Advanced search

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

IDrinkAndISewThings Sat 13-Jul-19 20:51:09

Oh bless you @Bramble1992bear @Bramblebear92, what a thing to be dealing with. While I find myself agreeing with the suggestion of psychosis, I am pondering the notion of dementia as well. My mum has early stage Alzheimer's and while she displays the characteristic symptoms of forgetfulness and confusion, what I hadn't expected were her fixations on specific things - she's convinced there's something wrong with her tv as there's never anything on (whereas it's fine, she just doesn't like what's on and struggles to navigate the freeview menus) and can get very hung up on her creaky kitchen floor, the cats eating habits...
Granted none of this is as extreme as what your dear mum seems to be exhibiting, but it struck me as slightly similar.
At any rate, i feel for you. There's nothing so painful and frustrating as watching your own mum struggle

Bramblebear92 Sat 13-Jul-19 22:31:03


I have wondered. She can be forgetful at times. Like a while ago she said she thought by cousin, who's younger than me, was 30, but that might have just been a normal confusion. She was dropping things and spilling stuff down herself the other day, too, which worried me a bit.

Out of curiosity, how do we get the likes of dementia, Parkinsons, MS ruled out? Would it be an MRI brain scan? I'm unsure.

I felt bad for my Dad today. My mum thanked him for supporting her when they went to see the A&E doctor. She's been talking about how he hasnt supported her over the last few months - I think it's because he gets frustrated and with some of the things she says, it can be difficult to maintain patience. But he broke down when he was driving me in the car today, as he said he knows he needs to take action now, but feels like he's stabbing her in the back at the same time. I've literally only seen my Dad cry a few times in my life, so found it really tough.

I know someone mentioned him cutting down his hours? Trouble is he works in finance (he's nota millionaire or anything lol) but his currebt job gave him a substantial pay rise and working the hours he does is just expected. They're pretty cutthroat and have sacked people lately due to underperformance. It's a crap situation.

Anyway, he's pretty certain that the Dr was so concerned that they will be ringing soon. He sees his options as follows, but he wants to speak to my brother to make sure he agrees first

1) He tells her he thinks she needs to see MH team - though he has already tested the waters with this, and got nowhere
2) We contact local crisis team and try and arrange a home visit, but perhaps make her think it's due to A&E visit.
3) Contact GP with a's a good idea, but our GP is borderline negligent, so I'm not too hopeful. Might be wort a try though.
4) Try and persuade her to go for the MH assessment. This may be a challenge though.

Bramblebear92 Sat 13-Jul-19 22:32:31


That whole post wasn't aimed at you BTW... don't expect you to come up with all the answers! Just the beginning smile

user87382294757 Sun 14-Jul-19 07:33:19

I guess the GOP would have a letter from A and E perhaps. Hope you cam get her seen soon.

From the article mentioned by a PP

"Delusional parasitosis is an infrequent psychotic illness characterized by an unshaken belief of having been infested by a parasite when one is not.[1] It is also called Ekbom syndrome after the Swedish neurologist Karl Axel Ekbom who did seminal work on this entity.[2]

Delusional parasitosis can be primary, secondary, or organic. Primary delusional parasitosis consists primarily of a single delusional belief of having been infested by parasite and comes under monosymptomatic hypochondriacal psychosis.[3] Secondary delusional parasitosis can occur in the context of other mental disorder like schizophrenia, depression, and dementia. Organic delusional parasitosis occurs secondary to organic illness like hypothyroidism, vitamin B12 deficiency, diabetes, cerebrovascular disease, cocaine intoxication, HIV, allergies, and menopausal state.[4–6]"

Wonder if she has any of the latter things on the list. B12 can be corrected with injections for example. Maybe an approach with MH and also testing for these would work.(from GP)

user87382294757 Sun 14-Jul-19 07:34:12

Also there may be another GP you can see- or put it in writing to the GP and emphasise how bad things are so they get you seen urgently.

GhostRidersInDisguise Sun 14-Jul-19 07:51:18

I think you need to be prepared to lie a lot more than you are OP. If you can get your Mum assesses tell her it is for the parasites as it is really. Be creative to get to the point you need to be.
My Mum used to hear voices and of course I couldn't. She used to get cross with me because I couldn't hear them so I said, "Well Mum you know my hearing has always been poor". I have perfect hearing but that settled her right down. Tell her whatever you have to. Blood samples are to test for the paracites. Scans the same etc etc.

ittakes2 Sun 14-Jul-19 08:22:29

I am sorry this sounds awful. I have OCD - if she has hoarding she has OCD which basically means she has a mind which can become obsessively compulsive and it sounds like she is getting stuck. If she has the feeling of being bitten - it could be her nerves - I mean her nerve endings firing which feels like you have been bitten (I have had this). I would also be getting her tested for vitamin deficiency - I recommend Alan Stewart in London. He also used to be a GP but now specialises in identifying vit and mineral deficiencies in people. If I was you I would not be disagreeing with your mum about parasites - it does not seem to work. In theory we all have parasites! I would be concentrating on telling her lets work together to boast her immune system to fight things off.

CmdrCressidaDuck Sun 14-Jul-19 08:44:45

Just FTR, Patrick Holford is a quack who is very good at cloaking himself in vaguely plausible science that he has actually completely misunderstood and/or overinterpreted. He has a whole (moderately hilarious) chapter to himself in Bad Science and is the subject of the now sadly defunct blog Holfordwatch:

"Liver cleanses" because of "chemicals" is also 100% quackery.

OP, I honestly think your number one priority has to be to move out. You can alert your mum's GP and the MH teams locally, but if she doesn't want to comply with treatment there is likely to be a limited amount they can do unless and until she makes a serious and credible threat against herself or someone else. You've got to get out; even if/when she is well again it doesn't sound like the best living environment.

Ahshitehesatitagain Sun 14-Jul-19 09:29:56

Just to reassure you OP, they will look for all possible organic causes first, that's part of their remit. When I refer to our psych department the first thing they do is explore possible organic reasons for the psychiatric symptoms before anything else. Either something organic is found and they work with that, or if no organic cause is found, they explore possible psychiatric diagnoses. They will not just jump in and decide it is purely psychiatric. We often have referrals sent back because someone's infection markers are up for example so they want that dealt with first before they get involved.

Bramblebear92 Wed 07-Aug-19 22:31:10

Sorry to dump up this thread, but just wanted to update people.

She saw the Dr. in London with my Dad. The Dr. again, according to my Dad, was pretty good. She showed him the samples etc. and he told her that they were just hairs, that it was likely delusional parasitosis, but he referred her back to our GP for more tests (a colonoscopy and investigations into her prolapse, that she thinks is worse due to these parasites.)

A&E rang back but she wasn't up when they called. I keep urging my Dad to contact them, but he seems to have completly washed his hands of things up until lately. He did confront her tonight and tell her that he believes it's formication, but she just breaks down and cries. Is still insisting on going to Germany and now wants me to go with her. I understand my Dad has a stressful job, but I feel like he needs to do something. My brother is worse than useless as he's never in the house to see how bad it is and when I did talk to him about it recently he just said he's not too concerned as he thinks she can be 'talked into rationality.' Fat chance.

She's sent a stool sample off recently to be tested by a lab but hasn't had the results yet. It looks like I'm going to have to try and handle this crap on my own, but I feel quite resentful about the fact that no one else in the family is willing to take charge sad

wasnotwasweregood Wed 07-Aug-19 22:38:08

@Bramblebear92 you can't do this on your own, and if your Mum was suffering with any other condition no one would expect you to. Make an appointment for yourself with your GP to discuss this whole situation. You need to understand what different pathways to go down to help your Mum and you need to understand what help might be out there for you too. Are there any support groups for this kind of condition.
Don't let this all be piled onto you, your Dad is your Mum's next of kin he should be taking this on too. Thinking of you. flowers

Jamhandprints Wed 07-Aug-19 22:46:34

Make a GP appointment without her present to discuss the possibility of dementia.

RockinHippy Wed 07-Aug-19 23:38:19

I'm leaving this link here.

I think it's more than possible that your mum has Pernicious Anaemia. I had the bug crawling sensations & would often see tiny flies. Itching too. My daughter has it too £0& she imagined that she had worn pms, headline tge lot. She was housebound at the time & definitely didn't have anything, but she wouldn't have it. Many people get varying degrees of MH issues because of it, even to the point of being sectioned. The link above explains it all, but please make her GP test her B12 levels & better still start her on an urgent course of B12 injections as per nice guidelines if deficiency is suspected. Get a copy of her results too as the tests aren't straight forward. All explained in the link.

Something else to consider is a urinary tract/kidney infection. My DM was seeing lions climbing up the walls & hissing like something from the exorcist when she had a kidney infections in her 70s

BadTadfeld Wed 07-Aug-19 23:48:57

I just tried to post about vitamin deficiency too but my post vanished. Definitely look into that.

RockinHippy Thu 08-Aug-19 00:07:06

& speak to your local advocacy service, or social services to get some help. Good luck 💐

yikesanotherbooboo Thu 08-Aug-19 10:28:28

What a nightmare.
Please don't feel that by going down the mental health route a physical cause will be overlooked; and family have no input into the sectioning process in England and Wales.
This is not an issue for A&E .
You need her GP to coordinate

yikesanotherbooboo Thu 08-Aug-19 11:52:24

Sorry, had to nip out.
I would talk frankly with her GP about the situation ( if Dad in agreement ideally) . She needs medical intervention and in this area would probably need an in patient( medical ) stay to investigate and stabilise before psychiatric input. Ideally she needs to agree but in worst case scenario she could be admitted short term for her own safety by section . As I mentioned before this would be completely outwith the family's input so no need to feel any responsibility. At the end of the day it does not sound as if she can make the right decisions for her own safety at the moment and so it is only right to intervene.
In some areas , where psychiatry services are more joined to medical it is possible that they would coordinate and that would be via the crisis intervention team again usually accessed through your GP although at night and weekends they might be available in A&E.

peachgreen Thu 08-Aug-19 12:46:06

Loads of good advice on this thread already but one thing to add is that my grandma behaved similarly (although her behaviour was more intermittent) and it's because she was having small strokes / bleeds in the brain. Just another thing to investigate. You poor thing OP, so much to be dealing with.

Join the discussion

Registering is free, quick, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Get started »