Post # 1
One of my Maid/Matron of Honor (I had decided to have 2 before this happened) was recently diagnosed with a pretty serious mental illness (I’m trying to remain a little vague just in case). I’m in the mental health field, and this is one of those things that’s a lifetime issue that rarely goes away, even with medication. She is now back and living with her parents and they are seeking psychiatry help, but she is resistant to go on medication, and furthermore, won’t talk to me about anything that’s been going on. I’ve had to hear everything second hand through her Mom, who is really worried about her being in the wedding. We went Bridesmaid or Best Man dress shopping the other day, and she was in pretty rough shape, saying really random things, acting bizarrely, etc. I had informed the other girls beforehand, and they were all really wonderful throughout the day. I’m worried for multiple reasons, obviously first and foremost about her mental health and what her life is now going to look like. I also don’t want to stress her out with the wedding if that’ll add more stress to her life, but don’t want to tell her she doesn’t have to be in it, because she hasn’t told me anything about what’s going on, and I don’t want her to think I’ve been talking about her with her mom (paranoia is a big part of this illness). I guess I can just continue to wait and see how it plays out, but it’s killing me to not be able to talk to her and fully support her… Not sure what I’m looking for, just a spot to vent it out I guess. Anyone else deal with anything somewhat similar to this and have some advice??
Post # 3
I think I can guess what the illness is (at least I think I can b/c the way you’re describing it sounds similar to something that has been diagnosed in my fam & also one of my friends).
Anyway, if it’s what I think it is, and even if it isn’t… I would just wait it out. At least if your wedding date is 9/2013 like you said in your profile. You said the illness doesn’t go away with medication, but it can probably be managed with medication. I know you said she’s resistant to a lot of treatments now, but give it time & she may change her mind somewhat.
If I were you I would let her know you’re available for her if she needs you, and then back off. Maybe check in on a regular basis like every few weeks or a month. And let her take a backseat on bridesmaid duties. Good luck!
Post # 4
An immediate family member of mine is a Paranoid Schizophrenic, and after her “break,” it took a good year to get her stable. It took many hospital visits, many switches between medications, etc., and a lot of sleepless nights, so first of all I want to say that I am really sorry your friend is going through this, because it’s heartbreaking.
My family member isn’t on the maximum amount of medicine (because it would make her an absolute vegetable and we didn’t want that for her), and she does have present some symptoms still, but she can function in society. I believe your friend will eventually get to that point, but like I said, it will take a lot of time.
As far as her being a bridesmaid, I would reduce her duties, but still make her feel a part of the festivies, because as you already know, people with paranoid disorder take it very personally that someone “could” be talking about them and since you don’t yet know the extent of her condition, just tread lightly since paranoia manifests differently in everyone.
My family member had/has audible hallucinations, and from your description, it’s very possible your friend could too. So just be as accomodating and understanding as you can. Just let her family know and her know that you will always be her friend and care deeply for her and want her to be in your big day as much as she is capable.
Post # 5
@Torrid: Yeah, this is the biggest struggle for me right now, is walking the line of being supportive without giving away that I know what’s going on, since she hasn’t told me. I grew up with this girl, and her family is like my family. Her mom knows I’d do anything for her and she’s who I’ve been talking with. Obviously, what I’m least worried abotu right now is the wedding, and just worried about her and how her life has changed with the break and her diagnosis. 🙁
Post # 6
i also work in the mental health field. i’m sure you know the resistance to medication is a classic hallmark of the diagnosis. that’s why so many people have to be managed with a monthly injectable. i agree with PP, you have time if your listed wedding date is correct. it will take some time for her to stabilize and she could really turn the corner in that time frame. it sounds like she has a very supportive family, which is key! and it’s great that she has such a supportive friend as well. i wouldn’t totally relieve her of all duties. she’s going through enough and will likely lose friends, associates, and all other types of things that are important to her while she navigates this tough time. i would keep her involved as much as she wants to be, but have a back up plan just in case.
Post # 7
It’s possible that since you’re in the MH field she doesn’t want to talk to you about it. Besides, if she’s actively psychotic right now she’s unlikely to be very coherent with you anyway. I would plan for her to be in the wedding party but give it a couple of months until she’s stable. You have over a year, a lot could change.
Post # 8
I think just by being completely open about the “what ifs” is a good idea. Instead talk to your closest Bridesmaid or Best Man and ask her to sort of “step up” (unofficially of course) and help out with the regular Maid/Matron of Honor duties.
Consider what could happen- drop out at last mintue, have a “backup plan” just in case. Ensure that your other BM’s will know what to do should the Maid/Matron of Honor not be in attendence- for whatever reason.
I don’t think you should discuss it with her, other than a simple “hey, is everything OK, you seemed a little out of it- long day?” let her know you’re there if she wants to talk… and leave it at that.
Post # 9
I’m also fairly certain I know what your friend is dealing with, my BIL also has been diagnosed with what I assume to be the mental illness you’re addressing. I can give you my perspective from a more severe stance – he was diagnosed probably 2 years before I met Darling Husband and his family. He’s medicated, and it reduces some of the key attributes (paranoia, hallucinations), but from what I gather, he absolutely is not the same as he was before.
I’ve seen it go in cycles – for a few months, he’s conversational, engaged, interested in hanging out with family. And then the illness will overcome him and he will hide the fact that he’s spitting out the medication and has become combative (i.e. pushing someone when he is confronted), paranoid, and withdrawn. It is completely unpredictable, but you can sort of see the onset of a “bad” cycle.
I guess my advice is to listen to whatever your friend wants or needs from you, and support her family. We didn’t have BIL as a groomsmen in our wedding because he couldn’t have handled it, but he didn’t like being in the spotlight to begin with and is not a very social person. He attended the wedding and was a fantastic guest. I’d say, don’t put pressure on her to be involved, but let her decide. If she’s getting treatment, and is well behaved, absolutely let her be involved. I just wouldn’t expect the same out of her as the other bridesmaids. Good luck, and PM me if you have any questions.
ETA: My BIL seems to have a severe case. He is completely dependent on his family to function, take his medication, etc. He lives at home, does not work, and I doubt he ever will. From what it sounds like, your friend is not at that stage, and maybe never will be. If she’s medicated and acting normal, I bet she’d appreciate it if you didn’t treat her differently than you did before. I’m afraid that people treating her differently than they did before would feed the paranoia.
Post # 10
@MrsElopement: I’ve thought the same thing- I think she thinks I’ll probably judge her and or treat her as a “client” and not a friend.
She’s going back and forth right now, at times I feel like it’s her, and at other times, it’s obvious she’s actively hallucinating and says really mean and hurtful things to me (and her family). Luckily, before this diagnosis even happened, I had decided to have 2 Maid/Matron of Honor (one because I felt like I really couldn’t pick between the two, and also, because even before the dianosis happened, she was not the most responsible or logical person). My other Maid/Matron of Honor is so understanding and sweet and understanding and I know will include her without making her feel burdened. I know I have sufficient time until my wedding, just the diagnosis and change in her has made me so sad and worried for her. It’s the one time I wish I knew less about the field and the outcomes.
Post # 11
My mom actually has the mental disorder you are talking about. I’ve been dealing with it for the last three years and she is currently in and out of the hospital after several procedures and long term in-patient care after she turned out to be a danger to herself.
I really have no advice. You’re obviously a professional and probably the best person for her to be near as you wont be judgemental and you totally understand both what her and her family are going through. As for the wedding, I think it’s best to wait it out. You have a year until your wedding (go September ’13 weddings!) and you may be able to judge just how bad it is and how well she can manage her medication. If she does make it seem like she cant handle it, you can cross that bridge when you get there.
Post # 12
@ohmybears48: Thank you- I’m sorry you’re dealing with this with your Mom, it’s so tough.