Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Schizoaffective Disorder - Looking for help and guidance

Recently my wife and I brought her 27 year old brother home from a psychiatric hospital two weeks ago. He’s been diagnosed schizoaffective (bipolar type) many times over the years. Her family has been trying to help him for years but over the last 5 or 6 things have gotten way out of hand.

It all started in November when he was flown from the east coast to California for our wedding and then he refused to fly home (he actually ran away when everyone was getting ready to go to the airport). At the time he was off his medications completely. After being picked up by the police he was released to my wife and I and we tried for a few weeks to help him. We tried to take him to a doctor, we tried to get him to take his medications, we tried to encourage and help him look for a shelter and work (that’s what he wanted to do) but at the end of the day he wouldn’t budge. Our days were spent stuck at home because we couldn’t leave him on his own for fear of him letting our pets loose, leaving our house unlocked (door open) etc or trying not to argue with him when he wanted to do nothing else but eat, sleep and listening to music all day. We finally gave him a choice, come with us to see a doctor and get back on medication or be asked to move out of the house. He chose to move out of the house.

Seven months later we have him back with us again. During his time on the streets he’s been picked up and hospitalized twice. In this latest round he is back on medication but we strongly suspect he’s not on the right dosage or he’s somehow not taking the medication or throwing it up because his symptoms are very much the same as when he was not on his medication.

We are trying to avoid having to kick him out again but he is becoming combative and argumentative when it comes to trying get him help. We are trying to understand how to set boundaries and house rules for him as well as how we can engage medical help to ensure he’s on the right medication and dosage. We apparently are not permitted to interact with his doctor because he hasn’t authorized anyone.

We are feeling very stuck right now, very stressed, angry and confused. Looking not only for suggested resources but a support network that understands our frustration and can provide some guidance.

Thank you in advance.

Have you contacted your county dept. of public social services? If you run all this down to a competent social worker, I expect they can get you into a program aimed at getting him into a program or at least out of your hair.

Now. I know that may sound crass to some of those who participate here. But there is no law that says paranoia-induced non-compliance requires that family members to carry the pt on their backs and suffer the consequences of so doing.

It may even be harsh to say so, but it wasn’t until the late 1700s that any “civilized” country used tax funds to attempt to do anything for those who could not get along with others. Before then, one simply got on as best one could… or didn’t get on at all.

“I am not responsible for for my disease, but I am responsible to at least make it possible for others to help me recover.”

Thanks for your reply. We’ve been trying social workers. We’ve been told that we have a referral but that 1) they can’t say when they will be able to contact us and 2) there isn’t any guarantee that they will take him. So we are looking at backup plans and how we cope until they can get him in.

You hit the nail on the head though in your response. We want him into a program / shelter and not in our home. It can sound mean to others but it’s not something my wife and I signed up for and we are handling this because her parents are not.


…sounds to me like he should be placed in a supervised group home at least for a period of time. This will probably be the upshot of it all…that is, after you’ve gone through all of the social assistance hoops.

Good luck to you and your wife…you sound to me like really decent, caring people.


“We are trying to understand how to set boundaries and house rules for him as well as how we can engage medical help to ensure he’s on the right medication and dosage. We apparently are not permitted to interact with his doctor because he hasn’t authorized anyone.”

And you are darned entitled to do this too! Sorry, but anyone living in my home who refuses to remain compliant with my rules and at the same time, does not want me to be privy to their medical care, does not deserve me breaking my back for them.

I recently cut off from contact with my father because of this attitude that I should continue to cop his verbal and physical abuse. And he lives in a different country (assisted living), far from my home.

You care only human, and your priorities first and foremost are to yourselves. It’s not selfishness, it’s self-preservation!

Best of luck

If you’ll tell me what state and county you’re in, I may be able give you some tips.

Hi Notmoses, we are in Santa Clara County in California. Not sure if that helps.

Patrick, you hit the nail on the head, a supervised group home of sorts would be great, only thing is we can’t get him into one because he doesn’t comply.

I’m curious if anyone has had to navigate these waters with a relative or family member that might offer some direction other than the social workers. We’d like to explore as many avenues and options as we can.

Thank you all for the support, we really appreciate it. Also, we are going to try calling NAMI again in the morning and see if they can be of additional help.

You should look into group homes. Group heomes are homes for the mentally ill. Theyre a step up from hospital in the sense you have your freedom. You can come and go as you please. It is staffed by psychiatric nurses and social workers and they try to get the patients to live a fulfilling life, looking after themselves and living in accordance with the house rules. I think this would be ideal for your brother in law. Ask the psychiatrist or ask at the local psychiatric hospital. Just mention theta your brother in law is difficult to live with and is suffering from mental illness.

Hello. I’m sorry you are experiencing this. You will get some very good guidance on this website. Give it a day or two as more start to respond. notmoses has offered some valuable information to me many times. If you haven’t found this already, here is a NAMI resource guide for Santa Clara. It looks like your city has a healthy NAMI presence. Use them as much as possible.

I can’t offer much guidance as I am began this journey with my son as of recent, but the information I receive from these forums have helped tremendously. Search the archives. Lots of scenarios which you might identify with. Stay strong (together), have boundaries, and know that you are not alone, not even close.

Oh, feh. Probably the most overwhelmed county dpss in the entire state. (I’m just three hours south of you.) It’s all triage there right now. Have you called the # for in-home care for the disabled to see where he fits in their scheme… or may stand in line?

One has to pretty much network their way one phone call at a time on deals like this. Call some of these to see if you can get the referrals you need:

my father has sza so do i. Difference between my dad and i is i’m compliant and my dad isn’t. My dad’s paranoia and psychosis is hard for my mom to deal with. She is sick as well with some kind of disease in her bones and muscles also depression. She gets so sick of my dad’s abuse from his behavior that she has kicked him out before and it just leads to a reunion a few days later because no one in my dad’s family know he’s sick with sza.

I think you and your wife are good people and i hope your brother in law gets help.

i have had to deal with this myself many times with my son. He has been in group homes-but would not comply with the rules, or his meds.
At one point I put my son up in a motel.
There are medications that can be injected once a month and are time-released into the system.
I`m also wondering if you are near San Mateo. Their is a Clubhouse there that is run by people with mental illness and they have a lot of help. I have also heard that Sam Mateo has something called Project 90 that deals with mental illness and substance abuse. They DO cost money.
Hang tough!

Hi Mindstun,

Sorry to hear of your tough situation. I can see how it would be even more difficult for a sibling, considering the different dynamic compared to a parent. It’s hard enough in the parent/child dynamic.

In our situation, unfortunately it has taken a few catastophres/meltdowns/non-compliancy/hospital & jail stays, to get to the point where our 26-yr old sz son has been agreeable to a monthly injection. It’s been a difficult 5+ years getting to this point.

From our experience, as long as our son was psychotic and unmedicated, there was no reasoning with him or getting him to cooperate in any kind of program or group setting. It was typically after his hospital stays when he was on meds that we could somewhat reason with him. Even then it was hard.

I don’t have any great advice for you, but just know I feel your pain and hope you and your wife can find him the help he needs. I never had any luck with finding a group home that would be suitable for him here in Georgia, hopefully things are better in California.

Best of luck and hang in there!

It would be advisable to search for information on outpatient programs often provided by hospitals. Also, there are “clubhouses” more often known as “discovery clubhouses”. Searching for NAMI meetings couldn’t hurt. NAMI is the National Alliance of Mental Health. Best of luck.

Thank you all for your advice, guidance and support thus far. It’s reassuring and comforting to hear that our frustration and concerns are normal and that we are at least on the right track and that most importantly we are not alone.

We are in the process of investigating and looking into the resources provided by many of you and are waiting for calls back from a few places. There is still a lot of work we are trying to accomplish but ultimately it’s going to come down to my wife’s brother being complaint with moving into a shelter / program. Thus far he has not but but still hold some hope that when re recognizes he is out of options and outstayed his welcome that he will see that a group home approach is better than living on the street.

As for injections and medication, we are going to have to have faith that a doctor at a group home or at the local hospital should he have to be admitted again, can help to reassess and see him properly medicated. The injections are certainly a great idea if we can get him to comply so if we get a chance to advocate for that we absolutely will.

Thank you all again, the support is heartwarming and the advice priceless.

We are waiting for call backs. And good to hear that our initial reaction that they are just responding to the most severe incidents and providing the minimum to the others is accurate.

The Network of Care link is excellent as well, we’re exploring that. Lots to look into!

Thank you very very very much!

YW, of course. No one should have to suffer from lack of useful info.