Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Considering move with schizophrenic son - Pros and Cons

First time posting here, but looking for advice. My wife and I have a schizophrenic son who is almost 26 years old. He has become rather fixated on some delusions that are based on local “characters” from his days in High School and from a town we had previously resided in. Because he has begun to act on some of these delusions, it has created the potential for legal issues if he continues to act on them and more importantly the potential that someone who did not understand his condition could harm him (or he they if he felt they were a threat). He is not medicated (refuses to take any medicines outside of being forced to when hospitalized).

We are considering a move to another state that would put us around 3 hours away from these people, and I’m wondering if anyone has had any experiences (positive or negative) with moving someone away from their delusions. The thought process for my wife and I has been that, while we know he may still develop new delusions, at least he will be too far away from the people he has integrated into his current ones to take action (which could at a minimum keep him out of harms way until such time as he may be open to more help).

Appreciate any advice the forum community may have to offer!

Hi @bkosbornemba13 . Sorry to welcome you here. My son is 26 as well and unmedicated. We moved from Europe to the US 10 months ago. The delusions my son shares with me have more to do with his inner state than with other people. These delusions seem to be somewhat the same as before the move. He did tell me that the voices had changed from the ones he heard in Europe. He feels that this gives credence to the fact the voices are actual people. I would carefully consider where you are moving to if you have choice in the matter. For example, we moved to a state where marijuana is legal and easily obtained. This has not been going well for us. States vary too in the services they offer people with MI.

My son is 39 and unmedicated. He tends to develop delusions about people he is around regularly. We have discovered that moving him seems to “reset” him and give him peace, until he starts to develop delusions about the new people he is around regularly. He has moved several times and it has worked each time.

One of his psychiatrists explained that over time in a situation, my son’s paranoia collects “proof” of his paranoid delusions. As he collects proof, he becomes more fearful and we worry he will hurt someone by mistaking them as a threat or vice versa. To our knowledge, he has never hurt anyone, but when his delusions build up, he begins buying weapons to defend himself. We listen for clues and try to move him before it reaches that point. When he asks to move, we work to make that happen quickly.

At one point, we brought him home to live with us and he began having paranoid delusions about us. First, he started having them about his dad, a couple of years later he began having them about me as well.

Similar to @Steadfast, my son attributes the voices he hears to whoever is in closest proximity to him.

My first thought was that you should rent and not buy if that was feasible for you.

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Hi @bkosbornemba13, so sorry for what your family is going through. Our story is similar to yours. My 27 year old son diagnosed sza has constant delusions about his high school friends. There’s lot of anger and jealousy in his daily rants. The people from his past have moved on and he’s stuck with this cruel disease! We are seriously considering moving to another country in the hope that this will put him out of harm’s way. He has ranted about someone online and was let go from his job. Social media can be so dangerous! We think out of sight would mean out of mind and our son would forget about his old friends. But there is the danger of new delusions in the new place. Right now he’s in a state of utter fear and panic. He will not even leave the house! He has gone through a few APs and nothing has helped. We recently started him on Saphris and his delusions have increased. He wants us to stay in a hotel 5 minutes away from our house. I wish you good luck with your move if you decide to take that step. My son’s pdoc says this is a journey! Take care.

So this is not really an answer to your question, but we moved for my husband’s job after our son had been diagnosed. The move was initially rough on him, but in the long run it was a good idea and here’s why. Both his friends and ours in our former town knew him before he got sick and their expectations were to have conversations and outings he couldnt handle well anymore. It was a lot of pressure on our son.
Seeing the sadness in others eyes, other parents who have known him since kindergarten, was terrible for me as well. I became way too focused on what others thought.
Now everyone he meets knows him as he is now.The friends we have made in our new city accept our son’s shortcomings because they have only known him after dx. Or maybe we now gravitate towards more accepting friends.
I know that’s not what you are asking but thought I’d give another perspective on moving.

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Not sure if this helps just another view. We couldn’t just move, we have two other adult kids and want to be around them and they are a big benefit for our son. Also we live on a AC so we are not in town. But I understand what your saying. My sons HS friends due reach out to him which I think is a positive but he is not ready to meet up with them which is fine - I don’t push it, my son is 26 as well and he is on two different meds and doing pretty well for him. We are happy we’re he is at, I can see him doing better, I guess at the end of the day, you have to do what’s best for your family. I wish you and your family the best outcome. Take care

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Thank you so much to everyone for responding. I shared your responses with my wife. Your responses have nearly brought us to tears just to know that there were others who not only shared our experiences, but who were courageous enough and compassionate enough to reach out a helping hand.

When one looks for research on these topics it can be distressing. But the advice you have given based on your actual experiences is truly helpful. I think we will likely pursue the move, realizing that while it may not completely alleviate his delusions, at least we will be making an effort to provide him even somewhat marginal relief. If things get even just a little better for him, we’ll consider it a success…sometimes, just a little better, just a little happier, just a little more at peace…well, I guess that’s the most we can hope for for ourselves and those we love! I’ll keep the community posted on how things go, and thanks again to each of you who reached out…if anyone has further advice, experiences that differ from those already shared, etc., I am happy to hear it…one can never be TOO informed!

Thank you again.

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We were fortunate that our move brought us geographically closer to our adult daughter and son in law.
@bkosbornemba13 if your son is requesting the move, perhaps you could use that as a bit of leverage. Like agreeing to see a p doc or agreeing to delete his social media account (if he has one). Someone on here said severe mental illness and social media do not mix well. I know our move was an opportunity for me to stop denying my son’s illness and start creating and holding boundaries that made our lives better. Certainly no reason a move had to prompt this, but it kind of jolted all of us into looking at how bad things had gotten.
Also, the initial stress of the move was very difficult on our son. In retrospect I wish one of us had gone ahead and had everything set up before we moved.

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Such a good point, as they told us in Family to Family, any change is very stressful for our family members.

I can confirm from experience that this is largely how paranoia works internally (for me at least). I’ll add that the reset may be temporary at best, and with each successive move you can accumulate additional paranoid “baggage” and the “conspiracy” can broaden. With the advent of the internet and social media, it’s tougher to fully escape troublesome environments.

Some other things to consider:

Making new friends can be quite difficult for people with schizophrenia. While you may be leaving some troubled relationships with individuals and organizations behind, you are also leaving supportive ones as well. So you have to balance the good and the bad. When I became florid, I returned to my home town to find that I and my needs had changed, but my old friends had not. While it was nice to have them to fall back on, I still needed new friends beyond that.

When ill, you always feel like an outsider so people and places that are quiet but inviting would be my preference were I to do this all again. It also helps to have good psychiatrists, psychologists and mental healthcare facilities available if you need them. It’s also important to research state laws and the quality of law enforcement when moving to an area. I’d engage the local NAMI chapter before finalizing a move.

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I’d found this to be the case when traveling in Europe as well, but not to the positive. Differences in social cues and language can lead to confusion and paranoia. As an American in Europe, you tend to stick out despite your best efforts to conceal it. Sticking out and drawing attention to yourself is antithetical to my coping mechanisms and closer quarters and the variety of languages and accents make it harder to process sound and follow conversations.

@Maggotbrane Very interesting comment. Looking back on my son’s life through the lens of what we know now, I realize that all of the moving about we did, which I took very lightly, could easily have been traumatic to him. He is fully bilingual, with one language spoken at home and all of his schooling since the age of three in another language. And it is not just language that differed in these two worlds, it was culture as well. We then layered on top of that a move to a third continent where once again at the age of 11, he was very much the odd man out. I hear of how being an immigrant can increase your chances of suffering from psychosis. When most people think of immigration, it’s not an American moving to another country, but I now see that we were most certainly immigrants, and I do think this impacted my son more than I realized at the time.

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