My half-sister, whose father was severely Schizophranic, is now pushing her mid twenties. I believe she is showing signs of taking after her father. She knows the risk is there, but I am still reluctant to approach her. She lives in Colorado, a rash and sudden decision to move there, she doesn’t know any one, and I live in Georgia. I do want to approach her with this, but not until I have a plan. Options for her. If I just tell her I think she’s starting to take after her father, with out options, she may panic and do something stupid. I just don’t know where to start…
Hi @mistyr and welcome to this forum. I am glad you found it, and you can learn an awful lot by reading here. Learn to use the forum and read, there is a wealth of information.
My first advice to you is you are correct. Telling her that you think she is perhaps suffering with a mental illness may not be the correct way to approach this. You must educate yourself first, and that way you can avoid emotional upset for her and for you. Telling someone they are acting strange is almost a sure way to get them mad at you. It is very hard for most people with mental illness to see that they are ill. Most assume they are not ill at all, it is something “real” in the environment forcing their actions… Anosognosia is the name for lack of insight, and if I had known about just that one fact, the whole first year of my daughter’s illness would have been different, as I antagonized her (unhelpfully) over and over by trying to get her to see her weird behavior.
If you read here on this site, a lot, you will learn quite a bit.
If you read Dr. Amador’s “I’m Not Sick, I Don’t Need Help” you will learn about LEAP. The first step of LEAP is L for listen.
So, I suggest for your first step, you call her as often as you can and just try to get her to talk to you. Tell her you love her, and try to make yourself a “safe” person in her mind. One day she may open up. My first breakthrough with my daughter was simply getting her to open her door and talk to me when I knocked. It took repeated attempts before she would do that. Each night I knocked, asked her to open the door, and finally one night, she did (instead of talking to me through the door).
You must learn as much as you can for your first step. And try to get her to open up to you for her first step.
She is aware that her father was SZ and that she could develope it. She asked me about a year ago if I thought she was, and I said no. I hadn’t seen in her a few years, and she appeared to be stable. Over the last year she has left her husband and son, rushed a divorce through, and moved to Colorado. Where she knows no one but the person she blames for all her abuse. Now she lives with some guy, who from rumors, isn’t treating her very well.
We are 19 years apart, we are very close, but have spent more than half her life estranged.
My plan is to try to get her to move to Massachusetts. I hear that Boston has a good program, and she has family up there. I’m really worried about her. She Knows she needs treatment, but she thinks it for depression. She had electro shock treatments a couple years ago. I think they made things escalate.
Well at least some insight is better than none. She is aware of her father’s problem, but unaware of her own… that is a starting place. Personally, I think just using LEAP with her will help you develop a plan to help her. Listening and empathizing are the first two steps, after that is agreement and partnership on the treatment plan. I think you should read that book, as what you plan and what she wants seem worlds apart right now. Simple steps one at a time will help you both to prevent emotional losses. In my opinion, daily medication seems to be the best handling for severe mental illness. If she will medicate. If she won’t, seeing a therapist is a start. I’ve never heard of ECT as a first step in treatment. I know nothing about its effects and would be worried if that is what a psychiatrist wanted for my daughter prior to any regular medication. That is just my opinion, and you are welcome to disagree. I wish you the best, it is really, really good that you care. It sounds like she needs someone who cares, especially if she is now in a bad relationship. Perhaps letting her know that if she wants out of that relationship, she is welcome to come to your town would be a good first step. It will be easier to help her if she is closeby.