i'm really glad to have found this community. in the poking around i've done, it seems as though resources for family members of people who are mentally ill are pretty scarce--and resources for children of mentally ill parents are pretty much nonexistent. i've always wished there were something like al-anon for kids (esp. daughters, who i think are often asked to take on even more of the responsibility of parenting their parent) of mentally ill parents.
my mom is schizophrenic--although she has also been diagnosed as bipolar, borderline, depressive, and anorexic. i would say that the schizophrenia diagnosis is the most accurate: she is paranoid, she occasionally has hallucinations (mostly auditory), and she just generally doesn't live on the same world that most people do. i don't know if anyone else had this experience, but she seemed to go through phases when i was a kid: she would be completely functional and normal for a while (anywhere from a week to several months, and she was a great mom during these times) and then something (could be anything--a bill that got paid late, fight with her parents, or even something less clear than that) would set her off and she'd be crazy again. she was abusive during her bad periods and she was almost always unable to work during them, so we never had any money and were on public assistance for several years (dad was a deadbeat, out of the picture). finally, when i was eleven, she had an especially bad breakdown, i fled to my friend's house, and my grandparents wound up with custody. i refused to talk to her for several months and wouldn't see her for a year and a half (she went to court to try to get forced visitation and lost) but we were able to maintain a relationship when i was in my teens. then, right around the time i went to college, she pretty much stopped acknowledging my existence. (she got arrested a few years ago, and told her public defender that she didn't have any children.) so right now, she and i have no relationship at all, and haven't since about 1995. i have seen her a few times since then (always when she has been arrested/evicted and the family has gone in to bail her out/find her a place to live) and she has been civil, but the person who lives in her isn't my mother. [as an aside: she lives on her own in a house that my uncle, her brother, bought for her. (he's pretty wealthy--used to work for microsoft, got out at the right time, lots of stock options.) she hasn't been in a long-term treatment program since she was in her teens--late sixties, early seventies--and she hasn't been in any kind of treatment at all since the early 1990's. but we don't have guardianship and she's not harmful to herself/others, so there's no way to put her in one if she doesn't want to go, and she clearly doesn't.]
so, that said, i don't know if i want to try and recreate any sort of relationship with her. we live in different states (i'm in new york, she's in georgia) so i can't just pop over and visit her, and i'm wary of giving her my telephone number and address: she's harassed just about every member of my family with 3-a.m. phone calls, and she has also been known to show up at people's houses, even in different states, when you least expect her. i don't know what sort of relationship we could even have: it would certainly not be a maternal one (and it would be undertaken mostly out of a sense of guilt/duty on my part). but i also feel that, when she dies, i will think for the rest of my life that i should have done something, only i don't know what that something is.
i've only met one other person in my entire life who had a mother like mine, so i'd be especially grateful to hear from any daughters of schizophrenics. i'm also curious to know if there are any personality traits common to children of the mentally ill (as, for example, there are with children of alcoholics). anyway, as i said, i'm just really glad to have found this community.