Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Younger sister may have schizophrenia. Need Advice

Hi everyone,

I just found this forum. Schizophrenia runs in my family. My mother’s grandmother had it. I experienced symptoms when I used to smoke weed, and still experience some delusions, but am able to label them as such and have not smoked in years.

I really need some advice. We think my little sister (20) is showing signs of schizophrenia or bipolar. This started a while ago with little things, but it’s gotten much more severe since a close friend of hers killed himself a few months back. She thinks people are trying to kill her, thinks someone hypnotized her into sharing the social security numbers of our family, stuff like that. There’s not much overlap between her delusions and mine to my knowledge, but I really don’t know because my family hasn’t been telling me everything. My delusions were religious, and I haven’t heard anything about that with her. She did acid a few times years back (which scared the hell out of me because of my experience with just weed), which I think may have contributed to her symptoms.

She’s seeing a psychiatrist for generalized anxiety disorder, OCD and ADHD, but I’m worried he doesn’t understand how much help she really needs. My sister has been diagnosed with borderline by her therapist, but her psychiatrist is denying she could have it, which makes me worry he’s not going to take this as seriously either. She also has an eating disorder. She has an appointment with her psychiatrist to be put on antipsychotics, but I’m worried something will happen before then. I’m also scared she’ll be unhappy on meds.

She just got pulled out of school. She doesn’t want treatment, and wants to go back to school. My parents don’t want to hospitalize her until they have exhausted all other options. I’m really scared she could hurt herself if she doesn’t get hospitalized. She has been self-harming, and threatening to kill herself.

I’m so scared for her. I wish there were people who would understand. I want to go to a support group for families, but I am nervous to share my delusions as part of my story with a group of family members, and am not interested in joining a group for people with psychosis as it isn’t the real issue for me right now. At the same time, it’s also kind of triggering for me to hear about other people’s delusions, as although mine aren’t active, they still linger in the back of my mind. And I’m scared to think too much about myself, because I’m not suffering nearly as much as she is.

I’m seeing a therapist individually once a week, but I also want to talk to people with real experience. Does anyone else here have some symptoms themselves and also a family member with schizophrenia? Any advice for someone scared for their little sister?

actually I do remember thinking my partner at the time was going to kill me one day, so there must be more overlap that I’m not fully recalling.

Stress and drugs like marijuana are both strong potential triggers - so you both need to be careful. Your sister sounds like she’s getting a lot of help which is great. Don’t worry to much - your sister is being helped by experts and you can’t spend all your time questioning the experts - give them a little time and see what types of results they get. Can you share your experiences at least with your parents - not to stress them out too, but to alert them to risks your sister might have?

Please do talk to your parents right away and make sure they know what threats your little sister has made and what actions she has taken in the past. Her doctor should also be informed. Sometimes you have to tell someone more than once before they understand the seriousness of a situation. It bears repeating each and every time if she is threatening self harm. Sometimes involuntary holds are necessary to help someone threatening their own life.

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You’re right, I’m trying to reassure myself that she is getting so much help right now. My parents do know about my delusions, and i have been sharing specifics with them recently so they have full context. They are also much more in the know about her delusions and actions than I am. Thankfully her friends have been in contact with my mom filling in the blanks for her, and she has been pretty open with my mom. Thank you so much for you’re response!

My parents know, thankfully! I am the most out of the loop. Her friends have been in contact with my mom, and she has been opening up periodically as well. She hasn’t threatened me or my parents with it, just her peers, so her friends’ knowledge has been really helpful. Her doctors know as well. But yes, this is the biggest reason why I am worrying it is the wrong decision not to hospitalize her.

Thank you so much for your reply!

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Oh I am so glad that your parents know and that her friends are in contact with your parents too. If everyone close to her keeps an eye on her and keeps your parents informed, I am hoping all will work out well. The problem with trying to get a loved one taken from the home for forced hospitalization is usually that the affected person has to be an active threat to self or others when the authorities are present and with them. (i.e. tell the police/ER staff that they are wanting to die, or want others to die at the moment they are being evaluated.) Take care of yourself too, since you have your own battle going on. As far as a caregiver or family support group, the best free support group and class for family members is at NAMI (in my area). Perhaps there is a NAMI near you?

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Ah yes - find out if there is a NAMI office close to there and you and your family can get involved and educated on how best to help your family member - lots of great resources:

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