Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

The ultimate question for a caregiver


#1

Has anyone’s family member made you feel unsafe around your own child? Ex; my ex-mother-in-law has asked me several times am I not scared of my son? To which I’ve always said no. But then I get home and go to bed and catch myself locking the door!! I don’t like the suggested feelings are being put on me!!!


#2

I’m not scared of my son, but I still lock the door when I go to bed.

He used to have a habit of walking in to wake me up to ask me where something is, or just to check to make sure I’m OK, and it’s unsettling. This way, he has to knock on the door - that’s still unsettling to be startled away, but better than having someone practically standing over you.

I’m still comfortable enough with him to fall asleep on the couch.

I don’t have much family left, but I’ve had lots of people ask me if he’s ever been violent or anything - not exactly if I’m scared of him, but I’m sure that’s where they’re going. We should remind them that people with SZ are much more likely to be a victim of violence than to be violent on their own.

My son would only be a danger if he felt threatened, but he feels threatened often - so I am always watchful and I’m very careful about any situations he’s put in that I can control. I kind of treat it like our big dogs - they’ve never bit anyone, but they’re not very social & there’s always a first time.


#3

I am just beginning to ask myself if I am safe in the house alone with my son. When he was in inpatient care he made up a safety plan and right on the form it says that family should know ‘I would never hurt them’. So I believe that HE believes he would never hurt us. But I can’t deny that i’m glad we are not gun people. My husband has an unloaded rifle hidden away somewhere but my son doesn’t even know about it.

He has access to knives though. I would be lying if I didn’t admit it is a concern. We don’t have a bedroom door lock… but perhaps we need to rethink that.

The unpredictability of someone who is psychotic is what is so hard. You just can’t predict what might happen. Better safe than sorry.


#4

Loved your answer !!


#5

That’s true but I’ve never noticed my actions stemming from something a family member has said. It just kinda caught me off guard when I did it!!


#6

When my son had his second psychotic break at 17, we did not hospitalize him - instead, we took turns staying up with him 24 hours a day so that he did not hurt himself.

One evening, my husband went outside to lock the garage. Our son jumped up & said his dad was going out to the garage to get a gun to kill him. He got one of our big butcher knives & crouched down. I talked the knife away from him before his dad came back in, but I can only imagine what would have happened if I wasn’t there.

We spent a long time with nothing sharper than a spoon in the house. Even the butter knives & shish-ka-bob spears for the grill went outside & locked up.

Still, I’m not afraid of my son, but we know to be very watchful & I never leave him & his dad alone together. Things can change on a dime, and I’m very aware & very observant at all times.

We are gun people, but all our guns are locked up & secure. My son would use a knife before he used a gun though. Guns scare him just sitting still even though I’ve explained over & over that the gun itself can’t do anything.


#7

We have a room with locking doors and all of our sharp knives in a locked safe in the kitchen. Also, all of our tools are locked up.

Past history of violence requires current safety measures. Though I am not afraid of family member now, I have been in the past.

Less than ten - fifteen percent of people with sz become violent towards others during psychotic episodes. Our family member was very psychotic and became violent. The percentage is higher if person has substance abuse or certain personality disorders.

Good info here: http://www.peteearley.com/?s=violence


#8

My son has never threatened anyone which helps. We take precautions as people suffering from scz who are quite paranoid can hurt someone if they become frightened and someone approaches them when they are highly fearful while suffering from psychosis.


#9

That’s exactly what happened with my family member. Extreme fear.


#10

If my son says something is my fault when he’s like that, I humbly agree & apologize.
If it’s something in the past I can’t change, I don’t make an excuse.
If it’s something current, I say I’m not perfect and I’ll try to change.

When he talks about seeing through people’s heads & other stuff, I’ll say I can’t do that, but it would scare me if I could. Does it scare you? or does it make you feel powerful?

I go really strong on the empathy.

If he says he’s scared, I’ll ask him what I can do to help. Sometimes, holding his hand helps.

I’ve even told him we could lay down together & I would hold his hand while he slept.

Lots of times, my son loses his appetite after he stops sleeping for awhile.
Other times, he’s paranoid about the food.
But, I don’t ask much about the food other than to offer him something. He’ll usually eat an apple.

The sleep is what I’ll do anything to get.


#11

Yes, the extreme fear state of being is when they are dangerous and can end up in serious trouble.


#12

I do this also. My son wanted to reach out to relatives who live far away yesterday to tell them about how we are abusing him. They received a short course from me in Amador, just agree with him and empathize. Could they do it? NO. They felt they needed to tell him how much we loved him.

Like that would solve something. Idiots. Wave the magic wand of love and the mentally ill person will suddenly be transformed. Why didn’t we just think to tell him we loved him? ARRGH.

EDIT - My frustration is that I wanted the relatives to provide him someone who would listen not try to tell him that we loved him while he is in the middle of explaining that he is being abused and bullied online. He needs to be heard.


#13

That is a great guide to go by! I will definitely use this!!


#14

You can use those, but you have to find the right words to calm him - it takes a lot of trial and error.

But, like everyone, they want to be heard & understood - especially now.

I definitely don’t challenge him, argue with him, try to talk him out of anything when he’s like that. It only makes things worse.

If it’s something bad, I might counter with something. Like,sometimes he’ll say he’s the devil. I’ll tell him that can’t possibly be true because he’s my sweet angel. Sometimes, he’ll smile & go on, other times he’ll say he’s the most beautiful angel of all, the fallen angel. And, once he said he was plucking out his feathers.

Yesterday, he said his name was Frank & he was born in 1980. Not close on either accounts, but for the rest of the hospital visit, I called him Frank. It was better than the day before when he was sure we were both dead.

When he’s in the hospital & I visit, I pay close attention to how the staff talks to him while he’s delusional too. They’re always very kind & calm & they just kind of go with it. It gives me some pointers & lets me know it’s OK to do what I’m doing because I honestly feel lost most of the time & worry myself to death thinking I’m making him worse.


#15

Thank you @slw you have given me some great suggestions! Pray with me that we make it through this day!!


#16

I was exactly where you were a few days ago - you just have to wait for that opportunity to get him help.

Without sleep or food, it’s only a matter of time until he either gives out on his own, or he’s so sick, help will no longer be optional.

But, I’m sure you’ll both make it through the day.


#17

There are times I have not felt safe around my son. In the early stages when he would not take his meds, the voices in his head convinced him that I was his enemy and part of the conspiracy against him. He also used to come in my room at night when I was asleep to ask random questions which was very unsettling. When compliant and the injections are “fresh” in his system, he is fine. When the meds are waning or not working, he becomes agitated and short tempered with me. He has never threatened physical violence. He is a very gentle soul. I understand about the power of suggestion. If your son has never given you cause for caution, politely tell your ex mother in law that you would appreciate her not posing that question to you again as that in itself is causing you more anxiety than your son has. Fear and fear breeders rob us of peace. We have enough to manage in taking care of our children and ourselves as their caregivers. I have had to stop communicating with some relatives who just thrived on gossip and negativity and did nothing at all to support me or my son in any positive way.


#18

This is so true!! And I too have had to distance myself from family members for the same reason!!

Praying for all on this forum!:pray:t2:


#19

Wow…and yes.

Teachers have asked me. And drs.

He was almost hospitalized in 6th grade. They were worried about our safety too, especially his older brother who at the time was smaller.

He has hit and bit me when he was younger. The drs gave guidelines for safe holds, etc.
He hit me as a large 11 year old…and he had follow through with his punch. He thought I was someone else, as had happened when he was younger. Lots of drs appointments and counseling helped. Also a kind hands home helped. It simply was out of ordinary…

He locks himself in the bathroom and stands under scalding hot water in the shower. THAT had to stop. I’m still scared when he goes into the bathroom. We had to move the meds out, and a variety of other safety things as he began “googling” how to kill himself.

Over the years we understood our “normal”. We are careful, and fortunately work well together.
The hardest part for me was watching husband. He loves his boys so very much, and can hardly speak about this subject. Only to me, and with tears. We just can’t “go there” very often. It’s too much for husband to speak of.

He is the sweetest boy too. Just a gentle giant. (VERY large guy for his age since birth.)


#20

We installed a lock on our bedroom door three years ago, for a multitude of reasons. One big one was because my daughter doesn’t have any concept of the boundaries of others, she frequently would walk in unannounced. That led to more than one uncomfortable close call, so now we always lock the door at night, and oftentimes during the day if we want privacy. The rule in our house is to always knock on a closed door and wait for permission to enter. The school had more of a problem with these things than I did when she told them we lock our bedroom door and called CPS to report us for neglect (that was a LAUGH).

But at the end of the day, the one thing you can be sure of with mental illness is it’s unpredictable. Because it’s a brain disorder, anything (and I mean anything) is possible, and it’s possible for it to change from one day to the next or one moment to the next. I’ve seen my daughter be completely normal and then devolved into a psychotic episode instantly, in less time than it takes to take a breath because of some unexpected trigger (that’s what caused her to be hospitalized on 12/15). So I think it’s perfectly okay to have a certain level of caution in place. My daughter has never attempted to get to our gun, but it’s locked in a safe that’s locked in our bedroom. We’ve taken the necessary steps to protect her and others.

Your mother in law may just be trying to look out for you, even if it’s a little misguided for the situation, and help you see an area that has perhaps not occurred to you previously. I think it’s okay to be a little scared of our mentally ill family members - but not to take it out on them or react irrationally. It’s our job to try to understand, support, and protect them.

My husband recently did have a similar conversation with me - he just opened my eyes up to the possibilities and dangers that as her mother, I was incapable of seeing myself. My weakness was the very high possibility that she may kill herself and there will be absolutely nothing I can do other than everything I’m doing. It’s outside of my ultimate control. It’s uncomfortable to look at our children as a possible threat to themselves, ourselves, or others. As a mother, we’re a bit blinded by love sometimes, and for those around us, that can be a concern. I would approach it with gratitude for her wanting to look out for you, and perhaps reassure her of any precautions you may have taken or will take as a result of her suggestion. You might also explain what makes you unafraid of your son as well so she can see what you see. Perhaps a nice lunch date and a heart to heart would help? But first, you have to look at her suggestion with love and kindness and understanding.

Five years ago, my daughter poured an entire bottle of cinnamon into dinner, then took pieces of cardboard and mixed it in. We didn’t discover it until I came home and ate it (everyone else had eaten previously before she “helped”). Was she trying to poison me or our family? Or was she so delusional she thought she was helping make dinner? What if she’d taken a chemical instead? I would literally be dead right now. Since then she’s always supervised while cooking, no exceptions. I’m also highly allergic to capsaicin which is found in hot peppers and other hot spices. We no longer keep them in the house because of the risk of being accidentally put into food. Enough of it could kill me in minutes. At that point, accident or deliberate is irrelevant, the end result is the same.

Do I believe my daughter deliberately wants to hurt me? Absolutely not! Without the influence of mental illness, she’s got the sweetest soul and heart of anyone I know and she adores me as much as I adore her. We are very strongly bonded (how long that will last between puberty and mental illness is anyone’s guess at this point). I have been the rock in her life since before she was born and she knows she can depend on me. Do I believe she’s capable of hurting me? Absolutely. Do I believe she would plan to hurt me? No, I like to believe it would be an accident as a result of her mental illness. And I know she’s capable of accidentally hurting others as well. She’s done so in the past, more times than I care to admit. Is she capable of doing something atrocious to someone else? Possibly but unlikely unless she’s in a psychotic episode. Only you know what the boundaries are with your son, and only you have enough information to really analyze the risks.

I’m also learning that I have to have an exceptionally thick skin about this situation when dealing with others and to approach others with caution. Everyone has an uneducated opinion they’re will to share. My colleague, who is a 25-year-old graduate student in a Psychology program, went so far as to tell me my daughter’s problems were all due to developmental issues, she’ll grow out of it, and it’s likely due to the fact that I work full time (never mind that she’s in school for much of my working hours). My husband’s co-worker told him that Libby needs more religion and her mental illness will be cured. CURED! Not as a coping mechanism. Not to discredit religion but we long ago have accepted reality and gave up on that avenue.

Ultimately, YOU are the one in the situation, so you have to decide for yourself how to treat her advice. Some people truly mean well, some people are out and out mean, and 98% of the population is clueless about this disorder. Not necessarily deliberately but it’s just the nature of the illness - most people will never experience or witness this level of mental illness in their lifetime so you can’t expect them to know any better. Some people are incapable of understanding or empathizing with it ever. You can try to help educate your mother in law and provide information to her but until she lives it, she may never fully understand.

I’ve been fortunate - Libby’s grandparents have been very understanding and supportive. Even so, I can sense their cluelessness. They’re at a loss for how to help other than to listen and provide emotional support. They live in New Hampshire so this doesn’t directly touch their lives. They sympathize but they don’t actually understand it. They’re at least smart enough to know that.

I hope that helps! See, even I have opinions to share! :slight_smile: Good luck, and I’m happy to discuss further or if you want to vent, feel free. I definitely get where you’re coming from. The medical field makes me the most frustrated but everyday people do as well.