Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Need help in responding to brother with delusions & hallucinations


#1

I have a 29-year-old brother who has never been actually diagnosed but who suffers with hallucinations, delusions and other psychotic symptoms. He goes through times where he’s pretty function in society and times where he is not. He has recently been working as a welder and holding down his own apartment, etc. The last couple days he has been texting with me about how his supervisor is “out to get him” and “trying to poison him” by exposing him to “phosgene gas” through certain brazing techniques at work. At first, I was able to respond in ways that seemed to calm him down. Told him to contact OSHA because they would be able to handle a workplace complaint, etc. Over the last few days, his texts have gotten more angry and strange. He is convinced “God” has told him to “fix this problem from within” and got extremely angry when I suggest he visit a doctor or look for a new job. I was able to calm him down again, and I also asked if he felt God was “leading him in the direction of OSHA” (to try and make sure he is not going to harm anyone). He said “yes, this is their job. God has told me this will work out.” But at the same time he’s going off about his supervisor and how evil he is.

My brother has never been violent in the past but I am still scared. What can I do? He’s way too paranoid to consider going to a doctor for help. He admitted to me that he’s having some hallucinations, but thinks they are due to “phosgene gas” from work. He is convinced he is the one who “sees it all clearly” and everyone else is against him. What do I do?!!


#2

As far as what you can do… It sounds like your doing it. Your listening, and being his friend. You already picked up on the fact that you can’t talk him out of his belief, you can only logic around them. It’s hard and you too will need some ideas on how to keep being a friend. There is a NAMI site that has support groups and education about SZ and other communication ideas.

It’s going to be a bit of a rough ride considering he’s in the onset. So much going on, so much can feel confusing. I was NOT a nice person durning my onset. I was convinced it was ALL “Them” everything was due to “Them” not me. You won’t talk him out of that. Keep the line of communication open. Stay calm and if he does start yelling at you… You have every right to simply get up and leave.
You can set boundaries, you can let him know that you’re there for him, but if he’s going to rage, you have to leave.

Look up the NAMI site and get as much education as you can. My head circus had a new “gift” almost every week during my on set and my amazing family who had been reading the books and getting the ideas sometimes knew what was happening even before I did.

I wish you luck. Remission is possible. But the onset is the hardest, most confusing part. The sooner he gets help of some kind, the better off he will be, the more cognitive and other functioning ability he’ll maintain.


#3

he needs to realize that the voices he is hearing tell the truth, but inevitably lie…the god he’s hearing is meaning he needs to find a way to disconnect the malicious voices and neuromodualtion impulse heterodyning devices in him that we call schizophrenia. I found mine and battled with them for a couple years until i finally found a solution. A mix of medication and alternative therapies. say what you will, im right.


#4

Thank you both so, so very much. You have no idea how encouraging it is to read your words. I am glad that I am doing the right thing so far, but I do worry that he may hurt someone. Maybe I am believing the negative press you hear about people who get violent, I know not every person who is mentally ill gets violent. I just worry due to how he truly feels his supervisor is trying to kill him.

So since he is an adult, I know I cannot force him to get help. Is there anything at all I can say to try and get him to a doctor? In your experience @SurprisedJ and @chancewatcher, did either of you get outside help due to being forced or were you able to get help on your own? I thought I might convince him to see a doctor now because he thinks his hallucinations are due to “being poisoned” so I thought that this was a perfect opportunity to convince him to get medical help but he is having none of that. When I say I am worried and that maybe a doctor could help (or at least couldn’t hurt), he then kind of back-pedals, saying “no, I am fine. I am experiencing some symptoms of gas poisoning, but I can handle it.” I just want him to have the best quality of life possible!!!

Thank you both again so, SO very much. It’s wonderful to know there is hope.


#5

I was 17 when I was really crumbling. I was in denial, plus I was involved with drinking and drugs. So everyone thought my problems to that point was drug related. But I got forced into hospital and as a minor, there was nothing I could do about it. There were times after as well that I was taken in and forced by the court. But it wasn’t until I nearly ended my life almost 6 years ago that I finally turned myself around. Then I started trying and putting in the effort into living.

It was hard my family struggled to get me to take my meds, stop the drugs, stop drinking. But I finally got there. One thing that really helped us all was getting a therapist who know exactly what SZ was and wasn’t. So they taught my Mom how to not be an enabler and how to stand up for herself in a constructive manner.

They knew when I was truly suffering and when I was just being a butt. My parents took a very immediate approach so that really helped me. I hate to admit it, there were some years there that I hated them and what “They” did to me. But they stuck by me, they didn’t give up, they got education, information and help. As a result, I’m med compliant, I have a job, I lucid and I’m not dead.


#6

I refused treatment for a year. I was too crazy to trust the doctors my parents made me see. The problem is that the mentally ill cannot be forced to be treated unless they are a danger to themselves or others. I wish I could tell you something, but I just accepted treatment because I was an alcoholic and wanted out of the world of pain I was in. I wish you good luck! Maybe try to get him to read about schizophrenia? I don’t know. I am a psychology major and I learned that I was very ill in the classroom as well as in the therapist’s office.

However, he sounds like he only has positive symptoms, so he has a great chance at recovering fully if he does take medication. I had only positive symptoms and I am in remission now- antipsychotics mainly treat positive symptoms.


#7

@mortimermouse @SurprisedJ Thank you both again for your replies. I am very inspired and encouraged by your stories. I am still learning so much! I am extremely grateful for your input to help me find my way in helping him. I am afraid this is not quite the onset for him, he has had bizarre behavior for the last probably 7-9 years but my family has been clueless and also my parents really do not want to accept he has any kind of mental illness. He also has used drugs and alcohol in the past (probably still does) and that is also what his behavior has been blamed on, just like you mentioned @SurprisedJ.

Also, tonight he was texting me again and keeps repeating about the gas being released at his work, and he is very convinced that his supervisor is out to gain “mind control” over “all employees.” He thinks all his co-workers “have gone mad.” He also said that he believes his supervisor knows “ancient Hispanic secrets of mind control.” Now, he will say this very outlandish stuff and then admit “I know this sounds crazy but I believe it to be true.” He also stated “this might be a test to see how strong my mind is and how good my heart is.” I asked “What do you mean a test?” and he stated a test by his supervisor to see “if he can win over my mind.” He keeps stating “they are fools” and “they don’t know who they are messing with” (him and his powerful mind). He also keeps stating “consequences for his actions” (his supervisor poisoning all the employees to gain mind control over them). I ask “What can be done about this?” and “How can this change?” To try and flesh out if he is going to be violent. He states he is going to go and meet with an OSHA representative and together they will “bring down the evil that is going on.”

I am afraid he is really having a psychotic break at the moment. He has mentioned more “symptoms of the gas” affecting his mind. I know there’s nothing I can do unless he’s a danger to himself or others. I like the idea of reading @mortimermouse, maybe I can convince him to read some things under the guise of “you might need treatment for this because of the gas that has been released around you.” I don’t know. I’m glad to hear your comment about medication helping with his positive symptoms. I am just hoping against hope that I can somehow get some in his system!!!

Thank you all again. I appreciate the time you have taken to help me. It’s really brought so much to light for me. Merry Christmas to all :smile:


#8

No problem. I would go ahead and say he will be fine, if he has been living independently without doctors for years, he’s already WAY better off than most people who have schizophrenia. Medication will fix him right up.


#9

He sounds like he’s trying to hold on as logically as he can. Just stay calm, keep using the idea of making sure the “poison gas” doesn’t hurt him further. The biggest thing you can do is listen, don’t argue with him, and talk him towards logical nonviolent solutions. It’s hard if your parent’s aren’t on board. But you can only take on one family member at a time.

My biggest piece of advice is also take care of yourself as well. Find some support and ideas for you. You are also going to need a support net too. You love your brother, but he will hurt your feelings, he will do and say stuff he’ll be ashamed of later.
Don’t be afraid to get help in being his friend. My kid sister needed her therapist and support group when I was putting her through hell. It helped keep our friendship in tact.
May your holidays go well and may all be safe.


#10

Hey RubyJ,

I know what he is going through. I’ve been through this myself. Maybe you can ask him his believes in great detail. I mean you can ask him how he thinks he has a powerful mind, or how exactly is his supervisor controlling their minds through Spanish stuff. If he answers you exactly what he thinks is going on in detail then you can break down those beliefs and explain that it is just not possible and not true.
I know it’s hard because I totally believed what I was going through was true when it happened to me. But those things just aren’t rational and if he explains them in detail then you can reason with him and explain how it isn’t possible. If you can get him to realize that he is delusional then he will realize that he needs help with medication and treatment.

Ask him why is his supervisor is trying to take over all his employees? Then he will probably say something that is not that realistic of a reason, and then you can explain to him that it is just not real. The more “out there” beliefs you can get him to admit to you , the easier it is for you to reason with him and get him back to reality.

Jake


#11

@SurprisedJ @jake @mortimermouse

Wanting to thank you all again for all your time and advice and help! I can’t tell you how valuable you have been in helping me understand as well as feel hopeful. You have also helped me convince my parents that he most likely has SZ. He went to visit them yesterday for Xmas (we all live in different cities for anther fun hurdle in this story!) and I asked him this morning how that went (they are only a few hours apart so he was just there for the afternoon). He said it was fine but that he is continuing to have hallucinations due to the “poison gas” and also told me several more details to the conspiracy at work that he has “just figured out.” He said he could tell my parents thought he was acting weird, too. So I went ahead and called them an explained all he’s been telling me. They were very sad BUT finally realize that this is not the end of the world & we have to unite to help him. They have driven to his apartment, not saying we have spoken (don’t yet want him to feel betrayed by me) but my mom said she could tell he wasn’t himself and wants to check up on him. He was ok with this.

After my parents left his apt, he texted with me again. He is upset that mom & dad were so “freaked out by the intensity if the situation at work.” He is frustrated and mad, but I also think maybe he knows deep down…? He also told me there’s no way he’s going to a dr, which is what my parents suggested and then I chimed in saying I was worried about all he’s been exposed to and I think he should go too. Of course he says he is “FINE!” Although in the next text says he is still recovering from the gas and “mom and dad slowed down my recovery.”

Is there ANYway to get him to see the light and see a doc?!!! I am starting to feel hopeless. I don’t want it to come down to an involuntary inpatient stay but I fear eventually if he keeps going in his life untreated something bad will happen. Even now, he admits to hallucinating and is driving around, isn’t that in itself pretty dangerous?!

Like what if the whole family just showed up and had an old school intervention type thing?! Does that work in this type of situation or just freak the person with SZ out more?

Thanks again for all the help!


#12

Sorry that my advice didn’t totally work out. The good thing is you got your parents to know that he needs help. Every time I came out of being delusional I found out myself, so he might just have to do that. You might want to just try and be there him because he might get more angry. I know it’s really hard to get somebody out of being delusional. But you are right in saying that he is just going to keep doing this. I have been involuntarily committed to going to a hospital but I found out that I was delusional in the hospital. Sometimes I think people don’t find out they are delusional even in a hospital. But eventually they do if they get the help they need. One time when I took Abilify and I stopped being delusional just from the medicine. So it does help. I bet your parents will do something. I’m not sure what else to say. Just be there for him and let him know you are just trying to help.


#13

I don’t know if you have looked into LEAP but it appears you are following this type of communicating.

At some point your family may want to look into involuntary admission. It’s hard to do but if he is refusing treatment this may be the only way to get him started on it. Yes it is dangerous that he is driving around while hallucinating. I think a family intervention may just freak him out at this point. Make him feel more paranoid that everyone is against him including his whole family. My son has paranoid SZ. The inability to see that what is causing his paranoia is schizophrenia is called anosognosia. Looks like denial but is part of the disorder. I had to have my son involuntarily admitted in September. Not an easy choice but I am aware that without treatment it usually gets worse. I have read that psychotic breaks cause brain damage so that makes the decision when necessary a little easier for me. I have printed off information for my son on what the symptoms of SZ are. While in active psychosis it would probably have just pissed him off. Even when stable he still only recognizes his SZ as paranoia. I would be concerned that his paranoia regarding his boss poisoning him may cause him to do something that he feels justified in doing to stop it from happening. If you feel that it is going to get violent then from my point of view, involuntary admission is better then jail. Wishing you and your family all the best.


#14

I’m glad your family now believes and sees your brother needs help. But I have to say, having the family show up at the door would freak me out and I would be so angry that they were all talking about me behind my back. If I were trying to hold on and that happened, I would cut all ties. You don’t want that.

But if you live close to him, you might want to do little things that just keep that bond. Just you and him, go for a meal and don’t talk about health unless he brings it up. Be a friend and stay calm and cool. If he is upset by your parents attention you might want to say something like, “You know parents, they worry, it’s just what they do.” Keep things low key. But let him know, your not freaked out by what he’s telling you, and you believe what he’s telling you, you love him and hope that he’ll find out of if the conditions at work are hurting him worse.

It’s a hard call, the involuntary admission. You can’t make him go to a doctor, but you yourself can talk to a doctor near you for advice as well.

One of our symptoms is very little insight into what is happening to us. I believe now that I’m stable and I’m on meds, I have more insight. But during a break? No. I had no idea what was happening to my head and why. Noting made sense. When a psychotic episode is coming on, actions get really confusing for us. My kid sis gave me the analogy of a hurt dog who will bite the vet. We don’t recognize attempts to help us.

BarbieBF suggestion of LEAP is also a good idea. What ever your family can do, try hard not to make it look like your talking about him behind his back. That will help a lot in keeping the line of communication open. I wish I could prepare you for the anger what comes with it. It’s not pretty. I hope you look into a LEAP. He sound like he’s more open with you, so there very well could be a time that you might be the only one he trust. It might fall to you to be the one to read the books, and get to know what SZ is and isn’t.

Good luck and thank you for the update. I do hope it works out. It will get better. There ARE going to be some ugly and heart breaking days. But tell him you love him, get some support for yourself as well and know that stability can happen. I’ll be rooting for you.


#15

I was in denial until I just asked my parents to get me a psychological evaluation. They cost a thousand bucks. After a few talk sessions and a computer inventory, the MMPI-2, i was obviously schizophrenic and traumatized and I also learned some other less charming things about myself. I dont remember my family intervening, I just remember my friends all dropping me off at my house when I was raging drunk one time and trying to calm me down, but I was completely psychotic, drunk and on antidepressants.

A family/friend intervention may do the trick, but mine didnt because I was super drunk. If you could just convince him that he is in need of seeing a doctor? If his delusion is that he has been poisoned, I would imagine seeing a doctor would be in his best interest, right?

Maybe you will have to convince him to see a doctor BECAUSE he has been “poisoned”…it looks like it might work!


#16

If he is talking about “symptoms of the gas” is there anyway you could get him to a psychiatrist (don’t tell him it’s a psychiatrist) and say “let’s take you to a doctor to see how bad the gas is affecting you, and maybe the doctor can give you an antidote.” Then I’d strongly recommend that you talk to the psychiatrist beforehand and give him the history and symptoms and tell him about the paranoia so he knows what he is walking into. Maybe that could get him some initial treatment enough to clear the paranoia and then later on the psychiatrist can tell him about Sz.


#17

I thought my parents had poisoned me when I was involuntarily committed. Maybe you could get him to go to the emergency room and ask them to test him for poisoning. He could tell them the whole story, and they would probably have him committed after testing him for drugs and alcohol


#18

@CarolineC @BlessedgirlVA That was exactly my thinking! However, he is still very leary of doctors and when I talk about the symptoms of the gas, suddenly he says “I’m fine!”

So the update is that my parents have been relentlessly trying to get him to see a psychiatrist and he keeps refusing. He has still been in contact with me, still is very into this “poison gas” at his work BUT my parents bugging him are throwing a wrench into the degree of obsession so that is a good thing, I think. He still believes there is a big conspiracy at work, but tells me he is now “wearing a gas mask” at his welding job to prevent the gas poisoning him. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but he is very annoyed at my parents so it has brought the level of his intensity down.

I just feel this is what always happens, and he never gets help. The only thing that’s changed is now my parents understand that he truly is mentally ill, so that is good. However, he is an adult so we can’t force him into anything unless we feel he is a danger. I don’t know if eventually it will get to that point or if he will somehow go on his own, but again I feel that we are just waiting for the next catastrophe.

Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who has replied to this thread!! Your experience and words do help me and my family so very much! @Jake @SurprisedJ @mortimermouse @BarbieBF @CarolineC @chancewatcher @BlessedgirlVA


#19

the chemicals in metal processing plants and welding can be dangerous for the mind and blood and skin. He may have been legitimately exposed to something and is getting paranoid because of it.