Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Possible to have schizophrenia for more than 25 years without problems or treatment?

#1

My sister has had a bunch of health problems - diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome ~6 years, then since then mixed connective tissue disease, ankylosing spondylitis, rheumatoid arthritis, sjogren’s, has had migraines for years. Has been married for ~16 years (with her husband for 20 years), 3 kids. Through the last ~6 years her husband has been no support and doesn’t believe there is anything wrong with her health-wise (believes she just doesn’t want to work any more); i’ve witnessed his mental abuse of her (and see now that he may be a narcissist); one of her kids had a life threatening illness but is now ok so tons of stress from that. Plus over the last 5 years, her husband has isolated my sister from her family and brainwashed her into believing her family doesn’t care about her and doesn’t want anything to do with her (we used to be extremely close but no longer have a relationship). In November my dad was in the hospital, and my brother-in-law chose that time out of the blue to contact me about how my sister needs help, is depressed, needs help with energy levels (because of the diseases she is living with), then he suddenly took her to the ER for a psych evaluation and had her admitted to an adult behavioral health center for a week. Now, suddenly out of the blue, my sister is saying she has heard voices since she was in high school (so for the last 25+ years), then the other day she said she’s been seeing things as well since then (and in the midst of all this she had a psychiatrist say she is schizophrenic and prescribe medication). How possible or common is it for someone to be schizophrenic - hearing and seeing things - but to not only live with it but show absolutely no signs or symptoms or problems for 25+ years while receiving no treatment and no medication? My family has seen many ways that my brother-in-law has brainwashed my sister into believing things happened or didn’t happen (gaslighting), so I wonder if it’s possible he has preyed upon her physical/mental health and depression and this is contributing to everything?

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#2

I think the important point is that you have a family member who is seeking help.
Whether their motivations are honest is up to you to judge.
But if you do decide to help,
Make sure it is in ways that actually contribute to a better quality of life and peace of mind for them.
The risk of unintentionally impeding positive lifestyle changes (by imposing unrealistic expectations) or enabling (by mistaking appeasement for treatment) are amplified toward the people closest to us.

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#3

I have no idea what is possible, but I’m sure it isn’t common. The gaslighting thing is scary. Why would he do that to her?

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#4

He’s doing it because he is a narcissist - I came to the realization just a couple months ago, and once I read the definition it all made sense. He’s always right, everyone else is wrong, he’s the greatest, he’s the best, he knows everything about everything, if you disagree with him it’s not a disagreement you’re attacking him. Thrives on attention. I could tell my sister is deeply depressed (i could see this a couple years ago), but to have her suddenly say she’s been hearing voices since high school, then to add to it that she’s seeing things, was bizarre. Two of her best friends - one since kindergarten, the other since high school - both say there is no way, there was never anything wrong in high school (2 friends she’s no longer friends with because of her husband). At any rate, my sister is finally leaving her husband and moving in with our mom, in the next ~2 weeks, so she’ll be away from him and can detox from him mentally, and we’re working on finding a psychiatrist in our area (not 1.5 hours away where my sister is living currently). Her husband has dictated “visitation” and a condition is that she continues treatment for schizophrenia (meds and doctors). If she is truly schizophrenic then of course she needs help and treatment (meds/doctors), but there is so much going on that it makes me wonder. But she is also not talking to my mom or me, won’t give us any details, so it’s hard to make sense of anything.

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#5

It is definitely possible and possibly more common than anyone realizes.

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#6

Yes, I agree. It is hard to understand the illness and how MUCH stress it generates.

I hope your sister does better living with your mom, but it is going to be very hard on her, losing her children, I imagine. So much grief…

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#7

Good morning. My daughter had hallucinations for five years before she told us–from age 10 to 15. Even today, family doesn’t believe me when I tell them she is dx as having sz. She hides her symptoms VERY well and has lived with the voices for so long, that she says she is used to them. I guess my response to your question is, yes, a person can hide their symptoms.

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#8

VERY POSSIBLE! I’m living with it now. I have been married to my husband for 33 yrs. Shortly before our 30th anniversary he had a psychotic episode, we thought related to something else ( NOT drugs!) and two months later he had a complete psychotic break that involved 2 suicide attempts in 8 hours as well as a psychotic coma for three days! I had NO clue that he was SZ or for that matter that he had previously been hospitalized (in late teens) for similar behaviors. He has worked religiously, acted normal, helped raise 5 daughters and had a completely normal life. Today he is working, but doing things around the house is out, socializing at all is out, he is so NOT who I married. The fact that he could “hide” his symptoms for so long totally made no sense to me. I talked to my brother who is a psychiatrist, he said it is totally possible and does happen. I’m sorry that you and your family is going through this, it is hard to say the least!

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#9

If my son was having hallucinations and delusions, he hid them very well. After the accident TBI and recovery he told me about things from his childhood. About the other guy that was always present in our home.
Lou (son) was always a very quiet and polite young man and very reserved like his father.
I’m not sure if all of his illness manifested after the accident. There were times I knew something was wrong.
This is an interesting subject, thanks

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