Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Going on a wander


My son 25 is diagnosed so far with delusional disorder. He has zuclopenthixol 150mg every two weeks.

He says he has to go away but he will be back and he loves us but he has to do this. He’s done this a few times in the last 18 months. Most recent was Thursday this week, he had a bag fully packed lying in his room for two weeks since coming back from having a holiday at his grandparents while me and his dad had a holiday ourselves.

He wa saying for weeks before though that he would have to go and he would come back. He had to go in order to be able to read minds/ hear others inner thoughts etc.
Anyway this Thursday about 2pm, I wasn’t in. He said goodbye, hugged his dad, kissed our dog and wouldn’t say where he was going.
When I came back he was gone, tried ringing him but phone was off.

The following day about mid day he rang me, asked where I was, told him I was in town , he said can I hurry up as he was outside our house and needed the bathroom. Told him he would have to wait. Anyway he seemed calm and quite ok.
He had got a train and travelled about 100 miles, funnily enough to a place he went for the day with his uncle a few weeks ago while we were away.
He had a large hold-all with lots of clothes.
He said he drank coke in pubs then sat in a 24 hour mcDonalds and drank coffee, then got train home the next day leaving at 5,40am.
He hadn’t slept all night so was tired and never went to bed nor ate till the night time

He’s saying he isn’t unpacking as he will be going this week and not to report him missing , he won’t say where or for how long though again. I really feel he will do this again, he can’t understand how this affects me, as the overwhelming urge that he has to go is stronger.
He’s not angry or anything but he really doesn’t see my view (I know why would he)

So I have to wait it out, he will go I guess and I won’t hear where he is or when he will be home.
I asked him did it achieve anything going , he said no he was going to stay linger but lost his “bottle” and came home.

Has anyone experienced anything like this? Thanks


My family member used to do this unannounced. I would wait a few days then go looking. Usually would come home after a few days.

The local police were so great to me; the neighborhood officer told me he would call if he saw my family member, but would not report him missing and also would not have police stop him or interact with him, unless he was doing something that warranted police attention. Sometimes we would see our family member, a huge relief, and ask him to come home, but he wouldn’t.

Sometimes I would stop him from taking expensive electronics with him “on a wander”. Other than that, I just worried for awhile til it got too much and I went to find him, generally not successfully.

This went on for three years off and on and our family member had a few rough times out in the world, but was mostly okay.


Sort of…
On quite a few occasions he has insisted he had to leave–usually it is to live in the woods. Once to go to another city, but typically rural areas. Sometimes it is just a long drive to somewhere he thinks he has to go, but no idea where the somewhere actually is so he ends up back home. However, other than the long drives, he has never actually gone.


That reminds me of the last time my wife drove, a very long time ago, she got lost south of Nashville, cops found her 100 yards from the vehicle, laying on the side of the interstate, at 3am, no gas, she had a purse with money and a cell phone.


My son is saying it again today, mum please don’t report me missing, I will come back when Im ready and Ive had my eyes opened.


My son’s wander is different. Once a year he drives to Colorado for hiking and I am pretty sure pot is a big attraction. He structures his trip carefully, making sure he has little contact with people. Not difficult to do if you think about it. He will camp in a small tent in state parks and eat granola bars. He comes home having lost weight and is alway quiet in his apartment for weeks after returning.

The weeks before he leaves are always bad weeks, we breathe a sigh of relief when he drives off and immediately begin worrying about someone hurting him. I can track him through his gas purchases, he went all the way to Yellowstone this year.

He always comes home. Since his scz gets worse little by little, I would imagine that one of these years he will stop going, just as he has stopped doing other things he enjoyed.


No my son developed this before he left the house so he doesn’t have the confidence to actually leave although yesterday he talked about going to Paraguay. I can’t imagine how I would find him there, neither of us speak the language. A day at a time


He’s telling you he’s leaving which means he knows you care. Have you told him that you worry? I told mine that I worry about anyone in the family whose whereabouts I don’t know and that we all usually know where the other ones are. It’s not a unique requirement on him to check in, to say where he is going.


I am smiling because we scz caregivers have to really handle unusual situations some times - which is why it makes perfect sense that you would think about the problems you might encounter looking for your son in Paraguay.


I spent a lot of time looking at tracking devices this year - they don’t work where there isn’t coverage and the batteries run out too fast for as long as he is gone.


Yes I’ve told him that when we live with people then it’s quite important that he either tells us where he is going or he keeps in touch, he does neither.

He tells me he loves me to “pieces” and says give me a hug mum, now I’m so grateful for that, then I loose it by saying to him that he can’t expext to waltz in and out at any time without keeping in touch in some way.

I saw him smiling the other day at something I was doing. I love wax melts, and use a fabulous USA company , I was cutting up my wax at the dining table and he was looking at me and he said to me “mum you love your wax don’t you? Then he said “I’m really pleased you have your little hobby mum” :green_heart:
He knows at times, more than I think or give him credit for.


It’s wonderful how much he is able to show he cares about you deeply. He pays attention to you in a way that shows love, attention, and empathy.

Sometimes the voices or delusions tell our loved ones to keep certain secrets, like where they are going??? Who knows?


Funny thing about Colorado; my sz ex “escaped” to Colorado, also. He went to stay with his brother and his wife and kids. That did not go well. He returned to the East coast weeks later when I told him I was not moving out there.
He took our only car, took a good week to drive there, and called from a new motel every nite. He had his own coping strategies, and managed quite well, surpassingly. For instance, he only stayed in places where he could park in front of his room, on the ground floor, so he could see if anyone tried to mess with his car.
Pot was not yet legal in CO at the time. If it were he probably would have stayed.


I think sometimes that they just need some sort of autonomy. I find that it’s easy to forget that my son has to get everything from me, money, rides, food…and he has done this too. Walked @ 30 miles one day and then called me at about eleven at night and asked to be picked up.

By leaving, they get to choose where and when to go w/out having to ask anybody. I don’t know, it’s a shot in the dark, but when I pay attention, I realize that some of the strange things my son does are because he needs to feel independent. I imagine it must be hard to be a man of any age and have to ask someone else for everything…


I don’t think I’ve voiced it. I just ask him questions like where will you live? He said it is really cheap to live there. He said cigs are cheap there. I asked him why people don’t move down there all the time? No answer


Interesting to read about wanderers. But I will warn that people with SZ, especially who are not medication compliant, can disappear when you don’t expect it. Some return, some don’t, some won’t (there is a difference). Do what you can (1) to make sure your family member is taking meds, and if they are driving, get the vehicle out of your name (you can help pay for it if you want and pay for insurance in HIS/HER name if you want). Put an ap like “Find My Friends” on his/her phone (although they could remove the ap), and program their phone and yours for a free service called Smart911 (Google it) to help plan for an emergency. We are still researching car tracking device options…some are better than others. Don’t feel guilty about being nosy, and consider using a vehicle, money, or other privileges as leverage for needed behaviors.


I have not but I know this happens and my heart really goes out to you. I hope you can somehow keep track of him. My son was diagnosed at the age of 25 with paranoid schizophrenia and he is now 29 and living with his dad. I would be so heartbroken! As it is now, he never goes anywhere and that’s certainly heartbreaking too! I feel your pain.


@Holly67 I really think you are on to something. While I have explained building Jeb his own garage apartment to the neighbors as an attempt to give him some dignity and space from his parents in day to day life, his yearly trips probably do that more than anything.

When he goes for days and days without texting me, the less contact with me, might be less stress on him.


@hope4us - our NAMI support group leader warns about this extensively. She feared having people with scz driving as she had heard so many tales over the years of people driving away and not returning.

Last I knew, and everyone should always verify Social Security rules for themselves, people on ssi could own one vehicle and it would not be counted towards their assets.


Thank you. We learned these things too late but are still hopeful our family member will return and/or the right intervention, perhaps by necessity, will occur in the right timing to truly help. Another idea for your loved one to have transportation is for the person to use Uber or Lyft or a taxi. The dilemma we also face if our person has not returned with the vehicle registered in our name, is that when the vehicle registration must be renewed (annual), we will not be able to get an emissions inspection required for renewal, so expect that we will have to report the vehicle as stolen. We can give the vehicle to our family member, but that requires signatures of both seller and buyer on the back of title. Can’t do that if not able to locate! And then it would be up to the family member (with help, if accepted) to take care of the registration. Otherwise, the person is still going to eventually be stopped by police if driving on an expired registration.