Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Holidays and delusions

This is just a quick question for those of you who’ve been dealing with this much longer than I have or for those of you that have this challenge. I have found one of his biggest triggers is social norms. Anything conventional like holidays, convention or tradition sets him off especially if he thinks I am challenging him. Question. With this illness I know delusions are often a major issue. Is the expectation other have vs the reality they ‘see’ in what should be just delusional thinking and being challenged as he would see it stressful?

I’m relatively new to this as well. But I think challenging the person’s reality, aka their delusions in this case, is stressful to them. And I think if it happens a lot, that would make it even more stressful.


Hi GEORGE, could you expand on this - what are you doing or saying when you think he feels “challenged”.

The holidays and traditional gatherings are high stress events for everyone, even the neurotypical folks struggle to not be stressed out from the holidays. Family to Family teaches us to be aware that our neurodiverse family members are much more sensitive. In class they stressed that change is a huge stress event. All changes, not just bad changes any changes. Simple routine disruptions can be major issues for our family members.

From my perspective and listening to others on the forum, there is no “just” in delusional thinking. Some of the delusions are hardwired and many people have reported on the forum that even being on meds often does not lessen some delusions. I guess I am trying to say we have to be respectful of delusions - just as we would of an elderly uncle saying unusual things at the holiday dinner due to his dementia.


I’m not sure I’m answering your question but I was told early on that when anxiety goes up, so does paranoia.


Thank you. In the " just delusional thinking" comment it wasn’t meant to undermine what he’s going through or the challenges he faces. It simply was an ‘opposed to something else’ question…needing more clarification. Challenges run from minor to extremes depending on how where he is at that moment. Example we are doing the holiday dinner tomorrow instead of Thursday. I feel frustrated he isn’t any real help…he will play video games or watch TV but I recognize that it’s his way of coping and I go to the extra effort that he not recognize my stress but even though he has a difficult time with empathy he understands enough social norms that he has become very perceptive about reading faces and can pick up when I am stressed. He may not understand why, but can see I am. Obviously that’s when his paranoia begins to climb because he interprets it as me angry with him…not frustrated or a little anoyed…annoyed… him it’s ALL anger. So in getting ready for tomorrow I am baking a pie and he asks why…already tense. I explained that that’s what I always do for Thanksgiving. He asks why I don’t buy one. I said it’s because it means more to bake one than to buy one. Trigger set…In his family try bought not baked. I had forgotten that. It’s so hard processing everything before I say anything to avoid a trigger. He screamed about this for almost 3 hours.

Oh I see what you are asking. I hope someone who has been through this has an answer.
I’ll add that you deserve respect and kindness even if your spouse is ill. No one deserves to be screamed at for 3 hours.
Ill or not, there is some choice being exercised in that reaction.
Just my opinion, I hope things go better for you both and I hope you are able to get some peace and self care throughout the holidays.

1 Like

I wonder if PTSD is in the mix somewhere? My friend has a son with PTSD. They were told it will take 10 years for the PTSD symptoms to recede. Pretty much on schedule with the 10 years, he is doing better, its been a long hard 10 years. The doctor said after the symptoms recede it usually takes 10 years for them to rebuild their lives.

I do like Hanginginthere’s point regarding mutual respect.

When I am stressed my spouse wants to fix me by making similar suggestions. We come from different backgrounds and some of the “niceties” I insist on make absolutely no sense to him whatsoever. He will criticize them as ridiculous. (Yes I know, I should have taken a much closer look at his family and probably would have if I had known how things that were important in my world would never have importance in his) His reaction would not be to help me, it is always be to be angry that I rejected his make your life easier solution.

Our other son once pointed out that my spouse and I were never going to see eye to eye on some issues. Our backgrounds are too different. He said he had observed the differences as a child. Some reference came up once to not touching walls inside a house. My husband said “who makes a rule like that?” My son responded “I was raised to not touch walls inside a house”. My husband’s response? He said “Well I’m sorry”.

1 Like

The “different backgrounds” thing seems fairly common, particularly as socio-economic mobility is relatively high in the US. I can think of several relatives who were not as advantaged as I as a child, or whose parents/grandparents were from other countries with different customs. One of them did something that made me absolutely furious at my house this Thanksgiving week, making me vow not to allow that person to help in my kitchen again. She probably didn’t know any better, but I was embarrassed in front of my other guests. My house, my rules…

My own parents were from different backgrounds, and my father’s relatives, who were of a higher social class and better educated than my mother’s family, didn’t associate with us much.

FWIW, I would never buy a pie unless I absolutely couldn’t make one. I like the crust so thin as to be translucent, with a sparkling sprinkling of sugar on the top, and I don’t care for all of the preservatives in store-bought pies. Agree “with the not touching the walls” thing, that would actually seem the option that would make life easier, considering the difficulty of stain removal, repainting, etc.


Bonjour from Vermont :snowflake::snowflake::snowflake:

I have observed that venturing into main stream society is very intimidating for my son who has struggled to cope with paranoid SZ for 20+ years.

I don’ t want to review all the sorrows and hopes about him having a " normal" life.
It’ s just not going to happen.

So, he stays in a safe monk- like setting.
And copes with the hours.

I give him space, praise,possessions, love.

And hope it is enough.:snowflake::snowflake::snowflake::snowflake::snowflake::snowflake::snowflake:


He is fortunate to have such a loving and accepting mom.

The pandemic has, unfortunately, made my brother-in-law’s paranoid SZ worse. After my husband, who was working remotely, had groceries delivered to my BIL’s house during a visit, he decided that he would do that, as well, rather than making the trip to the store for a pick-up. We aren’t terribly happy that the cash we send is now used not just for food, but for for a delivery fee and a tip, as well, but the real issue is that my BIL has found another way to avoid interacting with others at all. Like you, however, we have come to realize that he will never again live a “normal” life, and are trying to help him navigate his life as it is now.

1 Like

That is a very useful phrase," navigating his life as it is now." Will re-frame my thoughts with it.

I struggle with setting boundaries for my own well-being. I stop myself from pleasurable activities as I feel helpless and because of sorrow/guilt.

I am slowly learning to set time boundaries for feeling depressed/helpless etc.

Retail therapy doesn’t help. He doesn’t want all the little treats I send.
Though it soothes me to have done something for him.

Merci beaucoup for your response.

This Community is the best support
I’ve found in the long search for help and answers about paranoid SZ.

from snowy Vermont


One thing that has really helped me has been listening to hypnosis recordings, using earbuds, that I’ve downloaded to my phone. Plenty of licensed clinical hypnotherapists offer very inexpensive tracks costing $10 or less apiece, for nearly any issue, including anxiety, guilt, better sleep, overeating, etc. Some of my favorites are those by Max Kirsten and Rachael Eccles. Regardless of the target issue, one thing that they have in common is that they are very relaxing, and most of them wake you up at the end, so they are quite easy to fit into short blocks of time during the day. Those that are intended to be used at bedtime don’t wake you up, of course.

The irony is that I can’t recommend these to my brother-in-law, since he doesn’t like to listen to voice recordings due to the other voices in his head.

1 Like

Good point.

I think that happens with my son also.

He’ s created his routines for self-care.

And shies away from the mainstream of society.

And sometimes, me, his mom.



frustratedinlaw…Thank you. I hadnt considered that for part of my own self care. I equally appreciate specific ones to try out. Thank you.

1 Like

Hope… Yes. He’s a veteran and they gave him the paranoid schitzotypal diagnosis with PTSD as the umbrella diagnosis. Part of the problem we are having is getting supportive therapy like counseling through the VA and not just standardized scripts. I don’t completely blame the VA. It was easier to get things through before COVID.

1 Like

You all have been very supportive. It’s been pretty rough around here lately and I’ve been forgetting me in this. I think that happens a lot. Our focus is so much on either taking care of their needs or walking on eggshells to just survive or prevent when possible the next episode. Sometimes I have to remember there are two of us in this and I still have thoughts and feelings that are all mine. Ones that are rational and justified and my own that may or may not have anything to do with him or what we are going through. You all are a little light in what is sometimes a very dense fog. Thank you.

1 Like

In my house every single holiday is ruined from this disease. My son is also more delusional, paranoid, angry-just everything is made worse. I am told that this is due to the stress of the holiday/event. They feel that they are supposed to act in a certain way and are unable to do it. My husband and I went out of town for Thanksgiving because I couldn’t handle dealing with it. We can’t run away at Christmas, so we figured Thanksgiving wouldn’t be so bad to leave him alone. Well, while we were gone he decided to mix alcohol with his meds. He damaged his car and was unable to tell us how or when. The poor dog didn’t have a drop of water in his bowl when we got back. I used to love the holidays, not any more!

I am sorry. I can feel your frustration through your message. The weeks before my day were hell and a few days after haven’t been great but he handled the day itself. I am always amazed for someone who exhibits so little self control in some areas can keep it together for ‘company’… it’s hard not feeling like it’s manipulative…that so much is within his control that he chooses to use to cause pain out of sheer spite and hostility. I get frustration. But even with that I had at least a good day with family and that’s something you didn’t have the luxury of. I wish things were easier for you…if anything I wish you a calm Christmas holiday.