Unmedicated, hostile szo sister living with our parents & Mom has stage 4 cancer

My sister (31) has been living with my parents on and off for the last 10+ years (I’m 34 and have been out of the house since I went away to college). My mom and I are very close, but my sister is the one issue that has caused friction in our relationship. My parents are enablers because it’s easier than confronting the real issue. In the earlier stages before she was diagnosed I warned my mom that our situation would just get worse if they kept supplying her with alcohol, weed, money, etc. without addressing the core issues.

Well, here we are and the situation is worse than I could have imagined. My sister was diagnosed with schizophrenia a few years ago, but she hasn’t been consistent with meds and seems to have anosognosia. She’s made my parents’ lives a living hell. She’s totaled 2-3 cars, she has expensive self-medicating habits with cigarettes, alcohol, weed, and she has destructive tantrums not to mention the screaming fits. They pay for it all because she hasn’t been fit to work for the last 2 years. They honestly can’t afford to support her and her addictions.

The really terrible part is last November ('22) my mom was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. She was told she has two years. I know those time frames can be very hit or miss, but we’re over a year into her treatment and it’s not going as well as we hoped. I’m just a wreck with it all. I love my mom so much and have been dealing with the grief of losing who she once was (we used to go to happy hours, shows, go on trips together, a lot of fun bonding experiences) as well as dealing with the anxiety and grief of losing her completely in the near future. I want to spend as much time with her as I can, but she doesn’t have the energy to leave her house (they live 1.5 hours from me) most days, and that’s where my sister is becoming a huge blocker. Not only is she preventing me from visiting, but she’s making my mom’s remaining time just awful.

This past Christmas ('22) was the first time I witnessed her having a psychotic break in-person. (I’ve experienced them from a distance before when she’s had paranoia episodes thinking the mob was out to kill her and her family.) This time she was hallucinating demons and physically fighting them and stomping on them. She even assaulted me to try to get my glasses off my face after I told her she couldn’t have them because I need them to see. My partner told me he won’t go anywhere near her after that experience and I, of course, respect his boundaries, but it just makes me feel that much more alone.

I just want my mom to have a nice, relaxing life with what she has left and I want to spend that time with her. I also know this will still be a big problem once she passes. My dad is 72 and equally as clueless about knowing what to do. My sister won’t take her meds and won’t get help. He’s not going to be around forever and I know I’ll be the one who has to deal with her. I feel guilty because I’m already preparing myself for the lifelong guilt of abandoning my sister once both my parents pass. I should have started this search for help and advice ages ago, but I can’t change that now. I’ve reached out to therapists and am waiting to hear back and signed up for a support group. I’m also going to check out the book “I Am Not Sick I Don’t Need Help!” that I’ve seen recommended in other threads.

Anyway, I’m struggling with it all. It’s a lot to deal with while still trying to live a normal life and it’s been consuming my thoughts and affecting my mood more and more. Thanks for listening.

1 Like

What if you moved your parents out of their house to an apartment closer to where you live? The reason being is because you want to live closer to them to assist your mother.
That simplifies the problem a little bit by separating them.
You also might talk to your father about setting up a living trust for your parents and a special needs trust for your sister. That would make it easier to sell the house if they pass away and to fund your sister’s trust with her part of their estate.

If she can’t work and is having psychotic episodes, she is clearly eligible for SSDI or SSI. You’d have to get that started also. I don’t know much about this, but I think many on this message board do. The special needs trust would shield whatever assets she has from counting them against government benefits. You might try to have a discussion with her about what her plans are for when your parents pass away.

I’m sorry there is so much on your plate, but it would be just as hard to walk away from it if you could.


Hi. Another sibling here, offering commiseration. It’s so rough. Your sister attacking you must have been awful. Glad you have a partner that wants to shield you from that, but it’s complicated isn’t it? How very heartbreaking to be losing your mother, too. I can relate. I have a brother with schizophrenia. My dad died last spring. My mom is fading.

You’ve found a good forum for both solace and information here. Looking into SSDI or SSI for your sister, as well as setting up a special needs trust for the future like caregiver1 suggests, if possible, seems pertinent. Do you have a local NAMI? They or your state NAMI can help with information on how to look into that.

I have found since assuming more responsibility for my brother over the past ten years that, while serious mental illness is a dark place, the community of people trying to deal with it are often among the warmest hearts one could ask for. I hope that proves the same for you. It balances out the hardship.

Sending you my best wishes for some peace.


Oh @awshooks what a situation! I understand that it is consuming your thoughts. You have several problems all wrapped up into one big ball and no easy solution to any of them. I feel especially bad that you can’t see your mother as you wish, I was lucky that my breast cancer last year was not terminal, and I truly understand how bad treatment can make a person feel. Perhaps @caregiver1 has the best solution: for your parents to move closer to you and leave your sister on her own but that may not be possible for your family. I have no real suggestions, just wanted to offer cyber-hugs and hope. My own situation looked hopeless when I was caring for my daughter through her illness, but somehow step by step the situation solved. I hope you can somehow solve yours.


Thanks for sharing. So sorry that you are going through all of this.
Once a friend mentioned that we are all grieving for a life that we could have… you are not alone. It is critical to reach out for help for yourself for all aspects of your health since this will be the only way that you can be helpful for your loved ones especially your mother. Take care of yourself.


Thanks for all of your kind words. I’m glad to have found this community and look forward to getting to know y’all better. I’ll look into the SSDI/SSI and special needs trust for my sister. I have a NAMI group session scheduled for next week so will hopefully come away from that with more helpful info.

Unfortunately, my parents won’t move out of that house. They’ve lived there for 40 years or so and don’t have the means (nor energy) to uproot at this stage in their life. My mom doesn’t trust my sister to live alone right now, and she has a history of damaging property. Hopefully moving my sister out becomes more of an option after we figure out the trust and disability stuff.

Thanks again for all of the helpful suggestions.