Seeking advice on supporting my schizophrenic sister from afar

Hi everyone,
My sister has been battling schizophrenia for 7 years now. Before her symptoms started showing, we were best friends with the world in common. Now it seems everything I say to her offends her in some way, or too mushy if I end up telling her how much I love and care for her. We live on opposite ends of the country, so we only communicate through email at this point. I know she has had suicidal thoughts in the past, so I really feel I need to tread lightly in discussions so as to not set her off. As much as I try, I find it hard not to take some of the things she says to me personally. Sometimes I feel offended, but it may just be her different way of reaching out to me. I just want to have a conversation with her, like we used to. How do I find a happy medium between supporting and showing my sister how much I care, and just being there as her friend? There is no one in this world who means more to me than her, even after these 7 hard years.

Welcome to the forum @sistersister

Trying to learn LEAP may help: - under resources are free videos on using LEAP
LEAP is a way of communicating to build trust. Listen-Empathize-Agree-Partner. - Dr. Xavier Amador is a clinical psychologist whose brother had schizophrenia. He is the founder of the LEAP Institute. Wrote the book: I’m Not Sick I Don’t Need Help! Can buy from his website.

Search Xavier Amador on YouTube for more videos
Building A Collaborative Relationship “LEAP”

I know everyone says don’t take it personally… Reminds me of the movie You’ve Got Mail when Meg Ryan says something along the lines of: It may not be personal to you but it’s personal to me. What’s wrong with being personal anyways?

My son has said things to me that hurt and is offensive. Just do your best to let it go if you can.

It may not seem like it however being there for your sister through email is probably doing her more good then you know. Accepting that her actions/words are not within your control can help. At some point you may need to grieve the lose of the sister you used to know to make room for the person she is now.

We have all had to deal with this–it hurts.
Once I realized that some of that was not necessarily ABOUT me and that sometimes, it was actually a part of the disorder, it stopped hurting.
Your sister is probably doing the same thing to others.

Hi. What a loss for you and your sister. My sympathies. I will just share my experience with my late mother. It meant a lot to her to see my face. With time and technology, we were able to use skype. Also a handwritten letter or card may be appreciated. Maybe send pictures. Misunderstandings often develop with email, for anyone. People don’t have any tone or facial expressions to go along with the comments. My mother, every once in a while, would say something that was breathtakingly hurtful. At that point I would just have to leave the situation and return to it when I had recovered. By then she normally would be in a different place. I read somewhere that schizophrenics do not like to be part of a lot of powerful emotional interactions, and I noticed that yes, my mother was like that. Just make her part of your life. But as to the other thing you are worried about you should realize that you are powerless over that. I speak from experience with one of my own sisters. You are a good sister.

Good information is always empowering. Even though the book I’m recommending is about borderline personality disorder, most of it is relevant to pts with sz. And it can really help family members, spouses, children, close friends, etc., of pts with the “mild” or “semi-functional” versions of sz that are so confusing to others close to the sz pt.