Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Life without showers but full of tears

My husband and I are renting a room from my mother. We decided to live with her while he completes some on the job training that has lasted for about a year and a half. My sister who is 25 lives in my mother’s house as well. When we first moved in everything went okay but slowly things started to get worse. My sister got in an argument which was half serious half playful and out of no where she picked up a dirty kitchen rag and threw it in his face. She immediately apologized and my husband and I left the kitchen. Flash forward a year later and my relationship with my sister has changed completely. We grew up as best friends. I am three years older than her. Late last year she had her first psychotic break. My mom took her to starbucks and when my mom went in my sister left the car and got into a dumpster. Then wandered around the streets. We took her to a behavioral health center and she went to the bathroom took off her clothes and tried to run out of the center. She spent 4 days in a hospital and then was released. They diagnosed her with psychotic disorder nos and sent her home. When she got home she started acting like her usual self for about a week.

Then everything went back to her staying in her room the entire day and she has stopped grooming completely. I can barely go into her room b/c the smell is so strong. I have asked her to take a shower and she said no. It has been over a month since she last showered or brushed her teeth. Every time she goes into the kitchen we can smell that she has been in there. My father was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and he abandoned my family when my sister was still in the womb. My eldest sister is also schizophrenic so I believe my younger sister is suffering from the same disorder. My eldest sister stop talking to my entire family and also claimed we were trying to kill her and her children. I know personal grooming is the least of her worries but I can’t force a grown woman to do anything. I have tried to encourage her to go back to the doctor but she won’t listen to me. Whenever I go in her room it looks like she has been crying. She hasn’t changed clothes for over a month. How can I help her?

So sorry that many go through this step.
There have been many posts here that you can search. There is a book too by Xavier Amador
I Am Not Sick, I Don’t Need Help! How to Help Someone with Mental Illness.

Some communities have mental health crisis units that help get someone into hospital, but often they must be suicidal or threatening to get them there. Some police are trained in this and have authority to take them straight to hospital under a 3 day hold. Ask around where you live. Call your local hospital for advice?

I have SZ and hate taking showers, tomorrow will be my first shower in 5 days. But I will have go to work tomorrow. I find that having a shower every other day is enough. Im also do for a hair cut.

You may have to find away to make her take showers, Set some clothes on the bed and a towel and say go now and take a shower, make sure she has bar soap and shampoo in the shower.

There’s a organization called NAMI check out there site they might help with info.

God Bless

You know… I hope there is a way you can bridge the gap and get the communication open again… maybe ask if she has been crying and if you can help.

It’s good that your putting the shower on the back burner.

There are some good books that could also give you some ideas how to address the communication and the shower.

(first with the shower… for me… it was the tactile hallucinations that made showering painful… so I could take baths. For others… some have said that they can’t hear if someone is coming… so it freaks them out to shower. There are a lot of reasons… maybe ask?)

But the book I have in mind…

Amazon kindle for $11.00.

My sis said this one and Schizophrenia for Dummies gave her some ideas how to help me.

Thank you all for responding. I have asked why she doesn’t want to take a shower and she said she does not know and that she needs to think about it. I told her she doesn’t actually have to shower but just washing up would be better than nothing. I will check out the books and maybe give them to my mom as well. My husband and I are leaving at the end of this month and I honestly am worried about what will happen to her when we are gone. My mom cannot babysit her during the day and I believe if she was left in the house alone for a long period of time the house would be filled with roaches and rats. She will not clean up behind herself unless my mom threatens to kick her out or take her phone. Even then she will partial clean up and then will say that she needs a break. I honestly feel happy about leaving b/c of all of the stress the situation has caused. I feel guilty for thinking that. I always took care of her as a child and now I am watching her deteriorate. Which is so horrifying. It took my father my entire life to get control of his disorder. He lived with his mom until she died last year. We still don’t talk to him. I don’t think my mom wants to take care of my sister the rest of her life. She raised all of us as a single mother and she is ready to start her own life.

My son hated showers . It was the place he heard voices at their best. The sshhhush of the water was a huge issue. Showers to most of us are a necessary part of life. For my son, it was a place of fear and screaming . You never know… Voices changed and he would spend two hours in the shower. Better now after months of meds. Hygiene is the least of the problems sometimes for us. The focus changes and I hope it’s a passing phase for you, as it has been for us. My son now even washes his own clothes.x

You could try buying some baby wipes and asking her to use them.

It can sometimes take me awhile to get my son in the shower. He doesn’t seem to notice his own body odor. I think it’s because he is to wrapped up in what is going on in his head. He can’t think to pay attention to anything physical for too long. I say his world is too small.

Sometimes assisting or doing it with the person may get better results. Give lots of ‘thinking’ time. Plan a time to have a shower or wash. Say 3 PM. Remind at 1 and 2 that 3 PM is coming. Then help take out clean clothes and hand her the wipes or even turn on the shower for her. Take away the dirty cloths while in the shower and leave out the clean ones. Give her a towel. Once in there remind her to use soap.

I hope she can get on some meds that will help her.
I think the way you are talking to her and offering to help will go a long way. It takes a lot of patience and understanding. I bet your sister knows what`s going on more then you think–but now she has this and has a lot to deal with herself.
I think the more the situation is accepted-the quicker the results will be. You are a good sister.**

Thank you for that… I still enjoy baths…

My sis changed out the shower head to one of those big gentle rain water type ones. It’s softer pressure and less noise… I like it… I’m getting used to it.

There is a lot of stuff on the market that has been helping me cope. I’m thankful for the stove burner sensors… they turn off if they don’t detect any motion around the stove. I try to remember to turn stuff off… but I get a bit scrambled at times and forget.

I really appreciate all of the help. I only get to see her when she sneaks out of her room to eat or if I insist on coming in her room. Right now it appears she has changed clothes and maybe washed up as well.

I LIKE the idea of changing out the shower head! That is still a place where my son struggles with voices. And that sensor stuff on the stove top sounds like an excellent idea - if I need to replace the stove at some point, I will be looking for that feature!

I think for your sake and for hers you need to try to keep in mind that her behavior is the result of schizophrenia, and not a part of her real self. You have the right to decide how much you want to help your sister. If you agree to be her guardian you will be legally responsible for her. I would try to get her into the hospital and on med’s. I think you can find a legal justification for an involuntary commitment. You could argue that she is a danger to herself and others. You might could talk to a lawyer about it.

You don’t have to wait for a new stove… They just plug in from what I remember.
(this is the one that I think we have)

This is just one type… my sis just plugged it in to the stove. If I forget or even if she forgets… it senses no movement and turns off the burners.

There are a lot of odd things in your post from my point of view. Your sister had a psychotic break. Who treated her? Who gave her the diagnosis? What medication was prescribed for her after that? Is she taking it? Who is her pdoc now? Your older sister too sounds as if she is entirely unsupported in medical terms. In your family can people actually acknowledge that people with mental illness need help? That they are not fully responsible for their actions or thoughts/beliefs when they are not treated? Your sister needs to see a doctor even before she needs a shower, and maybe family therapy might be helpful for you all to understand how to deal with the illness better.

If you had such a good relationship when you were young ( I am sure you did), then call on it now. Remind her how much you care about her, and suggest going to get treatment for depression.

If your dad, who suffered from sz, has always been the " bogeyman" in your family for “abandoning” the family, both your sisters may be unable to accept being “like” him. You need to point out, to both of them, that these days the treatment is much better and they CAN indeed recover and lead good and happy lives.

I didn’t post all of the details b/c I didn’t think anyone would read it if I wrote a super long post. Scroll down to the last paragraph if you want a short answer.

Also sorry for the late reply. Around November last year my husband, sister, and I heard gun shots. I called the cops told them we heard gun shots and left it at that. My sister was never the same afterwards. She stayed in the hall the whole night (later we found out she was holding a knife). My husband tried to check the doors and windows to help her calm down but it didn’t help. She started to follow me around asking really weird questions like is she allowed to go outside or if I asked her to do something she said she didn’t know or is she allowed to. She started taking a long time to answer a single question. It seem like she lost most of her immediate short term memory. She became extremely indecisive.

I started asking my mom and brother (who lives out of town) what we should do about her acting differently. My mom didn’t know what to do and my brother said she has to make up her mind to get help and we can’t force her and medicine isn’t the answer. My sister then started to act more like her average self and so we forgot about it. She went over to a friend’s house to house sit and when she got back we found out she reorganized the entire house and also took home some of her possessions. My mom took her to Starbucks to let her know she was taking her car from her (my mom purchased the car and it is in my mom’s name). When my mom went inside she came out and my sister was gone. We found her wander the streets (she also climbed into a dumpster to stay warm). We took her to a behavioral clinic where my sister proceeded to run out of a bathroom in her underwear screaming she won’t go. They asked her if she wanted to check herself in for 24 hour evaluation and she said okay and signed. She tried to escape the hospital when they decided to place her on involuntary hold. She was there for 4 days. I went to visit her each day so did my mom. She was released. I don’t know if she received medicine and she would began to keep us at a distance after that. All of that happened in December. I have had a talk with her trying to convince her to go the the doctor but she hasn’t left the house or showered since she got back. I am moving out of state in 2 weeks and I have no idea what to do.

My brother doesn’t believe in people taking psychiatric medication or getting people committed. My mother believes it is up to my sister to get help. I think she needs to see a doctor but she won’t leave the house. She gets angry or cries if anyone tries to have a serious conversation with her. Other than that she is just out of her room to eat or use that bathroom. That is it. I don’t know how to help her. Also my older sister and I are not on speaking terms. She has accused me of a lot of things so I am not sure if she trust me very much. I use to have a good relationship with both of them. I am leaving the state in 2 weeks so I don’t know what I can do in that time.

I am so sorry. You are really struggling to carry a lot. I know that your moving is going to complicate things but it is still possible to help from a distance. My son and I live in separate countries but by insisting on keeping in touch with him over several years, when he finally decided he needed help, he asked me. So a bit of stubbornness goes a long way. When my son was first diagnosed I was pretty panic-stricken about his future, but after doing as much internet research as possible I found the “schizophrenia recovery movement” and research that said that most people who recover early on meet a mentor who tells than very clearly that they CAN recover. In other words people who recover have HOPE and HELP. In the first few weeks I kept pointing that out. The other thing that helped was aspirin. I know that sounds unbelievable but again there is research that shows that anti-inflammatories - especially aspirin - can reduce the inflammation that is typically occurring in a psychotic break. For us it just reduced the symptoms enough to get him more rational. Also, when he saw the effects of just aspirin on how he felt, he was more willing to try anti-psychotics. I always pointed out that he should choose according to how he felt, and once he started taking risperidone but disliked it, I pointed out that the doctors could change it. Eventually, he settled on Abilify. He is now leading a perfectly “normal” life.

I was encouraged by seeing the recovery of so many people on this site.

On your brother’s attitude, I would acknowledge it to your sister if it affects her, but point out to her that SHE’S the one who’s suffering so she should decide according to how she feels and what makes her feel better.

I know you say she gets angry when you try to talk about it, but I would just launch in with, “You know you CAN get better. You are suffering now. I don’t like to see you suffering but you CAN get better with help.” That will stick. Eventually she will ask for help.

I appreciate your reply. I said everything you wrote and wrote down this site so maybe she will get on and find support. I am going to buy her some aspirin and lysine to see if that helps her in the mean time. Also I just realized both of my sister have geographic tongue so I suggested that my younger sister try eating gluten free for 3 months and see if that helps her at all. I read something about a link between schizophrenia and celiac disease. I also asked my mother to help her eat healthy and exercise. I know that stuff isn’t a cure but maybe it can get her back to a point where she feels like she can leave the house. She hasn’t even been outside in two months. I am glad to hear your son is doing well. It gives me hope. Thank you.

Yes, you are right about the celiac-sz link. Generally, they are all symptoms of an underlying autoimmune disorder - though not ALL sz has the same etiology. My son had some wheat intolerance in the couple of years before he was diagnosed too, and avoiding it did help him. I am glad you are staying so calm and collected and that your husband is helpful too. In the long term that should help you all to get through. My prayers for you and all your family that this difficult stage passes quickly into something better.