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Mother believes she infested with parasites :((93 Posts)
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
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
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
Don't worry about that, if she physically reacts then it's a visible symptom for the doctor. You really need to get the GP to see her and sooner rather than later. She needs urgent help. The rest of the household can't ignore this anymore.
The only thing a GP can do is send a request to her for some kind of check up - a normal thing - and see whether she will go . You can speak to him and tell him about all of your concerns but obv he cannot discuss her with you .
You say she is seeing a doc re the insects ...have you spoken to him about her condition to alert him ? TBH the way you describe her makes me think any medical person coming into contact with her would see that she needs urgent help.
If you google your local NHS mental health trust they may have a single point of access number/helpline - some do, depends where you are. These can sometimes directly refer in to a crisis or triage service.
If your DM will agree I'd just turn up at A&E with her. They can arrange a full assessment there and admit under section if needed, or sort home treatment. Otherwise it's an emergency GP apt, they can arrange an assessment at home. If your mum refuses this they will need to sort a warrant with police, which would likely take you into next week.
You can and should call 999 if she is actively threatening to harm herself. Be aware police and paramedics have limited powers if your DM is in her home however.
I'd really aim to get her seen today. She does sound like she's experiencing psychotic symptoms and is quite risky.
I hope go has checked for Lyme's by now, as this is very serious, and needs ruling out.
I am assuming there was an emergency appt this morning?
Hi everyone and thanks again,
The GP hasn't tested her for Lyme's or indeed Anything beyond basic bloods. But then again she has basically only visited a few times. I didn't want to go down the emergency GP route as only posted this last night and hadn't had the time to discuss it with my Dad.
He's taking her to A&E tonight though, and I've written a list of symptoms to remind him. I'm praying that someone will be alarmed by her behaviour and maybe admit her.
I'd suggest a test for Lyme's as well.
My dad was diagnosed with it.
They tested him for demantia, all sorts of auto immune conditions etc. and finally - as it seemed so unlikely - for Borreliose. He regained his mental capacity after treatment but the nerve damage to his legs was irrreversible.
I hope she gets seen to and it can be taken seriously.
Good luck OP, I can't imagine how this effects all of you and I hope she can get the help she needs to deal with this x
Coincidentally, I had quite a severe mh crisis today that necessitated an emergency GP appt. I was very heartened at the treatment I received, very different to days gone by (thank goodness) and which of itself was a huge balm in the circumstances. The enormous fear of approaching my GP exacerbated the mh crisis: chicken and egg (I'm thinking of your mum here). I think the training is much better these days - plus the duty Dr told me about her own similar experiences which was such a balm. Not about me here but wanted to encourage you about the GP.
One question: did she get the bullseye tick bite mark?
I have to agree up to a point with pudding about gut health. It's how the French view things (from what I gather) : it all comes from the gut. But ime all that research can fry your brain and make one obsessive - and as that's already her problem.. Plus ime this type of research never ends! But Patrick Holford is relatively palatable on the nutrition/gut subject I guess.
But imo she/you/her medics can look at that at a later date: for now she is in crisis. Up to a point I think we have to accept current medical practise where we live. I assure you I don't say that easily. I hope your mum is able to accept it before too long.
Sorry humbly post!
She could do herself some serious damage taking websites seriously. Some of them actually recommend properly dangerous "treatments" for this kind of thing which will strip your stomach lining, which you then poo or vomit out (sorry to be graphic). Pictures of this are then shared as "proof" that there was really a "worm". It's fucking terrifying tbh but these people really are frightened and believe that nobody is taking them seriously.
I hope you have some luck with the doctors tonight. If she does travel to Germany btw although this is also not great, I do love in Germany and the health system is very good here. I think if it does come to that she's likely to get good care although it would probably be very expensive given that she isn't a citizen or resident with health insurance.
Whether she’s angry at you for starting the process of sectioning or not isn’t relevant right now, her survival is. If she was having a heart attack and desperate for you not to get her to hospital because she was convinced it was a spirit sending her a message you wouldn’t worry about her being upset with you. Her immediate survival is what matters, focus on that, and she’s in a crisis, potential a fatal one. Ring your local secondary care access team (mental health services) for some advice on the next steps to get her in contact with services. You will have to come with a list of symptoms and ask to speak to someone familiar with this disorder and highlight the risk to herself (lest they say they can’t do anything without her consent).
You must act. Your mum isn’t well and nobody else might.
I had a long chat with my brother today. Our concern is that this illness, as some have suggested, could be being caused by something primary - such as MS, Parkinsons, even Cancer. If we got her in a mental health facility, would primary causes be checked for, since she's had no tests so far? It's something we're prepared to do, but I wouldn't want something else to be missed in the midst of this.
I do believe the NHS can do a great job at times, but they're not without faults. Tonight they tried to send her back to the GP at A&E, but as she had a break down, they've agreed a DR can see her. My boyfriend's mother now only has months to live because her GP wouldn't refer for a scan, despite having had breast cancer in the last few years and having symptoms that matched bone cancer. She had to threaten suicide to get them to send her. I've heard the same stories over and over again from work colleagues and friends. Whilst the GP might be the only option, it's sometimes hard to keep the faith when they act like this.
Well fingers crossed the doctor in A&E will see there's something seriously wrong. Is she still there?
Yes, she is. I keep asking my Dad for updates. He's taken the day off work tomorrow so at least the late night isn't too bad. They've been there nearly four hours - hope something comes of it
Sorry I haven't responded to posts individually yet. There's some brilliant suggestions and I feel so much better having shared this with you. I will do so in the next few days, just so much going on at the moment xx
Hope someone listens to you and you get some options.
I work in psychiatry and this does sound like it could easily be psychosis. If that is the case, having her delusions disproven by testing her samples etc will do absolutely nothing to help her or change her mind. I hope she gets the help she needs now she is under the care of A&E. Should you need this in the future there is also your local crisis team which you may be able to self-refer her to depending on your area: www.nhs.uk/service-search/Crisis-support/LocationSearch/329
A brain MRI scan would probably be useful if you are having worries about Parkinson’s etc.
Just to add you could ask the crisis team to assess her while she is in A&E
(MH nurse here)
There could be an organic cause for delusional symptoms. A&E will do screening prior to admitting to a MH ward and will know what to look for. In the unlikely case she was admitted to a MH ward without proper screening the ward should be able to sniff out if it's not a MH problem (usually the presentation is quite different) and arrange either transfer to a medical ward and/or further investigation. Given her age and that she hasn't had a MH problem before A&E should comprehensively screen her though.
I think your priority should be getting your mum seen ASAP. The current situation sounds quite unsafe.
Good luck it's not easy supporting someone who doesn't want help, I wish you and your mum the best
Oops, sorry somehow missed she was already in A&E . All the best OP
Yes indeed Grundoncall like bladder infections for instance, which is not uncommon. Which is why I'd mentioned Lyme's because of op opening with bitten by a tick.
To have written that seems odd, if op didn't see some connection as she said it all started after that. I don't know how common Lyme's disease is though.
Regarding the Lyme's thing. I double checked with Dad and apparently she has had a Lyme's test via GP, although apparently those tests aren't always accurate and Lyme's sometimes requires more complex testing. I'm unsure about this though.
So it turns out that the Dr she saw in A&E, after hearing her description of symptoms, made his mind up straight away that this is a MH problem. He wanted to speak to my Dad in private, but she wouldn't allow it. She told him all of her symptoms, got out her 'samples' and even showed them sanitry towels, which she believes are full of bugs. To the person that asked, my Mum is 60 - went through the menopause around 7 years ago, and had a tough time then mentally, though nothing like this. They waited around 6 hours at A&E. The Dr went to speak to a consultant and they wanted her to have a psychiatric assessment. She refused, although has said she would consider it at a later date. The Dr was fairly blunt and told her that he doesn't believe she'll ever find the answer she is looking for and he doesn't want her spending thousands of pounds in Germany. Blunt, but essentially accurate advice.
Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately?) she told them she was suicidal, so they are going to be following up. They said they'd ring to check how she is in a few days, but I wonder if this is a guise for addressing the situation. They may struggle to do much with her in the home though. She has been better today, but still keeps showing me things that are almost certainly hairs. It's very difficult as I do want some tests to be done - I really want them to rule out things such as MS, Parkinsons and Cancer. She says the Doctor last night told her that they will be doing no more tests, which is upsetting, as they've done zero, but I need to verify this with my Dad, as she has been telling some white lies. It's all upsetting still, but I'm hoping the involvement of A&E and the fact they know she is suicidal might mean that some treatment or care occurs soon.
It's difficult for us to co-ordinate as a family sometimes as we all work different hours. But Dad said to me earlier that all three of us need to try and go somewhere to discuss this, but not necessarily tell her that we're meeting (just pretend we're all out.)
My brother is worried about it being an underlying illness causing this and said that he told her to examine a normal hair (from his or her head) by pulling one out, against what she thinks is round worm to reassure her. She refused. He even said he'd do it (we bought a microscope for this purpose), and she got upset.
She's still going on today about the incompetency of the medical profession, so I don't think anything has changed. But then, it won't, without treatment. She did call me today while I was out to ask where Dad was (out of curiosity) but I wonder if this was some kind of paranoia, or just a coincidence (my Dad was on an appointment).
Not sure what will happen next, but now A&E know that something is seriously wrong, I'm hoping they will intervene. If she's threatened suicide, I'm presuming they have to intervene, though I'm no expert.
I wonder if there were other behaviours or perhaps thought patterns evident during her assessment in A&E that makes it fit together quite classically to the trained eye, as being part of a particular MH condition?
It might well be psychiatry that would be the driving force behind getting the GP to rule out the organic causes. It’s likely that the Psychiatrists are very, very used to seeing patients that have been referred as a face value MH problem but on detailed assessment demonstrate signs of another condition, and therefore probably know exactly what tests to ask for to exclude certain things in a structured fashion. This is especially pertinent in the Older Persons Mental Health area of work because as a lot of people have mentioned, plenty of physical health problems can manifest with psychological symptoms. Your mum is probably too young for OPMH care though.
Do you know if it’s the crisis team that are likely to be following up? I think you need to be pushy and strike while the iron is hot, so to speak. Often crisis teams are so busy that they can only keep someone on their list for 48-72 hours after the crisis presentation in A&E, and if the service isn’t accessed by the patient in that time then they discharge back to GP.
I hope it doesn’t come to this, but it can happen sometimes that things have to get sufficiently bad with psychotic symptoms or suicidal ideation that the person no longer had the capacity to refuse an assessment.
I do hope this gets sorted for you, could you set up a WhatsApp group between you, your dad and siblings so that you can at least keep up some continuous contact between you even if you’re unable to meet up face to face?
Yes, I did mention the tick bite for a reason. It looked somewhat like a bite, and apparently a walk-in GP said it looked like one, but he didn't make a note of this, so I can't be 100% sure.
I mentioned it because I am worried about the fact that organic causes haven't been ruled out. I don't think it's fleas, or scabies, or round worm, but there could be something that's causing these delusions. Or it could be entirely mental, but I'd like to know.
My Dad asked her about suicide plans. She said she has a plan that is painless. She keeps saying to everyone 'you'll all be alright, better off without me etc.' I don't think she realises that the thought of coming home and finding her dead at any point is fairly distressing.
I think Dad is willing to take action now. The issue is, countering her thoughts or disagreeing with her makes her more depressed, suicidal, and results in no one getting sleep. Very difficult as I think he couldn't pre-empt this too much. He was supportive of her in A&E, not because he believes it, but because I think he feels guilty about all the times he's told her he thinks it's mental, and how much she hates him for it.
I think our best hope is possibly convincing her to go for the assessment. I told her, as someone said on here, that she might get some tests prior to being referred to MH, and she seemed dubious, though somewhat hopeful about that. I really hope they will though. Even though chances are this is entirely mental, I'd hate to thing that something serious is being missed.
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