Looking for answers and hope

I am completely lost. I have a 20year old cousin who needs help and i seem to be the only person who is willing to advocate for him.
He grew up with me from the time he was 6mth old till he was 16. He then moved back home with his mother and things changed DRASTICALLY. Around the age of 14 i noticed he would pace for hours on end and whisper to himself, he was never antisocial and never “creeped " anyone out, if anything he was OVERLY friendly. However, from 16-20 was a major game changer , his mom allowed him to drop out of high school, he began to lock himself in his room for weeks at a time and became very antisocial, just recently he hasn’t eaten for weeks at a time because he thinks his mother and stepdad are trying to kill him, he covered all the vents in his room because he believes that they are sending deadly vapors through them, and wouldn’t even shower. I HAVE BEGGED and pleaded with his mom to take him to get help, to do whatever she has to but she has refused. 2 weeks ago he decided that he couldn’t take it any longer and asked to move back in with my parents, they of course said yes . He became more social , started eating like crazy, showered every day , and even went out with a friend that know one, not even his mom, knew he had. But then he decided on Friday to pack all his stuff and leave. No phone call, no note, no nothing. We don’t know where he is , who he is with , or even if he is ok. He has no money, no job, not even a sate ID. We called the police but they said that there really isn’t anything they can do.
I am heartbroken for him, he is like a little brother to me, and i have already lost one.
I worry for him every night thinking what if he’s cold, hungry, scared , alone. And everyone says,” He’s an adult, what are you going to do". I try, i try REAL hard to explain to them that yes he is an adult but he needs help, but I don’t even know where to start. And when he finally decided to come back how do you help someone who is fully convinced that its everyone else and not them? He’s never been treated and won’t even take a Vitamin because he believes its poison. Any advice would be great! thanks

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So sorry that you and your family are dealing with this. Schizophrenia truly is a wicked and evil thief of an illness. I am not very experienced, as my son is 20, and he only was diagnosed a year ago. We are on the verge of him going AWOL, though. What I would suggest to you is for you to educate yourself…learn everything you can about this illness, as it assists with taking a position, drawing a line, and also the grieving and pain we all experience from having that person we care about change so drastically, and be devastated by what the illness does to their brain.

Please read through other posts in the forum…even search for various topics. There are many here that have experiences that I have benefited from greatly. So much wisdom in those that have been a long side their loved ones for many years that can give you some perspective.

Lastly, and probably most importantly…loving, supporting, and being available for a loved one with schizophrenia is a marathon, not a sprint. One of the doctors that saw my son during his first hospitalization said to me…no one is trained to run this one until they have some time and experience on the road first, and even then, some cannot handle, complete it, or even finish what they hope to accomplish. He was talking about me as the family member…not my son. This takes a tremendous toll on family and loved ones. Take care of yourself…and recognize that this is not something that “gets better” like most illnesses. It can take years, decades, and sometimes even then…the course of the illness doesn’t bare the kind of fruit we hope for in recovery.

Wishing you all the best in this journey. Thank you for loving your family member…as it isn’t for the weak at heart, but you will find great support in this forum.


Thank you so much for your reply. I am a nurse and thought that i had a pretty good grasp on how to handle, talk, and what to do. However, I have come to realize that I am far beyond clueless, nursing books and lectures do nothing for the real world, and the behavioral health nurses/Dr’s I know just keep telling me the same thing, " he needs to be hospitalized", well we all know that but how?!?!
I cry all day long, I am so sad for him and just want to help. He won’t answer my text or phone calls ,but I continue to send him text messages every day saying that I love him and that if he needs anything to call or text me. I just hope that he eventually takes the help i am offering. I am trying to educate myself the best that i can. i thought talking to BH professionals could give me some insight on how to talk to him, the right and wrong things to say but that seemed to be the wrong answer. I know one thing I personally won’t give up on him. I will take your suggestions and also pass them along to my family members who will hopefully understand that this cannot be ignored. That he needs a supportive, loving system and if they can’t do that then they need to remove themselves. Like i said i will advocate for him as long as I need too and find a way to get guardianship if its the best thing for him.



This link is a brochure that has steps for locating your cousin. It says to start by filing a missing person’s report. No, the police will not go looking for him, but his info will be in a searchable database and there is a chance he may be found that way.

Best to you and I hope he comes home soon.

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Thank you so much! We did end up filing the missing person especially because he does not have any form of ID. Truly grateful for the responses.


We’ve all been there.

I’d suggest you start with the I’m not sick, I don’t need help book from the reading list above.

It’s fairly short & it explains how you talk to someone who lacks insight and refuses treatment.

But again, I read the book, understand the concepts, then I need a lot of practice to apply the information in the real world, in the heat of the moment.