Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Coping with Guilt

I know there is already a thread with a similar title, but I’m not bumping that one because the context is different.

This seems to be becoming a harder issue for me as my son continues to exclude me from any type of communication. The “ghosting” is taking a real toll on my mental health.

My son’s first break happened during my divorce and no matter what anybody says, I cannot stop blaming myself for what happened to him. He suffered significant loss during the process even though I was still in his life and when he did have his first and subsequent breaks, I was the only person in contact with him. We went through everything together and when it was all over, I think we just couldn’t be around each other. So much had happened and we were both left with trauma (even more for him). His experimentation with synthetic pot and shrooms may have contributed and it could have just been a perfect storm, but the guilt is so overwhelming sometimes, I can hardly stand it.

Anyone relate? My daughter coped with it all just fine and is doing very well. I just want that kid back who used to sit in the passenger, talk my ear off and make me laugh. I miss him so much…


There are sooo many ways I could blame myself or my sons his father. I know it is very difficult but you can’t take the blame there are so many many ways that people get this disease. You did not cause this. Are you able to see someone to help you work through this?

I am more filled with worry. I had a free 10 minute with one of the psych doctors when my son was in the hospital last week and he (like my boyfriend) told me I was getting ahead of myself. I know it’s difficult not to feel guilt or worry. I also take rescue remedy which is a flower tincture that helps with stress. Perhaps that would help a bit? I’m sorry you are struggling.


I have also felt extremely guilty.

First of all, these are medical illnesses. We did not cause them; we cannot control them.

My mental coping strategy for guilt is: if I would have known what to do to get a better outcome, would I have done it? YES. It’s like forgiving ourselves for not knowing, which is frightening because there is still so much unknown.


I’ll look into that Rescue Remedy. Sometimes I want to go back on antidepressants, but I just don’t like them. I don’t think I ever really knew what being depressed was until this happened. I think it was the timing and knowing that my divorce caused my son such pain. It wasn’t a messy, nasty divorce, we’re not that way it was just sad, very sad.

I am seeing someone, we are just starting up again. He met my son a while back and they actually hit it off. He has been so helpful. Work and school help, staying busy. I am active in my community with people experiencing homelessness through my work, many of whom have schizophrenia. It’s really weird, but I actually find comfort in being around them and supporting them with the resources.

We have an initiative here that is constructing a housing development for the chronically homeless and they start with the most severe cases, which is greatly those with SMIs which is absolutely incredible and I plan to become active with this organization. Trying to make things better for people with this diagnosis has become so important to me and it makes me feel closer to him and helps with the guilt.

I feel like Debbie Downer (SNL)…
Thanks, @DianeR


Hi, @Hereandhere.

I’m trying to remember that, it was the timing, I think. Had it happened before or after the divorce, but it happened during.

Okay, I think I can try that. I would have done things very differently, absolutely.

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I can feel your heart hurting. I also have a lot of guilt. My ex husband left me when I was pregnant with my daughter. He is a very strange man. I believe he is narcissistic due to the fact that he has never shown remorse for anything he’s ever done, but I took him back anyway. His interactions with me and my daughter were very emotionally exhausting and he handled his anger like a two year old child. He was distant with the entire family. When my daughter had her first psychosis, I immediately beat myself up and asked myself, “Why didn’t you leave him years ago.” He was so bad us emotionally, but especially for her. I still kick myself on that one, but I finally had to realize that in itself may have aggravated her schizophrenia, but it did not actually cause it. If I could go back, I would definitely do things differently. But playing the devil’s advocate only makes a person more depressed and even sick at times. I think you and I and I’m sure others here need to give ourselves a break from the guilt. We know we will continue to do the best we can do for our loved ones. Much love and peace to you. :heart:


I went thru a bad divorce when my son was 14 and was not able to be there for my son due to my own emotional pain. My marriage ended after 30 years and 4 children and the older 3 were young adults and this son got the brunt of the divorce. My son and I lived together but I was in so much pain that I was crying a LOT and working a LOT so I wasn’t able to spend much time with him. The brothers and sister were out of the house and I realize how lonely he must of been. His dad had moved out of state and my son started smoking pot and isolating himself and it got worse and worse until we had full-blown psychosis at 19. I think often that he wouldn’t have gotten sz if we didn’t divorce. Nine years later I am accepting the fact that his illnes is here and my guilt isn’t helping anyone, so I try to be strong for all my kids, but it is not easy for sure.


Thanks, @dkgreg. Guilt doesn’t get discussed at NAMI meetings, but I think it should be for this very reason. It helps caregivers to hear that guilt is just a normal emotion for many of us.

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I agree Irene, it’s hard staying strong.

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You can get it at Whole Foods or vitamin cottage. Or King Soopers if you have those near you. I also take the sarcosine which I was putting in smoothies for my son and it ends up it seems to help me.

You are doing some amazing things with the community. I can see how helping the homeless would help you feel better. I keep telling myself if I get through this and my son gets better I would help with the homeless as well.

By seeing someone I meant a counselor : ) but sounds like you have a new partner : )

Does your son live with you?

I was talking about a counselor :). He was one of the many my son was assigned to and this one my son actually liked. Now I see him, but my son doesn’t. His advanced studies put him in a position to to a lot with folks with schizophrenia so he gets me.

He is at his dads right now. I take him groceries, clothes, etc. every Sunday but he won’t come outside when I pull up so I just leave the bag on the porch.

I think that people come walk away from births with a 7 pound bundle of joy and 70 pounds of parental guilt.


All of us parents have guilt. But honestly, they just don’t know what causes schitzophrenia to come out. They say it can be hereditary. My son is 27, and I would love to have “him” back. I’ve come to the realization that , that likely isn’t ever going to happen. Our goal is to try to get him independent as possible. Nami meetings will discuss whatever you bring up. I went to family to family 12 week class, and we talked a great deal about guilt. This disease totally sucks and I’d give anything for my son not to have it. I try to tell him to not let the disease own him… he needs to own it. Take his meds, etc.

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Hello, I, as well, have ruminated over what caused my son’s mental illness and whether I could have done something to prevent it or if I somehow had contributed to it . His father and I divorced when our son was 5-years-old. At age nine, my son’s father stopped seeing him which caused him much emotional pain. However, my son was very sociable and happy until he reached puberty. Then his personality changed. He became much less sociable, agitated, and began using drugs. Being his mother, I thought maybe I caused his problems because I was a single parent and he did not have a father figure. My son was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder 14 years ago. As the years have passed by, I have learned to accept who my son has become, his struggles, and his capabilities. I have learned to look more forward and deal what is happening now, then look back as I can not go back in time to change what has happened.