Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Tips for Keeping Patience


#1

Hello! I am new to all of this, I have just gotten home from what can only be described as a disastrous interaction with my ex-husband, and father of my children, who is a unmedicated bi-polar schizophrenic. I am at my wit’s end, and don’t feel that there is anyone in my life who I can really talk to, who can listen with any kind of objectivity… my ex-husband and I have been divorced since 2014… I left him, back then, not due to his mental illness, but due to his drug addiction. He’s been on hard drugs since he was 11 (now 36) and I’m sure that that is a contributing factor to what happened to him. He was diagnosed as schizophrenic the next year. His family will have nothing to do with him, and despite feeling a lot of anger and resentment towards him, I have come to see, over the past few years, that the problem is deeper than, as his father puts it, him just needing to pull himself up by his bootstraps. He is in and out of prison, and I admit its a relief, when he is in prison, because I know that he is getting fed, and that he won’t freeze to death, etc… he has deteriorated pretty bad in the past year, refusing to take his medication, having full conversations with nonexistent people, continuous tics and gestures, very paranoid, accusing random passersby of whispering that they are jealous of him, that they are watching him, going to kill him. When I can afford it, I try to help him, getting him hotel rooms, paying for cell phones that he continuously loses, and so on and so forth… my family and friends just see this as my own enabling of a drug addict, there isn’t a lot of understanding about the mental illness factor, they just put it down to him being on drugs, despite my continuous explaining that I have picked him up from hospitals and jails, from the DOOR, knowing he hasn’t had time to drink or take anything, and he acts the same way… I try to explain that they wouldn’t expect me to cut him off if he had cancer, or had lost his legs… but because there is so much stigma around mental illness, and this belief that he “ought to do the right thing”… I feel like I am the only one around him who can see that it’s no longer a choice for him… But in truth, I can’t blame them, because despite having this knowledge myself, I can last about 20 minutes in his company before I lose my patience… And that is what happened today. We were in Walmart, trying to get him a phone. I paid $80, for the phone, and the plan, and he started screaming as we left, saying he didn’t need the plan, that he didn’t talk to people, that we needed to return it, and get him a google play card instead, and everybody is staring at us, and it was just… humiliating! And then, I snapped, which hardly made anything better. I told him he could put it in the trash for all I cared, that I was done trying to help him, and left. I raged all the way home, swearing that I’d never talk to him again, and honestly, it would be easier if I could hold on to that anger, I feel like, but once the anger fades, as it has now done, I just see his face, looking so lost, and knowing he doesn’t have a chance to make it in this world, and it tears me up inside. I’m so afraid that our kids will inherit the disease, and I don’t know if the world is right, that I am enabling him, or if that is just an excuse that people tell themselves so they don’t have to worry about it. To make a long story short, I wanted a space to tell my story, and I felt like the people on here may have some insight into ways that THEY remain calm, when faced with impossible situations like this. Thanks for reading.


#2

Hello, and welcome to the forum. I do understand your situation, your worries, and how you need help sometimes staying calm (as I do). My daughter, ill for 3 years now, was been kicked out of WalMart by the manager, for her behavior, while I was there with her. I understand. I have dealt with the police over 40 times because of her illness. There have been many times in the past when I could barely keep a lid on my anger, and there have been many times when I exploded. Do not be too hard on yourself. My experience has been that untreated psychosis is nerve-wracking for the care-giver, and not tolerated at all by most friends and relatives. Yet, it is very hard to not give your utmost in trying to help a loved one, often with self-detriment as a result. I handle myself by trying to get more sleep, nutrition, and being good to myself with treats and outings like dinners with the friends who understand. I feel blessed that police, courts and involuntary holds led to her recent medication, and good recovery. It was from information on this site and NAMI that I learned how to navigate the unmedicated to medicated route.

My suggestion is to come here often, read a lot, post if you want, or just read. There are so many here who understand what you are going through and who can offer ideas and support.


#3

Thank you for your kind words! Those are all great suggestions, and I am really grateful to have stumbled upon this site. I never had hope that his life could be anything other than it is right now, and this site is a gold mine of information… I’ll keep coming back!


#4

I do understand. When I was at my lowest is when the best solution happened for my daughter. I would never have believed it. I had no hope left. However, all the interactions that occurred the prior 2.5 years added up to my ability to make decisions in the moment that led to a miracle for us.

It is good that you found this site. It has helped so very many people to come here. I check in everyday, it is such good support for me.


#5

Hi PD,

This is my first time responding to a comment after lurking for years. LOL.

I felt so much of a connection with what you were saying. I have been yelled at in public by my husband and know that feeling very well. I am dealing with a current husband who is schizoaffective, unmedicated and homeless, thousands of miles away. I have been to AlAnon and therapy to try and find ways to cope and no one has been able to help me. I am without a car, not in good financial circumstances and not able to travel to the one NAMI meeting that happens where I live. I, also, have paid for his phone bill and hotels just so that he could communicate with others and wouldn’t be cold and wet while homeless. My only remaining family member does not understand and does not want to understand anything about mentally ill people and neither do any of my friends or colleagues. I receive constant negative remarks about my husband and how I should let him go.

I have also wrestled with the idea of letting him go, just not answering the phone or emails, but there is a human being to consider, one who suffers greatly. I cannot blame him for the verbal and emotional abuse or how he can’t hold onto any money. The disease is strong.

At times I have suffered terribly. I still suffer because we are so far away from each other and I worry that he will disappear and that something tragic will happen to him.

I also worry about his child from a previous marriage and grandchildren and their potentially inheriting the disease.

How do I cope? I throw myself into work. I keep myself as healthy as possible, breathe consciously and take a lot of long walks. I read about the disease and read whatever self-help material I think might be helpful. I concentrate on the positive and when I am able to talk with him on the phone, I don’t talk about my worries or concerns, only the positive things. I don’t ask “How are you?” because that is a trigger. I just start talking about anything positive that I can. It isn’t easy. Please take care of yourself first. Like the instructions on an airplane, we need to take care of ourselves first before we can help others. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.