Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Help for Brother

Hi Everyone,

I’m looking for some advice. My brother was recently diagnosed with SZ (in March) and he has a hard time going to work on time, focusing at work, and he doesn’t help out at home. However I know that he is capable of more (he is capable of going to the grocery store, cooking his own meals, driving, etc.). My brother presents as apathetic and maybe he’s scared to fail or try new things. He recently quit his job after going off of medication and is staying at home. Before the diagnosis my brother was often at home and had a hard time working. He has been at home more often than he has worked in his life. Currently my brother says that he just wants to take his time. He does not believe he has SZ and credits his whole hospitalization experience to the doctors misdiagnosing him and him saying things because he was bored out of his mind so he said those things. My brother appears to believe that people who tell him what to do want him to be unhappy and are toxic. My brother says that his paranoia is his strength. I haven’t asked what that means.

I want to know how I can push him to do more or if that is even the right way. I don’t know what the right thing to do is anymore. I wish I could look into his head and see what his barriers are and why he does what he does. I’m worried that he’ll just continue to stay at home and not feel motivated to try. I feel like I’m damned if I let him live in limbo and I’m damned if I push him harder. He won’t listen to me but, in his shoes I don’t really know if I would either. I don’t know what it’s like in his shoes and hearing the things I say to him. I can’t tell if his behaviour stems from a lack of insight about his SZ or his pride. I get the overwhelming feeling that it’s just him ignoring problems and I get mad and I tell him how unfair it is that he doesn’t do anything. He has a habit of making excuses for himself when he makes mistakes and never admitting to doing something wrong. I’m at my wits end and I called him out on being stubborn, paranoid, prideful, and inconsiderate. I feel like the wedge between us grows larger everyday and I’m at a point where my frustration becomes unbearable when I’m facing him but, disappears when he’s not in the room.

Sorry if this is unclear. I hope someone can help.

Sounds like you are going through a lot right now. Something I found helpful in understanding my sons sz is researching as much as I could about the disease itself. I also joined a support group through Nami, which really helped me understand why it is so difficult for people with this disease to not only motivate themselves, but to just get through a day. There is power in empathy and understanding. Helps you understand that most of this is a symptom…not a behavior. Lastly, I would suggest looking into therapy for yourself at some point. The feelings that you go through are real, and sometimes we need help to deal with them so that we can be there for our family members. Take care of yourself as much as you can as this disease is hard on all people in the family and those around us. Sounds like you are really trying to be there for your brother. Lots of great info on this forum to help you get through too. Take care,

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BU93 - Your story sounds like the story between my two sons. My younger son, 17, is schzioaffective and started hearing voices as early as 7 1/2. His older brother, almost 20, doesn’t believe there is anything wrong with him and resents the fact that his younger brother gets away with a lot more than he does, such as not helping around the house and virtually every behavior he has is attributed to his illness. It caused so much friction that my older son moved out of the house about 3 months ago. I encouraged him to read things about his brother’s illness but he refused. Just the fact that you’re on this forum, seeking answers and trying to understand your brother’s illness shows that you do care and you’re trying to understand. From what I’ve seen from reading other people’s stories on here, it seems that people with sz do lack motivation (whether this is a symptom of their disease or a side affect of their meds, I’m not sure), they also generally lack good personal hygiene (from showering, brushing teeth to changing clothes, it’s not a priority to them - also seem unaware of what season it is wearing summer clothes in winter and vice versa). I’ve only seen one sz person on here whose family used the “tough love” routine with him. Everyone else on this forum tends to give their sz family member lots of slack because the illness they are dealing with and the side effects from their meds are tremendous. I hope this helps you some. Feel free to ask more questions. Wishing your brother peace and better health on his journey.


So common with this illness is lack of insight, not pride. While this forum is great help, please find a therapist or group for you to connect with and work out the adjustments you have to make.

Sometimes we really feel like a “good talking to” will get our loved ones going in the right direction. It won’t and you will make yourself miserable if you try.

With some insight and a great deal of work, they may begin to manage how they respond to stimuli but it will be different from now on. Some days are good, some not so good.

Please do not think they are ignoring problems. As much as things have changed for us, it has changed more so for them and they are trying to make sense of their world. Sure there are still boundaries you can set-you will not tolerate violence, substance abuse or dangerous living conditions-- but a lot of other expectations will have to be let go.

I explained my son to another family member this way: We smell brownies baking and think soon I will be enjoying a nice treat. He smells brownies, identifies the chocolate smell, remembers he read chocolate long ago was the food of gods so therefore he must be a god. We just smile and ask if he would like a brownie and let the rest of his conclusion go.

While I am sorry you have to deal with this hope you find some peace in your journey.


No, it’s not unclear at all and sounds like my situation about ten yes ago. You should look up the negative symptoms associated with SZ and you l find lethargy, lack of motivation, lack of finding pleasure in anything to be very common characteristics of SZ. Once you realize that it will allow u to be less angry with yr brother and more empathetic- he can t help it. I v found getting my brother out of the house to do anything works better if I join him. I also found with my brother that spending long periods of time with him allows him to open up to me and talk about his fears, problems. Are you his only source of support?

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Hello @BU93 .
I myself have schizophrenia.
Now look.
I don’t know how your bro is.
Because schizophrenics differ.
I have severe cognitive problems and severe sleep problems.
I try to be a nice and kind person.
The sort of thing that I can do, I can go to University and study unsuccessfully,
because I have severe cognitive symptoms.
Still I can attend classes and try to study.
In the US, this sort of thing can be problematic because college is expensive.
I can’t work.

Now, it is possible that over time your brother will get insight that he has schizophrenia,
if you could hasten the process it would be good.
Now I recommend that you try to help him get insight,
and try to get him to take medication(s).

Now also take note- classical schizophrenia causes some impairment, though relatively mild
already in the prodromal phase(meaning since early childhood).
I don’t know if your brother had it but I certainly did.

It is not clear to me how much his problems are down to his character or to his schizophrenia.
He seems to be very high functioning for a schizophrenic.

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Thank you for your responses everyone. It’s certainly given me a lot to think about regarding my approach. I’ll do my research and be mindful about my actions. I really admire a lot of the caregivers on this forum and I hope that I can follow your advice. I’m my brothers main support since my family members aren’t ready to understand it (maybe it’s down to our culture or the stigma). I just want a full life for my brother but I guess focusing on the big picture is more important right now and taking the little steps towards achieving that. When my brother was still in hospital the doctors said that a lot of my brother’s behaviour was not due to his SZ. I found that really frustrating and it made me want to get him to be less lazy and more proactive. But looking beyond that now… I know my brother cares about me. He does get upset when I’m upset and I see him try harder to help out for a couple days. I don’t give him enough credit. We did have a hard time growing up and I know why his personality is the way it is. I’m just going to abandon the give him “a good talking to” method and hope that he and I can work together and be kind to each other.

The road that lies ahead is not very clear for medication and his insight. I try to keep a close eye on his behaviour to see if I need to take him back to hospital but, I don’t want to crowd him like I did when he was first discharged. He appears to be doing well without medication with only a couple moments where he asks me if a stranger has a bad opinion about him or took a picture of him. He absolutely hates medication since it makes him foggy.

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He is high functioning enough to help out at home. My parents and my cousins won’t even let me drive their cars. My Mom and Dad keep their car keys locked in a safe with a 4 digit pin number so I have no access to their cars.

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Can you just try taking one class at a time. That’s what I’m going to try this fall, but it’s going to be at a community college, not a university.

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I’m sorry about that Wes_B. I hope that in the future that changes.

I agree my brother is high functioning he struggles to do these things though he is capable. I can accept and understand now that he’ll need a reminder to take out the garbage or wash his dishes.

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I love that story, and I’ll have to remember it.
I’m just learning to let the “rest of the conclusion” go.

Well, I let it go as far as he knows - but internally, I have a hard time letting it go for real.

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Yeah, it is hard sometimes. Especially we are hurt or worn out…and they do wear us out. Hang in there!

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Some days, washed out, worn out, and hung out to dry but then there is a good day and we and they rally.

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Hi , he sounds exactly like my son, and I do not know what to do with him either. The only things that so far have worked are doing things with him and doing trade offs like i will do this for you if you do this for me .
My biggest frustration comes from the fact he believes “he is just fine” and I cannot talk to his social worker etc. because he has to give me permission and he wont. grrr

he has to give me permission and he wont. grrr
Boy I hear you on that! Wouldn’t it be nice if a federal law was passed in which when someone with a diagnosed well documented history of severe MI had to list someone as his advocate and that advocate had the right to discuss his medical condition AND GET FEEDBACK with any and all medical providers.


That is a really good idea.

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A few years back the World Health Organization while declaring the people with mental illness to be the most disenfranchised people on the plant, also called for family caregivers to be recognized as legitimate caregivers by medical providers.

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I am glad it is a recognized need. So when will something actually get done about it?
I get civil rights, I get big government concerns; but what if it was tied to SSDI like rep payee is? We recognize their vulnerability with finances, but not their health.
I also care for my elderly mother, but have much less of a fight working with her medical professionals. So why with my son? :anguished:

Insight can go both ways. Usually we become insightful long before our loved ones, which it sounds like in your case. You have already taken the first steps to try and understand your brother’s illness and he is one lucky guy to have you around. His premorbid (before diagnosis) functioning probably contradicts everything that you see happening to your brother now and that alone can be extremely frustrating. My daughter watched the same thing happen to her brother.

I encourage you to browse past forum threads for topics that concern you. Seek out a support group (NAMI has an amazing Family-to Family program that will surround you with others in your community facing the exact same circumstances and further your knowledge about schizophrenia) if you can.

Be your brother’s advocate but more importantly ( and from experience, I seriously can’t stress this enough), take care of yourself. And visit this forum often. You will find answers and plenty of support.

Hugs :heart::yellow_heart: