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Is there anything I can do for my friend? Serious ongoing MH problem.

(15 Posts)

I think I posted about her before some time last year. She has a long history of depression/anxiety but in the last year or so she has got a lot worse and seems to be suffering from some kind of paranoia/delusional illness. She is single and her family are completely useless so no good expecting them to take care of her or see she gets proper help. Is there anything I can do, or do we all just have to sit and wait until something awful happens. She will not accept that this vast conspiracy to harass her is all in her mind (OK a very little of it is real; she had a dispute with neighbours but the neighbours are not supervillains) and I don't want to push too hard on this because that makes her back away and I am scared it will make her decide that I am part of the evil conspiracy or at least not to be trusted.

shodatin Wed 25-May-11 00:36:14

Mind have offices around the country and some offer counselling, so I'd phone them and make enquiries about what is available at this stage. Best wishes.

Thanks Shodatin. I have been on the SANE website and emailed them for advice: basically my friend appears to have something along the lines of paranoid schizophrenia so I thought they would be the people to get in touch with. Unfortunately their helpline is only open in the evenings....

MerryMemoo Wed 25-May-11 11:07:49

You need to get her to her GP, he can then refer her to the community mental health team who can then get her an urgent appointment with the psychiatrist.

MM: She is having, or has been having, some sort of MH treatment, and a crisis team have been involved at least once. But as I am nt her next of kin I don't think I will be able to find out what treatment she is having. I don't know the name of her GP. My problem is, she is very resistant to suggestions from friends that the problem is her own mental health - if you try to approach the subject she gets angry and upset and insists that it't the haterz that are the problem and that she is reacting normally to such harassment.

ThatsNotYours Wed 25-May-11 21:44:43

Have you considered going to your own GP and asking for their advice as to how to approach / provide support to your friend?

Whilst they can't offer advice on her specific problems they may be able to help you source the right support or give general advice on how to go forward. X

TNY, thank you, that's a really good idea. I have been trying to get through to the SANE helpline tonight (it only operates from 6pm-11pm and is permanently engaged).

Oh shit, it is getting worse. MIND were reasonably helpful in suggesting that if I knew she was under the care of the local community mental health team I could give them a heads-up that she is deteriorating but the person who is closest to her says that she has seen the GP very recently who did bugger all but hand out sleeping pills, and the local MH care is very poor.
I had started to hope that she might be coming to the end of the latest cycle (which does happen sometimes) but she apparently rang another friend in serious distress. Has anyone any experience of people with schizophrenia, does it inevitably get worse or can it be sorted out with the right treatment? I keep thinking she's going to end up in a locked ward.

PrettyDamnUseless Thu 26-May-11 23:01:34

Hi SGB,

I recently came here and got some great advice about my friend

Your friend can be helped - it's frustrating sometimes that the process can be so slow and the sufferer can deteriorate so quickly before they can access the services that are supposed to be there - but they're there.

I learnt you can't take on the role of 'rescuer'. I'm sure you know that but when you see a friend suffering I know there's that element of wishing you could wave a magic wand. There's some good advice on that link, hope you have a read and I hope your friend feels better soon x

tiredlady Thu 26-May-11 23:22:36

Hi SGB,

What you are describing is unfortunately not uncommon. It can be very hard to access appropriate help when someone is breaking down but refuses to accept it.
Your options are limited.

You could try and persuade her to go to the GP herself. Tell her that you feel she is very stressed and that maybe she needs some help. Offer to go with her and fill the GP in on what is really happpening. I'm sure you have probably tired this already.

Failing that you could try and make contact with her GP or the Crisis team yourself and explain your concerns.
. They obviously won't be able to share any information with you but they can certainly listen to what you're telling them and take action if appropriate.

The last choice you have is the most serious one. If you are with your friend and you are so concerned about her mental state that you think she is either a risk to herself or others then you can ring the GP (or on call GP if out of normal hours and insist on a home visit with a view to a mental health act assessment which may result in your friend being sectioned .

If this is an acute psychosis it is very unlikely to get better of it's own accord. The longer she goes without treatment the worse her overall prognosis will be, even once she starts meds.

tiredlady Thu 26-May-11 23:25:50

BTW meant to add - lots of people with schizophrenia do really really well on medication.

NanaNina Thu 26-May-11 23:41:19

Totally agree with tiredlady. The thing is when people lose touch with reality, they are not aware of it - that is part of the illness, and that is why someone else has to act on their behalf. I am not a medic but am still trying to recover from a severe episode of depression last Easter (and 3 months on a psych ward) and I am ok for some of the time, but then a blip comes and I feel really down.

I saw people on the psych ward with psychotic type illnesses, where they had lost touch with reality and being treated and I saw some of them get better. One lady who I became friendly with had suffered 2 major episodes of reactive depression, but this time had "tipped over" into a psychotic episode and for the first week I was in there I thought she must have alzheimers as she was very strange, didn't know where she was, trying to take off her clothes, and having to be fed by staff. However she had already been in there for several weeks, and she suddenly seemed to be ok, and was back in touch with reality. She had no memory of the weeks when she had been in a psychotic state. She was discharged before me and was off on holiday to Italy!

I think tiredlady is right - this kind of illness can only get worse without treatment. You say you are scared she would end up on a locked ward, but that may well be where she needs to be (dependent on how ill she is) and the doors are only locked to prevent people on a "section of the Mental Health Act" which means they are not voluntary patients, wondering off and maybe getting run over or some such. I don't think many (if any) psychotic people will agree to going into hospital because they don't believe they are ill, as you say they blame things of what is happening around them. Then for their own wellbeing it is necessary for them to be sectioned under the MH Act for 28 days initially, and this can be extended if necessary. Anyway the doors aren't wooden locked doors if that is what you are visualising - they are glass doors and people come in and out all the time with a swipe card. It certainly doesn't feel like you are locked in.

I think you should try to persaude her to go the GP (and offer to go with her) and if she refuses, you need to see GP or crisis team or CMHT and tell them what is going on with your friend. As others say, they won't discuss her case with you for confidentiality reasons, but they will listen to what you say and should take the appropriate action.

Hoping you get some help for your friend asap.

Thanks everyone: the latest is that she has gone to her mother's house and by the sound of it her mother is getting the family doctor to come and see her: hopefully this will lead to appropriate treatment. So I am going to do nothing for the present, just wait and see.

ThatsNotYours Fri 27-May-11 22:50:56

SGB
It must be so difficult for you. 
 The Royal College of Psychiatrists publish some great leaflets.

http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/mentalhealthinfoforall.aspx

May help.

X

Thanks. She has been my friend for nearly 30 years and while she has had MH issues for about 20 of those years, there have been long periods of her being fine and functional: this awful delusional stuff only started about 2 years ago.

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