Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Living with my father who suffers from Schizophrenia

My father has been living with Schizophrenia for as long as I can remember. It wasn’t as bad when I was younger because he was actively taking medication. But these past few years have been really tough on the family since he stopped. When the episodes occur he can get really angry and say really mean things. For example, he’s recently decided that I’m
to blame for the voices in his head. If he hears the tv in my room or me on FaceTime with my friends it usually can trigger those thoughts. I recently started wearing headphones when I’m on the phone and lowering the tv. But my father was always like a best friend to me. I used to run to tell him about my day, any minor inconvenience, and for advice. It’s lately becoming harder and harder to speak to him. The other day he was having an episode and told me “I’d never be anything in life, and he purposely didn’t go to my college graduation and doesn’t regret it.” Which was hard to hear because he went to both my other siblings graduation and I kept telling myself he probably just didn’t feel good. I know having the episodes causes him to get angry and say hurtful things but it’s hard to not take them personally when I’m constantly getting cursed at about 6 times per day. He yells a lot to himself and says gruesome things that are some times hard to hear. He’s moving far away from the family on his own and there’s nothing we can do to change his mind or stop him. I don’t want to give up on him.Any advice on not taking these things personal? How do you guys cope?

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Hi Jas, First, welcome to the forum, sorry you have a reason to be here though.

I can relate to what you are saying about hearing very hurtful things from somebody you love that has this disease. My son who is now doing well with the right medication was once unmedicated and said some horrific things to me. I knew not to take it personally because he was delusional and quite often had no memory of ever saying what he said, but it always cut like a knife. He also thought that his voices were coming from me and often when I said nothing he would look at me and say what are you saying?! and I would say “nothing” and he would be angry too.

The only thing that truly helped me to deal with all of this and it still helps me to this very day even though things between my son and I have improved immensely is I got counseling for myself, I speak to my therapist once or twice a month now but I use to talk to her every week. She said my experiences not just with my own son and trying to help him but also with my own dysfunctional family I grew up with had left me with Complex PTSD (which I had never heard of) but I knew my emotions were all over the place, as was my anxiety and sleeplessness and my responses to life’s daily stressors were usually over the top.

With talk therapy with an unbiased 3rd party as a listener and a source of positive feedback it has really really helped me to manage things when I get triggered by situations and even though my son is much better and very compliant with his meds there are still times I feel myself about to over react and I can often stop myself now because of what I’ve learned. I highly recommend therapy for anyone in this kind of stressful relationship. If it is a possibility if not professional then at least someone you trust completely with your emotions.

As for your dad, you mentioned that once he was on medication, do you know what made him stop taking it? Was it a loss of income or insurance or a doctor he had? Maybe if there is a reason like that, that could be remedied he might change his mind in a rare lucid moment if he has any of those. Just a thought.

I don’t know how involved you can be or want to be with any potential interventions in his care going forward but maybe contacting a social worker would help or if your father is of a senior age there is usually a Department of Aging or Adult Protective Services locally that have resources that might help.
Also NAMI (National Advocacy for the Mentally Ill) offers free classes for anybody that has family members with schizophrenia or other mental illnesses, the class is called “Family to Family” I took it and found it was extremely helpful to me and I met others in my same situation that I could talk to.

Just brainstorming hoping to offer some ideas, bottom line is be good to yourself always and know in your heart the bad stuff your father says is not about you it is about the chaos in his brain. Proper psychiatric treatment can improve that as you already know. I hope that happens once again, for your dad.

In the meantime you can always talk to anybody here, everyone in one way or another knows what you are going through. Take care.

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Wow, if I acted like that when I was sick my family would hospitalize me, every single time. Amazes me that other people just live with it. I’m not suggesting anything, just making an observation.

I want my brother hospitalized like right now, but I’m not the one to make that decision. The strange thing is just 5 years ago I was the nutty one and he was complaining, now I’ve recovered a lot and he’s fallen ill and the tables are completely turned.

I learned not to accuse anybody of anything when I was sick, or else I’d end up locked up with people even sicker than myself (mental hospitals aren’t great places in most areas).

It looks like your dad loves you very much and that’s likely still there despite moments of anger, frustration, etc. When things are calmer, seek to bring back moments when you had a wonderful time, whether it was a picnic, teaching you how to ride a bike or cooked the first meal together. Those memories will help your dad bring out his better self and remind him that he has a wonderful daughter/son.
For me, my daughter was taking medication which isn’t working well and early days was hard. Listening to her accusations, and with those raw emotion directed at me, it didn’t help despite knowing that she would not say those hurtful words when she is better because it hurts when I see my child is hurt. So I tried to focus the day on talking about positive things, good memories, anything that takes the stress away. Over time, it gets better.

Hi Jas and welcome to the forum.
I just wanted to add to the excellent advice given here.
I’m concerned that your father’s delusions are centering on you and that he also is belligerent. This could create an unsafe situation. My advice is to remove yourself from the situation at the first hint of anger.
Also, the longer he goes unmedicated, the more fixed his paranoia/delusions will be.
Hopefully you can get him to a hospital soon. Much of what you describe could be construed as a threat to others.
He is still the loving father you know; but the illness is waging its ugly battle for space in his head. I hope he gets help soon.

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Thank you to everyone who took the time to read and give me advice. Highly appreciated! My father was on medication but ended up with liver problems and that was enough to get him to give up on the medication and refuse to take them ever again. While my dad was on medication he lacked personality and would always lay on the couch and barely smile. My dad now has energy and has renovated our entire house but the episodes of course have gotten worse. I recently just reached out to a therapist and trying to convince my mother to do the same. At the end of the day we can’t help him if we aren’t good ourselves. I’m glad I got introduced to this group and see that other people are going through something similar and I’m not alone.

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