Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

You have to be forgiving

my son has caused me heartache over the years…he has paranoid schizophrenia…he has been a nightmare to live with…he has caused countless arguments and aggression…hehas spat in my face…he has lived the life of a “bum”, sleeping in homeless shelters…he last had a job when he was 20, but quit that due to mental ill health

he has splintered relationships in our family and has put a strain on our marriage…

but I have to forgive him…he didn’t ask for this illness…

he eventually found the right med combo and has been stable for th elast 7 years…our relationship has improved greatly

for the rest of you, remember sz is an awful illness that our kids never asked for, but forgiveness helps heal

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@cara, When my son’s beliefs and delusions get to be too much, I’ve allowed myself to step away from it all, for 1 day, 2 days, maybe even a week. This is something I’ve never done before, but it’s working for both of us. I just need to “recharge” and “reset” myself. Day to day tediousness of being a caretaker is just too much. I also notice “when I come back”, he is more receptive to a more normal conversation.

This job takes and drains any energy you may have, and we must have the patience of a saint and wear a shield of armor at all times for whatever may come at us on a given day. We always have to expect the worst, and hope for something decent.

I’m so happy your son has been well for 7 years. I really hope my son “settles” a bit more as he gets older.

And for mothers (and fathers, husbands, wives, brothers and sisters) out there who have been doing this for 10, 20, 30+ years, (being the sole caretaker), you’re amazing!

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Yes, we need to see the person first, and not the illness. The illness is NOT the person!

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Yes, there’s a certain extra special forgiveness required on all sides. Unfortunately people with SMI can be so preoccupied with their illnesses they can lack the patience and awareness to forgive, or thank others for their kindness.

I remember hanging around the nurses station and fellow patients were being rude and demanding this and that from the nurses. Often once they got what they wanted, they would walk off without a thank you, and I would often thank the nurses on their behalf. I think this surprised them a bit, but I was raised to have good manners and at least for me they are important.

Certainly my life is more complicated because many folks don’t do as well as I do, or go unmedicated, or in rare cases are violent. The resulting stigma affects me more directly than most caregivers, but knowing what it’s like to have the illness, I know it isn’t their fault and I must forgive.

I‘ve also learned to forgive myself over the years. When you recover you look back on mistakes you’ve made and sacrifices caregivers made toward your recovery and how it impacted their lives and you can’t help but feel guilty. And trying to sort out what part of it was the disease and what part was your own failings is daunting and can paralyze you. Or you might remember times when a caregiver unknowingly said or did something unhelpful at times and it can rankle. The way I reconcile such things is to forgive myself and others and realize most of the time people are doing the best they can under the circumstances.

When you face the world with a forgiving attitude, things get easier and you become grateful. And you tend to replace the negative voices with positive voices or ignore them altogether and start engaging with people that now seem less threatening. Forgiveness has a healing property and perhaps if you model this habit for people under your care, it will rub off and aid recovery.

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