Should I help a sibling reduce their mild symptoms or let her be happy?

Hi, new to this forum, everyone seems so supportive :slight_smile:

My sister was diagnosed with adult-onset schizophrenia and depression about 20 years ago now. After a rocky few years including a run-away attempt and hospitalization, she’s been much better for the last 15 years - keeps on her meds, takes care of herself, and seems to be more or less content.

She still has a few “quirks” though, such as sitting on the toilet for up to an hour staring into space with the door wide open (but will close it for showers), laughing out loud to herself, being a bit child-like etc. I do realize these are relatively mild issues in terms of schizophrenia, and am grateful she has not had any major problems for a long time now. She lives with my parents and receives government benefit money, and will likely always be able to live at home or have her own apartment - she won’t have to live with room-mates.

I just wanted to hear any opinions if I should help her with these mild symptoms. My parents just want her to be happy and do not scold her to close the bathroom door or be careful being loud anymore.

I have young kids that sometimes visit the house, and I also don’t want them to be afraid of her before they are old enough to understand. I recently moved back to my hometown after being largely away for school and work during much of the time she was getting better, and obviously I wasn’t as supportive a sibling as I should have been. Unfortunately we are not very close and I am very sorry for that. Me reminding her to do this and that might hurt our relationship even more. Perhaps then it is not my place to try to “help” her? Thank-you for reading.

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Kudos to your parents, sounds like they have done a great job helping your sister. If I was you, I would leave them in the “point” position. It’s important to support your parents, okay to ask, once, their thoughts on how to handle the bathroom door situation in regard to your children. Does their home have a second bathroom your kids can use?

I think you are correct to want to be careful with your relationship with your sister. You need to earn trust from your sister and your parents, that will take some time.

Frequently we have siblings on the forum who disagree with their parents ways of handling these situations. Support your parents work, become a member of the team, and educate yourself (as you are doing) while you earn the right to “help”. Welcome!


@Norah You didn’t say how specifically you would help your sister. I think it’s hard to change anyone, of any age, whether or not they have a mental illness. A person has to see for themselves what change they want to make. The psychology called Motivational Interviewing has it as its foundation that a person has to see for themselves what change they want to make.

I guess I’m saying I don’t know that you can do much, regarding changing your sister.


Thank-you hope!! My parents have definitely been through tough times and I don’t want to overstep and question how they’ve handled things. The house has only one bathroom unfortunately. I’ve asked my parents about her current symptoms, and they just said that’s how she is. But, perhaps I can focus on how to answer any questions my kids may have about their aunt.

Thank-you caregiver1! I did gently remind her one time to close the door when my kids are were around, and she just quickly apologized and went back to her room. I’ve also contemplated putting up a funny sign about closing the door. I understand the loud laughing may be involuntary but thought she could still change some other behaviours. She is content and stable though, and I wouldn’t want to change that of course.

[quote=“hope, post:2, topic:13481”]
Support your parents work, become a member of the team, and educate yourself (as you are doing) while you earn the right to “help”. Welcome!
[/quote] - we’ll said thank you

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Hi @Norah , how are things these days in your family?

I think being honest with your kids about your aunt’s illness is the best way to answer their questions. There are gentle ways to explain mental illness to kids, and I personally think that it is best if understood by them that mental illness happens. No one ever explained my own aunt’s depression to me, and I ignored her at most family gatherings even into adulthood. It was only after she passed away that I was told by my parents that she struggled with depression all of her life. Perhaps some kind words from me could have helped her all those years. Perhaps not, but I didn’t even try.

Staring into space for an hour and laughing out loud for no reason are signs that she’s hearing voices. If this is happening more frequently each month, even it’s a slow increase, then you should call her psychiatrist to get her meds adjusted before it’s too late and she stops talking her meds.

If it’s not happening more frequently, it’s up to you.

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