Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Guilt of needing a break

Morning all. Just curious how those who care for a loved one with SZ feel when (if) they manage to take a break. I have not stopped since last November managing and caring for my son. And the two /3 years run up to that were constant worry as he started to get sick. And to be honest I have felt totally drained / tired the past few weeks it was really getting to me :expressionless:

Finally I got a break last weekend. My brother moved into my house for the weekend and I skipped across the water to Berlin for a long weekend. I admit it was great! Just sat in the airport enjoying a beer, without having to watch the clock for meds or check on my son. Then the guilt hit me. My brother told me to NOT call, and he would call me if they were issues. I managed to relax in the end and admit I had an amazing time. Eating and drinking in that great City. It felt so normal so good to be connected to the “world again” … I even got drunk on the Saturday night … something I have not allowed myself to do for months. Even the hangover the next morning felt like “normality”

I got updates from my brother and my son was calm and no issues. My brother also had the support of the intervention team and Crises in the evening if it was needed. It was not thankfully!

I felt so refreshed on returning, was excited to see my son and he loved the gifts I bought him (hoddie and other trinkets ) and yes bad dad I got him some German chocolates .:roll_eyes::grimacing::grimacing::face_with_hand_over_mouth::face_with_hand_over_mouth::face_with_hand_over_mouth:. It was funny how he squirrelled then away to his room like a little boy when I gave him the gifts. He waited up with my brother until 2am for my return. And I could see he was glad I was back even though he didnt say it.

But I had this lingering guilt there I was out having a good time and he was home still with his issues. How do others manage this ? do you feel its important for carers to cut themself some slack sometimes ?

My brother offered to do it again in the new year but still is it right ? thanks Dino

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As long as the person relieving you knows what they are getting into and is willing and capable of care, I see no reason for guilt. My mother is caring for my father who has dementia and one of the first things they did was hand her a pamphlet for counseling. She misunderstood and said my father had care already, and they said, no— the counseling is for you.

From what I see on this forum, I feel more people would be better effective with their care if they took breaks. There’s a lot of talk in the States lately about ‘self-care’ from people with far fewer burdens than caregivers, so I understand how this break can seem self-indulgent. You need to think of the long-term, as you cannot and will not always be available. So back up systems need to be tested, and your son needs to become accustomed to other caregivers.

My parents mistakenly thought my brother with bipolar disorder was okay on his own and left for a month-long trip across country. I was left at home at 17, and my sister who was 15 was staying with a friend. We both got a crash-course in caregiving when he went into a manic state and was hospitalized. This was before cellphones or even cheap long distance phone calls, but we managed. After this and other incidents, guilt made them hang onto his care and have him live with them far too long for anyone’s good— especially his. Eventually this came to a crisis, and now he lives on his own and my sister manages his trust, and the siblings collectively care for him, and, as needed, our parents. Frankly, we all wish they had come to this conclusion far sooner, as everyone is better off because of it.

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Yes, you MUST take breaks @simdad, and NO you shouldn’t feel guilty, although you probably will feel guilty (and you did).

I am laying out a long term future plan for my daughter, and as @Maggotbrane said his family learned, I wish I had started earlier.

I was sooooooo stressed during the bad years, that I took off sometimes without even explaining to my daughter that I was leaving. Sometimes for hours only, sometimes overnight to a friends’ home. I never knew how my daughter would take some of my conversations anyway, so I “reasoned” with myself that it was better not to tell her, just to leave. Once I left for 7 days, without telling her, to go visit my sister and a friend in another state. I knew she would mostly live in her room anyway. I felt guilty if I left, but I felt guilty anyway when I was home. So I took the time for me.

She did tell me just the other day that she would have liked it if I told her I was leaving for a week, but before that, she never mentioned it at all to me.

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@Simdad Absolutely! You had necessary helps in place while you were gone. What a wonderful brother you have! We all need to take care of ourselves if we are to continue to help our loved ones. Plan now for a future getaway. You can plan for shorter getaways, too.

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All to myself…

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That is such a lovely tribute to you and your daughter and the caring and improved trust between you that she felt safe enough of your love to give you this feedback.

She clearly takes after you in terms of her underlying resilience and ability to cope. She must be quite an impressive person (as are you).

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Hi Simdad,

Different situation for me, with long-distance unmedicated homeless SMI husband, but I recently took a break and went on a one week vacation. I have not had a proper vacation in at least ten years. I have been caring for an elderly relative for two years and (until he left where I am living) my husband for ten years. I really did need a break, some time to myself to do whatever I wanted rather than what they want. My relative understood and I found emergency contacts and backup plans for them if they should have trouble while I was away. At first my husband seemed OK with it and wished me well, but after I returned, it got ugly.

He accused me of sleeping with other men and kept asking over and over why I didn’t visit him instead or why I hadn’t paid for a ticket for him to join me on the vacation. I went to a place where I used to live, where I have a lot of friends and that I knew I would enjoy. I also knew that my friends do not have a good opinion of my husband because of his verbal/emotional abuse of me and would not be willing to see both of us. My husband would also have other agendas and would press me to follow those rather than do things I wanted to do. In addition to all this, it took a long time for me to save up what I could for the trip and could not have afforded to take both of us. Plus, he’s still unmedicated and a loose cannon, so to speak. I stayed in communication with my husband the whole time I was away.

Do I feel guilty? Yes and no. The trip was something I desperately needed. While I was on vacation, I felt like my old self, someone I have not seen in a long time. At the same time, I do feel guilty that my husband is still homeless and struggling. It has been his own choice to remain homeless, to refuse help from people who have tried to get him into housing and to refuse help from therapists who have tried to get him help for mental health. One month later, he still yells at me for taking a break.

In conclusion, I would say it was a good thing for me to take a break and that I should not feel guilty about it at all. If I am able, I would like to take another vacation next year and I hope I will feel better about it then. It sounds like you had a good vacation and I hope you also consider taking another next year.

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I don’t know how I would survive if I didn’t take care of myself too. We have been living with this disease for almost 7 years. In the beginning I stood fast and never left my son’s side. I got advice from someone that I needed to let go a bit and help him feel independent (as much as he could with this condition). I don’t travel with my husband much but when I do I feel guilt about leaving my son behind knowing how much he loves to travel too. My budget is low so just going with my husband is difficult so paying for him to travel with us is not possible right now. In the spring I did travel by car with him to NYC (a five hour drive from where I live) and he had a wonderful time visiting my family there. It was not without incident but not as serious as it could have been. My family is getting together for Thanksgiving and My husband and I cannot go since it is too far and my son deserves a holiday too so we stay home and make dinner for the 3 of us. Holidays make me sad these days since I feel left out of many festivities. My son has social anxiety and cannot be with huge family gatherings so holidays are not what they used to be. I get through them with the help of my therapist. I take care of myself in other ways by going to yoga, writing classes and a few meet ups just to get my mind on something fun for me. I try to think of those who are in much more difficult situations and know that I am blessed to have a home and food to celebrate with him and my husband and my two other sons when they are able to join us and when my son can handle the crowd. We all deserve JOY in our lives and have to do the best with what we have. I honor your brother for stepping up like that. He is an angel in your life. I have 4 sisters and they have never offered to help in that way which makes me sad.

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I completely understand the feeling guilty thing. But it is crucial for you to take time for yourself. This includes short breaks and long breaks. And it gets easier with practice. And it may be good for our loved one too. It could provide you both with a break from each other. If your brother is willing to do this, take him up on it! How wonderful that he wants to help. And perhaps it will make your son feel good that his uncle wants to spend time with him. If you are able to take small weekly breaks, it will be so helpful to your wellbeing. The more you do it, the less guilty you will feel. It will become routine and perhaps your son will be more at ease with you leaving.

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That is great!!! It’s hard to get away because my son (25 yr old) needs the structure and supervision or else he would fall off the wagon. There’s no one we trust to take care of him. So he goes with us everywhere. That’s just the way it is after dealing with this for about 4 years now. He’s not sociable at all. Too many people causes so much anxiety. I’m sure I could get someone to watch him, but I don’t want to put no one in that position… We need a break sometimes.

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I say take a break or you both will loose. You wont be able to help if you cant. I found sz behave better with others when when not with us (parents).

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I have to take breaks or I get very resentful. Luckily I have my husband who helps me. Our son is 26, and has been back living with us for almost 2 years (diagnosed at age 19). I thought these would be the fun years-three kids grown, traveling, etc. Not so much with our middle son’s schizophrenia and my demanding elderly mother. We have to take care of ourselves-I exercise, take walks, go to NAMI support group, therapist, meditation.

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I no longer feel guilt about taking a break, though I can still feel some anxiety about it. But I have taken 2 1-week vacations in the last 2 years, and have established a pattern of “taking off” Sundays, which is now just what my son expects. I have also been able to occasionally break our usual schedule when I have had a need to, without my son struggling.

Adding in that “day off” has been a great relief. It took more planning when I first started it, but now my son has his own routines for the day, and it has been great for me to get that breather. Without it, I was starting to feel resentful, which was not a good thing for our relationship.

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You definitely need to do this more often. You need a life too and you deserve it.
The old saying on the aircraft…in an emergency put the oxygen mask on yourself first.

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Well done for taking a break !its so important to look after yourself and see to your needs so you can look after your son :blue_heart: best wishes

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Hi, I am the whole time supervising my son (26). He is on abilify maintena for paranoid schizophrenia. He also takes convolvulus pluricaulis capsules (ayurveda), a natural anxiolytic.
Sometimes he goes for a walk and he just disappears for 2 days …
Unfortunately, I always feel so worried something might happen to him;
So finally , the only break for me is when he visit his dad. At least that’s the only moment I can relax.

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Hi @wewillovercome . Yes, it is a worry we all share in caring for our loved ones. Welcome to the site.

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Our son is 26 and was diagnosed at 21. It was horrible the first couple of years because we really didn’t know what was happening to him. He couldn’t keep up with it all. Finally he crashed his car and ended up with a DUI. That left him dependent on us. He doesn’t have any friends anymore. They are working married with children.
I have found hobbies to keep me busy and close to him. Sewing, crocheting, duct tape projects and reading. I need to exercise more but I feel weird with him upstairs and me downstairs. I can’t watch him.
My husband helps a lot.

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If the person keeps a phone, try adding a GPS like Find My Friends, to lessen worry about knowing where they are. I hid notes in his wallet at one time with my contact info in case he was found. In any case, taking care of YOU is often the most important thing you can do. If you want to go exercise, perhaps letting your person know and asking “Is that OK?” will give you some peace and also give the person some sense that their opinion matters.

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Dont feel bad take a break. It might help him when he has to be responsible a bit.

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