Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Ups and Downs and hopefully Ups Again

For those of you who have read my past posts about my sza sister that I try to stay connected with, this is my bump in the road today.

I had a total meltdown yesterday at her house and today on the phone with her. I work very hard to never do that and I guess sometimes it feels impossible to contain the bomb of emotions I suppress when I’m with her.

I try to implement what I learn from therapy, breathing and visualizing and focusing on the positive, yesterday and this morning it felt like a runaway cart careening down a steep hill.

It started because I broke my own rule and I went into her kitchen, I promised myself I wouldn’t but she mentioned a pan she had that the lid was broken and I was trying to fix it and one thing lead to another and I did the unthinkable and looked in her fridge and freezer and the amount of spoiled and improperly stored food just blew me away. In years gone by the first thing I would do is purge her kitchen because it was always full of rotten, outdated things that she would say, oh that’s still perfectly good! Anyway always a source of contention. I vowed not to do it this go around with her and yet I did.

I threw out an entire garbage can of bad food out of her freezer before she stopped me at the produce bins at the bottom. She keeps repeating over and over again how everything is fine, she’s fine, she plans to do this, she plans to do that, she just can’t do anything right now because she is soooooo busy cleaning… Cleaning, cleaning!!

She says this at least 3 dozen times every time I see her. Her apartment is never really clean, there’s no evidence she does anything other than sleep and rearrange small random items, and “cook” mystery meals that smell truly horrible.
On a typical visit, I smile, hug her, tell her repeatedly how much I love her and I’m here for her and mentally control my reactions, facial expressions and responses to everything she says, just nodding and smiling and keeping very quiet.
Yesterday, I unexpectedly imploded or exploded or both, I believe I was triggered very profoundly.

We did manage to end that visit peacefully as I apologized even though I had nothing really to apologize for except being a human being with feelings and I encouraged her to call me today as I felt like I would be “over it” by today. She surprisingly called me before I even woke up and I answered the phone kind of automatically, my big mistake!

I should never do that, talk on the phone especially to my sister when I’m half asleep.

She went right into a caffeine fueled monologue of how her fridge was so perfect now and everything is clean and perfect and she’s going to do this and that and on and on, but she has no time or money right now because she has to Clean, and pray and clean and smoke pot. I have no problem with anyone praying, trust me I don’t. She talks about praying like it’s an Olympic sport, that takes ever minute of every day and leaves her tired and exhausted and she would deny that but that’s how she is. She talks so fast, so much and with so much repetition that it starts to sound like a loud hum in my head after awhile but it’s maddening to me.

All of it except the pot smoking feels very delusional to me. I see where she lives and how she lives and I see her very realty. She seems oblivious to it and yet I feel like somewhere deep down she has a buried clue.

I understand she’s ill and unmedicated and she is unwilling to get help or listen to any advice.
I still love her though, for reasons I don’t even understand right now. I want better for her so badly it pains me.

I burst into tears on the phone with her this morning, it felt like the dam in my brain just burst. I couldn’t stop it. That type of reaction is damaging to people like her or my son and I am usually very good at controlling it. The last time this happened was probably 5 years ago. I just had no control at that moment. Through my tears I just tried to say give me time please can we talk on another day.

She said okay and hung up but that might or might not be the last time I hear from her. I never know for sure.
My hope by sharing my story today is that I can shake off these bad couple incidents off just enough to try enjoy this rare sunny and warmer winter day with my son, who is still doing very well. I’m so grateful.

For the most part I am exceptionally strong and resilient, this is a true fact, it is also a true fact that I am only one unprocessed stressful trigger away from a emotional tsunami. It’s a hard pill to swallow.

Thank you.

5 Likes

Catherine, I know all to well the scenario of rotten food laying around my sons apt and him not allowing anyone to help him. It was a matter of time; him admitting he could not do it on his own; a reward system and a team of people for him to allow people to come and clean and it is working so far.

You are right that it is not good to have meltdowns with the ill person because it is just an added stressor for them and is a losing situation for you both but I know how overwhelming it can be. Sounds like you need to take a break from going to her apt. I would have my son visit me instead of going to his place and we did not talk about his mess.

You need help with helping your sister. It’s too much to do by yourself. Do you have a therapist who could give you some suggestions? Is there a support group for family members close to you that you can attend to see if some kind of resource in your area would be available to your sister?

Wishing you the best.

2 Likes

Yes, I see a therapist regularly.

She would also probably say, take a break.

I’ve tried for years to get my sister to accept a case worker, a home health aide, even just to go to her family doctor and she will refuse to answer the door or just not cooperate or cancel appointments we make after they’re made.

I only was visiting her once a month and this was the 2nd visit this month.
I crossed boundaries I set for myself. I see my therapist next week. I’m taking a break and regrouping.
I’ve been told over the years that my sister needs a guardian and her doctor once asked me to try to get guardianship for her and I told him I’m guardian for my son and that’s all I can do.

She is so uncooperative, there’s little else I can do.

Thanks for your kind words.

that is about all my wife does, older now 57, she is not as violent, I cook and clean after her every weekday and night, she can boil eggs and make toast

good, that part brothers me the most, wondering if she still realizes how fucked up she is…

2 Likes

Oh @Catherine, please try to forgive yourself! As you know in your head (but not in your heart), you are a human being just like your sister, with wants/needs of your own.

Yes, she is the more vulnerable and less capable of the two of you, which does put an extra layer of responsibility on you to manage the relationship, as she just does not have the ability to do this. But you can only do what you can do and with your son to care for, you are stretched thin at the best of times.

You are doing your best and it’s OK that you were not able to hold it all inside. Your sister is fortunate to have you in her life and I think at some level, she probably knows this.

If she doesn’t call or what contact for a while, maybe try to see it as her way of trying to give you the space you need rather than as a sign that you did her harm? And let her give you the gift of space.

So much of how we feel is the stories we tell ourselves. And those stories are so often self-critical and even punitive. I think the more you are able to let go of the guilt over having a normal human response, the better you’ll feel about yourself and your sister.

Hugs

2 Likes

Catherine, so sorry that she refuses all of the caring and attempts to help her. It’s the hardest part about someone who needs help but is not capable of accepting it. It’s exhausting. You deserve to take a break and give yourself some “me” time now.

I remember a friend who had a father who was a severe alcoholic and we found a service that would go and assess him to see if he could take care of himself and live alone as a senior and we new he could not. So she called and he was then placed in a nursing home. I’m going to post this link for the U.S. for similar situation called self neglect. The person does not have a choice to refuse contact by this person. Not sure if it is in all states or if would apply to your sister but the criteria is listed there.

Self Neglect

Wishing you the best.

1 Like

My sister seems to believe everything is fine. If she really believes that, that might be a blessing.

2 Likes

Hi Catherine,
Don’t beat yourself up about sister’s behavior. I would have cleaned the fridge, too!

You are a good sister to check in twice a month. I am sure she appreciates it, even if she doesn’t show it. I have two younger sisters, and I would do the same if one of them was Ill.

Maybe, eventually, she will warm to the idea of a home aide.

I hope you can take some time to relax and reset your emotions.
:rose:

1 Like

Update to my original post, my sister is back to talking to me but our relationship is unpredictable and chaotic (on her side). I am going to her house tomorrow to drop off a few essentials and “hope” she has enough to make it at home without going out.

I tried my best to explain what was going on and after she said “no! no! no!” about a 100 times meaning that what I was saying was completely wrong. I think I made her understand that our whole state will likely close as of Monday. Several others have already closed (the entire state).

I tried to explain that that means you go nowhere or you can get a misdemeanor. I am pretty sure it’s not registering. Nevertheless I am dropping off a few supplies I know she uses and I will hug her and encourage her to call me and wish her well and then I’m going home and staying isolated with my son as directed. That is that. I wish everyone health and as much sanity as humanly possible in this extremely difficult time.

1 Like

I’m so sorry, @Catherine.

My schizophrenic sister is in Washington state, which of course has been hard hit.

Last we heard, she was in an inpatient facility but trying to legally fight the commitment.

I have no idea if she is in the hospital or on the streets but I’m worried about her well being either way, given the potential for rapid spread of disease in institutional settings.

I’m glad you were able to bring your sister supplies and perhaps her sense of your caring for her will somehow help her to pay some heed to your cautions.

2 Likes

Today was a revelation! She seemed so much more aware today. She also seemed kind of manic too but still somewhat rational. I brought her a couple of bags of groceries and some paper supplies and she was genuinely grateful. Usually you give her something and she’s like “yeah yeah okay whatever” Today she was so happy and thankful and glad to see me and my son. I reveled in the positivity. Her mania made me uneasy but I held my own and stayed calm. Overall we had a good visit and I got to see she is fully stocked for the next 2 weeks and I think she plans to stay in. I am so relieved. :slight_smile:

3 Likes

That is wonderful, @Catherine. I am so very glad that you got some indications of appreciation from your sister and that you can relax a little.

2 Likes