We have been very active in our church for years. Me and my wife tought sunday school classes youth classes, bible school you name it we were doing it. We probably missed church 3 times in 6 years. When she got sick eventually she quit going to church. and has not been for a couple of months. Every wed and Sunday when I take the kids to church i get bombarded with people asking how she is, and what is the doctor saying, and it just goes on and on. I know they are concerned and worried for her . And all they know is that he has had some kidney stones and has not been feeling well. Do I tell them that she is mentally ill? Im afraid if I do and my wife finds out she will never go back. Only her mom and my kids know whats going on. She dont hae any friends outside of church so its mainly our church family.
Personally, I regret having told acquaintances at work and at church about the mental illness and alcoholism in my family. It didn’t provide me with any support, and did get me shunned in some situations. People without a serious mental illness in their close circle do NOT understand what it is like. And usually they can’t provide any help anyway. Mental illness has a stigma attached, and if you tell anyone, your wife, when recovered, will probably NOT be received the same way at the church again. And that might be tragic for her.
My feelings as a non-professional are that ONLY your pastor should be told the truth IF you feel somehow he/she can help. Otherwise, I would not tell anyone outside those who HAVE to know about the mental illness.
You can thank them for their kindness, just say that she is ill and when they next see her, she can tell them herself about the problems if she wants to. And that otherwise you wish to respect her privacy.
I got to be an expert at NOT answering direct questions about private matters. After all, if the HIPPA laws can stop family members from finding out about an illness or a treatment, it certainly does NOT have to be broadcast in social circles that she is mentally ill.
Sorry for the emphatic-ness I feel, but I really regret making my family problems known on a social level to people who cannot help and often just judge me badly. You can never take back what you say, so it is often best not to say it in the first place.
Yes, I agree with @oldladyblue. This illness is tragic, just like cancer can be, but the social ramifications are just not the same. Schizophrenia, and the behaviors it causes, frightens people. I’m careful and conservative about sharing and using the “s” word, or even saying “mental illness”. It’s a difficult way to live. It’s very isolating.
Thank you for the information. Thats kind of the way I feel so thats why I too have become great at dodging the questions.
I agree with “oldladyblue”. I regretted telling extended family members and other people about my situation with my Son’s illness. Also, I reduced my church visits to the church I used to attend because people keep asking if my son graduated from college and where is he and how is he doing, etc…
I want o avoid all these questions and decided to reduce my church visits and try a different church.
I communicate only with my Dad and one of my brother and my sister about my son and 2 good friends that I trust.
My brother who is a social worker told me: why tell cousins or other people about your son mental illness. they will not help, all they will do is talk and gossip about the situation.
I feel happier now since I am dealing with few people that I trust.
It could turn into idle gossip and that would be terrible. And it would break trust between you and your wife.
What should you tell them is the next question? Be careful whom you talk to and take care,
P.S. Our church is very small and all members are like family, my group has been very compassionate, it depends on the situation and the people.
It makes me sad to hear about you and your family’s situation, fatboy73.
In my experience, I have also encountered alienation, friends backing away, less invitations and general lack of some people wanting to understand.
But, in my opinion, I am all for letting everyone know about my husband’s illness and what the symptoms are. If they want more information, I try to tell them as much as possible and ask them to read up on it if they want to know more. I firmly believe that if people don’t talk about what is going on, the stigma will remain. This is an illness like any other illness (well, not exactly, but you know what I mean) and people can learn how to help the afflicted. In my life, the people who are truly helpful are still around for me and continue to want to help. The ones who judge me or my husband for his illness and who are are no longer helpful have shown their true lack of compassion and understanding (which I believe is caused partly by stigma) by turning their backs on us.
It is not easy, in an already difficult situation, and it still hurts that some people I thought were good friends are not in my life any more. But I am grateful for the ones who have stayed and continue with support.
I hope you can find a solution that works best for you. Perhaps once your wife feels like going to church again, they will think the illness has passed and will stop asking questions. Additionally, perhaps her care provider could help her with ideas for responding to questions from others?
I agree with @LifeIsHard. Discussing a loved one’s scz is a personal decision, and I have chosen to share this information with certain people at work and in my personal life. If there is judgement and gossip, so be it - my family has more important concerns.
I leave the decision of whether or not to tell people about the diagnosis up to my family member who has sz.
When people ask during times when anyone can tell my family member is not average, I just say, “He’s having a really hard time right now.”
Oh, that is perfect. I think I am going to use that answer for people I don’t want to really talk to about her illness…
at first I only told my parents, my oldest brother, and a couple of my closest friends… I finally did tell my other brother and my sister a week after my daughter’s hospitalization. The other person at my church besides close friends is the pastor. He had already been planing a sermon series on anxiety and depression… in the sermons he addressed both the biochemical and spiritual side of these issues and they are more common than many people think…
When I used “She is going through a tough time” with my sister in law she got upset with me… saying that she thought we were closer than that… i did end up calling my 2nd brother telling what was going on and said he can pass it on to his wife. I think my sisters-in-law is still angry at me for not wanting to tell her what is going on… my parents did tell my siblings that she was in the hospital… and she had messaged me on Snapchat asking what was going on…well how in the earth do I explain it on Snapchat??? What could I say at the time??? I gird I could have told her that she could call later if she wanted to know…
You should consider what type of relationship you have with the person asking…
I feel this sad journey my daughter is on is not my story to tell, it’s a private family matter as I know how she will be perceived.