How do I convince possible schizophrenic cousin to move home

I’m looking to get some insight, advice, etc here.

Tldr: Cousin has become increasingly spiritual over the last year and a half. Quit high paying job, is living in motels/in his car because God/universe told him to as part of a spiritual journey/awakening. Trying to wrap my mind around everything and support as best as I can. Visiting soon and would like some advice on how to engage and convince him to move back home to East Coast (he’s in California now).


My cousin is in his early thirties. He has two degrees (a bachelors and an advanced professional one). After grad school, he worked for a few years. He’s always been a smart, logical and generally well adjusted individual.

He moved away to middle America, far from family and friends, for work. COVID happened and I know it affected him deeply (combo of loneliness, racial conflicts at the time etc) but for the most part, I felt like he pulled through it. Eventually sometime in 2021, he relocated to a different state for another job.

Through 2021, he became increasingly spiritual. He would talk about vibes and energies and the universe. The family is pretty religious but he wasn’t so this was a bit strange to me at first but I came around eventually. He started to send me random social media posts about spirituality (which I actually appreciated because it was a refreshing way to look at things for me as well). As the year went by, he became more and more spiritual in how he thought about things and expressed himself. At some point, towards the end of last year, he talked about the people he hung out with being jealous of him and toxic and having bad energies. It all came to a head one night when he told me a guy he knew was extremely obsessed with him - the guy was copying his style, his way of speaking etc. He even alluded to thought hacking (because a lot of times, he’ll be thinking something and then the guy would say the exact thing). He eventually cut off everyone and just stopped hanging out with people in general.

Then another night that week, he texted me that he thought he was being followed, that his apartment was broken into (and stuff was tampered with), that the area he lived in was a hub for the illuminati, that his phone had been hacked. He later told me that it was a spiritual attack.

Fast forward to this year, some months back, he told me he wasn’t renewing his lease. At the same time, he told me he had actually quit his job late last year (without telling anyone) - God/the universe told him to do both of these things (he’d become increasingly anti-corporate America so I don’t know if that’s why he quit, or if God/Universe truly told him to). He didn’t have a plan - just a command that this was what he had been told (by God/the universe/spirit guides) to do because he was to go on a spiritual journey. He had/has student loans, car payment, bills etc that I guess he’s defaulted on but he said the command was for him to live in the now and completely lean on God/the universe and let go of control and the need to be in control of everything. For the last almost 3-4 months, he’s essentially been homeless (moving around from motel to motel). He spends his days taking walks, going to the park and I’m not really sure what else. At this point, he’s out of money (I was sending him money occasionally but I can’t afford to anymore) so he’ll be living out of his car for the most part. I’m scared that he’s going to resort to begging for money (he says it’s not going to come to that - but he said the same thing about the homeless situation).

Some other things that he’s said during this period:

  • He’s in some sort of spiritual battle. Within that realm, he has a high rank as one of the top generals fighting with angels. He says he wakes up every morning feeling completely drained and exhausted.
  • A lot of people know him (he’s very popular). When pressed for more details, he says he can’t reveal
  • He’s going to be a very rich, famous and influential person. No additional details
  • He talks about dimensions and portals etc
  • His mom (my aunt) is extremely worried as you can imagine (she believes there’s a mental health component to all this). Every time she calls him, she asks about plans etc and he doesn’t have an answer. She’s tried to convince him to move back home but he has refused. He’s become increasingly frustrated with the calls because he says it’s bad energy. Now he says the devil is using her to get to him and to distract him from what he’s supposed to do.

He has moments of feeling happy and fulfilled (because he’s doing what he’s supposed to) and moments of extreme sadness (because he’s tired of everything and feels like everything should have been over at this point). Every time I express concern, he says to have faith in him and just hold on. I’ve referenced the whole “people following him” incident from last year and he now says he’s not sure if it was a spiritual attack or if it really happened.

I’ve been very open-minded through all this. I want to support as best as I can. If this is truly something that people go through spiritually, then I’d like to understand more (stories from others that have gone through something similar, books I can read to educate myself, articles/journals that expand on these topics etc). If however, this is something more, I’d like to know that. I’m scared that if I’m more vocal about my concerns, he’ll cut me off (because at that point, I’ll be bad energy/the Devil is using me) and then he’ll be truly and absolutely isolated/cut off from everyone.

I talked to a friend’s friend who is a doctor and she suggested that he is likely schizophrenic and advised us to do whatever it takes to get him back home with family before things escalate and he gets in trouble with the law (this is very critical because he’s a black male - I’m so afraid to involve the police). I will be going with another older cousin and my boyfriend within the next week to visit him and see how to convince him to come back home so he’s not so far from family. Can anyone advise on how to engage? What can we say to get him to come home? Is it bad if we lie that someone is gravely ill? I’m at a complete loss.

Thanks in advance!

Welcome to our community of caregivers for SZ diagnosed loved ones. Obviously we have no specific clinical insight or prognosis to make but many of the symptoms you’ve described are consistent with SZ patients.

If his physicians decide that SZ is the proper diagnosis, then FINDING THE RIGHT MEDS and STAYING COMPLIANT IN A SAFE PLACE, are the biggest factors.

Patients with SZ and their families have to reset expectations and help the affected one live their ‘best possible life’. Often it’s a shadow or sliver of their former life. The grieving process throughout this transition can be overwhelming for family and friends. Most will run away or avoid contact. Isolation and solitude will reign.

So finding them a safe, loving home base from which to operate - many times against their own desires - is a key element.

Many of our loved ones referenced throughout this forum will eventually find meds that work and make life tolerable. Possibly even enjoyable. But compliance is terrible within this cohort. And then anything goes….

Be patient - continue seeking expert professional guidance - and prepare yourself for the difficult possibility of feeling ‘at home’ in our community of caregivers.

Hello and welcome! Hope this reply finds you well and your in good spirits. Everything has to be for their own reasons (maybe some exceptions). If you can communicate with him and find out if he sees any benefits to him moving back home and use those reasons as a way to get him back home. If there is anything that can be provided that he feels he needs. Try your best not to impose why you think he needs to return home instead communicate in a way that you both are agreeing. There is a book on communication called I’m not sick I don’t need help. This site has a link to read the pdf for free if you search the name. I really hope this helps you in some way and he gets back home with family. Prayers for you and yours.

@tyubg , Yes, that is important, since his is in his thirties, really you have to honor whatever choices he makes. Dr. Amador’s book, “I’m not Sick, I Don’t Need Help” gives the LEAP method to communicate to someone who might not be thinking right about their own life choices. Mostly it is aimed at helping someone realize they should take medicine for their mental illness, but the method can be used to help them change in small ways too. It’s how I got my daughter to take meals from me early in her illness when she wouldn’t come out of her room. It helped through many small issues to the large one of her staying on a medicine that worked. I highly recommend you get the book and learn to use LEAP.

Hi, I definitely resinate with your situation and i know how hard and hurtful it can be or scary at first to understand their behaviors. I think it will mean a lot what i’m going to say. I’m a psych major at Stony Brook University and I have very close experience with the condition, as my brother was diagnosed in 2014 with schizophrenia. We are extremely close and he began changing and isolating himself around 2012. Even pre-diagnosis was a dark phase, while he was in high school. My mother knew something was up but it’s so subtle at first.
He is now 26. We are extremely close and unfortunately it has been a painful, confusing, unpredictable, and sometimes terrifying since 2014. I have gotten so incredibly good at spotting the illness and it’s characteristics as it’s usually uncanny how similar the things individuals with schizophrenia say. They act incredibly similar most times, even down to their affect and disposition. I don’t take this lightly or throw the term around. I can 99% guarantee with everything in me that your cousin isn’t going through just an intense spiritual awakening. I’m very spiritually inclined as of the last 5 years or so, that isn’t even comparable. No delusions, no loss of touch with reality or real interference with your daily life is apart of a spiritual journey or ascension.

My brother says the some of the same exact things almost. Uncanny resemblance. He just told me and my mom yet again he needs to cut us off and start a life without us in his life, that he has to follow Gods plan. He does things and will say it’s all what gods guiding him to do and that he has to do it. He never was religious until the last year, i’m not super religious. But i understand putting an emphasis on a calling or intuition from the universe or god. That however never is my sole decision maker or overruling denominator. Mind you, my brother is usually up my arse (excuse me), always calling and wanting to be present. He prioritizes family above all and moved back from LA to be closer to family. I can’t fathom him ever being on bad terms with us or pushing us away, it’s not even possible for him.
Until. . he’s off his meds. Which is like 1-4x a year unfortunately. On them he’s himself but we still lose touch with who he is sometimes. It’s incredibly hard. He goes from loving and generous, introspective, smart, open minded. . to cold, flat, heartless, selfish, cruel, hurtful, condescending, impulsive, isolating, reckless, sometimes aggressive or confrontational and deep down inside he’s terrified off his medicine. He lies so much, it may be apart of the illness.
There is no soul or light in his eyes when he’s in psychosis, and people in psychosis avoid extended eye contact. They think you can hear their thoughts or can see through them, a psychiatrist told me this.

He eventually always acts cruel then he will drop the bomb on us that he’s secretly been off his injection for a month and it all makes sense. Just as your cousin, he gets veryyyy grandiose. He puts himself on a pedestal (only when off meds) but he is usually a very positive and ambitious person in general. But this is night and day, he becomes so grandiose to the point he tells us he’s going to get so rich and say f- everyone and will never need or see us again. He says that psychics have told him he is clairvoyant and nothing is wrong with him. That he is the chosen one and has a royal bloodline. That he is a reincarnated pharaoh.
It gets painful when he says that i’m casting spells on him and my mother is trying black magic against him, that my stepdad stole our family away from him. He’s gone as far after months without meds to say that he was being microwaved by tenants in his apartment complex. He constantly thinks his phone is hacked and being traced. He thinks he’s being followed. He says he burns when he sleeps at my apartment. He has even moved states back and forth bc it temporarily ‘relieves’ his skin from burning. He feels things crawl all over him. He thinks my stepdad was trying to kill him this whole time and has people out to get him no matter where he moves. It’s terrible.
But on his medicine he’s himself and he doesn’t vocalize any delusions or show signs of psychosis, but there’s so much he never tells us that I doubt it takes all of his illness away temporarily. Medication is very helpful but getting them on it is nearly HELL nearly impossible, once you do that getting them on the right one is HARD. He went from lean to obese in just a few months on abilify, all antipsychotics seem to cause tremendous weight gain. But he stays on it for the most part and can begin to live a normal life until he spaces his dosages out too far then gets lost in the deep end. It is a cycle and almost always will be a lifelong cycle. The best advice I can give is to not hold what he does against him and remember he’s not himself, like 3% maybe even 2% is himself talking. Id also say it’s important to allow yourself to seem safe to help and someone who doesn’t judge him no matter what he says, keep him emotionally open to you. This is huge. He will tell you a lot of what he’s going through and it will help you make sure it never gets out of control or that he feels alone. They cannot take care of themselves off medication, sometimes even with it it’s very hard. Family wants nothing to do with my brother because he’s burned so many bridges and they cannot separate him from the illness. But there’s a few of us still here, understanding and unconditionally loving him. Be there unless it starts to become too much. Do what’s best for yourself, they’re adults at the end of the day. It’s a hard choice to make. Sending love!

I’m here if you have any questions or are curious about resources, sorry it’s lengthy. Hoping to help a ton by providing some insight to schizophrenia. I wish you and your family nothing but the best of luck.


I would say, from my experience, that no, it isn’t bad if you lie to get him to come home, but hopefully you can figure out a way to get through to him. When my daughter was ill, I did things “behind her back” to get done what I think needed to be done. When she later was more well, she didn’t remember a lot of what happened when she was psychotic, or even what I did or said to her.

If you have a chance to read Dr. Amador’s book “I’m not Sick, I Don’t Need Help”, that book has a good method of communicating to those in psychosis (or even NOT in psychosis) and getting them to agree to things. It is called the LEAP method.

Good luck to you.

That is so true. Thank you @lelasjohn for telling your family’s story. I am so very lucky that the trial and error of forced medication ended in a med that works and continues to work for my daughter. I wish the best to anyone still struggling with schizophrenia.

Well written and thanks for sharing the details of your journey. Finding the right meds and keeping them on it is #1, 2, and 3!! But like you said, it’s hella-hard. Glad we have young bright leaders studying this topic so they can help make our world a better place. Welcome.