Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

To call or not to call?

E has started calling every day from the hospital, usually multiple attempts at once. I have anxiety about unexpected phone calls even under the best of circumstances so I have a long standing habit of keeping my phone on Do Not Disturb. (Plus my sleep tends to rotate around the clock because I have a sleep disorder.)

When I pick up my phone and see I have missed calls (and voicemails from the collect calling operator) my adrenaline spikes through the roof and I can’t calm my anxiety down for a long time. The prospect of having to return those calls also makes me incredibly anxious because the calls never go well. They are always 20 minutes of my sister and I trying to listen, empathize and show E we love them while E switches between paranoia and complaints about the place to being verbally abusive to us, calling us names, asking loaded questions designed to give E an opportunity to berate us and just being generally horrible to interact with. All of which leaves us feeling frustrated and abused and often in tears.

I know it’s the disorder, I know it isn’t truly who E is. But I desperately need a break from this. I can’t take going through this every damn day, being constantly on the verge of a breakdown, feeling this roiling anxiety in my stomach, feeling like whatever tiny hopes I might have found get constantly destroyed… But at the same time I do not want E to feel abandoned. And I know that as difficult as this stress and anxiety are for me it has got to be worse for E, because they are still stuck in paranoia/fight-or-flight and have been for almost two weeks (that we can tell; it may even have been longer).

I don’t know what to do. I feel like no matter what I do there is no right decision and whether I call or don’t call E will take it in the worst possible light. E seems determined to view us as the enemy and yet they keep calling. And then when I gird my loins to call back they seem confused as to why I’m calling. I really don’t know what to do.


I would speak to his doctor as maybe his meds need adjusting , if you don’t call then you will probably feel guilty , i know what you are going through and it is so difficult as you want to be there for him but you get put off by his abuse and hurt. I was in your shoes but now i am in a milder situation . My son takes meds but as soon as he doesnt like to hear things like the word ‘No’ then abuse flies out his mouth . Its terrible !! you need to take one day at a time and see how you feel on the day if you can handle to talk with him .


I suggest setting a fixed time and length to the calls. In situations where I’ve had similar calls from institutions, I found doing this tended to make calls more focused.

Don’t forget you are in control, you don’t have to answer and pay for the calls if you don’t want them or when they are upsetting and unproductive. I’ve witnessed much hand wringing, self doubt, guilt and repeated enabling that my parents did with my brother. They learned from their mistakes with me. I’m self-supporting and independent; my brother is not.


My son has his court hearing on Monday , he is trying to sue his first psychiatrist for injecting a substance (his meds ) that destroyed his body and he believes he can no longer have kids . He has been extremely anxious and angry in the last few weeks trying to get everything he needs for court and getting let down by other doctors who refuse to participate in this . I am anxious and so worried that he will curse and get angry at the judge if he doesnt like what he hears then he may get in trouble again . Im Kind of walking on eggshells right now with my son as he doesnt sound good and gets angry really quickly , i really understand what ‘NeedAnswers’ feels with her son . Does this disease get any better when their brains develope fully at age 26 ?


All I can suggest @NeedAnswers is that you try to relax and use this time while E is in the hospital to find some peace yourself. E is in the best place right now, and should be safe and should be getting help.

Honestly, when my daughter was in the hospital the first and second times, I could barely relax and take care of myself. I remember now how one of the nurses said to me that it would be best if I didn’t call so much, and didn’t visit much as she needed this quiet time for herself and the staff would make sure she was safe. I felt insulted at the time, but it WAS good advice that I followed in later hospitalizations. We set one time a day for phone calls or a visit, and that was it. Sometimes the call or visit didn’t happen either.

Try to find some peace for yourself.


I sympathize and can really identify with this situation. My DD will call multiple times daily, and I never know if it will be a reasonable conversation or an angry tirade. As others have said, you can look after yourself by enforcing limits. Caller ID is a lifesaver, and maybe turn off the ringer if you don’t mind also missing other calls. That saves the Adrenalin spike, and you can talk, only when you are feeling strong enough to deal. As soon as the conversation becomes abusive, end it. The flip side for me are the periods (like now) when she doesn’t call at all! I appreciate the peace, but, of course, worry about what might be going on. I try to run with ‘no news is good news.’