Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Taking care of a schizophrenic parent who neglected you as a child


After much research and therapy, I’ve realized that as a child, I was emotionally neglected by my father who has had schizophrenia (disorganized type) since well before my birth. My mother, who passed recently from cancer, also had depression and later, BPD. I was raised in the home as an only child and whilst my mother was higher functioning and managed my better than my father did, my upbringing was still dysfunctional. My father was never affectionate and during his manic episodes, would turn verbally abusive and physically threatening. My mother, a trained nurse, tried to cope with her own struggles and being the only responsible parent (financially, physically and emotionally) in my family, but it was difficult. We endured homelessness among other things. No extended family support existed since relatives turned a blind eye. In many ways, I still blame my father for our struggles and his decision to have a child.

As an adult, I live overseas from my father, who lives in an assisted living home since my mother passed and he suffered a stroke about 18 months back, which has caused cognitive issues (memory loss and incoherent speech). I Skype him every two weeks since he has people locally who are from his church that visit him once a week and set that up, and I have been grateful for that. However, I have noticed that since his stroke, he seems more manic and more emotionally aggressive than in the past. Hallucinations were never a big part of his illness before (as I said, he has disorganized schizophrenia, which is a different subtype), but I feel that he may be suffering from them more these day. To make matters worse, his nursing facility stopped his psychiatric consults for over a year (without informing me or his local Power of Attorney), and I only just discovered this and had him re-assigned to that Dr, who is again managing his care.

I am happily married and have one child and another on the way. We have been through a lot (I was diagnosed with depression myself and hospitalized briefly after my son was born) and I see both a psychiatrist and therapist for my depression, which is being managed well. Last month however, a lot changed when I returned “home” for a wedding and to see my father. My husband and son stayed back at home in the USA. My father was very verbally abusive, demanding and even physically threatening towards me. For example, he would call the house phone where I was staying at 5am and want to know where I was taking him out for the day. I calmly told him it was still early and to call back later. He then swore at me (quite bad swearing too). The next day at the nursing home, he leaned in to take a punch at me, and I am pregnant. I had to stop visiting him in the assisted living home for a few days after that as he was causing my depression to escalate and I felt again like when I was a small child, humiliated, unloved and angry. He would come back the next morning and act as if nothing had happened.

After returning from my visit and talking with my therapist, who I have seen for four years now and knows my whole situation well, I was advised to cut communication off from him, at least until my pregnancy is over. I wrote my dad’s friend who sets up the Skype and told him, but I know he doesn’t understand why I want to do that. It’s so hard trying to tell people who weren’t there during your childhood, just what damage was done by my father. They think that because he is elderly, and has had a stroke, that I should be sympathetic and understanding towards him. The trouble is, caring for my father has been my whole life’s job, not something recent like most “normal” families with ailing elderly parents. They think the verbal abuse and physical threats are stroke-related, even his psychiatrist suspects that, and it may well be. But I am nonetheless supposed to cope with that reality and at the same time, preserve my own emotional health, while still communicating with my father?

Hoping others of you who have endured the same situation can offer your feedback. I’d be particularly interested to hear if you have had to cease communicating, even temporarily, and whether that helped you at all. I feel so guilty, but I also am worried for my own health and the stress that this situation may have placed on my unborn baby.


sh* life is hard. how can you tell when a person is acutrally abusive or just mentally ill anymore? LOL my father was psychically and sexually abusive but also heard voices i am told now later down the line… anyway i can be abusive sometimes i am Sz and people read my mind so i yell sometimes at them. have never physically harmed anyone or sexually though ( one time on accidentl i pushed my cat and her head hit the head board on my bed. ) and i have automatic sexual thought sometimes but never speak them aloud. i also am bipolar with exteme highs at times but mostly lows and emotional outburst.

i don’t know if anything i am saying is helping you LOL. just though i would let you know that bipolar and abuse do not always go hand in hand. you father on any meds/


Thanks, but this is going off topic. I’m here to get feedback specific to my post.


I have just removed a bunch of posts that should have taken place as a private conversation using the site’s private messaging function. Folks, please remember that this is the FAMILY forum where FAMILY and CAREGIVERS come for support. It is not a playground for those who should be posting in DIAGNOSED. If you have something relevant to add to the original topic, fine, please do so. But no thread hijacking, please.

(Wearing moderator hat)


I have a son who is verbally abusive and one time physically. I did not see him for a year.
There are times when I have to pull back when he is irritable.
Sometimes its very toxic to be around him, and I step back. You have a lot of feelings to untangle, but now you should take care of yourself and that baby. Follow your doctors orders.
Good luck to you O


Thank you. I do feel that this is what I need right now. I love him, but I’m no help to him if I allow him to treat me that way.


LOL means laughing out loud.



Just to be clear I am diagnosed so this is from the perspective of someone who is schizoaffective. (Bipolar + schizophrenia),

I was in a support group once for people with depression. It had two sections, one for people with depression and another for caregivers. It was started by an elderly man in my community who had an also elderly but bipolar wife. With age she had become angry at him, became sure that he was trying to poison her, and all sorts of other bad stuff. I’m not sure why that was but I doubt it was because she was medicated. He was a lawyer and had gone back and gotten a medical degree or some sort of medical training to assist in her care so I highly doubt that was the case. So it might not have only been the stroke. I suspect that mental illness gets worse when you reach what should be your golden years. Whether this might be because of the types of medications they used or if it is just a biological thing I don’t know.

I am in NO way suggesting that you get back in touch with him until you feel you are ready and more importantly until your therapist clears it. Stay clear of the stress for now. You have your children to care for. I am one of the strongest proponents of respecting your elders and caring for your parents but your children come first. I am so happy for you that you love him and that you have overcome those obstacles but he was remiss in how he cared for you. I will admit that medication wasn’t as good back then as it is now but he still owed you love and care.

Your children need you more. After the pregnancy there will be a tiny human to feed, change, and care for. On top of that you have your other child to care for and you need to help him navigate his feelings for the new baby. I often hear that when there is a second child the first child can fear they are being replaced and other family dynamics. Raising children is hard.

In my opinion you are doing the right thing. Just because you care for someone doesn’t always mean that you can hug them. You are managing his physical and mental care. You went to physically see him even though there is (to my knowledge) no way that he would have even known you were in town. The fact that you were able to overcome the abuse and the resulting psychological hurt (trust me, I wouldn’t blame you if you weren’t) to love him is outstanding.

I am engaged to a wonderful, mentally healthy, man. I am hard to deal with. I often get paranoid that he is cheating on me. I have times when I have to strongly mentally restrain myself from checking his phone. I used too every once in a while until I found a few texts he sent to some girl we casually knew when he butt dialed her and she had text him to ask if he meant to call her. He said he hadn’t. There was a brief how are you how are you doing, ect. I saw that and completely freaked out and basically left him before he even woke up and went back to my parents house.

I never properly apologized. I said I’m sorry but I never properly apologized because I didn’t know how. How do you make up for something like that? Even the second or third time I read the texts when I calmed down I had to admit that there was nothing suspicious about them. I freaked out because he used emoticons. :slight_smile: <- those things. I wanted to get him something, something unique and spectacular that showed him how deeply I listened to his dreams and interests. But I was afraid that it would seem like I was trying to buy him back. I always heard about how abusive people hurt someone and go to a “honeymoon” phase where they act like the perfect spouse to keep their partner. Giving him a “make up” gift or crying and giving a huge apology for some reason in my mind felt like that. To be clear I have never hit him, never insulted him, nothing of that sort but for whatever reason the idea that if I were to do something extravagant to make it up to him would make it abuse. It wasn’t that I didn’t care or didn’t acknowledge to myself that I had been wrong. I just didn’t want to make it that. I highly realize that was probably not what was going on with your father. I just wanted to say that at least I am not good with apologizes or how to properly communicate. So please only take that for what it’s worth and no more than that.

But there is a difference between going out, getting engaged, marrying someone and being born to them. What your Mother did for your Father was beautiful but it’s not your responsibility in that way. You love him, you care for him despite what he did to you and didn’t do for you. You are not only a good daughter you are a wonderful daughter. You are doing everything you can for him but your children need you. And you need you. Caregiver burnout is very real.

You are a good person in a hard situation.