Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Time to test my DBT skills.....for the Holidays


#1

Normally I find Holidays extremely stressful, for me they represent excess tension, ridiculous over the top commercialism, wasteful consumerism, expectation in the face of poverty and so much more (don’t even get me started) BUT my sz son loves Christmas like only a child can love it and he is 32. It is the only time of year I see a real twinkle in his eye and a look of excitement and he fusses over the tree and lights and wants to go do anything Christmas related all season long. So of course I will go along with it for that reason alone… To that end, the only other family member that lives nearby and that I actually care for is my schizo-affective sister, she is 2 years younger than me and in many ways much more ill than my son is…and I have invited her to come to our house for Thanksgiving. We have been estranged for the past 18+ months because we had a messy verbal fallout with each other after I took on the task of trying to get her to get her horribly rotted teeth taken out and get her fitted for new dentures…it took us almost a year from start to finish to get that task completed, it was so hard on both of us and traumatic for her and she gradually got more and more delusional over the course of events…the straw that broke that camels back so to speak was the very day that she picked up her new dentures (April 2015) and she was delusional and upset and it took 40 minutes to drive her home and she screamed as loud as she could in my right ear the entire time that I was a raging–controlling b***h that forced her to get teeth she didn’t even want. and she hated me so much…and that I wasn’t going to control her or force her to do anything…I stayed calm while she screamed obscenities at me the entire trip until I got to her house and then I burst into tears…I had treated her like gold and with kid gloves…and bent over backwards to make sure she was informed and that we went through the process at her snail’s pace…the original teeth she had were green, blue and black and broken and dangerous to her health…now she had beautiful custom fitted dentures and she kept railing and never noticed I was upset and I finally screamed back at her “Get out of my car!!” and she stopped—stunned that I yelled over her…and she tried to back track and I said again, louder, "GET OUT OF MY CAR NOW!: and she did get out and I sped off without a word…and cried the whole drive home…it was a culmination of intense stress over a period of a year with my sza sister on the one hand and my sz son on the other and no mental health care for me…(back then) so now 18 months later…my sis and I have been recently been writing positive letters back and forth, I took the stand of ‘the past is the past’, ‘better to not go there’…and I know she never EVER wears her teeth…I decided that is not my issue to deal with anymore…I just know I still have love for her in my heart (maybe it is love for the memory of her from our youth) I want to have her in my life even if it is only a couple of days a year…and it means a lot to my son to have his aunt there to visit. SO now equipped with my newfound DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) tools and knowing I see my counselor twice a month…I feel like I can keep my emotions in check for a day at a time. If Thanksgiving goes well then she may be here for Christmas too. Otherwise she will not make an effort to visit and she prefers no visitors even though she says otherwise…if you visit without her prior approval which takes a month or more for her to mull over first and set conditions for…she will either not answer the door or she will call the police and report an attempted break in. (no lie she has done it to me) SO i will be on my best behavior, on the one hand for my son who loves the Holidays so much, and on the other hand to try to re-connect somehow positively with my sister and maybe ensure that we can continue to communicate (such as it is) for years to come…Wish me luck.


#2

Good luck. I haven’t celebrated a holiday in years with anyone, one of the reasons being my dysfunctional family and how difficult it is to have a peaceful day with them. Fiancé’s in the hospital, so it’ll be another holiday to go by uncelebrated and spent alone.


#3

Catherine, you can do it! It’s also good to know you are human. I believe love conquers all. Prayers help immensely too!


#4

@Mom2 Thank you, I agree. @Doctor I am sorry you can’t spend the holiday with your fiance, Just know good thoughts and wishes will be sent your way all through the season and all year long.


#5

Thank you and likewise. :heart:


#6

I hope you will be very gentle with yourself in all of this, kind to yourself.


#7

I hope all goes well for you and your thanks giving (& Christmas) OP.
I’m sure your sister has some remorse about her behavior. It’s kind you are inviting her over. I am sure it will go well.

@Doctor
sorry to hear that. If anything make sure he does stay there for awhile & gets full benefit of the tx. I feel like the first time my SO was hospitalized I rushed the process. xoxo


#8

@lmc thank you so much


#9

Doctor, Sorry to hear that you will be spending the holidays alone. Our son was in the hospital last year for Christmas Eve but we went to my sisters anyway to celebrate. It was tough but better than being alone. Then for Christmas my husband and I invited some bachelor
Friends who would otherwise celebrate alone and it was really wonderful. They were VERY appreciative of the good food. Holidays are such a hard time for a lot of people.


#10

It’s okay, thank you. It’s not the first time he’s been hospitalized, but it’s the first time that he’s been hospitalized while with me and I feel bad that I wasn’t there at the particular moment where he had the panic attack.


#11

It’s okay. I don’t really have any friends either. I think I’ll just stay home watching movies or maybe bake.


#12

I can certainly relate to your frustration Catherine. My daughter is schizo-affective and getting worse. As for the holidays – me, my daughter and two small grandchildren will go to a restaurant for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I’ve cooked holiday dinners since I was 18 years old and now being a senior in my late 60’s I’ve had enough. Two years ago I stopped cooking these huge holiday meals. It’s just no fun – too much work and not enough time to enjoy the meal and family.

Also the kids love going to a restaurant on Thanksgiving and we will probably go to a movie theater afterwards. This new tradition has been so positive for all of us and I don’t feel guilty one bit. I no longer have anything to proof to anyone. I highly recommend it. If I was going to do it at home I’ve found an inexpensive place where I can order everything fully prepared.


#13

I understand @Molly and that sounds like a great tradition (hadn’t thought of the movie) But I make no fuss over dinner at all, the most effort I make is baking a small turkey breast and a store bought pumpkin pie…we have done the restaurant thing in years past but I find my sza sister gets so anxious at a restaurant she can barely eat. I took her out for her birthday a couple of years ago and it was full of angst and stress, she lives as a shut in and very isolated (by choice) and fights all attempts to get her ‘out of her shell’, so I underestimated how rusty her social skills were-she can get very loud and disruptive. I won’t likely do that again. These days the holiday doesn’t seem to even be focused on food anyway, as it was in years gone by, but more on just being able to talk peacefully and share stories and maybe some laughs and be together.


#14

You can do this @Catherine. Don’t push yourself to do more than you want. Enjoy little things without feeling the need to do more than you are comfortable with.

I am approaching the holidays from a very different place than we have been the last several years. This has been the first year on clozaril, and there have been no hospitalizations since starting, and few bad interactions. Typically, my son gets very geared up about the holidays - with his birthday falling near Christmas, by this time, he is usually presenting myself and his dad long lists of things he wants. This year I haven’t heard a peep. I hung a wreath on his door last year, and he demanded I take it down, but I might try again this year.

The one ongoing sadness is that my son and my husband are mutually intolerant of each other, which makes holidays a little sad for me.


#15

My daughter can be the same as your sister when it comes to being in a public place. She too can get very distressed and confused but for some reason going to this one particular restaurant and a movie theater seems okay for her. Crossing my fingers it will be same this year. :slight_smile::slight_smile:


#16

@Vallpen I am so sorry that your husband and son are intolerant of each other, is it possible to tell your husband quietly how that affects your heart? Would he be compassionate for you about the subject and try to be more tolerant over the holiday season at least? Surely he knows that the “tolerance” (which needs to be a part of understanding) is up to him and not so much up to your son, and maybe your son would positively respond to more tolerance if it happened that way…I don’t know anything for sure, I am just throwing things out there…I am sure you have tried everything you can. I hope your Holiday is a happy one this year. I am feeling positive about mine. Thank you for your compassion.


#17

@Molly I hope your Holiday is a happy one. :slight_smile:


#18

My family member with sz, unless in a serious episode, is my favorite family member to be around during the holidays (and any other day really). Along with my living parent.

Most so-called normal people in my family are demanding without making specific requests when asked what they would like, unhappy with everything I do and super critical after claiming they don’t care what happens, passive-aggressive…

Last year I spent the day making an entire Thanksgiving dinner for just me and family member with sz. It was a nice, peaceful day and dinner was enjoyable.

I hope everyone has fantastic holidays and no one should ever feel guilty for not cooking or not doing something traditional. Holidays are about being together.


#19

@Hereandhere You are a 100% right and that is why my holiday is my son and my sister and myself…Happy Thanksgiving :slight_smile:


#20

Overall the Thanksgiving Day today was okay because I know it could have been a whole lot worse. My sza sister came early and planned to stay 8 hours. I left the arrangements entirely up to her so that was my fault. I was glad she made it so I could see she was still alive and moderately healthy (at least physically) and we got a hug in and I sent her home with a feast as I know she has very little food in her house if any. So, with gratitude I survived 8 hours of non stop histrionic, repetitive, circular one sided talking…she talked at me for 8 solid hours and I only got a break when she went outside to smoke with my son and each cigarette took about 15 minutes or so while she continued the one sided talking at my son and then once back in the house it returned back to me again. No matter how many times I attempted to offer up some newsworthy tidbit about my life (to share in the talking) she would immediately turn it into something about her and never even acknowledge that I had just said something about myself.

It was hard to keep my emotions in check, but I think I did very well. I just gave up and embraced “radical acceptance” as taught in my DBT classes. She also cried about 15 minutes of every hour apologizing the whole time and reciting some atrocity from her past as the reason. I tried to distract her with music, all kinds, even her beloved gospel, and she would just talk louder. Then I turned on a Disney special because over the years she has always maintained she loves all things Disney. So I tried that and she would not watch it or stop talking for even a minute.

She told me at one point she wanted me to come over and talk to her landlord about how loud he neighbor is every night and that his music keeps her awake all night. I told her that I empathized with her situation and I hoped she would ask her landlord to handle that for her. I added that I was not able to do that for her because I have enough of my own to take care of but I would love to know how it all turns out. (In the past I would attempt to solve all of her problems and I would very quickly burn out and have a melt down myself because I already care for my sz son and myself full time. Then her Mainstream bus was late picking her up and she panicked. I tried to calm her down and advised that she call dispatch and she said she was too tired to call dispatch and so I said " well, let’s just hope they show up then" Then she said, “why don’t you call them and find out why their late?” and I said, " I am also tired and it is not my bus" She finally called and no one answered, but the bus arrived 10 minutes later so it all worked out.

She also mentioned at least a half a dozen times that it would be easier and cheaper for her if I picked her up and dropped her off in the future and we did that before and I cannot drive safely with constant histrionic repetitive yammering in my ear,… I just can’t think or focus. I have attention issues anyway and I really need to have moderate quiet to drive safely. I did not say this again to her, instead I said, “Driving is not easier or cheaper for me and I have to be responsible for me and you should be responsible for you.” She said " well how will I know if I should come over for 8 hours or 4 hours next time?" I said, “You can call my cell and discuss it with me” then she said, "But I want to use my home phone not my cell phone, (she hates her cell phone)…so I said, “You can call my cell phone from your home phone” and she said so surprised.“Really? I always thought you can only call cell phones from cell phones” (smh)

I am so exhausted I can hardly stay awake. Somehow I am still okay with the day in spite of the challenges. I proved I could maintain my emotions and stay calm and my sister could have been a whole lot worse and has been on many occasions. It never ceases to amaze me how she maintains her life with so much isolation, low cognition and low self awareness and denial of her mental health issues. She has done it for many years and now I am at a point where I don’t think I can presume to change her life for her. It is what it is. I still love her and welcome her to spend Holidays with me no matter how lonely I am when she is here. I hope everyone’s Thanksgiving was a peaceful one.