COMMUNITY : Growing up with Capgras Syndrome.

Story sent in via email – Courtney

My father suffers from an extremely severe case of capgras syndrome. 

It is something that he has dealt with since I was a little girl although no one knew back then. I was close with him growing up. He would spoil me and my siblings rotten. We went to the best schools, wore the best clothes and had the best toys, he would always take me to arcades and carnivals and would win me the best prizes, we would go to the movies together, the park, the beach. He would also spoil all of our friends, one day I remember being in year 1 when a girl in my class told me she liked my necklace so I told her that I would get her one too. I asked my dad if we could get one for her and he insisted every girl in the class got one. All of the boys got something too, I don’t remember what it was now. The beach was his favourite place, he would take my younger sister and brother and myself to the beach from early morning and we wouldn’t leave until the sun was going down. 
As I started growing up I noticed my dad was different. It started off with little things. One Christmas he had brought me a “magic” marker, when you wrote with it the ink was invisible and you could only see the ink on paper with this light that came with it. I was around 8 when I remember him bringing me an ice block wrapper that he had found on the street. My parents were broken up by then. He asked me to get my light so that we could find secret codes that were written on it. I knew that it was strange but I did it anyway. I told him I couldn’t see anything but he was so sure that there were hidden messages there and kept asking me to check it out until I finally agreed that something may have been written there. I knew there was nothing, I don’t really know why I agreed that were was. Maybe because he was my dad and I loved him, I didn’t believe he was insane and I didn’t want him to think that I wasn’t on his side.

He would often do strange things like this.

I knew that it was odd but he was also so intelligent and such a functioning person in the community that i didn’t think too deep into it.

Then I got into high school and my dad hired a tutor for me which my Aunty was using for her daughter. I came home from school for my first session but she didn’t show up and my dad began to suggest that she was an “imposter”. He said this with a little bit of a joke tone to it. He would smirk about it and smile while I laughed at the accusation but I felt that he was in someway serious about this. The next week came and again she didn’t show and again he told me “this woman must be an imposter”. Again I felt that he may not be joking but I laughed it off with him. My dad was a funny man who liked to make people laugh a lot so that wasn’t unusual. 

Then I was about 17 and he was at work one morning. I called him and asked if he could drop an asthma puffer at home for me while he was doing one of his deliveries and he started screaming at me. He screamed at me that I need to leave because people are trying to get to him and they will use me to get to him. I cried and screamed begged him to stay and asked over and over for him to explain what he was talking about but he wouldn’t. I felt confused, frustrated and sad at the time. I don’t remember if he let me stay that time. But i began to hang out with a bad crowd of people and started dating about 8 years older then me who was always in jail and running from the police. My dad found out about this and when I was out in the streets with the guy I was dating, random men would approach us and tell me that my dad had demanded I went home. So I did, the guy I was dating dropped me off at my dads but he wouldn’t let me through the door. He kept yelling at me through the screen door “GO AWAY YOURE NOT MY DAUGHTER” I was confuse at the time and I thought that he must’ve meant that I had changed and wasn’t who I used to be. I left. He continued to tell people to tell me to go home and when I told people that I was trying to go home but he wouldn’t let me – they never believed me. Not even my family believed me. Everyone though that I was just a disobedient teenager who wanted to do what ever she wanted. But I didn’t really want to go Jon’s, I was scared. I didn’t know the guy I was dating very well and I was already living with him. Being introduced to drugs that I e never knew existed and to a life of crime that I was not used to. I wanted my dad and I wanted to go home but I couldn’t. My family wouldn’t help me, they judged me and shunned me. Then my dad started turning against my brother and sister. He would put signs up in the house which read “Beware Cameras are operating in this house by people unknown to me” or something along those lines. I still had most of my belongings there but he smashed computers, bleached clothes and shoes. He destroyed everything in his paranoia. He began writing a number on my brothers back before he went to school and would ask my brother to repeat the number to him when he would get home from school to make sure that it was my brother some how. When my brother didn’t remember the number my dad would be come abusive. 

Doctors got involved and tried to help him but no one knows what to do. My dad is a very intelligent man so he always knew what to say to the doctors so that they wouldn’t lock him away. There’s no cure and they are just trying any medicine they can on him. It took a couple of years for him to eventually take the medication. He now is court ordered to take it. He stopped talking to me for 4 years but I never stopped trying to contact him. It felt like my dad was dead. My dad was my best friend and my life coach. He was the one that I went to for all of my advice and I always knew that if I followed his advice that I would be good. When I lost him it genuinely felt like he was dead. I became deeply depressed. My entire life had smashed into pieces. I had suicidal thoughts all the time. I became heavily drug depend. For a couple of years I just took Xanax, weed and ice or I stayed in bed crying for days. Some days we’re ok but most days I wanted to die. I was just scared to physically kill myself and I didn’t know how. I eventually began having seizures when ever I wouldn’t have Xanax so one day I had a bad seizure and I knew that was it. I wasn’t going back. I got myself off drugs and I fell pregnant with my new boyfriend at the time and I turned my life around. My dad still wasn’t talking to me and I was still trying so hard to contact him and still had my bad days where I would just cry for hours for my dad. Especially when I needed life advice and I had no one who would care for me like my dad enough to give me the advice that he would – but I had my baby now, I had someone to live for and someone to give my best to. The relationship with my child’s father became abusive and I left him. But regardless of that I was so happy again, I could never imagine leaving my beautiful baby alone in this world without me to guide him through life. 

My dad eventually gave in and called me again one day.

By this time i was pregnant with my second child to the love of my life. I’ll never forget the day he called. I had just burst out into tears on the phone to his doctor, pleading him for help. I just wanted my dad. I can’t explain what it feels like when you feel like your dad is dead but there still might be the slightest chance of reviving him. 
Anyway his doctor assured me that he would discuss it with him on his next appointment which was the next day. I was pregnant and having my afternoon nap and I woke up and noticed a missed call from private number/ they left a voicemail. The voicemail was my dads doctor, he said that he was with my dad that moment and that my dad wanted to talk to me. But I had missed the call. I was heart broken. I screamed and cried to my partner for hours. And then I received a phone. Call that night from an unknown number. I answered it. “Hey sweetheart” it was my dad. For the first time in such a long time I had burst out in tears about my father but in happiness this time. We spoke for hours about our lives and my babies and what he had missed, I had told my baby all about my father all the time so he felt like he always knew him and loved him. He referred to him as “poppy” right away and acted as though he had been around forever and I could tell how happy it made my dad. He told me that he would turn the phone on go speak to me every Wednesday and that he promised he would never leave me again. He ended up calling every day and he answers me whenever I need him. it’s not the same as before though. He’s not the same and I know that he never will be. it’s honestly almost impossible to describe how someone feels when a loved one suffers from this delusion because it’s a roller coaster of deep, confusing and overwhelming emotions that you’ve never felt before. Your heart breaks because your loved one loves you so much that they are ruining their life and their mind trying to save you from something that’s not there. I watched him spend money on lawyers, cameras and security systems, he lost his business which he worked so hard all of his life for. He would interrogate me begging me to tell him who was cloning me and that he wouldn’t let anyone hurt me if I told him what was going on. before he stopped speaking to me I had tried hard to convince my dad that we were ok and that no one was cloning me but he wouldn’t have it. I could tell that he was starting to turn on me more and more and I felt so guilty but sometimes I would just agree with him and his allegations so that he would love me for a second again and so that we could be a team again.

It still feels like my dad is dead in a way, He still won’t let me in his home and I know he will never be the same again but I take comfort in knowing that he will answer me when ever I need him again. For me it ruined my life. But I’m good now and I’ve learnt my strength from this. My dad has and always will be my hero. F*** this delusion. It tears families apart and ruins so many lives. 

I could honestly go on and on, there’s so much to talk about in this situation but I hope that this has helped to answer your question a little. Someone please find a cure!


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