Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Need Help and Advice Desparately

Now that I am here I am not even sure how to begin my story. I have spent the last 6 months researching mental illness on the web and have come to the conclusion that my ‘roommate’ is likely schizophrenic. You may ask ‘why not discuss it with her’…it is because even though she has been hospitalized twice for it she insists both times were a conspiracy and she is fine. We have become very good friends.

I have come to the point where I think her behavior is beginning to affect me mentally in multiple ways…I need some understanding as to how to deal with it.

In general she is a fun person…pretty easy to get along with and with all that is going on she is my very best friend. We spend alot of time together doing various things and so on…in fact as silly as it sounds…it is pretty much like we are married minus sex and a marriage license.

We began living together about 6 months ago. Her living arrangements were abusive and according to her she was being drugged and raped on a regular basis by her ‘roommate’ at the time. So me being someone naive and wanting to help offered that she could stay with me. She basically had nowhere to go…so her choices were either getting raped or being homeless.

The reasons I think she is schizophrenic are as follows:

She has an intense paranoia that there are various government and non-government entities after her. She regularly talks about ways that the government watches and controls us. She believes in the Illuminati controlling the world and so on.

She believes there are aliens and UFOs under the arctic circles. She has seen UFOs and aliens. The other night she showed me scars over her pubic bone where aliens had harvested eggs from her.

She swears that she regularly sees 3 ‘beings’ in my house and is able to describe them. I know she sees other things but does not tell me as it upsets me.

I have found out that she at one time practiced witchcraft primarily to ‘defend herself against other witches’. She believes that my ex-wife and her friends are witches and have portals into my house through which they affect our lives. She now claims to be very religious and ‘Walks with Jesus’ and reads the bible a lot.

She has said that at 2 times in her life her house has been broken into but cannot say who it was and terrorized her…I suspect that both times it was for a forced hospitalization.

She is a loner and has no real friends but she is very charming when meeting people and seems to do well socially. I suspect though that this does not last long for her until things get odd and she backs off.

She has really no motivation to better her life. She has gone as many as 6 days without a bath and in the same clothes. She has issues doing basic household chores. She plans to do many things that never materialize. Her boxes of possessions have been sitting in my living room for the last 6 months exactly as they arrived except for those containing clothes. Sometimes she will sleep for 30-40 hours straight.

She has plans to buy a Winnebago and travel the country picking up odd jobs for money. I have no doubt that if she does this she will soon be homeless and likely run into some sort of trouble.

She had a terrible childhood from age 4 till the present…she is now 41. She was abused as a child, divorced her parents at 16, lived on the street for some time, dealt drugs to supplement her income from many many different jobs. Been abused by whatever man was with her at the time and much more.

When she drinks I cannot stop her…she drinks to the point of no return and then we get into a conversation where her house was broken into and something happened and they are looking for her and all that. It is impossible to break her out of the conversation…she stares straight ahead and talks endlessly about it without detail.

There is more that I cannot remember at the moment. But the bottom line is that at the present she is in a stable and loving environment. From what I can tell she has never been safer than she is now.

The thing is that all this is affecting me emotionally and I am getting worse. I need to understand what is going on, how to deal with it and how to help her.


First off, you are a good friend!

Secondly, it takes a doctor, or psychiatrist to diagnose Sz. Is there any chance of you getting her to go to a doctor?

You may want to see a therapist for the anxiety you are feeling. Many people w Sz loved ones do so. I did when I was with my Sz husband. It helps for you to work out your feelings and coping strategies. Plus, the therapist may offer you practical advice about how to get help for your roomie. You may also learn about mental health resources in your community.

Good luck!

Not based on anything other than the fact that you are a roommate:

Probably a good idea to move before this self-destructive person brings out similar behavior in yourself.


Being around an ill person as a caregiver is emotionally draining whether it is a mental illness or a physical illness, and it will affect you negatively. You have to become an expert at giving yourself extra care while you are caretaking another. It is very hard. I wouldn’t choose to do it if I had a choice, but I feel I must take care of my daughter. Since you are choosing to help your roommate most likely you will always be the “giver” and she will be the “taker”. A person generates the love they give out, I think there is an endless supply of love to be made and given out IF you take the best care you can of yourself while you care for her. You must must must go outside of your relationship and find things to “recharge” your own batteries. I am still learning how to do that, I feel drained after 2.5 years of caregiving, but am focusing on self-improvement more now.


I highly suggest a NAMI Family Support Group if there is one in your area. You don’t have to be related to attend. The NAMI Family-to-Family class would be even more amazing if there is one offered in your area. You seem committed to this friendship, but how long are you willing to live a life of giving to your friend? Who is paying the rent or mortgage and providing for basic necessities? You cannot do this without getting help for yourself and helping to get help for her elsewhere may be a direction you want to head. Does she have medical insurance? She could possibly qualify for SSI benefits if she would go through the application process. You could help her. If she was awarded SSI, she would also get Medicaid. There can be government help for persons with serious mental illness who are on Medicaid in the right situations.

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@hope4us couldn’t have said it better. I hope you take action on the suggestions so far. All of us who have responded have years of experience with caregiving to someone diagnosed. If she doesn’t think she is ill, and won’t seek help, that will be your greatest struggle with your friend: it is called anosognosia. When I learned what anosognosia was, it was from this site, and the book “I am Not Sick, I Don’t Need Help” was something I purchased and downloaded and read in three days. Educating yourself through reading and NAMI and posts here will help you gain direction. Come back, post, read, we will help if we can.

Thanks everyone for the responses.

I suspect that the two times she was hospitalized that she was diagnosed but I do not know with what and any time I try to pry into details of her past it does not go well. She is very private about those things. However I have come to realize that she definitely needs some form of help. One day she mentioned going to see a counselor…but then a day later she insisted that she could handle whatever was going on by herself and without medication…the medication part of that statement was interesting. So I think that she realizes more than she lets on.

I myself have no experience dealing with this kind of thing and it has become very draining on me. The way that this all came about is that about 2 years ago I became divorced, we were friends, she was broke and needed help. So I figured she would be good company and all that. I really had no idea that all these things were going on with her. Honestly some days she is quite normal and does productive things…others she spends on the couch and naps all days. In someways it sometimes seems like I have a child. Some days she goes to work and others she calls in…they are understanding I guess and let her do it…but she calls in a lot.

But all in all it is very draining on me. I liked the comment about givers and takers…very applicable in this situation. There have been countless times that I have taken the time to help her get started with something and she shortly looses all interest in it…and many other times she plans to do something and it never gets even started.

I saw one question about the financial aspect. Fortunately that is not an issue here…I am comfortable, everything is paid for and minimal bills…but do have a line that I won’t cross.

I do realize that I need to take care of myself too…that is the part that I am struggling with…how to do that. I have thought about going to see someone myself but thought I would give this a try first.

I also saw the comment about moving on…a good number of friends have suggested that…sure, that is an option, but for me not the right one. What I think would happen is that she would latch on to someone else that is ‘not so nice’ and get abused or worse. One thing that I did not mention earlier she is also a biker…and she would likely go back to that group or to a bar somewhere and hook up with someone there. Yeah they are not the nicest people and not the most respectful of women. I have thought about it but I did make a commitment and intend to stick with it…

I hope I addressed everything…trying to work and respond here :slight_smile:


I should have included this earlier. The thing I am looking for here is to gain an understanding of what is actually going on. Someone to talk to that knows what happens and can offer suggestions. I have tried talking to a few friends and they have no clue either as none of us have ever experienced anything to this degree…

Posters on this site can give you lots of ideas related to their experiences. Yes, it sounds very much like schizophrenia. But I have observed that each person’s situation is unique even with the same diagnosis. Some manage to get along without meds, but I say “get along” fairly loosely. Others are horrendous burdens to their family. Many are OK for awhile than stop taking meds, end up hospitalized, or do crazy things. Some end up in jail. Others have disappeared and their families fear the worst. Others have died prematurely, often tragic deaths. And there is everything in between. But only a doctor can truly diagnose.

I presume there is no other family to help her?

If your friend calls in “sick” to work a lot, I question how long she will be able to keep the job. It expect it depends on how much sick time she has. And if she is out for more than a few days, depending on HR policy, she would need to provide supporting documentation from a medical provider to cover her absence. But since she has a job currently, I presume she has medical insurance coverage. Maybe you know or you could talk to her about that. This time of year is typically “open enrollment” for benefits, although her benefit elections may roll over from year to year if she makes no changes, but not necessarily so.

We care about everyone who posts on this site and like @oldladyblue said, we will do our best to help where we can. The best place to get comprehensive information is probably a NAMI class or a good book on the subject. But you can “search” under different topics on this site. However, our conversations often stray from the topic because we have so much to talk about!

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Thanks for your response. She does have some family but does not trust them. I have been tempted to contact them to learn things but if she finds out it is scary to think what might happen. She is convinced that her father is working with the CIA/FBI to track her down and while she somewhat trusts he sister she suspects her of the same. She has no REAL friends either…you know, people you can count on…her previous set of ‘friends’ was from what I can gather a group of low life bar flies and bikers.

The times we have gone out she is very friendly and people seem to like her instantly until she starts talking and I get many looks as in what is up with her. People have even said things to me. So I think the ‘friends’ she has are well aware of things and if they are around her they use her. She trusts no one…even in my house she sleeps with her purse under he pillow and other things.

So yeah I am concerned if I contact anyone that she will disappear and likely the worst will happen. Where she is now, a safe and stable environment, is not what happens to most I would suspect…she is pretty lucky in that regard this time. And I have told her numerous times as much.

As for the sick time…it doesnt seem to be a big deal with her work…I have not pried too much but she keeps her job and all. She gets no benefits and basically is flying under any radar…again the paranoia. I was thinking of putting her on my insurance as a ‘domestic partner’ but I think that may not be a good idea for me personally.

But in general I need to tread pretty lightly with her on these things…the times I have pried to any degree things seem to escalate pretty badly…I live on a fairly large farm and one night I needed to go out and find her walking around the fields at 3am…

Would you have any suggestions on good books or anything.


Move. It’s not worth the time and energy to tie yourself down like this. IMHO.


You will find yourself constantly being drained if you are living with an un-medicated mentally ill person who seeks no self betterment. Even medicated loved ones are sometimes a big emotional drain to their caregiver. Your commitment might not be a financial drain on you to care for her, but the emotional toll will be very great in the long run. I suggest you find a support group like NAMI or a private therapist for your own well being. The book “I am Not Sick, I Don’t Need Help” by Dr. Amador may (and I say may) lead to helping her get on the proper medicine and to get a grip on her life, and it should help you understand more about schizophrenia. There is no cure. That is the saddest thing all of us face.


I agree that you have no idea what you are in for and without a family or love connection, this will be even more difficult to sustain. It is great that you want to learn more but do you expect to be there for her for the rest of her life? In that sense, you could at least just contact her family at some point and try to see if they even want to help her. They are the ones that should be getting educated about the illness, or maybe they already have tried and are suffering because of her rejection. Without medical insurance, what will happen when she needs medical care? You can look up resources (books, etc.) on the NAMI website, ideally go to their support group and Family-to-Family class. I subscribe to emails from the Brain and Behavioral Research Foundation, Treatment Advocacy Center, journalist Pete Earley, and others. I look up medical research articles on the NCBI website

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Thanks all for the responses so far…yeah I am beginning to realize what I am in for…I had no idea what state she was in when she came here. And I naively thought that if she was in a good and stable environment that her issues would lessen and she would ‘shall we say’, see the light. You know…there are good places to be, there are people who care…let me get my life stable again…

Last night she was drinking even after I had said that no alcohol was allowed in the house. She said 1 drink and I reluctantly said ok but then that is it. Well she kept on till she had an episode…I found the bottle and over half was gone. It was a bad one…she gets into a state where she stares straight ahead like she is possessed and talks mostly nonsense…everyone is out to get her and then begins condemning me and my family. And it ends with her threatening to leave.

You know I think that may be the best…I cannot take it anymore…I have never been more mentally exhausted and take no enjoyment in anything anymore. Maybe the best is to part ways and say good luck. The issue with that is she will run into trouble…I have no doubt. I also suspect some borderline traits as well…fear of abandonment and all that.

Have to see what happens when she wakes up sober this morning…at the moment I don’t care a whole lot…I am not good a reading people…and wish I knew what was really going on in her head.

There doesn’t seem to be a solid connection between her choices and the consequences for her internally.
In the words of a NAMI document written toward care givers:
“Don’t let the disorder take your life away, too.”
To me, this means that it’s bad enough that personality and mental disorders can ruin a person’s life. Don’t let it ruin yours, too.
You have goals, dreams and plans for yourself, however simple or grand they might be. You deserve to have the freedom and peace of mind necessary to give those things your best effort.
The people you care about deserve to see you work toward and earn those dreams and goals.
Living with someone who has at best some issues, or at worst some kind of disorder will impede your work toward your own goals, no matter how knowledgeable or proficient you might be at handling chaos.

I imagine you wouldn’t exactly be proud to make the decision to let her be responsible for her own choices without your help. None of us are.
But I have had to make that decision with my own brother at one point. There is a small chance that you sending her away alone might actually help her. It did help my brother.

There is a bottomless pit in living with someone, caring for someone with a disorder. All of us have fallen into it.
It is all consuming and takes every ounce of strength. It also consumes every plan, every goal and every bit of energy we could have dedicated to anything else.
I bet any one of us could honestly say were had periods of time that are embarrassingly long where we couldn’t buy groceries, cook or clean, let alone accomplish tasks bigger than that.

In the big picture of all of your life and all of the good you can do for others over the course of that time,
I think it’s reasonable to say that all of that time, energy and strength you have could be committed to causes where you will have a more positive impact. Much moreso than watching someone choose to hurt themself and refuse treatment, refuse to adopt a healthy lifestyle, and refuse to find their own happiness.

That is not something to feel guilty about.

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I appreciate your words more than you know as I have gotten to my personal lowest…I am still able to function pretty normal…but yeah this consumes a lot of my time and energy.

While I think that parting may have helped your brother…I doubt this will be the case with her. From what I have learned…over the past 5 years she has come close to being killed multiple times and had any possessions worth anything stolen from her. What I think she will do is go to the first biker bar she finds and find a place to live and get abused or worse. She has told me that when she was 4 her mother started doing this and she was bounced from place to place sleeping on couches in strangers houses till they got kicked out and moved elsewhere. Unbelievable but true according to her.

Hearing her life story is unbelievably sad. Especially since when she has good days she is a blast to be around.

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I’ll weigh in here again w my two cents:

In my experience, alcohol and mental illness is a dangerous mix.

What I think you should do (based on my experience living w my Sz husband for 15+ years) is to present her w an ultimatum: get medical help or find a new place to live.

I would research the psych hospitals in the area or other resources, so you can offer her specific places to get medical care/medication.

If she chooses to move out (and live w a biker friend) let her know that your offer still stands if she changes her mind.

And, I would definitely call her sister and let her know what’s going on. Even if the sister does nothing, it is the responsible thing to do. Her family might not even know where she is!

You have to think of things this way—if you were obviously mentally ill, wouldn’t you want someone to help you in the ways I described? Remember you are the sane one.


Everyone is right…thanks for the suggestions…I need to decide how to handle this and then have the courage to follow thru…I am pretty soft hearted so the courage will be the tough part.

Have to see how things are when she wakes up…after the episode last night she has been sleeping for 16 hours straight…given past history I suspect she will wake for awhile this evening and then sleep straight thru the night. One question is this expected in relationship to this issue…I have seen her sleep for over 40+ hours straight with a couple of 20 minute awakenings…

You must make the best choices for yourself. Personally, I believe that breaking up is the hardest thing in the world to do: if that is your decision it will be hard to follow through. Especially knowing that she will probably continue on her own road to a worsening life. I don’t believe you can save her, however. And you might lose yourself if you continue to try to save her.

You have the strength to make the hard choice.
The moral implications can seem unclear, especially then that “crystal ball” (as I call it) is telling you human nature will persist for another person.
But your empathy and compassion for other people is utterly wasted on anyone who can’t recognize and appreciate it. Moreso on someone who would use it as a platform to continue torturing themself (and you in the process).

We all meet people who have a confusing mix of intentionally and unintentionally destructive qualities. I can’t even count the number of poisonous people who have worked their way in close to me, only for me to eventually realize their presence alone was harmful.
The strength to cut ties and allow oneself to be relieved of the burden of thought and energy toward those people can be very difficult to summon up and sustain.
But, it’s a necessary skill to master.

The world is full of people who could very much use the influence from someone as compassionate as you. But very few of those people would use it to do good for themself (let alone for you, or anyone else).
Turn your strength, energy and compassion toward causes and people that will breed more good.

For now, the person who needs your strength, energy and compassion is cmrebuck. Do what you have to do to help him, he deserves it!