Help me understand him

Hello

Nice to meet you all. I’m in distress and I would like to talk with people that might understand the situation better. I tried with family and friends but they don’t know much about mental illness and they don’t know the whole picture, so their oprion is biased

I have a relationship with a schizofrenic. He told me almost at the very beginning of the relationship, but he appeared quite normal to me so I thought the relationship might continue. He also was living on a pension for schizofrenia provided by his state B.

We are both Europeans from two different european countries ( I will call mine A and his B), we met in a third european country (C) where I was working. I met him while he was taking a job training but he was struggling finding an accomodation (which I believed as it was indeed very difficult) but when the training ended he left the job after few weeks saying he wasn’t able to do it.

Then one day after more or less 1 month and a half we knew each other he decided to leave heading to a 4th country ( which we will call D) because according to him accomodation was cheaper ( but still vacation rentals though…) so he left telling me we had a bond now and we would have met again soon. I was quite puzzled by this behaviour and I thought it was an excuse and he would have never come back and I would have not heard from him anymore. But unexpectedly he came back to visit and then went to his country (B).

Again I thought he would have not come back but in the end he decided to move again to country C to be able to be close to me. He found another job and an accomodation and when a room in the apartment I was living in got free since he had to leave his, he came to live with me ( also he asked if we shouldn’t move in together in our own place). Everything went well for some months untill there was an issue with the owner of the house and also he got into an accident on the bike. At this point he left the job and wanted to leave. He told me stuff like that I was not in good shape and behaving like an automa and I was brainwashed ( because I was going to work everyday), but then he asked me to go with him saying we could have done better things (work related)and since I was having troubles at the workplace and I was already thinking of leaving one day ( i worked there for 4 years) I decided to go.

So we had to pack in 2 days and we left for his country B where he got a cheap studio for us. But he got angry at me because, because of me living with him, the pension amount was reduced a little bit… So he declared that I left ( but I was still there)…Anyway after 3 months he decided to leave this place because the neightbour was making noises to go to his mom’s place for the summer since she was going on vacation and I went with him. During these 3 months I tried to apply for jobs but since I was not native no one wanted me also my language skills were pretty basics. So I applied randomly to other job offers also in other countries and I was called by one in another country called E. He applied also for another job in another country F and actually we both got the job. But since mine was better and since it was more sure that I would have kept on working we decided to move to country E.

This because his mom’s place was very secluded and no one was looking for altermative accomodations and she wanted us out by the end of summer. In country E I rented a place for us and I went to work, everything was more or less fine untill covid arrived. His pension was cut and I had to sustain most of the expenses myself while he was getting angrier and sadder by the minute…at some point when they reopened the borders for the following summer he wanted to leave from country E to go back to country B for his pension but then he changed his mind. At the end of that summer I lost my job in country E and I didn’t know what to do next as I was still paying the rent and expenses. I tried to suggest he could look for a job there too and I was looking for jobs anywhere (except from country C where we were before because afterall we left for a reson…)I also tried in my country A and so on but I was unsuccessful…him instead applied without telling me to country C and he received a job offer and left after 3 days leaving me there. It was december by then.

I could not follow immediately because I had to take care of the apartment, give it back and I had a notice to give. Also it was almost christmas and they were starting to close the borders again.When I heard that I had to try to speed up the process…I asked the landlord if I could leave without too much notice, but he still had to come and check the apartment but it was sick…then to travel I had to have a covid test and they were starting to cancel transportation again. It took me a while and with a lot of difficulties I managed to reach country A and then again the borders were closed. in the meantime I tried to look for a job in country C to be able to reach him and I managed, in january I was able to go there, but it was not simple…because while I was doing it he left his job he just got and wanted to go to south or to country D… in the end I managed to convince him to stay in country C for a while since I got the job.

We stayed some months in a place and then I rented an apartment for 1 year. Obviously I was paying the rent ( that was almost all my salary) and he was helping with food since his pension came back for few months then it needed to be renewed ( but he was complaining about that) and after a bit he became very sad, kept saying he was stucked and sometimes he was mean. I didn’t know what to do also covid was over by then and soon the rent contract would have expired and the rent prices would have skyrocketed again…luckily I received a proposal from my family to go to an apartment that was my granma’s in country A.

So I told him about this possibility and that we could have gone there after some restoration. I was very relieved. But then a lady from downstairs came to tell us not to make noise ( we heard the same noise too and we were not doing it) but she was sure it was us so there was a fight… this led him so I don’t know what a psychotic attack…he wanted to go to country B and started to say unrealistic things like he would have travelled untill there by bike and buy a land and put a tent…he broke everything he owned except few things and he left telling me we would have reunited after we did our things. I didn’t know what to say, I tried to stop him but there was no way and he left. I couldn’t do much that going to country A to this place and start to restore it.

On his side he travelled by bike for a few days then the problem started since he had no money and started to tell me I was a scam and to not contact him anymore. He was very rude and didn’t want to talk to me anymore and at some point he went to a hospital in country C. Then after some days he decided to go to country B at his mom’s…and contacted me back saying he was sorry…and then started wandering around a city in country B without money or a place to stay…some time he was at a friends’ house but many times I had to help him untill he went back to his brother’s first and then hismom’s as she was away again untill she came back and he wanted it out.

Unfortunately my restoration works were going slow…and some months passed this way. luckily when he left his mom’s I was ready and I told him to come here in country A. In my opinion this was the final solution as I didn’t have to pay a rent and I could find a job. Happy ending? NO. During the previous months he got a different pension that was much lower and wasn’t able to get the other one…he stayed a bit at my place then he left several times…once he got a job in country B saying that then he would have found a place for us but since he could not find a place he left the job after 1 week…then he went to an homeless shelter tried to get help from his mom again…in the end he decided to come back here.

He left other times to continue with the request but just few days and he was coming back but he was always sad and angry against me. He considered this place a deadend ( I don’t know why, he said that here he could not find a job, but he never wanted to work, infact he wanted the pension so…? nonsense) and told me bad things like he didn’t want to spend his life with me and other bad things and he said he wanted his pension back. I told him very calmly that I was happy to be together but if he wanted that so badly he could go, he was not a prisoner. So he left in june for country B badly telling me very confusing things and I was not even sure if he left me forever or not. he went to stay in camping with very little money but he was still talking to me. one day he was telling me he was going to a city to jump because he wanted to die.

I was very alarmed I called the police and his mom no one wanted to do anything. in the end he want to a hospital talked to her mother that sent some money but the wire was not immediate and he was with no place… so I had to help him financially to cover those days. Then for a month he was able to live in a place but he was talking only about death. After that time he had again no where to go. His mother refused to help I had to help him again as much as I could.

He came back here in august, he was supposed to stay one month but he made a mess with the neighbors and stayed only one day…he went back to country B in the hospital. Then he decided to stayin the streets since it was summer but I still had to help him. It was a nightmare for him but also for me as I was always scared he could have done something stupid. Sometimes he told me that if he got back the pension he would have gone in country J a couple of months and then die, with no consideration of me whatsover. And once he told me he applied for a job in country D while he told me he could not come here because it was “abroad”…but also country D is “abroad”).

In the end he got back the pension in november…and in december got a social housing. we met in november some days in country B and then came here in january for some days to get his things. Why did I write all of this? Because he told me very often that we would have find a solution to be together while I knew that if he wold have continued this path it would have been difficult. After he got the house he realized that and I only get an “i don’t know” as an answer. When he came here in january I waited for him to talk about the situation and he suggested a solution but it’s unclear if he will try it, when and so on.

So I started to think that he broke up with be without telling me waiting for me to get tired of the situation. I asked this directly he said that is not like this. I am under great emotional distress and my mind sometimes becomes paraoid…as this was all a scheme and i’ve been abandoned and that I helped him financially to basically be able to be far from me. I am also ashamed my mind suggests me that considering his mental condition. I am unable to understand what is caused by the mental condition and what is part of his personality. I am afraid that he will never find a solution. While before I always tried to find a way as you could read, this time I don’t know where to start, it’s very difficult to me to go in country B and also he didn’t ask it.

Since he’s the only reason I would move to country B if I don’t have a feedback from his side I will not start the process. I tried to write a letter to him explaining all these feelings and asking in which direction is better that I move… but as a reply I only got that he wished it was easier and we could stay together and he doesn’t have a satisfying answer. I saw him putting a lot of effort to get this pension back, but I don’t see any real effort in regards of the future of our relationship. Could you please advise about this situation and his behaviour? what do you think? is it because of schizofrenia? what should I do? While before I didn’t I regret sometimes to have left country C in the first place if this was the outcome.

Welcome to the forum @Dontknowwhattodo , First a question for you, you have had a lot of moving to different countries to live during this relationship. Do you enjoy moving around regularly?

There really aren’t explanations for the behavior of our family members living with schizophrenia. My favorite comparison to the damage schizophrenia does to the brain is the damage lightning does to electrical systems. When lightning hits an electrical system and damages it, nearly any sort of damage is possible. Years ago when my house was struck by lightning, several electronic appliances were affected. Some never worked again and had to be replaced, others worked, but within limitations. For instance my garage door opener would suddenly open up without warning after the lighning strike. The dishwasher had a couple of lights that worked sometimes and not at other times. Most of the cycles on the dishwasher worked, but not all of them.

Rather than ask “why” about his behaviors, that sort of questioning can really get you spinning in circles, maybe just ask yourself if this all works for you. I think you have seen enough to know how it is going to play out going forward. Take care, hope

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I generally write here about my uncle with schizophrenia, but his son his been in the state system for 25 years or so with schizophrenia. What you say here reminds me that his son once said (at least 15 years ago) that he was going to get $5000 dollars together and buy a house in my little town (this was while he was hospitalized with no money and no job, and hadn’t had either for years). Suffice it to say, $5000 is not nearly enough to buy a house anywhere, much less in my town. It’s many, many years later and his son is still in the state system (with no money and no job), and my uncle’s behaviors are pretty much the same also.

From my limited experience, I would say that your past experiences with him will likely be the same for decades. I very much doubt anything will change significantly. But others here certainly have better experience and insights than I do.

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Severe mental illness is a life-long disease. There really is NO understanding the way our loved ones act when they are ill with schizophrenia and not being themselves.

Because the past often predicts the future, It is likely that his situation will never improve, and that you will simply end up supporting him for the rest of his life if you go to him again now. You’ve already been through years of paying for him and being upset by him. Perhaps it is time to let him go?

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I wish you luck sorting out your own future plans and decisions. My best advice is to keep your own self care high, don’t let your self care slip.

Also, one book that I read by Doctor Xavier Amador “I’m not Sick, I don’t Need Help” explained for me the thought processes (or lack of them) of a mentally ill individual whose actions confused me often (my adult daughter). You could also participate in NAMI classes (National Alliance on Mental Illness) which can help you to understand him.

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You mention that he has a diagnosis and related pension, and was hospitalized at least once. Has he ever received antipsychotic or other medication for his schizophrenia, to your knowledge? Have you ever talked about treatment? At the very least, I would hope that he could receive treatment in his home country. I have also had a relationship with someone diagnosed with schizophrenia who blames his one year on antipsychotic medication for his condition and rejects any further medical intervention. It is a constant cycle of short, seemingly normal phases that quickly end in psychosis and long episodes of withdrawal and self-neglect.

There are many people with schizophrenia who lead productive lives and have relationships, jobs and even children. You can read about them discussing their daily lives and continued challenges on the Diagnosed Forum on this website. But most if not all are taking anti-psychotic drugs and working closely with therapists and psychiatrists. Medication doesn’t help everyone or every symptom, and it may take months or years to get the right combination. Every individual is different. But a basic willingness to treat this serious mental disorder, requiring at least a degree of insight, is vital to be able to participate in society and have healthy relationships.

I think this is very good advice here. My son has been dealing with the psychosis for 4 years and probably the other symptoms for longer. He was officially diagnosed 18 months ago and his medication is working. We thought he would be able to handle consistently taking his medications and working full time and caring for himself. Unfortuanatley after about 8 months of him struggling and losing jobs, in and out of the hospital, and then the last episode last July we realized we were wrong. He thought he was taking his mediations regularly but he was forgetting or imaging that he was taking them. He was back in psychosis and refused to go to the hospital, because he said they would kill him. His primary doctor suggested that law enforcement would be able to get him to the hospital. Well, they were wrong and he felt threatened by them and tried to assualt them so he was arrested. All that has caused alot of stress, but it was after he got out of jail that I realized that he really needs some constant help to be able to function. I got him into an apartment, as he was unhoused right before his episode because he decided to live out of his car. I should have realized then that he was not doing well, but I suppose it’s easier to hope everything will be okay. So at that point I realized also that although he is very compliant with his medications (which I know is very rare) he wasn’t capable of keeping up on it on his own. So I realized I would have to take on the task of checking in on him twice a day so I know he’s taking his meds. He’s been doing fairly well since last July because of these two things. He was willing to apply for disability income and I hope we hear good news in the next few weeks. Even though the arrest was not something we wanted I’m trying to look on the good side. His attorney pleaded for the assualt to be considered a mental health crisis and the court agreed. We are stil waiting for him to be officially transfered to mental health court. But they also require he not use any substances, and they are very helpful to him and also require he has therapy.

Also he has been good about finding part time work, as here in the US someone with disability income can work part time, and my son definitely does better mentally and emotionally when he has work to go to. He seems to like it and I think it normalizes his life a bit because other than me he doesn’t have much interaction with anyone. Most of his siblings are stand offish now because of his history of behaviors. Not threatening to anyone, just unusual and off putting.

I’m only writing all this because the reality is most of these folks struggling need constant help of some sort, from someone. They need to know someone cares and doesn’t abandon them, but I think it’s probably much harder to be commited to caring for someone if they are not blood related. It’s a chore for sure, but even though my husband (my son’s stepdad) was against helping him at first he has been very supportive of me (after our initial conversation) and he nows agrees that it is for the best as our son was having some kind of crisis every few months before this. He’s been really stable and compliant since I stepped in to help him manage his life.

So yes, they have to be willing to be treated, take their medications, probably therapy, and maybe some work if they are allowed to work and get government help. But if they aren’t there may be nothing you can do and you may need to consider stepping away. I mean, if my son refused my help and refused medication I would probably be doing something different. Stepping away and letting him figure it out.

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There are two important issues for you:

  1. How are you taking care of yourself and will take care of yourself? Where are your personal boundaries? Determine what is your responsibility and do not take on the responsibility your boyfriend needs to be doing for himself. What is your problem about his problem?
  2. Your boyfriend definitely needs long term care as far as a therapist, psychiatrist and most likely medication. What country would be the best for him in terms of receiving this care - does his own country where he gets his pension provide good mental health care? With a mentally ill person, stability & routine are important and transitions make it a lot harder to cope with life. He needs to be the one willing to get the help but, of course, he does need the support of his family and friends. Where does his mother come into all of this? Does he have other family members who care? Does he have other friends besides you that can support him in his life? REMEMBER: It does NOT all depend upon you!!!
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One more thought: a lot of people with schizophrenia spectrum disorder have trouble staying regular with their medication. But meanwhile there are long-lasting injectable medications on the market. Assuming he finds the right antipsychotic/medication mix, this could make compliance much easier for him.

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I didn’t know about this

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Yes, what you described sounds very much like what most of have experienced with our schizophrenic loved ones. Other factors that should convince you that he indeed is not well is the official diagnosis and sz disability pension he received in his home country.

To his credit, he told you the truth about himself early on. But you would not be the first person who is unsure if that loved one maybe “isn’t really sick,” or maybe “getting better,” or that your love and caring might “cure them.” That hope usually holds until the next outburst of erratic behavior, or psychotic episode. Then the indifferent, cruel, or angry person you have also described emerges. It is an incredibly damaging emotional rollercoaster for caregivers like you, especially if that loved one refuses meds.

Here is another observation: people with schizophrenia often exercise a profound hold on those who fall in love with them. They can be particularly attractive precisely because they see the world differently and themselves are somehow “different” in a good or charming way. When behaving more or less normally, they often exhibit an honesty and almost childlike trust and dependency that you just don’t see to the same extent in neuronormal people. But part of their charm is their unattainability: they are usually far more attentive to and interested in what is going on in their own heads than the people close to them. All of this is especially true of those who refuse help. You might ask yourself honestly why you are so attracted to this man who has made your life so difficult, sometimes treated you very badly, and even now seems more interested in himself than in you. I don’t want to discourage you from helping him, and I appreciate that you have strong feelings for him and want to be with him. But these are all things you might want to consider as you figure out what you want to do. As others have urged: make sure to look out for yourself.

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What has helped me to understand this illness is some of the recommended books.

I am currently getting through the surviving schizophrenia book.

It is hard to accept.

Edit: Maybe this will help someone else.

If you have Amazon you can get a free one month trial of audible, and you will get two credits for two books. (I don’t know if you actually need Amazon or not.)You can search for surviving schizophrenia. The 6th edition is available with the free trial the 7th edition is not free, but I did see it listed for purchase.

They also have the I am not sick and don’t need help book by Dr Xavier Amador which you can use as your second credit.

You can also go to YouTube and search for Xavier Amador where you can watch several of his videos for free.

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Just to let you know that there are different forms of schizophrenia and one which involves schizoaffective which includes the mania side of bipolar. We aren’t the ones to ask this difficult question but you need to seek professional help. Even then they don’t always agree on the diagnosis or it changes over time. I think it is best for you not to label your boyfriend but to see him as a whole person and the way he functions and how that will or will not fit into your life. I hear not only a lot of questions about him but also doubts. How can YOU best function with or without him in your life? You are, first of all, responsible for taking care of yourself. Please ask those closest to you who know you and your situation. Listen with an open heart and mind.

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“I don’t know, probably I love he being eccentric, I like the fact that we can talk about many topics while I can’t with other people because they don’t understand or they don’t have enough knowledge and other things, it would be long to explain them all.”

I can totally relate to this. I have never had the kinds of talks with “normal” people that I had with my loved one (and still occasionally have.) Few people see the world like he does. He is also very intelligent and comes up with amazing insights and perspectives. It is like a whirlwind when they let you glimpse inside their heads. There is so much going on with their symptoms and delusions that it is no wonder they frequently are absent to those who love them. My friend has also shared the paranoia and horror of his disorder, and it is very disturbing. Most people with SZ want and seek love and connection like anyone, but they usually lack the means to follow through. That is why most end up alone. That’s what happened to my friend, who meanwhile lost his parents and has no connection to any family. I moved on to have a “real life” with partner, career and kids. I am so grateful he never tried to hold me back from that. But I still share a deep bond with him and I try to support him from a distance however I can.

You have not shared with us whether he is on medication or not. My suspicion is that he isn’t, or it isn’t sufficient to manage his symptoms. Getting him to accept the right combination of treatment in my opinion is key to any decision you eventually make. I really urge you to study the LEAP method by Dr. Amador that Frodo recommended:

Since his family seems to be in denial, maybe you are the only one who can get him to realize that he needs help. Perhaps it is a condition of receiving his SZ pension? In my opinion, only when he is able to manage his symptoms will you be able to assess the chances of whether your relationship has a future in whichever country both of you decide to live. Stress is a major trigger of symptoms and psychosis; he appears to be feeling secure about the pension, and perhaps also the family attention, he is receiving at home. In the end, especially without proper treatment, existential questions like these often take precedence over romantic attachments.

In my experience, making decisions and and following through on them is not a strength of those with this disorder. It sounds like you are the one who needs to make a decision, or just continue as you are doing if you aren’t ready yet. Hopefully at some point you will realize what you need to do.

Is there any psychiatrist in this forum?

No, @Dontknowwhattodo , I don’t believe there are any psychiatrists on this forum. It is meant for family and friends to get help with caregiving, in my opinion. Why do you ask?

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Just for curiosity…would be nice to have also their point of view

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I think I got lots of understanding from others who posted on here from their experience with their loved one’s doctors. My daughter’s current psychiatrist is a nice un-pushy sort of doctor who listens actually more than she talks. So my daughter likes talking to her now. At first it wasn’t like that at all. The thing that is very odd about mental health doctors in general is that they often don’t agree. Each doctor that my daughter had gave her a different med and diagnosis. Each hospital she was in had different methods. Most psychiatrists had VERY short meetings with her, and didn’t listen to her much. Thankfully my daughter allowed me in to most of current doctors appointments.

It’s possible some psychiatrists lurk, but they would likely be ethically conflicted if they posted. I’m diagnosed SZA with a long-term recovery and also a caregiver. Some here value my insights, but I’m not trained in any formal sense.

I had drafted a reply some time ago, but as @oldladyblue suggests, your narrative is a bit unfocused, so it’s tough to know how to help you, so I abandoned it.

I can speculate how I might think in some scenarios or relate my own specific experiences, but you know him best and the convolutions of your lives across Europe. I also have known several psychiatrists and can relate experiences and speculate how they might respond to specific questions, but this would be framed by US perspectives and practices.

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