I really need some help. Since I was a child I have known that my mother is seriously mentally ill. She would come home and lock herself in the bathroom and scream at someone who wasn’t there, using foul language. She says bizarre things such as “when I met Melvin he was the ambassador of the whole Canadian territory!” Melvin is my dad, and he’s never even been to Canada! She once told me that she believed that “They” killed Cindy Crawford and replaced her with a younger woman. She isolates herself and talks to herself all the time, but she only moves her lips while not making a sound. Most of the time she’s a quiet, sweet 62 yr. old woman, and sometimes I wonder if maybe she talks to herself because she’s lonely. As far as I can tell she doesn’t hallucinate, and I’m very confused about her mental state. Does this sound like any mental disorders you have heard of? I understand that you can’t diagnose her but I just need some idea of what’s happening, I’m worried about her. Thank you.

A: I admire your love and concern for your mother. One way to understand this is that she clearly has behaviors that concern you, limit her in the world, and involve delusions. The only way to more deeply understand her behavior is by having a qualified mental health professional do an evaluation. A psychologist, psychiatric nurse practitioner or psychiatrist are your best options.

There is a chance your mom may not want to go for an evaluation. If this is the case be certain you, your father, or both of you make this trip with her and explain that you need her to go to help you with the relationship. Often this request is easier to accept for someone struggling with these issues. Let your love and concern for her well-being be the guiding principle behind the evaluation, not the implication that there is something wrong with her. Love and support are usually better motivators than fear.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral