Paranoid mother

I’m actually a carer for my autistic daughter rather than my mother but I’m very worried about my mother. Since having cancer in 2012 she has become increasingly irrational, will start screaming abuse at me, bringing up things 20+ years ago and has become increasingly paranoid (usually about the neighbours or her work colleagues although she is now retired) to the point where she is now accusing my husband and myself of all sorts of things which aren’t true. And some of them are quite bizarre things like we undid the screws on the front door handle and we steal her water at night so she can’t have a shower (to set the scene we all live in a converted bungalow where we live downstairs and she lives upstairs), I’m on drugs, he is an alcoholic, we aren’t feeding my daughter properly as we give her salami and pasta to eat (amongst other things obviously) and therefore we need to be reported to social services etc etc. And her mood swings are insane - one day I am getting on fine with her and the next day her rage is terrifying, although nothing has changed, it’s just she will have become paranoid about something and will take it out on me. For years I have been thinking she is narcissistic (and I think there is an element of that) but today it occurred to me that she might be suffering from paranoia. Which sounds obvious when I’ve written it all down, but not obvious when you’ve lived through it insidiously creeping in for 7 years. The question is, what do I do now?! She will accuse me of trying to steal her house or money or of making her out to be crazy if I try to speak to her about it or suggest we go to the doctor and I’m walking around on eggshells as it is as I’m am quite frightened of her rage. Help! Does anyone have any suggestions? Thank you!

Hi Georgina and we.come to the forum,

I think you should start to keep a diary and record any irrational behaviour, just describe what she says/ does and don’t try and interpret it in anyway. If she is under the same GP as you, you can then show him the diary, he won’t be able to comment, but you can ask him if it’s possible he could all her in for a “health check,” so he can see how bizarre she has become. Alternatively, you could write to her GP, explaining her behaviour and making the same request. If you could surreptitiously video her on your phone, youcouldshow this to the GP too. Whatever the reason for her behaviour, it sounds like it needs investigating.

How does your daughter cope with her Grandmother acting like this? My S, would become upset, he is very sensitive to tone of voice, mood of others etc


Thanks Melly1, that is really good advice. My daughter runs and hides in the den in her room when it all kicks off. She hates it and becomes very distressed. It’s hard for her because she wants to see her grandmother but I’m trying to limit the time she spends with her as my mum is so nasty and irrational that I don’t want her to start on my daughter. I think she did in December last year when we went away for the night, something we hardly ever do. My daughter was very upset afterwards and didn’t want to see her. According to my daughter they had a row about going somewhere my daughter didn’t want to go and couldn’t cope with and my mum thought she should be able to manage, but I think there was more to it than that. My daughter was very anxious afterwards and started bed-wetting and school refusal not long after. Am torn between wanting to write it all off as narcissism which means I can walk away, and thinking that she has got a serious mental health issue, and I need to be there for her. She won’t have anything to do with her wider family so it is literally just me. I don’t want to have to care for her too if I’m brutally honest. She has ruined my self esteem, subjected me to awful abuse and caused me to have terrible anxiety. I can’t bear the thought of possibly another 20-30 years of it - she is only 70. Aside from a period of three or four years I have been a carer since I was 13 - first for my dad, then my daughter and my husband (he has got cancer), and I don’t want to care for her as well. Does that sound awful?

No it does not sound awful at all. You are already stretched caring for your daughter and husband so I do not see how you can also care for your mum. You need to have some time for you or your health with suffer.

Thank you. I’m so relieved it doesn’t sound selfish. I’m trying so hard but can’t take her on too.

I hate suggesting this, but have you considered the possibility of dementia? Her behaviour certainly sounds bizarre and not “normal” at all.
It is especially unfair on your daughter.

If you keep a written and video diary, it will help the doctors work out what is going on.
Presumably mum owns the house?
You do NOT have to put up with her behaviour, you can move out. My son with SLD lives in a flat of his own, your daughter would be entitled to Housing Benefit. This would be a good time to have a benefits check for her. (My own son has SLD).

Hi Georgina, Try changing your behaviour when your mum has one of her outbursts. Try walking away as soon as she starts acting inappropriately, try to continue with whatever you’re doing and ignore her. Better still - as soon as she starts shouting/screaming - you start having a calm conversation with your husband/ daughter. If your mum continues to scream and insult you etc then tell her firmly that you are going downstairs and will return when she has calmed down. In other words - you start taking control of the situation. Let me know how you get on.