Urgent: I think my Mum is mentally unstable. What do I do?

Latest episode:

My mum had a manic episode on Christmas Eve. She had a complete meltdown and was screaming and shouting. She ran away on Christmas Day and returned on Boxing Day at 5:30am in the morning. She locked herself in her room for most of the time only to come out and shout and get a cup of tea. She had a mother manic episode on Friday where she physically attacked me and then called the police on my Dad and I to say we were physically and domestically abusing her. The Police arrived and realised my mum was clearly unstable and called a GP for her own safety. The out of hours GP turned up at 7am, about 3 hours later, and came to the conclusion that my mum had good mental capacity (!!). My Dad and I then locked ourselves in the living room to sleep and she tried to get at us again. Since then, she has pretty much locked herself in her room. She will only talk to her (only) friend Alison and then locks the door as soon as she leaves. My Dad and I are scared of her. As far as we aware, she has only eaten 8 pieces of toast since Christmas Eve.

My mother has done this many times in my life so I decided to film her behaviour as it hard to believe that she can be like because she is so nice most of the time!

My mum has been like this for as long as I can remember. She has also abused alcohol for years. She stopped drinking around 18 months because she was diagnosed with breast cancer and had treatment. She has recovered and was the best she has ever been. Recently, she has started drinking in secret and we believe this may have triggered another one of her manic episodes.

We have never sought medical assistance because most of the time she can be lovely. However, I think it has now gone too far. I am a music teacher and my father has a good job. She could have potentially lost us our careers due to her reckless behaviour. I am not blaming her as I know she is very ill.

Am I doing the right thing by seeking help from the GP in the morning? Is there any I can say to make them really listen to me?

I am studying for masters degree and I feel like I can't go back to uni as she may fabricate a serious story about my father!

Any advice would be much appreciated.

Best wishes.

35 Replies

  • Oh my goodness, what a dreadful situation. I really feel for you. Christmas is a difficult time for even the most level headed of people. For those who have difficulties with mental health, it's ten times worse.

    Her calling the police must have really have hurt you both. Please try and remember that this probably wasn't a rational decision. I can't diagnose anything, but it certainly sounds as though there are some difficulties that need addressing.

    My Mum has been an alcoholic for as long as I can remember so I really understand what that feels like for you. Try not to frighten yourself by thinking about how little she eats. It's quite common for alcoholics to survive on the bare minimum of calories needed to function. My Mum's daily diet often consists of a piece of a toast, a Weetabix and an orange.

    I also understand when you talk of your fears of her behaviour jeapoardising your career. I'm a teacher and sometimes Mum's comments on my Facebook account are so controversial that I have to hope I've managed to delete them before someone sees them and I get fired!

    It's clear from your post that you love your Mum and only you and your Dad can make the decision about contacting her GP. In my experience she won't thank you for it, however personally I think it's the right thing to do.

    I shall keep you all in my thoughts

    Lucy x

  • Thanks Lucy. It is very difficult. I didn't sleep for over 24 hours on Friday/Saturday. I really think that I have to contact her GP for her own safety.

    She was clearly very unstable when the out of hours GP was here. She kept saying to the Police before he arrived that we had called the Police on her and contacted the GP and the Police kept having to tell her she had done it. It's very upsetting.

    I just need to know that I'm not being irrational by seeking help for her. I've wrote everything down for the GP to read.

    I just hope they can help.

    Best x

  • I am really sorry about everything you both have been through.Your poor Mum

    Sounds very unwell. I presume it's her own GP that you would be seeing in the morning. Definitely I think you should get someone in the practice to

    See her, I am sure she won't go voluntarily to the GP if she is that unwell.

    Is she on Medication ? I would get the GP first thing In the morning. I would also

    Try and make sure she is safe from harming herself tonight. If she goes out and you

    Are worried I would phone the Police as they would be helpful.

    Try and keel calm and don't argue with her, it's very difficult to cope with someone

    Who is in this state as they think they are fine and that everyone else is wrong.

    It's a pity that Doctor didn't take action? But he probably believed her. Have you any

    Of her tablets or prescriptions that you could even show Police If

    you have

    To call them.

    I am just giving you what I think will help, but if you have any worries I would call the

    Police and they may be able to help. I am sure that other people here will respond

    And give you some good advice.

    Please let me know how you get on and take care of yourself too In this crisis.


  • Hi Hannah,

    Thanks for your response.

    She has never been treated for any psychiatric illness, just her cancer. We think she has stopped taking her pain medication. She is very weak and fragile since being ill and this had made her even worse. She believes my Dad and I are 'the bad people'. However, she lets her one friend in the bedroom. Is this common? I really don't know!

    I hope that somebody listens to me. She is still locked in her room at the moment. It's very sad as she has been preparing for months for Christmas. We still haven't opened any presents. Apart from my autistic brother who had a planned visit that day.

    Best, x

  • I was surprised when you said she was never treated for any psychiatric illness before . Did she just get well herself before without any intervention . Either way I think it's best to talk

    To the regular GP. I think it can be a question if the person

    Is a danger to herself or to others.

    Be guided by your Doctor.


  • Also, my sister contacted Mum's GP a few months ago. He wouldn't disclose any information about her, but he did listen and was able to offer advice based on a hypothetical situation. He said he would not be able to visit her without her permission, unless someone was to suggest her capacity to make decisions about her health was severely impaired. I think this is the case with Mum, but my sister wasn't prepared to go down that route, and neither was I. Hope that helps x

  • I think I am prepared to go down that route. I cannot see my mum suffer for any longer. Locking herself in her room, running away, physically tiring herself etc. I think deep down my mum knows she needs to see somebody. I just hope something happens because I really can't leave my Dad with her. x

  • I have this concern too, as my Dad is disabled. When Mum is off on one, she doesn't cook for him or give him his medicines. It's such a worry isn't it? X

  • I really feel for you and your Dad for being in such a distressing situation. Whilst I don't really have any helpful advise about what to do, I would just say that, despite how difficult it may be, do try to be as gentle as possible when/ if approaching your Mom, and don't portray any hint that you're not exactly on her side, as this would in turn be a stressful situation for her and would probably make it more likely for her to, like you suggested would be possible, make allegations or something of the sort.

    Really sorry you have to go through this, but if you can manage it, just try to be as caring and gentle as possible (despite being in a lot of stress yourself)


  • Hi Clare,

    Yes, my dad and I can't really go near her without her shouting or screaming at the moment. I'm just leaving her to be in her room until I go to the GP for advice tomorrow.

    She is convinced we are conspiring against her. It's all very strange, upsetting and frustrating.

    I am supposed to be returning to university soon and it is very difficult for me to think about leaving my Dad.

    Best, x

  • Have you considered she might be bipolar?

  • Oh my, I can imagine. Must be so difficult. I can often get quite paranoid about things, and can convince myself that perfect strangers are thinking things about me that probably haven't even crossed their minds, so I can completely empathise with your Mom thinking you are conspiring against her. It can be very upsetting to be in such an unstable state yourself, and then you make things even worse by convincing yourself everyone else is against you do. I definitely can see why she's put her guard up. Have you been able to speak to her friend that she has been seeing? Maybe she could be a mediator? It would be a difficult task, but if she's willing that may be able to help

    Would your university be graceful & understanding if you took a couple of weeks off whilst you try to get things sorted with your Mom? I too am at uni so know January can be a time of exams and deadlines - I personally have a very relaxed timetable in January, but is yours too hectic to be able to have the time off?

    Hope you manage to make some progress by seeing the GP tomorrow

  • Hannah - My mum has always got over it by herself. We've let her do this before. She's done it for as long as I can remember. I can't let her call the Police again though. It was just too far.

    Clare - My mum's friend is currently the neutral person. We have been contacting her before and after she visits my mum because she is very worried about her.

    I could maybe talk about my uni..we'll see what they say. I am studying on an intense course at a music college so it is very hard! I've managed to cope before but I have realised my mum definitely needs an intervention before something serious happens. I couldn't live with myself if one of the got hurt.

    Best, x

  • Lucy - Yes, i think she is either bipolar or has a personality disorder. x

  • How great that she is being neutral & cooperating with you and your Dad as opposed to just siding with your Mom out of loyalty - must be difficult for her but clearly she knows it's for the best

    Do you know how to contact your uni's student support? Where I study they're great - if you explain your situation to you, they're happy to relay the information that's necessary to relevant lecturer's so you don't have to go through the stress of it yourself. It could definitely be worth a shot if you feel you will need some time off.

    One thing I just thought is that, when your Mom is feeling and being more herself again, if you and your Dad have a chat with her, making sure she knows you are being completely non-judgemental, and discuss her getting some help or treatment? When she's well, she may be much more inclined to do so. One thing I think would help is if one of you offered to go to the GP with her when she's feeling well again - I always hate going to the GP with mental health issues on my own, it's very daunting, so just try to be there as much as possible

    Sending only good wishes your way

  • Hello

    Either have words with the GP, or Emergency night line, again they may phone the Mental Health Crisis Team

    You could phone the NHS Emergency Line to arrange a visit from The Mental Health Crisis team, you can do this through the Police who would call them. A GP report may be required so your GP may need to be approached

    You could ask your Mother to phone the Emergency Line and She could ask to be placed into a location of safety

    VOLUNTARY SECTION This can be done by visiting A and E, or GP Your mother will need to agree with that and the Crisis Team will most probably be needed to see her first, next day. They will need to understand why this happened. If there has been a problem a Police report will be required by the Crisis Team.

    To subject a person to The Crisis Team is the best way to go they will be able to talk to your Mother and will discuss what to do in your mothers case and what has caused the problem in the first place

    When you call the police they have too feel that she is a danger to family,herself , or public.

    You will need to understand, if you go the way above it is a serious thing to do, generally the best way forward is to talk to your mother and visit the GP who will assess your mothers mental health and arrange for the CRISIS TEAM to visit her if required.She may just need medications.

    One in ten of the population has a Mental Health Problem at sometime in their lives, the chance of a section is rare, the patient is best treated in Society

    Most occasions the patient will know she is not well, and be worried what has happened.

    You really need to understand, the above is not undertaken lightly and the cause of the problem will need to be looked into at some depth, People these days are not locked up and the key thrown away it is very serious and good reasons will have to be given.

  • I am at a loss right now. I know she will not go to the GP willingly. She is very stubborn and does not like help of any kind. I need to go and discuss it with somebody because it is out of hand. My mum seriously believes that everything that has happened is our fault! I have tried talking rationally through her bedroom door. I have tried everything for years and I believe it is time to take action.

    Thanks for all your help, x

  • Keep your determination for your Mom's wellbeing & restoration to wellness and try not to let any obstacles stop you from it. Definitely post again with any questions, everyone would be very happy to help you

  • Hello

    If you are a first line relative all I can really suggest is see the GP, if possible.It may be possible to discuss your Mothers problem.with him in the first instance. The methods above are still available to you. If you are in any form of danger you know what route you need to take, although best advice may be the way through the NHS Emergency Health Line, whatever happens the GP will be approached and your Mothers welfare will need to be taken into consideration.

    We all I know how hard it is to realize, your Mother has rights under the Mental Health Act so a series of tests will be undertaken to find out what is wrong.

    If you need to talk or after support, either you or your Mother you know where to come to


  • Thanks Bob.

    I sat on her bed to talk to earlier when she left her door unlocked. I said I just want to help and to let me know what I can do. She said I am no daughter of hers and that she has told me to leave the house already. She also tried to call the Police on me again and I asked why. She said because I was in her personal space and that is enough. I was just sat on her bedroom. In the end I left the room.


  • I think it's better not to say anything to her in this state. It's the same if you talk to someone drunk, they will argue and are totally illogical. I would wait till morning and talk to your GP. What does your Dad think ? Maybe she will sleep and it's probably better if she stays in her room. Keep calm and try and get some sleep too


  • The out of hours doc was avoiding paperwork! Grrrr...this makes me so mad!

    Speak to her own GP ASAP. You and your Dad will need to present a united front, that this behavior was a problem when she was drinking and this episode is not her first (although it is the first since stopping drinking). If her GP says she has capacity, ask for an emergency plan to follow if she continues to act in specific ways e.g. Not eat, threaten to call the police, claim you are conspiring against her.

    Ideally she would be a voluntary admission but a 72 hour observation order would give them a clearer picture of what is going on.

  • Hi,

    I am so sorry to hear about your mum, it's awful when you can see such a change in a person that can be so caring and loving.

    Just wanted to add that my nan suffered from breakdowns of this kind. She went from a quite sweet old lady that didn't swear or have a bad word to say about anyone to a someone who thought the whole world was conspiring against her she also wouldn't eat she had violent aggressive outbursts that was so sad to watch because of the language she was using just because she had been so against it before.

    We called the doctor out but she was also very cunning because of the paranoia and the doctor didn't take us to seriously. We had to eventually ring an ambulance when she was in the midst of an episode and have her admitted to a&e from there she was assessed and put on to a mental health ward. We were devastated my grandad felt like he had failed and abandoned her we also felt like

  • Sorry my post submitted before I'd finished.....

    We really thought my nan wouldn't survive she was so poorly and so far gone that it just seemed impossible and we didn't think she would make it past last Xmas but I happy to tell you that oh yes she did. It was a few hard months of her living on the ward getting her weight up getti her medication right and this Xmas she was back were she belonged at home not quite 100% of the person she was but happy content and enjoying her life again.

    Stick with it for all it's hard it will be worth it and the recording you have of her will help show the doctors just how poorly she is if she is good at hiding it.

    All the best and stay strong

    Kim xx

  • Hello

    How is your Mother now has she calmed ?.

    One way of dealing with this problem is could you ask Allison to have a quiet word with your Mother.

    This may help and you may have more success approaching it from that direction.

    I still feel that there must be something to have caused all of this, generally find that find the reason and you are half way there. You say she is a drinker, if this is the case She should be calmed by now

    Have you now contacted GP this am ?.


  • don't know if things have calmed down now or not. Is it possible that you or the friend could suggest to your mum that there might be a physical cause to her recent episode, you mention her not eating much, would it be possible to persuade her to go to get checked out in case eg. blood sugars might be an issue. Just as a way to get her through the door to the g.p.?

    Please be careful not to use the friend too much, in case your mum loses trust in her in the future.

  • Hi,

    I went to the GP this morning who realised how much help we needed...yet has done absolutely nothing. He told me to come home and ask my mum whether she could possibly eat a proper meal for me and ask her whether she has taken her cancer treatment medication. My mum pushed me out of the room and threatened to call the Police on me again. She then called her friend Alison and had her on loudspeaker shouting 'See listen to them harassing me, Alison you have to call the Police'. It's dreadful.

    Anyway, I called our local GP back and said I've done what you said. She's not accepting help. He said he was still unable to do a home visit because my mum would be unwilling to talk to him on the phone.

    She then went manic again. Had a shower, came downstairs and then went out the back garden into the summer house. She brought the step ladder into the house and pulled the attic door down. She climbed into the attic and got the Christmas tree boxes down. She then carried it all downstairs.

    By this point my Dad was going to have a nervous breakdown, I made him leave the house and go to our neighbours house. We sat there for over six hours because. My Mum drove my dad out of his own home!

    We came back and she had pulled the remaining Christmas decorations down, thrown the cards away and put the real Christmas tree in the front garden - this is a woman that is sometimes so weak she can barely walk around shopping for an hour.

    What can I do if the GP doesn't help?

    Best, x

  • You need to keep persisting and giving factual information on her behaviour. Have you got a recording ap on your phone? Record her accusations and play them to the GP.

  • I have recorded her physically hurting, shouting in her manic states and taken pictures of my bruised cheek/arm. I told the Police, out of hours GP and the GP i visited today that I had recorded to her and none of them seemed particularly bothered. They all brushed off the fact that I had said anything. It's all very frustrating right now.

    I genuinely don't know what else I can do right now. I feel mentally/physically exhausted. I have so much work/music practise to do for masters course and I just can't do it.

    It's very upsetting.

    Thanks for your help everybody.

    Best, x

  • i think as kiwihelen suggests getting a recording of her episodes would be useful. Ironically her calling the police would at least mean they could also give the g.p. an extra nudge, esp if this happens on a regular basis.

    Unless she becomes outright dangerous It might be a case of waiting for her to be more like her normal self. Showing her the recordings, or telling her all the reasons you are concerned and getting her to go down to the g.p. for a general review, perhaps with the trusted friend, and then take it from there.,

    Hopefully it is just the extra stress of Christmas that has pushed her over the edge temporarily, . I know you are seriously worried about her, esp if the g.p. is not sure about taking direct action. It might be the best the family can do this time round is try to prove to her that you and your dad are on her side to make her more likely to turn to the family for support the next time.

    I know it's frustrating, when my gran was not taking care of herself due to her slowly deteriorating mental condition she was still deemed sufficiently capable, and i remember being terrified for my father every time he visited her. Ironically it was only when she had a fall and broke her hip that things were taken out of her control and she got a residential place. I know this does not sound encouraging, but i guess what i really mean is that keeping her trust in the family might be key to getting her to seek help foe herself if the g.p. can not come up with a solution.

    Stay safe.

  • My is going through these phases a lot. she cries every night and locks her self away. She refuses to see a doctor and doesn't enjoy anything. She comes home early from spa days and shopping sprees with friends because her eyes are red with tears. i cant cope any more it is so hard i know how all of you gies are feeling. I don't know if i should give someone a ring like social services. She stops eating all the time and suffers bad depression she has lost loads of weight and is basically a stick. She tells me she has a mental health problem in her brain and it is messed up. We argue loads and she just cries and says everyone is going to kill her. It gets scary trust me. I don't know what to do. I have been looking om=n line loads. I think she might commit suicide i am to scared to tell anyone and i am scared to go back and see what has happened top her. I cry like very night it is so hard. I am not a great student either so it puts loads of stress on my mum. I hope things improve. I have run away on many occasions. I think she mi8ght be ill because of me maybe i don't know it just all happened when we were renovating the house. She is scared to do any thing and she ran away one night and didn't come back until 6.00am the next morning. She properly cries and says were`s dad is he here. I want granny and grandpa she screams and gets angry so easy. People at school don't realize how hard my life is to live with a manic mum is hard they bully me. My dad used to hurt me but know it me and my mum who just argue i wish things could be OK again. Id pay to switch lives or to go back and not make the decisions I have made. I need real advice i have a councilor and maybe i should tell her what if people are mean to me about it.

  • Hello. I hope you, your mum and dad all got the help you needed. I can't believe all your GP's were so reluctant. Hope everything is better for you now. I'm in a similar situation which is slowly escalating but hasn't gotten quite that bad yet. My mum will frequently start yelling whether there are people in the room or not. She gets mad at the drop of a hat. If someone has moved the bread or put the milk in the wrong order or turned the TV off. But it's gotten worse, now she's started yelling at me in public and when if I don't say anything she screams at me and tells me not to be so rude and ignore her, where as if I talk to her about something, often anything I say just makes her madder. When I try to calm her down she thinks I'm being patronising but I really just want to help. I know it seems trivial but this sort of stuff and the screaming she does because of it causes so many arguments. I try not to be mad or upset but when she's calling me a bitch, swearing at me and saying I'm the reason she wants to kill herself, I just don't know what to do. Am I able to call a GP even if she doesn't want to go?

  • Hi,

    Just discovered your post although I see it was posted 2 years ago. If you see this, would be good to see how your situation has developed (Hoping it has improved!). I'm in a very similar situation right now so would be good to talk.

  • In need of advice 123, I'm so sorry to read your post , it rings bells with me for my own condition I year earlier than that, even longer before perhaps.

    Unknown to me then, I was slowly over the years building up to having a an aneurysm and brain haemorrhage, which I did have 3 months after I decided to leave my husband after 45.5 of marriage. That was all 3 years ago this month when I left him and we had lived in France for 5 years at that time.

    So really it was a build up of several different things, involving marriage, children now adults in their 40's, when over years I would throw things at him ocasionally, suddenly lose my rag - brain rage I can call it now. Always all directed at him except for the last couple of years before when it even involved my boys and grandchildren.

    Basically since age 5 I'd been independent, had to be through circumstances - yes I had a family but didn't live with them except different relatives in holidays. I could write a book, but after months of personal health research from birth to now, I think I can confidently say I was accident waiting to happen.

    It sounds like your mother was in a similiar place 2 years ago. I'm still in France, living alone in a totally area, alone but not lonely. I've learnt the language, have friends still in UK, especially on HU during the course of my medical health and research, am on the local village committee, where no one speaks English - that can make for an interesting meeting when I don't understand!

    But more importantly I am getting to the bottom of my health situation, it could involve a genetic inheritance with TB in the family including me when I was a baby and had a gland removed.

    Unfortunately it's something I'd forgotten until I started my research, but it does seem to all come back to my endocrine system, and whT affects that affects the brain and neurotransmitters also, which in turn affect our responses and behaviour.

    Part of the endocrine system also involves being sure we have the necessary vitamins and minerals in our body, but only supplementing more if needed, vitamin b12 is the most essential Vit we need.

    So how is your mother now, think about the above, and if possible ensure she has the correct blood tests. If she has a Thyroid problem also, she would need as well as the TSH (all 99% of doctors will test for) FREE T3, FREE T4, Folate, Ferritin and Vit B12. also a check for Lymphocyte and Platelets to see if the cell counts are within range or not, would help.

    I do hope you managed to get to the bottom of it all though.

    I'm not medically qualified, just explaining that what, where and why my health is in the state it is now, and I'm still struggling here, yes, even with the French health system, but I'll get there, as I hope your mum did. Part of my problem has been over medication, affecting my liver, giving me neural problems similiar to the initial effects of my Brain Injury. But I'm much better now, than I was then, because I stopped taking most of the meds except my Levothyroxine!

    Not too late I hope to wish you and your Family, a Happy & Healthy New Year.

    S x x

  • I know that this was two years ago, but I stumbled across this when looking for advice about the same thing. I'm 20 and my mum Joanne is 49, she got diagnosed with breast cancer a year and half ago, which was the same time I went to university. Shortly after I left my younger sister was sexually assaulted and then fell into the "wrong crowd" at school, which lead her to starting smoking and having underage sex etc. Mum mum went through a mental break Christmas 2014 where she ran away and tried to commit suicide, though this is speculated to have been caused by tamoxifen (her cancer drug). Things seemed to improve after that but by summer 2015, she began to become violent again. This was increased by the fact that my sister chose to run away to live with a family that the police called "dangerous and a risk" she lived there till November. My mum like yours was a heavy drinker before cancer and has continued to drink after she was allowed. She also speaks to two friends who are much older and seem content on blaming everyone but her for the problems. My father (divorced) has been no help with all of this and makes things worse by blaming my mum and making everything that happens her fault.

    I don't know what to do, I have become the main communicator between my parents, meaning that I get the abuse from it all. My mum is out of control and will not listen to reason. The friends that she speaks to have made her go to a solicitor who makes matters worse by telling her that it is not her fault. This is not what is needed. Someone needs to tell her that she is mentally ill, and so advise her to get help. But I am the only one who is admitting that there is a problem! I can't cope with this, it's too much for me to handle. Currently I have returned home for my Easter break and was visiting family for the day, I came home to my mum shouting abuse at my sister and then she got violent with me, I tried to speak to her but she would not listen. I am now too scared to leave her alone so I am sleeping downstairs as she has passed out on the sofa, I am scared that she will commit suicide as she has attempted in the past.

    Is there anything I can do, I called the police numerous times but she changes persona when they arrive and becomes "the victim" and I am the one who is the danger. I have asked for them to help by getting her assessed. They refused. Do I have the right to go to her doctor and ask for help? Or is this not allowed due to patient confidentiality? I just want to be able to go back to uni and not have to worry that every call I get will be about her doing something or her attempting suicide. I love my mum so much and this just makes it worse.

    I know chances are slim but any response would be greatly appreciated. Xxx

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