Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Suggestions and thoughts?


#1

I’m going to visit my son next week. Haven’t seen much of him or his partner of 10+ years, as I am 1500 miles away.

She is szA, off her medications and in psychosis for the past year. She left their home last month and lived rough for several weeks; just returned home on her own the day before yesterday. (Reason for leaving: “managing her spirits,” which is what she calls the voices she hears.) Until she disappeared, I had no idea how bad things were, as my son tends to keep stuff to himself.

She’s still in bad shape. She won’t do anything voluntarily, per my son. She’s seen no doctors or counselors since stopping her monthly shots last year, other than the half dozen times in the past year that she’s been involuntarily admitted to the psych center. (But only for a few days at a time.) When things get really bad, he calls the police and they take her to the hospital.

She has children (not my son’s) living in another state, but no custody. She was close to them until she decided they were not really her children. She has a brother nearby, but he can’t do much for her since he has several young children who are afraid of her. I’m not sure how good their relationship is anyhow.

She does get violent at times, has threatened people with a knife. My son laughs and says he’s stronger than her and can protect himself. (My hair stands on end just at the thought of what could happen.) The police want him to press charges, but he doesn’t want to do anything that will cause her to have a police record.

He works full time, plus overtime, so she’s alone most days. She lost her SS insurance (I or D?) when her mother died last year. My son tried taking her to SS office to get signed up again, but she thinks he’s trying to steal her money. So nothing got done about that, and she currently has no income. I don’t think he’s fully informed of what’s legally possibly in their state (VA) or local resources for the mentally ill. Because he works so much, and running their household is entirely up to him, he has little spare time to do what might be possible to make her life—and his—a little better.

I’ve contacted their local NAMI chapter and gotten info about a support group but I’ll be surprised if he goes. Also suggested that he get some individual counseling himself, even if she won’t.

Any suggestions for what I can do for either of them—long distance, or during the 2 days that I’ll be in their area?


#2

It sounds like a terrible situation for your son, and I’m sure your heart aches for him.

In my opinion, there really isn’t anything you can do but to be supportive of your son, since he’s the person managing this. I would absolutely not stay in your son’s household during your visit. Stay somewhere else so you can enjoy your precious time with your son, in a peaceful way.

Also, in my opinion, the only thing that’s going to get your son’s partner back on track again is medication. Until that happens, counseling is going to be close to useless. She doesn’t even realize she’s sick. It’s called “anosognosia” and it’s not her fault.

I know you wish your son wasn’t living this way, but he clearly is a kind and generous person for staying with her and continuing to care for her through this horrible disease. She was absolutely robbed. My son was too.


#3

It would be nice if you could get him to that NAMI site and/or meeting. That way he has a something familiar to reach out to when you leave and things become more difficult. Sounds like he is carrying a very heavy load. Must care about her a lot to be putting up with this…


#4

Yes, I’ll be staying at a bnb nearby. Not with them . . . wouldn’t be able to stand the cigarette smoke! Is there a reason why so many sz folk are smokers, I wonder.

You’re probably right, that I just need to support my son. Can’t help thinking that there should be some way I can make things a little better.

Thanks for your input. I appreciate your kind words.


#5

That’s a good idea about going to a NAMI meeting. I’ll check and see if they’re having one while I’m there. He might have trouble making meetings regularly because of his weird work schedule. But I do think he needs someone to talk to about all this and he seems reluctant to tell me and his dad much.

They are really fond of each other. She’s told me in the past how much she loves him. I hope they can continue to be together without this awful disease ruining their relationship.

Thanks, Holly.


#6

Google CHRNA7, schizophrenia, and cigarettes. Big topic of research.


#7

They smoke because they don’t feel well mentally .


#8

You couldn’t even imagine what it is really like inside their brain.


#9

Interesting that dosages of anti-psychotics need to be higher for smokers.


#10

So true. I really know very little at all about what they experience.


#11

Yes, I believe that is very, very true.


#12

Because you love and care, yes, of course you think there should be some way to make things better. I feel that way too, almost feeling guilty because I can’t seem to help enough.

Be kind to yourself. Just go have a nice visit and show support. That is a lot. My relatives never visit my home anymore because of my daughter’s illness. Just visiting will be a great thing for you to do. Don’t try to solve anything, just visit.


#13

I am going through the same thing as your son. My avise is to not stay with them for the two days. Anything different than normal will trigger things. My partner and I lived alone and was great she took her meds she got a driving job so she didn’t have to see to many people. It was great for 2yrs. It got to about 4 times a year. Well she seen someone from her past that lived 1200 miles away she lost her job it’s a year later and we had to live with my parents who are not quiet. 3 months straight maybe one good day. Won’t work. I have to remind her to shower and bring her food. I sleep on the couch. It’s rough.
Just be there for your son. He needs support and outlets to vent.


#14

My son on occasion has said the same. My reply is no, but I can imagine how exhausting it is to continueally have to check recheck and check your thoughts again and again.


#15

I read this.
Many schizophrenics believe smoking cigarettes eases their symptoms, and up to three times more schizophrenics smoke than in the general population. It is thought that smoking may be a kind of self-medication. The nicotine seems to help with some of the cognitive and sensory symptoms experienced by schizophrenics, and it can ease some of the side effects of medications commonly prescribed. However, smoking still causes cancer, lung disease, etc…


#16

80 to 90 percent of them smoke and they tend to be heavy smokers.


#17

I will keep reminding myself that it’s just a visit!

I realize people are uncomfortable around illnesses that they don’t understand, but seems like it’s adding insult to injury when a person ends up isolated simply because s/he is a caregiver to someone who desperately needs care. Thank goodness for the internet and websites like this forum.


#18

That makes sense. Same as with autism I guess.

Sounds like you’ve had a really hard time, Dana. I hope things get better for both of you soon.


#19

I suggest taking or mailing to your son the book “I Am Not Sick; I Don’t Need Help”. If possible, you might want to take the NAMI Family-to-Family class yourself but that might be above and beyond. However, if your son sees your interest, perhaps he will gain some hope that there is real help to manage this illness and do what we can for our loved ones.


#20

I’ve just finished reading that book, so I will. Though I doubt he’ll read it through. The reflective listening that Amador recommends reminds me of what was called active listening back in the 80’s.

Thanks @hop4us.