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Home » How Do We Help Delusional Relative Who Is in Another Country?

How Do We Help Delusional Relative Who Is in Another Country?

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From Australia: My sister in law, who currently lives in Canada, has been diagnosed with a psychological disorder. She seems to have been tipped into delusional thinking 12 months ago when her ex husband filed divorce proceedings. She has always had OCD and paranoid tendencies but never delusional as she is now.

She has no family and possibly only a couple of new friends around her as she only just 2.5 years ago moved to the city for his work. She has no work and though a resident she is not a citizen.

She was committed to a mental health unit a few months back after she called police about her safety and security – she believed the house is being watched, phones bugged, computer hacked and was unable to go out without fearing she was followed or conversations overheard. She has been prescribed medication and group therapy however all conversations with her from her Australian family indicate she is unable to function.

She needs to finalise the divorce proceedings to be financially supported but is unable to accept that her ex wants to divorce her. He is planning to sell the house she is living in and the divorce papers are being processed. She refuses to accept any of this and pack to leave the house, believing that he is being coerced and eventually will come back to her and we are lying when we say the house is on the market etc, even though she has the paperwork saying otherwise. Her ex has been gently trying to get her to understand that he is divorcing her for 2 years now.

How do we communicate with her so that we can support her to at least come back to Australia for a time. Her conversations are totally irrational and her mood swings from dispare to elation within moments -with a delusional positive or negative thought and she gets very agitated and irrational as soon as we mention anything related to her leaving. What do we say or do to help her?

Family have stayed for 3 weeks with her on 2 occasions but as she is manipulative, delusional and paranoid she is unable to take the steps she needs to. She will not seek therapy support. She started group therapy but we are not sure she is continuing as she says she doesn’t need it. Help — how do we managed this!?

How Do We Help Delusional Relative Who Is in Another Country?

Answered by on -

A.

Sadly, this may have to get worse before it gets better. You’ve already done what I would suggest. As you already discovered, this can’t be handled long distance by phone and email. It needs people’s presence and persistence. But you did that with your visits. She also may need more time in a hospital to stabilize her medications and to establish the value of therapy. But she has already had one such stay.

It may require another crisis — and another hospitalization — to give you some leverage with her. In this sense, it might be more helpful for her husband to move ahead with his plans than to continue to try to reason with her. His gentle approach has inadvertently helped her remain convinced that he doesn’t mean it.

While she is in hospital, you could request a family meeting to learn more about her state of mind and to ask for advice about how best to support her. My hope is that such a meeting would persuade her to return to your country where she has on-going support. But she may not agree to do that.

I don’t know enough about Canadian law to advise you about whether there is anything you can do to compel her to accept treatment and go where she is loved and cared for. In your shoes, I would check with a lawyer to see.

Meanwhille, you are in the very difficult position of having to watch someone you love self-destruct. There’s nothing I can say to make that any easier. If there is a support group in your area for relatives of people who are mentally ill, I do urge you to attend. Such groups often provide both information and emotional support that are helpful.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

How Do We Help Delusional Relative Who Is in Another Country?

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). How Do We Help Delusional Relative Who Is in Another Country?. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 21, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2017/10/13/how-do-we-help-delusional-relative-who-is-in-another-country/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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