How to be a safe person

(just to clarify, I will be referring to my cousin with singular they/them pronouns because that’s what they prefer)

My cousin was diagnosed with schizophrenia fairly young (later teens), and they frequently experienced delusions. For the past few years, they’ve believed that a video game character is real and in love with them. For convenience’s sake, I’ll refer to the character as K.

My cousin says that K is possessive and, when things get bad/worse, K doesn’t want them to talk to me. I don’t try to pressure them into talking or reality-check. To put things into perspective, I am also mentally ill and we have bonded over this, but I don’t have schizophrenia. My cousin and I became very close over the pandemic.

When they began withdrawing again a year and a half ago, I didn’t think it was any different. Usually they’d be back in a few weeks or months. It’s been a year and a half and I haven’t heard anything from them. Once a month, I let them know I hope they’re doing okay, a little summary of how things are going for me, a picture of my guinea pigs, and wish them well. They live in a different state, so social media is my only way of communicating with them.

I’m worried about them, but I know I shouldn’t be bugging them about that. I confided this to the high school psychologist when my cousin was institutionalized for trying to off themself, but I was crying too much to really have a conversation with her.

I just want to be sure I’m not doing something wrong. I’ve been trying to learn more about schizophrenia for the past few years, but obviously I will never 100% understand their experiences. Is there anything else I can do to show I’m a safe person?

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I think that what you are doing is great- letting them know you care about them is so important!
Since you aren’t in the same state, I wonder if you know someone who lives closer to your cousin- perhaps another family member? It may be that your cousin needs some intervention since someone with schizophrenia loses touch with reality to greater and lesser degrees over time. I know that many with schizophrenia develop delusions about electronics and so it is possible your cousin is unable to access their computer. My son destroyed his along with his phone when he was at his worst. If you don’t have any other means of reaching out, I would keep sending messages letting them know that you would love to hear from them and that you are worried about them.
I also think that it may help for you to have someone to talk to- perhaps make another appointment with the school psychologist or call your local NAMI warm line for a list of options?
You certainly aren’t doing anything wrong by writing them.


I am so sorry that you have lost touch with your cousin. I am a bit old fashioned and if someone won’t answer my texts or calls, I send a snail mail letter. Perhaps you could try that? Don’t worry, you aren’t doing anything wrong, persons with schizophrenia are involved in their own world and sometimes don’t interact well with others. Do keep reaching out. If your cousin is getting the messages, I’m pretty positive that they are appreciated.