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Schizophrenia
diversion sign
tallguywrites
An eleven page chapter from my upcoming book Psychiatric Tales, which will be out from Blank Slate in early 2010. Feel free to point out any errors or make any other comments.

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4 schizophenia

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Re: As a family member of someone with schizophrenia...

Thank you. You explain the situation perfectly. I work on a mental health crisis line, and I've heard too many utterly heartbreaking stories of families trapped in completely impossible situations, to dismiss those who are unable to offer support as heartless or uncaring. Sometimes you have to create distance simply to survive. Unfortunately, the experience you describe is all too common, and is why one of the largest nationwide mental health organizations was created - NAMI, National Alliance on Mental Illness (www.nami.org). This is a support group specifically for the families and caregivers, because as you've discovered, being in a supportive position is SO all consuming and downright traumatic.

And for all that sufferers of schizophrenia deal with misunderstanding and isolation from the normal forms of support that people enjoy...the same can be said for families. How do you respond to a coworker who is dead-tired because she was up dealing with an unmedicated schizophrenic child all night? It's not the kind of story you tell in polite company, and when you do, it's so foreign to most people that they don't know how to respond.

I've heard too many stories from family members pushed beyond the brink by how awful things have gotten at home with an unmedicated and noncompliant schizophrenic or bipolar family member, yet whose only option is to throw that person out and make them homeless under a bridge. What do you do if you are not allowed to sleep, ever, in your home by a mentally ill person, and you feel your very safety is jeopardized by that person, but your only option to save yourself and survive the experience is to throw that person out and doom them to being homeless under a bridge, when you know that their condition is not their fault and they are simply sick? On the one hand, you care about this person, they are your family, and you want to help them, but on the other hand, you aren't going to survive if you continue to keep them in your home. It's impossible.

I think it's a useless discussion to argue who has it worse - the mentally ill person or their supportive family members. All of the above are living in hell. And all of the above deserve understanding and support from the rest of us.

Re: As a family member of someone with schizophrenia...

THANK YOU!!

You are absolutely correct, there are no winners in this situation. I am also a child of a schizophrenic parent - and this whole article made sad, helped me understand a little beter, AND made me ANGRY. Dealing with an unmedicated ill person is frustrating, heartbreaking and often horrifying. While I'm sure the schizophrenic is suffering, so too, are we. We get to enjoy the entire spectrum of love, anger, sometimes hate and a nice dose of guilt! All generated by our loved one. We feel helpless in the situation, as it's completely out of our control. And the person who mentioned distancing oneself for self-preservation, made me feel so understood. I have sacrificed much...I struggle financially to keep my unmedicated mother in her own house (that I bought for her!) while she tries her best to destroy my marriage and family. How horrible do you think it is to actually admit that you HATE your mother - knowing you will one day hate yourself for uttering those words? They are not the only tortured souls...we are all victims of this disease, even if it's our loved one that has it.

So again, thank you for putting into such eloquent words, the real truth of the matter, for all those involed.

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