How to deal with someone who is mentally ill but won't seek treatment

United States
March 23, 2009 11:41pm CST
Have you had to deal with someone who is mentally ill but refuses to seek treatment or admit they have a problem or rather doesn't understand they have a problem? I am by no means trying to sound harsh with my post, I'm genuinely concerned but am out of ideas. I have been dealing with someone for almost two years now who really shows signs of being schizophrenic or perhaps just delusional. In dealing with them they are extremely trying. It is at times like trying to explain logic to someone who is two years old who merely wants their own way, yet with an adult mind if that makes sense. They have done things from fabricating elaborate stories about themselves and those they know, to pretending to be things/persons they are not. I've distanced myself from them but I do still have some contact via the given situation. I'm just unsure how one should deal with someone like this. A part of me feels bad for someone being mentally ill, but another part of me just doesn't want to be anywhere near someone who is this ill but refuses to get help. What ideas or suggestions do you have? Have you dealt with someone like this? Namaste-Anora
4 people like this
17 responses
@paula27661 (15900)
• Australia
24 Mar 09
This is something I have had to deal with in my life for sure! Twelve years ago my husband was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. He showed signs of delusion and he was having regular manic episodes which made him feel so happy and high that trying to explain to him that something was wrong was futile. He had delusions and was convinced he was Jesus Christ and could not be talked out of it. I was very frightened at the time because I knew nothing about mental illness and I presumed he had a brain tumour or something similar. Fortunately for me, his parents who lived on the other side of the country flew over for a holiday and my husband had one of these episodes while they were here; it was such a relief to have someone else experience this aside from just me! My father in law managed to convince my husband to go to the hospital on a particularly bad day and it was there that he was eventually diagnosed and admitted to a psychiatric facility. Now we at least knew what we were dealing with. Once my husband's condition was settled down the doctor explained to him what was happening and luckily he accepted his condition. It took his Dad to turn things around because he is the one person that has the greatest influence on my husband. These days we have the illness pretty much under control, it's been a long hard road trying to find the right doctor and the perfect medication regime and there have been times when I thought I needed professional help in order to cope but it's all ok; he still has the occasional episode but they are much less severe and few and far between. I can relate to the feeling of wanting to help and at the same time needing to get as far away as possible. I have hated and I mean really hated my partner during the most difficult times and at the same time worrying myself sick about him. I hope you can find someone who will get through to your friend; if you could just get this person to a hospital; I know it's easier said than done.
• United States
24 Mar 09
Thanks for sharing your personal story Paula. It's such a frustrating feeling of helplessness on my part. I think a hospital stay probably would be the best for the person, but getting them to admit that would be difficult. Namaste-Anora
2 people like this
• United States
26 Jun 09
Annora and all. I am dealing with the same thing. We delt with my father and bi polar all of my life and his and now am dealing with a son. It is very painful. He will not admit a problem but is beginning to scare me and others. I am going to call the police and have him admitted and evaluated but afraid of what will happen when he gets out. He is really good at being really good when he wants to and may be able to fool people who are evaluating him. It hurts. It hurt with my father and it hurts with my son.
1 person likes this
• United States
26 Jun 09
I'm very sorry you are having to deal with that, it's definately scary and it is very exhausting. I wish you all the best in your struggles with your son, and pray he gets the help he needs so he can live a normal life. Namaste-Anora
1 person likes this
@pyewacket (43953)
• United States
24 Mar 09
Are you sure it's schizophrenia and not manic depression? In any case whichever the problem is with the person you know, yes, by all means keep encouraging the person to seek help, even if it means going with them for their first visit I actually had the opposite problem with my mother. She WAS seeking help and as far as I'm concerned the therapist didn't do diddle squat. I had a feeling my mother was suffering from depression (among some other possibilities, like bi-polar, hoarder tendencies...a whole bagful of "goodies") The problem was that my mother never agreed to sign a proxy that would have allowed me intervention on her "clinical" care. Without that I didn't have one word say or input. My mother wasn't exactly very communicative or able to express herself...when she did probably say anything it was probably lies (she was a chronic liar as well). Then another issue came up. She started doing a bulimic thing. Gee, great, another psycho problem...I tried contacting her doctors, social worker, therapist. I even contacted the executive director of the hospital where the psychiatric clinic was and told in a very detailed letter what was going on. All I got back was a letter: "Due to the Hippa Privacy Laws, we may not discuss you're mother's clinical care with you. Thank you for sharing your concerns with us." That was it. I later was to find out that actually that was wrong. They may not have been able to discuss anything with me, but they should have at least investigated if it was a purely psychological reason for her bulimia or physiological one...it turned out to be the latter. She had a cancerous tumor in her esophagus and no doubt when she ate, it aggravated her so that's why she would purge after eating. It wasn't until a few months before she was to pass that she finally consented to sign a proxy and you better believe I went with her to her next session with the therapist, but it was like too little too late. I'm explaining to the jerk about my mother's behavior and her depression, etc, and he says "Oh, your mother doesn't look very depressed to me." My mother is sitting next to me, with a big smile on her face. Like duh? He's basing his psycho-analytical evaluation my mother wasn't depressed cause she was smiling? Give me a break. Anyway, needless to say, it was VERY frustrating. I was basically the only person who saw my mother the way she really was, and the kicker she WAS getting psycho help, but since she was such a great actress and pathological liar, she came across to the outside world completely differently. That's why if you can convince your friend to seek help it would be best if you could somehow go with the person and perhaps even sign a proxy so you can get involved and put some input. I'm guessing this person you know is a liar as well and might not tell a therapist everything
3 people like this
• United States
24 Mar 09
The person I really do think is paranoid schizophrenic with delusions of granduer and possibly dissassociative issues. The person is in my life mutually through a few things I do, so as much as I tried to just avoid them that wasn't really possible. I feel sad too because I just see their life spiraling into some things that could really hurt others. I wish I could convince them to seek help, but as you said they might not even tell the therapist the truth. Thanks for sharing your story. Namaste-Anora
1 person likes this
@mommaj (21383)
• United States
25 Mar 09
If you feel they are in danger or will hurt themselves or other call the non-emergency local police. You can explain the situation and say you are afraid they are a danger to themselves. The police will go to the home and if they don't see anything wrong they may still take them to the hospital for an evaluation.
2 people like this
@mommaj (21383)
• United States
24 Mar 09
OMG we knew a married couple that were like that. I finally told my husband we weren't going to believe a word out of either of their mouths. The scary part is I really believe that they believed what they were saying. People like this are a danger to everyone and even themselves. Depending on what your relationship is with this person you will either have to get rid of contact, distance yourself emotionally from this person, or have them committed which is a long drawn out legal process unless you can get them to go into the hospital willingly. If they are dangerous you can call 911 to send an ambulance to take them to a hospital. I'm not to sure how that works but I know it's been done before.
3 people like this
• United States
25 Mar 09
Wow. You've offered some very good advise and thoughts on this. Thank you for responding. Namaste-Anora
1 person likes this
@chimrani (1431)
• India
24 Mar 09
many peoples mainly in india i have seen many mentally ill peoples.We know that they are mentally ill but they don't think so and won't seek treatment.But i really don't know how to deal with them so sorry me.If you know please tell me too because many peoples come to my shop who are mentally ill. I just talk with polite manner and gave what they want and after that i don't think about them because its very irritating while dealing with them.i too experienced with those peoples and when i help they just treat me bad
3 people like this
• United States
24 Mar 09
I wish I knew the answer myself. I don't know how to deal with the person in question, it's why I came here hoping people would have an answer. It seems the best solution is to get a doctor involved who might be able to help them by convincing them to get help. Namaste-Anora
1 person likes this
@Aquilis (175)
24 Mar 09
Unfortunatly I know only too well this situation, it can be a very hard choice to make, but if someone who clearly has problems refuses to accept this then they will eventually only become a danger to yourself and them. In some cases, getting doctors involved is the best way to do things, as they have powers over the mentally unstable that we as friends do not.
3 people like this
• United States
24 Mar 09
Thank you for the suggestions Aquillis. I do fear they may become a danger to others, so perhaps notifying someone is the best way to handle it. Namaste-Anora
1 person likes this
@ShepherdSpy (8565)
• Omagh, Northern Ireland
24 Mar 09
If the person is at risk of Harming themselves or is a danger to themselves or others,A Psychiatric intervention should be possible to evaluate,diagnose and treat this person.Do you yourself have any medical or psychiatric background or training? You don't state your relationship if any to this person, but unless you are immediate family or a spouse,all you can do is report your concerns to their Doctor,who can refer them if any risks are perceived.
• United States
24 Mar 09
Thanks for sharing. I don't have a medical or psychiatric background so I couldn'thelp them. I just hope they get the help they need. Namaste-Anora
1 person likes this
@lynnemg (4541)
• United States
25 Mar 09
About all you can really do is to try to get the person to seek treatment. If talkng to the person ahsn't helped, you may try gathering inforamtion about conditions that have similar signs and symptoms, such as schizophrenia, and leave the information where you know the person will see it, and may actually pick it up to read it. Other than that, you can hope that for one reason or another, this person ends up needing to see a doctor, and the doctor sees signs and symptoms and recommands further evaluation and treatment. I think you are doing yourself a favor by not being too involved with this person right now, especially if the situation is causing you a lot of stress. Have you discussed with family and friends of this person how you feel and what you have noticed? Maybe all of you, together can convince the person to seek help.
2 people like this
• United States
25 Mar 09
I hadn't thought about putting information out about the disease. That's a very good idea. Thanks for the advise. Namaste-Anora
@lynnemg (4541)
• United States
25 Mar 09
You're welcome, I really hope it helps.
2 people like this
@JenInTN (27571)
• United States
25 Mar 09
Heyya Anora! I have dealt with people in which I thought needed help but unfortunately there is not a lot to be done if they don't seek help. You may try to contact a hot line if you think they are dangerous and talk to them. Sometimes they'll go to the home and evaluate them if they feel there is a need for intervention. Good luck.
2 people like this
• United States
26 Mar 09
Jen- Thanks for the suggestions. I didn't know hotlines would do that. Thanks again. Namaste-Anora
@MsTickle (24587)
• Australia
25 Mar 09
This would be immensely annoying and frustrating. There must be some authority you could turn to who could act on this persons behalf if there are no family or if the family are not dealing with the situation. Particularly if the situation puts anyone in danger. Try your family doctor for information or even your local courthouse.
2 people like this
• United States
26 Mar 09
Thanks for the suggestions. Namaste-Anora
• Philippines
25 Mar 09
Namaste, Anora My mother is like that and she doesn't want to seek professional help as she thinks that she is normal. I have lived away from my mother for 10 years now
2 people like this
• United States
25 Mar 09
Sophie- I'm so sorry to hear that. It is definately a difficult situation to deal with sometimes. I think because my heart truly goes out. Namaste-Anora
@eaforeman6 (8983)
• United States
25 Mar 09
The illness you are describing does not often allow the person to see theirselves in a clear light. It makes it much more difficult. Does the person have family members or a pastor, someone close to them, someone? They tend to see everyone more against them , then looking at people as a possible help. If this person is not on any medicine with this illness, then it is worse. Has this person ever been actualy diagnosed? Guesswork, is risky without tests and proof. Something else could be going on. It may not be just one thing.Sometimes offering to go with them, or have someone trained in these fields to speak to them is better. There are many free mhr clinics and resources for help. Best Wish's
2 people like this
• United States
25 Mar 09
Thanks for the suggestions. I suppose there could very well be other things going on underneath. I'm not sure if they have a pastor or someone that could go with them. I know that they definately have the attitude that everyone is out to get them. Namaste-Anora
@maezee (17775)
• United States
24 Mar 09
Unless they are underage, most people with mental illnesses or addictions will usually deny that they have a condition that needs treatment, and the only real thing you can do is continue to encourage them to seek treatment, and hope that they decide to go on their own accord. Try to support them when you can. I guess I didn't answer your question very well! But I think it's important for you to try to look out for them, and try to continue encouraging them to get help.
2 people like this
• United States
24 Mar 09
They are not a child, so that does add to it. I've tried in the past to support them but their mental illness impedes me helping them as much anymore. General conversations truly are perplexing and all I can do is sit here and hope they get help. Thanks for responding. Namaste-Anora
1 person likes this
• United States
21 May 09
I see it's been a couple of months since you wrote this -- has anything changed? You could be talking about my mother who I've been dealing with for over 30 years. She has delusions of grandeur, is narcisistic, general delusions, paranoia, depression, disassociative tendencies, schizo-typal thinking. She listens to NO ONE because she knows more than everyone -- everyone else is messed up not her...I'm almost ready to call the authorities to forcibly take her and force an evaluation - she'll go no other way, unfortunately. The mental health laws are completely inadequate and side with the one who is mentally ill. I know there had been many abuses of the laws in previous years, but there has to be a middle ground. Have you had any luck? -- Alicia
1 person likes this
• United States
23 May 09
Alicia- The person in question is still the same. They refuse to hear the truth of the situation, and think nothing is wrong with them-hence nothing passed on is being accepted. I've tried to contact fellow friends, but haven't yet called someone to go out to their house for intervention. I've been trying to take a less aggressive approach. It's just sad to see someone like this. I'm sorry to hear about your mother. I agree, the mental health laws are very inadequate, as is the care. Many blessings sent your way. Namaste-Anora
@marciascott (25563)
• United States
3 Jan 10
I know what you are going through I have a family member like that, and as soon as they are off the pills they are really inbalance, it is hard to deal with them sometimes. I have to make sure they take there meds. because if they don't all hell breaks loose. So I know what you are talking about, I can relate to what you are going through. Just make sure that they are taking their pills.
• United States
3 Jan 10
Marcia & Scott- Thanks for the response. It's been an interesting year, but the person left my life and as I said to Pose, perhaps that is for the best. They simply refused to seek help,accept help, and put the blame for their life on me. Now I am focused on my own life and at least my own mental health is in the good realm. Thanks for the thoughtful response. Namaste,Anora
@KAgudo (1)
• United States
19 Nov 09
I feel you 100% on this. My husband of 2 years seems to be turning more and more delusional as time passes. He is convinced that I cheated and has these specific delusions that he throws in my face. He becomes angry and vebally violent towards me when I say that he is wrong. He became violent with me last night....he called me horrible names, flipped out, and hit me in the arm. I am getting more and more drained every time he freaks out. We have a period of a few days where he is relaxed and rational...and then days where he acts irrational and treats me horribly. I don't know what to do because he is convinced that he is mentally stable and that I am just trying to push meds down his throat. He refuses to get help and insists that I am the cause of his anger...and when he feraks out on me he always says "you guys"...as if I am more than one person. I am so confused and I am so depressed by all the verbal attacks and not being trusted that I myself am becoming unstable.
• United States
3 Jan 10
Kagudo- Welcome to Mylot. I feel for you as well. I hope to see you around the lot more often. Thank you for your input. Is your husband a Vet? Perhaps he has PTSD, which can be very difficult to live with. Namaste, Anora
@squaretile (3835)
• Singapore
20 Jan 10
I can totally identify with this. The awful thing about being mentally ill is that they are usually in denial and refuse to believe that there is anything wrong. At least if they are physically ill, they will accept the doctor's diagnosis which is backed up by tests and x-rays and charts etc. But with mental illness, nothing, not even a doctor, can convince them that something is wrong, which is due to the nature of the illness itself! And with physical ills, at least with admitting it, treatment can commence. but if the mentally ill person denies being ill in the first place, treatment cannot begin and the vicious circle continues. Am glad to hear that the person you were writing about has gone out of your life. You must be so relieved. For me, it is a relative, so it will probably plague us for a lifetime. I feel so sorry for the other persons who have to live in closer proximity to this person than I do, but sometimes self-preservation kicks in and I have to distance myself to prevent myself from becoming a nutcase too. In my situation, I feel that there is nothing i can do other than pray. And I have been praying. :)
• United States
25 Mar 09
YOu need to take action otherwise it can get bad, get a shrink, or force them to go get help otherwise you will be sorry