New member, at a loss

Wondering if anyone else has run into their partner or themselves being burnt out and thinking tough love/ they need to learn/ consequences etc will help them get better or want to be better.

I’m feeling like our son will not be able to understand any of that type of parenting/ communication.
We are at a loss. As I’m sure most of you here are and or have been as well.
Thank you in advance.


That is not uncommon at all. Happens a lot. If only it were true. Mental illness can’t be resolved with tough love and consequences because for that to work as intended, the brain has to be functioning rationally and normally.

One thing that really opened my eyes to what I was dealing with my own son’s mental illness was taking NAMI’s free Family to Family class. What an eye opener it was! really gave me depth of understanding and broadened my overall empathy as well as providing a network of other people trying to navigate caring for a loved one with mental illness.

The other thing that helped me with dealing with my son and his illness was getting counseling for myself. I don’t think I could have made it this far without that dependable source of unbiased support. Even though my son is much better today, I maintain the counseling for myself. It keeps me grounded. If you have access to NAMI. I suggest contacting them, they are a valuable resource. NAMI Family-to-Family | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness Btw: welcome to the forum!


This book always helps: I Am Not Sick, I Don’t Need Help!

In the book, the LEAP technique is introduced. It stands for Listen-Empathize-Agree(where feasible)-Partner. Listening is really important and then you find areas of agreement where it’s possible to do so and then you partner to jointly work on whatever problem that needs addressing at the moment.

I think of schizophrenia as being a disease of the brain, like diabetes is a disease of the pancreas. In both cases a person will have to learn to live with the disease for the rest of their lives. Diabetes isn’t going to cause any strange behavior, but SZ will, because the brain is the target organ. Tough love is something I think all of us struggle with. We just don’t now what’s enabling and what’s being supportive. For myself, I’m just going to try to be supportive because SZ is a disease and accept that I might be enabling. I think I’ll always be learning about how best to help my son be independent because my wife and I will not be around forever.


Thanks for mentioning the LEAP method. Of everything I have read, it seems to be the most sensible way to begin with, at least with someone not currently in a psychotic episode. I’d love to hear anecdotes from others who have applied it successfully. I’ve also been intrigued by the work of Daniel Mackler, who is a proponent of the open dialogue method of treating schizo/phrenia/affective spectrum disorder practiced with remarkable success in Finland. OPEN DIALOGUE: an alternative Finnish approach to healing psychosis (COMPLETE FILM) - YouTube


When our daughter had her second psychosis I had read and tried to apply the LEAP principle to the situation. I had a lot of support from some family and friends who I could call/share what I was going through. Besides this for me our daughter’s therapist was key in convincing her she needed to get evaluated but it was I who drove her to the hospital to get the evaluation. And she was admitted and now a few years later is doing extremely well. She has moved near us and her many friends in this area. She knows she needs her medication and family and friends support are key.

It is heartbreaking for this to happen and you ‘Hopefullight’ but do take care of yourself. Do you have your own therapist as well as support from family and friends? Breathe slowly and deeply, pray and take one day at a time.


Tough love is not a good strategy for chronically mentally ill people. As their cognitive skills decline they don’t have the ability to direct themselves out of bad situations in the best way. They need all the help they can get. So don’t even entertain that strategy.
I was filled with resentment and totally burned out caring for my son who has schizophrenia and history of drug addiction to the point of being mad all the time and my helath declining. I prayed, found through my EAP program a counselor who happened to have lots of experience with caregivers of schizophrenics, entered counseling, and began creating boundaries for myself, as in arranging for other family members or friends to stay with him while I take breaks for a couple of days, even giving me the chance to leave town and refresh myself. All this has helped him and me immensely. They can sense the incridible irritation we feel and it only makes the situation worse. I feel God has told me that my strategy must me not trying to fix him, but loving him, encouraging him, forgiving him, and giving myself breaks even if it’s just to run errands. My attitude and health have really improved with this approach. Tough love is in the category of bad advice from the culture that we can’t afford to give an ear to. As a mother, it goes against everything my gut tells me. It may be fine for those not mentally ill, and I have tried it several times over the last 15 years. It didn’t work for me and really put him in harm’s way.


It’s heartening to hear your daughter is doing so much better. Thanks for sharing that.