Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

How to Cope with a Partner who is Schizophrenic?


#1

I’m going to apologize in advance for the long post.

First I have to say I am so happy I finally thought to seek a support group online, and I’m glad I found this site.

Where to begin? My boyfriend was first diagnosed officially with schizophrenia in 2017. We’ve been together for 6 years now, and the first 4 of them were amazing. We were best friends. He’s been my everything. We have 3 kids together, the first of which I got pregnant with very early on in our relationship. I was ok with that, though, because as I said, we were best friends. We rarely fought, were always spending time together laughing and having a great time. He did go through bouts of depression, so things weren’t always perfect, but I could deal with that. After the depression passed, I got my boyfriend back.

Now, he’s always been very open with me that he could see people who weren’t there. It started affecting him when he was only 9 years old, and when he told his mother, instead of getting the help that he needed, she told them that they were his spirit guides and he had to learn how to listen to them. So he basically grew up not believing that there was anything wrong with him (his mother is most likely schizophrenic as well, mental illness runs in that side of the family I have found out these past couple of years).

I was understanding, and they never really negatively affected our life together. That is until after his 30th birthday, and after I gave birth to my youngest and returned to work when he was 9 months old.

Things quickly started deteriorating for him then. He became very withdrawn, ugly, and insecure. He was constantly accusing me of cheating on him. He just became very nasty. And, being a strong, independent woman, although I knew about the delusions, I didn’t realize that he had an evil person inside of his ear, constantly telling him that I was evil, cheating on him, and that he should kill me.

A quick note on his delusions, I’ve come to realize that the people he sees seem to all represent their own emotions, like he doesn’t know how to feel about things, and his people tell him, he listens to each one, and decides how to behave/which emotion to side with accordingly. He’ll often make decisions by “sitting at the table” with his people, and refuses to include me in the decision making process even when it affects my life, because to him I don’t have a place at the table. It’s very frustrating, but I try to be understanding and supportive and am always trying to choose my words wisely and pick my battles.

Anyways, this behavior went on, and the way I saw it, not realizing that he was indeed schizophrenic, was that he was simply being insecure and as a woman, I had to stand my ground.

This was all building up for months. (I’m sorry, I know this is long, but it’s all important information, I promise) There was a male review coming into town (I live in a small town and we don’t get those kinds of events very often) and my mom bought my sister and I a ticket, thinking it would be fun. He was not happy about it, but again, I was stubborn and thinking he was just being irrational. Even though he told me things were getting bad for him, in the moment I couldn’t even begin to fathom how bad it was.

I mean, he always saw people and heard things, so I didn’t think anything was any different. The way I saw it was, I would go, he would be upset with me, maybe not talk to me for a couple of days, and then things would be okay. After all, there were plenty of women who’s husbands had bought them tickets to see the show. It wasn’t like they were getting naked or I was having sex with any of the guys on stage. It was just for fun. I would be okay with him going to a burlesque show, or even a strip club (so long as he didn’t waste a bunch of money or pay for lap dances).

Well, I went, and had a blast, and my sister was posting videos throughout the show. I asked her to please not put me in any of the videos, but she did. He saw it, and when I got home, he completely blew up. Punched my chest, threw a dresser drawer at me, threw my outside the house, and tried to break a glass bottle to stab me with it.

I saw him struggling against his evil guy that day, and he couldn’t break that bottle despite whacking it against the wall several times. Seeing that struggle, his true self against the evil guy, I knew that he was stronger, something he didn’t realize himself until later, but it also broke my heart. He then left for work, I went to sleep, packed my things, and went to my parents house.

I was there for a couple of days until one day I came home before work to grab some things per his request.

I found him on the bed with a loaded gun. As soon as he saw me, I got up, pointed it at me, and I just closed my eyes and repeated our kids names over and over. He then turned it on himself, but eventually he put the gun down, took out the bullets, and handed them to me. I immediately called 911. He tried to run. But the cops/ambulance caught up to him and took him to the hospital where he was admitted for a week, diagnosed, and given a doctor he sees monthly.

If I had realized how bad things truly were, I would never have gone to that show. I would have taken him straight to the hospital. He did tell me things were getting bad, but through all of his nasty, awful treatment of me, I couldn’t see it. And I truly didn’t understand.

We’ve worked past all of that. He was mad at me for so long, resentful that I called 911, believing I called the cops on him, when I really called the ambulance because he wouldn’t come with me to the hospital. It took a lot of hard work, and was one of the hardest things I have ever gone through.

He was mad because I didn’t listen to him when he told me things were getting bad. Now, while he did tell me that closer to the end, I couldn’t really grasp how bad it was. He always heard voices. He had times when he was bad, but never as bad as he was when he had that break. I explained it to him like this… it’s like taking someone who has only ever been in water that was knee deep into the middle of the ocean, and throwing them off the boat and expecting them to know how to swim.

Since then I have gone through depression and anxiety, but am slowly working my way out of that hole.

Now that I’ve told you all my story, my question is, how do you deal with it all? Although he sees a psychologist, and has been on medication, and he is MUCH better than he was that year, things are so much harder.

Even with the medication he’s on, he still sees and hears people. He’s since “locked up” the evil guy, but he still talks to him from time to time. He just doesn’t let him take over. I’ve tried to tell him that he needs to let his doctor know so they can adjust his medication, but he’s convinced himself that nothing is going to make it any better. And I know a part of him is attached to his people.

How do you cope with the loneliness? And the delusions? I understand that it’s hard for him to know what’s real and what’s not, but it’s just so hard. I feel like I’ve lost my boyfriend. I know that for them to get better, they have to want to get better. I know that I can’t fix him, or change him, but it’s just so hard. Honestly, if we didn’t have children, I probably would have left a long time ago. Not that I’m with him for the kids, but it’s so much harder to just up and leave when you do have kids and your life is so intertwined.

I feel like I’m always going to matter less than his delusions. As I said before, I have no real say over many decisions he makes that affects my life as well. It just sucks.

When he gets manic, he gets very impulsive. He’s told me “I might just run away leave you one day. Don’t be mad, I can’t help it.” How do you respond to that? I tried to keep my composure, but I ended up crying, and he immediately shut down, got irritated, and told me “that’s why I don’t talk to you, you get upset, I was only trying to be honest with you”. It’s like he has zero understanding of how I feel, or how he behaves hurts me. I’m just supposed to listen and accept everything.

I know that being with someone with schizophrenia is not easy. It’s like playing life on hardmode. I love him so much, and it would break my heart not to be with him. But it’s hard dealing with all of this. When do you draw the line with someone who is schizophrenic?

Aside from the backstory above, I have put up with so much from him that I would not have put up with if it wasn’t for his illness. I stay with him because I truly do love him, and I want so much to help him, but I feel so lost in all of it. I have people close to me who I can talk to, but no one truly understand what it’s like.

After he got on medication and started seeing his doctor I thought that I would get my boyfriend back. The kind, supportive, funny, loving one. But he doesn’t want to take the proper steps to get help. I’m starting to feel like I am at my wits end. There’s only so much one person can take, and I feel like I’m reaching my breaking point.

I don’t want to leave him, but anytime I try to communicate how I feel he just gets defensive and tells me to leave then, if I’m not happy. Which hurts even more. He truly cannot empathize with me, and it’s breaking me down.


#2

The best advice I can give you is to see if you can locate a NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Family Support Group (significant others and friends are welcome) in your area. https://www.nami.org/
The group can offer practical wisdom and help you know how to be prepared for a crisis. But especially, it is a place where you can get encouragement and gain knowledge to survive this journey and care for yourself. But stay connected to this Forum and read as many of the posts that seem relevant to your situation as possible. Listening to other’s experiences can be overwhelming, but learning from them will hopefully be helpful.


#3

Thank you. Honestly, I have been since I discovered this forum and made my post.

I looked into NAMI before I even found this site, and they have no groups on my island. I wish they did.

Just a couple of minutes ago he snapped on me because he asked me the same question 2x and didn’t like my response (over something as simple as butter while I filled out the millionth job application for him because his current job makes him feel murderous and he can’t put his words into sentences). Called me an idiot and a fat ass and said he should be ashamed to be with me. Even though my current weight has everything to do with his condition and mental and verbal abuse.

It just hurts more than words can explain. But after so long I can’t let myself see let him see me cry. I’ve built up that wall and cannot let him see me hurt. Everything in me knows this isn’t right… But that little voice inside me tells me that someone needs to love the unlovable.

He never takes blame. It’s either my self or his issues. Never himself. At what point does it differentiate between the fact that he’s got schizophrenia, or he’s just an asshole who happens to be schizophrenic?


#4

Welcome. You can love someone very much and still not be able to live with them for health and safety issues, especially with vulnerable children involved. Children are much like sponges that absorb everything both good and bad in their environment. I would just carefully consider temporarily living elsewhere (if at all possible) until he can get some emotional stability. It sounds like you both are under a lot of intense stress and stress exacerbates everything. Mental illness is not logical and can be very unpredictable, better to err on the side of caution. You might not be able to change him back to the man you remember, but you can change yours and the children’s proximity to him which might trigger a change in him down the line and if not at least you would be securing a more stable environment for you and your children. In addition I would highly recommend counseling (if at all possible) for yourself to help you through this very difficult time. Counseling helped me to survive. I wish you better days to come. Thank you for sharing.


#5

@Leilia88 I agree with Catherine. You can still be a couple and live separately. Perhaps have him come up with that idea. Please be careful as he sounds abusive and you can’t mess with people like this. The more experience I have with this, I wonder if my son’s father had a mental illness when we were together. He sounds like your boyfriend - jealous without the need to be etc. Please be careful and consider possibly living separately. It could save your relationship.


#6

I am truly sorry that you are caught in this illness which is bound to negatively affect your life and your children’s lives while your boyfriend struggles. Yes, you have lost your boyfriend, just as I’ve lost my daughter and others on this site have lost their loved ones to mental illness. I don’t think there is anything worse than the day a person really realizes how lost their loved one is. A few come back to themselves with help of meds and therapy, but I feel most have to find their “new normal” and are never like their previous selves. This site is the best place to learn and find comfort about what can and can’t be done for those who are ill.


#7

No NAMI on my Island either, Do you live in Washington state?