BF with Schizophrenia

Hello! I am new to this support group, and could really use some help. There is probably going to be a lot in here so I’ll do my best to break it down into sections. If you don’t want to read the whole thing, my questions are in bold at the bottom.

Intro/ Relationship Background
My boyfriend and I met in college last fall and we were friends for about a year before this past fall semester we started getting closer. He was really sweet and attentive, always texting and snapchatting me, being the first person to reach out, wanting to hang out a lot, and being extremely charming and romantic, and when he mentioned he had schizophrenia I didn’t think anything of it, as I knew he was medicated for it. I finally asked him out right before winter break and was so ecstatic when he said yes! Mutually, we agreed not to tell our families until we are ready, as we wanted to experience “us” without worrying about how they would react.
However, come spring semester things got pretty difficult.

BF’s Background
For the sake of ease, I am going to refer to my BF as C
C has been diagnosed with Schizophrenia since he was about 5. His symptoms (that I know of) are mainly psychosis and hearing voices. On top of that he has diagnosed anxiety, depression, ADHD, insomnia, bipolar (again, that I know of), and is a recovered suicide survivor. From what I understand, he is medicated for these however I do not know what specific meds he takes. He is also allergic to gluten, nuts, legumes, and beans. As far as I know, he is not in therapy of any kind and has no intentions of doing so. He has his own traumas and a pretty rough childhood, and as such tends to keep things to himself and not like to rely on others for anything, however he did start letting me in around when we started dating.

My Background
Hello! As of right now I am “mental illness free”, but do not let that fool you. I am fairly certain I have anxiety, depression, insomnia, and ADHD at least and show definitive symptoms for both, and will be taking steps to get some sort of a diagnosis come summer break, as I do not want to deal with getting used to meds on top of school work. C is my first exposure to someone with Schizophrenia
C is my first boyfriend, however I am not his first. I love him very much and am currently very frustrated and confused, which is why I am asking for help.

Spring Semester
Everything started out amazing. We got back to campus and spent a lot of time together watching netflix and generally hanging out. Typically we only will see each other on fridays/the weekends due to both of our majors being pretty work-intense, which is fine, we are both students and our futures are very important.
January went by without any hiccups. We celebrated our 1 month anniversary and he was very sweet, making sure to spend time with me on the weekends as per usual, and he gave me a lovely gift for our 1 month. We made plans for me to take him ice skating for the first time for our 2 month anniversary as our first official date. Throughout the month I could tell he was slightly stressed, but I had assumed it was due to him getting a bit behind in classes, as he was spending more time than he should gaming with his friends at home rather than doing homework, and had to spend extra time to catch up, which doesn’t always work in his favor with his ADHD.
Then in early february about 2 days before our anniversary I got rear-ended pretty bad while at a red light, leaving me concussed and my car totaled. I tried going to classes the next day not realizing how badly concussed I was and promptly left after my first one, and messaged C if I could hang with him for the day after his classes. Throughout the day I was extremely out of it and he had no idea what to do, but was again very sweet and caring. However, this was also the first time he showed any schizo symptoms around me. Maybe about 20 mins after we got to his apartment he suddenly got really confused as to why I was there, and told me he couldn’t remember anything from the past 20 mins. This greatly concerned me, but I was very concussed and ended up going to the hospital later that night.
After that, things got really bad for him. He continued to game with his friends over doing homework and started attending classes via zoom rather than in person, so he was barely leaving his room. His roommate also games all night, which did not help his insomnia at all, and he started canceling any plans we made last-minute, stopped intitating any interactions with me, and basically barely had any contact with me over phone or in person. Then about a week after I went to the hospital he messages me saying he doesn’t think he can stay in college anymore. After that I lose all contact with him for about 2 weeks. I don’t know where we stand in our relationship or what is going on with him. When I finally meet up with him again we only hang out for an hour because he says he has homework he needs to do, and we talk a bit about what is going on with him. Due to stress building up his schizophrenia symptoms had been getting significantly worse. Seeing me seemed to help him a bit, but he looked awful and I had no idea how to help him other than be there. I convinced him to talk to his parents about taking a half semester off to figure out his mental health, and see where it goes from there. Then he asks me if I want to do long distance, which I do, and that is the first time we confess we love each other.
Come march we had planned to spend a lot of march break together and I would help him with his homework, but then right as I was shopping for food to make for our first date he messages me saying his parents are making him come home for break and when he gets back he’s withdrawing from classes and going home. That night was the last night I spent with him, just hanging out and trying to be supportive of him.
He and his parents flew home the next morning, and that week was probably one of the worst weeks of my life. On top of stressing over him, I was still dealing with being concussed and my workload piling up due to being a digital art major unable to look at a computer screen. C came back to campus a week later to move his stuff out and attend a few appointments he couldn’t get out of. During the time in between he again barely had any contact with me, and I was extremely worried about him. I don’t see him until that morning, when I help him pack up his stuff and leave. Before he leaves he promises me he will get a job while he’s home and try to get his mental health together, and we’ll see each other again, even if he doesn’t end up coming back to this college. I tell him not to worry about relationship stuff; just make sure to snapchat me every day so I can see his face, and generally keep in contact with me. We’ll figure out the rest as we go. For reference, we are about 1,560 miles apart, which is about a 24 hour car ride.

April has it’s ups and downs. He keeps going for periods of snapchatting me once a day late at night to several times a day. He still doesn’t respond to any of my texts and sending him memes, but I keep doing it anyways because I know he is struggling. Our 5 month anniversary comes, when we said we’d finally do our first date over zoom, and he ghosts me. I call him, and he doesn’t pick up. He doesn’t say “I love you” or “I miss you” anymore. Throughout the month I can tell he’s been declining. His day consists of going to work for a few hours a day at a job he doesn’t particularly like, coming home and helping his parents around the house for a few hours, then, essentially, being bored and either gaming with his friends or smoking weed. There is definitely a correlation there between him declining and the weed, but he claims it helps him a bit, and since he’s been so miserable I don’t want to say anything. However, he hasn’t shown any signs of taking steps towards helping his mental health at all. I talked with his friends a bit and they said he’s just like this, and that he doesn’t seem to want to be/ get helped. From what I can tell, C seems to be relying on his meds to “fix him” and not take further actions in his life to learn how to better deal with things. He seems almost content to suffer, and doesn’t seem to have any love for himself or really any inclination to do anything other than game with his friends and smoke weed.
He finally calls back and we have a nice conversation. He feels bad about ghosting me, and says its due to stress that he forgot, and asks if we can reschedule our first date for our 5 month anniversary in May, and for the first time since leaving he says he loves and misses me. We also talk about when we can possibly see each other, and he mentions possibly asking his family if I can go on vacation with them whenever that is, however we still haven’t told our families about us yet.

Recently over the past week or so he’s started pulling away even more. I know he is under a lot of stress right now, which is absolutely not helping his schizophrenia, but I’m absolutely miserable not having basically any contact with him at all. We are essentially dating in title only, as we still have yet to go on our first date, and I’m struggling enough to the point where it is getting in the way of my school work. I’ve started confiding in a close friend with relationship experience, and she seems to think I should break up with him, however I know he’s struggling, and as one of the few people he lets into his life, even as little as he tells me, I don’t want to give up on him because he’s struggling. However, he isn’t showing any signs of wanting to help himself or get better, and has absolutely no inclination for joining a support group or going to therapy. He is a grown man, albeit young, who is capable of making his own decisions, but right now he seems to be making all the wrong ones.

At this point I’m scrambling to research anything/everything on schizophrenia, as I am trying to figure out if him ignoring me almost completely, as he is doing, is either due to his psychosis getting worse, likely due to the weed and stress, or if he’s actually a terrible boyfriend.
I miss him so much, and it hurts to see the person you care most about struggle like this, seemingly content to suffer. I don’t even care about him going back to college right now, as he needs to get his mental health under control, but he isn’t even doing that. I’m at such a loss as to what to do.
Should I confront him about this? I called him again a few days ago, as my friend had a seizure out of the blue and I had to both take care of him and be a calming presence for his housemates who were freaking out, and needed to hear his voice for comfort. He didn’t respond, which I’m not surprised by, so I left a message still haven’t received a call back, however I do know he has been gaming with his friends all day today and was out with them the night before. I also know confronting him about weed, or really any of this, will probably agitate him a bit, and with how our “relationship” is I’m scared of losing contact with him further. At this point I won’t even be surprised if he ghosts me on our date night again.

Again, I just don’t know what to do. Is any of this due to his schizophrenia? Or is he just a terrible boyfriend? If this is mostly due to his schizophrenia, how could I approach him about this? How can I help and support him? What are some ways I can stay motivated to help him throughout this?

He really needs support right now. I don’t want to leave him, and I do know that will upset him further if I do, but if he is indeed being a terrible boyfriend I don’t know how much longer of this I can take.

Thank you to anyone who took the time to read this, and to anyone who can offer any help or insight at all. I really appreciate it. Also, if anyone could direct me to any websites that can give me some solid information on schizophrenia and about what it is like dating someone who has it, I would also appreciate that.

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Hi Cloudy! This sounds like such a stressful time for you. Navigating college and your first relationship is already a lot, even without throwing in schizophrenia and long distance and a concussion and a totalled car and secrecy from your families. I’m not going to tell you to break up with him, but things dont have to be this hard.

It sounds like he and his parents have had a long time to figure out how to live with this, and them coming to get him from school when he was struggling is a good sign that they can be point people on taking care of him. From your position, there sadly isn’t much you can do to get him to make better choices. In terms of support, I would ask him what he needs and see how much of that you are reasonably able to provide.

My thoughts on whether he’s a terrible boyfriend and if it’s due to the schizophrenia are coming from the perspective that my boyfriend is probably schizophrenic. He’s got a lot of paranoia about me, and his grasp on reality is iffy. He gets violent sometimes out of nowhere. He doesn’t have a phone or internet so planning and communication are really hard. That’s from the schizophrenia. But he shows up with my favorite snacks and he helps me with my chores when my ADHD is too bad to manage it and when my grandma died he came back from who knows where to take care of me and get me ready for her funeral. I know he’s putting in around as much effort as I am, even if the outcome looks different. Do you think C is trying as hard as you are? How is he supporting you?

Welcome to this site, keep coming back as you will find help here.

If you haven’t read it yet, “I’m not Sick, I don’t Need Help” by Dr. Amador is a good book with suggestions on how to communicate to a person with schizophrenia. The LEAP method is a tool you can use to communicate with your boyfriend and hopefully bring change.

Every road on the caregiver path is different, you have to choose what is the right path for you. Whatever choices you make, no one here will judge you.

Thank you so much for your response!
I have asked him if there is anything I can do, and unfortunately he does not think there is. As of right now he thinks our relationship is going great despite our minimal contact, so maybe I am just overreacting because I’m stressed and miss him?
He does support me a bit by asking how school and such is going, which I really appreciate. But when I ask him how he’s doing he’s at least honest that he isn’t doing well, but beyond that I don’t know any specifics and he seems unwilling to share so I haven’t pushed him. This is probably just something we will need to work out though.

Do you have any advice you can offer? Or potentially any books/resources on schizophrenia?
Thank you so much!

Thank you for the suggestion and advice, I greatly appreciate it!

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