New sis in law needs help! Big time!

My sis in law refuses to acknowledge that she has schizophrenia. She detaches herself to everyone and lost all of her friends. She stays in her room all day and all night long and doesn’t talk to anyone at home. She doesn’t eat normal food. All she eats are sweets and started to lose her hair. She looks terrible. How can we convince her to seek medication? She doesn’t listen to us and we are very frustrated already. We don’t know what to do anymore. Pls help!

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Someone must be enabling her (food, rent…) Someone is buying the bad food - spoken as a parent who has enabled for many years.

It’s extremely difficult but without enabling she’ll have to get out of her room eventually or it will be a crisis. Prepare for the crisis and get on with it. If the person who is enabling won’t agree to stop enabling get relationship help. Wishing you incremental progress.

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Have you heard of Anosognosia? This is a condition many people with SZ have. They are unable to “know” they are ill. The part of the brain needed to have insight or “knowing” is basically not working. This disease is a wicked affliction. Your sister in law may seem stubborn or like she is ignoring the obvious. Her brain is sick and that sickness keeps her from knowing she is ill or needs help. I recommend the following articles. I have read all I can on the topic since my son was diagnosed last year. I also recommend a book, " I am Not Sick, I don’t Need Help!" by Xavier Amador. This is a MUST READ for caregivers and loved ones. The book gives strategies on how to help someone with SZ who has Anosognosia and has many resources your can look into as well for support.

Please understand that there are physiological changes in the brain of someone with SZ that w/o treatment can get worse and impact cognition and memory. Praying for you and your family. Your sister-in-law is fortunate to have you. It is great that you are reaching out for help for her.


I don’t have an answer but hope to share my experience that may be of help. My daughter has schizophrenia and is currently experiencing an episode after being off medication for 6 months. For a few years she knew she has schizophrenia and took medication regularly. My wife and I were confident she would be able to manage herself when she stopped taking medication 6 months ago.

Recently my daughter is experiencing an episode which makes her believe she doesn’t have schizophrenia. She thinks that my wife and I are putting medicine in her food and she is being overdosed. She sometimes makes food that’s difficult to eat (e.g. ground coffee ice cream sandwich). My daughter believed that the ground coffee is hazelnut. She also refuse to eat with us.

Recognizing my daughter’s current belief, these are some of the things we did that worked for us so far:

  1. we let our daughter eat out as much as she wanted and from time to time made sure that she is financially sufficient
  2. I offered to eat some of the food in the rare instances she wanted to have dinner with us
  3. Most of the time we let her cook her food and give her time and space in the kitchen

It has been 2 months since my daughter’s symptoms flared and we congratulate ourselves as long as she does not go hungry and come home early at night. Every night that she comes home is a relief.

I guess what I am trying to share is:

  1. Figure out what triggers your sister in law’s behavior. It is by trial and error and usually from her tone and reaction it may indicate the root cause. Accept that what she belief is not necessarily logical nor real. It is what it is.
  2. Try to give her space in her belief and support her where possible. As long as she is not in harms way that would be great. Try to take it one day at a time. Solve tomorrow’s problem tomorrow if that works to ease the anxiety.
  3. And don’t worry if whatever you tried does not work. Just keep trying and we learn a few things about caring for the people we love along the way.

Best wishes,

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