Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Struggling with understanding a family member and I have a new baby that’s the grandchild of the schizophrenic

So me and my soon to be husband just had a baby who is 7 months old . My mother in law is deteriorating and is that an extreme schizophrenic. It almost seems like she’s gotten worse since the baby has been born . She’s more child like , repetitive, disorientated, confused, constantly crying , just all the symptoms have magnified 1000x times it seems. She doesn’t really like the baby I feel , she’s really almost “jealous” Of her . Her husband is her complete care taker and she wouldn’t survive without him. She’s a mere 90lbs . I struggle with her because I feel at a loss. My anger and resentment towards her have increased in the last 7 months because of how she acts towards my baby,her granddaughter. Anytime her husband is spending time with her she stares like she wants to hurt us all and says horrible things under her breath or as soon as he is spending time with her she asks over and over if they can leave and she will not quit the entire time and say things like “why are you talking to the baby and not me . “ and will say “come get your baby away from my husband” or ask when we are leaving . All the while giving looks that could kill. She will even blow her e ciggerette smoke in my daughters face. I have exploded plenty of times but always at night I can’t stop feeling guilty. I know she can’t help these things. I will cook for them sometimes and for example cooked thanksgiving and she asked all day long when it was gonna be done and then didn’t eat and Won’t eat anytime I make dinner . And will say “ are you making dinner for my husband” and I say “for everyone “ and I feel she also is now for some reason insecure about me and has thoughts of me and my soon to be husbands dad getting together ! Which is so weird and repulsive for me to even think about. It really bothers me and at times I get so frustrated. I want to help her and try but for the last year I find my self throwing my hands in the air and walking away . Please help me . Help me understand more . Anything. Tips how to deal . Make things better. Anything at all. I want to be a good person and set example for my daughter on how to treat people and this is killing me.

For starters Ali, start saying to yourself “I can’t fix this. It’s not my fault. I didn’t cause it.” This is all true. You absolutely cannot fix this.

You don’t feel comfortable or safe? Then you should excuse yourself and leave. Protect your own mental health. This illness is extremely challenging to deal with. You have to know when enough is enough. You have to learn to set boundaries. Do NOT feel guilty.

The gross sexual things your family member is suggesting to you are part of the illness. That’s all. Walk away.

So, it seems to me that throwing your hands up and walking away is on target.

I’m sorry for not sugar coating. You’re clearly a good person for reaching out to try to learn. Keep reading on this forum. Hugs.


A person with SZ may not be able to show love and warmth. However, even with a mental illness, you have a right to expect someone to follow safety rules and norms of treating people with respect. You have to establish the boundaries. Do you live in the same home with this person? A new baby can be disruptive to ANY home! You must keep safety in mind. If you can attend a support group ( National Alliance on Mental Illness in your area or even better, if you can attend one of their no-cost Family-to-Family classes (many are starting up again around this time of the year), you will gain valuable information and support to help you through this.

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Hello Ali,
It has taken me most of my adult life to understand my mother. I used to have many of the same emotions as you are expressing. My mom is almost 90 and I’m 60. I finally can just accept her and her condition.
I would caution you to be careful around your baby. You never know what a mentally ill person my do or act out.
Thank you for sharing your story, AnnieNorCal

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Thank you for your advice I woke up this morning expecting not to hear back from anyone and I got three replies. That means a lot! It’s so hard to accept the fact you can’t help them . She’s literally wasting away and everything around her is a mess. Her husband still works full time and that leaves her home alone most days . Their bedroom is a disaster kitchen whole house etc you can imagine her hygiene as well. I try so hard to get her to get up and do stuff and it just ends in a fight and with me or my fiancé doing everything. It’s hard to walk away and just let it be when I see her husband having to suffer too but he puts up with it and in my book is a saint. For better or for worse I guess.

Thank you for replying. I’m don’t want to say I’m glad to hear that it took you so long to accept your mother’s condition but it gives me hope that I can eventually accept it and that obviously there’s love there cause we do want to try and help for so long and get them back to themselves. Which I know will never be .
I never let my baby be alone with her ever but there are times when I got to goto the bathroom or start my car in the mornings and I have to leave her in her pin for a minute . I would like to think that she wouldn’t do anything to her besides give her bad looks and ignore her . But it’s good to be reminded that I need to keep my guard up . We live on their property in a different house but I go inside every morning and at night to hang out and keep company … and my car is closer to their driveway where I park.

How do I enforce these rules/boundaries without coming off as a nagger . I sometimes feel like a child myself arguing with someone so Ill. It’s repatitious and nothing changes . I have practically force her into doing daily chores or kforce her to put her e ciggerette away and not blow the smoke while the baby is inside. We do live on their property in a different house but I go over there in mornings and at night time to have family time as her husband is normal and loves his granddaughter and it’s nice to cook for everyone and just be a listening ear. I tried to join Nami prior to this but find that I have pay anything to be apart of it is ridiculous. I mean if it’s more helpful then this which I’m assuming it’s got more resources and all but I came here to talk to other people who are struggling with the same issues I am and to be able to talk about it and get some relief that way . And this is already helping me !

It is really great that you are reaching out to seek help from more than one source. NAMI support groups do not cost anything. You can “join” NAMI, and help to support its outreach to help others, advocacy efforts, etc., but joining is NOT a requirement to attend a support group. I don’t recall paying anything for the 12-week Family-to-Family class, either.

Boundaries…who pays for her cigarettes? Cigarettes (and other things) can be turned into a “reward”, as long as you aren’t withholding basic necessities of life.

Is this woman even on medication?

She is but i don’t think the right ones . Refer to my second post and if u have any input on those medications it would be greatly appreciated. She goes to the dr by herself because we are all so busy . Her husband of coarse drives her (she got two prior duis for just seeming high because of her condition and being technically medicated and she wrecked a car the last time she tried to drive ) but he stays in the car doing work related emails on his tablet . So she goes in and says nothing has changed and they send her on her way. We don’t really have great mental health specialists here according to my father in law and so she goes to a place where they accept state insurance and she actually has private insurance thru her husband . So as you can see things are quite messy .

If she is accepting her medications as prescribed and you or someone else in the family (ideally her husband) don’t think they are working correctly, or not sufficiently, the family will have to communicate that to the doctor. How else will the doctor really know what is going on with her (or do you think she can communicate that effectively to the doctor)? Has the husband ever tried to go with her when she meets WITH the doctor? Ideally, she would sign a release with the doctor authorizing the doctor to discuss her situation with one or more specific other persons. Even with HIPAA privacy laws, the family has every right to give information TO the doctor, even if the doctor cannot respond. Sometimes a doctor will accept emails. With others, it might be voice mail or even written notes. This won’t magically happen unless someone is willing to be proactive.

Believe it or not, sometimes government resources for mental illness can be better than private insurance. It just depends. Anyone who really wants to help their loved one and expects results must be willing to learn about the illness from reliable sources. NAMI, Brain & Behavioral Research Foundation, Treatment Advocacy Center,, major hospitals like John Hopkins, Mayo, etc. All these places have info on their websites.

Yes he has gone in with her and use to for the past ten plus years but the past couple years he’s about given up. She is in complete denial anything is wrong with her. Gets very angry when anyone talks about her being ill or her medications just amongst family , and so u can imagine how she acted at the doctors when her husband would go with her and suggest things to the dr about her mental/physical decline . We do just about all we can do with her while keeping our own sanity. But I know we can do more in learning and trying to get her on the right medication is the first step for things to get better for her and all of us . He is going to call her dr ahead of time and try and talk to her .

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I really can’t comment on what meds would be best. I would call the dr. And tell them what’s going on.

Your family had been through a lot in all these years while living with a person with serious mental illness. Not every marriage stays together in such a situation. If you and family believe your loved one with SMI needs to be on medication and the person refuses or goes off meds because they do not believe they are sick (anosognosia), the only things I know of that can help a person become med-compliant are (a) the person “hits bottom”, and gets so sick that they are involuntarily committed and get the help they need and eventually become medication compliant, and/or (b) you use a strategy such as is explained in the book “I Am Not Sick; I Don’t Need Help “ by Dr. Xavier Amador, who had a brother with SZ. This is THE go-to book for learning how to talk with your loved one to gain their trust and eventual agreement to take meds for reasons THEY want (and not because of the reasons YOU want). AND/OR, the person is taking medication currently and the medication itself helps the person to gain “insight”. I will add that these things may involve the family setting boundaries. For example, when faced with treatment vs. going to a homeless shelter, our loved one chose treatment. We are still working on his true acceptance of illness, but have hope that with counseling and time on an AP (Clozapine) this will come.

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I identify with this 100%. I struggle with the conflicting emotions too when it comes to taking action or putting my foot down. I’ve been told I’ve reacted ‘a little extreme’ in some instances (which may be true (ex: tossed the heaping pile that covered one wall and half the floor of old, literally rotting with mold and mildew, rancid laundry out on the back lawn; collected all the trash and refuse around the house that had not been put in a trash can and piled it all in front of the door to his room so he couldn’t get in unless he moved it. I left a couple of fresh trash bags in front of the pile. He got the hint.)
Yes. It feels like I’m dealing with a child. It makes me absolutely resent him that he makes me feel like I’m constantly nagging.
And the whole thing sucks mostly because he is my partner of five years, I fell in love with him as a man, resolved to only treat him as an adult and that man, and he (or the illness rather) has made that impossible.
Not to mention the extremely cruel things he’s said or done in the past. Some might say unforgivable… (used to be convinced I was sleeping with his brother, that I carried on affairs…while I was home making supper and he was out philandering, high risk behaviors with high risk people)
I’m reminded by others who are only vaguely aware of the situation, that I need to remember my own safety first. They’ve only witnessed the result of violent episodes… But they are absolutely right. Myself and good lord if there were ever a child in danger! Makes me sick to think about.
Children deserve and have a right to our protection.
But I remind myself that he’s sick, and try like hell not to tell him that he IS sick (Per Dr. Xavier).
I was a woman of strength, compassion, determination, integrity, loyalty, and above all else, empathy. Was in healthcare 15 yrs. A born caregiver and nurturer and protector. An advocate.
He has suffered far before I knew him, and the family did approach me that they were aware but nobody had been able to get him help.
As I as well have not been able to get him to seek treatment.
Extreme case of anosognosia (thinks there’s absolutely nothing wrong with him. All conflict or issues are everybody else’s fault)
So, on the positive side, you know that your mother in law IS receiving some sort of treatment, even if she doesn’t believe she is sick, but I have to ask, has there been anybody to monitor her meds to be sure that she takes them? And I agree with the others- though you may not be able to get much information FROM her provider due to HIPPA laws, the family can ALWAYS volunteer and give information TO them. And in situations like ours, where the person doesn’t believe there’s a problem, how else is the Doc supposed to know what’s happening? Because we know our loved ones sure aren’t telling them.
Also, it’s true, a new baby is always a big change, for most of us I’d imagine a pleasant one, but from our loved one’s perspective it can be an intrusion. And also possibly a trigger…
So desperately sad… I’m sorry that something that should be such a joyful time and experience for you and your husband has to be so trying.
Not sure that any of that was helpful, but I sincerely hope you’ve found the kind of support you’ve been looking for here and elsewhere. It’s certainly one of the places I come for shared strength, information and advice.
Stay strong, above all else be safe. And be good to yourself and the beautiful new addition to your life and family!

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I believe that anosognosia is the curse that makes a large percentage of those with sz unable to seek treatment for themselves. I cried when I found out what it was, as sz is a double curse with anosognosia.

Even though my daughter is on medication now for 6 months and many symptoms are very much lessened or even not visible anymore, she resists change if it is too sudden or too forceful. I suggest trying to change only one thing at a time, with gently daily loving nudges, until that one thing is improved. When my daughter was unmedicated it took two weeks of daily knocking on her door at dinnertime to get her to open the door and take a prepared meal from me with regularity. After that, I asked her to take a daily walk with me after dinner, and it too became a habit: dinner and a walk were no longer a struggle.

I wish you strength in dealing with your loved one. Kindness still seems to be the best medicine. Be kind to yourself also.

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