It’s always terribly sad when you hear about someone suffering from any form of mental illness that impacts their life in a major way.
And it’s even worse when it actually happens to someone you are close to.
But, unfortunately, sometimes these things happen to our loved ones…and it can even be the people we thought were the most put-together and on top of things.
Here are some interesting stories from AskReddit users who witnessed people slowly losing their grip on sanity.
“I’m a CNA at a nursing facility.
One of my residents used to crochet little pot holders and give them out to the workers. She really loved her crocheting, it was her outlet. I was a unit aide when I was starting out there at 17 and I would sit and talk to her while she crocheted.
She’s genuinely one of the the sweetest and most kind hearted women I’ve ever met in my life. Over the next few years, she became like a grandmother to me.
As her dementia progressed, her little pot holders started to get messy looking and crooked. After that, the time she used to spend crocheting was replaced by her fumbling with the yarn for hours. She didn’t want help with it, it kept her busy.
Eventually, she stopped asking us to go fetch her yarn and crocheting supplies all together. Her speech became fragmented and illegible. Her heart and her love for everybody is still incredibly strong- that’s just who she is, but she’s very confused and doesn’t know where she is or what is going on. Currently, she has covid and is fighting for her life like most of my other residents.”
2. My sister.
“My sister passed away earlier this year and she was sick for a long time.
During the last few months you could tell that it was becoming harder for her to think and respond. Paradoxically it actually made her a lot nicer to me. We had never had a great relationship and I always believed she hated me but during those last few months she said very few unkind things to me.
It was hard to know that the only time we ever really got along was right before she passed away.”
3. New reality.
“A long-time friend of mine started talking to me about some metaphysical theories he had.
We used to smoke weed and talk about philosophy when we were younger, so it wasn’t a shock to me. Then he wrote a paper that was dozens of pages long on his new theory of reality
He sent it to me and when I said it gave me a headache to try and read it, he assumed that meant I was understanding it. Every time I saw him after that his behavior was more and more manic. I don’t know if everyone gets these feelings, but one can tell when talking to some people that they’re just slightly… off?
Anyhow, he was apparently harassing some of his old flames and acting strangely enough that his family had him taken to the hospital, where he had visited a few times in the past few weeks. The hospital held him overnight and released him because he wasn’t a threat.
A few days later he started acting out in his mother’s house and broke a window. She called the cops, and they arrested him. The window was worth more than the amount required to make it a felony and he went to jail for six months. Two days inside jail and he’s back to normal. Why?!
Well, he has a degenerative disease that puts him in CONSTANT pain. He couldn’t afford his pain meds and when he went to the hospital, they refused to give him any because they assumed he was a junkie. (He had prior drug issues, if you can imagine.)
He had lost his job, was living in a cold, damp apartment without electricity and couldn’t get the meds he needed; so he descended over the course of a month into someone that LITERALLY thought Neil Degrasse Tyson was talking to him personally through the internet.
Once he had his meds again (again, pain meds not anti-psychotics) he leveled out and spent 6 mos trying to piece together what the f*ck had happened to him.
Super nice guy. He’s been fine for a couple years. Had to make some very elaborate apologies.
It was… uncomfortable to watch.”
4. Started getting odd.
“I was friends with a guy in middle school and from seventh and eighth grade, he was pretty cool. Very much a sports bro and a goofball, but functional.
In high school he started getting a little odd. Like he was there physically but always kind of lagging behind in the moment. He’d get distracted or trail off of a conversation and just go quiet. There were times when he’d get aggressive toward his family but never toward me.
After high school I moved away for college but returned home after my first year and he’d gotten worse. I was in contact with him pretty regularly until I showed up to his house one day and it was like he didn’t remember who I was.
I saw him every now and then after that until about five years later. I was in a Walmart parking lot when he pulled up beside me and got out of his car and started talking to me like nothing had changed.
We exchanged information and he texted me a few times and sent me some weird emails about his religion but I haven’t seen or heard from him in going on four years…”
5. My brother…
“My brother has schizophrenia as well as bipolar and aspergers. He was always a bit aggressive in his teenage years, but he calmed down for a bit in his adult years.
He has problems with relationships and money, but he always made ends meet for the most part, and he wasn’t homeless. But it all went downhill in the summer when he had a schizophrenic break, and was sent to a hospital. He called my mom saying things that were far from the truth.
He said that he didn’t see me for years and that my parents abused him and my grandpa was in the Mafia. Ruined the rest of the vacation. Our grandma and his bunny died later and hes had more than 10 episodes, with 4-5 violent ones that resulted in him going back to the hospital. He went from a person who was generally a good person, to someone who we could barely recognize.
He always loved dieting and being tip-top health, but now he gave that up and chain smokes. It’s sad because I don’t think he will ever be normal again, or at least back to his old self. One of his biggest episodes was ony birthday at 3 A.M he barged into my parents room accusing them of not letting him sleep, saying that he was going to kill them.
We had a katana that he bought years before and he tried to get that, but my dad stopped it. He took a kitchen knife and went up to his room and that’s when cops eventually detained him. I got to stay home on my birthday though. He just switched though.
He was always a healthy person and I saw him slowly decline physically and mentally from all of his disorders. It’s really sad and I hope it dossnt end in death.”
6. A terrible disease.
“My best friend was diagnosed with schizophrenia when we were 23. He was in the top 10 of our high school class, got his bachelor’s with honors in chemistry, and was in grad school.
The degree to which he outshined me was stunning until the day he pulled me aside and told me that a foreign government was going to come get him for his “expertise”.
It was hard. All of his social skills went out the window, he would call his friends up to buy him smokes or go on drives at weird hours until I was the only one who will even pick up the phone.
He reverted to behaving like we were 15 again, trying to get me to do sleepovers and spend my Saturdays killing nazi zombies. Even the way he eats changed. There were a lot of dark nights spent talking through anxiety attacks and reasoning through delusions, and it’s still not over.
I understand why everyone else has removed themselves from the picture, I’ve come pretty close myself. I guess I just choose to believe the old guy is still in there somewhere. It’s such a terrible disease.”
“Watched my grandfather slowly sink into Alzheimer’s. By the end he didn’t know my name or his own. He was sad and angry and confused. I watched every week as he forgot a little more.
Got a little more belligerent. A little more lost. Until one day I walked in and he started screaming that someone was there to rob him. It was the saddest f*cking thing I’ve ever seen.
I have such vivid memories of watching him and my uncles have such animated debates about politics and movies and sports. They used to play Risk until the sun came up listening to Sinatra. He would sit and explain every single play in a baseball game to me as a kid.
He was sharp and the saddest and hardest part was watching the struggle on his face to remember. The frustration he felt. Like he was letting us down. I miss him a lot.”
“I was in high school and my best friend went from a normal guy who we would smoke weed occasionally, listen to music and have fun. It went to this obsession with a girl that clearly has no interest in him.
He would literally stalk her, try to win her over. At the same time, he wasn’t keeping up with hygiene and went from a decent student to a poor performer.
One day, he mentioned that he wanted to commit suicide so I told my parents everything that was going on. His parents were extremely well educated but weren’t doing anything about his behaviors.
My parents talked to his and they took it serious after hearing about the thoughts of suicide. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Nearly 40 years later, he still doesn’t look the same. Really sad situation. I still miss him.”
9. Very sad.
“I watched my ex wife slowly spiral down and I didn’t even realize it. She was never really “stable” and had a family history of mental illness.
Apparently she started cheating on me and never had the strength to tell me or get a divorce and the constant lying and being on edge that I would find out at any minute really got to her(this was over the course of a year). Towards the end she would “rock” every time she sat and bit her nails till they bled.
Currently she is maxed out on a host of meds and it takes everything she has to got to work as a janitor and come home. Her father is her “guardian” and helps her pay bills and stuff. She often denies past events or alters them if they were unpleasant(she is very adamant that they are real).
Her father broke down and told me this a month ago and actually recommend that I not encourage our kids to visit her(I would never prevent them from seeing their mother).
So in the course of a of 5 years she went from a fit dental hygienist with a promising career and host of friends to an overweight janitor with no friends who can’t even pay her own rent or buy groceries. I do admire her for going to work every day and trying.”
10. They need help.
“My (ex) best friend over the course of this past year has gone from a normal – well adjusted woman who held down a full time job and a VERY nice apartment to constantly being online and talking about how humans are just slaves to an alien race that lives on mars and how reality doesn’t exist and If she died none of it would matter because reality doesn’t exist…
I don’t talk to her anymore because if I said anything in opposition, she would lose her sh*t on me… very different from the kind, compassionate woman I was best friends with for 4 years. I miss her every day.
Disclaimer: I know she’s doing well, she has a great familial support system and other friends that agree with her beliefs, I just couldn’t be one of them anymore.
We can’t force someone into help if they don’t want to be helped.”
11. Conspiracy theories.
“My mom started going to online blogs and web-radio shows about ghosts, aliens, conspiracies and took it all at face value. I saw my normal mom turn into a complete, gullible ignoramus in a matter of months.
Nobody could talk to her without her bringing up FEMA death camps, potential economic collapse, aliens, antivax or Obama signing more executive orders than any president in history. Her friends thought she might have a brain tumor. she didn’t. She did have cancer she was hiding/ignoring that ended up killing her bc she thought cancer wasn’t real.
This is what happens to lonely people that are looking for a connection…they’ll believe anything just to feel that they are a part of something. It was very sad that she was so unbearable the last couple years of her life.”
“My grandmother was brilliant and so dedicated to educating herself. She had a library of probably a thousand books, but regularly circulated and bought new ones, and sold ones she didn’t need any more.
She read the paper every day, and when a topic interested her, she would cut out the article and summarize what caught her attention. Then she would file it in one of her enormous filing cabinets with other articles about it, and make notes of how the new article related to what was already there.
She lived in a college town for decades and was friends with many of the professors. They would often come to discuss things of interest to her or them. Including music, art and history professors.
Every month she would create a mini-museum exhibition on her dining room table. “Wood Carvings from around the world” or “Different things made from Lead” with little catalog cards for every item.
I have a 3 page discussion she researched and wrote about the proper times to used “baptised” and “baptized”.
The first sign was that we were watching a documentary about Apollo 13 and she didn’t remember it happening. She didn’t know that it happened at all. There is zero chance that she didn’t follow it as it was happening in her life, (not only was she well informed, but had a collection of LIFE magazines about the space program) and zero chance that she didn’t hear about it afterward. She just didn’t remember it at all.
A little later, she was trying to play with Lego Duplo blocks with my daughter and couldn’t figure out how they worked. She tried putting the same colors together, the same sizes, sliding the smooth sides against each other, putting the pegs against each other. She was so methodical in her trial and error and just couldn’t get it.
In her later years, she just sat in bed, measuring her sheets with her arms, trying to decide if there was enough fabric to make a dress, or an apron.
At the end she remembered that reading was a good thing, even though she couldn’t, and didn’t have the attention to listen.
And she hated my dad, (her son-in-law) she never forgot that. Forgot my mom, but not how much she hated my dad.”
Have you ever seen someone close to you go through something like this?
If so, please share your stories with us in the comments.
Thanks in advance.