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Ability to Handle My Daughter Who Is 23 and Has Schizophrenia

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My 23 year old daughter is married, now separated. She is a paranoid schizophrenic if we must label it and is a methamphetamine addict. She was on her way to a one year in-treatment in lieu of 2 year prison sentence, when during sentencing us and the court was made aware that she had attempted to kill herself. Although she said she did not and I believe she was playing the system, in our state this makes you not eligible for treatment programs. The choice was to leave her in jail and get no help or bring her home and utilize our private insurance to get her counseling, medication and psychiatric help. We were stunned when that offer was put on the table. The problem is that now she stays with us a couple of times a week, with her ex-husband on weekends and has no respect for any rules by us at home or for the terms of her probation. She won’t likely care until she gets caught and goes back to jail. My parents, her grandparents, also live with my husband and I. As soon as she walks into the house she attacks me, yells at me, has no problem telling me to shut up, lies about what I did or didn’t do , said or didn’t say and will then call her husband who will let me know that he believes everything that’s wrong with her is my fault and that if I don’t fall in line he’s going to shout to the mountaintops and tell everyone just what kind of mother I was to her. This stems from me telling her that while lining in our home she would not be allowed to disrupt our home, drugs would not be allowed and that we expected her to follow the rules of her probation. If she could not then she would have to find other living arrangements. Now it does not matter what is going on in the house, when she arrives its impossible for me not to put my parents safely into their living quarters and I have to lock myself in my room. She gets manic and angry and lashes out mostly in my direction. I am ill and have been very sick for many years, I am an easy target for her. Her presence is seeming to make my own conditions worsen and my mother is scared of her. I would like to think she would not physically hurt us but don’t know that to be true anymore. I am feeling more and more like I need counseling just to deal with the anxiety. I’m in tears all the time, get little sleep, have anxiety that is worsening and am recovering from three surgery’s in the last 6 months. I refuse to cover or cover up for her. I love my daughter and raised her well. She now has no moral compass and will tell you that she feels nothing.

If I do go speak to someone I fear I will spend an hour falling apart, that’s how rattled I am. I don’t want to live my life this way but feel guilty for feeling like she would be better in prison for her and for us. Her PO is coming to talk to us tomorrow and I’m contemplating leveling with them which could send her to prison. She finally has an appointment with mental health services and I’m hanging on hoping that this will be the beginning of her healing. I don’t honestly know what caused the changes in her. The drugs, the cold heart, attitude, her filthy mouth, her anger. I have a second daughter that does not present with any of these symptoms. She was very premature at birth and I did take medication to keep her from delivering and to get her lungs viable. She was always a handful as a child but sweet.┬áThe changes started at 10 years old, she got married young and was out of the house. Her husband is military and did three deployments. She said the last deployment a year ago she broke when he was gone and that they split over a year ago when he found out she was using MORE drugs. They both were cheating, but when he packed and left is when we saw a total psychotic break. He knew about the drugs and supported her use, they neither one let us know. She showed up at our home skinny, totally manic and paranoid and like I have only seen people on TV shows. We blinked and she was gone then got the call that night that she was in jail being held without bond. Just don’t know what to do when you know her brain does not always function.

Ability to Handle My Daughter Who Is 23 and Has Schizophrenia

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I’m sorry that you are faced with this difficult situation. I offer you my deepest sympathies.

Guilt implies that you did something wrong. You didn’t give your daughter schizophrenia. Your daughter has a brain disorder, though no fault of yours, that impacts her ability to think and to function. Her use of powerful, illicit drugs exacerbates the problem or may be the actual cause of the problems you are seeing. No matter what the cause, she is out of control.

At this point, it does not seem within your power to help her. You have tried your best by giving her a safe place to stay, food, love, and care but that has not been enough. That’s because schizophrenia cannot be cured with love and neither can drug addiction.

Unless the court declares her incompetent and you are named her legal guardian, she has the right to make choices about every aspect of her life, including whether or not she participates in treatment, uses meth, and so forth. You cannot force her to take medication nor can you stop her from taking illicit drugs. Only the state has that kind of power and authority.

It’s best to consult with her parole officer to determine what arrangements are best for her. It may be that jail is her best option. Think of it this way. Will she be safer in jail or safer out of jail? Neither place is safe but for your daughter right now, where will she be safer? What are the chances of her remaining addicted to methamphetamines in jail compared to out of jail?

I would recommend you reading books about tough love. Sometimes, it is absolutely necessary to be very tough with people we love because it is the only way that we can save them from themselves.

People using methamphetamines can be very violent. They can easily commit murder, easily be killed when there is police intervention and easily end up being incarcerated for the rest of their lives.

What gives her the best chance of regaining her life? I would tell the truth, the whole truth to the best of your ability, to her parole officer. Hiding her behavior from the court system will not be helping her. The truth is the truth. I would not lie or deceive to make her look better or worse. Let her own behaviors and choices be the deciding factor.

Consider contacting the National Alliance For Mental Illness (NAMI) or the Treatment Advocacy Center for support and guidance. You may be able to attend support groups or interact with people who are dealing with similar problems. Both organizations offer support and advocacy for families.

Finally, you should also consider counseling, even if you “spend an hour falling apart.” Counseling can be quite powerful, especially in times of anguish and distress. If you have additional questions, please don’t hesitate to write again. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

Ability to Handle My Daughter Who Is 23 and Has Schizophrenia

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist and Assistant Professor of Social Work and Forensics with extensive experience in the field of mental health. She works in private practice with adults, adolescents and families. Kristina has worked in a large array of settings including community mental health, college counseling and university research centers.

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2018). Ability to Handle My Daughter Who Is 23 and Has Schizophrenia. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 25, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 19 Nov 2014)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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