Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

How do Schizophrenic street their loved ones during an episode?

Hello everyone. I need help making sense of my life. My ex who is schizophrenic broke up with me over the phone. The reason he gave me is because he does not know a lot about me. We’ve known each other for 14 years and together for a year with one break in between when he ghosted me. When I used his logic against him he just was so detached and got defensive, magnifying what he thought to be instances where I was rude. But I was not and we had already talked about these things. Anyway, I may have overreacted when I hung up on him, but I am wondering if it is part of the illness to just mistreat people around them, and do they remember the things they did or said when it is over? What happens during an episode? How do spouses differentiate between your loved one speaking from their illness and their heart? I’m sorry for such a lengthy post. He is not currently medicated. Thanks.

Welcome @DeathCloud, experiences vary among diagnosed people. Some have poor recollection of things done and said during episodes, some do not. What happens to a person during an episode also varies widely. I like to use the analogy of dreaming to describe psychotic episodes. Content and frequency and recollection of dreams vary widely between people, yet there are some common patterns. Often you dream about what and who you know, but with a novel or absurd premise, juxtaposing the dreamers reality with fantastical notions or visions, and psychotic episodes are similar.

Diagnosed people tend to withdraw from society with loved ones often ending up as their sole contact with the world. The experience of having an often debilitating disease like schizophrenia tends not to be a lot of fun, and sufferers, who often have poor insight into their disease, get angry without fully understanding the cause and nature of their situation. Loved ones by sheer proximity often are the only audience to vent this anger, and also by proximity a suspected cause and often bear full brunt and blame for their rages.

As for differentiating when the disease is speaking and when not, this can sometimes be difficult since sufferers often truly believe their experiences while ill, even if they aren’t in fact reality. In these circumstances, I’d look for a mismatch in the level of emotional expression and the content of what is said and done. Sufferers may be overly melodramatic or highly understated and flat or monotone. They may speak with excessive detail or be repetitive or terse or cryptic or speak loudly or softly or use or omit profanities, etc. As with the rest, it’s highly individualistic and may evolve over time, but if you’re observant, you’ll know when something is “off”.

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Maggotbrane, I think you should write books on the subject. Every time I read one of your post I am blown away by you by your eloquence, and insight.

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Maggotbrane I wonder if you are a psychologist. I have many questions regarding sz, for example, why my son cuts everything: blankets, sheets, clothes (I guess is a way to design them to his own comfort and fit), money and when severely paranoid throws away the phone, laptop or anything electronic (here it isn’t too much question); anyhow when he’s been unmedicated (as of now is the case for the hundredth time) it’s been very expensive! And this is only one of the many little things out of the ordinary that he does out of being vindictive I think. Of course any ‘normal’ person can do a stupid thing out of rage, I get that.
I see now why while in the hospital they lock everything.

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Merci for your insight.

My son mirrors many of the patterns you described.

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@ttt1, thank you, that’s quite flattering. I’ve considered writing a book off and on. First in memoir form, but then Elyn Saks wrote her memoir, The Center Can Not Hold which said much I might have said and more. And later in more of a cookbook or lesson form. Two things have stopped me:

First, privacy. Partly my own, and that of my family. My first experience with SMI and caregiving is by way of my brother, who to my knowledge doesn’t know about my participation on this forum. His story is not my story to tell, and something with profile of a book, even under a pen name, might leave us vulnerable to being “doxxed”. One of my more potent delusions are delusions of reference, and I can say it’s the most hellish experience I’ve had. Celebrities have my sympathy, as I know what it’s like to feel like to believe complete strangers are talking about you and having your story completely wrong or misinterpreted, or even more scary your innermost thoughts and fears completely correct.

Second, disorganization, or diffuse “executive function”. Long time forum members may have noticed I’m more of a reactor or collaborator. I rarely post my own threads. I do better bouncing off of people, either answering questions or elaborating or clarifying things said. I feel a book of my own might take forever to write and might give an editor fits. I might be able to manage it with a co-author, perhaps a mental health professional or with a ghost writer. Otherwise I think it might be a bit rambling or incoherent.

I muse about such things off and on, but so far participation in this forum is the best I can muster.

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@rosyd no, I am not a psychologist. I considered it for a while, but it seemed an awful lot of schoolwork for a less remunerative career than I’d have if I finished my technical degree. I was fortunate that the college within my university had more of a liberal arts focus and required broad undergraduate study. In addition to my technical and scientific schooling, I studied psychology, philosophy and music. All of these disciplines and more were helpful in my recovery.

I’ve had years of Jungian therapy and am highly intuitive and introspective; I’ve also learned the fine art of faking authority, seemingly from my father. People always believe he’s a college professor instead of an engineer, because of the depth and breadth of his knowledge. The apple falls not far from the tree apparently. It’s a rarity nowadays to be a generalist and to know yourself, but it seems quite ordinary to me, so I forget myself.

Compulsive behavior of cutting things up speaks to me as a form of release, or diminishment. It’s purely an intuitive interpretation. The clothes may bind him or the kinesthetics of them are otherwise disagreeable. Similarly destroying or giving up things of value like money is a form of release, or even penance. There’s a common thread I see in this forum of sufferers giving their money away or being victimized. There also may be a degree of resentment—perhaps unconscious—that it’s support that’s given to him, but not earned. So maybe he’s acting out by literally cutting the proverbial ties that bind. Another feeling that resonates with me is the sheer joy and power of destruction. When you feel powerless, it feels good to destroy something or modify it to your liking, and if it’s something someone values and you get a lot of attention, even negative attention, it’s a bonus compared to feeling powerless or a “nothing”.

As with all compulsive behaviors, it’s easier to replace a habit with another habit. The more adjacent, the better. So maybe give him some rags or old sheets to tear up when he feels like tearing his clothes, or prop or toy money to cut up or wood to chop or cardboard to break down for recycling. I think it’s best to acknowledge that his feelings are valid and understandable, just that you’d prefer he express them differently and you’re willing to help him with it. Good luck!

Thank you Maggotbrane, you’re greatly intuitive! And for sure what my son does doesn’t make any sense to me but I think you’re right on the money about his resentment of having support without earning it as you say; hmmm! Sometimes he thinks he can buy expensive things without adding first what’s in his pocket!

Definitely sometimes I’m scratching my head! :slight_smile:

My son reacts to electronics. He cannot keep a phone , Tv etc. though he likes to have both. He never can explain why he destroys them.

Merci beaucoup for your post.