I was referred to this forum after asking for advice on Reddit. My sister has schizophrenia, diagnosed in 2000 and a relapse in 2007. She has been taking the same medication (Abilify) since 2008 and had been doing extremely well, until recently. As it turns out, she requested for her medication to be reduced significantly to just 5mg once a week. For some unknown reason, her psychiatrist agreed with her request.
Pretty much as soon as her medication was reduced, she started showing symptoms, most obvious one was her paranoia, and disorganised thoughts and actions. She was usually very responsive to calls and texts, but we couldn’t reach her for days until our parents went to visit. She avoided them during their visit, saying she’s busy with work and needed space. When dad had to leave for work reason, mum decided to stay because she was worried. My sister suddenly texted saying she’d come over to my place and would be arriving the next day. We all live in different countries and I live the furthest from them (8 hours plane ride) so I was surprised (not to mention that being her first communication after not hearing from her for close to 2 weeks by then).
She arrived the next morning and became much quieter than usual. Usually reserved and quiet, but this was definitely something else. Took her to a shopping mall at her request and we walked aimlessly for close to 2 hours, each time I asked her where she wanted to go, she’d say one thing but went the other way when we almost reached the shop. At my apartment, she said she would start using her own things, and changed the bedlinens I had put for her (freshly washed and dried) to the ones she brought with her. Even brought her own mug when I pointed out I have at least 20 of them here. We went grocery shopping so she could start cooking for herself, not for us, just herself.
This had never happened before in the past. She actually came over to care for me back in August when I had my wisdom tooth removed, even cooked for me for close to a week. I went to see her in September and she was still fine. Busy with work, but fine. She started exhibiting some weird behaviour in October (apparently that was when her med was reduced), and then this happened. As of now, she’s been here for close to a week.
I’ve started reading the book from Xavier Amador “I Am Not Sick, I Don’t Need Help”, as well as reading up on anosognosia. They really describe her very well. At the moment, she’s not aggressive like her previous episodes, mostly keep to herself. Barely talking as well, only some “hmm” here and there to indicate answers, nodding and shaking heads for yes and no.
I’m in Australia. I’ve called helplines, mental health services, reached out to her psychiatrist (who basically just said she’s relapsing and needs to see a psychiatrist without delay. Yea no shit, sherlock!). What I got is basically since she’s not violent, doesn’t appear to be in danger to herself or others, there’s not much I can do.
Family been texting me for updates, multiple times a day from multiple people. I suffer from depression and anxiety myself, so this has taken a toll on me as well. Today, I basically did what she does, not coming out of my room until late in the afternoon. I’m just feeling so tired and don’t want to see her. We’ve been doing a thing where if I’m in the living room, she’d stay in her room, when I go back to my room she’d come out and do her thing. It’s like I suddenly acquired a housemate that doesn’t want to see me.
She had no response when I told her I wasn’t feeling well yesterday, only that she wasn’t well too. I tried to be cordial still, tried to ask if she wants any food since I was ordering food in. Initially said no, but I kept on reading off the menu then she agreed on something. Then suddenly said she doesn’t want it anymore. I said that I’m ordering it anyway, if she doesn’t feel like it now maybe she could have it later whenever she wants. No response. Last night, I heard her opening the container, then poured the soup out to sink and dumped the content to the bin.
I’m trying hard not to take this personally because it isn’t about me. But still, this is hard. I guess I should be thankful she emptied the bin as well so I didn’t have to see her throwing out the food.
I don’t know what I’m asking as well by typing all this out here. Support? Advice? How do you all strong people cope with this happening to your loved ones? I’m only here with her for a week and I’m already feeling drained. I just want my sister back already.