Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

How do I handle newly discovered delusional behavior?

My sister is 56 and lives with my mother and is her primary caretaker. I also live in the home, but work full-time. My mom and I were joking around when my sister wasn’t home about how sneaky she is when she writes. Now I’ve been in her room and the only thing I ever see is bible verses thumbtacked to the wall, so I never thought twice about it.

Yesterday, I was putting some things in her room and out of curiosity, I picked up her notebook. Not my proudest moment; but I’m not sorry that I did it. In her notebook were letters demonstrating that she is having delusions of being married to some old rock star and accusing the wife of another old musician she used to listen of harassing her. The letters were demanding astronomical amounts of money and accusing the harasser of sending her messages through the television. I am intercepting packages that her husband is sending her (my Amazon orders). And so on.

I wish I had known about this over the weekend since she had her quarterly appointment on Monday. Now she doesn’t go back for three months. I talked to her and reassured her that all packages coming to the house were ordered by me or Mom and that there were no recording devices in the house watching her. I came clean about reading her letters.

I’m thinking that since she is nonviolent, that maybe I should just leave her be until closer to her next appointment or do I ask her to call the doctor and make a new appointment. I feel bad that I didn’t realize that she was having problems sooner, but now all the little annoying things that have developed over the past couple of years make sense.

I do understand your concern. Delusions are powerful and you can’t talk someone who is living with delusions out of their beliefs. My daughters delusions were non-violent, however, they caused her to call the police numerous times (probably over 40) until she was successfully on medication. It took years for her paranoia to escalate to the police-calling state of delusion, and only medication stopped them.

If you can suggest that your sister see her doctor again, that is probably the best path to take. Waiting 3 months will probably not matter too much, if she is not taking action on her delusions besides writing about them, however, you might feel better if your sister goes sooner.

I wish you the best in sorting this situation out.

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yes, your lucky that is all she is doing…

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I’m going to take a slightly contrarian view here. In many ways I think as long as these letters aren’t being sent, I see this as a semi-positive sign of a development of coping mechanisms toward her illness. There was a time where I engaged in similar writings. There were improvement over bothering my caregivers with talking over my delusions and cheaper than talking about them to my therapist. Or talking to myself so the ‘FBI’ next door would know my thoughts. And nearly as effective as all of these.

Since she’s being secretive about the practice, it shows a level of sophistication where she’s aware voicing them may get her into trouble. But she does not let them fester and roll around in her brain. Caregivers often complain that people with SZ won’t tell them what’s going on internally, well this is just a sample of what’s going on that they don’t voice or bother you with.

There is a form of therapy called narrative therapy that features writing about issues and writing possible solutions or desired outcomes. I doubt that’s what’s going on here. I would call her doctor/therapist and tell them about this and let them make the decision. There’s a small chance that this behavior is being encouraged. Due to confidentiality, you are likely to get a yes or no if there is cause for concern or a need for a sooner appointment.