Help for Parents, Caregivers, and Families of Schizophrenics

I have met so many parents who have children (minors and adults) who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia.  I have received e-mails from people who are at a loss as to how to help their family member with schizophrenia.  So many of these people are stressed out and at their wits end…feeling that they have exhausted all options and that there is no longer room for help.  I really empathize with people in this situation.  Having schizophrenia, I know how hard it can be for my own parents to understand how to help me at times.  I know the pain that it causes them to see me when I am psychotic or a danger to myself.  I understand the helplessness they feel.  Therefore, I wrote this for people in this situation…people who do not know how to help their diagnosed loved one any more.  Through my own personal experiences, listening to the opinions of others, and research I have read, I have gained an idea of how parents, caregivers, and families can help.

First, you have to accept that your son or daughter has schizophrenia. We have to do the same thing…accept that we have it as well. Its a huge step. Its a hard step. By accepting it, I not only mean that you have to fully recognize that your son or daughter has this illness, but you have to do so in a specific manner. You have to stop blaming yourselves, your child, the world…whatever you blame. You didn’t give us this disease by raising us poorly. All parents make mistakes just like you did…not all children grow up to have schizophrenia. If your child did drugs and then got the disease, stop blaming them. Drugs cannot cause it. They can help begin psychosis but the underlying disease was already there. Blaming your child (for any reason, not just due to drugs) will only create a shame that they can feel and only anger can fester from that. They need to know you support them, not that you resent them. You also have to stop feeling shame. Your child can sense that as well. Don’t hide the illness from all your friends and loved ones. Don’t feel ashamed of your child. Not only does that ruin the support system of your child, but it ruins your own support system. If you are too ashamed to tell anyone about your child’s illness…how can you get the support that you need?  And don’t fool yourself, you do need support. All of these things, you child is having to do as well. I know that it took me months to accept that I have schizophrenia. It was a hard journey. Now I don’t blame anyone. Now I am not ashamed. I’ll tell anyone who wants to know that I have schizophrenia…just so that I can bust the stigma that people like me are crazy, raving lunatics. Help your child and do the same.

Second, you have to understand what your child is going through. Without understanding, you cannot sympathize with them, you can only pity them. We don’t want pity. To understand, you have to educate yourself. Honestly, if you exclude the brain processes and medications, I think I know almost as much as my psychiatrist does about my disease. You need to get to that same point. Then, you will be able to recognize when your child is experiencing anhedonia (inability to feel pleasure), avolition (inability to initiate or persist in goal directed behavior), alogia (difficulty or inability to speak), or apathy (lack of motivation). You will know how to talk to your child when they are paranoid, delusional, or experiencing hallucinations–there are specific ways to deal with a person experiencing such things. For example, you cannot tell you child, “Oh you’re just paranoid,” or “That isn’t real.” By saying such things, you dismiss what your child is feeling and point out that they are not experiencing what normal people feel. Your child doesn’t want to hear that. Instead, you can approach the situation by asking them why they feel paranoid and if there is anything you can do to help them feel less so. For example, if they think someone has broken into the house, offer to search the house for them and make sure it is safe. If they are hallucinating, ask them what they are experiencing then try to distract them by gently changing the topic. If you can get them talking about something they are interested in, you can often help them ignore the hallucination until it goes away, or at least make it easier for them to ignore. But you cannot do any of this until you understand the process of schizophrenia.

Third, set reasonable goals for your child. Do not expect their symptoms to get better or just go away. Do not expect that they will be able to hold down a job or finish college. Do not expect them to find a partner and get married. Do not expect that they will be able to ignore their symptoms and “will” themselves to do better. They will know that you are doing this and they will feel pressure to meet your goals. Again, this can only drive them away from you. You don’t want your child to feel that they can only let you down. Also, if you quit setting these goals you will experience a sense of relief. No longer can your child let you down. If they do finish college or find a job, you will experience surprise and happiness. If they go into remission and the medicine helps them a great deal, you will be relieved. If you have expectations and these things don’t happen…you will head towards blame, shame, and guilt.  And, when your child is able to make smaller steps towards success, you will be able to value those small steps more than if you were comparing them to the large goals your child has yet to meet.  Making it through a week of difficult college exams can be a huge success for a schizophrenic trying to make it through college.  But if all you are worried about is whether or not they will maintain a high GPA or graduate, you will miss out on the opportunity to celebrate the smaller steps.  Your child needs encouragement and recognition for these successes.  They need to know that you can see the progress they are making no matter what form that progress is in.

Finally, take care of yourself. Your child, even though disabled, does not come first. If you do not place your needs above those of your child, you will never be able to properly care for them. Take a weekend with your spouse, a friend, or just yourself and go do something that you want to do. If you cannot leave your child for that long, take an afternoon. Take a few hours. Read that book you keep meaning to buy. Take a bubble bath and light some aromatic candles. Take an hour to watch your favorite televison show. Go for a walk. Go sit at the local cafe and sip some tea or coffee. Do anything that is relaxing to you and what you desire.

I sincerely hope that at least some of this advice can help someone.  A lot of it applies to other mental illnesses as well…not just schizophrenia.

Category: Schizophrenia
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
42 Responses
  1. annie says:

    hi my name is annie and everything that you have said is the truth. I have a son that lives with me and I am his caregiver he is 25 years old and he has schizophrenia and yes its been a struggle trying to keep him away from drugs and keeping him from bad company and avoiding realaitonships .I don’t always have a hard time keeping him on his meds he knows he needs them what worries me is his life is not going nowhere and I don’t know what to do or if im doing the right thing I don’t know whats going to happen to him when im gone I really leave that in gods looking for someone to tell me what to do or if im doing the right thing he dosnt do anything hes with me where ever I go or whatever I do. but I know he safe and I know what hes doing most of the time. in the past hes been in and out of hosptils and at times I put him in a group home because of drugs and he wouldn’t take his meds but thank god I don’t have that problem anymore.

    • Katherine says:

      Hi Annie.
      I can’t tell you if you are doing the right or wrong thing. I don’t think it is even that black and white. It is obvious that you care about your son very much though. That is wonderful. Schizophrenia is hard on the family just as it is on the person diagnosed with it.
      I can recommend some things. First, two books: “I Am Not Sick, I Don’t Need Help” by Xavier Amador, and “Ben Behind His Voices” by Randye Kaye. The first helps family members to help their loved ones have better insight about their own mental illness. The second is a book about a young man with schizophrenia written by his mother…I think you may be able to relate to that book a lot. Second, if you are not already, I encourage you to seek support from someone in your area and not in the presence of your son. Ideally, I would recommend a therapist…but other people may be able to play the same role. The point would be to have a place you can express your thoughts about your son, and about anything else, and receive empathy, understanding, and a lack of judgement. Third, I encourage you to connect with other parents who have mentally ill adult children. A good place to start looking for this is if you have NAMI support groups in your area.
      As for what your son is doing with his life…I know that can be frustrating because I see the frustration in my own parents. I would encourage you to be supportive of whatever your son wants to do with his life so long as it will not hurt him or others. Also encourage him to understand that he is still capable of doing whatever he wants to do with his life. Even if you believe his diagnosis is holding him back…don’t let him know that. From first hand experience, having loved ones lose faith in your potential is extremely hurtful. Also, help him to begin achieving some independence. This may start with very small steps, but becoming independent enough to support himself even after you are gone can be a very gradual process. Have faith in the process and provide plenty of opportunities for growth. Something that may help him is peer support. There are mental health consumers who have progressed enough in their own recovery to become certified in peer support. They are often employed by mental health providers and aid in the treatment of their peers while serving as a model for recovery. Hopefully your state offers this type of service. I would also look into clubhouses accredited through Clubhouse International. These are centers that provide social support and vocational rehab to mentally ill adults. You can find more information about them at
      This is a lot of information so I will stop here. Feel free to comment with any additional questions or contact me through my blog’s Facebook fan page.

  2. Stephani says:

    The information here has been very helpful and enlightening. My daughter has always been a handful and when she was about 12 years old I really started having difficulty’s with her. Now she is 24 years old and her life just fell apart. She literally hates me and I only want the best for her. No matter what I say or how I say it, I’m wrong, I’m yelling at her, not treating her like an adult, she speaks to me in a way that I wouldn’t speak to anyone, much less my mother. She left home very early, we agreed to a marriage when she was 17 fearing that if we didn’t we would never see her again. She just had her 6 year anniversary. Her husband is in the military and has been deployed leaving her with much responsibility. He returned from deployment this go round and just about two months ago we got a call, he said she left and he was done. He told us that she had a drug addiction and had been unfaithful. For the last two months we have been frantically looking for her. Her husband called us to let us know she was in jail. We found that she was charged with felony possession, 3 counts and decided not to post bail, trying to give her time to come down from whatever she was on. Instead he bailed her out after 4 days. She ran off again and then all of the sudden showed up at home asking if she could move in to get her life straight. Since that time she has dumped her things all over our home, our back yard is covered in junk, I have cockroaches in my house that I have never had and she comes and goes as she pleases leaving us with her 3 cats and two dogs to care for. When I try to talk to her , set any guidelines etc she immediately threatens to leave, tells me this is why I don’t want to be here, because of me and accuses me of not treating her like an adult. Her house has been trashed and was pretty much the drug house you would see on Law and Order. While going through her house trying to salvage anything that might be important to her before they repossessed the home we found a psychiatric report diagnosing her as a paranoid Schizophrenic. The first page of the report was missing but I do have the name of the doctor that made the diagnosis. I had a doctors appointment today and by the time I got back she had taken off again. Her father sits back and says nothing and does nothing. During the first day she was with us she sat down with me and told me that she was ill with this sickness, said she was hearing voices and I noticed that in some of our conversations that day it seemed like there was a third person involved. Her reasoning and speech was very fragmented. As I said, she also has a drug problem. She told me she was through with the drugs and to my knowledge there has been none in my house, however, I don’t know where she is or what she’s doing when she’s gone. I don’t know how to establish living order in my house. My husband and I care for my elderly parents as well and they occupy two bedrooms and a bath in our home. I specifically am having difficulty’s because I seem to be the only parent that is trying to deal with any of this and I myself am disabled. I need to help her, but, don’t have a clue how. Reading this blog I realized just how ill-equipped I am to deal with all of this. I am her trigger and have no idea why, but, I set her off every time I open my mouth. I don’t want to enable her, I don’t want to see her leave to not know how she is doing, I want my home to get back to some level of calm that we all can work with. Don’t even know where to begin especially since she informed me last night that she didn’t want to be here, she was desperate and had no where to go.
    She needs help that I can’t provide. She needs professional help. How do I get her there? How can I get her to understand that going into a 3 day mental health facility to get evaluated and counseled only benefits her and I’m not trying to have her committed. She’s convinced people are out to get her, everyone is talking about her, lot’s of story’s she’s expects us to believe that can’t possibly happen even up to trying to convince us that the picture at the police office is not her, it’s this “girl” that looks just like her that’s out to get her. I guess this has been a really long post.

    A worried and scared mom

  3. Carol says:

    Hi, My sister and I have a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic brother who is 55 years old and still lives with our elderly parents, mom is 88 and dad is 91. He is on SSI and has periodic visits with a mental health facility just to regulate his meds. Our concern is that our parents will not engage us in conversation regarding his future and when we ever try to broach the subject we get rebuffed. They think that because they have specified in their wills that we establish a trust for his benefit that the problem of his future welfare is all set. This is far from the truth. I live 500 miles away in another state and my sister lives in another state also but only two hours away. He has refused a case manager and will not have my sister or myself involved in his life. My parents are content with the status quo and think they will never pass on and leave him. We fear that he will wind up homeless some day. He also refuses to go to a day program…he went once! Do you have any suggestions as to how we can get our parents to realize that they need to work with our brother to plan for his future? He cannot stay in the family home once our parents no longer reside there because of financial reasons and also he cannot drive. Thank you for any recommendations and I site you can provide.

    • Katherine says:

      It seems to me that after your parents pass, your brother will need to live with you or your sister. Or at least in your community…unless one of you are willing to move to where he lives now to help provide for him.

      My suggestion is that since your parents and brother do not want to discuss the future at this point, you and your sister need to prepare for the future on your own. You can do this by researching day programs, group homes, and club houses that your brother could utilize should he move closer to one of you. Be pro-active. Even though your brother has not used these resources in the past, it is still important to have them in your plan.

      I would also suggest continuing to try and discuss this situation with your parents and brother. While they may be in denial now, hopefully they will realize that plans for the future need to be made. Doing some research on your own will also help you better prepare for this future conversation.

  4. Diana says:

    Hello, Please forgive my punctuation I have never been very good at it. I’m a mother of a 17 year old son. My son was diagnosed as Bipolar but I honestly believe it was a wrong diagnosis. I have had my son in and out of mental health hospitals and in Arizona were I live a child can stay no longer than six day’s. My son was popular made amazing grades and full of life had dreams and goal’s. My son cared about his looks and was always popular with the girls. I know in my heart my son is schizophrenic everything I have read fits him to the tee. I try to talk to him and all he does is laugh at me. I try to take him to doctors and he tells them I’m crazy and that I’m lying he wont speak to me and honestly believes that I’m out to get him. In the course of the last six months I have witnessed very odd behaviors he proclaimed to be Jesus he believes he has special powers. It is very obvious he is experiencing audio and visual his eye brows constantly move in different directions but when asked he lies. My son becomes very catatonic for hours at a time just starring. My son sleeps all day until night. His appearance has gone down hill and he does not care. I once asked him if he believed people could read his thoughts and he said yes. The doctors will not give him medication as he admitted to going to parties and drinking and they have said they will not risk their license. At times when he has been given meds he does amazing and I see my beautiful boy once again. I’m begging for advice and help the doctors suggest that I put him in a residential treatment program. I was against it as he convinced me he did not need it. I now feel that If I do not put my son somewhere he is going to die. I do blame myself daily and I also get angry as he can not even pick up a dish that he has made dirty and he is so mean to me. He does not allow me to talk to him or even come near him and every sound bothers him. I know these are both wrong I just know nothing about this besides that he fits every symptom. The help I’m asking is if anyone knows of a place that is good for teens that accepts insurance. The fear I have is that my boy is so gentle and loving I do not want him with violent kids. Is it normal to feel horrible guilt that I’m even thinking of putting him somewhere? I feel like I’m a bad mom I will stand by him through anything and I will raise him until the day I die if I have too.

    • Katherine says:

      I’m sorry that I don’t know a lot about residential treatment programs for teens. Not good ones anyways. Be very very careful if you put him in a program because there is a lot of abuse that can occur in them. I don’t think you should feel guilty about putting him somewhere if you are doing it because you love him and want the best for him. I understand the desperation to get him help and I know you must be scared for him. I know I’ve scared my parents in the past when I was actively psychotic. I hope the best for you and him.

  5. dorothy says:

    Thank you for this information Katherine, I did find it helpful, this illness breaks our heart but what you said makes a lot of sense.
    Sometimes I try to find out what has caused this and blame myself, but we love our son dearly and it has helped to realise I blame myself when really no-one is to blame its a terrible illness that we all need help dealing with.
    I realise I do need help, sometimes I feel overwhelmed by sadness and I also feel for the other parents who have responded.
    I wish you all well and hope one day there will be a real breakthrough to defeat this awful illness.

  6. marion howley says:

    Thank you your advice is very helpful.
    What do you say to your child (33 years old) when you ask what you can do to help and his response is, “Just believe me.” He wants us to believe that his friends, who he has distanced himself from, follow him and drive by the house beeping their horns and laughing at him. ? When I try to tell him that they are not or ask him to tell me when they go by and I will talk to them, it frustrates him. He just tells me I just dont understand. That it is too complicated.

  7. JM says:

    I really appreciate your writing. I’m facing a major crisis with my mother, and it’s helpful to see that some people have managed to find a life-balance with schizophrenia. My mother is undiagnosed, but very likely schizophrenic. My father and I have been financially supporting her for years, thinking that she would be able to maintain herself if she didn’t have to worry about bills, etc.
    She disappeared for about a week last December, and my father asked the sheriff around so that they could force entry into the house. Turns out she’s been living in squalor. She had nearly 40 animals locked in a tiny, filthy, dark house for six days, with no food or access to the outdoors. And the dogs had clearly been starving regularly for a long time before that (she says they all have to fast regularly, since they are all being poisoned so often).
    So she’s not maintaining. She’s getting worse, and she absolutely refuses to get help.
    I can’t have her live with me – we have two small children, and I don’t want them growing up with this sort of anger and paranoia in their lives if I can help it.
    So my father and I decided to basically cut her off financially. We’ve given her six months to go get help, or we’re going to stop sending her money.
    I don’t know what else to do. She’s behaving in ways that make it impossible for us to actually take care of her, and unless we can force her to take steps to get help, we aren’t going to be able to keep this going.
    She’s running up bills we can’t pay, she lost her car when she was hospitalized and didn’t tell anyone until the impound fees were too high to pay – she’s going to end up getting the property condemned…
    We’re trying to force her hand, but I know it won’t work. I know it. But I don’t know what will.
    I don’t expect you do, either. I don’t know why I’m writing all this to you, other than that I suppose I’m desperate to find other solutions, or, at the least, some assurance that I’m not a monster in this.
    I hurt so badly for her.
    Thanks for writing, and thanks for letting people use your comments section to map out their own personal hells. It’s helpful, somehow.

    • Katherine says:

      I’m sorry you must go through this with your mother. I can only imagine the fear that she must live in and the stress you must feel as you try to help her. You might find some help from the book “I’m Not Sick, I Don’t Need Help” by Xavier Amador.

      • JM says:

        I have that book. It is a good one. It helped me come to grips with the idea that her inability to see her symptoms is part of the disease. My anger at her dissipated once I understood that.
        Still – I am now having to try to press her into getting help. If she doesn’t go in voluntarily, there’s nothing I can do. She’s on such a dangerous downward spiral.
        I feel like I have to let her sink farther so that I might be able to force her to get help before it’s too late.
        She is so very miserable, and such a good person. We used to be so close. I know how painful it is for her to have me telling her that she needs help. With all the nightmares she lives with, I think my contribution may be the worst. She feels that she has no one.

    • Dee says:

      JM- I am in the similar situation with my daughter.
      She is 34 and we have supported her totally for
      years. She will not seek treatment and has fooled
      her Dr into DX her with Bi-Polar which sincerely
      is not the case. Not totally anyhow. She does not
      live with us. She was living with some friends of
      hers but they have asked her to move by March 15
      and she has no where to go. No money, no job. Like you
      we don’t know what to do or what is right. I do
      not want her homeless but I can’t keep
      supporting her. She drinks heavily and smokes. My
      husband and I are raising our 6 year old
      Grandaughter and we don’t want her around
      her. We just don’t know how to wash our
      Hands of her and let her sink or swim or if
      doing that is the best thing. We have less than 10
      days till she is on the street. Any thoughts??

  8. jen smith says:

    my son had almost a genious iQ,was very good looking and popular,started doing some drugs in high school,and acting out of control,then began acting paranoid and hullucinating,within a weeks time our family would never be the same again,in a matter of a few days my son lost his ability to communicate properly and was unable to really carry on a conversation,he was hospitalized the report said he had no response to treatment they put him on meds,the meds did nothing at all for him he refuses to take them.i tried to have him in my home it almost put me in the hospital trying to care for him,i pray for him every day i have never felt so much pain in my life what a loss,what a life for him,for the rest of his life,wish they had a cure for this horrible illness,he currently lives on the street,tried to get housing for him,but there is no help my heart breaks every day,for him and the others like him who have been abandoned and shunned from the rest of the world

    • corey says:

      Hang in there. I know what your going through. `My daughter was a heroin addict for 4 years.Then the last year she was using meth with heroin. She became schizophrenic. Packed up all her stuff and left for skid row in los angles from Washington state to be a junky on the streets. I barely got her home alive. I was her best fried and now we dont talk. She thinks i did bad things to her that she wont tell me what they are. I tried to convince her to get help. She thinks i would rather convince her shes psychotic than admit to all my wrong doings. She lives with her mom. Take care

  9. Elliekusa says:


    I was so happy to find your site. MY daughter NEEDS a service dog. She is paranoid schizophrenic and was diagnosed around the same time as you.

    What steps should we take to go about finding a dog and get training.


    • Katherine says:


      I suggest that you look for programs who service dogs then place them with people on the waiting list for that program. Do a lot of research about service dogs…not just what they are, but what it is like to live with them. Service dogs attract a lot of attention, which can be difficult to deal with when a person is paranoid, anxious, afraid, etc. If your daughter can’t handle people coming up and asking personal questions about her disability or her dog, a service dog may not be the route she should take. So again, lots of research then try looking for a program that can meet her needs and provide a suitable dog.

  10. Pat says:

    Thanks so much dear. I am frustrated this morning because I’ve had to wake up my son 3 times to get ready for work. He is 25 and frankly is doing very well in life. He’s going to college and doing well. He’s managed a job just fine. It’s just the frustration of getting him out of the house. I know if I leave him to his own in the morning he will be late to whatever job or appointment. Then if he’s late he will loose his job or appoint. Then whose left holding the bills. I read your article and you are right about noticing the accomplishments. I will concentrate on that. I just need to realize I will be his ‘pusher’ so to speak to keep going. I don’t mean to do things like finish college. Actually he has his associates already but he wants more. I’d be happy if he stopped there. But he sees his older brother and wants more. I mean to push him where he wants to go. Not force him. I’m happy where he’s at. I’ve come to terms he will never marry. That’s ok. moving out of the house? I don’t know. It really doesn’t matter. My husband and I have come to grips with that too.

  11. Frances says:

    Hi Katherine,
    Thank you too for your insightful article. My son has not yet been diagnosed as he has resisted any help. I am going to get the book you suggest and read it. I know its going to be a long road and I want to prepare myself as best I can for that road. I am hopeful from your article that recovery or having a meaningful life is possible. For all of us…


  12. Sherry says:

    Thank you for the arcticle. It gives me hope…hope that I have been losing lately. My daughter is 24 years old. She began having schitzophrenic symptoms at about 15. I have been in denial from the beginning. She has been in and out of the hopitals for several years now. Her longest stay was six months. In 2010 her doctor took her off all her meds and she began to feel better and we thought all of this was behind us. A few months later she took off and we didn’t know where she was for three months. She was living on the streets. But, somehow she pulled herself together and began classes at Western University, then she called us and everything again was good but just recently she has become paranoid and she believes people can see her everymove through her computer that she uses for classes and she broke it. She thought her phone was bugged so she threw it away. She came home for about a week but she is back at college now. She doesn’t believe she is paranoid. She says she is just going to forget about the computer and phone incidence because worrying won’t help. She recently quit therapy also. She doesn’t want to go back to therapy and don’t want to take meds. I am at a loss as to what to do. I guess I have been in denial long enough. This mother’s heart is breaking.

    • Katherine says:

      I’m so sorry you are in this situation. It really is a heart breaking one. I suggest you read a book by Dr. Xavier Amador called “I am not sick, I don’t need help.” It talks about how you can help family members accept their mental illness and how to make sure they receive the help they need. Another good book, to understand what your daughter is going through is “Surviving Schizophrenia” by E. Fuller Torrey.

  13. Pat says:

    just finished writing to you and think it got lost somehow as I hit a wrong button so hope this isn’t a repeat. I’m so happy to find your site and so very happy YOU are doing so well. My son was diagnosed schizophrenic 14 yrs ago. Took 3 years post Army to get that to happen. He’s been on/off the streets most of that time. It tears me apart w/fear and then I live in a bit of hell on earth when he’s home. He’s dually diagnosed, using drugs and alcohol also. I am more afraid now of that than of the terrible Big S diagnosis that hit us like a ton of bricks at first. People out there, if that is your child’d problem, RUN FOR HELP! DO NOT HIDE IT! Everyone else knows anyway. My son does better after hospitalization for a while and we hope – and then he slides and his brain dies a little more each time. After months of doing well, for him, he did meth. Now he is like a 2 yr old, no exaggeration. I have to follow and watch him every second. If 2 minutes goes by I may find my refrig cleaned out to the dumpster, bathroom supplies on the kitchen table, his face painted with acrylic paint. Nothing is safe. At least I could change the subject or environment or contain and hug him when he WAS 2 yrs old! I swam for the first time today and refused to let myself worry about home. Coming in the door I found all his bedroom furniture oil painted like a child’s fingerpainting. He called it art. (I am actually finding this cathartic to write to you!) But I’m usually on the verge of a breakdown, constantly, endlessly. There’s no support. Churches want to cast out demons or they think we all have the cooties! Dr’s can’t help medicate him “down” to deal with him, it’s against the law. There’s no social program to help if there’s no money. He needs constant supervision. He needs a nursing home! I’m 65, my husband 72…what happens when we are gone? I know and it won’t be pretty!

    • Katherine says:

      I worry what will happen when my parents are gone also. I am glad that you went swimming and took some time for yourself. That is really important. If your son doesn’t have it yet, I would encourage you and him to look into Social Security Disability and SSI. With SSI he will get Medicaid. After 2 years on SSDI he will get Medicare. It might be worth looking into.

  14. Robin says:

    My 25 year old son was diagnosed with bi-polarity 7 years ago and with schizophrenia in addition a month ago. I feel completely overwhelmed with the change in his personality after this psychotic break and 2 weeks in the hospital. He’s home now but has changed in every way possible. A compassionate, inquisitive, intelligent and loving son now screams “How could you!!!” to me all day long. He has decided that I have re-married a terrible threatening man who I have chosen over him. There is, needless to say, no man and again needless to say absolutely no way to confer this information to him. I don’t know what to do with this development and even having excellent insurance through my ex-husband for two years due to Obama’s law passing I find that the insurance companies have no problem cutting off hospital stays even with a wildly hallucinating patient if they please. He’s been in the two top facilities in our area and really needs to be re-hospitalized as he’s just not in this reality in any way. He is not actively suicidal and has not threatened my life. These seem to be the only criteria that will open, even slightly, the door of medical facilities. I am 60 years old and disabled. There is only one person that will be his caretaker and it is me. I do not know how to do this. I am living with a violent, wall-punching stranger. I cannot get out of the house to do anything and expect him to be there when I return and when I took him to outpatient aftercare at Los Encinas they let him bolt away though they were to drive him home at the end of the day and he walked 5 miles away and through two cities to land on my best friend’s porch. The facility didn’t even CALL me to let me know he was missing. If he had taken off for home he would have had to cross mountains and two freeways. He was hallucinating horribly all the time this was going on and he says he got there through “wormholes in time”. Medication isn’t doing anything but make him want to eat constantly. I can’t even get to a support group. NAMI, as I have no assurance that he will be at home when I return. I am a two time cancer survivor and went through a very dirty divorce and they were a piece of cake compared to this. How do I do this????

    • Katherine says:

      Hi Robin,
      I’m so sorry that you are having to go through this right now. You are in a very difficult situation, I know and you know. I have a couple of things you can try. Some states have assisted outpatient programs. You can try enrolling him in this and they can help make sure he receives the services he needs. To find out if such a thing exists, the best website that keeps up with this is The Treatment Advocacy Center. That website also has a list of the various mental health systems workings in each state. You can also petition that he be forced to take his medication (if that becomes an issue) by going through a court and explaining how he deteriorates and acts when he does not take his medication consistently. Being mandated by the court often means that if he is found not taking his medicine, he must return to a psych hospital until he is willing to be med compliant. You can also be proactive in his treatment and request that he sign a release for you to see his records and talk to his treatment team. His psychiatrist may be able to help you or even provide you with some resources. Finally, don’t be afraid to call the police if you feel you are in danger. I know the last thing you want is to see him go to jail but in the end, it would probably be a safer environment for both you and him in short-term. He may also come to realize that his violent behavior at home carries consequences that he can work towards avoiding by acting more civil around you.

      I hope some of this helps.

  15. Gail Williams says:

    My 20 year old son was diagnosed 4 months prior to is 19th b-day as schizoaffective, a combonation of Bi-polar and Schizphernia. At early teenage years, drugs became a very big issue and problem. Spending much of his young life in and out of juvinle fac. I have been dealing with this for a couple of years now and still many times am at my wits end wanting to just throw in the towel. I am a loving and caring mother and my heart just won’t let me, but my mind and body say different. At times I fell as though he drags me down with him. This has been the hardest thing I have ever had to deal with in my life!!He is currently in the hospital again, because he refused to take his med’s. Its a merry go round of emotions. I enjoyed reading our article, I do all sorts of research and always looking for new ideas and or ways to make things easier to understand. It takes a good support group, knowing the facts, and finding what is out there to help. The truth is, it is Not Easy…and the care once in the general public is hard to find. The reality with most schizophernic people is that their future is a poor one, do to the fact that most people don’t understand, the help is limited, and resources are far and few between. Not to discourage anyone here, it can be found but it is a long hard road..

    • Katherine says:

      It is a long, hard road…absolutely. It took me longer than average to get my BA. I still get hospitalized when my symptoms become too much to handle safely. However, I make small steps of progress everyday and I hope your son can as well.

      You sound like a wonderful mother. You are in a tough situation but you aren’t giving up. You realize the difficulties ahead but you seem willing to face them. For that, you should be proud of yourself. Some parents just can’t handle it and give up on their son/daughter. I’m glad you haven’t.

  16. Martha says:

    Thank you for your insightful article. I google a lot of things about schizophrenia. This is the first time your article popped up. I googled “now not to be crazy by your schizophrenic child”.

  17. Anna says:

    I hope maybe you can help or refer me to people who may be able to help. My brother is 24 years old and has been diagnosed with depression and schizophrenia and I’m now afraid to think about him living at home with my mom. He has snapped by calling my mom a stupid bitch and punching holes in the wall a number of times. My mom’s heart and understanding is way too big to call the cops and after having him refuse to take meds and already have been in facilities before she asked that I try and find some other type of help. I just don’t know what to do! We don’t have the money for the expensive treatments that seem may work but I don’t want to have something go so wrong he hurts himself or the family… My family is my everything and I’ve really tried to help. I tried to get him to come hang out with me, I let him borrow money for a burger, I give him rides when he needs them but it’s been ongoing for about 4 yrs and every yr seems worse than the last. I find myself feeling like I can’t do anymore but I don’t want to give up on him or my mom :0(

    Note from Katherine: I’m really sorry you and your mom are in this situation. It is definitely a tough one to be in. There is a book called “I’m Not Sick, I Don’t Need Help.” I really encourage you and your mom to get copies and read them. Hopefully you will find a way to help him in that book…I know it has helped a lot of people. Other than that, set boundaries with him. Don’t let him walk all over you guys but at the same time, don’t cater to his every whim. He is ill and needs help getting better. Sometimes that means that you have to stay strong for him even though it makes him sad or upset from his point of view. I hope your situation gets better.

    • Vivian says:

      My family is at their witts end with our brother who is a 45 year old schizophrenic and lives with our 72 year old mother. Our mother will not leave our brother to live alone. He has been in and out of hospitals including the state hospital to no avail. Last year we tried and moved him into an apartment with people monitoring his meds which eventually he refused so then it was short lived because he decided he was better off homeless. Our brother wondered the streets and would show up at his brothers and sisters homes looking for help with food and shelter and was so angry that there was no way we could let him stay…very hostile. He ended back with our mother which torments her life everyday but mom cannot stand the thought of him being on the streets. When we ask for help the only thing we get asked is “Is he hurting anyone right now?” If he hurts you or himself call the police we have already been through that he was locked up for 2 months then released to the streets. What do we do just throw him away…he is a human being with feelings but at the same time what about mom we dont want to read about her in the newspapers!! God bless us all who know what this illness does to a family.
      Vivian :(

      • Katherine says:

        Is your brother currently seeing a psychiatrist? If so, would he let you go with him to an appointment? Is he on any medications at all? If so, does he take them as prescribed? The Treatment Advocacy Center’s website may prove useful in helping you find ways to help your brother before he becomes a danger to himself and others.

        • Vivian says:

          My brother is free to come and go see his psychiatrist if he wants too which most of the time he refuses. The doctors tell us that they cannot force him to do anything that my brothers has rights. We dont understand how he can have rights if he is not thinking right in knowing what is best for him… My brother refuses meds because of side effects he says people are trying to kill him. We feel helpless we love our brother and can see he is getting worse. He is conviced that my mother is trying to poison him and refuses to eat any food she prepares. My mother has been devoted to him and has sacraficed her life for him. We dont know how much longer she can take living with a mentally ill man that can easily hurt her. Its like he is two people he can be loving then so evil and scary!! He suffers everyday rubbing his head not sleeping at night says the voices are so loud at night…Help

  18. Christine says:

    Your article was the 1st thing that has relaxed me in awhile. It was beautiful. Thank you. One of the most difficult things for me is that my son does not believe he is schizophrenic. He is very open about his other world, which is all his friends who have passed. He feels he is a medium. I do not tell other people about what he has to protect him….since he does not believe it and it makes him upset. So I pretend to live a normal life in the community and life a different life at home. I feel exhausted from this and do not know what is right for him….us……the stigma… case he ever has the chance to have a job…etc.

    Note from Katherine: I know it’s a hard place to be in but I encourage you to see how some of the advice in this article can apply to your son’s situation. There is also a great book out there called “I’m Not Sick, I Don’t Need Help”…I encourage you to read that book. Also, you should try letting him decide what is right for him. Ask him if he feels or wants to ever have a job again, ask him what he wants to do a year from now. But like I say in the article, don’t set goals for him yourself. As for the stigma…fight it. Stand up, speak up, and fight the stigma so that people realize that schizophrenia is not what the stigma leads them to believe. Don’t be ashamed because that feeds the stigma. Ask others for support. Contact organizations like NAMI and look for support groups to join. Get active and educate yourself about your son. Then you can not only help him, but others eventually as well.

  19. Tonya says:

    Hi,my son has just been diagnosed with schizophrenia.I have been looking for advice and resources.Thankyou so much for sharing!

  20. Carol Newton says:

    Incredibly awesome article. Really..

  21. Elena Dobson says:

    If only more people would hear about this..

  22. Hah I’m really the first comment to this great writing!

  23. [...] H&#1077&#406&#1088 f&#959r Parents, Caregivers, &#1072&#1495&#1281 Families &#959f Schizophrenics &r… [...]

  24. [...] H&#1077&#406&#1088 f&#959r Parents, Caregivers, &#1072&#1495&#1281 Families &#959f Schizophrenics &r… [...]

  25. Terrific work! This is the type of information that should be shared around the web. Shame on the search engines for not positioning this post higher!

  26. [...] Help for Parents, Caregivers, and Families of Schizophrenics » A Schizophrenic and a Dog [...]

  27. [...] Help for Parents, Caregivers, and Families of Schizophrenics » A Schizophrenic and a Dog [...]

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>