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Mother believes she infested with parasites :(

(93 Posts)
Bramble1992bear Thu 11-Jul-19 00:15:32

Where to start with this one? I honestly don't know. Just before Christmas my mum was getting quite run down with taking my grandad to endless hospital appointments, and she said that she got bitten in a taxi by a tick or something.

Shortly after, she became convinced the house was infested with fleas, despite no evidence. For the first few weeks, I thought this was true, but after a while began to have my doubts. As the months have gone by, she then became convinced it was scabies. The latest is she's convinced she's infested with parasites/something called round worm. She believes she has multiple infestations from different sources (the taxi, my brother's friends, my Dad's customers, even our pet rabbit!)

Having done our own research over the months (me, my Dad and brother also live here) her symptoms match a condition known as formication. It's where people have the sensation of bugs crawling on them, collect samples, suspicious of doctors, ruin their skin etc. All mum's symptoms. She's collected hundreds of what she claims are samples of these things, but the majority look like lint or house bugs. She believes everyone in the world suffers from parasites and that they are the cause of all major illness, cancer, viruses, aches and pains.

She wears a hair net, barely eats (has lost 3 stone), wears a mask etc. We've tried having reasonable conversations with her suggesting it could be something different to what she thinks - not necessarily mental, but perhaps nerve related. These all result in arguments, or her crying hysterically. She even tells us 'Don't say it' if we suggest it's anything other than parasites and starts crying. Last week I had an argument with her because she was rejecting every suggestion, there was a hair on a glass and she was screaming at me that it was a worm.

There is no talking to her. She has seen two specialists so far, one a Scabies expert, the other infectious diseases. Neither could find anything, though they only examined her, didn't do tests. She is seeing another specialist in London soon, but her long term plan is to go to Germany, which she believes is the holy grail of medicine. She believes that in Germany they will instantly know the cause of her illness. She says Germany is her last resort, yet she's barely tried anything. My Dad found her a company that does Lyme's disease tests, she found a company online that tests stool samples, but hasn't done that. She's been to the GP maybe twice in six months? She claims it's because she has no faith in any of them.

She has threatened suicide and even said that she has 'plans' to kill herself before Christmas. I'm really worried about her, but also struggling to cope with the situation mentally myself. She wakes me up every night hoovering and showering at 3 in the morning, which means I'm sleep deprived at work. Same for my Dad who works 17 hour days. The sleep deprivation probably makes my anxiety worse.

Until recently I was practically living with my boyfriend, but he's had to leave the city lately as his mum is terminally ill and may not have long. That was my escape and I could just about cope, but no more. I go out with friends as much as possible, but I've lost my spark. I feel crippled by anxiety, heart palpitations, very low mood, tearful. Not myself. I know it might seem selfish to be concerned about my mental health, but as a family we are all feeling the strain. My plan is to move out soon, as coming back to live at home was just a temporary measure whilst I found my feet post uni. My leaving might reduce my anxiety, but it's not going to solve the situation in the long run.

The question is, what do I do? I've spoken to a friend who is a health care professional and she thinks we need her admitted in a hospital so things like brain tumour etc. can be ruled out. She refuses to accept even the possibility it's any illness aside from parasites and says she's planning on suing the NHS once she finds out what's wrong with her in Germany.

Sectioning is obviously an option, but I know she would hate us forever if we did that. She hates my Dad already because she thinks he's poisoned our minds against her. Not true, as we're both adults and reached this conclusion based on her behaviour. She constantly snipes at him and gives no consideration for the long hours he's working. She believes that I've become a light sleeper recently because I too am infested... nothing to do with the fact that she's hoovering outside my room at 4 in the morning, not to mention the crippling anxiety that accompanies hearing her constant ranting to herself.

Any advice would be appreciated. I try and keep to myself at home, but she comes in my room, rants and raves. Also says horrible things about me and my brother sometimes, and is awful with my dad sad

As a side note, she's never had a severe mental health crisis before. She can be a difficult person, is very aggressive and opinionated. Sometimes cold, other times warm hearted. She has a problem with hoarding (the house is shocking, and she only recently has started to get rid of a few things.) I get rid of things in secret. She had a breakdown during the menopause and left home for a few days, plus was very negative about my Dad during this time. Aggression aside, she has been mostly OK in the last few years up to now. The point being, whilst I wouldn't say she was of a completely sound mind, she doesn't have an established mental health condition.

I would give anything for this to go away, but it sounds like there's no end in sight

villamariavintrapp Thu 11-Jul-19 00:29:14

Sorry, it sounds like she's suffering from psychosis, could you get the gp
to do a home visit if she won't go to them? Otherwise 111 maybe able to advise how to access psychiatric assessment?

Likeazombi Thu 11-Jul-19 00:43:56

I'm sorry you're going through this as it sounds really awful and scary.
I'm not sure how much advice I can give you but I didn't want to read and run.
It sounds as if your mother is having some kind of mental break.
my brother is very unwell mentally and one of his many symptoms is that he feels like things are crawling on his skin.
Can you encourage your mum to go back to the gp? Or even to Germany?
You cannot get her sectioned even if you wanted to, that is for doctors and a court to do believe me we tried for months to get my brother sectioned as a danger to himself and others, nothing happened,
Just so you know if she does end up sectioned it will be because she's very unwell and not because of anything you do or don't do.
Has your mum got access to the Internet? I'm wondering if she's part of any groups maybe Facebook that might be feeding this?
Google morgollens, are there other things she's paranoid about?
Really I think the best thing for you to to is make plans to move out, can you and your brother share a place?
You can still support your mum with whatever this is but it's better for your mental health to have a bit of distance and a good night's sleep.
I know how hard it is to be worrying constantly and not getting a full night's sleep.

GeorgiaGirl52 Thu 11-Jul-19 00:45:12

If she is threatening suicide she needs mental health evaluation asap.

RosaWaiting Thu 11-Jul-19 00:51:25

I am so sorry this is happening

It does sound as if sectioning might be necessary

Is it possible to get the GP to come by?

I completely understand that you’re worried about your own mental health. I do think this needs to be handed to professionals.

The doctors who saw her, I wonder if they made any notes about her state of mind? Those might have been passed to her GP?

You are having palpitations so I’m wondering if you need medical attention. I have anxiety and did have palpitations, there’s def some meds that can help take the edge off a bit.

I must go to bed but do keep posting if it helps, will keep this on watch. flowers

Likeazombi Thu 11-Jul-19 00:54:25

Agree with pp that she need mental health evaluation.
How to get that for her when she doesn't think she's mentally unwell is another thing.
All you can do is try, call gp, get referral to mental, see if they do home visits, expect to wait 6-8weeks for first appointment and try to get her to it.
I'm sorry for you op, it's a long hard road you're on. 🌸

QueenofPain Thu 11-Jul-19 01:00:37

Try and speak to her GP surgery. And move out, you must fasten your own life jacket first.

Whilst it’s noble of your dad to be working all these hours, presumably to provide for everyone, perhaps he needs to reduce them so he can be a proper partner to your mum and get her some help and support.

Don’t encourage her to go to Germany, if she doesn’t get the answers she wants while she’s out there, who knows what will happen. Trying to navigate a foreign health and legal system will be 10x worse than this already is.

GP or social services, persistently, over and over again until something gets sorted,

tryingtobebetterallthetime Thu 11-Jul-19 01:01:31

I don't live in the UK but agree a mental health evaluation is necessary. She is having delusions and has expressed suicidal ideation. This could all be due to a severe depression with psychosis. Waiting six to eight weeks is too long. Can you talk to her gp? He/she can certainly listen to what you are observing without breaching any confidentiality. You need help in formulating a plan of action. Things could become much worse quickly in a situation like this.

Please take care of yourself. All the best with this. It is so hard. 🌸🌼🌸

Caucho Thu 11-Jul-19 01:04:04

This is very common for those with mental health issues and often drug issues (which of course cause MH issues in turn). Meth mites for instance. Not saying she specifically has a drug problem but just the parasite type sensation is very prevalent for MH. Not necessarily psychosis but something to worry about all the same

Bramblebear92 Thu 11-Jul-19 01:31:47

Hi everyone and thanks for the responses. It really helps to speak about it. For the first month of this I didn't tell anyone. I then told my boyfriend, and just recently a good friend who is a nurse. It's difficult to open up to people in real life, because I was initially worried (silly as it sounds) that people might think she did have fleas/scabies etc and that they'd worry I had it too. Even if friends understand it's entirely mental, it's kind of hard to tell many, as people can be judgemental. I suppose I feel it's bad for her, as some of my friends have met her when everything was normal, and I feel like they'd be so shocked and not be able to comprehend what's going on now.

I have thought about talking to the GP. My only concern is that our GP isn't the best (I had to beg for a referral to get my tonsils looked at when they were causing me to choke on my food, for example.) However, it might be useful in terms of having some idea of an action plan.

I went to university in London, and that's where I've been planning to return to. There are lots more options in my field there, but I returned home to get some money behind me... I've stayed longer than I anticipated, probably because of a combination of longterm bf living here and comfort, but now I've never been more desperate to go back. It is a little far away though, so that's a slight worry.

I think the main problem with this is her absolute conviction that she's not mentally unwell. On the rare occasions she talks about other topics, she's quite rational and normal. She has always been an 'I am right person' to the extent of screaming at me when I was a child if I had a political disagreement with her. I think this part of her personality is coming out even more now.

I do think on some level she's afraid to go anywhere because she knows her belief could be disproven. What I really need more than anything is a doctor that can do some Physical tests on her, even exam her samples etc. I think that's the only way she might be swayed, and even then, I'm not hopeful.

Someone mentioned the Internet - she's not on Facebook, but she seems to have gleaned a lot of info from it, and it's how she's self diagnosed. Though it's probably worth noting that physically she doesn't resemble anyone with scabies/round worm etc. She's also in contact with a woman who sells pesticide products on the Internet and has fed her lots of information and is an enabler, as far as I'm concerned.

As for getting a GP to visit. That sounds like a good idea, but I dread to think how she'd react. I am a bit worried about her turning violent, though so far her aggression has been mostly verbal. I even worry about her harming our lovely rabbit, though I pray she would not do that sad

My best hope at the moment is that this specialist in London (private Dr) might be able to help... but then he's not a mental health expert, he's an expert on parasites. She's already saying some negative things about the appointment though, so I'm not overly hopeful.

I find everything so frustrating, and have tried getting her to see reason myself. My brother is the one that, very sensibly and logically, continues to try and make her see reason, in a gentle way. But I honestly thing it makes things worse, as she gets more depressed and starts ranting and becomes very angry.

Ditto22 Thu 11-Jul-19 01:40:56

I would get your mum to GP or go yourself and ask what help is available. Hoarding, obsession with cleaning, fear of contamination etc could possibly be signs of OCD getting a grip on her, or it could be another psychiatric condition. It must be absolutely awful for you to feel so helpless and be stuck in this situation. My advice is that this is way beyond what you can control or deal with in the family and she needs medical help. It might sound unthinkable to have your mum in hospital etc but these services exist for these situations. There is possibly a mental health crisis team that the GP can put you in touch with and things could go from there. Don't despair - professionals should be able to help a lot with this, which will help your mum and take this unmanageable burden from your shoulders. You might need to insist and really push to get all the help you need for her - this is the best action you can take so go for it. Good luck and come back to the thread if you need more support.

QueenofPain Thu 11-Jul-19 01:41:51

I think you need to be very very certain yourself about whether you think there is any credibility in the idea that she has any parasites or a skin condition and then stick.

If you are certain that she is fine and that this is all unfounded then you need to stop any encouragement with parasite doctors or specialists in infectious diseases, etc. What you are doing by going along with these ideas is collaborating with her delusions, which affirms her beliefs.

If this is a manifestation of a mental health problem then every parasite doctor on earth could exhaust every single diagnostic test going and she will still remain convinced that they are all wrong. If she sees the doctor in London and all the tests are negative then she will tell herself that doctor is simply rubbish and she must find a different one, and then another one and another one and another one.

It sounds as though this problem has already become so significant that it is interfering with her ability to engage with normal life and activities. She needs help, but it is not in the form of any parasite doctors, it’s going to be a mental health team.

You and your family all need to be very united and singing from the same hymn sheet with regards to this, she can’t be hearing one angle from one person and something different from another.

springydaff Thu 11-Jul-19 01:46:24

Poor you (all). It sounds absolutely intolerable.

She's obviously had ongoing MH issues all along and for some reason this has recently tipped into full-blown... whatever. Have you spoken to her GP? I think you need to spell it out, no holds barred. She is in urgent need of intervention.

I'd say move out - unless she moves out first ie she is sectioned. As a pp says, you have to fasten your lifejacket first - as it is, two of you are now suffering tatty MH. That's one too many - it's not your crisis.

Hoarding is complex but is generally a marked psychological dis-ease, often linked to significant loss/bereavement. It is also compulsive - and her current symptoms could come within the compulsive remit. Just a thought.

Anyway, she needs urgent assessment. I'd really push for that iiwy - MH is hardly a priority for the NHS so you'll (all) have to put your entire weight into it and not give up.

I don't envy you. I just googled this which may shed some light on how you can approach this. I suggest you get in touch with MIND to get effective support for yourself.

I do feel for you. Take care flowers

TruthOnTrial Thu 11-Jul-19 01:46:28

You need to get her checked for Lyme's.

You said all this started with a tick bite. This is what happens in kymes

TruthOnTrial Thu 11-Jul-19 01:46:38


PenelopeFlintstone Thu 11-Jul-19 01:52:58

Name change fail, OP.

Sorry about your mum. I used to get this weird stringy mucus on my eyeballs and when I googled it I found myself in a place where people are convinced they're colonised by all kinds of bugs and organisms, which we are I guess, but these were terrified people. It was chilling reading.

Nat6999 Thu 11-Jul-19 02:59:12

Is your mum either menopausal or could she be starting with dementia? I would think she needs full blood screens for hormone levels, B12 & all deficiencies as a first stop then a referral to MH if everything comes back clear. The fact that she has moments of clarity & then goes back to worrying about the bugs makes me wonder if she could be suffering from bipolar or schizophrenia. Whatever it is you need help because unless she gets the help & support she needs this wont go away. If things get unmanageable take her to A & E & ask to see the crisis team.

ChristmasFluff Thu 11-Jul-19 07:35:58

The GP really is the first port of call, and you can explain your worries about her being potentially violent when you talk to them.

Psychiatrists will usually work to exclude potential physical illness that could be causing the symptoms - I've seen lots of people who were hospitalised for mental health issues who were diagnosed with rare illnesses - and two who were diagnosed with Lyme's disease (I worked in mental health for many years).

Iris27 Thu 11-Jul-19 07:40:43


My mum went though something similar. Thought there were bugs living in rugs. Shaved all her hair off, suicide attempt, moved out of the family home into a caravan which she could keep clean easier.

This was all caused by being misdiagnosed for years. The doctors said she had IBS when she was actually coeliac. Her body and brain was deprived of the nutrients it needed for years and this was culmination of it.

She got help and correctly diagnosed due to the suicide attempt and that's when she started getting better. She's fine now.

You need to get her to a doctor's and get them to check her both physically and mentally, though easier said than done. She could have deficiencies like PP said.

Would telling her this story help?

Iris27 Thu 11-Jul-19 07:47:42

^ what I mean is, because my mum's stemmed from a physical problem rather than a mental, would she be more open-minded to the possibility?

Nautiloid Thu 11-Jul-19 07:50:56

Does she link up with other 'sufferers' online? There are whole communities, including on FB, of people with delusional parasitosis, and they all feed off each other in a hideous echo chamber.
She does need mental health help, I am sorry you are dealing with this.

Peridot1 Thu 11-Jul-19 07:58:23

It sounds horrendous for you all.

How old is your mum?

I think you need to speak to your father and brother without your mum being there. You all need to be on the same page.

One of you or maybe you and your father need to go to the GP without your mum and explain everything. Then either the GP can do a home visit or you can try to get her to the GP again - maybe offer to go with her to help her explain. There is obviously something going on psychologically but as others hav said it could be as a result of something physical so blood tests etc might help.

Your dad is her next of kin legally so he can and should see the GP.

EvaHarknessRose Thu 11-Jul-19 08:04:10

Agree doctors need to exclude physical causes (urine infections in the elderly commonly cause these symptoms too, although i appreciate it has been a long time). You absolutely need to speak to her GP.

pudding21 Thu 11-Jul-19 08:09:07

Hi OP. It sounds like somatic disorder and ocd. She needs a mental health assessment urgently.

One thing I will say though is she isn’t that far off the mark with what she is worried about. I’ve had my own poor health for a few years (I’m a nurse) and I’ve spent the last year or so trying to work out what’s wrong with me. Basically if you look into it most chronic disease is highly likely to begin in the gut. We have more microbiota dna in our bodies than our own. Effectively we are a vessel for our microbes. There is also a strong correlation between gut health and psychiatry. I’ve started training as a natural nutritional therapist and there is a lot of emerging research about mental health and microbiology. Our modern lifestyles in terms of diet, environment and use of antibiotics has changed our gut microbes and our bodies haven’t caught up yet. There is a lot of evidence to suggest that the chronic health crisis we have in the western world is caused by not just diet but our diversity of microbes in our guts and skin. Some people have suggested I might have been getting a bit obsessed with trying to understand my health, but actually I understand more now and it all links together, and it’s reassured me I wasn’t going mad!

I know now I have mutated genes which mean I cant metabolism b vitamins well, I have adrenal and thyroid insufficiency, I have gut dysbiosis. I also have higher levels of mercury and aluminum in my body. All normal blood tests had come back normal but at cellular level, things are not functioning well. My symptoms have been mainly mood swings, anxiety, fatigue, low mood. Instinctively I knew I wasn’t depressed, or anxious. It felt all physical if you know what i mean (I’ve also had recurrent utis, two cancer scares, HPV).

Anyway my point is, perhaps she is correct and something with her is out of balance and causing her mental health symptoms. Instead of her going to Germany, suggest she sees a specialist in the Uk who is an expert on gut health and go from there. She needs to treat the underlying cause of her mental health symptoms. Most of our neuro transmitters are made in the gut. Serotonin for example, the neurotransmitter responsible for keeping anxiety in check is mainly made in the gut. Take a look at the book 10% human.

It must be very hard for you, another book I’d recommend is the medical medium. The first couple of chapters are a bit “meh” because he talks about being chosen by god. But actually his remedies and thoughts are mainly backed by science but he reccomends
the first step to treating ill health is a liver cleanse. If you want more info I can send on pm.

Rumplesmoothskin Thu 11-Jul-19 09:32:09

GP, urgently. Call them today.
As PP said, she's actually talked of suicidal plans which is more serious than just ideation. She needs help. If she gets violent, then it might be the catalyst to getting something in place.

And yes, she could be sectioned for this if she is at risk to herself or others but she won't hate you, she'll get better and realise it was necessary. My own family member has had periods of psychosis for years and been sectioned many times. They know it has to be done and the first port of call is the GP.

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