Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Don't know how to relate to my sister

Hi, I’m new here and this is my first post. Basically, my sister was diagnosed a few years ago. I’m finding it really difficult to relate to her because she seems to take out all her frustration on me. I can’t cope with it anymore. Has anyone ever been the scapegoat or psychoogical punchbag for someone with schizophrenia and if so how did you deal with it? Thanks

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Welcome to the forum! I am sorry about your sister. I understand. I have a sister that has schizoaffective disorder and my son has disorganized schizophrenia. My son is doing well now after many years to get here but my sister is not so well and we are currently estranged from one another. There were times when she treated me very poorly and my most common response was to just leave her alone which is what she usually wants anyway. It makes me sad, but I do have to care about me too. I deserve to be treated at least decently.

I have tried to urge her to get more appropriate treatment for her illness but she gets a minimal medication from her family doctor and it is not enough to really make her stable. She lives like a hermit in a tiny dark efficiency and will not answer the door or the phone to anyone. She scurries to the local grocery store a few blocks away each month and scurries back home to lock up and recede into the darkness again. On occasion over the years I have drawn her out and things might seem tolerable for a short time between us but each time she unravels and then shuts down and then refuses to associate with me or my son often for years at a time. I am at a loss. Her family doctor pleaded with me to take on her guardianship and that is what she really needs but I said I cannot do that because I am guardian to my adult son and that is all I can be responsible for besides myself. Currently I am just writing her letters and sending cards. She hasn’t answered but I know she reads them.

My best advice is to do only what you can do without draining yourself and losing ground with your own self esteem and wellness. What has helped me over the years is getting professional counseling for myself so that I have a neutral third party to listen to me with undivided attention and help me process my experiences with my ill loved ones. Also, taking NAMI’s free Family to Family class was an invaluable help to me, I highly recommend that if it is a possibility for you. It teaches you all about the illnesses and gives you perspective on the care taking aspect of family members with these illnesses. I wish I had more answers but suffice to say I really do understand. Here is a link to NAMI if you have a chapter in your area., they offer great resources.