Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

How Do You Respond To This Question

My spouse has a good amount of insight to his condition. In some ways, this makes things easy because he is med compliant and glad to get help from his doctor.
However.
He keeps asking me if he is “a burden” and I dont know what to do.
Yes, our lives would be different, and probably easier, if he was not sick. I love him very much. He is paranoid that I will leave him, and I find myself working very very hard to hide any negative emotions from him because it triggers a negativity spiral. I am so tired, and I hate hiding my feelings. I feel dishonest. But I also don;t have the energy to combat a mental illness’ insecurity 24/7.

What do you do?

Remind him of your vows: “ in sickness and in health.”

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If you have a NAMI near you, I highly suggest their classes and support groups as a way to vent. You must make time for yourself to heal from this situation too.

An ill person can focus on a problem and not let it go. You might have to reassure him daily or several times a day as it is obviously a real problem to him that he is a burden to you. Someone with cancer, or COPD or any other illness could be thinking the same thing, that they are a burden. But loving someone always carries some type of a burden with it, in my opinion.

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Just as an example…
Worked in palliative care for many years… watched people as well as their loved ones experience many varieties of guilt as they transitioned to pass, and your loved one’s question, well it was the most common one.
My answer?
There is no answer.
Sometimes my response was more a question instead of an answer:
“How or in what way is it that makes you feel like a burden?” Then they talk, let things ‘off their chest’ and my only part was to simply listen…
Sometimes it was more direct: “No. You’re not a burden. I’m here anyways… who do you THINK it is that you might be burdening?” … and that sparked a dialogue.
The same dialogue.
Then there’s our own loved ones… and am I remiss and cold in saying— I have to question their intentions! ??
Sometimes I feel like it’s a ploy or manipulation to find coddling and passivity???
Yes! I do feel like that’s what’s happening sometimes…
And then I feel guilty because I KNOW my loved one struggles and has moments, times, days, months, etc. and I believe all I can do is be sound and rational and supportive and loving… and that’s a consistency that’s imperative and supposed to hold…through ALL!.. and I won’t exacerbate my partner’s immediate ‘behaviors’ if I do just this, Right?
Well it makes me a selfish asshole.
If I sit back, away, dismissive, act like I’m responding to a child…
Because I’m my partner’s rock,! not his punching bag.
But the truth is illness comes with the abuse.
And you don’t have to be ashamed of that. It is a fact as a caregiver. Mental, emotional and even physical on occasion…
The tough part is those egg shells we walk on. Avoiding triggers explosions or… sometimes who the hell knows what or where or why they come…
Or we can choose NOT to. Be as comforting and supportive as you can. And I advocate honesty in almost all cases (Dr. Xavier would not agree. Don’t tell them that they are sick…) So obviously delivery is most important.
Without feeding someone else’s need or subversion, or practicing pacifying a passing egomania… what do we do?
I say be honest. And strong. LAUGH…
“Yes! When we live and love it’s a fucking burden! Let’s do it together! Focus!..I love you!”
LAUGH!
This may be questionable advise.
But it’s ok to have our own weak moments too.
We are all only human after all…
And we are no good to anybody else if we don’t heal ourselves first. You don’t have to feel selfish!

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Here’s my crack at it:

You are not a burden; your disease is a burden. You are not your disease, and your disease is not your fault. You bear the greatest burden for your disease, I merely help you bear it. I do this because I care for you. You are not alone, others have your disease; I am not alone, other people help share similar burdens. Some call them caregivers, because they give their care without conditions, just as I love you without condition. We all live in hope that some day the burden of your disease will end for all people.

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MB, that is awesomely perfect!

@Wisdom thanks, I’ve been trying to step up my writing ‘game’ lately.

Those who follow my posts may notice I sometimes go back and edit them a bit to correct mistakes or add clarity or detail. I didn’t in this case, because I didn’t want to mess it up. I feel parts of it lack symmetry and the closing is a little stilted— something you might find at the end of a prayer. But sometimes you just have to let the first draft stand.

Many members of my family are feeling this way and this feeling makes them tend to have extra depression on top of their afflictions and it has caused more trouble in my already dysfunctional family. I am sorry, it is a hard place to be in for them and for the caregivers and visitors too… but I like to call them as they are named somewhere “people of determination” to remind them they are strong already to face what they’ve faced in life, they are very strong indeed and I hope they look at their strengths more than what they perceive as weaknesses because we do love them and wish them the best. I don’t know how to help here except saying that I hear you and I have multiple members of my family who feel this way…

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Thank you for this post