This is my first time posting here. I have found much comfort in this community. My husband of 15 years has schizophrenia. He refuses to believe that his delusions are just that. He fully believes the delusions are real. No matter what I do or say he will not waiver in this. He believes I have issues remembering. How do I approach him and get him to understand he needs to seek treatment and get some help. This has been going on for close to 4 years now and I’m at the end of my rope. I want him to get the treatment and help he needs but I don’t know how to get him to see or understand he is not well. Thanks in advance.
I understand how you feel- when my sza son first began talking about his fears (neighbors wanting to kill him, spyware planted in his phone, people following him) I also tried in vain to convince him that they weren’t real. It is so painful to see your loved one so obviously terrified.
It is an exercise in frustration though to try to convince someone who is experiencing psychotic delusions that their senses are lying to them. I think that the best hope lies in medication and the help of a care team. You can apply the communication methods described in Amador’s book, “I’m not sick I don’t need help” to try to convince your husband to seek help. Has he been diagnosed? Is he not seeing a psychiatrist at all?
He has not been officially diagnosed. I have kept a daily journal of the things he’s told me and consulted with many medical professionals. Everyone agrees he is most likely schizophrenic. He doesn’t trust doctors due to his delusions and he refuses to seek treatment or take any kind of medication. Some of his delusions include situations where I was present and when I tell him that it didn’t happen that way he gets upset with me because he feels like I don’t believe him. It is absolutely heartbreaking to see him like this.
I agree that the book “I’m not Sick, I Don’t Need Help” by Dr. Amador, is one of the best tools at trying to get a person with a severe mental illness to see that they ARE ill. Something like 60-70% of people with schizophrenia cannot see their own illness. It is called “anosognosia” and I cried when I found out about that. Even psychiatrists sometimes don’t know or acknowledge what anosognosia is.
It is hard to get the diagnosis sometimes, it took years for me to get my daughter diagnosed with schizophrenia, and then it was changed to bi-polar, and then back to schizophrenia. But she was treated with at least 5 different drugs before the one that worked was administered as a shot monthly. The diagnosis didn’t matter as much as finding the proper medications did, and that wouldn’t have been possible at all without my being behind the scenes trying to get her help. I am so glad you are reading Dr. Amador’s book, that book helped my family so much. I got more information from Dr. Amador than any live doctor my daughter had. The doctor she has now only had to keep her on the med that worked that was found by forced hospitalization. She only now, after 3 years on meds, can talk to me about her “crazy years”. Only this year did the voices leave her.
Keep fighting the good fight, in this most awful war on severe mental illness. Come here to read and find strength.
Great question and glad you find this community helpful. It has saved me in some dark times when the sadness threatens to overwhelm.
Yesterday marked 2 years from my son’s first major episodic break that nearly killed him. Emergency treatment, surgery, hospitalization, and then 3 different inpatient mental health centers later and we are doing pretty good (a term which has a dropping bar!).
The SZ diagnosis is heartbreaking. I spend a lot of time puzzling around it. Coming up with creative, safer alternatives. Our trusted, very experienced psychiatrist patiently tells me ‘maybe it’s something else… but … the marked and sustained delusions, the self-harm, the patterns over 7 years scream SZ’.
Sometimes it’s not about our loved ones accepting that they have SZ, it’s about we caregivers accepting it!!!
And by accepting this tragic diagnosis, and seeking help (right meds, safe home, ongoing life skills), then we’re doing our job. Unfortunately, getting our loved ones to ‘accept’ their DX or take ownership for all the bullshit we all live - daily- just isn’t our path.
An old adage ‘If you want to be understood, seek first to understand’. If you want your loved one to accept SZ, then first we must accept it.
There is a great book, “I’m Not Sick, I Don’t Need Help.” It will help you immensely, especially if you can master the LEAP communication skills in the book. Your husband likely has anosognosia, a symptom where the patient cannot recognize their own illness. This symptom is due to brain damage and may subside if he starts getting a little better (no guarantee there, but after 8 years my son did start to recognize his illness, so there is hope). There are a couple conditions that mimic SZ, I would look into them especially if your husband’s condition developed very late in life (thyroid problems, autoimmune encephalytis–I’m probably spelling that wrong). Do what you gotta do to force/bribe your husband to see a dr. Reward or punish him in any way you can. Use the LEAP tips…maybe he goes to the doc to prove you are wrong and shut you up? Without medication, his brain can become more damaged by the SZ…as I understand it, the sooner he is successfully medicated to avoid psychotic breaks, the less damage to his brain.
@AShell13 , I have been diagnosed as having schizophrenia. I see and believe things/people no one else does.
I think the only way to help your husband is to petition yo the court to hospitalize him and get him on meds so he can be in his right mind when you discuss his beliefs.
Once I started to receive treatment and meds I could see certain beliefs of mine are false. To be honest, I still believe I’m being followed, recorded and reported on by navy seals who want me tortured and killed. However, I now know the animals don’t really give me telepathic messages, and I no longer believe I’m a prophet.
Im trying so hard to trust others about my beliefs about the SEALs but why don’t meds take those beliefs away too?! So I think since that’s what’s still there with meds then that’s part of true reality.
Anyway, if you get your husband court ordered to go inpatient and get on meds, he’ll finally be able to see what’s real and what isn’t.
At first he’ll be furious with you. BUT, once he’s in his right mind, he’ll understand what’s real and what isn’t.
@Zannah Thank you for your response and for sharing. Apologies for not responding sooner. On 9/20/2022 I did just that! It was one of the hardest things I have ver had to do. He felt so betrayed and hurt. I took my two kids and I moved to a safe location in fear of what he might have done to me for forcing him into treatment. They held him for 8 days and then discharged him. The only diagnosis he received was Sever depression disorder and Psychosis. He was put on Seroquel while on the hospital and continues to take it. His doctor told me that even with medication the delusional thinking may never go away. I have noticed a huge difference in his demeanor and I don’t feel as threatened by him as so used to. I do worry that this is the beginning of a long and painful journey. I continue to maintain a civil and lovingly relationship with him for the sake of our son and the 16 years we have shared together. I want to do whatever I can to ensure he is successful in his treatment. I see him thinking more clearly and I believe he understands where he was at before I had him admitted vs where he is at now. I do still here him mention things that I believe are delusional thoughts but he doesn’t seem to be as agitated or aggressive about them. I’m currently filing for divorce and working with him to settle upon an agreement. I worry that even though he is doing well now and making the right choices to continue treatment, it may eventually fizzle out and we will be right back where we started. He wants 50/50 shared custody of our son who is 4. I want him to have an active role in our sons life but so worry that he may stop treatment down the line. This would be horrible for the safety and well-being of our child. He wants it written up in the divorce agreement pertaining to custody matters.
Thank you for the suggestion. I have spoken to my attorney and I’m seeking full custody and allowing him reasonable visitation as long as he continues treatment. He has continued his treatment so far but I know how quickly things can change and want to ensure the safety of our son isn’t compromise down the line if he stops treatment.
@AShell13, Yes, it is a long and painful journey to battle severe mental illness as either the person who suffers from it or the family members/caregivers. Sometimes the meds are dropped when the person “feels better” and the illness gets way worse and grabs them again. Sometimes the recovery is not really recovery but moving into a “new normal” which is very different from life before the illness. Sometimes no recovery is even possible as meds don’t always work… super heartbreaking.
Thankfully you decided to seek full custody. Shared custody, in my opinion, is dangerous if the other person can’t be trusted. My husband actually kidnapped my 2 kids while we had “shared” custody. He simply took them for a “vacation” and never brought them back. The police did nothing as my husband had “shared custody” which basically meant he had the right to keep them with him if it was “his turn”. Shared custody is sort of like whoever has physical possession of the children has custody at that time. He took our children out of the USA, and THAT meant I couldn’t enforce my divorce orders through his country without paying huge sums upfront to lawyers in THAT country with NO guarantee of my gaining custody again. The oldest child didn’t come back to me until he turned 18, which was 3 years after they disappeared from America , and the other one turned 18 6 years after he left America.
@Zannah, I am so glad you are doing better and that you are even able to recommend forced hospitalization when needed.
Yes, I’ve had schizophrenia my whole life but didn’t know it until I was officially diagnosed with SZ in 2005 (when I was 25 years old). When I was trying to make it in the US Army, I could tell something was wrong with me, mentally. I didn’t even realize it was SZ until after I was honorably discharged and started seeing mental health care through the VA system.
If the person is dysfunctional, I would recommend seeking a mental health professional’s or Psychiatrist’s official diagnosis. The Psychiatrist/Psychologist should be able to tell if the patient has SZ; they can tell I have it just by conversing with me for a minute. That kind of certainty would just be all too official and the patient will realize they have SZ or another SMI like Psychosis or Bi-Polar.
When I was on leave, my parents hooked me up with a couple of appointments with a mental health professional and so that is something caregivers can try. That’s an easy compromise and you’ll get helpful feedback.
Sometimes, they’re reluctant to “officially” diagnose with SZ, but if you get diagnoses like Schizoid Personality Disorder or Social Phobia or Depression, severe recurrent, those probably hint at Schizophrenia. They sometimes diagnose with euphemisms. Then you know, for sure, if a person has Schizophrenia.
My opinion is more nuanced. I feel insight and anosogosia is more of shallow spectrum, like a swimming pool with a precipitous drop to a very deep end. Some exceptional diagnosed have partial insight and can be influenced away from the deep end, either permanently or cyclically. But it’s not the norm.
The importance of parents and family members having an understanding of the symptom anosognosia is critical - in particular for those who are dealing with it every day. I personally believe it is too critical for shading when dealing with the direct question.
While it is wonderful that some people merely have to be told by a doctor, and its equally wonderful that some people are on the spectrum of anosognosia, the critical message is that the lack of understanding is from the illness itself, and, there are communication methods that can get the situation out of the ditch and moving along.
Anosognosia is a “Cause” for those of us who have to deal with it - we have seen too many people kicked out of their family homes by the accusation they are in “denial”. Anosognosia is a difficult symptom for people to understand.
Do I sound a little frustrated? Perhaps the frustration with this particular symptom is best understood by the people who have to figure a way to manipulate around it with their family members. Thank goodness for Dr Amador and his LEAP method of communication, he gives families a way out of the ditch.