Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Boyfriend has schizophrenia I believe, but will not seek help

Hello there!

So my boyfriend of 5 years started to dramatically change about a year ago. He constantly thinks everyone is working together to make his live hell. Sometime he even thinks we’re all working together to bring a change that we want within him. He thinks I’m fake a lot of the time. There’s tons more too. It kills me! I don’t know what to do. He won’t get help for it because he trusts no one. What do I do? Help!!!

It sounds like it could be a disorder, but only a doctor with the appropriate credentials can make that diagnosis.
You have some choices to make for yourself.
You can try to help him see a doctor and get a diagnosis / treatment. But if he refuses your help, you won’t have any positive impact.
You could choose to part ways. There is nothing morally wrong with leaving a boyfriend who doesn’t treat you the way you feel you deserve to be treated.
You could try to get his family up to speed and engaged in seeking diagnosis and treatment. It’s up to them if they want to do all that, and you can’t force them to take action.
You could wait it out and hope the changes to stop or reverse. But from a relationship perspective, that almost never happens. Even if it isn’t a real psychological disorder.

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I go along with what @wreklus said. You may need to make some changes in your own life, as hard as that can be, but learning more about serious mental illness (even if there is not yet a diagnosis) can be helpful and certainly empowering. You might read some of the material on the NAMI.org website.

If it is schizophrenia and he isn’t willing to see a doctor or take meds, you are in for a horrible long term emotional roller coaster ride. You may have to choose yourself and your own sanity over trying and failing to help him. As @wreklus said, you can choose to part ways. The more you learn about this illness, the more you will see what a curse it is for everyone involved.

As someone with sza (schizoaffective bipolar) I am grateful for my husband sticking with me through this ride.

However, if I refused treatment I would (during my non-ill times) understand why he left of he would.

If your boyfriend refuses treatment, no matter how much you love him, you should come first to YOU. You cannot help an Unmedicated schizophrenic. You would end up going crazy trying to figure out the why’s of everything.

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Thank you all. Yes, it is a crazy coaster ride. He said he will at least see a Dr, although he still thinks there’s nothing wrong with him. I will try to keep you all posted. I pray he gets on medicine!

That’s a good start.
It seems pretty common for someone with a disorder to ignore all the signs and symptoms and irrational behavior. Truely, a lot of people with any disorder, but especially Sz / SzA suffer from a symptom that causes a lack of rational insight into their actions and the real world cause and effect. Sequence of events, logical conclusions and rational decision making can be honestly challenging (particularly in the midst of psychological distress from hallucinations or delusions).
He may internally question whether there is anything wrong with his reasoning and behavior, or even emphatically deny it.
If you are determined to be there for him and help him, being emotionally consistent, providing even-tempered reason and logic and having the patience to endure some very upsetting lack of impulse control and good decision making are probably going to be key. Hopefully not forever, but probably for a while.

Keep insisting that he deserves peace of mind and some genuine contentment. Keep respectfully disagreeing with irrational logic. Keep recommending habits that promote good quality of life. Point out habits that detract from it.

If things get violent or abusive, don’t tolerate it. Take action.
If you feel like you’re making too many sacrifices, be honest about it. With him as well as with yourself.

In regard to lack of insight, a must-read is “I Am Not Sick; I Don’t Need Help”. You can also learn more about the strategy detailed in this book at LEAPInstitute.org. The author, Dr. Amador, who had a brother with SZ, tells about how this strategy helped him (as well as many of his patients) become medication-compliant. The strategy also helps with ANYthing you want the person to do but they are resistant. It was especially helpful for me to read Dr. Amador’s description of what it is like for a person who lacks insight to be told that he is sick. There is nothing rational about SZ. But there ARE strategies to deal with it.

I have no answers, I’m afraid. I have been with my husband for sixteen years, and this is destroying my world. I know exactly how difficult it is for you. Sometimes I look at others who are the parents of siblings of schizophrenic patients, and I am jealous. It’s horrific for everybody, but when you see your husband - your partner and equal who you have relied on and loved your whole life - suddenly disintegrate in front of your ideas, and lose love for you, it’s horrific. I wish there was somebody else in our family home to share the burden with me, but there isn’t (this is why I think it is harder when your spouse suffers from this, as there’s nobody then to help and support you as caregiver), and I feel very much alone, very full of grief for the loss of my husband, and full of despair.

I take my marriage vows seriously, but if your boyfriend is ill this will only get harder. Think carefully your love for him because it will have to withstand a lot.

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Oh @Imogen , your post hit me hard. I have been reading and posting on this site since March and am thankful for the help I’ve been given, but I only just now realize how hard it must be for spouses of someone with this awful illness. I respect greatly how you honor your wedding vows and are trying (alone) to help your husband. I can see how it would be a lonely struggle for you. I hope you can find some support on this site, since you just joined and this was your first post.

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Well we went to a counselor. It actually went okay. He let me go, which is great, because if I hadn’t the Dr wouldn’t have found out anything. We go back in 2 weeks to see about medication. This is the part I’m worried about because he HATES taking any kinds of meds.

I have a question for you all. Could each of you maybe tell me some of the symptoms your loved ones deal with? I’d greatly appreciate it! :slight_smile:

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Hi Wilhoit,
I am trying to get to the same position as you. My bf of 2 yrs needs to see a doctor. He is very unstable and we are all suffering because of it. He won’t see a doctor as yet. Has promised to but never does. I don’t know if he sees his behaviour or not. There are many symptoms and things which he says and does everyday now but the latest situation is that I’m back at my parents house afyer his accusations and delusional thoughts became too scary and traumatic to love with. Ive been having to do this often and I myself am now feeling very unsettled and anxious. I found out I’m 12 weeks pregnant too and his behaviour has gotten worse around this time which is very upsetting for me. I need his support at such an important time but he seems to have gotten much worse around the time just before I became pregnant. I’m so grateful for finding this page and thread. Please keep intouch xxx

There are SO many differing symptoms of schizophrenia. You might want to just do a web search for “symptoms of schizophrenia”. When your loved one is experiencing or doing crazy things, it IS, however, helpful to read about others who are experiencing similar issues…I think primarily to realize we are not alone. But each person is different. If you want to compare notes on specific symptoms you are observing or which have been diagnosed, you might want to start a new topic to have a discussion about that. Just a thought…

@wilhoit
Really glad your boyfriend decided to see a doctor!
Continue to be encouraging about it and try to demonstrate patience and understanding!

For symptoms my brother has told me about:

All delusions were worsened by scouring the internet for illegitimate articles written by people who have no clinical authority. Occasionally, I would help him find legitimate clinical articles or official news sources (major news websites or research magazines) that disprove some of the really wacky illegitemate articles he would show me.

Delusions of paranoia - He believed his doctor might be trying to poison him with medication.

Delusions of mass persecution - he believed that people disliked him and displayed it in subtle ways, like honking only at him on the road, or talking bad about him behind his back. He also felt like noises around his apartment were coded messages meant for him.

Delusions of thought-insertion - he believed that other people were planting thoughts in his mind for various bad reasons.

Delusions that he is not ill - He believed that schizophrenia was not a real disorder and that he was receiving special coded messages which he needed to decode.

Delusions that he is invincible because he is already dead - this one didn’t last long, but did cause him some confusion and stress.

Delusions that his hallucinations were ‘astreal projection’, or travelling to an alternate dimension - this was very convincing for him.

Delusions that he had lived past lives - that special wisdom or insight was gained by hallucinating.

Delusions that he might be psychic - also that his hallucinations were predicing the future.

Hallucinations of very morbid things - often disturbing and frightening.

Hallucinations of sexual nature - often out of his control and very difficult to talk about.

Hallucinations that swing from encouraging to insulting quickly - left him doubting who he could trust, even when family was supportive and encouraging.

Hallucinations that demand he perform some action - repetitive and relentless. The demands were often inappropriate, or irrational. Occasionaly they were destructive.

Adversion to personal hygiene - morbid mental images or uncomfortable feelings prevented him from doing simple tasks like clipping toe nails or preparing meals.

Feelings of inadequacy - he was very critical of himself to the point that he occasionally wanted to give up on doing things to help himself all together.

Perceived criticism from family - he felt like there were negative undertones to most things family talked to him about.

All of these symptoms were worst at night. Irregular sleep schedule and lack of daily routine were both symptoms and contributing complications to these problems.
Refusing treatment was often based on the belief that either his doctor was trying to harm him, or that his doctor unwittingly prescribed harmful medication. Both of these things required patient listening to his concerns and gentile reassurance that it wouldn’t make sense for his doctor to do those things (he’d lose his license to practice really fast if he were evil, or stupid).

Refusing to practice good hygiene and clean up his living space was often a result of his disorder creating uncomfortable feelings, or disturbing mental images related to those tasks. These were hard for him to talk about and it took a lot of time building trust before he decided to talk to me about them at all.

So, there can possibly be a lot more struggle going on internally than what you are aware of. Try to be patient and keep building trust by being a good listener amd a good source of rationality and reason.
If he comes to you for a ‘reality check’, be kind and reassure him that the disturbing things he might believe are either impossible, or extremely unlikely.
But also be aware that some of his statements might have some roots in reality.
For example, my brother stated that he didn’t want to drink tap water because it is not very clean and might contribute to some of his health problems. I realized that he was considering buying filtered, bottled water to drink instead.
I told him he was right that bottled water is much cleaner, but his digestive system probably handles tap water perfectly fine. If he really wanted to switch to botted water, he could simply figure the cost into his budget for groceries and replace soda with water.

Not saying that your boyfriend will experience any of that, but these symptoms seem to be pretty common.

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Thank you. That’s exactly what I was looking for. We’ve only been to one appt, so the Dr’s opinion could change, but for now the Dr thinks it’s just PTSD. I’m not sure though. A lot of his symptoms mirror schizo. Like for instance he won’t marry me because he thinks our relationship is fake now, mind you we’ve been together five years. He think every single person on this earth is working together to ‘change’ him. He gets really upset sometimes and tells me he can predict everything that is going to happen next, like who is going to cough, or what color car we will pass next. He’s convinced everyone he meets already knows him and everything about him.
So those are a few delusions. I know it’s hard to tell just from the symptoms listed. I’ve researched PTSD and I don’t ever see a whole lot relating to what he’s going through. He was in the army over a decade ago, so maybe that’s why they think he PTSD and not schizo. Idk. Hoping he’ll take the medicine they’ll give him.
Thank you all again.
I appreciate y’all telling me personal things. It helps to relate to at least someone.

@wilhoit My son, paranoid sz, got so bad that he thought I was an imposter and that drones were following him. He is better now and works and knows I am real (court ordered meds - shot - Invega Sustenna). The hospital social worker told me that a person with sz can think some people are imposters if they haven’t seen us for a few days. I had just returned from vacation when this happened.

He also thought people were following him and trying to track him down and that the police who were going to take him to jail were fake(he had a warrant for an old speeding ticket). He never did the making holes in the wall, that is common for people who think the government is listening in. He did, at one point, write things down to communicate with me, because “they” were listening in via his cell phone. During his big psychotic break he thought the neighbors had hacked into his tv and were telling him they were going to harm him and his family. And during this time as well he was working as a waiter and he said his customers were telling him to kill himself. One time he went to Home Depot and came back and said that people were following him so they could take his organs.

When I tell the doctor some of these things in front of my son, he says “that didn’t happen”.

Hopefully, your BF will agree to take meds. There has been some success with homeopathy and a amino acid called sarcosine and profrontal. Perhaps he’d be willing to take those if not the anti-psychotic meds.

Hi guys!
It’s been a minute since I’ve posted on here. He just started medication last week. So far he HATES it. I feel bad for him as I can see it’s making him very tired. I’d rather him be tired than go through what he has been. He’s also really depressed, but I’m hoping the meds help with that. He dislikes taking meds in the first place and is very impatient with them. I’m trying to get him to realize that it may be even a month or two before they start fully working. He also never drinks and here lately had been drinking a 6 or 12 pack, which is so unlikely of him.
I give you all props. This is SUCH a difficult thing emotionally to deal with. :pensive:

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I’m an intern in the mental health field. I work in a low socio clinic that deals with schizophrenia and other disorders. In school (getting my Master’s) they call it the schizophrenia spectrum. Now I get why. The disorder is so complex. Some have delusions, no voices. Some have hallucinations and voices. Some have severe negative symptoms, some hyper verbal and loose associations speaking in tangents that make no sense. I do notice the stigma is so big and many do not want to accept their diagnosis. It’s so hard. Hang in there. But a great therapist can help. Find one. Look hard. Invest the money it will be worth it and relieve so much pain and confusion for you and him

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First of all, @MMRWC6, welcome to the forum.

I am well familiar with this term since my 18 year old daughter was diagnosed as having schizotypal personality disorder just this February. They didn’t think that her symptoms were severe enough to be full fledged schizophrenia. There was also some level of borderline personality disorder as well.

A little background… my daughter worked at summer camp recently with her best friend…and sometime during that time, she became aware that some issues she had had for two years may be more serious than she thought and she need to seek professional help.

She was afraid to tell us at first because of the stigma of mental illness. She finally did tell us that for the past two years she had been hearing voices. This corresponded with a very traumatic experience she had at the time of the onset.

We got her together with a therapist who at first was helping her deal with the trauma, but also toward a possible meeting with a psychiatrist for a diagnosis.

The therapist suggest we meet with her regular doctor to discuss the symptoms and get a MRI to rule out out physical reasons for the voices. The MRI did rule this out.

The doctor suggested we meet up with a psychiatrist with a possibility that she could have three possible diagnosis: bipolar,
Schizophrenia or schizotypal.

She did not like this because of the stigma and horror stories she has heard about the side effects of the medication.

But as the symptoms seemed to be getting worse she started to accept this possibility. It took a long time for us to find a psychiatrist that was currently taking patients or worked with adolescents.

It wasn’t until she had a severe psychotic break where we were concerned for her life and we took her to hospital that she was able to get the help she needed.

I understand this is an older thread but I just found it and have to say it really hit home.
I’ve been following on the site for about a year now but never posted before.
First I have to say it’s SO hope inspiring to hear that you’re boyfriend was willing and did see a therapist with you! Still trying desperately, and I mean desperately, after 5 years to get mine to see somebody…
So. There’s no diagnosis.
I appreciated the comments on schizophrenia spectrum, as there ARE a number of types and can be accompanied by a number of other diagnoses such as different personality disorders.
First I started with a gentle suggestion: “Have you considered maybe talking to someone? A professional?” After a particularly odd behavioral incident. This was a few months into our relationship.
Then a couple months later it was urging: “You really should consider talking to somebody.” When there were other behaviors, becoming vocally aggressive and nonsensical.
8 months in I said, after an extremely random and violent incident where he got out of bed, unprovoked, ran down the hall to the kitchen where I was sitting at the kitchen table with my back to him and slammed me in the side of the head knocking me and the chair over to the floor and in the same motion sat down on the couch and said nothing acting like nothing happened, then I said “You NEED to talk to somebody.”
By a year and a half, it was me begging. “Please! I’m not asking. We need to get you some help. I am begging you. You need to see a psychiatrist.”
Here we are, five years later, same conversation (or lack there of). Extreme angry response and refusal to even the suggestion of a therapist. Throws him into a rage.
“There’s nothing wrong with me! I’m not sick!”
If I recounted an incident it was and is always “That never happened.” Or “You lie! You’re making it up! It’s all in YOUR head!”
Now, I’m no psychiatrist. But I worked in the medical field. I was a hospice nurse for 10 yrs and worked with developmentally disabled adults for a few years prior to that (DMH) as well as trained as an EMTBasic. I’ve always been a caregiver of sorts, naturally an impartial observer, as well as trained.
So through years of my own observations and what reasearch I could do, and LIVING it, and loving somebody deeply, I eventually concluded this was an appropriate place for me. I sincerely appreciate all of you that share here. This has been my place to go to find reassurance and strength for the last year just being able to read everybody’s stories of strength and wisdom. My heart goes out to all that live this struggle. It’s truly one of the places I come for ‘me’. This, and my garden… :blush:
So, as far as symptoms go, these are the big ones we have struggled with over the years and still do:
The lying.
It’s sometimes difficult to tell what this is. There is something known as gaslighting. It’s an attempt to make another person question what they know to be true. It’s a manipulation to get a person to question oneself, ultimately causing confusion and doubt and allows the gaslighter to achieve a sense of dominance and control. It’s a form of psychological torture.
It’s difficult to determine if this is the case or if it’s truly a delusion of his when he does this. This ranges anywhere from standing there watching him thrash a plant and it’s pot across the floor in a bizarre fit, me asking him to clean it up, and him saying ‘I didn’t do that YOU did that’, to calling people I’m close too and getting together with them then saying he was doing something different at the time, to where a picture on the wall came from (i don’t know, it was here when I got here, then asked again the answer is a story of a Chinese street artist he met while visiting New York City), to masturbating in the yard “that never happened!” (I’ll get more into that later) Told me once he was helping somebody I know build a wall in the person’s mother’s basement. Turns out the person knew nothing of this, though they were in fact building a wall in their mothers basement as a finish. Hard to tell if he believes what he’s saying. But constantly “That never happened!” Alternately, he will think things are going on that are not and has no basis for in reality. Usually to do with people and places he thinks I’ve been or have been talking to.

Social Awkwardness:
Simply put, it’s sometimes embarrassing for others to be out in public or with a group with him as he will often make odd statements or declarations that make no sense or refuse basic social courtesies like moving if he’s in somebody’s way. It can appear sometimes that he’s not quite sure what to do with his own body, suddenly moving his arms really slow or seeming confused about where he is and what to say or do next, which is awkward for people around him.

Poor Communication Skills/Strange Speaking and Phrasing:
Can be very difficult if not near impossible to have a meaningful conversation sometimes. Will answer simple questions with long ambiguous, convoluted statements having seemingly little or nothing to do with the question or conversation. Also has difficulty describing his own emotions or experiences. Sometimes will make up words or use noises to communicate.
In this same vein,
Struggles to Stay on Topic:
I have to be careful when talking sometimes if I use any examples or associations to clarify something in conversation. For instance, I thought the conversation was about getting a new washer and dryer and where the lint trap is located and that wooly crap that has to be scraped out and suddenly
He’s talking about sheep migrating patterns on farms.
He’s never been on a sheep farm. And doesn’t know squat about migrating patterns.
We still don’t have a washer and dryer. It’s been a year.
Which brings me to:
Procrastination, Planning and Excuses.
Nothing ever gets done because making a plan and puting it into action is somehow a horrifying and stressful event. Best just not to make plans he seems to think. These may all be a form of deflection or avoidance I imagine. Wether it’s the topic he’s uncomfortable with or how his brain is processing the information, who knows.

Personal Hygeine:
For the first couple of years he would actually have arguments with me about taking a shower or changing his clothes. (Yes, we are talking about an adult). He is active. Enjoys playing tennis regularly. He would tell me his clothes were clean though he’d been in the same pants for a month, tee shirt for two weeks, breath would be reeking because he had it in his head that he could floss every few days and thus didn’t NEED a toothbrush, BO so bad from not showering or using deodorant because deodorant would give you cancer. Toothpaste too. Cancer causing agents. I’m happy to report that in the last year and a half the showering and oral hygiene has become regular and he talks about maybe seeing a dentist.

Odd or Inappropriate Attire:
Besides redressing in clothing that has holes and is rotting with mold, quite literally, despite the fact that he has access to clean fresh clothing, some of it pretty decent stuff actually, he has in the past dressed in snow storms in jeans and a tee shirt. Likewise, he has worn wool long sleeve sweaters and a winter cap in 70+ degree weather stating that “It is comfortable”.

Environmental Hygiene/Hoarding:
When we first started dating it did initially look as though there was a hoarder in the house. And not just stuff, items, old boots that somebody gave him that didn’t fit anybody and were literally rotting off the soles and growing mold and mildew, but garbage. No garbage in the can. A number of grocery bags full piled up against the wall over what was a trash can at one time but just loose trash tossed on top collecting against the wall and out across the entire floor a few feet deep. Every single inch of any surface covered in refuse. Half a foot deep. Rotting dishes from 6 months ago two feet deep in the sink. He doesn’t notice this, but he noticed the flies. Hates flies. “They’re disease-ridden.”

Poor Organizational Skills:
In addition to the hoarding it’s difficult for him to develop systems for anything. Whether it be simply puting something back where it belongs like a dish or executing a sequence of actions in order to get a required result. Cart before the horse sort of thing but imagine it to an extreme degree mixed with unrealistic grandiosity. Inhibits many kinds of basic productivity.
Indecisiveness:
Can on occasion have extreme difficulty making decisions. This effects basic productivity. Probably contributes to poor organizational skills, procrastination, the social awkwardness, and maybe the odd attire? This doesn’t seem to ever agitate him though. Often he will default simply to “whatever you think”.

The thing is, none of these behaviors are all-off-the-time. Some days it’s being with a perfectly normal, interesting, intelligent, happy, friendly loving person. When it’s happening though, it’s hard to explain that to people on the spot. I’ve had people ask me if he was developmentally disabled on occasion, and even had some people who had known him and played in a band with him regularly tell me that he was. They were pretty surprised when I explained it to them.
(Note: marijuana and alcohol will often exacerbate or bring on episodes)

Now, if you’re still reading this and you’ve stuck with me this far I’d like to say that over the last five years my BF has done many accomplishing things as well. He has maintained his job with his family and has actually managed to successfully complete three tiers of plumbing school which, having looked at the material myself and watched him work diligently is quite impressive and actually inspirational. This is no easy task for anybody at any age and he undertook this with his ‘limitations’ and he’s done it later in life as we are in our 40’s and 50’s. I can’t say how proud and inspired he can make me sometimes!
He does come from a strong family that has been very aware and supportive and has reached out to me and been willing to discuss anything if ever I need to. Count your blessings!

I’d also like to discuss a couple of other more sensitive topics before I go for now. If you think you may be sensitive to content PLEASE STOP READING NOW. Thanks and be good to yourselves!

Symptomatically and behaviorally there have been others that are slightly more ‘abnormal’ or have caused some significant distress not just for him but for me, our relationship and his family. These can be difficult to discuss, even with family, as there is a certain level of privacy and respect I like to try to maintain for him with his family.

Sexual Compulsivity and Deviance:
I’m not sure that it would be clinically considered chronic, but he would hide in odd places or alternately engage in risky public places in masturbation.
In the basement bulkhead, out the back door, in the unregistered vehicle in the driveway, hiding against the side of the house, in various parking lots, etc. Would leave ejaculate in/on his shirt and keep wearing it for a week.
He would also engage in risky sexual behavior with risky partners which caused him distress on occasion, as he’d come home covered in others’ urine or smelling of fecal matter, and this upset him greatly. But he would repeat the behavior. This eventually led to video of him, a blackmail attempt, and him being posted online. (These are criminal felonies, by the way)
On fecal matter: likes to leave it in the yard. Wipes and does not burry any of it.

On a lighter note, hope it helped others who haven’t been able to get help for their loved ones either to read this. It’s a slow grind with lots of ups and downs.
I do what I can, tried incorporating B-Complex supplements, Niacin, eat more fish and bananas and leafy greens in our diet. Considering L-lysine supplements too. Thanks.
Take care and be good to yourselves!