Your mother is fortunate to have a loving family who cares so much about her well-being. Many people with schizophrenia have “burned bridges” with their families, often to the point where their families have had to part ways. In some cases, families have no choice. In the book “Angelhead,” for instance, Greg Bottoms writes about his brother Michael. Michael staunchly believed that his father was the source of all of his problems. He believed that the only way to stop his father was to burn him alive “before the demons completely overtook his soul.” In an effort to “save” his family, Michael lit the house on fire, convinced that killing his family meant that he was setting them free.
That example was meant to illustrate circumstances in which some families are forced to separate from their loved one with schizophrenia, for their own safety. Fortunately, that is not the case with your mother.
It is not selfish to want to live your own life. It is both normal and healthy. The desire to do what is normal and healthy should not produce feelings of guilt. Love often involves sacrifice, but you cannot sacrifice your entire life, chance of happiness and your future for the sake of your mother. You have the right and the obligation to care for yourself.
I would encourage you and your family to explore what social programs are available for your mother. There may be programs, staffed by mental health care workers, that could help care for your mother. Many counties have such programs and they may be free to your mother, depending on her health insurance. She may be eligible for intensive case management or a program in which doctors and nurses visit the home every day (if needed) to assist with medication management or to assess (and to subsequently attempt to improve upon) her daily mental health status.
What about medication? You mentioned that she is experiencing many psychiatric symptoms. The fact that she is experiencing significant psychiatric symptoms means that her quality of life is being compromised. Does her medication need to be adjusted? Check with her doctor about a possible medication change. Medication typically does not eliminate all symptoms but one can expect a significant reduction in symptoms.
You love your mother. That is clear but love cannot cure mental illness nor is it enough for her or for your family to have a high quality of life. Outside professional help is likely necessary in this situation and it may help to resolve this problem. You’d feel much better if you knew that, in your absence, your mother was being appropriately cared for by trained mental health professionals. It would also make you feel good to know that you helped to facilitate that care.
Check with your mother’s doctor, her treatment team or the local community mental health center to assess what programs or services are available. You should also contact the local National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). They may suggest programs that could assist your family. Please don’t hesitate to write again if you have additional questions. Please take care.