Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Son with Schizophrenia Lacks Drive and Ambition

My son is 32 and suffered a break down few months back while living by himself and was hospitalized and diagnosed with schizophrenia. He has moved back home. We are trying to help him but it has been difficult. He suffered from hearing voices and thoughts of suicide. He is taking Risperidone which eliminated the voices but he is empty inside. He cannot hold a job and he has no drive or interest. I tried to get him involved many things but he has no desire try on his own. He does not like to think on his own. The things that he had interest in the past have disappear What am I to do? He cannot live like this. Is this the meds or his condition? The Doctors only concern is that the voices and thoughts of suicide and gone. However, he has anxiety and not happy with life.

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First off, let me say that Its really good something is working for the voices and thoughts. That doesn’t always happen.
After a Psychotic break, it can take months to clear the fog as he begins to heal. We can forget sometimes that they are sick. Also, remember this is a very sad and depressing time for him and rightfully so.
Our Dr was the same way and I understand now but didn’t then. Its like cancer, Let’s just get the serious symptoms under control 1st and then take a look at the other symptoms once he is stable.
We want life to go back to “normal” as soon as possible but that isn’t how this works.
Our son needed anti anxiety meds and antidepressants and a few anti pysc med changes.
The anti anxiety & antidepressants really helped a lot along with time.

I also strongly incouraged ( i say that lightly ) our son to go to a partial hospitalization program.( php) It got him out of the house during the day and he got CBT therapy there and it helped to get him back out in the world again. I drove him to appointments etc. for several months because they are not safe drivers for a good while .per Drs. Orders.
stay strong… it will get better.

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@vvicin01 welcome to the group.

I am glad something is helping the voices and thoughts for your son.

My son was diagnosed at 21. He is 35 now and stable (on clozapine) but the drive and ambition never really returned, not like you would imagine it might in a typical young man.

He did do a little more when he was younger like AA meetings and a couple of peer support groups for people with schizophrenia. He used to go to an alternative health clinic and get massages on occasion and he has always loved to collect coins and music and he is an avid recycler.

He also loves TV and movies and food and only recently has started to try to cook things with me. He lives with me and always will. He has tried living on his own and in a group home and it just went south terribly every time. Working a menial job (which is all he is qualified for) and crowds make him unravel mentally and anxiety makes him appear unstable. He does very well with a simple daily routine that he can manage and he is my wing man when I go run errands etc.

He likes to go to festivals and or concerts or other events with me. He much prefers to stay home though and if you ask him he will tell you he has a good life and that he is happy.

He has no close friends and doesn’t care about that at all. His reality is very different from mine even though we live together. I can’t judge his life or the quality of his life by what I always expected from him as my son. I always thought he’d graduate, get a job that hopefully he liked, maybe meet somebody to share his life with, maybe have outside hobbies etc…that’s what I thought.

What he wants now as a recovering schizophrenic patient and as a man is he want’s to be left alone, he wants peace and quiet, he wants a predictable schedule, he wants little demands or expectations placed on him ( he will willingly do household chores on his own regularly but in the early days he was unable to do that)

He likes me to put phone calls from family on speaker so he can hear the conversation but he does not feel very comfortable talking to them by phone himself (all though recently he did have a talk with his Aunt and it went pretty well) He wants low stress always, he needs it that way to stay well. No arguments or conflicts.

The 2 of us together get along fine these days and it wasn’t always like that. It was an evolution and a slow one at that but he is stable and we can talk and laugh and watch shows and cook together and go places together and that has to be enough. That has to be his rich and full filling life as he sees it, not how I see it necessarily, but I support him.

I knew early on I couldn’t change him other than helping him to get stable. I could only change my own perspective. It;s not easy to do but when you do it you feel peace and acceptance. I hope my story helps in some way. Take care.

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Thank you so much Catherine for your input. I am hoping that some day he can be weaned off his medication. Your story sounds so much like our life with our son. His only real joy is preparing dinner with us, cleaning and sitting down with me after dinner and watch a movie. I know it is not his fault and he is trying. He got a job as a cashier last week and I fear that will not last. He was a very talented Web UI Designer before all of this but now he barely gets on the computer. Thank you.

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Thank you so much. His anxiety is really bad in the morning. He says that the uncertain life ahead of him and what he has lost really weighs heavy on him in the morning. The Dr came him something for his anxiety but it is not helping. In addition, he strained his shoulder blade which causes him discomfort (maybe laying bed too long). It has only been a month and half and I guess I should be more patient. Its just his life has been striped away.

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my son is 43 and lives with me too…my son is quite isolated socially as he has social anxiety as well as schizophrenia…he doesnt get out much but i am trying to encourage him to go to a mental health club

mental health clubs, if you dont know already are places where mentally ill folk can go for a coffee or chat, while there are also activities such as art, creative writing, health management and therapy…just ask your psychiatrist or mental health team or else just google it…sometimes mental health clubs are known as “clubhouses”

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Cara - good advice. I think if my son had a routine that would help. He was going to the gym but since the virus hit everything is shut down. If you have any ideas on what could keep him busy that would help. Thank you again.

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Hi Cara,
My Son is 36 and a similar situation. He knows the life he had and the reality of that vanishing is really hard for him. He hurts, sees himself as a loser, is so lonely especially with his brother gone.We have a ‘Wellness Center’ near us and he has only recently gone for the first time. It will be something for the future. NAMI doesn’t have enough groups. Even in a populated area, the resources are very marginal and too much government.

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Purchase him one of these RC Trucks:

https://traxxas.com/products/landing/bronco/

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Your situation is the same as we have with my 47-year-old son.

Stable on meds but, as he puts it,“like a zombie.”

No interest in things he always did well with; working, drawing,music, friends.

He is doing better after stopping his meds, many hospitalizations and even being in jail.

My heart breaks as I think of what he has got; nice apartment in a group home, good food,a friend now.

He doesn’t see it that way.He says the meds are poison.Unfortunately he’s right.

Anti-psychotic meds help and hurt.

Look forward to a few happy moments when they’re not anxious or psychotic.

from Vermont

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Hi, my son is 28 years old and living in a Group Home. I’ve come to accept that his life needs to be very simple, without stress or worry. He ventures out of the home twice a day to go for a walk to the store and lives an undemanding life. rthers might say it’s boring but I’m happy that he’s safe and stable.

It’s been eleven years since he had a breakdown and was diagnosed with SZ. He also suffers from drug addiction. Since that time, I kept hoping that he would return to a semblence of who he used to be and hopes we aspired for him. I tried to get help from Voc Rehab and encouraged him to work… he tried but failed repeatedly. I bought a 2-bedroom condo for him and a caregiver to live in. I thought this independence would help him and motivate him to be more involved with life but instead he became addicted to Meth & Heroin and ended up homeless on the streets. Got him into more psych hospitals than I can count. And finally after a long stay in a psych hospital he ended up on Clozapine (miracle drug for him) and into a Group Home.

Now, I’ve come to accept my son’s mental illness and that keeping him safe and stable is the game plan. I see him every week and some weekends, he stays over. He doesn’t do much, just hangs out with me and his cat. We go shopping at Goodwill, hangs out at Starbucks & enjoys Subway sandwiches. He loves to vape which is not healthy but it’s the lesser of the many evils that could harm him… so I just accept it.

And I’ve learned to deal the cards our family has been dealt. To surround myself with loving NAMI friends, to volunteer as a Facilitator there, to practice a lot of self-care and to protect my own mental health so that I can remain strong and happy. I’ve learned to enrich my spiritual life and practice mindfulness and meditation. As I enjoy my life, I can be there for my son. I’m really the only person he has in his life and I’m okay with that responsibility because I’m getting better at accepting SZ and all the hidden nuances it brings. Acceptance has been the key to my serenity.

Wishing you the very best with your son! Dee

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Also, forgot to mention, you may want to consider Day Programs at Peer Support organizations. In Phoenix, AZ there a few places that offer gyms, classes and social activities. They have paid Peer Support people who offer support and friendship. Definitely worth checking out.
Best of luck to you!

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Thank you so much AZHome for your insight and sharing your personal experience. I believe my wife and I are where you were with your son early on. I still cannot accept what has happened to my son. I often look back at his facebook posts and it breaks my heart to see that he had a life before his breakdown and the onset of SZ. He is nothing like used to be. I need to accept that. He is working at 32 years old as a cashier. I know he is looking to me to say that it is okay to quit. I just can’t do it. I want him to feel some sort of pride and to keep busy. When he is home he just sleeps and paces. He seeks my guidance so I try to share my life with him but it is not easy. I am 62 and work from home and to keep him occupied is really a challenge. I will do whatever it takes. If he decides to quit again I will accept that and realize that my son is not the same as he was and that all our lives, my wife included, will change forever. It does not change the love we have for him. I just want him to enjoy life again.

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You are speaking to an understanding group who share your sadness. We have all wept those tears. I’m so sorry when someone new joins us. It is just heartbreaking.

I have adjusted to the new normal, but refuse to accept it. I measure progress in minute improvements now, things that people unfamiliar with this illness would find laughable. We here do not.

Some research is being done into treatments for the Negative Symptoms of schizophrenia. Everyone recognizes the Positive Symptoms, but this other side often goes unaddressed. These are the symptoms that keep many from returning what most would consider a productive, fulfilling life. This illness affects not only the diagnosed person but a whole circle of people, even to the larger community that loses a vibrant, contributing member.

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It is a good thing he lost the voices. My son is 25 and has been through almost every med. He is on Latuda after his 2nd hospitalization and still seems to hear voices. My son lives with me and tells me he is bored all the time but he won’t try many things, just watch netflix and walk and take rides. I have been trying to get him to go to support groups or social and life skills training class but he won’t. He love use to be fishing and he doesn’t even want to do that. He can’t keep a job and can’t.go to school. I feel the same way as you, like I have lost my son. He is like a shell of a person. It upsets me to think of how lively he used to be. I would just keep striving for good Dr., therapy, support groups, etc. Do your research for best treatment. Go to family support group yourself. We have to look to future and do the best for our kids. Good luck!

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Desmon7204 - thank you for sharing. My son was hospitalized in three different hospitals with all very different medications and non of them helped with the voices. As matter of fact it just caused side effects. Finally, I was able to get the attention of one of the Doctors and stressed that nothing was working. They finally tried Risperidone and that worked immediately. However, that does have side effects that is concerning but at least for now the voices are gone. I try so hard to make him laugh and at times I can get him to smile which makes my day. Those days are very few but I will not stop trying. Thank you again for sharing.

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Please help him get disability lawyer to apply for SSD.
INVEGA might be a better choice of drug, if his insurance will pay for it. He will need your help in getting on state Medicaid and applying for disability.
I’m so sorry. This is the road I went down with my only child. Not what we hope for, but we must help them to face this disease with love and support.
Best wishes.

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Thank you from the UK. Peace and acceptance made me re think. I’m dealing with similar son 36 years old.

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I have the same with my son of 36. I’m in the UK near London. X

Hello! I am in tears right now because your stories are my stories. 30yr old intelligent, kind son devastated by schizophrenia. It has been a rollercoaster since he was 16-not diagnosed until 21. (We live in the USA) We have been through hospitalizations, med changes, rehab, jail, group homes, independent apartments, day programs, homelessness, and now he is going to end up living with us again as his insurance will not cover any more days in rehab and the group homes are not taking in any new clients because of COVID-19. My husband and I are in our early 60’s and have our own health issues. I worry if he moves back home what happens to him when we are gone? Who will help him, as he has proven that he cannot care for himself. I had hoped “the system” would be able to help us settle him in a safe place for the future, but I need to accept that the system here is broken. My daughter will not interact with him as he had a history of violence towards me while she was growing up, and she suffers mentally from it. As we are on a county wide lockdown with no unnecessary travel because of the virus, I am probably going to get laid off of my job in a couple of weeks. Anyway, thanks for listening-it’s hard to find people who understand schizophrenia and the toll it takes on our loved one and our families.

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