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Schizophrenia in my Family

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The first time I heard about schizophrenia was when my sister’s husband was diagnosed as being schizo-affective. He heard voices.  Back then I was much more superstitious about God and I wondered if it was demon possession. Since then I’ve learned to let go of all that superstitious nonsense of my childhood religion. Let me digress for a moment, and if you are uncomfortable with a bit of talk about Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior, skip on down to the next paragraph. I’m now what is called a “Mid-Acts Dispensationalist” and I won’t go into great detail, but basically we believe that we are to “rightly divide the Word of Truth” which means that the Bible is broke into different dispensations. As a result, we’re living in the age of grace, and the only thing we must do to have our salvation is to believe that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, was buried and rose from the dead.  I no longer believe that miracles are being performed, we don’t have to ask forgiveness for every little wrong thing we do. All the work was done at the cross for our salvation and that is what we have today.

So my brother-in-law was diagnosed schizo-affective. He scared me.  He was unpredictable (my fear of these people unfortunately manifests as hatred), would scream and yell and he beat my sister.  Eventually she left and divorced him, but not until they’d had three children together. Eventually he killed himself, my sister claims it was an accident. Gunshot wound to the main artery in his thigh and he bled to death barricaded inside a friend’s home. He was making my sister’s life so miserable it was a nightmare; I hate to admit being relieved to know I won’t ever have to face him again and he’ll never be able to torture my sister again.

My niece exhibits signs of schizophrenia. One of those children is my precious niece.  My sister had homeschooled her children for all these years, and when her daughter turned 13, she wanted to try school. She tried for a couple of years, but when she would go to school she would hear the voices. I think it was the additional stress of going to school that made the voices start. The voices telling her to hurt herself, or others. My sister decided to get into the superstitious part of schizophrenia, and had a friend who knew all about this “stuff”.  So now my sister thinks that her daughter has a “gift” and she can speak to the dead, and help guide them to a “better place”.

I know that my sister is on a low fat diet to keep her weight low, and she keeps putting my niece on it.  She has told me she gets “enough” fats from the natural fats in foods, like she quoted that apples have some fat in them. I know they also use Nutrasweet regularly.  I have talked to my family about Nourishing Traditions and eating “good” fats, but they have not seen any improvements (like me losing weight, or having more energy) so I’m sure they just think I’m some weirdo. It’s not like I’ve been doing NT completely. We have really backslid in the last ten years to eating a lot of SAD foods.

My sister exhibits signs of schizophrenia. My sister apparently also hears voices, and a number of her other children (six altogether) are “blessed” with the “talent”. My sister even announced at our grandmother’s funeral that Grandma was in the room with us.  I have another sister who claims to receive “visitations” from dead relatives.

My father has been officially diagnosed with schizophrenia. That leads me to our father, who was recently (about one year ago) diagnosed with schizophrenia.  He has had mental issues all his life, and I thank God that he ran away and abandoned me and my mom and two sisters when I was five.  He has done things over the years like get up on a roof and shoot at other houses, he slathers his head with olive oil to get rid of the “cradle cap”, he sucks on a pacifier to exercise his mouth, and about two years ago he was arrested for exposing himself to two young girls walking to school. He happened to be drenched in olive oil at the time.  About a year ago I got a call that he’d drank antifreeze in a suicide attempt.  He came to visit me about four or five years ago and he was very skinny, and looked horrible, skin and bones. His claim to the fantastic body (he really thought he looked exceptionally great) was his diet of corn tortillas and white rice and an occasional chocolate bar.

I was appalled. Especially after he told me a nutritionist told him that white rice is fortified so he was getting all his vitamins that way.  He wouldn’t stop bothering me (by email) about my weight, and it was one of the things that compelled me to stop having regular contact with him. My own husband never says a word about my body, my father ran away when I was five and how dare he preach to me about my weight.

I was convinced from the time I heard what he was eating that his troubles were caused from nutrition. I thought maybe pellagra.

For a while I was really scared that I was going to end up with schizophrenia, too.  Surely it must be hereditary, and sometimes I feel so stressed out and full of anxiety, it would feel like my brain wasn’t working correctly.  I would feel very weighed down. I would cry easily and felt like I was going to crack at any minute.  That’s when I started taking Kava-Kava every day for about a month. I was finally able to go off the Kava-Kava, thankfully, mainly because my boss gave me permission to work from home one day a week and that helped a great deal.  She has a lifelong friend who had a nervous breakdown and maybe she saw me exhibiting similar signs. I was pretty stressed out at work, even breaking down and crying.  After a few weeks she commented to me that I seemed like I was doing a lot better.

When my niece started exhibiting signs of schizophrenia, I figured it must be hereditary. Now I believe, in a way it is.  Not only her father, but her mother and grandfather exhibit the same disorder.  If the parents have gut issues, the children are almost certainly going to have gut issues.  The mother may pass on the wrong bacteria during childbirth and if the diet is wrong it can lead to gut issues. I have also read that schizophrenia can begin to manifest in the teen years, which of course is when the hormones are beginning to produce, and also the body is beginning to feel the stress of surviving on less than desirable foods. So it makes sense.

Our bodies have the wonderful ability to heal themselves.  Sometimes, knowing what I know about traditional foods and nutrition, it’s a wonder more people aren’t bedridden since their diets are so horrible. I look around me and I see people taking antibiotics every month or every other month, people with IBS, one was recently diagnosed with lupus, another on high doses of thyroid medication with gut issues.  I wish I could bring them all home and feed them nutritiously and help them to heal.  But like anything else, I have to start with myself, and my own little immediate family first.

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5 comments to Schizophrenia in my Family

  • christin

    Most people don’t talk about uncomfortable things like this. I’m glad you did!
    I would love to hear more about this. I’ve always felt alone in this. Do you have a guess as to what cause the religious/paranoia/fear issues?
    I’m not ready to deal with this yet but I have felt “lost” my whole life because of growing up Christian and feeling sad and paraniod. I always felt sinful and thought about dark relgious issues. I would cry myself to sleep at night about dying/heaven/hell/demons/sin and one and one.
    It got so unbearable over the years I have not deat with it for a long time. I avoid church and my faith is shaking. I used to cry about this all the time but now I’m more calm and plan to dig it up down the road.
    Mental illness causes so very much suffering!!

    [Reply]

  • Hey Christin, I’m sorry for all the pain you’ve suffered over religious institution stuff. I wrote more to you by email. Hugs, Starlene

    [Reply]

  • Momtosix

    Thank you for posting about this. We’re just starting GAPS ourselves and are 2 wks into the intro. I also have this and other mental illnesses on both sides of my family and two children with autism. It scares me. I have a child who is exhibiting these symptoms and I am hopeful this diet will help. The one thing I’ve noticed is that she craves bread. With sugar and bread came weird behavior. She also had a ruptured appendix and came close to dying. I think it’s from candida attacking her appendix. I have to do something now to help her. I am told something like %46 percent of Schizophrenics suffer from a ruptured appendix. That can definitely be gut related. There is no doubt.

    [Reply]

  • Thanks to those who have posted. My daughter (26, pregnant with 2nd) is paranoid schizophrenic and convinced that the voices are messages from extraterrestrials. She’s on meds but the whole family has been on GAPS for her sake (and for DH’s Crohn’s disease). She doesn’t have many digestive issues, so we’re doing the FULL GAPS, which is what Dr. NCMB advises – just the diet, no probiotics. Unfortunately, with going in and out of hospital (for our safety) she hasn’t really been 100% on the diet for any length of time. Maybe three weeks was the longest time.
    There’s also the die-off, or Herxheimer effect, to look out for. If you go too fast, the bad bacteria in the guts die in massive numbers, and as they die even more neurotoxins are released than when they are in steady numbers, so the symptoms get worse. Considering this, I really wish the medical establishment would help us by having GAPS as a food choice in hospitals!

    Since I read the GAPS book by Dr. NCMB, I understand where her dyslexia and other learning disabilities came from. It all makes sense now. And that gives me hope. Good luck to you all.

    [Reply]

    Starlene Reply:

    @Odddlycrunchy, I am curious with your daughter’s first pregnancy, did she suffer postpartum depression?

    Has she checked her adrenal function? I am starting to think low cortisol/adrenal dysfunction can have a serious effect on us mentally. Check this page for symptoms of low cortisol: http://adrenalsweb.org/low-cortisol.php. Also, in doing a quick Google search I found this woman’s site and thought I would post it in case you have not seen it, she does mention the gut/bacteria/mind connection: http://itsnotmental.blogspot.com/ This snippet from this page in the comments caught my eye: “The low cortisol makes a person extremely vulnerable to stressors and is involved in PTSD and possibly escalating into psychotic symptoms however brief. To make matter worse, the low cortisol can inhibit the conversion of T4 thyroid hormone to the T3 form which the body actually uses. The low T3 can also cause a person to be extremely vulnerable to stressors, cause depressive symptoms, and other major psychiatric symptoms (including psychosis).”

    Also, how is her thyroid function? Hypothyroidism can cause schizophrenic-like symptoms. You can’t go on just the TSH, but need to have all the other tests done, like testing for Hashimoto’s antibodies, etc. Check the Stop the Thyroid Madness (STTM) site for recommended labwork – you can even order your own lab tests without a doctor’s prescription from various labs listed on that page. There is a STTM “panel” you can order which is $249, it’s the STTM Thyroid Complete.

    One more thing. How are her Vitamin D levels? I live in sunny Arizona and was shocked to find my levels were below “range”. Here is a link tying schizophrenia and Vitamin D deficiency. http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2010/09/07/3005303.htm

    Everything you are learning is of vital importance to the health of your grandchildren. I would also read Deep Nutrition by Dr. Cate Shanahan to further your education on why GAPS is the best thing you can do for yourself and your loved ones.

    Saliva cortisol tests can be done for under $140 and you can get an idea where her cortisol levels are, this also does not require a doctor’s prescription but can be bought online, the test is sent to you and you mail it back in.

    I also wish we could get GAPS food in hospitals! How amazing would that be? Alas, a majority would not choose that option. Thanks for sharing and I hope your daughter and your family are 100% healed in the near future. Warm regards, Starlene

    [Reply]

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