Hi, first post here, I’ve read some of the material on the main part of the site and other sites, but still can’t say I really understand my roommate, and reading articles just isn’t enough, so maybe you nice people can help me.
So, I don’t know how much you need to know, so I’ll just start with basic background, and tell you about the problems I’m most concerned about.
I’m a 24-year-old female, my roommate is a 25-year-old female. She first moved in with me and my boyfriend (who had been living together for 3 years already) about 2 years ago. We met working at a sub shop, found we had similar interests, became friends. In fact she was the first work friend I’ve had in years who I actually saw outside of work. She told me pretty early on that she had been diagnosed as schizophrenic but didn’t have hallucinations, just delusions. It transpires this wasn’t exactly true but more on that in a minute… After we’d known each other a few months, her living situation came into question. Her roommate at the time was moving to another town, and she didn’t know where she was going to stay after the lease was up. Her mother and stepfather live in town but aren’t much of a support system, beyond sending occasional care packages of food (she’s gluten-intolerant as well). After finding my friend more than once crying in the back of the shop because she was afraid she’d be homeless, and jobless if she couldn’t pull her emotional state together, we offered her to move in with us. The first 8 months of this situation were very uncomfortable, owing to the fact that there were three of us in a one-bedroom apartment. Things improved when we moved to a two-bedroom. But about a year ago, I learned that she is in fact having auditory hallucinations… of my voice. And apparently, in her head I’m a sadistic bitch.
Since I’ve known her she’s been admitted to the mental hospital three times – once before she moved in, twice after. The first time I believe she admitted herself. The second time, our downstairs neighbor called in a domestic disturbance, the cops broke down our door to find her banging her head against the floor, they admitted her. The third time she was actually only admitted because she had gone off her meds, and couldn’t get an appointment to refill them for a couple months, and being committed was the fastest and easiest way to get her back on them.
When we first met, she had bruises on her arms that made me think she was being abused. Turns out she was doing it to herself.
She hasn’t been admitted to the hospital in a year, or exhibited signs of self-harm. She consistently has problems adhering to medication (big surprise, right?). We’ve monitored the situation, and finally have her taking them without prompting, by means of a daily alarm. Keeping my fingers crossed that this method works longer than the others we’ve tried…
So, to put it simply, I’ll split it into her problem and my problem.
Her problem (as I see it) is that I torment her in her head. She says she knows it isn’t real, but that doesn’t stop her being upset by it. (I in fact have experienced similar disturbing thoughts that I know aren’t logical, but still feel badly about.) She says that she hates it because in real life she likes me, and knows I’m not like the “me” in her head. Apparently the things I say in her head usually take the form of personal attacks, saying she’s a bad person for thinking highly of her physical appearance (which she doesn’t, and I know this and would never antagonize her over it), making fun of her psychotic episodes, etc. We both know it’s irrational; I’ve been as supportive as I can, even risking my own job by leaving my duties to comfort her when she had breakdowns at work. The effect that these hallucinations have on our relationship is that she finds it hard to trust me, and finds herself trying to protect herself from my cruel remarks. It’s not clear to me if she means saying or doing a certain thing would make the me in her head say cruel things and that’s what she’s afraid of, or if she’s actually afraid the real me will follow suit. But, it is what it is. In her head I’m critical, cruel, and don’t even choose attacks that I might, if I did have a mind to attack her personality. The things I actually find it hardest to deal with, in having her as a roommate, are cleanliness (which I understand can be hard for those with schizophrenia), and secretiveness. Which leads me to…
My problem. I can’t stand being lied to or having things hidden from me, and when I found out that she was hearing me in her head, I almost felt betrayed. I managed to get over that, since I know it’s not her fault, and can understand why she didn’t want to tell me. But, I do know that she lies, usually when she’s afraid of getting in trouble. Sometimes she has breakdowns and breaks things (plates, a pearl necklace of mine, a bottle of hot sauce thrown at the TV), and if we confront her about it, she will immediately deny it. She often admits guilt later, but it honestly really pisses me off when she lies. I can step back and see that, in perspective, I have somewhat of an obsession with truth, and I can’t expect everyone to conform to it. But the upshot is, I don’t feel I can trust what she says, and I’m not sure if the lying is because of the schizophrenia, or possibly childhood abuse, or some other psychosis.
More importantly, I can’t see how to get her to open up. She never tells us about her problems or feelings without prompting, and I always feel like I’m making her uncomfortable when I ask. We’ve talked a good deal about our situation nonetheless, but we’re both stumped as to how to reconcile the me in her head and the real me.
Edit: I should add that I already have problems with self-esteem, and directly after her revelation suffered a depressive episode, because I was sure that she sees me this way in her head because subconsciously she does think I’m mean. I suffer from social anxiety stemming entirely from the feeling that people don’t like me. So her hallucination is particularly disturbing to me.
Oh, and I also have OCPD, which makes it hard for me to accept that people have different ways of doing things. And the three OCPD obsessions (order, rules, control) obviously clash horribly with schizophrenia.
But before even trying to reconcile it, I’m trying to understand it. Why is it me she hears? Why am I mean? Does this reflect on how she feels about the real me, or just how she feels about people in general? Or how she feels about herself?
I’m stumped, hoping someone here can shed a little light on it.