Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Brain Damage Cause of Certain Behavior?


#1

I’m new here… been reading some of the other topics, trying to figure out what’s going on with my 21 year old (step)grandson.

I don’t want to get into the specifics of how he came to be living here with me, other than to say he was on his way to a homeless shelter in a big city in another state. I told him he was coming here to live with me.

He’s been here just about three months and the change in him has been very dramatic and for the positive. We found a good therapist, got his meds refilled (took an entire month to accomplish this), and he has been working since his first week here.
I gave him driving lessons, took him to get his license (he passed the first time out!), and we bought a used car together.

He “appears” do be doing very well, although he tells me he still is having hallucinations on occasion. His doctor told him to take an extra 1mg of Risperdal in the afternoon when they start up, and it seems to be helping. He is also taking Benztropine since a while back he was MS-like symptoms, which was actually being caused by the Risperdal. The lockjaw and muscle tightness are no more, as long as he takes the two together.

So, to my questions…
“K” is nothing like the descriptions I’ve read here so far - he is pleasant to be around, very positive, very active, and very people-friendly. He has always been a kind-hearted person and a joy to be around.

The “problems” I see, that I want to try to help him over come are his apparent inability to think ahead, make plans, or set goals for himself and follow through, and his inability to see the “big picture.”

He will do anything that is asked of him, without complaint… the trouble is, he can’t think to do it on his own. Example: Laundry. First time at the laundromat, he brought the basket out to the car, he hadn’t folded the clothes, so I made him go back in and fold them. Next time he folded them, but when we got home, he left them all in the basket. I told him to put them away - when I checked later in the day, he crammed everything into one drawer. This last time, I told him to put his socks and underwear in the top drawer, shirts in the second drawer, and pants in the third. When I went over to his house to check, he had done exactly what I asked.

It was the same thing with making his bed. I had to tell him repeatedly to make it and it always looked sloppy. One day I made him watch me, explaining every single step and since then he has done it perfectly.

It’s like, no matter what it is, if I say, "Please do “this,” he doesn’t have a clue what I am talking about - unless I physically show him.
Another example is if I ask him to get something - it is impossible for him to do this! When he was a child, we would tell him to go get his shoes… he would “look” all over the house come back to the same spot and be all upset because he couldn’t find them - they would literally be right in front of him! Still has the same issues. This is what I refer to as him having tunnel vision and not being able to see the “big picture.”

Is this due to the brain damage caused by the disease? Is it something that can be fixed through practice, or is it something he will always have a problem with?

He is perfectly content with his life as it is now - living next to granny, going to work, and listening to music or playing video games. he has very few needs and even less wants. I am happy he is happy, but I’m wondering if we need to be setting higher goals? He has accomplished so much since he’s been here, the last thing I want to happen is for him to get stressed out and have a relapse.

Would it be wise to leave well enough alone and acknowledge there are limitations to what he can accomplish, and let him set the pace for his own growth? Is he even capable of doing this on his own? Is it likely he will need adult supervision the rest of his life?
I am afraid for him and what will happen to him when I am no longer here - I want to teach him as much as I can so he can be as independent as possible.

Thanks for taking the time to read this, and for your thoughts.


#2

My son has some of those issues - organization, memory, etc.

I don’t know if it’s part of the disease or not, but I’m guessing it is - he was diagnosed very early in elementary school with an undefined learning disability that involved memory deficits - long term, short term, and working. Plus, he has a very hard time following instructions.

He also often can’t find things, even when he just had it or it’s sitting right there. It’s a constant struggle for him.

This is consistent whether his psychosis is active or not.

On the other hand, he scored off the charts on being able to come up with “unique solutions to unusual problems”. He’s extremely creative, he’s very artistic and musical.

If he’s happy, I’d concentrate on what he can do and take things very, very slowly. They have all kinds of research out there that says the brain is more plastic than we ever thought. Maybe think about small ways to help his memory or ability to follow directions - again, starting very small and going slowly. However, if his psychosis is still active, you have no way of knowing how much of his brain power is spent just trying to control that. It sounds like he is doing incredibly well all things considered.

I wonder about brain damage myself - my son had two bad falls before he was a year old. He landed on thick carpeting, and he checked out fine, but I still worry, especially since they were completely my fault for not being careful enough.


#3

TY for your reply and advice. I’m sorry you are having to deal with this also. Don’t blame yourself - toddlers are always falling and damaging themselves! Luckily their rubbery at that age. :sunglasses:
Can a head injury initiate sz? I hadn’t read that before. I thought sz was mostly genetic and triggered by drug use. Your son is lucky he has talents he can be proud of.

“K” says he has been having the hallucinations since he was very little, five or six. I don’t think he was actually diagnosed until his mid teens though.
I recently purchased the full version of Lumosity, and he likes it, but complained it was “boring.” I hate to make it a chore to do, but I think it would help him tremendously to practice on it every day.
he also did well in school - always getting straight As. bless his heart, I don’t know how. :sunglasses:


#4

They don’t really know all the ways you can end up with a mental illness. My son only has a psychotic NOS diagnosis (NOS stands for Not otherwise specified), but he has so much in common with people with SZ. And, others have gotten a SZ diagnosis and found out later it might not be right. It’s not an exact science and symptoms change.

People thing genetics give you a higher chance, drug use can bring it out in people who are prone to it, and some brain injuries end up giving people SZ-type symptoms - even Alzheimers has some things in common with SZ.

If I knew back then what I know now, I would have seen signs of a problem very early too, and it’s not unheard of for small children to have these issues.

Does he only have hallucinations? I’ve had people tell me the hallucinations are the easiest thing to deal with. Followed by the voices - and that paranoia and delusions are the worst. I don’t know that my son hallucinates - he says he has a time or two, but it’s not a regular thing. He doesn’t think he hears voices, but I know without a doubt that he hears people say things when they don’t. However, the paranoia and delusions are the worst thing about it for me.

It’s nice that he has some insight into the illness and he’s willing to take his meds. That’s our struggle right now - my son lost the insight he used to have, but I’m hoping he’ll get some back when he’s better. And, he went off his meds and didn’t want to start taking them again. Right now, he has something he’s willing to take, so I’m cautiously optimistic.

By the way, I think you’re an amazing person to do all this for him. He’s very lucky to have you.


#5

How old is your son now?

K was being released from the hospital for attempted suicide. The rehab center he was supposed to go to didn’t have any beds available. His parents wouldn’t allow him in their home. They were discharging him from the hospital - knowing this - knowing he had no place to go but a homeless shelter. I told him to stay put and I sent him a bus ticket.

When he first got here, he was wound up tighter than rubber band. had I known how bad off he was, before I made him come here, I probably wouldn’t have done it - I seriously doubted my ability to help him.
The second week he was here he said he wasn’t having hallucinations any more and decided he didn’t need his meds. Stupid me said, That’s great! Well, three days later he had a major relapse, which scared the shit out of me so badly I called the Crisis Center and hid all the knives in the house.
By the time someone from the crisis called back (three hours later) he had fallen asleep and I told them thanks for nothing, and I wasn’t about to wake him up.

We both realized at that point that he better never do that again, and he hasn’t. he has been very good about calling and getting the refills before he runs out, and takes his meds every night without reminding.

He has audio and visual hallucinations. Says voices tell him to do “bad” things, and sees demons and monsters. I believe he also has delusions. He thinks every girl he meets is attracted to him - he is self confident, but unrealistically so at times.
Also told the doctor he’s been paranoid.
the thing is though, this last visit to the doctor was drastically different from the first. She diagnosed him with sz, PTSD, and borderline personality disorder first visit. Second visit, took off the BPD. She was impressed with his accomplishments.

My biggest dilemma is knowing where to draw the line between helping him do things he can’t do and doing too much.


#6

What a wonderful grandmother you are. I think your questions are what we all ask and I think you are doing an excellent job. Keep up the good work. It is my opinion that this is the disease but I notice that when my son really wants to do something he figures it out and does it. He has started to cook and I think the more he can do on his own the better. Of course the kitchen is a mess but I keep reminding him to put stuff away. God bless you both.


#7

Aw, ty, and bless you too.
k loves to cook, although not so much now since that is what he does at work. lol

I think the single most important piece of his recovery has been the change of environment.
When he was home, his entire life, he has had to endure dysfunction and chaos - constant noise, bickering, and fighting in the family. being the oldest, he was always put upon to “do this” and “go get that” and having to take care of one baby after another. Enough to drive anyone over the edge!!
I live alone in a rural area with lots of nature and critters surrounding us. Peaceful bliss, for the most part… and very few temptations.

Thanks for talking to me. It’s such a relief to discuss this with someone else who knows what it’s all about.


#8

My son is 27. He had his first psychotic break at 15.

One of those times, we also took everything sharp out of the house, right down to the butter knives and forks.

It’s good they took BPD off - that’s a rough one. I watched a video on Youtube not too long ago about a pdoc talking about one of her favorite patients and how far she’d come. She had her SZ symptoms under control and was actually teaching, but she still struggled with the BPD, and joked about how much harder it was to deal with having BPD than SZ.

I agree - if they’re sleeping, let them sleep. It heals their brain, and I hate to ever wake him up.

It does sound like he has delusions too. My son goes through spells where he things every female, regardless of age, is flirting with him or coming on to him. Sometimes, he seems to enjoy it, other times, he’s almost threatened by it, but it’s all part of the delusions and not being able to process reality.

It sounds like you guys are on the right track. And, there are lots of success stories with SZ - people who stick with treatment, make healthy choices, and have amazing lives. I’m glad he’s willing to take the meds, and he realizes what’s going on - that’s half the battle.


#9

I was just starting to read your thread about your sons first inpatient experience. How did that work out?

Funny thing about the BPD - the therapist suggested two books to read, which I immediately bought on Amazon as soon as we got home. I didn’t think it fit K at all, but thought it was describing me to a T! lol

Exactly the same thing with your son and my grandson about the girl thing… he is good looking and has a great personality though, so it’s hard for me to know just how much of what he tells me is true and which is delusion. lol


#10

Probably some is true & some isn’t - you never know for sure unless you see it for yourself.

He hated inpatient, was very happy to come home, but stopped his meds again. They put him on the same thing he stopped taking because he hated it, so no surprise there. His regular psychiatrist put him on a brand-new med that’s he’s very willing to take - It worked well for a few days, then cut out on him, so we doubled the dosage yesterday.

So far, it helps him sleep, seems to put him in a better mood, doesn’t make him sleep all day, and he’s talking less about the delusions but they’re still there.

The latest one is that I sent him to surgery to get a phone implanted in his brain. I asked him why would I do that? He said, I don’t know - maybe to help me communicate better. Then I offered to take him to get an X-Ray so he could see what’s in there. He said no, he wasn’t all that worried about it.

So, although the delusions are still there, he’s not as obsessed with them. I guess that’s a start.

For me, I have to find hope in the smallest improvements, things other people might not even notice. And, the smallest things are major accomplishments - like, if he can go in a store, and actually go through the register to pay for something himself, it’s a great day. He has really, really bad social anxiety too - so that makes things extra challenging.


#11

Yup, I’ve definitely learned to be happy for the little things.
Have a good night.


#12

"My son goes through spells where he thinks every female, regardless of age, is flirting with him or coming on to him. "
Slw Funny you should say that. Last week W saw a new therapist and when I asked him how it went, he said “Mom, I think she wanted to sleep with me” W is a handsome man and appears incredibly shy but I do question it.


#13

He is working? That is another blessing! What does he do if you don’t mind my asking?


#14

My son did the same with his new therapist he started seeing about 8 months ago, and became completely infatuated with her, and a little obsessed. It wasn’t what started this downward spiral, but it certainly didn’t help.

I’d just kind of watch it. It’s amazing how much they have in common. I’d never have guessed this one - I thought maybe it was a bipolar manic symptom, as in hypersexuality.


#15

Yes, thank goodness, and he loves his job. He works at a fast food place. It amazes me because he is so good at it - the fastest one there, or so he says.
He seems to have no trouble at all keeping up with his schedule, getting to work on time, and when he gets paid. He often goes in early, says to get more hours, but I’m beginning to think it is because he is bored and can’t think of anything else to do on his own.

I don’t think he has mentioned his sz to anyone there yet, but he did tell me one of the other employees made fun of him once when they saw him taking his meds.
From what he’s told me of the other employees, I wouldn’t be surprised if they all didn’t have some kind of mental health issues.


#16

@Granny My son is the same way about not understanding things I ask him to do but being better at it if I show him step by step…and my son is 32 and lives with me…but once he was on the right medicines and became more lucid and stable it was like teaching him basic things all over again from the beginning. One of his doctors told me that when the disease begins all intellectual and emotional maturity stops progressing at whatever age the disease starts. For my son he is often very much like a 14 year old in his understanding of things and his reactions to them since that is when the issues started…and sometimes that is difficult when he is 32 now. Yet like your (step) grandson he is such a like-able and friendly people person most all of the time (since he has been stable) I can overlook a lot of issues that still persist. I also often wonder about higher goals for him, he seems to have no interest in any kind of “progress or goal setting” and likes right where he is for the most part. I honestly don’t know what would become of him if I were gone, I hope he would remember the things I have taught him, but I am just not sure.


#17

Hi, Granny! And what a wonderful, brave and loving grandmother you are! You are doing the right things. You touched on a subject we all worry about. What will become of our loved ones when we are gone. It is scary. There is no way that my 28 year old daughter could take care of herself. Like your “K” she has to be told how to do the simplest of chores and gets so upset when she can’t find things. In kindergarten she went to an egg hunt. You know how with young ones they just throw the eggs out in sight. The teacher said all the other kids went running out to get the eggs, but she just stood there like she was stuck. She was a very intelligent child, but some things just didn’t click. It’s still that way. She just doesn’t notice things that needs doing. I’m so glad you’ve joined us. I’m fairly new and already I’ve learned so much from others stories.


#18

“My biggest dilemma is knowing where to draw the line between helping him do things he can’t do and doing too much.” Boy, have you nailed our lives in a nutshell. I try not too do something someone can do themselves and the better off they get, the less you’ll need to do. W is better than he was last year not when he was off meds. He ended up hospitalized and we became his legal guardian. It’s nothing I wanted but is necessary to keep him safe. It sucks most of the time bc he wants control and wants to do what he wants without restrictions. Very much like a teenager most of the time. God help us all.


#19

That’s interesting what your doctor said… I often feel like I’m dealing with a larger version of a six year old K.
When he was younger he loved Legos and Bionicles, that’s all he would even talk about. If you tried to talk to him about something else, he would look at you, but as soon as you stopped talking he would continue on with his rant about the legos.
He is the same way now with that stupid Pokémon game on his phone… although, since he lost his Pokémon gym and doesn’t get the free balls anymore, he doesn’t play it much. Thank goodness! lol


#20

Thank you for the warm welcome and the encouragement.
It is such a relief to talk to others in the same boat.

Since there seem to be quite a few similarities in behavior, I’ve got to ask you and the others here: do your kids have trouble flushing???