Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Brand New - Husband Diagnosed Schizoaffective recently


#1

Hi everyone. I’m new. I haven’t found many places where I can have an honest, open discussion.

My husband has recently been diagnosed with paranoid schizoaffective. He manages himself well, but prior to the diagnosis, he would get very angry, and started to get violent. Now that he’s on medication, he has no sex drive, and zero interest in me (or much of anything). He doesn’t talk to me, and has told me that he doesn’t really care about me…yet can’t imagine life without me?

I’m 27, he’s 28.

We had been trying for a child for over 7 years before his diagnosis, and recently, I had a total hysterectomy. I still want a child in my life so badly. My sister has offered to be a gestational carrier for an adopted embryo, which I want to do. However, I struggle with that decision since I’m also the main caretaker of my husband.

I don’t really know why I’m posting - maybe to just hear that other people are here and have spouses of similar diagnoses?

Does it get better? Does he get less apathetic without getting more angry? How can I help him? His psychiatrist won’t change his medication because we found one that kept him from getting violent, even though he seems to feel like a zombie…


#2

I don’t know what to tell you. I’m still kind of new to this too, the people that I’ve known with it haven’t really gotten better per say, but some had progress. And yes, sex drive does decrease. You’re not too old to have a baby. If he really doesn’t care about you, then you can still find somebody else. You’re still young. I’m very sorry about your hysterectomy. Having a child, isn’t everything in the world. And sometimes it’s better not having children at all – for the suffering that they may cause you and the suffering they will receive from the world or wreak upon it. And having a child with someone who’s mentally ill isn’t a great idea just for the sake of having a child. You need to think about your child’s future with a father who is mentally ill and may not be able to take care of himself, you, or your child. I think you should talk to your husband and have a long talk with him about all of this because you really need to figure out where you are in this relationship and what each of you wants and need from each other. Apart from that, some people with mental illnesses like schizophrenia just want someone they can be dependent on to do things for them, so that they don’t feel as lonely, or to feel better about themselves. Sometimes they don’t really care for the person that they are dependent upon and it’s a reality you may need to face.


#3

@Unsure Welcome to the forum, I am very sorry to hear about your husband’s diagnosis, it is difficult to say the least. You did say he was recently diagnosed and recently found a medicine that reduced violence. That is good that he is taking an effective medicine. However it is important for you to know that the full benefits of the medicine he is on (regardless of what it is) may take awhile to manifest. It takes awhile for the body to acclimate as well as the mind. I don’t have a husband but I have an adult son diagnosed with disorganized schizophrenia 11 years ago, he is 32 now. When he first started on the meds he was zombie like, no interest in anything at all and very ambivalent about me like a love/hate relationship…over the years it has improved tremendously but at a very very slow —ever so slow pace…this illness and it’s recovery takes patience, lots and lots of patience and also you almost have to suspend former goals and plans at least for awhile, I would recommend at minimum a year, 2 would be better (just going on my experiences) because the 1st year will be ups and downs and a lot to get use to…the second year should show more stabilization provided the med keeps working and even though the doctor doesn’t want to change it, and rightly so if it is working, that doesn’t mean that another med can’t be added down the line if any other issues arise…hopefully they will not. It is imperative that you guys pay attention to eating well, sleeping well and keeping stress as minimal as possible. If your husband is open to cognitive therapy that can be helpful for him to get help on adjusting to life with this diagnosis. You also could benefit from having a neutral 3rd party to confide in about your own life situation as it is now as well…and how to move forward considering your plans and desires for a family in the future. I think that so long as you give the meds enough time to show their full benefits and give your husband enough time to readjust to life as it is now…and stay very patient, you could go forward in a year or two with your plans to start a family, providing by then you are still fully invested as a couple at that time and that you both want the same thing. Children are stressful, probably the most stressful part of a family, but they can be just as much of a blessing. It takes stability to raise sound children. So permanent stability in both parents really has to be a top priority as does trust in each other. If you have kids too soon and your husband is unstable or ambivalent about his relationship with you, then all of that stress, uncertainty and chaos will trickle onto the kids, not really very fair if you kind of know about it in advance…plus kids draw a lot on their mom’s state of mind, and if you are unhappy or uncertain or insecure again that will affect the kids…Kids aren’t meant to solve a problem , not that I am suggesting you would ever do that but just saying that kids in general are intended to be an added joy to an already (hopefully joyful and loving relationship) Plus there is the added consideration that schizophrenia can be genetic and inherited. It is also thought that even if it is inherited, a child may not develop it if they learn early on how to successfully cope with stress and they take good care of their health and state of mind from the very start. In all honesty though, no one really knows what the trigger is for the illness…intense prolonged stress is just one avenue of thought. I would recommend that you look into possibly taking one of the free Family to Family classes that NAMI offers (if you have a chapter near you). NAMI is the National Advocacy for the Mentally Ill. They are a wealth of resources, the class gave me amazing information and insight into the illness. It is invaluable. Whatever you decide please take your time, educate yourself as much as you can and seek trusted counsel before making any permanent life altering decisions. You will be very glad you did. I wish you and your husband all of the best. http://www.nami.org/Find-Support/NAMI-Programs/NAMI-Family-to-Family


#4

@Unsure. My daughter was diagnosed with schizoaffective 15 years ago. Does it get better – no not for my daughter and actually it’s worse now. Daughter is now in a group home. My daughter has 2 children 5 & 9 years old and I’m raising them by myself. The kids are great and I love being with them but there is a strong chance they will inherit mental illness. I try not to think or worry about what the future holds for my grandchildren and just think about today.


#5

@Unsure I’d like to add – My schizoaffective daughter is unable to parent her children. She can’t handle basic ups and downs of child rearing and it all become too stressful for her. Just want you to know what you most likely can look forward to – being a single mother and being a caretaker for a schizoaffective husband and being a caretaker to a mi partner is 10 times harder than being a single mom. No one call tell you to be a parent or not but really think about what you’re getting into because most likely it will be very unpredictable and destabilizing for your household and especially a child who is brought into the chaotic world of mental illness.


#6

Dear Unsure,

I would love to be able to write “things get better! Hang in there, good times are coming!!”, but the fact of the matter is, is that they may never come. My husband was diagnosed 3 1/2 years ago and quite frankly, things have gotten worse…to the point, I honestly don’t know if I want to stay with him anymore. He is in and out of the hospital and now the police are involved. I have an 11 year old son. I don’t think I can put my son thru much more of this as it has been total hell for 3 years, but my son loves his father unconditionally. My husband has very few days where we carry on a conversation…it’s like I am not even here. My advice to you, take it or leave it, is not to drag a child into the madness. All I can think about is how all of this is going to effect my son later down the line when he is a rebellious teenager looking to take his anger or frustration out on a bottle of booze or drugs…it scares the hell out of me just thinking about it. I hate to sound so negative, but nothing positive has come out of this experience for him, me or my son. I hope things get better for you.


#7

This is for Molly - I’m certainly not going to try to talk anyone into bringing children into something like this.

I know more people who have MI parents who turned out fine than inherited their parent’s MI.

Not that it can’t happen - just saying your grandchildren have a really good chance of being as OK as any of us are. And, I really hope they are.


#8

Respectfully I have to agree with @Molly for generations in my family mental illnesses have been passed down in one form or another…On both sides…Maybe it is less prevalent with just one parent that has it or it might skip generations…Which I am sure it does in some families. In my family’s case it didn’t skip anyone, some of us just got off a little easier than others, I think in part due to our overall personalities and how we manage to cope.


#9

I agree that happens.

I was just explaining how it’s worked for people I know.
I know at least 3 people who had severely bipolar parents (they sound more SZ to me based on having symptoms worse than what my son has had), and they are pretty much fine - a coworker, a nurse, a hair dresser.

My son doesn’t have anyone who’s really close - it’s all distant relations.
A couple siblings of grandparents - great aunts & uncles?

Then, both my son & his first cousin from what I hear have very similar problems.

So, I would never recommend that someone have children in this situation because it is tempting fate, but if I were Molly, I’d be watchful but still very hopeful that her grandchildren will be fine. I’d also try my best to make sure they have the skills they need to be “resilient” so they can cope better with any triggers that come their way.


#10

Thanks everyone for the replies. I see that I may not have been detailed enough in my post… When I said I wanted children, please note - I am infertile, and my husband is too. My sister will carry the child. It will be an adopted embryo, which will contain none of our DNA.

I see that one of the problems (not all of them, of course) seem to stem from the child possibly having schizo as well.


#11

I am so so sorry that this happened to you and your family. This is such an awful illness. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

This is what I’m afraid of. Right now, he’s either apathetic or upset, and we are still in our (upper) 20s. As a person who wasted my teenaged years in abusive relationships, the twists and turns of this disease terrify me.


#12

I think it would still be hard on a child to grow up with someone with SZ that’s not controlled.

My friends that lived with their parent said it was pretty rough not knowing what they would do day by day or even minute to minute.

One said, if they went to the store, they never knew if it would be a regular shopping trip or if their mother would strip down naked in the middle of the store & go on some rant.

Also, it’s fine to want a child, but I also think people should still only have a child if they can provide everything that child needs - not only financially, but other intangible things like stability.


#13

Make sure you do a screening of mental health related issues. In my experience and others I know, it doesn’t skip generations. Cancer too.


#14

My grandchildren’s parents are both mentally ill and were diagnosed with schizophrenia and there is a long line of mental illness on both sides. My hope and prayers are that both children will escape mental illness and I’m reading all I can how to help them become more resistant and resilient in avoiding triggers.


#15

My mother had untreated bipolar disorder which brought chaos and violence to my childhood. She died of suicide when I was a teenager.

My advice would be not to raise children with any person who has untreated serious mental illness or an untreated substance use disorder. Sober parents participating in MI treatment are a different story as far as I can tell anecdotally from the people I know.


#16

@Unsure Since genetics is not the issue in your case I think the most important consideration is that both parents have to be stable and fully invested in the care and welfare of the child or you will indeed be a single parent and full time caretaker for your husband…and the stress will be difficult for you alone not to mention the stress on a young one that doesn’t understand the situation.