My sister was recently diagnosed with psychosis. How can I get her to talk?

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by dbking

Question by Curious Student: My sister was recently diagnosed with psychosis. How can I get her to talk?
Background: Since her last hospitalization at Harborview Medical Center on July 23rd, I noticed that my 26-year-old sister has quit talking to everyone in the family. She doesn’t even sing like she used to, refuses to take a bath, wants to stay in bed all day, and refuses to talk.

The reason she was hospitalized was that she starved herself for nearly 30 days and denied herself water for about 5 days. She had to given fluids and nutrients via a tube. According to the doctors, she was near death despite being 175 lbs.

During her stay, my family never left her side, took turns watching over her, and even watched her being tested. She constantly refused treatment. “I’m okay! I’m okay! Jesus will heal me!” she yelled (NOTE: She is a Fundimentalist Christian). There was even a point where she started talking like Hagu-chan from the Japanese college drama, Honey and Clover. (NOTE: My sister ISN”T AN ANIME FAN! But she has peeked over my shoulder when I watched the show.) Other times, she would talk about Jesus and tell Bible Stories to family members. It’s only when the doctors came to check on her or prepare her for testing, that she started to fight everyone. The doctors had to sedate her.

The doctors gave her an EEG, MRI, CT scan, and a drug test. All of the tests came out normal.

On her 3rd day in the hospital, the hospital psychiatrist called the state after examining my sister and telling my family her diagnosis. People from Western State Mental Hospital came in with a straight-jacket and hoped to take her away. (NOTE: She is on welfare, and there are no other mental health facilities available to those who have coupons. Only people with private insurance can get to regular mental health facilities.)

My mom was able to make a deal with the doctors: As long as my sister eats, drinks, is supervised constantly, and goes to therapy, my sister could be released from the hospital.

Since then, she hasn’t talked to anyone. I’ve had to watch over her when she eats, because she tends to spit out her food, crumble her food, or refuse to drink anything. My mom even bought her Ensure drinks and Centrum chewables just to make sure she is getting the nutrients she needs. A few days after hospitalization, she was even seen by Valley Cities Mental Health for crisis counseling.

So back to my question, what can I do to get her talking again?

Best answer:

Answer by Jali C
Well, the first step is not to pressure her into it. The next time you see her, just start talking yourself. Say, “You wouldn’t believe what happened to me today,” or “I saw this movie I really liked”, and tell her about it even if she doesn’t respond. It’s important to talk to her and treat her like a friend rather than an invalid all the time. Keep her informed in your life and maybe she’ll get interested again.

Bring a movie into her room and watch it with her, even if she doesn’t seem interested. Say things like, “I just felt like hanging out with you today”, or “I thought you might like this book/movie/song”, anything.

Whatever she’s going through, she’s still your sister, and it’s important that she knows you feel that way about her. Make it a point to stop in “Just to say hi”, rather than “Just checking on you”. She needs affection, but she doesn’t need to be smothered. Above all, she needs your patience and understanding, even if you DON’T understand what’s going through her head right now.

I wish I could be more help, and I wish you all the best with your family.

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