Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Struggling with how to relate to my family

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Hello Willow,
I can relate to growing up in a household and knowing something is not quite right, but not really knowing what was wrong until after we leave.
There’s nothing to be ashamed of, and I’m sure the guilt of wanting to runaway is normal.
One thing you can do for your parents and brothers would be to talk to a social worker and tell them your concerns. Getting them help will have to come from outside resources and also your family has to want help, you cannot force this. Keep talking with your mom and brothers, keeping communications open. Be direct about the illness, and your concerns for them to get help, maybe one of them will listen and reach out for help.
Take care of yourself. AnnieNorCal

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Hi Willow, Please don’t feel guilty and please live your life.

I would keep in touch with phone calls and texts or e-mails.

If your parents are gone or your brothers wind up on their own, your brothers will need more support than any individual can offer. The idea to get in touch with a social worker where they live is a good one. Ask the social worker to walk you through a plan for if your brothers need advocacy to connect to resources.

Live peacefully knowing you and your family didn’t cause these illnesses (though mj contributes to mental illness for some people), you cannot be in charge of other adults’ lives, and these illnesses have no cure. Also, maybe look around the area for no-kill cat shelters if the need arises, but just keep that in your back pocket and don’t mention it to the family unless there is a need.

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You must live your own life and take care of yourself but you can care about your family, too. However, you cannot solve all problems. You are right to be concerned about care for your siblings once your parents are gone. Try to learn about what care your siblings are getting now. Can you talk to your parents about this? Are they on medication? Who are their doctors (psychiatrist, psychologist, even their GP?) Do they receive Social Security benefits (or are they eligible to)? What support resources are your parents using? No matter what, it would be good to learn as much as you can about SZ. Find a local NAMI Family Support Group. ( If offered, take their no-cost Family-to-Family class. That was the best thing we ever did at the time. There were some in our class who were siblings, as well as other relatives.

You mentioned your parents live in squalor. If there is a safety issue for their health or anyone else who lives there, you may be able to get additional help.

Thank you all so much. That’s all very good and sound advice.

I guess I’m hesitant to contact any social workers right now or have them get involved as I think it would cause way too much of an upset or trauma for my family. They don’t seem to want help, and as I stated, my father is pretty controlling and would be suspicious of outside intervention.

So maybe the best course would be to stay in touch with them and research some of the things mentioned above just in case of an unforeseen emergency type of situation (and to have a plan for the long-run also). I do worry about my dad’s physical health too - and, really, the stability of the family is resting solely on him right now since he’s the only one who drives a vehicle in the family.

Again, thank you for all the advice and support.

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I suggest that you live your life separately as you have been for the last 5 years. As you mentioned, they don’t seem to want help. You are a sibling, not a parent, so your role is different. Perhaps your family members are OK with the fact that you can live on your own and would want you to stay that way. There is no reason to feel guilt, you didn’t make this situation, and you can’t solve it either. Of course you feel sad, it is a sad situation. But I don’t think you should let yourself get dragged down into it while your father is able to cope.