Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Hope for a better day

I am writing here looking for some hope!
Everything started when my brother went to college last year and started smoking marijuana.
He started to developing paranoia which led to strong delusions.
For the last 3 months my brother is in his room talking to himself, and laughing. He thinks CIA is after him.
He eats and takes shower. He even wants to go back to college ( which we think he cannot make it because of his laughters).
He does not want to see a doctor because he believes he can make himself better.
He stopped smoking marijuana 2 months ago but nothing got better.
At this point there is nothing more we can do as a family for him. Even involuntary hospitalization does not work for him because he is not suicidal.
I am losing all my hopes to have my brother back. He is saying weed has done this to his brain and He is going to fix it himself ( we know he can’t do that).
I want to see if anyone else here have had the same experience. I want to see if it can be just marijuana and it can get better on time.
It’s still hard for me to accept all the symptoms that he is showing is schizophrenia.

I am so sorry to hear what has happened to your brother. It must be very upsetting to you. Schizophrenia is a horrible thing, especially when the person who has it cannot see that they are ill.

Read on this site as much as you can, it is so educational and useful. Other people’s efforts to help their loved ones may give you ideas of how your brother might be helped.

I only know one person who got the mental illness after smoking spice, and he has never recovered. He is in a group home half-way house, and even with meds has been unable to live a life on his own.

My daughter’s illness was not drug related. It took 3 years of trial and error and police visits and hospitalizations until she became medication compliant. She is doing well now, with a part time job and almost complete disappearance of her voices. I was almost hopeless when the situation changed for the better because of a compassionate judge.

I hope things work out to give a better life to your brother.

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Schizophrenia is a genetic disorder, smoking weed will not cause Schizophrenia. I guess it could trigger the gene to activate but I doubt it.

He is not diagnosed yet.
Also we do not have anyone with schizophrenia in family.
We are just waiting to see if he accepts one day to see a doctor.
These are the worst days of my life. I want to have hopes for him but with all I read online there is no hope for full recovery.

That’s good, hope he is not SZ…

correct for most

My first instinct in response to your post is to let him go back to school, if he wants. If he can’t handle it, and has to come home, then you may be able to use that to get him to a hospital.
In the meantime, you and your family can do some research into where to get him care, so you can be ready if a breakdown happens. I hope it does not!
The goal is to get him diagnosed and on medication. I don’t think an outpatient psychologist will cut it. (I speak from years of experience, caring for my sz husband.) I would try a hospital.
It’s good he stopped smoking pot. I don’t think it caused his symptoms; he was probably self-medicating.
You are a good sister! Keep the lines of communication open with your bro. It’s possible for him to recover!

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Thanks for all the responses!
Recently, he is saying that he does not have his delusions anymore but I’m pretty sure he is lying. But also he managed to stop talking to himself for the last 2 weeks.
I want to see is this common with people who are having schizophrenia? Can they control their symptoms or easily lie about it?
He is still laughing ( mostly when he is listening to music). He is not social anymore, and doesn’t want to talk or hang out with anyone.

Hi Sisterlove,

You sound like a wonderful sister, and I know how upsetting and unbelievable this can feel.

Just wanted to say schizophrenia is a wide spectrum, like a lot of other things. Some people do get better. Some people learn to live with it. If you haven’t seen this excellent TED talk, watch it right away, and get this woman’s book on Kindle, as well. It gave me a lot of hope: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AgZHOSxN5cE

My son told his father (they live in another state) that he’s not hearing voices right now. Like you, I’m not 100% sure he’s telling the truth, but he does seem to be better. That said, he’s still not in contact with me, which hurts, and he still tends to isolate, like your brother. But your brother reminds me of my son in that he understands that the things he’s thinking and hearing aren’t “real”. Like, does your brother still believe some things that aren’t true? Probably, but the fact that he can hide it indicates that on some level he knows that they “sound crazy”. I think that’s the first step to learning to control it, and there are high-functioning people with schizophrenia on the sister board to this who talk about a similar process of “reality testing”.

Like you, I thought this was an all-or-nothing deal, and when I found out my son was hearing voices, it’s like the world ended. But I’ve since learned that it happens to a larger percent of the population than is generally known, and that one can experience this and still function in life. I still have a lot of hope that my son will continue to improve and learn to live with this.

I hope your son recover soon!
Is he taking any medication? Does he have any delusion?

I hope your son recover soon!
Is he taking any medication? Does he have any delusion?

Thanks! He is not taking any meds right now. He’s tried Risperdal (for 3 weeks) and Zyprexa (for like 3 days), but didn’t like them (well, who does? but he said they did nothing for the voices and possibly made them worse).

I think he believes some things that aren’t true, but they aren’t necessarily strong enough to count as delusions. It’s more like he has “feelings” about things. He’ll even sometimes say that he cannot justify the feeling, but can’t shake it either. For example, he SAYS he doesn’t really believe that people can read his thoughts, but sometimes he feels like they can, which makes it hard to interact.

In general I would say his biggest problem is paranoia and the isolation that that can cause. When he’s with me, at home, he acts pretty normal a lot of the time, and we can have some pretty in-depth conversations. But as soon as he’s not home, he cuts me off - this has happened over and over. I can’t tell if it’s out of sight, out of mind, or if he’s actually hostile toward me. I know he’s not happy about the things I did last year when this started (which included calling in a welfare check that landed him in the hospital). So I think when we’re not together, he starts remembering all of that and imagining that I’m out to get him somehow, or actively trying to send him to treatment. Well, I did do that before, but now I’m actually willing to give him time to get himself together and figure things out on his own. But I can’t seem to communicate that to him in a way that he can believe. I am planning to visit soon, and hoping we can get along.

Jan,

What was the breaking point for you in terms of caring for your husband?

After a long period of medication compliance and stability, I am already exhausted after only about 3 1/2 months of worsening symptoms/instability/anger/paranoia (coupled with lack of insight and a refusal to go back on medications, of course). Every little interaction takes so much effort.

How did you manage to do this for years?

There IS medical evidence that THC can cause psychosis @GSSP . There definitely is medical advice for those with schizophrenia to NOT use THC in any form. Even CBD oil without THC is warned against for people taking anti-psychotics as it can badly affect the way the anti-psychotics work. Personally, I haven’t seen definitive medical reports that say it is always genetic either.

There is no cure for sz @Sisterlove but recovery is possible for sure, at least to some degree. Some people never take meds and recover. Some get meds for awhile and come off and are OK. I know for my daughter, medication was THE only solution, and it had to be forced on her until enough sanity returned that she didn’t fight being medicated, but became willing. I think that @Jan has a good point about letting your brother return to college, if he wants to.

Yes there is medical evidence that THC can cause psychosis even in some people without a family history of mental illness. Read the book by Ira Steinman - Treating The Untreatable. And this may sound controversial but pure CBD with 0.00% THC
Can negate the effects of THC. But they would need 1,000mg/day for months and that’s expensive. One company that will greatly discount their CBD Oil that is 100% THC FREE is ANANDE PROFESSIONAL in Kentucky. If you submit proof of disability they will discount it substantially. Meds work but in this case, if he refuses meds it’s worth a try.
I’ve spoken to many doctors and am about to try this on my son. It does not interfere with Clozaril or Depakote which he is on. I’m not saying this is a cure for Schizophrenia but if someone is experiencing THC induced psychosis then it can reverse the effects of the THC. There’s an Israeli study that treated Schizophrenia with long term CBD Oil in high doses with positive results that you can google. My son’s psychosis increased with the CBD’s with just .01 - .03% THC as he’s very sensitive to it. I just recently found this pure CBD and a few other companies make it but from my research this is the best brand. It is $90. Retail fir 600 mg. I’m waiting for them to process his disability papers to see what he’ll be charged. Like I said, many of you may not agree with this. It is federally legal in all
US states since it has no THC. And Kentucky is the best place to grow hemp. They were the largest world distributor of hemp before it was previously prohibited. Hope this knowledge helps.

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Also, if your brother is set against taking meds then you might check out other things that could at least bring his symptoms down. I’ve met some people who have learned to control the voices and lessen symptoms with diet, exercise and supplements. There were some young men completely relieved of symptoms by Dr Abram Hoffer’s niacin/vitamin C therapy
when combined with other supplements. My sons symptoms were exacerbated by niacin but it helps others. There is also a place called Alternative To Meds Center in Sedona, AZ. I’m just saying to work with him and explore all ways and not give up. There is hope. For 16 years conventional meds did not work for my son and many made him worse so I had to look for alternatives to keep him as safe and as stable as possible until he was finally able to take Clozaril. ( A genetic disorder affecting his White Blood Cells made it an unsafe choice for him until the condition miraculously went into remission. We are keeping our fingers crossed that his WBCs remain normal.) Best of luck to us all.

Hi Jan, I would like to know more about the hospitalization experience because it has been over a year now and I still can’t get my son on med. I think the side effects scare him away. I am thinking to send him to hospital some day in the future. At least someone will be there if he got bad reaction from the med. Does the hospital start out with low dose or high dose for your husband? How long was he there?

My husband had many short-term hospital stays. It did help him to reset, become calmer upon release. They would work with his doctor on meds/dosages. You shouldn’t worry about dosages; leave that to the doctors.

In no way dies a hospital stay cure sz. But it can help. The problem is getting him there, right? If he “is a danger to himself or others” you can call the police to take him to hospital. Unfortunately, my husband was taken a few times that way. He would be screaming, harassing neighbors, not sleeping, when I’ve called the cops.

Other times, he’d ask to go. He sometimes was able to recognize an episode coming and saw it as a safe place to go.

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Also, I think it’s typical for sz patients to be hyper focused on medication side effects. All medication—even non psych ones— have side effects. You have to weigh the benefits vs possible side effects.

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He needs at least a month or two to see any real progress. Atypical medications like these take a while to build up, and the periods mentioned would barely get him to effective levels. Beyond that my experience is there’s a bit of a plateau period before you hit your sweet spot. I guess he was told all that, but he thinks he knows better.

Did he say what side effects bothered him? Dizziness and sedation are common at first, but usually pass fairly quickly. Weight gain is the bigger long-term problem. It’s kinda like the perpetual munchies, so he may be familiar with this.

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It was odd, he said he didn’t notice that much difference one way or the other, bad or good, but he also said he gained 20 lbs in 3 weeks on Risperdal. I couldn’t tell, because he started out pretty skinny, but that’s what he says, anyway. What he said about the Zyprexa was that he felt like it deadened his brain to the point that it made the voices worse - like he could hear them, but couldn’t summon up his own internal voice to drown them out.

He went to see the psychiatrist at the First Episode of Psychosis program he was in, and she was the one who took him off of Risperdal. I was surprised, but in retrospect I can see why.

He ended up in the hospital again last spring for a few days, and they put him on Zyprexa. I know you’re right about needing time for it to work, but there seems to be a bit of a mixed message on that. The resident told me “we’re not supposed to say this, but when you find the right med, it usually helps right away”. Of course, they thought it was working because he said what they wanted to hear, and never took it again as soon as he got out.

But in his case, I’m not 100% sure that’s bad. He’s been a little bit of an odd duck, because I’m not even sure he meets the definition of psychotic. He hears voices, but has always been aware that they weren’t real (in the sense that others could hear them). I sat in on one of his sessions, and the doc was asking him things like “does the TV talk to you?” And things of that nature, and he said no to each one, and in the way that implied that he was telling the truth and thought they were strange questions, like laughing a little.

His main problem is/was negative symptoms - he seems flat and somewhat emotionless, but this is only an exaggeration of how he’s been for years. We (he and I both, independently) assumed that he had Aspergers, and he still identifies that way. He has isolated himself twice now for a few months at a time. I think he gets worried that the voices will make it hard to interact with people normally - like, he would get distracted and lose his train of thought, or just act odd, or worse, answer a question that nobody spoke aloud. So he sat inside and smoked a lot of pot. This made him more fearful and more paranoid - bad cycle.

Both times, he’s come out of it after awhile, and at least at this time I believe he’s not smoking any pot. He seems better, living with his dad (my ex). He’s taken a few short classes, and he got himself a job (for the first time since high school, and he’s 22). He’s still not working that often, and dragging his feet on taking other classes, etc. Still has no friends, but he doesn’t know anybody in that city, and I’m hoping that work will introduce him to a few people. He has told his dad that he’s not hearing voices at the moment. All in all, he seems to be in a much better place than he was, but I’m cautious about getting my hopes up too high, as I know there seems to be a bit of a cyclical nature to all this.

Anyway, this is why I have mixed feelings about meds. I think that they definitely improve life for some people, and some people are dangerous without them. But if they don’t stop the positive symptoms and make the negative ones worse (and that’s already his worst problem), then I’d like to give him time to see how he does without.

Dear Friend,
Your brother can get better with an antipsychotic medication and most likely at a low dose. He needs early intervention ASAP. The earlier the better the outcome. Look online for an Early Psychosis Intervention program (EPI). Look for one even if you have to drive an hour to get there take him. Studies show the earlier the intervention the better the outcome. There is hope!
EPI programs specialize in drug induced psychosis and treatment. Many have wrap around services that include, cognitive behavioral therapy, substance abuse treatment, psychiatric treatment and medication management, employment and educational support and assistance.
See if there is a Navigate program near you because they are one EPI program that works off of grant money and will not charge for services.
Prayers and Hope!
It’s going to get better.

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