knows something we hadn't thought of.

            •  I actually agree with cybersaur. (0+ / 0-)

              Steal the gun and destroy it. I'm sure there are plenty of youtube videos detailing how to do it. Just get it the hell out of there.

              "What would men be without women? Scarce, sir, mighty scarce." -Mark Twain

              by jared the bassplayer on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 01:05:59 PM PST

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