My Mom’s Unique Disease

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Hi. Well my mom has a very unique disease; and I am sure of it. It is unlike any other depression people have seen; she has been diagnosed as bipolar years ago but that really isn’t the case. I don’t know what to call her disorder. Her hands move according to what she says but what she says makes no sense at all. It is really really hard to explain. I have taken video of her and it can only be seen to be understood. We have tried time and time again, for years…..to get her help. But she isn’t dumb. When it came to her first psych exam, she acts completely normal. Says all the right things and is cleared. But as soon as shes home again – shes at it again at least 90% of the day. If anyone out there can help me, I can send you the video or post it up on you tube and give you a link. We don’t know how to get her help. She refuses and its making our lives miserable. She doesn’t shower – ever. She is just unique – and she is my mom and I want to help her. Please, someone help me.

A. Given only the symptoms that you have described, it is difficult to determine which disorder your mother may have. You mentioned that when she talks, her hands move according to what she is saying. This symptom is not a characteristic of any particular mental health disorder. I would need much more specific information regarding exactly what you mean when you describe her hands moving according to what she is saying. You also mentioned that she doesn’t shower. Again, this is a concerning symptom but it is not characteristic of any specific mental health disorder per se. Individuals who are depressed may not shower because they have a low level of energy but your overall description of your mother does not necessarily indicate depression. An individual may not shower if they are in the early phases of a psychotic episode but nothing you have written necessarily indicates that she is psychotic. You also wrote that she acts ‘normal’ in the presence of psychiatric professionals. What exactly do you mean by normal? Is she pretending or lying? Generally individuals who are experiencing genuine psychiatric symptoms can’t simply “turn it off.” It would also be interesting to know whether she showers before one of her scheduled psychiatric examinations.

This is a difficult issue because you cannot force anyone to seek help if they do not want it. Generally, the only way an individual can be forced into treatment is if they are displaying behaviors that are life-threatening. If you notice that your mother is not eating, along with not showering and displaying other disturbing symptoms you should call a local crisis team who can come in to your home and evaluate her condition. If she is unable to care for herself, then she may be admitted to the hospital even if against her will.

I would encourage you to contact local physicians or mental health professionals to ask their opinion of her symptoms. I do not believe that viewing the video is the best way to determine her diagnosis. A face-to-face interview with psychiatric professionals is the best way to proceed. You should continue to encourage your mother to be evaluated by medical and psychiatric professionals. The concern is that her odd behavior may possibly be an early sign of an untreated medical condition. Even if she continues to act “normal” in an evaluation setting, a good therapist should be able to pick up other symptoms. Also, at a doctor’s appointment you should report your concerns even if your mother is present in the room. She may become upset with you but it’s okay because it is necessary for her medical and psychiatric safety. I hope that she is able to get the help she needs. Please take care. I wish you well.

Dr. Kristina Randle

Photo

 

 

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 16 Nov 2010

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2010). My Mom’s Unique Disease. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 2, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/11/16/my-mom%e2%80%99s-unique-disease/