Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Help what can I do with my wife?

My wife started showing mild symptoms of schizophrenia about 4 or 5 months ago. Back then when she was still rational she wouldn’t go and see a doctor (even if I suggested her intense headaches should be checked out in case they might be a brain tumor).
Then about 7 weeks ago she suddenly got much worse and has been ever since.
But now the last few days its gone up a notch again.

She’s had periods where she’s angry and shouting and swearing but they were infrequent and didn’t last long. Now they are frequent and last several hours. She’s out of control, screaming at the top of her voice, breaking things, throwing things, brain and thoughts totally random and out of control.
There’s no chance of me persuading her to see a doctor or go to the emergecy ward (even when she calms down), and I wouldn’t stand a chance in hell of trying to phsycailly force her to see one.
But I also can’t call 911 - despite the extreme crazyness and anger, she is never physically violent or threatened me nor herself. Sometimes she thinks I’m not me, she confuses me with one of the voices, or things I’ve been replaced, but even then she’s still not violent with me apart from verbally. So neither myself nor her is in physical danger.
What can I do?

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@mungbeans What State/Country are you in? Things seem to vary from state to state. You could call 911 if one of the things she throws hits you. Sadly, if necessary you can have someone physically force her in to the hospital. I had to get an emergency mental health hold on my son. I am in Colorado. You may not quite have enough to go on yet however. Take photos or a video if you can. To get that hold I had to call the County Attorney and write a letter and I happened to have photos. Once that is granted they do come and get her. I doesn’t sound like you are at this point however. The police and come and do a mental health evaluation. That may take a few times as well. Then there are the crisis team talked about - which we don’t really have in the area I am in.

When I asked our emergency services people if breaking objects warranted an emergency psychiatric eval and possibly a 911 call, I was told yes because the physical aggression towards objects could be a precursor to physical aggression to people. It showed dangerous and out of control behavior, due to psychosis.

I would call a psychiatric emergency service number in your area and have them call the police, giving them the heads up that this a psychiatric emergency.

You don’t want it to get to the point where she hurts you or someone else because then she could get charged with that by the police.

I’m in Seattle, Washington.
She doesn’t throw things at me, she usually throws them on the floor or down the stairs.
She is small but strong, it would take a few people to physically force her to do anything, but I’m on my own, no family, no friends here.

Do you have a psych emergency number to call? If not, call your local hospital psych department and ask for one. Then call it right away to get advice before she does something she can’t take back.

Or call your police department non emergency number and tell them what’s going on, so they’re prepared.

It would be the police who would do this. I had at least a dozen officers. It was not fun and it was rough to hear (I plugged my ears). I like Day-by-Day’s suggestion to call the non-emergency police # or here are some crisis #s you can call in your area (866-427-4747). These can just be more people to bounce your ideas around. They usually say - I’m sorry she’s going through that and you need to get her help. But they may be able to give you more ideas regarding what to do. If you call them they aren’t going to rush over like 911 would do.

I agree, it is a good idea to contact resources in your area and get a sense of what your options are. One of the criteria for hospitalization and being a “harm to oneself” is not being able to perform “activities of daily living” i.e. not taking reasonable care of herself. Is she continuing to eat regularly, dress, bathe, etc?

Also, what is the screaming about? Does any of it include threats toward yourself or others?

Thanks for suggestions. Do police actually do or behave any different if they are “prepared”?

She eats lots, no problems there. She doesn’t shower much, I can get to her about once a week or 10 days. She doesn’t change clothes much, but does occassionally. She shouts at voices or things she sees. I think when she gets violent with an object she sees something on it, or thinks its evil.
There’s no threats towards me nor people we’ve passed in the street when out (but I don’t go out when she’s like this of course).
There is one person and her husband we know from the gym (haven’t been there for 2 months) and recently she has come to regard her as involved in this and responsible. She she shouts and screems that she’s bad and needs to die.
I’ve put the gyms phone number in my phone in case one day she decides to take off there and I can’t stop her.

I haven’t had the chance to call anybody yet, I don’t want to when she’s like this in case she hears me talking about her on the phone and then I don’t know what she’ll think, so I’m trying to avoid that scenario.

Yes, no, sometimes. It seems to be circumstantial. You could call the regular number and tell them you are curious if they have a crisis team that does mental health checks. The first time they came, they did nothing the second they new my son had issues and I don’t think they handled it well at all. And this was a childhood friend of his. Are you able to leave the house at all? Perhaps say you are going to the store to get food and then make a call? With my case I used to say something has to happen for this to change and after about 3/4 of a year things started happening where I had to intervene. If the police do get involved MAKE SURE they know she needs to go to the hospital. Not jail. Never jail if possible for people with Mental Illnesses. You could also give her an ultimatum. Tell her the hospital is a safe place and perhaps it may be time to have her looked at. (Not for her head but for something else). I think you tried that already?

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Hi mungbeans. Like any stressful or challenging situation, in any job, I think being mentally prepared to deal with it increases the chances of things going smoothly.

Plus, it gives the police department a chance to give a heads up to their officers better trained in psychiatric emergencies. Hopefully, those trained individuals will be sent if/when the time comes.

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She has two personalities, one of them I seem to have managed to persuade she needs to see the doctor for a variety of reasons - headaches, crying (i.e. implying depression), mood swings, and yesterday she voluteered her own reason - that she gets time mixed up meaning the past and the present merge. She seemed open to the idea that chemical imbalance in her brain could be the cause of these things; and also with an additional carrot incentive that the doctor could sign a form meaning I could take unpaid leave off work (and legally they still have to keep my job open) and hence in a few months we could look at going on holiday.
But the trouble is her other personality is adamant she won’t see a doctor at all, and the first personality keeps forgetting that we dicussed the doctor and she agreed to it.
So I make appointments with the doctor and hope on the day she’s the right personality and remembers what we discussed, but on the day its the bad personality and we don’t go.
Still, I make another one and hope next time we can.

Another problem is however she does’t regard psychologists (with whom I have a referral to from a family doctor) as real doctors and is probably likley to disregard whatever they say if I do get her there.

No I can’t get out of the house, and its rare I can be in a different room to her when she’s in a good personality as she likes us to be together at all times, so we’re both safe, and I don’t like to leave her alone when she’s in the bad personality.
Sometimes I can, so I just have to be patient before making phone calls.

Hello mungbeans,
A lot of good people here on this site, you should document your wifes outburst in a journal and take pictures of the broken messes (when she is not around) the more evidence collected can help you validate a case if you are thinking about getting her help.
From what I read on this site, it is so hard to help our loved ones, because it means you have to be the bad guy.
Take care AnnieNorCal

Thanks for everybodies replies.
Appreciate all the input

If things continue to escalate, I’d call the police, tell them what’s going on, and have them take her to the ER. I’ve had to do that for my paranoid sz husband (now ex). One time, he was crazed after taking an abundance of pills. He wasn’t violent, but was up for days, He broke some furniture, etc., stumbling around. When the police got there, I met them at the door, At first they were reluctant to act, but as I was talking to them, there was a huge crash ( he tripped over a table) and the cops came rushing in.

They found my husband looking wild, in a stained T shirt and underwear. They told him to put on some pants and took him to the hospital. He was sheepish and compliant with the police. No handcuffs were needed. Kept him in hospital for a week or so.

She might not put up a fight when faced with authorities. It was by no means a pleasant experience. They put him in restraints all night in the ER. But they did have a crisis team there to talk to him and me, and a kind volunteer sat with him all nite to calm him. When he was transferred to the psych ward and properly medicated, he got better.

Don’t become a prisoner in your own home. Take your cell phone in the bathroom with you and make the call.

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Get a civil commitment or what other court order your state has. Google mental health commitments with your state/ city location for info. When you find the number to call ask how you proceed. Or call a inpatient mental health hospital and ask them for advice on how to proceed. With a court order they will come pick her up and take her to the nearest hospital for a psychiatric evaluation. There is typically a 72 hr hold. A person in a state of psychosis will not be stable in 72 hrs for court and will be court orders to receive treatment which requires a doctor’s clearance when stable for discharge. Follow up care is essential for long term management of symptoms. It is an illness and can be treated.

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Hi @mungbeans,

I live near Seattle in King County. I believe SPD has a Crisis Intervention Team that has been given good reviews as a team that can manage psychiatric emergencies. Harborview hospital has a good mental health unit and the people in the ER are trained in working with people having a mental health crisis.
My son had several episodes of psychosis and was taken away twice by King County police and taken once to Harborview by Medic One so I’ve had a little experience with services in the area.
Consider calling SPD and asking about their Crisis team. Try to find out how they would handle your wife if they came to your home. Be prepared, as noted before, with documentation of her escalating behavior, pictures if you can get them. Describe her to them on her worst day, don’t minimize anything.
An involuntary hold for 72 hours in Harborview’s psych unit is a good start.
My son currently is living at Western State Hospital and is getting very good care there.
You might also want to contact the Seattle office of NAMI- I have had varying results from them but they do have a lot of information if you can get to talk to someone who can actually help.
Hang in there, she sounds like she’s really suffering

I don’t know how I could get her into this - seems the option for this in Seattle is to petition for Joel’s law (, however that says "A Designated Mental Health Professional (DMHP) has conducted an investigation and
decided not to detain that person for evaluation and treatment; "

But as my wife won’t voluntarily go anywhere, and she’t not a violent threat I don’t see how that’s going to happen.

I got something called an Emergency Mental Health Hold. I called the Country attorney (I got this info. from the Court Clerks office) and I had to explain and write up what had been going on over the last few years (doesn’t have to be long). This had to go through the court. It took 24 hours and was free. The emergency being the key. You could try that. The police come and get her and take her to the hospital. You could film her as well. (I had some photos). This landed him in ER, 3 weeks in a Behavioral Health Unit (locked) and 3 weeks in a transitional house. It could have, however, landed him in a State facility that could have lasted a few months and would not have been a good situation. We just got lucky and had to do a lot of work to get him in the right place. I know this is a rough place right now and it won’t be easy getting her into a hospital.

Hi DianeR.
Thanks for this info, I’ll see what I can find out about it.

“The emergency being the key”

What might count as an emergency though? I’ve always interpreted that team as meaning some sort of actual physical danger to somebody.