Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Scariest, darkest times

I often reflect, when I’m alone in the silence, of how this all started with my son (the symptoms, behaviors, physical outward appearance), his progressive decline and plummeting into rock bottom, and his slow eventual climb upwards from hell.

What are some of your recollections of the scariest times from your family member in the midst of psychosis?

I remember 2 of the most darkest events (and there were many). First one was where he locked me in in his apartment and wouldn’t let me leave. He said he didn’t want to be alone anymore, and that he missed me. Then he went into a crying spell saying he stepped on an ant hill and that he had killed a family of ants, and that he was very sad about it.

Second time it was when I came home from work to the front door wide open, he had destroyed almost everything in the apt, and he was not there. This is the time he went missing for 3 days and the police found him and was then admitted to a psyche hospital. His first time, stayed in hospital for 3 months. In hindsight, all of the symptoms were already there, it was just a matter of time before the explosion.

I just feel like it would be healing to talk on here, but if you guys do not feel comfortable sharing, I totally understand that.

For myself, when I’m alone, and I reflect, and play it out in my mind, is when I feel some of the healing takes place. I’ve learned to not to try to put things out of my mind forcibly, but naturally. So if something pops in my head of a horrific time, I just go with it and play it out instead of switching gears and thinking of something else.

I live for quiet and alone time.

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Hi !
My first was when he was baker acted and he was holding me back in the hospital room saying they will rape me , he talked about demons, all bizarre things and Hitler and his eyes looked almost black . I felt my legs turn to jelly and couldn’t believe what i was hearing , i was certain he was on drugs .
Second time was in my house and he held a knife for protection and said there is a white van outside and someone in there is out to kill him and rape me … scary as hell !!!
Third time , my heart dropped when i got a call from the manager at his student apartments saying He txted a girl nasty things as he believed she txted him and lots of others bad things about him . The girl didn’t even know him and she was scared and complained . He was convinced she was spreading bad rumours about him online . $500 fine for me !
Forth time , few weeks ago , he left his apartment and turned up at my door with his big TV xbox clothes and food, practically almost everything and said his room mate and her boyfriend are out to kill him .
He’s stable now thank Gd ! Good to get it out i guess and it also makes me appreciate stable days .

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Hi Linda, yes their eyes go pitch black, almost like a demon. So scary. When he was holding me prisoner in his apt, I kept telling him how much I loved him, I would never abandon him, and I looked at his face, and his eyes, there was nothing there. He was “gone”.

Same with my son, the hospital called me to ask if he was doing drugs. I said no way, because he never had before. They checked him out, not a trace of any drug, just psychosis (lol).

Yes our hearts drop and our legs turn to jelly, we are completely wiped out when they get that way.

I’m SO glad your son is back in his apt, and stable! We have to take advantage of the peaceful days we are given, because to be honest, I still am not at 100% ease, and I don’t know if I ever will be. Thus my anxiety and insomnia.

Thank you for sharing Linda. For me, it helps to talk about it and listen to others’ stories as well.

Thanks for sharing too , i too suffer from anxiety and sleep also , im learning my ‘new’ son as much as im learning this horrific disease … one day at a time actually at times its one hour at a time !! very stressful and exhausting .

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I won’t go into much detail here, as most of my scariest dark times I share only with therapists. Experiences may vary, but I remember my dark times quite vividly— they haunt me. I feel kinship with people with PTSD because of this.

My first dark time was when a sibling put me on a plane back home after failing to be convinced turning myself into authorities I delusionally thought were following me was a good idea. It was a last minute flight, and they seated me in an emergency exit row and at the very last minute before takeoff a stern and muscled man sat in the aisle seat blocking my exit. I became convinced he was an Air Marshal and had to fight the urge to pull the emergency lever to escape— even while the plane was in flight. I wondered if it would work at altitude, but thankfully I was too paralyzed with fear to test this. When I got off the plane, I told my parents to get me to a P doctor right away. Part because I needed one, and part for show for the ‘Air Marshal’ in hopes of some leniency in prosecution for perceived wrongdoing.

From there, there were at least three occasions where I reality tested my delusions that ‘they’ were following me by putting myself in a position where authorities might take me in. One of these put me in police custody and eventually (and rightfully so) into a 72 hour mental hygiene hold and week long mental hospital stay. The other times, to my puzzlement, nothing happened. All of these took significant bravery on my part, and dark internal struggles motivated my actions. Aside from with therapists, I’ve never mentioned them to caregivers. I say this to let caregivers know for every dark incident you witness, there may be two or three others you don’t.

Finally there were three or four times, I had very dark times within depressions. I won’t go into any details, but suffice it to say I learned that at the time, you could not check out Dr. Kevorkian’s book ‘Final Exit’ from the library. They would only give you a reference copy— I took notes. Yet, I’m still here, and have lived what many here may think an idyllic life for someone with SZA.

My point is, even the highly functioning have hard and dark times. We’re less inclined to talk about them, because it pierces an illusion of competency we desperately try to project. A caregiver should not and can not be held responsible for actions taken by people under their care while ill, but being human, they often will under societal pressures—real or imagined.

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Thank you for sharimg @Maggotbrane. Speaking of responsibility, in your opinion, how much of this illness do you feel is trauma and poor environmental factors vs genetic? I think you mentioned you like to read, just was wondering if you read up on this topic. I’ve done some reading, and we all make our own conclusions on this topic, but my thought is it may be a combination of both. But what I find hard to accept is that there is no history of mental illness on my side nor his father’s, so I often resort to blaming myself for the trauma he endured and live with regret wishing I could have done things differently.

But then again, just because there was no mental illness that was “documented”, that does not mean there was no mental illness. Back in the days of our parents/grandparents, I’m sure MI was prevalent too, but it was a different time back then, and they didn’t go to therapists like we do now, and no diagnosis was established, and it was handled differently.

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Hello all,
I appreciate that you are sharing some of the dark moments.
It is so hard for all of us here on the forum.
Personally my dark moments are really sad. You see I lost my son to the system and have not had much contact with him. Although I have had many dark moments, I do appreciate all of you and it helps me to be here reading your posts.
AnnieNorcal

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@mbheart, I’m not particularly well read on this subject, so I’ll offer some speculative intuitive feelings. I think it’s clear SZ and other SMIs are heritable, so genes are involved. The questions are, how do you get these genes and how do they get expressed or ‘turned on’?

I started an even longer complicated answer, but the short answer is I don’t know and so far no one does. I’d guess it’s about a 80/20 to 70/30 split of genetic predisposition to environmental factors and trauma triggering SMI. Bear in mind there must be an ‘Eve’ or ‘Adam’ gene for heritable conditions and genes can get altered or expressed in a myriad of ways. Yet, I think this is an academic question unless a person is planning for or has a child after learning of a history of mental illness. I’ll explain…

I think so-called ‘Freudian’ psychiatrists blaming illnesses like SZ or autism on ‘refrigerator’ or ‘schizogenic’ mothers was very damaging to the reputation of talk therapies and in the end caused nothing but additional trauma to all involved. Even if it were true, I feel once the prodrome of these illnesses is in place, it’s just a matter of time before they fully develop and there’s no putting these genies back in their bottles. There’s a slight chance you might be able to lessen the impact of the disease with early intervention, but it’s so chancy that a parent could differentiate between adolescent moodiness and a true prodrome.

I see no value in hunting in the past for the exact cause of the disease, unless you have a time machine or are a masochist and enjoy beating yourself up. Jung’s theory of SZ was that there might be some sort of emotional trauma that triggers the disease, and with my first therapist I explored uncovering it, but decided the effort was both pointless and futile. In the end I came up with some sort of imagined proxy trauma and ‘forgave’ it. I had another therapist who had an atheistic alcoholic brother, who shared a story of him assigning the physics of the universe as his higher power in a 12 step recovery. Similar concept, I guess.

To me the biggest value of therapy was realizing my parents, my perceived oppressors, even myself and any delusions or hallucinations rolling around in my brain were human and made mistakes, but for the most part didn’t mean to cause me harm, so I should forgive myself and them for their inherent fallibilities. Any score settling or strict tallying of perceived injuries missed the point of what to do going forward now that you notice the milk was spilled. Don’t waste time beating yourself up for something you can’t change and don’t understand; spend your time on caring and advocating for your child, and do your best to mop up the milk. It’s not your fault.

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I know all too well and yes demonic is the word. The light in the eyes are turned off. Right now he is sitting in my basement swearing his head off. He has been nonstop talking and babbling for 3 days straight. Most of it doesnt make any sense.
He used to be able to fix many things. He tried to jump his car battery with my car while I was sleeping. He put the battery cables on opposite causing his battery to smoke. So he decided to watch a movie. He couldn’t find the cord to the DVD and broke the cord to my laptop trying to use that one. He also had a credit on his cell phone bill. He wants to be in charge of his Bill’s. I reminded him…well he said he received a text saying he was late paying his bill and he paid it. I asked to see the text and he told me they deleted it. I changed the subject fast. All he does is put me and my family down. His family is holier than thou but they have no contact with him whatsoever!!! Sorry. Just venting ugh!!!

Laz- I’m sorry that your son is wreaking havoc at home. Your post brings me back to when I lived w my Sz spouse. Sometimes you feel so helpless when they are psychotic. I’d often have no choice but to wait it out until the episode passed and he calmed down.

Is he on meds? Does he take opioids? Because my husband abused an opioid and one time during a “bender” he began taking things apart. He broke the TV remote, because he opened and fiddled with it. Kept messing w computer. Anything electronic. It was bizarre. Reminds me a little of what your son is doing (car baytteries, VCR). I hope that is not the case.

:rose:

Jan…I should have been more clear. He is my fiance not my son. He is not on any meds. He wont even take tylenol. 4 plus years ago he was on Invega and before that Risperdal. He lied to his Pdocs and they stopped seeing him. 2 reaons… they dont want to be held responsible and the other is because they have a very long waiting list for people who want help. I dont blame them but they should have caught on. He saw a pdoc for many years. They prescribed meds for years yet never enforced labs. They gave him lab requisitions which he never had his bloodwork done.
He has been organizing my cupboards anything he gets his hands on then I cant find anything.
We went to grocery shopping a few days ago. He ran out of canned goods. It is the only thing he will eat besides hare boiled eggs. 4 a day everyday. 28 eggs a week. He finally paid for groceries but when I went to get something it wasnt there. No suprisise. He locked them under lock and key in his small dorm size refrigerator which is not on. He uses it because it locks. Last night he was in the kitchen washing and scrubbing his bowl for a long time to “get the poison out of it” before he put his food in it. He was hospitalized last year involuntary. He refused treatment because of course there is nothing wrong with him! According to him. So 15 days later they let him go. He went back to his apartment…moved out…with no where to go…that is why he is with me. He was supposed to help pay the Bill’s here but instead buys all kinds of nonsense…mostly online.

Glad to hear from the other side. My son manages and gets a shot once a month and therapy.
But does tell me that he doesn’t always say what he’s dealing with on a bad day.

@serenity to be clear to you and other caregivers… The one out of three or four number of reported versus actual experiences refers to all symptoms, not just the scary and dark ones.

There are various reasons why you might not tell a caregiver about symptoms or delusions you are experiencing. Maybe they are somehow embarrassing or personal, maybe you don’t even realize they are a symptom and you assume they are self-evident and need no comment, they may be complex and have a lot of backstory that you don’t have the time or patience to explain, or you figure the caregiver might not believe you anyway or might get angry or tell their doctor or therapist and there will be unwanted consequences like higher dosages or additional drugs, or maybe they withhold the information to protect you or themselves from perceived dark forces like demons or the Illuminati or what have you.

I’ve been puzzled when caregivers and other people say that delusions or hallucinations must be “scary”. This is not necessarily true. Sometimes they are helpful, non threatening or neutral. They may even be your companions when you have no friends. Think of the fictional invention of John Nash’s roommate delusion/hallucination ‘Charles’ in the movie ‘A Beautiful Mind’. The reveal to Nash and the audience is more powerful, because he’s helpful and positive for him, and not menacing and threatening like the secret agent ‘Karcher’. It defies expectations and brings home the point that we can’t always trust our realities.

I feel this is yet another situation where LEAP is helpful. When you demonstrate that you won’t devalue, question or confuse or conflate what people under your care say about their experiences, and that you’re actually interested in their stories, they are more likely to trust you and share what’s going on in their reality as they experience it.

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One of the scariest days of my life was 37 years ago. I was 13 at the time. My brother was 18 and had stop taking his medication but pretended that he was still taking them for about a week. So around 4 pm he starts to have one of his turns; he starts to hallucinate and hear voices. My dad tries to clam him down but ends up locking him in my bedroom. Big mistake.

We are in the living room discussing about taking him to the county hospital psychiatric ward to get him back on meds. Then we hear this loud banging on my bedroom window, and then we hear this loud boom and the my bedroom window breaks! My dad runs to my bedroom, and I run to the back yard just to see my brother jump out of my bedroom window and hop the back yard fence into the back yard of our neighbor. Our neighbor she starts to scream at my brother. My brother is 5’10” and a martial artist; I was about 5’2” 100lbs (maybe), but some how jumped that six foot fence like it was a hurdle. I saw my brother and quickly put him in a bear hug, so he could not attack the neighbor.

I struggled to hold onto my brother, but my bear hug was so tight he could not go any where. After about a couple of minutes he started to clam down. The neighbor asked if he was gonna be ok. I emphatically said NO! So my neighbor place a step stool at the back yard fence, so i directed my brother hop the fence back to ours house. I followed.

I took him to the kitchen to clean up cuts on his arms from the broken glass. For some reason my brother always recognized me when he was delusional. However, other people including my parents he saw them as dark grotesque demon figures. As my brother started to clam down more as I cleaned his cuts. My father came back with a couple of my brothers friend to help take my brother to the hospital. Another mistake. When his friends enter the kitchen my brother freaked out; he didn’t see his friends - all he could see was a couple of demonic figures. My brother went Bruce Lee on his friends. One took a round house to the face, and the other took a spinning back kick to the chest before we all jumped my brother and took him to the ground.

Physically and emotionally i was exhausted. When the cops came i was just numb.

That was a turning point in my life. I wasn’t a kid any more. In the months that followed I grew up real quick as my brother would have more episodes…

Only two of my friends that i trust know about this story, but if i didn’t remember or discuss it in some way, I’d probably go crazy too.

To all those people, that are new or don’t have a support group. If you read these post, hopefully you do not feel alone.

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@Chuong_Ha sounds like a harrowing experience at such a young age. Being called into a caregiver role at a young age is such a life-changing experience. There’s this odd feeling of both coming into and finding power in yourself before you are ready, while at the same time feeling the sense of utter powerlessness all caregivers must feel.

There’s little you can do but sit back and watch loved ones deteriorate until the dark scary moments come and hope to find superhero strength within to summon that part of you that can overcome a Bruce Lee and calm the dragon within their loved ones.

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