The relentless gloom

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here but this is my safe place and I just need to vent.

My sister and I are both in our late 60s. We co-own a duplex, and I lived in the downstairs level until around 12 years ago when her emerging symptoms of mental illness rendered living there intolerable. Initially hoarding was the primary issue, something she refused to
address, which made it impossible for me to put the house on the market and get out of that situation. After I moved out, we rented out the lower level until she became convinced that the tenants were not only spying on her, but they created a website devoted entirely to her that “went viral” and everyone has seen it, so wherever she goes, she is stalked by strangers who photograph her and then post it on the website. She doesn’t own a computer or mobile phone, by the way. When I tried to show her that nothing came up about her when I did a search, she just said “Oh, they blocked you”.

This group has been so helpful to me in dealing with my sister. I have learned not to contradict her, no matter how outlandish her claims. I no longer try to convince her that the neighbours have better things to do than prowl through the property all hours of night and pump poison gas into the air vents. She desperately wants people to believe her.

My sister has a psychiatrist who she hasn’t seen for a year. She fought taking medication because she believes she doesn’t have a mental illness, but she thinks she sustained a head injury, so she was convinced to take quetiapine for that. I think it eases her anxiety but the delusions are alive and well.

My 40 year old son and his wife live downstairs and provide some security. They are pretty good at setting boundaries, and my sister tries not to disturb them. She no longer goes out alone. She keeps the curtains drawn, all overhead lights off, tin foil on the outer walls. l do most of her grocery shopping, and she has a friend who takes her banking periodically. She talks on the phone with a couple of old friends and our niece. She reads and listens to the radio. Her place is extremely cluttered, but spotlessly clean and her hygiene is good. That’s the basic situation, she’s not likely to be committed any time soon.

We worry about what will happen if my sister continues to worsen. She constantly says she hates being alive and wishes she would die, but there is no indication she has any suicidal or self-harm plans, other than asking her doctor for a compassionate death.

The biggest challenge for me is that my sister is so unpleasant l can’t stand being around her. She is so adamant and relentless in her negativity and it’s hard for me to maintain a neutral state of unconditional support. Her vitriol pushes all my buttons. She basically believes that the world is a horrible place and people are evil hearted and constantly refers to her circumstances as a living nightmare. I understand that it’s tragic and she can’t help it, but she craves validation of this dismal world view and I can’t stop myself from trying to point out the bright side of things. It infuriates her and she feels like l’m shutting her down. It takes me back to when we were little kids and she was really grumpy and uncooperative even then. I was always trying to cheer her up and make her laugh and she would just scowl and even growl.
Honestly, l feel like moving away sometimes.

Anyhow, that is my rant. I somehow manage to have a contented heart and feel that most people are intrinsically good. It just seems like my sister wants me to be as miserable as she is and she won’t give up until she breaks my spirit.
Sorry to be so long winded.

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Hey there. I’m really sorry that you’ve had to bear this for so long. You have all my sympathies. Your sister seems to be going through a lot, her agnosia would not let her seek treatment even if things become worse. She needs involuntary commitment, others here like @oldladyblue could give better advice on that.
I don’t think she would remain med compliant for very long. Perhaps upping her dosage of quietiapine would help here, you could talk to her psychiatrist about that.
Take care of yourself please. You’ve taken a lot of hits and it must’ve been traumatizing, therapy has really helped me deal with that. And vent here as much as you need to, we’re here for you.

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Hello @annabanana . I am glad you posted your rant! You have the right to rant having this situation go on for so long. I think you already know that your sister’s delusions are not something you can talk her out of. Ever. It is sad but what is true for her (that she thinks people spy on her) is true for her, even if it’s not real in the regular world.

Perhaps your sister wants you to be as miserable as she is, but many people who are down the scale of health just cannot foresee ever getting better and they drag down those around them maybe out of jealousy, maybe just because that’s the way it works.

Perhaps you need to lessen the amount of time you spend with your sister and instead put in some time towards things that YOU want to treat yourself to, like gardening, music or art. If you can’t change her, you CAN change you!

I am very lucky that my daughter’s med worked to reduce her psychosis, delusions and hallucinations. I had to force the situation over a period of years. That won’t work for most families. So take care of yourself first, @Hopebehindtheveil27 is correct.

I’m glad that your son and his wife can live below your sister in peace.

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Thank you both for your kind and thoughtful comments. I wasn’t able to reply earlier because my laptop was not allowing me to log into schizophrenia.com. It’s an older model. Anyhow, I finally figured out how to connect through my phone. Yay!

It really helped getting a pat on the back from both of you. I was feeling so defeated at that time. We’d recently held some family gatherings that put my sister and I in closer contact than usual and I think that frequency contributed to my distress. Also, my birthday was coming up and I was dreading it, feeling obliged to include my sister but uneasy about giving her the opportunity to disrupt things. So, I invited her anyway, and it went well. She was very quiet but appeared to enjoy herself.

I am so grateful for my son. He has a way of creating a humorous ambiance telling stories and anecdotes and there is a lot of laughter. He is actually now working in the mental health and addictions field, and in many ways those experiences help him understand and respond to my sister’s situation.

So things are more relaxed again and it’s a couple of months before Christmas so smooth sailing for now. Thanks for keeping me on an even keel!

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Your rant nailed my feelings. Always hit with negative, new world order, fatalistic, demonic Illuminati who control everyone. I listen. Love. But often feel the hopelessness infecting me! I’ve got to say, ‘maybe you’re right and the world we know will end soon but for now, we’re free - let’s go eat some sushi!’

Anger. Frustration. Clearly I just don’t get how much of a slave I am or how dismayed I should be. Constantly hammering me into agreeing.

Such a weight to carry.

But, I’ve determined that I’d rather it be me carrying this vs other members of our family or professional caregivers. I feel uniquely suited as dad, to be there for my son.

And when he says ‘the world has abandoned me! God has abandoned me!’ I smile and remind him, “Well, how do you explain your dad - still here - always! God put us together. And I’m here showing you the love of a dad, empowered by a Heavenly Father.”

Daily.

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yeah I relate to this so much I don’t know you could have been talking about my sister… but she lives with my 80 year old mum
my sister and I are in our 40’s
I am sure she is schizophrenic but my mum thinks it’s just the alcohol because she can be so much more rational than I was when I was psychotic (I’m Schizophrhnic ) or our Shcizphrenic sister who was hit by a car in 2001

She believes they have photos of her all over the internet… doesn’t have a phone or computer… lives in one room and is clean but lives with all the curtains down constantly takes light bulbs out of the ceiling and hardly ever leaves the house. she is depressed, suiciadal, out on the ledge every few weeks but says she doesn’t have the nerve and wants to die of cancer. Thinks people want to harm me her mum and mum’s dog… thinks the Catholic Church, Ford and Shell rule the world and want us all to be ‘7 stone eves’ (which I googled and it’s a type of 7 stone ring - she thinks 7 stone like a low weight in kg (we’re English)

she misinterprets song lyrics and has the certain belief that it’s too late for her anyway because when she was in hospital with kidney and liver failure from alcohol she believes they poisoned her.

she has not one positive word - every word is a negative
I agree there is no point arguing

she has no doctor and swears she will die before seeing the inside of a hospital again

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Does she do kid’s birthday parties? Sounds like she’d be a hoot.

Kidding. Dark humor.

So very sorry for the relentless negativity. It’s not for the faint of heart. It can drag us down if we don’t practice good self-care.

Peace, love and positivity to all we SZ patients and caregivers out there!!

Thank you, Sando. It is reassuring to hear from others who go through similar experiences. It’s so sad, but in a way it normalizes the process to realize we are not alone. It is very touching to hear you describe the love you have for your son, despite all the trials and tribulations, or perhaps because of them.

Wow, three, our sisters sure have a lot of similar characteristics. My sister can’t talk about the weather without turning it into a catastrophe. If there’s rain, it’s a tragedy, if there’s no rain, it’s global warming. Sometimes you just have to laugh at the absurdity. My sister doesn’t have the suicidal ideation but frequently expresses a wish to be dead. It’s so difficult for me to override the impulse to cheer her up. I still pepper her with inspirational quotations…. “A merry heart d’oeth good, like medicine”. I may be doing it more for myself. Got to keep our own spirits up, right?

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Laughter is healing! Sometimes a little dark humour lightens the burden. I was trying to pick out a birthday card for my sister one day and all the cards had cheery greetings “to someone who makes the world a brighter place” etc etc. I came up with the idea that we need a line of greeting cards for the relentlessly miserable with quotes from Edgar Allan Poe and gloomy art à la Edward Gorey. Obviously a dumb idea, but amusing to conceptualize.

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