My son was diagnosed with schizophrenia when he was 18, he is now 21. Besides all the symptoms, and the struggle with taking meds, the biggest thing he struggles with is that he is the quiet one in a loud family. I always feel horrible for him because he is off in a corner while we are all together. He has said many times that he wishes he could talk as easily as we do. How can I help him?
You might ask his doctor about the medication Gabapentin (Neurontin) . It is used by the psychiatric community because one of it’s side affects is in making the patient more sociable and excessively talkative although it is originally prescribed as an anti-seizure medication. I have been prescribed it for the nerve pain blocking action it has for my very bad back. It is non narcotic and non addictive but it can be abused recreationally.
My son has this problem too, but it doesnt mean people like him any less. I do want to help him with it, though. My own experience says that every time you talk to someone it gets easier because the next time you know a bit more about them so you can ask more questions about things that interest them. I emigrated from the UK ten years ago so I had to go through finding new friends. It was hard, but the main thing I learned was - ask other people about themselves. And accept that not every conversation seems to work out, but it is still easier to talk to the person next time.
I’ve always had a similar problem. I have real problems talking with people. Now that I am older I don’t mind it as much. They say in AA not to “judge your insides by other people’s outsides”. When I was young I used to see people doing things, and I would think they had it together so much better than me. Like, I see a person jogging and think that person was so much happier than me, when I was doing a fair amount of jogging myself. Tell your son that other people don’t have it as easy as it looks. I know it hurts not to be good at talking to people, but it can help to learn to be content with other pleasures.
Thanks all of you for your replies. We have a very large family- I have six brothers and sisters and then of course add their families and that makes for large gatherings. When he was young he was right in the mix and I know he wishes he could be there again. I get around my family and we start talking and joking and then I look over at him and guilt just hits me. He will talk to individuals- but only off to the side or outside.
My oldest brother was diagnosed with Sz when he was 17. He’s been living with this illness for 13 years. We also come from a large family, and gatherings can get big quickly.
Some of the things that helped my brother get comfortable with family gatherings again was letting him know that if he needed a break from the noise and chaos, it would be OK to go and take a time out.
My parents also devised a plan to ask my brother if he would be the errand runner.
It works for him. He likes picking up some of our relatives, getting last minute things that might have been forgotten.
He is still apart of things, and he only has to take on a big family crowd for 15 to 20 minutes at a time and then leave and come back. He is helping and seeing some of our family one on one as he drives them.
He’s been working on staying at the family gatherings a little longer each time.
I think one thing that helped my brother a lot is to let him know that people understand if he needs to take a break from the overwhelming large family energy.
Sometimes my brother is self conscious about not talking as much as others or not keeping up with conversations. But he’s been in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to get his confidence up and keep his anxiety down. That has helped him relearn how to relax around the family.
My brother has been very adamant lately about working on his social skills. He says they are skills, and can be learned.
A book he has been working through I think has helped him. “Social Skills Training for Schizophrenia” by Allen S Bellack.
I wish I had more information for you.
Thank you for letting me post.
Unfortunately there are some people that are not “hard wired” for social interaction So there is no amount therapy or pills that can change that.
That is all wonderful advice and tips. Being just a few years into this journey, I think we let ourselves fall into the ‘reactive’ stance instead of coming up with ideas for future situations. My son is comfortable with one on ones (with people he knows) so having him pick up people or run errands is a great idea.
I wish my son would agree to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to help with his confidence. Since he was diagnosed, he has been on and off medicines, committed once and now finally stable on a medicine that is working for him. He still talks about going off the medicine and handling things spiritually, but I have been able to convince him to stay on them so far. He will not agree to go to therapy though. He doesn’t think it does him any good to talk to a stranger about his issues. He is also still scared that if he reveals his thoughts that it will get him sent back to the hospital.
I have to say, I just found this forum a few days ago and it has been nice to talk to people going through the same things. It is also terrifying at the same time honestly.
You are absolutely right. I often find myself feeling guilty that he seems to be so out of place.
I am like your son,my family is very loud and outgoing,while I am always the quiet anxious one by the side,and when people approach to talk to me I struggle to answer and always get awkward,dnnt really like thos…
Sensory overload can be too much for the brain to handle and provoke symptoms. If he needs to stay out of the fray and stick to one on one’s, he’s just taking good care of himself. Don’t feel guilty about that. What some of the others said is so true, he needs to know it ok to take breaks and cut out early if that’s how he feels.
You could also try doing small things like walking over to him and patting his knee. Ask him to sit beside you even if he isn’t talking. That way he can feel included.