Find your diamond
Find your jewelry
shape
carat
color
clarity

Schizophrenia in the family

AmeliaG

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jan 8, 2011
Messages
880
I didn't know whether to post this thread in FHH or Hangout but since I hang out here more I'm posting it here.

This may be a crap shoot but I'm looking for some real life perspective from members with a family member who has schizophrenia. My family is dealing with a potential future family member with the disease in his family. He's young (19) and his mother and two maternal uncles have been institutionalized. We're worried about the possibility that he will come down with it and the possibility if he marries my sister that one of the kids will come down with it.

I guess I'm just looking for a reality check; I just found this out from my mom and the medical sites I've looked up are either confusing or depressing. Mom kinda overreacted when she found out so my sister is not talking to her. I've been drafted for the next conversation attempt and don't want to make that mistake but I can't help having some of mom's concerns. My sister and this guy are both very serious and they're moving very fast.

So, yeah, I'm looking for a reality check. Any real world perspective I can get would be very much appreciated.
 

Hudson_Hawk

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Nov 2, 2006
Messages
10,541
I'm sorry you're struggling with this right now.

I think your family needs to get some knowledge and get some perspective. It's unfair to condemn this guy for something you don't even know he's going to develop. Yes there's a familial history and yes he's predisposed. But nothing says he will develop the condition and nothing says their children will. Perhaps your mom (and then you) should speak with a psychiatrist who diagnoses the condition rather than do research on Dr. Google.
 

tyty333

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Dec 17, 2008
Messages
22,498
I cant be much help with the schizophrenia (my family has other issues :twirl: ) but could you encorage them to slow
down some. To live together for a while and get to know each other (I would suggest this for anyone young who is rushing into
marriage). Whats the big hurry?
 

Lula

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Apr 5, 2009
Messages
4,545
Hudson_Hawk|1313174187|2989483 said:
I'm sorry you're struggling with this right now.

I think your family needs to get some knowledge and get some perspective. It's unfair to condemn this guy for something you don't even know he's going to develop. Yes there's a familial history and yes he's predisposed. But nothing says he will develop the condition and nothing says their children will. Perhaps your mom (and then you) should speak with a psychiatrist who diagnoses the condition rather than do research on Dr. Google.
+1

Being pre-disposed to a condition does not mean that that person will eventually acquire the condition. Not enough is known about schizophrenia, at this point anyway, to predict with any accuracy who will actually acquire the condition -- whether it be among those "predisposed" to the condition or with no family history.

I've worked with several adults who have schizophrenia, all of whom lived in the community, not in institutions. Most people with the condition will tell you that the way other people treat individuals with mental illness (stigma; fear) is often worse than the symptoms of the condition.

There are many ways to treat schizophrenia; institutionalization is typically a last-resort measure. But there are several types of schizophrenia; perhaps the form his mother and her siblings have is a more severe type. I can also tell you that so little is known about the possible cause(s) of schizophrenia, that it could very well have been something specific to the particular environment (in the womb or chemicals his mother and her siblings were exposed to during childhood) that could have triggered the disease in his mother and her siblings. Or it could be due to genetics. There's no way to know.

You may want to look into the educational resources provided by this very reputable organization: National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI), and also do a Google search for information on Fred Frese, a psychologist who was diagnosed with schizophrenia when he was a young man.

As an aside, my husband comes from a family with a strong pre-disposition to heart disease. He may have a serious heart attack at a young age, like his father did; he may not. There are lifestyle differences between my husband and my father-in-law that we hope will make it less likely that my husband will have a heart attack. But there's no guarantee. Heart disease is more common (in our culture) than schizophrenia, and the genetic component for heart disease has been established for some time now. Yet knowing there was a strong genetic component didn't cause me to pause for even a second when I made the decision to marry DH. Both heart disease and schizophrenia are considered long-term, chronic conditions. Both can cause significant disability and/or lead to an early death. Both can be managed through medication and other types of treatment. Both require long-term disease management, and perhaps significant lifestyle changes (reduce stress, e.g.). But only schizophrenia comes with the additional burden of societal fear and stigma.
 

MichelleCarmen

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Feb 8, 2003
Messages
15,880
Lula|1313176416|2989528 said:
I can also tell you that so little is known about the possible cause(s) of schizophrenia, that it could very well have been something specific to the particular environment (in the womb or chemicals his mother and her siblings were exposed to during childhood) that could have triggered the disease in his mother and her siblings. Or it could be due to genetics. There's no way to know.
I recall reading an article that found that ciggarette smoke can triger schizophrenia. I don't remember the details, but it was something like a group of people with it found their symptoms were reduced or disappeared when not exposed to it.
 

Autumnovember

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Apr 28, 2010
Messages
4,384
I had the chance to work on a voluntary psychiatric unit for the last 3 months (I am currently in school to become a psychiatric nurse and got my B.A. in psych). Mostly all of my patients had some type of schizophrenia and while a lot of them did have similar symptoms, they were all very different individuals, handling this disease in their own ways. There are different types of schizophrenias so the symptoms of this and the severity will vary....a lot of times schizophrenia has comorbidity...does he have any diagnosed illnesses? Some of my patients were not able to function on their own and needed to be placed in group homes but others were very functional adults. I would do what HH suggested, go speak with someone who actually diagnoses patients rather than googling. I should say, it is NOT easy to diagnose mental illness because of how intricate the criteria to diagnose is. Of course this young man is predisposed but it absolutely DO NOT mean he is DEFINITELY going to have this. Also, the younger someone is when they are diagnosed, the better. The disease seems to be a lot more damaging in those diagnosed at a later age.

To be completely honest, I think you guys are jumping the gun and falling into the usual stereotypes of mental illness. Go to a support group to learn more, go to a psychiatrist, but more importantly don't assume that someone is going to have a disease just because of his disposition to it...more than anything, this is his business and I'm sure he wouldn't be too happy knowing people are freaking out over him possibly having schizophrenia just because it is in his family. Not trying to be rude to you or anything but I don't think the reactions of your mother are appropriate. Again, I'm not trying to be mean or nasty...just hoping to give you what you asked for; a reality check.
 

Guilty Pleasure

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
May 16, 2008
Messages
1,114
I have a sibling with the disorder, and anything I am about to say is from my own experience and research, not a professional or super knowledgeable perspective. You don't "come down with it." It develops around the late teens/ early twenties, and no two cases are alike. Mental disorders have a range of symptoms and severity, and treatment is key. You can't base this young man's future behavior (if he were to develop the condition at all) on how his mother and uncles have reacted because their environments and treatments are worlds apart. Future children will have the benefit of even better medicine and in depth research in the field.

As a 7th grader, seeing my sister fall apart her freshman year of college was tough. It affected my family, our relationships, our daily life, etc. at the time just like any other illness. She cried all the time, didn't function normally (bathing, running errands, doing laundry), saw "connections" that weren't there - like finding similarities between herself and Jezebel from the Bible. She would fixate on a line of thinking that was SO CLEAR to her and worry over it, and couldn't understand why everyone around her didn't get it. When she first started taking medication, she was a drooling zombie while she adjusted and also I think just physically exhausted from all the thinking/worrying/crying. A few times, she quit taking her medication and had a rough time while she adjusted to taking it again.

That was almost twenty years ago, and I was introduced to medications like zoloft, resperidol, seroquel, etc. I didn't talk about the medicine with my friends because this sort of thing was taboo. Now, I have three college educated, highly successful friends taking the same medication that my sister has taken for years (for things like anxiety, depression, but not schizophrenia). It just doesn't seem like a big deal to society anymore, and the same medication may be used to treat a variety of diagnoses. With medication, my sister functions normally. She's engaged, has a job, etc. If she had been born thirty years earlier, before medication was available, she would have spiraled into a deep hole long ago and institutionalized. This is why I say you can't base the guy's future experience on the experiences of his family.

If it concerns you, you should talk to a real doctor about symptoms, probabilities of children having it, etc. My sister is a kind, fun, beautiful woman with a real spark for life. I'm glad her fiance didn't hold her illness against her, and honestly, if someone said I was unsuitable for marriage because my sister has mental illness or my mother is obese or my grandfather has diabetes, I would be incredibly disgusted. I don't blame your sister for not talking to your mother. People are not dogs, chosen for their pedigree.
 

Guilty Pleasure

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
May 16, 2008
Messages
1,114
I'd also like to say that maybe growing up with a mother with mental illness has given this young man maturity, a sense of compassion or ability to nurture that may be lacking in other young men his age. We are the product of our experiences after all, and until you get to know him, you can't know how his family's illnesses have affected him.
 

Pandora II

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Aug 3, 2006
Messages
9,613
I don't have experience with schizophrenia but I have a lot of experience with bipolar disorder - I have it, my mother has it, my aunt has it, a lot of more distant relatives had it.

When I met my husband I was frankly terrified about telling him about it, especially as it is so inheritable. When I finally did, not only did he say that of course he knew - it was obvious (I was rather hypomanic when we met to say the least) and anyway his father had bipolar disorder with psychotic features so it wasn't an issue.

We did discuss the chances of our children developing it as they get a double dose of genes and I talked at length to my psychiatrist. The result was realising that even if our daughter does have the genes that will predispose her to bipolar disorder it doesn't follow that she will encounter the triggers. I'm very well educated on my illness and there are a number of things that I can do to enable her to develop appropriate coping mechanisms and also to recognise and seek treatment at a very early stage.

I think your mother is jumping the gun a bit - although I do understand her fears and worry as it is an illness with a genetic link. I think the most important factor is your sister and the young man's attitude towards the illness. I would be more worried if they wanted to stick their heads in the sand and pretend it didn't exist than if they wanted to arm themselves with knowledge.

They seem very young, does your mother really need to worry about a permanent relationship yet?
 

iLander

Ideal_Rock
Joined
May 23, 2010
Messages
6,731
The key to this is "genetic counseling". These are counselors that go through the possibilities with a couple very carefully, and can present them with fact, not fiction. They can help couples understand the possibilities that their children could face.

I can totally understand your mother's hesitancy; dealing with a schizoprenic is no picnic. It's a lifelong, constant committment to medications, counseling and extra effort. As a mom, I want my children to have easy, cushy lives of flowers and butterflies, with no hard knocks or issues. Try to explain to your sister that her mother is expressing her love/anxiety/worry. Your mom's whole life has been geared to protecting your sister, and mom needs a little leeway for overreacting.

Does your sister have a "save him" thing going? Does she think she can "fix him" and make it better? If she does, she's in for a rude awakening; you can't fix it any easier than you can fix a tumor from the outside. It's a physical issue of brain chemistry, no amount of love or caring can help. It will be a tough slog.

There are many manifestations of schizophrenia; from the mildly distracting to the debilitating bats-on-the-wall kind. I had a relative with it, and he was essentially homeless his whole life, because he couldn't deal with people without paranoia and hostility. He got progressively worse from mid-20's on. His was drug-induced (fried his brain chemistry) but he was civil when heavily medicated. Couldn't hold a job, though, couldn't be around the same person for more than 3 days in a row, he was convinced there was nothing wrong and resisted meds periodically. When he was good, he was very charming. When he was off the meds, he ranted and raved and wrote long (40+ page) letters that made no sense and felt everyone was after him. When he finally passed, it was a comfort to know he wasn't in mental anguish anymore.

It will be a struggle. I want to encourage your sister (in the feel-good spirit of this forum) but she needs to be a realist and take a hard look at what she's considering. Seriously.

Sorry if that sounds harsh . . . :|
 

Autumnovember

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Apr 28, 2010
Messages
4,384
Guilty Pleasure|1313180244|2989591 said:
I have a sibling with the disorder, and anything I am about to say is from my own experience and research, not a professional or super knowledgeable perspective. You don't "come down with it." It develops around the late teens/ early twenties, and no two cases are alike. Mental disorders have a range of symptoms and severity, and treatment is key. You can't base this young man's future behavior (if he were to develop the condition at all) on how his mother and uncles have reacted because their environments and treatments are worlds apart. Future children will have the benefit of even better medicine and in depth research in the field.

As a 7th grader, seeing my sister fall apart her freshman year of college was tough. It affected my family, our relationships, our daily life, etc. at the time just like any other illness. She cried all the time, didn't function normally (bathing, running errands, doing laundry), saw "connections" that weren't there - like finding similarities between herself and Jezebel from the Bible. She would fixate on a line of thinking that was SO CLEAR to her and worry over it, and couldn't understand why everyone around her didn't get it. When she first started taking medication, she was a drooling zombie while she adjusted and also I think just physically exhausted from all the thinking/worrying/crying. A few times, she quit taking her medication and had a rough time while she adjusted to taking it again.

That was almost twenty years ago, and I was introduced to medications like zoloft, resperidol, seroquel, etc. I didn't talk about the medicine with my friends because this sort of thing was taboo. Now, I have three college educated, highly successful friends taking the same medication that my sister has taken for years (for things like anxiety, depression, but not schizophrenia). It just doesn't seem like a big deal to society anymore, and the same medication may be used to treat a variety of diagnoses. With medication, my sister functions normally. She's engaged, has a job, etc. If she had been born thirty years earlier, before medication was available, she would have spiraled into a deep hole long ago and institutionalized. This is why I say you can't base the guy's future experience on the experiences of his family.

If it concerns you, you should talk to a real doctor about symptoms, probabilities of children having it, etc. My sister is a kind, fun, beautiful woman with a real spark for life. I'm glad her fiance didn't hold her illness against her, and honestly, if someone said I was unsuitable for marriage because my sister has mental illness or my mother is obese or my grandfather has diabetes, I would be incredibly disgusted. I don't blame your sister for not talking to your mother. People are not dogs, chosen for their pedigree.
Great post, thank you so much for sharing your story!!!!
 

Autumnovember

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Apr 28, 2010
Messages
4,384
iLander|1313183508|2989633 said:
no amount of love or caring can help. It will be a tough slog.

There are many manifestations of schizophrenia; from the mildly distracting to the debilitating bats-on-the-wall kind. I had a relative with it, and he was essentially homeless his whole life, because he couldn't deal with people without paranoia and hostility. He got progressively worse from mid-20's on. His was drug-induced (fried his brain chemistry) but he was civil when heavily medicated. Couldn't hold a job, though, couldn't be around the same person for more than 3 days in a row, he was convinced there was nothing wrong and resisted meds periodically. When he was good, he was very charming. When he was off the meds, he ranted and raved and wrote long (40+ page) letters that made no sense and felt everyone was after him. When he finally passed, it was a comfort to know he wasn't in mental anguish anymore.

It will be a struggle. I want to encourage your sister (in the feel-good spirit of this forum) but she needs to be a realist and take a hard look at what she's considering. Seriously.

Sorry if that sounds harsh . . . :|
iLander...I usually always agree with everything you have to say, but I completely disagree here. Having a good support system DOES change things in some shape or form in any illness.

Also, you said that her sister should strongly think about all of this. What is there to think about? He hasn't even been diagnosed?

It is definitely something to strongly think about when someone has been diagnosed but he hasn't and it isn't okay to write someone off before they even have a legitimate diagnosis.
 

AmeliaG

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jan 8, 2011
Messages
880
Thanks guys for the reality check, and especially thanks to Autumnnovember, Guilty Pleasure, Pandora, and iLander for sharing your experiences. You don't know how much of a help your posts have been.

Believe me, Mom is feeling really, really guilty about how she handled it. The guy is really sweet, a little socially awkward but then so is my sister and she is a sweety. None of us want to pre-judge him. Plus my mom has worked with schizophrenics and their families before but in a volunteer, non-medical and short-term capacity. She knows that with the proper treatment many can live productive lives. Its just this family's experience is much more severe than what she'd previously been exposed to. There was some violence that necessitated the institutionalization in all three cases and Mom says she's never seen a case where all of the siblings in a family are diagnosed with such a severe case.

I really like the idea of mentioning genetic counseling. We've been advised that since Dad's family has such a strong history of heart disease and my sister was perfectly onboard with that. Of course dealing with schizophrenia is different than dealing with heart disease and I don't know how he'd feel about it but it is worth mentioning to her. My sister is rushing but all she's wanted since she was 14 was to get married and have babies so that's nothing new. Even before this, Dad wanted them to wait at least until he finishes college and can get a job - he's a year behind her but getting my sister to wait till she finishes college is like pulling teeth. Sis is definitely not a fixer-upper where men are concerned; she's the one that wants to be taken care of so she can stay home and have babies.

Dad got through to her so I'll see how their conversation went before proceeding. Please keep your perspectives coming; its really helpful.
 

Pandora II

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Aug 3, 2006
Messages
9,613
To be honest, genetic counselling won't tell them much. They will just say that yes there does seem to be a genetic link but it's merely a predisposition (and it can skip generations and even sideways), can't be tested for etc.

I know this because we had genetic counselling - my husband has hereditary spherocytosis which is a dominant condition giving us a 50/50 chance of a child with it. They wanted to know of any other issues so we brought up the bipolar disorder and the above was what they told us. Geneticists aren't really the people to discuss this kind of things with - they deal with probabilities and in cases of mental illness there isn't a number they can give.

Talking with a psychiatrist would be the best bet - but be warned, there are quite a few who feel that you shouldn't breed if you have a risk of a serious mental illness!

My advice to your sister would be to slow down. I would want this chap to at least get through the stresses of college and entering the workforce. He is just at the age when these illnesses come to the fore if they are going to - due to the stresses in life at this point as much as anything else. Having had a child in the last 2 years I can tell you that there is nothing on earth more stressful - that on top of the whole college, job seeking etc could be a big trigger risk if he is predisposed.
 

sctsbride09

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Sep 3, 2008
Messages
555
I think you got some good info so far, but you asked for real life experiences so heres mine. (To anyone one else reading, this is ONLY my personal experiences/thoughts with this and dont need anyone flaming me over it.) My uncle has paranoid schizophrenia. He has had it ever since he was a teenager. Right now he is hospitalized for almost killing my grandfather. He has been there for over 8 years and I thank god every day for that, because he is a very dangerous man to his family. Any time he is not in jail/mental hospital, my grandparents would take care of him, he would be good for awhile, then decide he didnt "need" his medication. Every time he would go off medication, something terrible would happen. A few examples..He tried to set the house on fire when my mom and I were inside. He blew up my grandparents car. He killed 2 of my grandparents dogs because they were "trying to kill him". That is just a few things. If and when my DH and I decide to have kids, I am going to have genetic counseling done, because I am not willing to take the risk of having a child like my uncle. I would adopt rather than keep the chain of mental illness going. But my uncle is very different from the other people described here, he is truly a danger to his family, and I refuse to put that on myself or my husband. I made sure to tell my husband about my backround before we married, just in case not have bio-children was a deal breaker for him (it isnt), because having to deal with this type of mental illness is a deal breaker to me, and I would rather adopt, or have none at all.
 

Guilty Pleasure

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
May 16, 2008
Messages
1,114
Pandora|1313192784|2989715 said:
To be honest, genetic counselling won't tell them much. They will just say that yes there does seem to be a genetic link but it's merely a predisposition (and it can skip generations and even sideways), can't be tested for etc.

I know this because we had genetic counselling - my husband has hereditary spherocytosis which is a dominant condition giving us a 50/50 chance of a child with it. They wanted to know of any other issues so we brought up the bipolar disorder and the above was what they told us. Geneticists aren't really the people to discuss this kind of things with - they deal with probabilities and in cases of mental illness there isn't a number they can give.

Talking with a psychiatrist would be the best bet - but be warned, there are quite a few who feel that you shouldn't breed if you have a risk of a serious mental illness!

My advice to your sister would be to slow down. I would want this chap to at least get through the stresses of college and entering the workforce. He is just at the age when these illnesses come to the fore if they are going to - due to the stresses in life at this point as much as anything else. Having had a child in the last 2 years I can tell you that there is nothing on earth more stressful - that on top of the whole college, job seeking etc could be a big trigger risk if he is predisposed.

Yes, slow down! They haven't even graduated from college yet and have no means for supporting themselves! Being old enough to "get married" does not make one mature enough or ready to "be married". Regardless of family mental health history and waiting for his mental health to reveal itself, your sister and her boyfriend do not sound capable of supporting themselves, which is part of making the ADULT decision to marry. Adult privileges come with adult responsibilities.

Pandora, my sister has decided not to have biological children due to the CRAZY way hormones affect us women during pregnancy. My mother has been very supportive of this decision not because she doesn't want to risk having grandchildren with mental illness, but because she is afraid of how a pregnancy would affect my sister's mental health.

sctsbride09, I'm sorry your family had to suffer such an awful situation. I am very thankful that my sister's illness never made her violent or suicidal. She was certainly paranoid at times and is still pretty defensive, but sometimes it's hard to know where mental illness ends and normal personality flaws begin.
 

centralsquare

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
2,201
I think the core issue here is that you need to gather more information before making any conclusions. As stated elsewhere here, this disease can manifest in various ways. Maybe wait a few months, get to know him better, see how the relationship progresses and gather more info along the way. Maybe talk to him and let him share his experiences so have an open dialog amongst the whole family and together approach it.
 

AmeliaG

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jan 8, 2011
Messages
880
I just got off the phone with Dad. He had a four hour conversation with Sis. She and her BF are going away for the weekend which is probably good for them. She's still a bit miffed with Mom but Dad thinks she'll get over it.

Sis' BF's mom's illness seems more like sctsbride09's uncle. Dad didn't particularly care for the way he brought it up with Sis. We had heard his mother was ill; Sis didn't know what illness until they visited his mother in the home. Her BF said he didn't want her to pre-judge his mother because of her illness but his mom is nonfunctioning and meeting her without knowing anything was a bit of a shock. Sis handled it well at the home and afterwards talking to her BF, but then when she got home, she called Mom for reassurance and Mom overreacted. I think it could have been handled better. I understand its a difficult subject to bring up but they've been dating for a year and have been talking seriously of marriage for a while. The good thing is she does seem like she's more open to slowing down at least till they both finish college.

I think I'll just give her a call Sunday night or Monday to see how she's doing and take it from there.

Pandora, Guilty Pleasure, thanks again so much for sharing. sctsbride09, I know it must be difficult, thanks so much.
 

MichelleCarmen

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Feb 8, 2003
Messages
15,880
Guilty Pleasure|1313180244|2989591 said:
That was almost twenty years ago, and I was introduced to medications like zoloft, resperidol, seroquel, etc. I didn't talk about the medicine with my friends because this sort of thing was taboo. Now, I have three college educated, highly successful friends taking the same medication that my sister has taken for years (for things like anxiety, depression, but not schizophrenia). It just doesn't seem like a big deal to society anymore, and the same medication may be used to treat a variety of diagnoses.
Things for sure have changed. The biggest, IMO, is that many meds are prescribed "off label," such as Seroquel. Meds considered A-typical antipsychotics are now prescribed as sleep meds or anti-anxiety meds. If one med works for someone, that's great. The only issue I see is that the side-effects are ignored...if a person isn't schizophrenic and given hard-core meds, then there is a problem because the side-effects can be nasty. There are class action law suits against Zeprexa and Seroquel over causing diabetes. If a person NEEDS the meds, then that is entirely different...

(ETA - I just am adding this as I've tried to go off an "off label" med that's been black boxed and it's not working - I was only able to go down so far before having to now seek out yet another dr. who will try and help me get off them meds)! Given a med that is for one thing, yet, prescribed for another had created a hell of a cycle for me! And, finding a dr. who will SUPPORT me is 10X worse.)
 

Autumnovember

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Apr 28, 2010
Messages
4,384
AmeliaG|1313207272|2989838 said:
I just got off the phone with Dad. He had a four hour conversation with Sis. She and her BF are going away for the weekend which is probably good for them. She's still a bit miffed with Mom but Dad thinks she'll get over it.

Sis' BF's mom's illness seems more like sctsbride09's uncle. Dad didn't particularly care for the way he brought it up with Sis. We had heard his mother was ill; Sis didn't know what illness until they visited his mother in the home. Her BF said he didn't want her to pre-judge his mother because of her illness but his mom is nonfunctioning and meeting her without knowing anything was a bit of a shock. Sis handled it well at the home and afterwards talking to her BF, but then when she got home, she called Mom for reassurance and Mom overreacted. I think it could have been handled better. I understand its a difficult subject to bring up but they've been dating for a year and have been talking seriously of marriage for a while. The good thing is she does seem like she's more open to slowing down at least till they both finish college.

I think I'll just give her a call Sunday night or Monday to see how she's doing and take it from there.

Pandora, Guilty Pleasure, thanks again so much for sharing. sctsbride09, I know it must be difficult, thanks so much.
I think a huge reason he was so secretive about it was because of all the stereotypes associated with mental illness. Maybe he was really embarassed, you know? It could have been anything...I think the right steps have been taken in the right direction and having it not be a secret any longer for your sister is very important.
 

AGBF

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jan 26, 2003
Messages
21,822
sctsbride09|1313193418|2989724 said:
I think you got some good info so far, but you asked for real life experiences so heres mine. (To anyone one else reading, this is ONLY my personal experiences/thoughts with this and dont need anyone flaming me over it.) My uncle has paranoid schizophrenia. He has had it ever since he was a teenager. Right now he is hospitalized for almost killing my grandfather. He has been there for over 8 years and I thank god every day for that, because he is a very dangerous man to his family. Any time he is not in jail/mental hospital, my grandparents would take care of him, he would be good for awhile, then decide he didnt "need" his medication. Every time he would go off medication, something terrible would happen. A few examples..He tried to set the house on fire when my mom and I were inside. He blew up my grandparents car. He killed 2 of my grandparents dogs because they were "trying to kill him". That is just a few things. If and when my DH and I decide to have kids, I am going to have genetic counseling done, because I am not willing to take the risk of having a child like my uncle. I would adopt rather than keep the chain of mental illness going. But my uncle is very different from the other people described here, he is truly a danger to his family, and I refuse to put that on myself or my husband. I made sure to tell my husband about my backround before we married, just in case not have bio-children was a deal breaker for him (it isnt), because having to deal with this type of mental illness is a deal breaker to me, and I would rather adopt, or have none at all.
All I can say is: yes. And thank you, sctsbride. Not all schizophrenics are dangerous, like your uncle, but is runs in families. I know of many, many families with multiple schizophrenic siblings. You don't know tragedy until you have seen that played out over time.

Deb/AGBF
:read:
 

AGBF

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jan 26, 2003
Messages
21,822
Pandora|1313192784|2989715 said:
To be honest, genetic counselling won't tell them much. They will just say that yes there does seem to be a genetic link but it's merely a predisposition (and it can skip generations and even sideways), can't be tested for etc.

I know this because we had genetic counselling - my husband has hereditary spherocytosis which is a dominant condition giving us a 50/50 chance of a child with it. They wanted to know of any other issues so we brought up the bipolar disorder and the above was what they told us. Geneticists aren't really the people to discuss this kind of things with - they deal with probabilities and in cases of mental illness there isn't a number they can give.
Actually, I have found the medical profession to be quite free (and not necessarily accurate) with their statistics on the frequency of the occurrence of various forms of mental illness in the offspring of people with schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder!

Also: it is really important to bear in mind here that schizophrenia is not bi-polar disorder! Despite the recent advances in psychotropic medication, schizophrenia is far more debilitating and not nearly as easily ameliorated by medication as is bi-polar illness.

Deb/AGBF
:read:
 

chemgirl

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Sep 16, 2009
Messages
2,161
iLander|1313183508|2989633 said:
The key to this is "genetic counseling". These are counselors that go through the possibilities with a couple very carefully, and can present them with fact, not fiction. They can help couples understand the possibilities that their children could face.
:|

In theory this is a wonderful idea. In reality, some insurance providers will take genetic counseling and screening in to account when calculating premiums and deciding whether to cover you at all. Its not right, but it happens. I have a family history of breast cancer, but my doctor has advised me not to seek genetic counseling because of how it may affect my health and life insurance (right now my providers don't collect family history of cancer). Just a warning to proceed cautiously.
 

Tacori E-ring

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Aug 15, 2005
Messages
20,039
Reality check is that this is your *sister's* life and her choices, no one else's.
 

AGBF

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jan 26, 2003
Messages
21,822
AGBF|1313231294|2989923 said:
All I can say is: yes. And thank you, sctsbride. Not all schizophrenics are dangerous, like your uncle, but is runs in families.
I saw what I wrote earlier today and was appalled. I must have been half asleep. My tone was just terrible and way off! What I should have said, and truly mean, is that schizophrenia runs in families. Most schizophrenics are absolutely not violent!!! Most schizophrenics simply have thought disorders that bother them and no one else. There is no inherent propensity for violence built into the character of a typical schizophrenic. Only the schizophrenic of the movies is likely to be violent, because that sells tickets!

Deb/AGBF
:read:
 

AmeliaG

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jan 8, 2011
Messages
880
Tacori E-ring|1313249681|2990018 said:
Reality check is that this is your *sister's* life and her choices, no one else's.
Tacori E-ring, thanks for checking in. I've read some of your posts on other topics and they've been very helpful. We know its my sister's choice. We're taking the approach of encouraging her to take it slow. Yes, she can ignore us if she wants but its kinda encouraging that she's not this time. So, we're looking at it as a good thing.

Thanks AGBF and chemgirl for your perspectives on genetic counseling. After thinking about it, I think its too early to mention it.

As hopeful as hearing about the more treatable cases has been, that's not the case here. His mother is violent. Autumnovember, I think you were spot on as to his reasons for hesitation. It had to have been tough for him to tell my sister. I'm just feeling a lot of sympathy for him right now.

But like Tacori E-ring said, its her life and all we can do is support her.
 

Autumnovember

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Apr 28, 2010
Messages
4,384
AGBF|1313257068|2990107 said:
AGBF|1313231294|2989923 said:
All I can say is: yes. And thank you, sctsbride. Not all schizophrenics are dangerous, like your uncle, but is runs in families.
I saw what I wrote earlier today and was appalled. I must have been half asleep. My tone was just terrible and way off! What I should have said, and truly mean, is that schizophrenia runs in families. Most schizophrenics are absolutely not violent!!! Most schizophrenics simply have thought disorders that bother them and no one else. There is no inherent propensity for violence built into the character of a typical schizophrenic. Only the schizophrenic of the movies is likely to be violent, because that sells tickets!

Deb/AGBF
:read:
I think this is so important to remember with mental illness in general. A lot of people out there have the idea that most of the people committing crimes in society have mental issues but thats so untrue. People who are mentally ill are actually the victims of violence a lot of the time...
 

Pandora II

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Aug 3, 2006
Messages
9,613
AGBF|1313232237|2989928 said:
Pandora|1313192784|2989715 said:
To be honest, genetic counselling won't tell them much. They will just say that yes there does seem to be a genetic link but it's merely a predisposition (and it can skip generations and even sideways), can't be tested for etc.

I know this because we had genetic counselling - my husband has hereditary spherocytosis which is a dominant condition giving us a 50/50 chance of a child with it. They wanted to know of any other issues so we brought up the bipolar disorder and the above was what they told us. Geneticists aren't really the people to discuss this kind of things with - they deal with probabilities and in cases of mental illness there isn't a number they can give.
Actually, I have found the medical profession to be quite free (and not necessarily accurate) with their statistics on the frequency of the occurrence of various forms of mental illness in the offspring of people with schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder!

Also: it is really important to bear in mind here that schizophrenia is not bi-polar disorder! Despite the recent advances in psychotropic medication, schizophrenia is far more debilitating and not nearly as easily ameliorated by medication as is bi-polar illness.

Deb/AGBF
:read:
They are not the same but recent research indicates a common genetic cause.

A major study in 2009 revealed that:

- First-degree relatives (parents, siblings, or offspring) of people with either schizophrenia or bipolar disorder were at increased risk for both of these conditions.

- If a sibling had schizophrenia, full siblings were nine times more likely than the general population to have schizophrenia and four times more likely to have bipolar disorder.

- If a sibling had bipolar disorder, they were eight times more likely to have bipolar disorder and four times more likely to have schizophrenia.

- Half siblings who shared the same mother were 3.6 times more likely to have schizophrenia if their half sibling had schizophrenia and 4.5 times more likely to have bipolar disorder if their half sibling had bipolar disorder. Half siblings who shared the same father had a 2.7-fold increase in schizophrenia risk and a 2.4-fold increase in bipolar disorder.

- Adopted children with a biological parent with one of the disorders had a significant increase in risk for the other.

Shared and non-shared environmental factors also contributed to risk, but they were less important influences than genetics.

The findings appear in the Jan. 17 issue of the journal The Lancet.
 

Tacori E-ring

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Aug 15, 2005
Messages
20,039
You and your family are scared. I totally get that. You love your sister and want her to have a smooth relationship. It is very difficult to love a sick person and no one would dream or claim that was ideal.

DH's aunt is schizophrenic and showed signs when she was in college. She is a sweet lady and I never knew her when she was really bad. She has been fairly stable for decades but has health issues probably related to therapies used (ex. shock therapy), medication, and her lifestyle. She never had her own family but has always seem content.

Like others said many mental illnesses can be managed successfully with medication and therapy. The problem is not everyone wants or thinks they need help. Only a small population are violent. I am reading a book about sociopaths (estimated 1 in 25 people) and most people automatically think about violent people. Most are not. Violent characters make good movies.

As for genetic counseling, I don't know...I think that falls into the none of your business category. Does it really stop people with bad family histories from having children? I don't think so. I often hear people who have mental or physically illnesses that are in their family and how they would never have children, only to later hear they are. You can only pray this young man does not any issues and if they marry and have children, neither do they. Worrying will not change the outcome.

ETA: having a mentally ill parent can drastically impact the child. Hopefully he has gone to therapy to deal with the issues surrounding his mother, including possible abuse (if she is violent).
 

mol42

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Apr 1, 2010
Messages
221
Pandora|1313261642|2990152 said:
They are not the same but recent research indicates a common genetic cause.

A major study in 2009 revealed that:

- First-degree relatives (parents, siblings, or offspring) of people with either schizophrenia or bipolar disorder were at increased risk for both of these conditions.

- If a sibling had schizophrenia, full siblings were nine times more likely than the general population to have schizophrenia and four times more likely to have bipolar disorder.

- If a sibling had bipolar disorder, they were eight times more likely to have bipolar disorder and four times more likely to have schizophrenia.

- Half siblings who shared the same mother were 3.6 times more likely to have schizophrenia if their half sibling had schizophrenia and 4.5 times more likely to have bipolar disorder if their half sibling had bipolar disorder. Half siblings who shared the same father had a 2.7-fold increase in schizophrenia risk and a 2.4-fold increase in bipolar disorder.

- Adopted children with a biological parent with one of the disorders had a significant increase in risk for the other.

Shared and non-shared environmental factors also contributed to risk, but they were less important influences than genetics.

The findings appear in the Jan. 17 issue of the journal The Lancet.
Amelia,
I know you asked for a real life family perspective, and I don't have that to offer (at least with schizophrenia.) However, I wanted to comment on Pandora's post.

1. The Lancet study's findings are consistent with what we've known about schizophrenia risks for some time. The general population's risk for schizophrenia is about 1%, and it increases to about 10% if one has a first degree relative. In this young man's case, he has one first degree relative, and other relatives, so I would expect his risk to probably be over 10%. While he is not DESTINED to develop schizophrenia, he is at higher risk to do so.

2. You mentioned that he is "socially awkward." There are experts in the field who advocate conceptualizing psychotic disorders on a continuum. So on one end might be schizoid, schizotypal, paranoid personalities (socially odd or awkward) to mood disorders with psychotic features to schizophrenia. Furthermore, some experts advise early treatment and possibly treating family members with "soft signs" for improved treatment outcomes and social functioning.

3. While current DSM-IV division of psychiatric disorders separates mood disorders (such as bipolar) from psychotic disorders (such as schizophrenia), in reality their symptoms frequently overlap. As I mentioned, there are experts who view it on the same continuum, and share much more in common than originally thought.

4. As previous readers have suggested, age 19 is at the cusp of when first psychotic breaks for males tend to occur. Perhaps the best thing to do is to WAIT. Recommend to your sister to take her time. At the end of the day, no one has a crystal ball and can predict what will happen TOMORROW, let alone several years from now. With time, they have the opportunity to watch for symptoms, gain more knowledge, talk to psychiatrists (perhaps his mother's psychiatrist for a more personalized assessment??), keep an open mind, and garner support.

Best of luck to you and your family,
 
Be a part of the community It's free, join today!
    Good Customer Service Goes a Long Way
    Good Customer Service Goes a Long Way
    5.5 Carat Diamond Upgrade
    5.5 Carat Diamond Upgrade
    Style File: Julia Roberts
    Style File: Julia Roberts

Need Something Special?

Get a quote from multiple trusted and vetted jewelers.

Holloway Cut Advisor



Diamond Eye Candy

Click to view full-size image.
Top