Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

16 Y/O Boyfriend with Schizophrenia

Hi, I’m 16 years old, as is my boyfriend of just under a month.

He’s on the autism spectrum (as am I) , has mild psychosis and schizophrenia- so far I know that he experiences auditory and visual hallucinations, though he has experienced a few ‘happy’ and ‘dream like’ ones (his own words), the majority are frightening.

I’ve noticed he becomes incredibly nervous around strangers and worries about who they are, what they’re doing, their motives etc (I try to avoid him having to walk home alone at night as a result but he’s adamant that it’s ‘fine and he doesn’t mind’).

Can anyone give me advice in any sense? As a person with schizophrenia, what do you wish people would do for you?

I love him dearly and being autistic, can empathize with his subsequent existentialism, however, I don’t know enough about schizophrenia and want him to feel at least somewhat understood, and at least cared about. I’d ask him directly but he doesn’t like people to do things for him (has a lot of doubt in relation to his self-worth).

Thank you :), I just want to learn as much as I can to do better for both him, and other people with schizophrenia x

This is a tough situation. First its very commendable for you to try and help. You are young and dealing with your own issues and need help. Life does get tough and is unfair. Do you have family support. I suggest you read over all the topics and see what others are experiencing from their loved one with sz. Its not pretty and can tax people really hard. That way you will have an idea what this brain decease does to the individual and their family. I have a stepson with sz and it has put me through he… to a point my own health was suffering. I love him, but I can’t help him anymore. He is 33 now and started showing symptoms at 18, its been a long haul. My husband and I tried so much but somehow they also need to try. You can’t force them to take meds after they are 18, un less court ordered. The earlier he gets treatment and on meds the better. A lot of sz don’t want to take meds and will go off them and usually they start having trouble with reality. From my experience when they are in a physcosis state it is very hard to get through to them. As i said it is very good of you to want to care and be there and getting insight is important. Think hard from what you learn and take care of yourself. I dont know much about autisum so my answer is only from my experience. My husband and I have no contact with our son he is in the state mental hospital for stealing and is unfit to stand trial at this point. Its very, very sad and breaks my heart but i know i cant help him any more. Its been a long 15 years.

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Thank you, I really appreciate your reply. Whilst i do have my own issues to work through- despite short comings I’d say I’m a very stable person, and often deal well in situations such as these so long as I’m wary to not put myself at risk.

In relation to him- his sz presents itself rather mildly from what I know- his expression of feeling and interpretation of the world and his surroundings overlaps with many experiences of people with autism. I’m of the belief that ASD is his primary ‘condition’ (not a fan of that word) and that psychosis and sz are co-morbid. He gets on (seemingly) well in a mainstream college (which I also attend), most of his difficulties come with paranoia, anxiety and states of existentialism.

Thank you for your response- my best wishes to you, and to your son. I can imagine it’s difficult not having had contact with him for so long, but you seem assured in knowing that it was as much for his own benefit as your own- you weren’t in a place were you could ‘help’ him, and needed to care for yourself. You’re a very caring person and should never doubt the efforts you’ve been through- don’t ever sacrifice yourself or well-being at the hands of others. Regardless of whether or not their behavior is disorder-related.

Ad I always say- I may be autistic, but no one ought to ‘put up with’ or ‘assist me’ with behavior relating to my autism. Autism will never excuse the negative things I do, and etcetera

@niamh_maj this forum is largely for caregivers, but there are a few DXed folks here like myself who can give you advice. There are more spouses and partners who can give you their perspectives.

First, I think it’s commendable that you want to help and you are educating yourself. Being on the autistic spectrum you may be part the way there toward understanding how he thinks and feels. I know I feel a bit of a kinship with folks on that spectrum and I think there’s significant overlap. People with SZ are a minority as you are in a neurotypical world and we have to learn and adapt. It’s as if we are in another country speaking a different language and trying to follow customs different than our own, and we are apt to make mistakes.

I think the main thing I want in a partner is just that— a partner. Someone who can operate as a second set of eyes and ears, emotions and instincts who I can trust to help me navigate the world.

One thing you likely have in common is sensory and thought flooding. When you have SZ the world overstimulates you. For me and most people on the SZ spectrum, the stimulus is mostly auditory. Some people experience transient visual flooding, but I don’t and I’m not sure what happens when autism is also in the mix. (My understanding from accounts of Temple Grandin is some autistic people think in visual terms, but this may not be universal.). The way most people with SZ cope with the sensory overload is to withdraw or escape. If they are lucky, they eventually get desensitized and can deal with going outside. Your boyfriend seems to have strategies that help him navigate on his own. You can’t be with him at all times, so support him in learning how to cope. Some may resort to street drugs to escape which is generally counterproductive, so I would recommend making sure your boyfriend avoids them.

Where the differences come in is in the thought flooding and perception of the stimulus. My guess is to you, what you see and hear is what you see and hear. The world is concrete to you as you experience it. To him this may be more fluid or mixed up. His thoughts get mixed with his stimuluses and he hallucinates. These will often have themes or a loose narrative of a sort, but may or may not be coherent.

How he describes them to you may be his best approximation of assigning meaning to all the stimulus. External the stimulus are thoughts that direct and associate things together. In paranoiacs, like myself, this can be similar to the plot of a detective story or script of a noire movie that he makes up as it unfolds. Each theme is like a chapter where the ideas are collected and woven together. The problem is, it’s a bad story with plot holes and inconsistencies that he may be unaware of. Unfortunately it often doesn’t help to point out those plot holes, as he may get defensive and emotional about them, because he ‘knows’ they are right and true, etc. So it’s best not to focus on or bring up these problems unless he asks.

I think that’s enough for now, as I’m unsure if I’m being clear or if this may be a bit over your head with terminology and such or if my understanding of autism as you experience it is correct. Schizophrenia is a spectrum as well. Some people call them the schizophrenias. I have what’s called Schizoaffective disorder which has a mood or emotional component, so I have less of a flat affect.

Feel free to reply to the thread or message me if you have more questions or need clarification.

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