Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Confusion and frustration with significant other

Hello everybody,

I need some fellowship and support. Been in a relationship with my gf for about 9 months now. She was diagnosed with schizo affective disorder about 5 years ago, she also suffers from borderline personality disorder. I have never been witness to a episode -she told me that her illness is characterized by unhealthy fixations with celebrities. It’s so easy to forget there is an illness if you’ve never seen it rear it’s ugly head.

I am sending out smoke signals on this forum because Im in uncharted waters. I dont know how I never noticed but she has a scar on her left wrist which is evident she’d attempted suicide before, was extremely embarassed that I saw it -more so than when she told me she suffers from this illness.

Short while after that that she was showing me some pictures of her hometown on her computer she got up to use the restroom and I discovered two videos of her extremely adult in nature, she was alone in them but it was confusing to me why she would have these of herself. I pointed it out to her and she casually wrote it off that the clips of her she would watch for her own entertainment and also brushed off that it was something she sent to a guy friend years ago? What!? And she wont allow me to watch them and yet she’d just willy nilly send them to just a guy friend a few years ago??? This makes zero sense to me and somehow I feel bad about having seen it?

I am really bothered by this maybe because I want to love and support her like any normal boyfriend would and still entertain the thought that maybe we have a future together but I dont really know now what the future holds and I dont know how to bring this up to her or if I even should? It’s tough when you’re asking yourself the question that if she didnt have this illness would I have broken up with her.

Feel better sending this out into the airwaves, at least it’s off my chest. My family doesnt know that she is schizophrenic and I quite frankly dont want to divulge this fact to any of my friends because it’s embarassing.

Appreciate any words of wisdom or comment you might have!

Best,

Florentine

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This illnesss is not a joke sometimes and people really can get hurt…
You have to ask yourself if you really care about her
And if you do then you have to care about all of her!
And probably more so than any normal relationship!
And the “embarrassing” part shows lack of understanding which I believe will change over time given the proper circumstances…
Good luck
I hope it works out for you!
You’ve come to the right place if you want to learn more about this…
Also I believe there is different severities
Not everybody is the same…

By the way
It shows that you are interested in gaining insight
Which is a sign of care!
If you want to ask more specific questions
People do a great job on answering them here at times…

Hi Florentine,

Welcome to the forum. TheSunshineMaras is accurate: The first thing you need to ask yourself is if you really care about her. Having a relationship with someone who is ill does take a lot more than a “normal” relationship. I hope you have someone in your life you can trust to talk with about your feelings. The longer you are with your girlfriend, if you should choose to stay with her, the harder it will be to avoid letting others know what’s going on. It took me many years to come to a better understanding about my husband’s illness.

One infuriating issue in my past is that because he is also alcoholic and had been attending AA meetings, his sponsor and others suggested I focus on the alcoholism first, which led me to AlAnon (which was a nice group but not helpful at all in dealing with mental illness) and then going to therapy to try and find coping skills (which, again, was not helpful because so few therapists are trained in ways to help both the sufferer and the caregiver).

What has helped me the most has been educating myself about my husband’s particular diagnoses (books, internet) and joining this forum. I am still learning and figuring out how to cope after nine years with my husband. There are plenty of people on the forum who are just as confused and wanting to help as we are, but there are also wise souls with invaluable words.

P.S. - If you stay with her, you will have to get over any feelings of being embarrassed, otherwise it will cause you a lot of anxiety. Don’t be embarrassed; there are some things she will not be able to control because of the power of the illness. The good thing is that there are some things she will be able to control, and if you stay with her, you will see - if she’s willing to work on them.

2 Likes

I feel compelled to point out some facts here and I’m going to be blunt about it:

  1. Nobody fits neatly into a nice little box of normalcy. It is childish to expect that from anyone.

  2. Sexual preference, interests and desires have nothing to do with whether a person has a disorder. As long as her preferences aren’t illegal, she has a right to enjoy sexuality without judgment from loved ones.
    The fact that she sent it to someone in the past, but later didn’t want to share it with you is absolutely unrelated. If you count it as infidelity, do her and yourself a favor and break up. Otherwise, accept that you aren’t the first person to see the goodies.

  3. Suicide and attempts are a fact of life for many people. The hopelessness, shame and desperation those scars represent aren’t something to take lightly. They are also not exclusive to people with personality disorders. As a significant other, one of your primary goals ought to be to help manage those types of emotions together so that they don’t become so desperate.

  4. If there are hard conversations you feel like you should have with your girlfriend, you have a responsibility to break the damn ice and start talking about it. Just don’t do it at 3am on a Tuesday when you both have work the next day, or have been drinking. The hard conversations are the most important.
    But be prepared to hear some things you don’t like and to listen to them with empathy and patience.

  5. Nothing you said falls in line with delusional behavior or current symptoms of Schizophrenia. It all sounds like you’re describing a run-of-the-mill human being.

  6. If you don’t want to tell your family all the gory details, don’t. Most people pick and choose what truths they share with family about their significant other anyway.

In short,
If you’re going to be in a relationship, do the damn thing 100%.
If not, then don’t do it at all.

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I forgot to mention that on this forum you will find people like me who try to put words into the most easily digestible form and then there are people who are blunt.

Thanks, wreklus! You are right. All the points you made are accurate as well. My first marriage of ten years was “normal” but we had a lot of problems and obviously the relationship didn’t work out (as I am divorced and now married to my second husband) even though neither of us were diagnosed as being mentally ill. No matter the details of a relationship, do it 100% or not at all. Good advice.

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Wreklus,

I appreciate your reply straight up and neat with no rocks and no twist. To give a follow up to your 6 points, bear in mind I am not rating your share nor do I intend to rate anyone’s:

  1. I am not looking for any box of normalcy, but if you define normal by what is expected from a person in a relationship due to past experiences this one is pretty new to me as I have never been in a relationship with someone who suffers from this kind of illness and she indicated she has never been willing to share this with anyone before me. Back to one of my points -I have not witnessed this in action yet and I am not looking forward to it.
  2. I am not counting having found a short glimpse of her history as any strain of infidelity at all. We all have skeletons from our past.
  3. Her scars are a part of a conversation that I know I should bring about but dont know how to. She gave me the whole epistle on her life as it has been affected by this illness but did not mention this one little thing. I just dont want to feel like if per chance I ended up breaking up with her whatever the circumstance may be that she’d just up and off herself -which is why I need to bring it up.
  4. As related to #3 its something that I know I need to do for myself as well as her because otherwise she may get the sense that I dont understand and havent been listening to her or most importantly that I dont care and am not willling to ask questions that she could at least try to answer so I can understand more about her.
  5. I didnt want to drag my share through the whole history she gave me and maybe my illustration was too generalized but the behavior she shared was not within the normal bounds of the “run-of-the-mill” fixations a normal human being has with their favorite celebs. A little more involved would be a complete understatement.
  6. I do not intend to share anything specific with my family, I know how they would react, it’s just tough considering I usually go to them for counsel…that’s all I was saying.

Your blunt reply was much appreciated and it’s good to read unabated, unalloyed words of advice.

Thanks

@florentine
Seems like you took my break down well.
You never know, people can be very… “Feelings”, especially when sharing personal points of friction.

For celebrity obsession:
You have to decide if the behavior you are witnessing is either harmless, or destructive.
If it were actually harmless, you probably could turn it into an inside joke between the two of you. But I wouldn’t expect that kind of… Hobby to disappear. Not without profound, foundational upset and recovery.
If it is destructive (or criminal), you might actually have a really difficult decision on you: break up, or commit to mitigating the fallout from her behavior continuously.

For the hard conversations:
They -will- come up eventually.
From what little I know: It either happens when you choose, or it happen years down the road. Neither way is any less difficult.
Try to pick a time when there are no other sources of stress, or bigger obligations that might complicate the conversation.
Personally, I shoot for Saturday afternoon when the groceries are bought and put away and we’re both thinking “Okay, responsibility complete. What do we do for entertainment today?”
These conversations can last hours sometimes (or minutes), and can end with temporarily hurt feelings.
But, if you are both determined to demonstrate empathy and compassion, those harsh feelings will fade and you will both end up feeling closer (due to greater understanding of each other).

For family as council and “reality check”:
You obviously already know all this, so I guess I’m talking for my own benefit here…
Keep doing that, but be sure that you aren’t giving them information that you don’t want them to know.
Also, don’t use them as a source of simply reaffirming your own predetermined beliefs / opinions.
It’s really great that you have family you are close enough with to gain advice and rationality. Unfortunately, they can’t help with everything.

I am certain that things are more complicated than you let on. Relationships always are more than 1 paragraph!

Uncertainty is the hardest thing about a relationship. Nobody wants to feel like they wasted their valuable time.
So, make your time worth while.
Have those hard conversations.
Give your best effort.
If you catch yourself being a jerk: stop yourself, swallow your pride and apologize.
If she crosses a line: speak up in a clear, but respectful tone.

Easy things to say, I know…

But that’s all there is.
Every relationship is different and there are no rules.