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My 60 year old sis's psychosis

Posted by @aultsisterofpsychosis, Mon, Feb 26 7:50am

The first 2 weeks of this month, my sis was in the hospital. She was admitted after 4 calls to local law enforcement that were a result of her own hallucinations. After stabilizing medications, and a transfer to a more advanced psych unit the second week, she was stable but hostile. She submitted a 72 hour release form against medical advise, and quite honestly I think they were glad to be rid of her as she was disruptive in the unit. They released her with 8 prescriptions and no instructions for myself or my 86 year old dad. Because she is an adult, and she lives alone, privacy laws do not allow us access to her diagnosis, medication instructions, etc. She has now isolated herself due to the “spirits” as well as hallucinations that she is being watched “by people outside with binoculars” and is refusing to take her meds or seek medical attention. I live 30 miles from her, have a career, a husband, and truly a life that I love. Obviously, since I am her only sibling and my pop is independent, but elderly and he is a widow, it seems I am the one to take charge of the situation. But that of itself is a challenge. My dad has always rolled with what has always been a demanding sister, he has enabled her every whim for many many years. I expect that her mental illness has been progressing for some time, but has escalated to what it is now. Basically she is terrified and he is in denial due to the shame of mental illness. I can see it clearly, but am not sure where to go from here. She has a history of brain injury and stroke and has been on disability for 16 years. She is refusing MRI. She seems to be constantly reaching to the past and delusional about who is living, dead, and the who’s who of the many people she has driven out of her life over the years. Even to the point that she believes an ex husband, who none of us have seen in 20 years and since remarried, is coming to reunite with her. That is just one of the many impossible delusions she has. Anyone else encounter a similar situation? Am I destined to get an attorney and have her committed? I’ve not been able to find a peer sibling support group locally in central Ohio. That’s why I landed here in hopes of finding some answers. Thank you for listening and for any support you can give by sharing similar experiences and results.

REPLY

Hello @aultsisterofpsychosis and welcome to Mayo Connect.

I am sorry to hear of the difficult position that you find yourself in with your sister's mental health issues. While it seems like a very tough task, I admire that you are trying to advocate for your sister. The help of an attorney would probably be wise at this point. However, you can also seek help from the County Mental Health organization where your sister lives. You might also try contacting the Probate Court in the county of your sister's residence. They might also be able to help you with the paperwork to file a Petition to be her guardian and conservator. The court will probably require doctors' letters regarding her mental health history and her recent hospitalization (which the court might obtain).

Also, if there is a NAMI organization in your area, they have support groups specifically for family members of mentally ill persons. Here is the website where you can find the nearest NAMI support group in your area, https://www.nami.org/Local-NAMI/Programs?classkey=72e2fdaf-2755-404f-a8be-606d4de63fdb. The members of the support group will probably be able to share from their personal experiences of family members with mental health issues.

I look forward to hearing from you again and knowing if you have been able to get help for your sister. I wish you well.

Teresa

I know how helpless you must be feeling. I'm sure you've tried this but have you had her declared mentally incompetent? With her hallucinations she could be a danger to herself or others. I'm sure your Dad is just trying to not ruffle her feathers. I admire you for wanting to help her. It's a very difficult task to take on the care of others. This I truly understand. Please keep us informed. Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers!

Thank you Teresa for the prompt reply. I am trying to reach my family attorney for advice. I spoke to her psychiatrists office this morning and am being told my only route is to call police for a “well check” which I am sure will scare her even more than what she is experiencing. There is no NAMI group listed in the Columbus or Franklin county area. Is there a different group here maybe? I had no idea that helping a family member with mental illness had such limited resources. Guess I expected better advice from her doctors. Any help you can give for resources is greatly appreciated. Again, thanks for the prompt reply.

@kdo0827

I know how helpless you must be feeling. I'm sure you've tried this but have you had her declared mentally incompetent? With her hallucinations she could be a danger to herself or others. I'm sure your Dad is just trying to not ruffle her feathers. I admire you for wanting to help her. It's a very difficult task to take on the care of others. This I truly understand. Please keep us informed. Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers!

Jump to this post

Thanks so much, I’ve no experience with how the legal system works and am awaiting contact from my family attorney. My dad is in denial and will be furious with me even suggesting this. This is all that is left of my birth family, so there is really no one else to get involved. My husband is a gem, but my sister has not treated me well over the years, she’s 8 years older. So I don’t really discuss it much with him as I know he wants to protect me from her verbal abuse. Sounds like I have my work cut out for me.

@kdo0827

I know how helpless you must be feeling. I'm sure you've tried this but have you had her declared mentally incompetent? With her hallucinations she could be a danger to herself or others. I'm sure your Dad is just trying to not ruffle her feathers. I admire you for wanting to help her. It's a very difficult task to take on the care of others. This I truly understand. Please keep us informed. Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers!

Jump to this post

You certainly do have your work cut out for you. I'm glad you have a supportive and protective husband. I'm here to chat anytime and feel free to PM me.
God Bless!

@aultsisterofpsychosis

Thank you Teresa for the prompt reply. I am trying to reach my family attorney for advice. I spoke to her psychiatrists office this morning and am being told my only route is to call police for a “well check” which I am sure will scare her even more than what she is experiencing. There is no NAMI group listed in the Columbus or Franklin county area. Is there a different group here maybe? I had no idea that helping a family member with mental illness had such limited resources. Guess I expected better advice from her doctors. Any help you can give for resources is greatly appreciated. Again, thanks for the prompt reply.

Jump to this post

Hello again @aultsisterofpsychosis

I'm sorry to hear that there is not a NAMI group nearby – their support groups are great. You might call the closest NAMI group and see if they can provide you info by mail. Here are a few more websites that you could take a look at:
Here is an online support group that you might check out, I've never used it before but let me know if it is helpful to you.
http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/find-support-groups

The symptom of hallucinations does sound like schizophrenia (I'm not a mental health professional so this is just a guess) so you might look at this website and see if you can find some help, Schizophrenia and Related Disorders Alliance of America. https://sardaa.org/

I can understand the difficulty of breaking the stigma of mental illness and not knowing how your dad will react. It is a difficult place to be, but ignoring the problem is also difficult and can be dangerous for your sister. So take courage in realizing that you are doing the right thing.

I look forward to hearing from you again.

Teresa

@aultsisterofpsychosis

Thank you Teresa for the prompt reply. I am trying to reach my family attorney for advice. I spoke to her psychiatrists office this morning and am being told my only route is to call police for a “well check” which I am sure will scare her even more than what she is experiencing. There is no NAMI group listed in the Columbus or Franklin county area. Is there a different group here maybe? I had no idea that helping a family member with mental illness had such limited resources. Guess I expected better advice from her doctors. Any help you can give for resources is greatly appreciated. Again, thanks for the prompt reply.

Jump to this post

@aultsisterofpsychosis

I'm sorry for the difficult position you're in. We, for the most part, love our siblings, and seeing them at risk and feeling helpless to go to bat for them makes us feel even more helpless.

I hope your attorney and perhaps your sister's healthcare providers will work with you to protect your sister. I would like to think that her doctors would have her best interests in mind as they work with you.

Jim

@adultsisterofpsychosis

Hello. I'm another Volunteer Mentor, and I'm here to offer the benefit of my personal experience with my mentally ill sister. I'm not a medical professional, nor an attorney, so I won't be diagnosing illness or giving legal statements.

First, I'm so sorry to hear that you are dealing with this problem in your family. In my experience, and in watching friends of mine deal with schizophrenia and mental illness in their families, this is a heartbreaking time. My sister was always "difficult" to deal with. She's 3 years younger than me. I remember even when she was a 2 year old my mom had to have her wear a halter and leash when we walked with her because she was so wild. I once chased a pineapple and cans of food that my mom dropped to run after my sister, to keep the food from rolling into the sewer opening on the street. I wasn't successful. My sister, Jo, had many, many "temper tantrums" as a child, and they continued into adulthood. I always felt responsible for Jo, especially after we were both put in an orphanage because our mother couldn't take care of us. I think my mother was an undiagnosed bi-polar sufferer, and had difficulty keeping a job and having lasting relationships. Our dad had left home when I was 18 months old, and was living with his brother in Colorado. He was a deadbeat dad, but I later learned that he was in a mental hospital receiving electric shock treatments for some time.

After Jo and I were in the orphanage she was abused by one of the housemothers because of her temper tantrums. I told the head of the orphanage about it and the woman was fired. The damage was done by then and it added to her already obvious problems. Through the years my sister had multiple problems at school and with our grandmother. We lived with my grandmother for a few years when I turned 12 and she bought a house so we could live with her and our mom. That didn't last long and within a year or 2 my mom took Jo and moved to Colorado to get away from our grandmother. My mom said she left me there (I can say thank goodness now!) because I got along with my grandmother and Jo didn't. Eventually my mom and dad remarried, and I was forced to go live with them after grandmother fell and broke her hip. I was 17 years old by then.

My parents worked hard to protect my sister and she ruled the house. Everyone walked carefully around Jo so we didn't upset her. Of course as her older sister, I would fight with her over stupid things as teenagers do. I still have the scars from her fingernails digging into me until I bled. I remember my mother telling me to fight back, and I said, "I'm afraid I'll hurt her", so I always backed down. As we got older her behavior became more and more erratic and scary. After she was divorced, she called me one day and told me to come and get her son because he was the devil and she was going to kill him if I didn't him. I picked him up while she was in the middle of a "temper tantrum", which I now understand was a psychotic episode. He lived with my husband and me until out of the blue she picked him up one day about 2 years later. Later when he was 15 years old she took off, and told him to call me for help. Again, he lived with my husband and me. No one knew where she was for 2 years.

I could go on with more stories, but I won't. All these years I had tried to help Jo, against the wishes of my family. I got her to go to a therapy group with me but she soon dropped out and wouldn't come back. I knew she had a mental illness, and it was confirmed when she got her son out of the Navy to take care of her. She was diagnosed with "borderline personality", which is still a mystery to me. The last dealings I had with her were so crazy that I realized she might be a danger to me due to her apparent hatred of me. I stopped taking her phone calls, and I began refusing to see her. There were a couple of times I tried to renew our relationship, but they ended badly. I then gave up and have had no contact with her for about 26 years now. She stays in contact with one of my brothers who is unable to tell her no. She and her son live with a schizophrenic woman who is rich and they sponge off her. The police are called regularly because Jo and her son fight and threaten to kill each other. They call my brother constantly to ask him to side iwth each of them. High drama all the time.

I tried for years to get help from the state for her. Nothing worked. I was not in a position to have her committed and our dad wouldn't do it while he was living. It broke my heart for years because she was my only sister, and I loved her as a child. I've cried mountains of tears over my inability to help her and her son. But, 26 years ago I finally realized that there was nothing I could do, and that she was toxic in my life. I cannot help her. I must leave her alone and have no contact with her. I have adjusted to not having that drama in my life, but it wasn't easy. I had to develop a shield from her poisonous contact.

Your sister was able to sign herself out of the hospital, which tells me she can make decisions. They may not be the decisions you would make, but she's an adult. Short of calling the police about her situation, it sounds as if that's all you can do. If you can have her declared incompetent legally, then you might be able to institutionalize her. There aren't many mental hospitals with lifetime commitment anymore, and I don't know the cost. I hope your attorney is a le to help you. It is much more difficult to have a person committed now.

What I recommend is for you to find a counselor or a counseling group for yourself to help you deal with the grieving you will need to do for the loss of your sister, and for the sense of helplessness you are probably feeling. I know counseling, both individual and group, was tremendously helpful for me. I was deeply hurt and felt guilty that I was giving up on her. But, for my own mental health that's what I had to do. I did it, and I'm healthier because of giving up control over her situation.

I hope this is helpful for you, and that I'm not too discouraging sharing my experience with you. Each situation and each person is different. I sincerely hope you are able to work through your situation successfully. If you have any questions, please dont hesitate to contact me. By the way, I have had a good life, a good marriage, and a successful career. I have a Masters degree and am now happily retired at 69 years old. You'll work through this I'm sure.

Warm regards,
Gail B
Volunteer Mentor

Hi, as a carer for my terminally ill husband, my experience has shown that long term chronic and or terminal illness IS going to affect the patients mental health. I think to myself, how can it not? It’s all connected. After our recent move from country to city, my husband had a nervous breakdown. I had to phone his brother to take him as I was the target of false accusations berating and very aggressive threatening behaviour. I phoned my. Counslers, my brand new property manager, as we are renting, had to go to my local police station and had to phone an emergency locksmith to change the locks of the new rental. In shock and fear for my safety, I took these steps. Here in Western Australia, ( I am an ex pat), they refer to mental health with the common term of “Head Space”, and it’s become a common part of dialogue as mental health issues seem to be woven through most of society. My husband still lives with his brother as I try to pick up the pieces of my life. Having my own counsler is crucial as there’s so much work to be done as far as the Business of Dying and The Business of Enduring Power of Attorney. Take care of yourself as the Priority, then everything else will work out. Keep sharing and know you are not alone. Wishing you the best under these circumstances, one day at a time.

Hello @mnina

I appreciate the very lovely example of taking care of yourself and making a way for your husband to be cared for. I'm so glad that you shared this story.

I look forward to reading your future posts. You have developed a very balanced approach to life and it's upsets. I also like the phrase, "Head Space!"

Teresa

@gailb

@adultsisterofpsychosis

Hello. I'm another Volunteer Mentor, and I'm here to offer the benefit of my personal experience with my mentally ill sister. I'm not a medical professional, nor an attorney, so I won't be diagnosing illness or giving legal statements.

First, I'm so sorry to hear that you are dealing with this problem in your family. In my experience, and in watching friends of mine deal with schizophrenia and mental illness in their families, this is a heartbreaking time. My sister was always "difficult" to deal with. She's 3 years younger than me. I remember even when she was a 2 year old my mom had to have her wear a halter and leash when we walked with her because she was so wild. I once chased a pineapple and cans of food that my mom dropped to run after my sister, to keep the food from rolling into the sewer opening on the street. I wasn't successful. My sister, Jo, had many, many "temper tantrums" as a child, and they continued into adulthood. I always felt responsible for Jo, especially after we were both put in an orphanage because our mother couldn't take care of us. I think my mother was an undiagnosed bi-polar sufferer, and had difficulty keeping a job and having lasting relationships. Our dad had left home when I was 18 months old, and was living with his brother in Colorado. He was a deadbeat dad, but I later learned that he was in a mental hospital receiving electric shock treatments for some time.

After Jo and I were in the orphanage she was abused by one of the housemothers because of her temper tantrums. I told the head of the orphanage about it and the woman was fired. The damage was done by then and it added to her already obvious problems. Through the years my sister had multiple problems at school and with our grandmother. We lived with my grandmother for a few years when I turned 12 and she bought a house so we could live with her and our mom. That didn't last long and within a year or 2 my mom took Jo and moved to Colorado to get away from our grandmother. My mom said she left me there (I can say thank goodness now!) because I got along with my grandmother and Jo didn't. Eventually my mom and dad remarried, and I was forced to go live with them after grandmother fell and broke her hip. I was 17 years old by then.

My parents worked hard to protect my sister and she ruled the house. Everyone walked carefully around Jo so we didn't upset her. Of course as her older sister, I would fight with her over stupid things as teenagers do. I still have the scars from her fingernails digging into me until I bled. I remember my mother telling me to fight back, and I said, "I'm afraid I'll hurt her", so I always backed down. As we got older her behavior became more and more erratic and scary. After she was divorced, she called me one day and told me to come and get her son because he was the devil and she was going to kill him if I didn't him. I picked him up while she was in the middle of a "temper tantrum", which I now understand was a psychotic episode. He lived with my husband and me until out of the blue she picked him up one day about 2 years later. Later when he was 15 years old she took off, and told him to call me for help. Again, he lived with my husband and me. No one knew where she was for 2 years.

I could go on with more stories, but I won't. All these years I had tried to help Jo, against the wishes of my family. I got her to go to a therapy group with me but she soon dropped out and wouldn't come back. I knew she had a mental illness, and it was confirmed when she got her son out of the Navy to take care of her. She was diagnosed with "borderline personality", which is still a mystery to me. The last dealings I had with her were so crazy that I realized she might be a danger to me due to her apparent hatred of me. I stopped taking her phone calls, and I began refusing to see her. There were a couple of times I tried to renew our relationship, but they ended badly. I then gave up and have had no contact with her for about 26 years now. She stays in contact with one of my brothers who is unable to tell her no. She and her son live with a schizophrenic woman who is rich and they sponge off her. The police are called regularly because Jo and her son fight and threaten to kill each other. They call my brother constantly to ask him to side iwth each of them. High drama all the time.

I tried for years to get help from the state for her. Nothing worked. I was not in a position to have her committed and our dad wouldn't do it while he was living. It broke my heart for years because she was my only sister, and I loved her as a child. I've cried mountains of tears over my inability to help her and her son. But, 26 years ago I finally realized that there was nothing I could do, and that she was toxic in my life. I cannot help her. I must leave her alone and have no contact with her. I have adjusted to not having that drama in my life, but it wasn't easy. I had to develop a shield from her poisonous contact.

Your sister was able to sign herself out of the hospital, which tells me she can make decisions. They may not be the decisions you would make, but she's an adult. Short of calling the police about her situation, it sounds as if that's all you can do. If you can have her declared incompetent legally, then you might be able to institutionalize her. There aren't many mental hospitals with lifetime commitment anymore, and I don't know the cost. I hope your attorney is a le to help you. It is much more difficult to have a person committed now.

What I recommend is for you to find a counselor or a counseling group for yourself to help you deal with the grieving you will need to do for the loss of your sister, and for the sense of helplessness you are probably feeling. I know counseling, both individual and group, was tremendously helpful for me. I was deeply hurt and felt guilty that I was giving up on her. But, for my own mental health that's what I had to do. I did it, and I'm healthier because of giving up control over her situation.

I hope this is helpful for you, and that I'm not too discouraging sharing my experience with you. Each situation and each person is different. I sincerely hope you are able to work through your situation successfully. If you have any questions, please dont hesitate to contact me. By the way, I have had a good life, a good marriage, and a successful career. I have a Masters degree and am now happily retired at 69 years old. You'll work through this I'm sure.

Warm regards,
Gail B
Volunteer Mentor

Jump to this post

Thank you Gail, all very helpful info. You are a very strong lady! I understand my limitations and am seeking counseling for myself in order to manage my position with it.

Hello @aultsisterofpsychosis

I was thinking about you and wondering how you were doing. I hope that you have been able to find some answers for helping your sister.

I would enjoy hearing from you.

Teresa

@gailb

@adultsisterofpsychosis

Hello. I'm another Volunteer Mentor, and I'm here to offer the benefit of my personal experience with my mentally ill sister. I'm not a medical professional, nor an attorney, so I won't be diagnosing illness or giving legal statements.

First, I'm so sorry to hear that you are dealing with this problem in your family. In my experience, and in watching friends of mine deal with schizophrenia and mental illness in their families, this is a heartbreaking time. My sister was always "difficult" to deal with. She's 3 years younger than me. I remember even when she was a 2 year old my mom had to have her wear a halter and leash when we walked with her because she was so wild. I once chased a pineapple and cans of food that my mom dropped to run after my sister, to keep the food from rolling into the sewer opening on the street. I wasn't successful. My sister, Jo, had many, many "temper tantrums" as a child, and they continued into adulthood. I always felt responsible for Jo, especially after we were both put in an orphanage because our mother couldn't take care of us. I think my mother was an undiagnosed bi-polar sufferer, and had difficulty keeping a job and having lasting relationships. Our dad had left home when I was 18 months old, and was living with his brother in Colorado. He was a deadbeat dad, but I later learned that he was in a mental hospital receiving electric shock treatments for some time.

After Jo and I were in the orphanage she was abused by one of the housemothers because of her temper tantrums. I told the head of the orphanage about it and the woman was fired. The damage was done by then and it added to her already obvious problems. Through the years my sister had multiple problems at school and with our grandmother. We lived with my grandmother for a few years when I turned 12 and she bought a house so we could live with her and our mom. That didn't last long and within a year or 2 my mom took Jo and moved to Colorado to get away from our grandmother. My mom said she left me there (I can say thank goodness now!) because I got along with my grandmother and Jo didn't. Eventually my mom and dad remarried, and I was forced to go live with them after grandmother fell and broke her hip. I was 17 years old by then.

My parents worked hard to protect my sister and she ruled the house. Everyone walked carefully around Jo so we didn't upset her. Of course as her older sister, I would fight with her over stupid things as teenagers do. I still have the scars from her fingernails digging into me until I bled. I remember my mother telling me to fight back, and I said, "I'm afraid I'll hurt her", so I always backed down. As we got older her behavior became more and more erratic and scary. After she was divorced, she called me one day and told me to come and get her son because he was the devil and she was going to kill him if I didn't him. I picked him up while she was in the middle of a "temper tantrum", which I now understand was a psychotic episode. He lived with my husband and me until out of the blue she picked him up one day about 2 years later. Later when he was 15 years old she took off, and told him to call me for help. Again, he lived with my husband and me. No one knew where she was for 2 years.

I could go on with more stories, but I won't. All these years I had tried to help Jo, against the wishes of my family. I got her to go to a therapy group with me but she soon dropped out and wouldn't come back. I knew she had a mental illness, and it was confirmed when she got her son out of the Navy to take care of her. She was diagnosed with "borderline personality", which is still a mystery to me. The last dealings I had with her were so crazy that I realized she might be a danger to me due to her apparent hatred of me. I stopped taking her phone calls, and I began refusing to see her. There were a couple of times I tried to renew our relationship, but they ended badly. I then gave up and have had no contact with her for about 26 years now. She stays in contact with one of my brothers who is unable to tell her no. She and her son live with a schizophrenic woman who is rich and they sponge off her. The police are called regularly because Jo and her son fight and threaten to kill each other. They call my brother constantly to ask him to side iwth each of them. High drama all the time.

I tried for years to get help from the state for her. Nothing worked. I was not in a position to have her committed and our dad wouldn't do it while he was living. It broke my heart for years because she was my only sister, and I loved her as a child. I've cried mountains of tears over my inability to help her and her son. But, 26 years ago I finally realized that there was nothing I could do, and that she was toxic in my life. I cannot help her. I must leave her alone and have no contact with her. I have adjusted to not having that drama in my life, but it wasn't easy. I had to develop a shield from her poisonous contact.

Your sister was able to sign herself out of the hospital, which tells me she can make decisions. They may not be the decisions you would make, but she's an adult. Short of calling the police about her situation, it sounds as if that's all you can do. If you can have her declared incompetent legally, then you might be able to institutionalize her. There aren't many mental hospitals with lifetime commitment anymore, and I don't know the cost. I hope your attorney is a le to help you. It is much more difficult to have a person committed now.

What I recommend is for you to find a counselor or a counseling group for yourself to help you deal with the grieving you will need to do for the loss of your sister, and for the sense of helplessness you are probably feeling. I know counseling, both individual and group, was tremendously helpful for me. I was deeply hurt and felt guilty that I was giving up on her. But, for my own mental health that's what I had to do. I did it, and I'm healthier because of giving up control over her situation.

I hope this is helpful for you, and that I'm not too discouraging sharing my experience with you. Each situation and each person is different. I sincerely hope you are able to work through your situation successfully. If you have any questions, please dont hesitate to contact me. By the way, I have had a good life, a good marriage, and a successful career. I have a Masters degree and am now happily retired at 69 years old. You'll work through this I'm sure.

Warm regards,
Gail B
Volunteer Mentor

Jump to this post

Hello Gail B. I also had a similar experience with my older sister Rose. I am the youngest of seven children and Rose is the oldest girl in my family. Rose and I were very close for years and were almost tied at the hip. She is by-polar since she was a teenager. I remember growing up she would be in the psych unit getting shock therapy. Her stays in the hospital were very long up to six months or more. She was married and had two sons which our mother would take care of them while she was in the hospital. Sometimes her husband was in the hospital at the same time. Between both her and her husband they had a strong mental illness. Years went by and we stayed very close to each other. A few years ago Rose had hip replacement surgery which did not go over the greatest. The new hip got infected and had to removed. So,to make a long story short she is now for ever in a wheel chair without a hip. Her whole life changed and so did her mind. She became very unstable and mean to others. Now she lives in an apartment with her younger son. The funny thing is that i live in the same apartment complex. She dose not take care of her self at all. She skips medication , she dose not eat very well .I finally could not take her verbal abuse any longer. I have not spoken to her in four months. My life is better and stress free without out all the drama. It breaks my heart but i know it is for the best. So hang in there your not alone. With best regards Trudy

@aultsisterofpsychosis

Just wanted to check in with you. I hope you are doing well.

Teresa

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