Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Holiday Dread Again

With American Thanksgiving soon upon us, I’m dreading the holidays yet again this year. They always seem to set my brother off spiraling into drunken rages, pity parties or worse. They always seem to be a mental health emergency waiting to happen.

Got a preview yesterday, when I was unable to stave off his increasingly drunken demands for a ride to offer unrequested “support” to my mother who’s caring for my father with late stage dementia. They’d had a rough night due to agitation/sundowning. I told him I wasn’t going to drive him over unrequested and unannounced, and was waiting for my mother to return my calls on the subject.

After a nearly incomprehensible insult-laden drunken phone call demanding my ETA, I said I wasn’t going to drive him, but he could do what he wanted. I quickly regretted this, and put in a follow up voicemail to my mother warning her that he might show up drunk—which he did. I could hear him in the background shouting he was here to support her as she hung up the phone, followed by a call from my mother asking me to drive him home. As I arrived, he was pacing, shouting and rambling on about attending music concerts with my mother trying to calm him down. He refused a ride, and supposedly had run out of cigarettes which seems a common ploy to escape situations. He walked to a nearby friends house, because he had cigarettes and is known to the cab company (they delivered him to my parents condo just fine). He made it home, but now I have Thanksgiving and my parents wedding anniversary/Saint Nicholas Day and Christmas, New Years, and possibly my father’s birthday and/or funeral to look forward to. And all this is while going through the expense and stress of moving nearer to my parents and preparing my old house to go on the market.

My other brother called me for a recap of events, and asked if I had any strategies to help my brother survive the holidays this year. I told him I’m fresh out of ideas; I’m not even sure how I’ll make it through. But yet I expressed similar dread last year, and we made it through somehow. What’s your survival plan, and are you dreading the holidays too?


I’m not dreading the holidays but they just don’t hold the spark they used too, the spark has to come from with in and I just don’t have it, I don’t think I have had it for years. I think that’s my main problem, They seem to go by like any other day of the week. My expectation are too high I want to feel like I did when I was a kid, I just need a new way to look at things??? Maybe just enjoy being with the people you can while you can, no expectations take some time out each day to do something that makes you happy. And take lots of deep breaths. Enjoy a beautiful sunrise with you favorite tea or coffee. Read something that will make you laugh everyday. Otherwise I have nothing hopefully people will read this topic and have better ideas.


No positive ideas here. I dread this time of year aswell. One son cant be around son with sz due to difficult history and fear and anxiety as a result. Celebrations involving them both arent an option. Its just me, family nowhere to be seen. Nightmare. May have to opt out by going to work again :weary:


My son is refusing to go to my mother in laws for Thanksgiving. He said he doesnt trust my husband.
I will stay at home with him. Very sad I am today.


My survival plan is to lower my expectations.
A successful holiday season will be one without a relapse for our son.
Two years ago on Thanksgiving was a low point. Our son was so paranoid and anxious that the day was pretty much ruined. This year we are going to have a small family dinner and then get together the next day with our large extended family minus our son who has sz.
It’s too much for him and he is very relieved to not have to attend the larger gathering.
No alcohol in our house will help as well as the fact that our son is on a new med and has given up caffeine. I am really hoping for some sibling bonding. Also we are having our other grown children who are traveling stay with our daughter instead of us.
I am hoping all these precautions will make for a good Thanksgiving. If not, adjust for next year!
I very much feel that those on this board totally get the feeling of dread around the holidays.
Best of luck to all!


Back when family support groups met in person, the November and December meetings were always packed. Like @Hanginginthere said, we try for lowered expectations and a simpler gathering. Years ago my son would look forward to seeing his brother on the holidays and cleaned his space in preparation for his brother to come visit. By the time the actual day arrived he was too stressed out to do more than eat a meal with us.

Just timing the meal itself is difficult. If my son’s hours are switched around, a good time for the meal on the actual day is anyone’s guess. We will try to keep it super low-key and flexible time wise this year.

My siblings with bipolar are tricky as well. This year they are trying to limit Thanksgiving to their own families instead of doing a big family event. Some of the younger generations really enjoyed the smaller family gatherings that Covid brought last year My sister and brother do better with their own families than they do with their siblings - we seem to make them anxious, they drink and they lose sight of the boundaries of polite conversation.


If my son’s not up to seeing relatives over the holidays, I take his lead and try not to push it. I leave him home. He’s not thrilled by this but we’ve done this several times and he’s always included from afar in things like secret Santa and white elephant gift exchanges. Last year was nicely peaceful and relaxed since we stayed home. We did Zoom get togethers, but he really disliked sitting around on a Zoom, so he’d join at the beginning, say hi to everyone and depart.

He’s planning to come to Thanksgiving this year, though. He’ll bring extra zyprexa and xanax. He used to be a smoker but vapes now. I thought he should bring his vape but he thinks he’ll be fine. I’m cautiously optimistic about his decision to join the extended family on this out of town day trip.


Thanks all for your replies, it puts matters into perspective. The spirit of Thanksgiving evokes the counting of blessings which seem so elusive, so it’s good to have a reminder to do so. So maybe as well as lowering my expectations, I’ll try to raise my appreciation for what I have, and focus less on possible or actual losses.

We spent yesterday morning worrying that my brother hadn’t contacted us, since he was proudly providing the turkey for the meal. He was sleeping in, and if all goes well, will provide the bird (hopefully thawed) later this morning in time to prepare for the meal. When plans went slightly awry when I closed on my house, I quipped to those involved, “what’s a closing without some drama.” And the same could be said about family holidays.

Happy Thanksgiving, all.


MB - Congratulations on your house closing and wishing your family a thawed turkey with a timely arrival.

Thanks for the reminder to count blessings AND keep a sense of humor. I am thankful for the day and the time with my son. I hope we can all enjoy the day, get through the day, survive the day - whatever it takes from wherever we are on the American Thanksgiving Day spectrum for 2021.

Happy Thanksgiving and good luck!

Hi Dear friends
My niece left this morning to who knows where without her mobile phone🤦
Her parents are so worried
Police is searching for her

I am so sorry - I hope they find your niece soon, is it cold where you are? So scary when they are missing.

Awe thank you for empathy
No here its isn’t really cold but she hardly eats and during the night you know… May be she asked someone for staying … no idea … are you in the know which kind of refuge tshe could search for in this kind of mental status?

What did she say when she left? The local police could tell where the shelters are located near your niece’s parents.

Hi Dear Hope, i ve tried to answer 10 hours before but it seens my answer didnt get anwhere its 6.30 morning here i could berely sleep …during the night my sister write me that her daughter phoned that she is in my City and Will phone me this morning…no idea , any advice what to say and do when she will phone me? I got an art painting tuition in for 1 hour . I need this break fir my sanity ( because other problems around keep on going you know…) Do you think it would be a good idea to pick her up from wherever she is and take her with me to the art class with me? Until her parents come and pick her up from their city?

Such a relief she has been in contact! Listen to what your niece says and empathize with her. Avoid arguing and ask her how you can help. Be supportive and listen. Hopefully she will be fine to wait with you.


My holiday plans

  1. Find moments of peace where I can find them.
  2. Count my blessings…I can’t say that one enough
  3. Celebrate the wins no matter how small the accomplishment
  4. Try and take care of my health the best I can because a sick me makes ever battle harder to fight
  5. Reach out and remember I am not alone

Handling the holidays is hard and I dread them too. I am blessed though in other areas and am learning to change my expectations and TRY not to think about how bad it likely could be and take it a day at a time right now. Happy and a peaceful holiday for all of you.


P.S. We had a lovely Thanksgiving. I’m so glad my son was able to be with his Lolo - my 91 year old dad, who asks about his grandson every time I see him.


Our day went well also - my son surprised us and arrived several hours early to spend time hanging out with us before dinner.

Maybe at some point MB will end the suspense and let us know if the turkey arrived thawed and on time.

Happy cake day! @amysfo


Our holiday went well also. It was very nice to see our sons playing basketball together with the same tempo they had as boys.
Our son with sz told me it was his best Thanksgiving ever. A reminder for me to understand that he doesn’t view his illness as the tragedy that I do.