Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

How do you not let it hurt?


#1

My partner of 7 months told me he suffered from schizophrenia on our first date. I admired his openness and honesty. He said he had not had psychosis for many years, due to his strict adherence to meds.

He explained his cycle and dips into depression. He told me he would withdraw for several weeks to manage this. Over the next 3 months I watched closely to see if he managed his drugs as well as he had said, and he did, obsessively. He was very chilled and laid back.

Our relationship became very intense very quickly. I learnt as much as I could about schizophrenia and we became very close. We were obsessed with being with each other as much as possible. Then he moved house. He became manic overnight when he moved in. Everything had to be sorted immediately. The extreme change in personality threw me completely. He suddenly appeared not to want me there, and often didn’t acknowledge I was there. He would no longer let me help him with anything. The complete opposite to how he had been.

He still had lucid moments now and again where I felt able to express my worries, but these conversations had been twisted into unrecognisable accounts within hours, then in minutes. He began to imagine conversations we had never had. He eventually shut me out altogether. I was deeply hurt and rejected and completely confused by the change in him.

After a few days he had not been seen by any of his friends, so I went to his house. He was a dishevelled mess and had a haunted, tormented look. I sat with him for over an hour with him saying nothing. He eventually told me the voice was screaming abuse at him and his head felt like it was going to burst. He said he didn’t know what was real and what was not. He was very scared.

I got the crisis team involved and their intervention seemed to give him some stability. We tried to rebuild our relationship, and his episode seemed to have brought us even closer together than before. We went together to all his appointments, and talked very openly for hours. I knew he could not think like me so I had to think like him . I changed my whole approach to him. I spoke every sentence in my head before I said it, we only went to familiar places, I had no opinions of my own in case they conflicted with him. I changed my whole self to make his life as easy as possible. I let countless upsetting and hurtful statements and actions go unmentioned to avoid stressing him. We became completely entwined with each other.

This went on for the last 3 months and has, quite frankly, worn me out. Last week he behaved in a way I could not ignore. I won’t go into the details, but it was embarrassing, degrading and humiliating. I could not ignore it without being left feeling I had no boundaries at all. I approached the subject very calmly and spoke quietly and simply. I told him I was upset about it and could not compromise myself any further. I asked him to understand why it had hurt me, and how he would feel if I had done the same thing. He initially appeared to see my point of view and agreed he had behaved badly.

I asked him if he felt he was able to not do the same thing again. I could see him thinking very deeply and knew he was turning it all round to being my fault. He then left and has ignored me ever since, although I have not approached him for several days now. He has shut out all his friends, as I believe he knows they are going to tell him he is wrong also. I understand that he needs to convince himself that he is not wrong, as the voice is going to give him constant persecution for this. He is being very hurtful on social media as if I am being punished.

What I am asking is… How do I stop his behaviour from being so hurtful, even though I know he is not doing it on purpose ?

Can I prevent him from ending the relationship over any small criticism I have ? ( I’m no good at relationships / I need to be on my own ) Is there any way of sorting out issues without such a drastic response ?


#2

We can’t tell you how to not be hurt by his behavior. It does hurt, that’s normal.

And we cannot tell you how to prevent him from having the responses he is having. It does sound like he is currently not stable, which can be very difficult for anyone involved in his life.

My input is that, whether your partner is diagnosed with a mental illness or not, it is not healthy to let your partner’s life engulf your own. Whatever boundary he crossed, if he can’t commit to not crossing it again, it is probably for your best to disconnect from him.


#3

Thanks for the reply. I would say exactly the same thing to anyone else. However, I feel the relationship has so many positives , that to throw it away over a criticism about one thing is ridiculous and very frustrating. You are also right that he is not very stable at the moment. He was drinking large amounts of alcohol and went on a week long binge, which I believe stopped his meds from working. He had done really well trying to stop drinking and I felt we were on the way back to some stability. I know he will " crash" over the next few weeks because of this, and I will go to him despite him walking out and leaving me when I am unable to walk as I have been involved in a car accident. Everyone is disgusted with him and he is hiding from us all. My friends and family tell me to stop riding the rollercoaster and are getting very frustrated with me now. They say I make too many excuses for his behaviour, and that he hides behind his illness.They don’t understand that I promised I would be there for him. They did not see the last episode for themselves. I can’t give up on him when he is like that.


#4

My husband was diagnosed with Schizophrenia 3 years ago. At that time, I had been with him for 18 years, 10 of those years in marriage. We had lost a business and just about everything else and had to move in with his parents who were an absolute nightmare. It was about 2 years after we moved in with them that my husband started talking to me about things that didn’t make sense and I wasn’t sure if I should believe what he was saying. This is a man who was my best friend, lover and father to our son. We never kept anything from each other and we always talked about everything, that’s not to say we didn’t argue, because we did like every other couple out there. When I started to question him, which in his mind I was doubting him, he stopped trusting me. I became the enemy! He went from being this happy-go-lucky guy to a very dark person. He hated me and wanted to divorce me. These things he said to me hurt me every time he said them. He accused me of having an affair, which hurt me more than anything. To be truthful, I am still struggling to get over those hurtful words. After months of dealing with his paranoia and delusions, I finally called someone and they came, evaluated him and took him to the hospital where he stayed for a few weeks. The whole thing was completely devastating to me. I can’t even put into words the shock I felt that something like this happened to him, that it happened to us as a family. He has been institutionalized twice since then with one stay lasting five months.
While I admire you for dating someone with Schizophrenia, which is a very serious mental illness, I have to wonder if you are aware of what you are dealing with. When they take their meds, they can be as normal as they can be, that’s not to say that they don’t have bad days because they do. My husband has days where I can tell something is going on in his head but I don’t know what it is and he won’t say for fear of me calling the evaluation team on him again. This is how it is! One day they are fine and the next they are not. My husband wouldn’t accept my help because he didn’t think there was anything wrong with him. All he would say to me is “I can’t believe you are doubting me” or “I betrayed him”. “Betrayal” is a hurtful word for me because I know how important it is for him not to feel betrayed by me or anyone he trusts.
After his last stint in the hospital, he is on meds that seem to be helping him more so than any other medicine he has taken before. This time he seems to have accepted that he has a condition and needs medication to keep him out of the hospital. Me, on the other hand, due to past experiences, am waiting for the other shoe to drop.
What could have set your boyfriend off is the move. A change. I have to be very careful what I say to my husband because I don’t want to stress him out in any way. I notice when he is stressed over something, he acts odd and has a bad day because of it. He can no longer handle everyday problems, so I try to keep them to myself as much as possible. It has put a lot of weight on my shoulders and quite a bit of strain on our marriage.
I wish I had something positive to tell you, but it’s hard. I am always on guard waiting for him to say something off kilter. I am married to him for better or worse, sickness and in health and that is how I look at it. If I walked out on him, he would be another mentally ill homeless person on the streets with no one to care for him: I absolutely will not do that to him.
You should seriously evaluate your relationship and decide if it is for you; only you can make that decision. You should continue to read this forum and learn as much as you can about Schizophrenia and the situations caregivers are experiencing with family and friends. Good Luck to you!


#5

Thank you. He is still not speaking to me, but is telling everyone lies about me to justify his actions. I know why he does all the things he does, but it hurts very much. I spent all day every day doing all the things you do for your husband, and it is draining. You end up speaking a different language to communicate, and learn to have no opinions on anything.


#6

I My husband has a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia. Over the last 18 years he has been hospitalised three time as he lacks insight into his condition and thus his compliance with medication has never been one hundred percent.
I am constantly accused of cheating and colluding with doctors to give him a false diagnosis of mental illness and gaining from this conspiracy financially. I am also accused of having numerous affairs , his father, uncle and cousin being some of the men I’ve slept with ! He left the family home seven months ago and has since filed for divorce. We have two son with learning disabilities who he is now convinced aren’t his. He tested them for paternity and despite the results disproving his beliefs he feels the results were tampered with. We have been together for over thirty years in total , married for twenty five years. It has been a traumatic experience but I know that unless he accepts his diagnosis and takes his medication there is no hope. I love him but I know I can’t save him. I have put the mental health team back in touch with him which has worsened our relationship but hopefully one day he will appreciate my efforts to support his recovery. I can now only look to the future and pray he recovers. To all in similar situations I advised them to look after themselves , blame and guilt over things we can not control is pointless. Take one day at a time and if you can still help you loved one, do so.


#7

I have so many thoughts run through my mind as I read your post and the replies that follow. I struggle as well with the things my loved one says.It’s confusing and hurtful at times, and sometimes even amusing. But right or wrong,good or bad, I do the best I can to let it go. At times, my son says extremely hurtful things and I find the only thing that works for me is to walk away and find a place to shed a few tears, dust myself off, and move on. Consider yourself light years ahead of where I was because knowledge about this illness goes a long way towards understanding, and you’ve educated yourself early in the relationship. That’s not to imply knowledge about schizophrenia take’s the string out of hurtful comments, it helped me in my journey and the advice came from the caring people on this forum.At least I understand that the things he says aren’t some deep dark secret my son has been hiding all these years.l look forward to hearing from other people here share their experiences on how they cope. I’m guessing there’s a fine line sometimes between separating symptoms and using their illness as an excuse for bad behavior.Thanks for sharing your story and I wish you all the best.


#8

I remind myself over and over that it’s the illness, and that it’s not personal. Sometimes it doesn’t work, but the more I stick with it, the better I get at it.

It’s a fine line to walk - I’m working on building up an emotional shell when I need it without letting it get so hard that I stop caring. I’m getting there, and to be honest, it’s all helped me in other parts of my life too because I can be very emotional myself.

My son has mirrored other people’s emotions since he was a little kid, so I’m trying to keep myself under control most of the time - at least when it comes to negative emotions. I also remind myself that crying or feeling sorry for myself isn’t going to help anyone, least of all him. So, I suck it up, calm down, and come up with a new plan when things aren’t going my way.