Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Is reaching out the right thing to do or does it just invite problems?

I had some news about an old friend of mine the other day. He was my first
boyfriend 15 years ago. (Gah … I am old.) I haven’t spoken to him in 11
years. But towards the end of our relationship he developed a mental illness
that seems quite a lot like schizophrenia (although I have never heard an
official diagnosis) has only gotten worse.

I remained in contact with one of his friends and we checked in the other day because it was our mutual friend’s birthday. Apparently he is now in a
mental hospital/group home under conservatorship. For years before this we did not know where he was or what he was doing. (He was mostly homeless or in jail during that time.) From what I heard he was sometimes violent and definitely scary (things he never was when I knew him.)

He has not allowed anyone to visit him during his time in this hospital. But I
wonder if reaching out to him with a short letter might be the right thing to

I don’t want to upset him by writing to him.

I also don’t want to bring any of his ideas or delusions on myself.

But I also know that it might be very lonely to be in his situation (I have been in a behavioral unit short term and voluntarily) and I feel like if someone I deeply cared for was ill in any other way, of course I would reach out.

I wondered if there were folks (either folks with a thought disorder or their loved ones) on this board who had some advice for me.



This is a real gray area in my opinion.
I feel like it’s a moral obligation to let my Exs be their own person and not potentially stir up emotions (good or bad).

But, it might help him to know that there are people out there that his having been close with was a good thing. To know that there are people that want the best for him and care about what happens.
At least, if you genuinely did feel that way.
However, if it isn’t going to be genuine and you’re inevitably going to keep him at a distance, you might decide it’s best to leave him to his own circle for support.

I honestly feel like the best gift I ever gave anyone was not being there for people who didn’t want or need me.

But that’s just my opinion and just as it regards myself.
No judgement or assumptions cast upon you.


Maybe you could just send him a belated birthday card and tell him you were thinking of him. I think that every lonely person likes to be remembered. It shouldn’t hurt him or you to send a card. It might make both of you feel better.


Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It was nice to read read some of your other replies on other threads also.

It seems so lonely to not want contact with old friends. But I understand his brain works in a totally different way than other people’s.

I don’t know. It has been years since I’ve spoken to him and we now live thousands of miles apart. The last time I saw him he was pretty out there - a lot of word-salad talking and very odd ideas. I knew he had been ill but I did feel kind of shocked. He was living alone in the woods outside of town and I said “Hey - why don’t you come back to San Francisco with me and we’ll look for a doctor?” And he snapped out of it for a second and looked at me and said “That’s not possible. I can’t go back to how I was.” So he was aware of it in someway, even then.

I feel like certainly I will keep him at a distance. Partially because of the physical distance and partially because I have my own life. But I never stopped thinking about him and caring about him. One of my parents has sz also (although has managed to have a more “normal” life than my friend) so some of the feelings are similar, but I think it’s a different dynamic when it’s your parent.

Take care

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I think it’s good to reach out. Just something really simple to keep in touch.

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