I understand your concerns. It’s difficult to have a parent with schizophrenia. It can be an all-consuming experience for family members.
It’s not uncommon for offspring of individuals with schizophrenia to worry about developing the disorder. Some also worry about passing it on to their children. As you noted, there is an increased chance of developing the disorder but that possibility is very small.
You mentioned that you are engaging in some of the symptoms that she is, but you didn’t describe the behaviors themselves. Before you assume that you are engaging in similar symptoms, it would be wise to consult a mental health professional (in person) and provide them with all of the details about your symptoms and ask for their opinion. You might be wrong about what you are labeling as symptoms of schizophrenia. I might have been able to provide more insight and information about your concerns, had you provided more details about the behaviors that you are labeling as disorganized thinking and delusions of reference. Much more information is needed to make a determination about whether or not these are symptoms or not.
For instance, you mentioned disorganized thinking. Among individuals with schizophrenia, disorganized thinking involves having disjointed thoughts or putting together words or phrases that are incoherent to the listener. It is your opinion that you too are demonstrating disorganized thinking, but it’s very unlikely the case. You might be categorizing your thinking as being disorganized when in fact, it is not, at least not in the same way that one might see among those with schizophrenia.
You also mentioned delusions of reference. It would’ve been helpful to know what delusions of reference you think you are experiencing, as well as why you think they are similar to what your mother is experiencing. Without more details, it’s impossible to know if you are accurate in your perception or if your worries are based on fear.
My advice to you is to consult a mental health professional, in-person, if possible. If in person consultation is impossible, given the pandemic, then perhaps online or telephone consultation might also be an option for you. Utilize the assistance of a mental health professional to evaluate your concerns, to determine if you are objectively experiencing symptoms and most importantly, to begin treatment if necessary. It’s highly unlikely that you are developing a disorder but if you are, they can begin treatment immediately.
You might also benefit from joining a National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) group. Check out their website to see what services are available in your community. NAMI is an advocacy organization that assists individuals who have loved ones with severe mental illnesses. They would understand what you’re going through and can provide support, guidance and education about living with a loved one with mental illness. It might also help to reduce your fears about developing schizophrenia.
One last fact to keep in mind, very few people who have a family member with schizophrenia develop the disorder themselves. That should help to extinguish your fears. Good luck and please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle