Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Husband having fake phone calls and job interviews, but it is the only thing he is excited about


#1

My husband of 15 years has not been diagnosed with schizophrenia, but I am pretty sure he has some type of it. He has always been a heavy drinker and often had hallucinations or made up experiences when he was drunk, but never sober. His father died a few years ago and his drinking got worse, he stopped working and had health issues. About a year ago he started having seizures. After checking to see the cause but finding nothing, he was diagnosed with alcohol withdrawal. He and has sinced stopped (or at least cut-down on drinking-he says he isn’t drinking but I can’t keep an eye on him 24/7). His medicine has controlled the seizures now, but he is having very frequent fake events now. For the past two weeks, he has benn having 5-10 minutes call-ins to a radio show where his is on air (but there is no one on the other end of the job). He is also calling friends (fake calls) and asking for help and even had a fake job interview. But he really seems to believe he is talking to me, he even let me listen in, but he was talking to no one.

I don’t know how to handle this. First, at least he is excited and happy about this fake job-it is the only thing he has been excited about in awhile. Also, how do I get him to a doctor or if I do get hime there, how do I share this info. If I tell him there is no one one the phone, he denies it, gets mad at me and accuses me of trying to make it seem like he is crazy. We have also applied for disability, but I am afraid that when he has a hearing, he will deny anything is wrong and won’t get it.

Any advice or support will be helpful, since I am new to this disease as well as this forum.


#2

Hi and welcome to the forums,

Basically what you’re saying is that your husband is having delusions that revolve around him having a job via telephone, talking with friends (on the phone) and interviews.

These are not “fake” in the typical sense of the word - your husband actually believes these are true, so psychologists and psychiatrists would say that these are delusions.

It sounds like your husband has had a very stressful time during the past few years - between the loss of his father and seizures, and drinking (which is commonly a self-medication strategy against anxiety or depression). stress is a common trigger for mental illness, so please try to understand that and understand that to the degree you can help lower his stress, it will be a positive thing and likely improve the outcome for him.

At some level these delusions frequently revolve around real desires or issues - your husband would like to have a job, be talking to friends, and having interviews. Having said that - its important to get your husband some help as quickly as possible - the sooner he is helped, the better his recovery.

Given that your husband sounds like he is older (over 40?) its unlikely he has full schizophrenia - but rather some type of psychosis that can be greatly improved if not eliminated with psychological treatments and medication that can help him lower his stress and (if he has it, depression, etc.).

How is he sleeping? A psychiatrist might be able to prescribe an antidepressant if he’s not sleeping well, and that could really improve his life and reduce his stress, in which case the delusions might go away.

So - I would use his obvious desire to get a job and have more friends (in essence, to feel more valued as a person - which we all need) - to use as a focal point to get him more help.

For example, perhaps you could get him to see a psychologist who specializes in psychotic disorders, or go to an early psychosis evaluation clinic - with the goal that you communicate to him of helping him improve his interview skills and get paid more for his work (if he can’t show you any pay deposits into his bank accounts, maybe he’ll agree that the companies he’s “working for” need to pay him better) - or to help him improve his interview skills, etc.

The goal here is to help him get help in an area where he wants help - and use that as a unthreatening way to get him help and improve his situation in a way he can recognize the value.

Don’t challenge his delusions - thats not helpful (as most of us here can tell you - it just creates friction and problems in your relationship with him. That is the nature of delusions - the fixed belief in something that has no evidence behind it.

But - you can sympathize and empathize with the feelings your husband is having - it must feel very good to talk with friends, get interviews, get a job, etc… you can validate his feelings, without validating the delusions.

Here are some additional tips - review this page about “First Aid for Psychosis” - and while your husband is not a “danger” - many of the coping techniques are the same:

http://www.schizophrenia.com/sznews/archives/005561.html

Call a local early psychosis evaluation / treatment center - and discuss with them your situation and see if you can get their support:

Let us know how it goes.

Lastly - Read the older topics and messages posted here in this forum and you’ll see a lot of people / families in the same or similar situations. You’ll see many of the recommendations from other people may be of help with your situation.


#3

Also - it might be helpful to review our “Frequently Asked Questions and ANswers” section of our web site. Many people new to the illness have a lot of the same questions, we find:

http://schizophrenia.com/family/faqindex.htm


#4

Thanks so much for the helpful advise. Just finding this forum has already made me feel better and more able to cope. I will work on getting my husband to see a professional and update how it goes.