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What Do I Do?

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My mother has lived with me for years since she is regularly unemployed. Whenever I moved during the last 16 years, she usually followed. In the last 4 years, she has become paranoid–someone is stealing electricity, wifi, cable, cell phone service, water. We didn’t even have wifi or cable at the time. I even checked the water and electric usage, but found they were consistent with usage at other addresses. Then she decided someone must be at home at all times because someone is sneaking into the apartment–to mistreat our pets, to fiddle with the electricity, to steal services, to live in the attic.
She also claims someone had wired the apartment to listen to us, wired the front door so it would randomly open, stole our forks (I don’t know where they went), stole the Mummy dvd (we have at least 100 dvds, but that one was the only one taken, sneaks through the ventilation, stops by and electrocutes her around 3 a.m. on random mornings, and added wires under the driver side of my car (don’t worry she pulled out). Someone disrupts the signal on her analog radio, she insists all power, circuit breakers be off, and the major appliances unplugged except for the refrigerator and a few lamps. She says her last 5 cell phones were hacked and taken over by someone. I have never experienced or witnessed any of the problems she claims. So she accuses me of helping the someone because I say none of these issues can be proven. She won’t see a doctor, and she can pass any mental test. Honestly, I wander if she is a dick rather than sick. These incidents have been continual at 3 dif
ferent addresses. In the one address, the landlord said she could not live there any more because she was entering the basement and changing the handyman’s repairs. (I don’t know if this accusation is true; she denies it.)
At one point nearly 2 years ago, I expressly asked her not to destroy the landlord’s county letter because it itemized repairs to the house. She ignored my request and ripped up the documents. I gave her $4000 (my savings) and my car and kicked her out of my apartment two years ago, so she stayed with my aunt for a week, in hotels for about a month. Then she came back for another $2000 (payday loans). Eventually, she spoke with the VA hospital, received a bed at a homeless shelter, and money to return to school. They also offered to pay for housing, but she couldn’t find a place she was comfortable with for the money offered. After a few months in the shelter, she “couldn’t” make it to the shelter by curfew, so she was kicked out and moved in with me again. Within a year, we moved again.
About 8 months ago, we were evicted from a house (only 5 months into a year lease) because “someone” had cut out all the copper connecter in the electrical outlets (a fire hazard), had cut a large outdoor cord connecting the central air to the house, and had removed insulation and created holes in the outer walls. I cannot prove it was my mom, but no one else was in the house. She or I am always home.
Now we’re in an apartment and she opens the outlets and has cut the connectors to the phone jacks. She still experiences are all of the aforementioned issues. I discovered she had pulled wires beneath the driver’s seat of my 8 month old car. She claims someone is hacking into its system. I plan to move because of unrelated issues, but because of my mom, I am hesitating. I am sick of the problems. I am sick of her refusing to listen to reason. I told her 5 months ago that I wanted to go separate ways with this move. I tried to give her time to find an apartment, get a job, request government assistance (she hasn’t worked since 2010), but she has proven she unwilling to take care of herself. She wants me to buy her a Winnebago, so she can live in the woods with her dog and cat. I am tempted because I don’t want to continue this cycle anymore. I don’t want her to live with me. I don’t even want her to know where I live. I don’t even feel guilty about it any more because every time I find something she “fixed” I just cry. However, I feel bad for the dog and cat since I’ve had them for years. I feel guilty because there are no other siblings or family… just me. This situation feels like the rest of my life.
What do I do?


What Do I Do?

Answered by on -


Your mother’s pathology sounds like it is getting worse and is not likely to get better without outside intervention. I would plan a date for you to move out an on your own and then begin working toward gathering services for your mom. Managing your mom isn’t something you are going to be able to handle by yourself. Think of her in the same way you might think of her having extensive medical needs due to an illness or injury. She needs care beyond what you can offer — and will need specialists to help.

The first step is to get an evaluation by a psychiatrist. If your mom won’t do this, an evaluation by her physician would be the next best thing. If neither of these is possible, I would return to the VA and speak to them about your mother’s needs. Getting them onboard will be helpful as your mother is likely to need continuous ongoing help.

However, moving out doesn’t mean not extending yourself to help with your mother’s needs. You’ll want to be able to help but also have a life of your own. Living with her under the current conditions obviously isn’t working for her, and isn’t likely to work for you in the future.

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

What Do I Do?

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2018). What Do I Do?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 25, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 15 Sep 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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