Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

I need advice on how to cope with my schizophrenic sister


#1

I am sure there have been posts in the past but I wanted to start my own becuase every situation is different. I am reading other posts similar to mine but I hope that people reading this will give me advice too.

My sister is my half sister, she has a different father who is no longer in the picture, he lives in Thailand and hasn’t supported her or the family in dealing with her illness. She is 16 years older than I am but there was a time she thought of me as her best friend any way. My first memories of my sister are of her illness and what I saw of it. My sister changed, so I am told, after she was raped for the second time in her life. She was raped first by her boyfriend, and the second time by a stranger in Thailand. It was after this second time my mother said she really begun to change. She tried to get her counselling but apparently the person she saw was not addressing anything to do with her rape at all, which was the point of her seeing a counsellor - to deal with that trauma as best anyone can.

So my sisters delusions seemed to centre around rape and sexual abuse. She often called the police reporting rapes in the neighbouring flats, and also reporting that someone was murdered int he flats behind us and on one occaision under our window in the front garden. My older brother was playing a game with me, chasing me and she saw that as him trying to hurt me. He tried to calm her down for a while but she wouldn’t, she threw glasses at him and shouted a lot while I hid. One night I was upset so I slept in my mums bed, in the morning my sister accused my mother of “having sexual intercourse” with me. I didn’t know what this even meant at the time so that ended up with my mum having to explain what sex was to me. I think I was about 10, at most. She accused someone at my school of abusing me, and what eventually led to her being sectioned was that she went to her colleague and friends house and punched him in the face for sexually abusing me. I have never been sexually abused by any of these people. She was sectioned for 6 months and then begun her road to recovery. Eventually she got off her medication altogether and coped very well. Then she got pregnant and this seemed to end up causing her a lot of stress, so she seemed to get worse again. AFter she gave birth she was put back on medication and since then she has cut us out of her life, invited us back in, a few times for varying lengths of time. She’s been worse and she’s been better, but the most recent is the most problematic I’ve ever seen.

Recently she has begun accusing my father, who moved in with them when they were still children in London, of raping her on several occaisions, breaking her arm, and giving her the clap when he took her virginity. I know in my heart that my father is not capable of doing this. Medical records show she has never had the clap or had a broken arm, not even fractured. My mother has thought long and hard if any of this could have possibly happened and she can’t see that it has. My sister also changes the story and the time line of exactly what happened each time she talks about it. She’s also added to this that my rbother raped her once. And that my mum attacked her. She’s also said that she thought a 7 year old friend of my 5 year old nephew, her son, sexually abused him. But that was only said once.

I don’t know how to deal with this. I told her I don’t believe it and that I care for her and love her but think that she needs more help be it medication, counselling, something. I also had to put some distance between us as I couldn’t cope witht he phone calls telling me what she thinks my dad did to her. So at the moment we’re not talking. I want to be there for her but I just feel like I am not able to do that. I know that she believes this is true and if she does then I cannot imagine how awful that must be. I read somewhere that the best thing to do is to help that person deal with their reality, and I have done this for years when there have been smaller things, I’ve not told her she’s ill and she’s wrong, I’ve helped her with her feelings and managaing them. But this, I can’t do that for this. Or maybe I can? But how can I let her continue thinking that these pople who love her hurt her so much? I know this hurts them. I don’t know how my mother has managed to deal with so much and look after us too all these yeras. She is remarkable. I want my sister back. But I don’t know how to help her get better from this and I don’t know if I can cope with the not knowing what will come next.

It’s a big ask to be told what to do here, but any advice would really be appreciated. I wish it would just go away, I’m so fed up. But then I feel guilty for feeling like I can’t be part of her life any more too.


#2

The cycling with periods when things are going well, and then not so well, is pretty common.

It sounds like a very stressful experience for you and your entire family, including your sister.

The generally recommended approach for situations like these is to acknowledge the stress and pain that your sister must feel to have these beliefs (they are real to her). Here is a good overview with more details on this technique of acknowledging the feelings without agreeing with the interpretation of the event or belief.

http://www.schizophrenia.com/sznews/archives/005561.html

I hope that helps. Let us know how it goes.