Hi just hoping I might get some general views here, and maybe some reassurance.
This might be quite long, I tend to say a lot, so I hope you can bear with me.
I’ve had some mild anxiety issues in the past, which I treated with a variety of anti depressants and really give me very little problems. That’s the extent of my involvement with mental illness until very recently.
I met a girl in a bar recently, she is beautiful, we chatted for a while and she fairly quickly invited me back to her place. It turned out my house was nearer and she came back with me, this was a week ago and she more or less hasn’t left since. It is safe to say I am falling for her. She told me she was schizophrenic and not taking meds the first night we were together. She also smokes a lot of weed, but then so do a lot of people I know so I didn’t immediately see this as a problem. But I’ve noticed the more stoned she gets, the more out-of-it (more than “normal” people) she gets, begins acting strangely and saying things that don’t make sense. Sometimes a mood comes over her like she doesn’t want to be around me. I always act calmly and keep my distance (as I noticed moving towards her when she is in this state makes her back away from me) and either talk calmly to her about something pleasant and friendly, or just remain quiet and leave her alone while I get on with something like washing the dishes. Within a few minutes she is usually coming up to me and putting her arms around me and kissing me again.
Now I think it’s worth pointing out I’m fairly undemanding in relationships when it comes to personal affection and that kind of thing. I have a normal sex drive but I’m not one of those people who demands that their partner showers them in affection, I enjoy my own personal space and my best relationships in the past have been with people who also feel the same way, and are quite happy to spend the odd afternoon or evening on their own without needing constant company.
I brought this up with her too, saying I totally understand if she wants time to herself and I hope I’m not crowding her, and she says she doesn’t like being alone and likes being around people - which from my reading about schizophrenia over the last week seems unusual (is this right?) and I’m not convinced she’s being totally honest.
Over the last week and a bit I’ve come to know her quite well and she doesn’t seem to mind discussing her illness with me, so I’ve said I think she needs to cut down smoking cannabis and give the meds another go. One thing that disturbs me is that she doesn’t seem to agree with cutting down on cannabis - I tell her it’s not good to go through your whole life stoned and it will interfere with her recovery, but she says she isn’t interested. She is generally happy to engage in any conversations I bring up (although I have noticed she rarely starts conversations - just waits for me to, then joins in) about anything other than this - when I mention cutting down on weed she just phases out and goes into denial saying "I don’t want to."
She’s told me she does coke and crack as well and asked me to get some for her. I use cocaine and weed myself recreationally occasionally so can’t be too high and mighty with her about it all. But I refused, because I don’t want her to start seeing me as someone who will provide her with hard drugs.
I have given her weed, because I generally have a bit around, and she has asked for it. However I have told her today I don’t want us to just spend all our time together stoned. She got a bit upset by this, then started seducing me which I couldn’t really resist - then asked for some weed as soon as we’d finished having sex. I decided I will restart my amateur attempt at drug rehabilitation from tomorrow, shamefully.
(As you can see I’m clearly not a psychologist or a counsellor - she has those already and I don’t want to try and replace them as I’m far from qualified. She has told me she lies to her mental health worker about taking drugs, by denying any use).
Ok - onto sex. We have had sex several times a day since we met, almost all instigated by her. However as I saw different stages of her condition during the time we spent together, I noticed some changes. On one occasion she seemed to quite suddenly become distressed during intercourse. I of course stopped what I was doing and asked if she was ok. She stared at me for a while before she said she was - I asked her if she wanted to stop what she was doing and she said no so we finished the job. Apart from that I would say we have had a very “normal” sex life so far, pretty much the same as the very early stages of most of the other relationships I have been in.
She has told me she has had sex with men for money in the past, but says she doesn’t do it any more. I’m a very easy going, open minded person so that doesn’t bother me in terms of thinking of her as a potential partner any more than the fact she is mentally ill does.
It did make me sad when I found out about it though, that someone as lovely as her (she is very sweet, intelligent and polite, educated with a degree) would have to do that, so I read up on the dangers of single schizophrenic women getting drawn into prostitution and it makes complete sense. She has no money apart from a trickle of benefits.For someone like her prostitution must seem like easy money but the idea of her endangering herself like that doesn’t sit well.
Then I read about “sex for goods” or something like that, which is basically prostitution but where no money changes hands. I’ve given her weed, taken her out for meals, bought her cigarettes and some clothes. And I wondered if this was what I was doing - abusing her in some way? But - I have strong feelings for her, and I haven’t shared anything with her that I wouldn’t share with a girlfriend normally, or even just a friend, really, so - I don’t know…
Anyway this has been an emotional week for me, and I wanted to write some of it down - I have learned a lot since I started browsing this forum when she fell asleep next to me the night we met. So you guys seemed the ideal people to share it with. I’m kind of torn as to what I should do as like I said I am slightly worried that I might be biting of more than I can chew by getting too involved with her, and also I am slightly worried that she is just with me because I can provide her with a lot she doesn’t have. I feel like I want to help and support her even though I know this is a bit daft as I have only known her a week.And the fact she is a beautiful woman my own age who is willing to have sex with me - if it was an ugly old man I had met I don’t think I would be having this urge to “help” him as much - a natural human response of course but it still makes me think about what doing the “right thing” means.
I want to understand what is going on in her head, too, and I wonder if one day she will be willing to discuss her delusions with me in the way that people discuss them on here, openly talking about what they are paranoid about, or what their voices say. She hasn’t offered that information yet, and I haven’t asked for it - I don’t know whether to do so would be a good idea - my instinct is not. But it could just be that my judgement is clouded by fear.
Tonight she refused to sleep in bed with me for the first time- insisting on staying in the spare room. Of course I didn’t mind but being a bit paranoid myself (in a general rather than clinical way) particularly about women and their feelings towards me I wonder whether it’s just that she was lying about not wanting her own space (as I described above) or if she isn’t really that into me. Hard enough to tell with non-schizophrenic women, but this is next level stuff.
Any thoughts that my ramblings might provoke will be gratefully received.
Hi just hoping I might get some general views here, and maybe some reassurance.
Ok, so this might sound a little harsh, but you asked for some honest opinions. I like to think of people diagnosed with schizophrenia in two ways; there are schizophrenics, who are controlled by schizophrenia and defined by it, and then there are people who have schizophrenia- they have it under control and have normal lives despite being mentally ill. I consider myself to be a person who has schizophrenia.
You either have schizophrenia or schizophrenia has you. That’s my original quote. Maybe I will get that in a book or something LOL
It sounds like she is schizophrenic.
Her pot habit is HORRIBLE. Pot makes schizophrenia worse, it triggers episodes in fact. She is probably hearing voices and thinking very paranoid or delusional thoughts while stoned, despite how relaxed and zoned out she might appear to be. What goes on in a schizophrenic brain while high is a complete fuck-up of dopamine and other neurotransmitters associated with psychosis, so basically it makes her twice as crazy, look at it that way. I am surprised she acts strange and not completely psychotic while stoned, she is probably used to it.
But she sounds like she has low negative symptoms- you met her at a bar, she loves sex, she is affectionate, that is all indicative of having high positive symptoms (delusions, hallucinations, disorganized thoughts and speech) and low negative symptoms (vegetative behavior, avolition, impoverished speech).
So what does this all mean? She is VERY TREATABLE BY MEDICATION. Medication works the best at relieving positive symptoms, I myself had nearly exclusively positive symptoms, and medication has made me pretty damn normal, but with a really weird spin; I am an honors student on a full scholarship and I am also an amateur powerlifter. On top of that, I have a social life and see my friends nearly every single day, whether we eat together or hit the gym together or all get together to hangout, I am becoming more and more extroverted as I keep on focusing on my recovery, which is basically completed and then some.
The drugs have to go. Schizophrenics should totally be on drugs- prescription drugs, antipsychotics and benzodiazapines, drugs with psychosis-killing properties. I am on an antipsychotic and Xanax, the xanax puts me completely back to normal and relieves my anxiety which can trigger psychosis if I dont take the xanax. I take it twice a day, in the morning, it wears off, I go workout in the late afternoon, then I take it right afterwards.
Sounds like a lot of question marks to me.
Thanks Mortimermouse, that is really helpful. Do you have any particular way you would try and tackle the weed problem? As I said she is totally unreceptive when I talk to her about quitting. Pretty much the same way most stoners are, except with her I know there are additional dangers to her health. She seems totally unconcerned though.
I read somewhere that pot helps relieve short-term symptoms of schizophrenia, by sort of “storing them for later” - would you agree with this? It could be the key to why she feels she has to use so much. Like a junkie using heroin to stave off the withdrawals? It somewhat contradicts your idea that she will be experiencing severe psychotic symptoms while high though.
Pob - interested to see where you see the question marks - opinions of anyone with experience in this area are what I am after.
Welcome to the forum. I won’t tell you that your girlfriend getting on medications and off weed means that everything will be easy sailing because chances are it won’t be. There is no cure but there is controlling symptoms. Medications help a lot however there are some who don’t get relief even when taking medications and not using street drugs. Yes you are possibly taking on a lot however it can be worth it. Most relationships start based on something other then love. A balance of give and take. I can see why you are concerned about that balance and what her motivations are as well as your own. I think that answer can only come with time the same with any relationship.
A little of my story. My son is 20 and was diagnosed in 2011. Currently stable on medications. Weed is still a concern as is alcohol. I had to make the choice to get drugs and alcohol out of my own life so my husband and I are currently clean and dry but my son isn’t. At the moment nothing I or his team tell him will make him stop smoking weed because he wants to smoke it. For him the consequences are worth it. While weed may help to deal with some of the symptoms while smoking it chances are it is causing a rebound affect of more symptoms therefore a viscous circle of cause and affect. I’m guessing that when she wanted to sleep in the spare room that it is probably due to some form of positive symptoms and/or paranoia. Weed will most likely amplify paranoia for her at least it does for my son.
While she may back away from you while experiencing positive symptoms (hallucinations, voices) chances are she does not want to be alone. I’m thinking your instincts on how to manage these situations are pretty good. While someone is experiencing symptoms of psychosis then not touching them and giving them some space is a good thing to do. Yes a lot don’t want to be around a lot of people but that is not true for all. My son has little to no social anxiety. Even with social anxiety it makes sense that no one wants to be alone.
You have a lot of questions which is good. I will caution you that if you are looking for a 50/50 type relationship then you may not find it here. One of the links that I will be posting is to the archives of the old forum. If you read through the spousal section you will find a lot of posts and a lot of partners who have had to take on the role of primary caregiver to their loved ones. To a certain extent you may have to take on a parental role.
As for sex. I can only say from a female perspective that it is not uncommon for a women to try to win a man that way. Especially when low self-esteem is involved. Keep him happy at home and he may not wonder
Please look at these sites:
http://www.leapinstitute.org/ - under resources are free videos on using LEAP
LEAP is a way of communicating to build trust. Listen-Empathize-Agree-Partner.
http://dramador.com/ - Dr. Xavier Amador is a clinical psychologist whose brother had schizophrenia. He is the founder of the LEAP Institute. Wrote the book: I’m Not Sick I Don’t Need Help! Can buy from his website.
Search Xavier Amador and LEAP on youtube.com and you should find some long videos
http://www.treatmentadvocacycenter.org/index.php - under problems you will see anosognosia
Anosognosia looks like denial but is different.
http://lesswrong.com/lw/e25/bayes_for_schizophrenics_reasoning_in_delusional/ - helped my understand delusions
http://www.nami.org/ - National Alliance on Mental Illness.
http://www.schizophrenia.ca/ - Schizophrenia Society of Canada
Can also find some very useful information here:
http://www.schizophrenia.com:8080/jiveforums/category.jspa?categoryID=7 (Partner section)
Thank you BarbieBF that is all very useful.
I don’t really want to turn this into a study on her individual behaviour but she came upstairs eventually last night and slept with me and was very affectionate again. In the early hours while we were drifting in and out of sleep she sat upright and looked distressed again, I asked her if she was ok and is anything wrong, which is the first thing I always do and instead of saying “Yes” or “I’m fine” in an uncertain way like normal, she told me that she wasn’t ok and lots of things were wrong. I asked her if she wanted to talk about it and she said no she didn’t. I don’t feel any fear around her whatsoever, just a desire to make her feel more comfortable.
I wondered at this point what I would do if she became unstable at any point and started making me think she might hurt herself or anyone else. I guess calling 999 and getting an ambulance is the best first step? I also think it would be safest if I Google around and find what sort of “first aid” measures I can take to keep her safe until an ambulance gets here, if she goes into a state which I feel is beyond my ability to control. Hopefully I will not need to do that sort of thing and to be honest I haven’t seen any signs that I might, but I guess it is better to be prepared just in case.
I’m glad I could help. You actually have two really good things happening. One she was willing to tell you about her schizophrenia diagnoses and two she is willing to acknowledge that something is wrong. They are both really big steps. In time she may open up further if she feels that she can trust you. Using LEAP may help build that network of trust. Then if you two continue your relationship then you can become a big part of her treatment by attending doctors and therapists appointments with her. Unfortunately if she is not being completely honest with them then their ability to help her gets hindered. I think she was lucky to find you
Getting help for someone who doesn’t think they need help can be hard. Anosognosia or lack of insight gets in the way. Educating yourself on “first aid” and what to expect in emergency situations can help a lot. Being prepared is always good. Some areas have crisis outreach teams that are trained to deal with these types of situations. Also learn the laws with respect to privacy. Unless in an emergency situation I have limited rights or access to my son’s treatment since he is legally an adult. He has to sign forms giving his treatment team the ok to give me information even in a hospital setting. So it’s good to be aware of this going in. It may not be a great choice but if you feel that she is in a situation where she may hurt herself or you then yes call 999 or crisis outreach explaining that she has schizophrenia and what is happening. If she is displaying obvious symptoms then they can usually hold her for I think 72 hours for observation. My son has had 6 hospitalizations in 3 years so unfortunately it can be a part of the cycle. Not to scare you…
Being medication compliant can be a big plus. Maybe through your support and the use of LEAP that can be a next step for her. For my son he is mostly compliant for anxiety reasons. We can both acknowledge that he needs help with this. I won’t write another book lol.
Thanks, I’ve already started to look into some of the LEAP links you sent. Your words are very encouraging.
Hi I fell for a man with schizophrenia 2 years ago - he is great now, but we have had ups and downs. He was really manic and crazy 18 months ago - had stopped his meds. went on olanzapine but put on weight+++. now taking risperidone and much better. he has no history of taking drugs though. you are taking on a lot - I read lots about shizophrenia - found the links above good. I like medical articles and challenging the psychiatrist. best wishes and good luck emma
Thanks Emma, your story is encouraging too.
Barbiebf, the main site for that LEAP Institute seems to be down due to hackers, annoyingly - I have watched a few Youtube videos and read what information is on Xavier Amador’s site but is there anywhere else online you know of that explains the basics?
This link seems to have the basics: http://ourhealthyminds.com/family-handbook/communication/Building-a-collaborative-relationship-leap.html
I read Dr. Amador’s book. For the most part it is scenarios on how to use LEAP. Not really answers on how to get someone treatment but I think the goal is that once you start to build up a system of trust then hopefully the person will want to seek or at least accept treatment because they trust your opinion. I will try to give my interpretation of LEAP. Listen-Empathize-Agree-Partnership.
I will use an example of someone saying that a shadow figure is telling them to kill themselves or someone else so that the world doesn’t end. Or that a voice is talking to them through the radiator in the living room or the TV.
Listening is mostly about reflective listening not just hearing the words. Our first reaction is to make them understand that it isn’t real. Forget for a moment if it is real or not. Actually I would say pretend for a moment that it is real as it is real for the person telling you. I can reply with: You know there is no shadow figure. I see nothing. Or just not acknowledge what they said and say: You need help. Right away you have de-validated what the person is telling you. Instead say: So I shadow figure told you that if you don’t kill ____ then the world is going to end? Or You heard someone talking to you through the TV? The person then knows that you have listened to what they had to say as you are asking questions and using the same words they used. This is reflective listening. You have not agreed with them but you have shown that you are willing to listen what they are experiencing.
Empathizing again is not agreeing but just having empathy for what the person is going through. Again forget if it is real. Imagine what it would feel like to be hearing a voice talking to you through a TV telling you all manner of bad things. It wouldn’t feel nice. It would be very confusing. This is a big thing actually because if you want the person to listen to your point of view then you need to try to understand to their point of view. Good listeners use this in all forms of conversations but because of the fear of feeding into a delusion there is a tendency to back off. Your at work and a co-worker is telling you that their son did ___________. You have no children and can’t really understand it but you reply with: Wow that sucks. I’m sorry that happened to you. A delusion can not be argued with so empathizing with what the person is feeling is not going to further that delusion just like arguing that the delusion is not real is not going to get rid of the delusion. So you can say: That must be hard to deal with. I’m sorry that you are experiencing this. You are showing a willingness to try to understand the feelings that this experience has caused.
For me the first two are the easy ones. It’s finding the things to agree on that gets hard. There is also not giving your opinion until it is asked for. Again hard. But usually once the person feels that they can trust you with what they are experiencing there should come a time when they will ask you what you think. As they feel comfortable talking to you they will talk more and more of what they are experiencing or feeling will come out. As this happens you repeat steps one and two of reflective listening and empathizing. Not agreeing or disagreeing, as really it’s a mood point if you do or not. My son is pretty open with me about what he believes. Not because we agree on these beliefs because we don’t but I still listen to them. We know that in any given situation if someone tries to tell us what they think when we have not asked for their opinion then we stop listening or get defensive. But if we have asked what that person thinks then we have a tendency to listen more to that persons opinion. We are open to it.
So now there is conversation. An exchange of information and the beginnings of trust. You have proven that you are willing to listen and to have empathy. The person does not have to feel alone or like they have to hid or pretend like they are not experiencing what they are experiencing. They feel validated. Which is something everyone wants to feel. To have someone acknowledge what they are feeling, regardless of what those feelings are. At this point you can ask if the person wants to know what you think. If they say no than you don’t say it. But usually there will come a point where they may say ok. Then it’s responses like: Personally I don’t think that the TV is talking to you but that’s only my opinion and I could be wrong. Again you have not de-validated the experience yet have given your opinion. The, I could be wrong, I think shows your willingness to be open to other points of view. You both have opinions. Who’s is right is another mood point.
So now we are at the point of finding out what we can all agree upon. Seeing shadowy figures and hearing people through the TV sucks. It causes anxiety, insomnia, panic, confusion and so on. What can we both do to help get these things under control so that the person is not feeling so anxious or confused. On a side note. No where in this is schizophrenia mentioned. With my son we discuss things in terms of anxiety. We both agree that he needs help coping with it. Medications can help with that. I can’t force him to take them. He doesn’t feel that he really needs them but he does take them, most of the time. Once I tried to get him to go do blood work on his own and he said that he was doing this for me so I had to go too. Why is he doing this for me? Because to a certain degree we have build a system of trust and love. He is willing to try because of our relationship. A relationship that is no longer being bogged down by arguments over him taking his medications or even if he has schizophrenia or not. I don’t believe in what he believes or see what he sees but I am willing to listen. I don’t tell him that what he is experiencing is not real because I know it is real for him. The things we don’t agree on, we agree to disagree on. Rarely do we agree with everyone else’s point of view on everything. When that happens we just move on.
My son and I have a partnership. We agree that neither one of us wants him back in the hospital. Sometimes I have to remind him of this as his own symptoms or feelings of paranoia can get in the way. So I assure him that I don’t want him inpatient again. That I take certain steps because I love him. He doesn’t have to agree with those steps and a lot of the time he doesn’t but to a certain extend he can trust me telling him why I am doing it. I gained his trust when I listened to him. When I didn’t write off his experiences as just being psychosis.
I did what research I could on psychosis. I know that you can’t argue delusions so I don’t. One less thing to argue about. I try not to argue with him about medications. In the end it is his choice. He has to learn for himself that at least for right now he needs to take them. His last break in September was the 6th in 3 years. Only he can decide if being inpatient every 4-8 months is worth being defiant about taking them. I changed how I discuss his medications. They help to regulate dopamine, serotonin and glutamate levels. I think my son has too much dopamine. Medications can’t change his beliefs. No more then chemo therapy changes a cancer patients beliefs. My goal is not to change him or his beliefs. I love everything about him even the things I don’t like
So schizophrenia becomes less important when I approach things from this angle. We are not treating schizophrenia. We are trying to regulate neurotransmitters. We are trying to find a balance between what my son wants and what I want. We are trying to have mutual goals. We are building a relationship based on trust and feelings. Reality is after all just a matter of perspective. His reality is different then mine. Unfortunately for him to see my reality then stability is needed. So medications are most likely needed and/or other forms of therapy. Without this then insight is limited. Symptoms become the experience. So we try to control symptoms so that the person can learn to see what their loved ones see. I take tinctures for menopause. My husband takes pills for anxiety. We are still us but our bodies needed a little help so that we were not being controlled by our symptoms.
I wrote a book again… Hopefully I put into words what is hard to put into words.
Thank you so much for taking the time to write that so well. It has given me the beginning of an understanding I think.
Barbiebf do you have an email address I could contact you on? I have a few questions relating to specific circumstances about her, which I would rather not post in public, even anonymously.
From your first impressions you seem to have a good idea of how to help her. The problem is, do you know how long she’s been off of medication? In Bipolar or Schizoaffective it took me about 6 months before the mania set back in. And it comes on rather suddenly. So it sounds like you have an idea that she might say things she doesn’t mean if she becomes delusional. She will regret decisions or things said later when she’s lucid again. She needs to take her medication and not smoke weed. Weed destabilizes people with schizophrenia, in some cases worsens it. So it’s like a rebellious thing but it’s not the best for mental health. I’ve smoked weed off and on for a few years and dabbled with drugs a bit, but the marijuana really has had some depressive effects over time.
You sound just like someone I need to talk to! My daughter is going to be 27 in November and is currently hospitalized with a preliminary diagnosis of Paranoid schizophrenia. The best we can tell her symptoms developed three ago. She disappeared for over two years and when she came back she was hearing voices, delusional and having hallucinations. She was smoking a lot of pot, which I sadly did not think was a horrible thing as we thought medical problems were the caused she was complaining of severe pain and it appeared to help with the pain. But now she is not getting better even with meds they are just making her unable to even care or herself. They have now stopped the two of the meds and started public guardian paper work so I am requesting control until she is well. My daughter graduated top of her class at 16 !/2 and excelled in life as you. Please give me any advise as to getting her in control of her symptoms so she can regain control of her life.
The pot is bad news. It is one of the worst things for schizophrenics. I am sorry. What you need is a psychiatrist and therapist who deal with high functioning people- some meds dope people up, my meds make me have slow terrible mornings but once I digest my meds and breakfast and my coffee kicks in, I appear perfectly normal and even ambitious and extreme. I take a newer med, Geodon (ziprasidone) and it is known to be less sedating, cause less weight gain, but does have a repuations for some sedation (hence my caffeine habits and sleeping so much) and it causes what is called akathisia, medicine induced restless leg syndrome which is annoying and requires additional medication.
I see a therapist who only takes referrals of high functioning people- try to find one like that, they exist. Mine sees doctors, lawyers, successful businessmen, and then me, the 21 year old schizophrenic weightlifter who is on a full scholarship to college with a 3.9. If your daughter graduated at the top of her class, she deserves to be treated as a priority and salvaged like I was and still am.
She needs to live at home with you and you need to watch her take her medications and get her occupied with things like school, a job, exercise, ect. I live with my parents and my mom makes me breakfast because my meds put me in a deep sleep and I wake up like a zombie and can hardly do anything except drink a bigass cup of coffee and smoke a cigarette when I wake up and get dressed. Then something magical happens with the morning medications and caffeine and food and I end up doing things like going to school and making straight A’s then going to the gym and working out very intensely. Hell there are some videos of my powerlifting stuff in the creativity section if you wanna see how different I am in the mornings and afternoons, LOL
But seriously, you need to take close care of her. My parents took care of me while I was at my worst and they knew that I had hope of recovering, and what do you know, I literally came back to sanity stronger than ever.
Coffee definitely helps me too. I just don’t drink it as much anymore because I’m trying to cut back on my caffeine intake.