Newly Married To Paranoid Schizophrenic/Manic Depressant & Confused


#1

My husband is a paranoid schizophrenic and also manic depressant. I thought marriage would be fine, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, b/c my father has the same diagnosis and had it from childhood. My hubby is a veteran and I think his experiences in the military make his condition worse. I find myself struggling to understand him, his symptoms, and what makes him tick or triggers his symptoms. I thought surely I’d understand what he’s going through more than I do b/c of my history with my father. But, his struggle is far different than my fathers, not as bad as my dads, but different all the same. I’m wondering are there any other spouses that can give me advice? I have my own issues, I have bipolar disorder among other things, and it’s hard to cope with my own struggle at the same time that he’s going through his manic moods and paranoia. He doesn’t like to take his medication, he doesn’t want to go to therapy, and these things only make situations worse. He feels everyone is out to destroy or betray him. Some things he says are extremely irrational. His thoughts are composed of memories at times that haven’t even happened. I’m feeling quite challenged and discourage right now. People smiling at him sets him off into what their planning b/c they offered a smile. The paranoid episodes are super confusing b/c he’ll ask me “don’t you see it? don’t you notice this?” and I don’t. I don’t understand, see, or notice anything that he says he’s privy to. Saying so leads to manic episode, saying I do understand only enables these symptoms to continue. I’m wanting to go to marriage counseling to see if it’ll help since any counseling has to be better than none at all. I also think I need to join a support group to experience others who are going through this. Maybe that will help… Any suggestions, comments, etc are welcome.

Thanks

Newly Married and Struggling To Cope


#2

I guess any therapy is better then nothing. At least it’s a start. I am so sorry you are having to deal with this. He definitly needs to get to a doctor. your suggestions for yourself are good. There is probably a NAMI group in your area. This is a great site, but it’s always good to have some reinforcements! Take care of yourself! come back here often. Good luck to you


#3

Hello, welcome to the forum. Congratulations on the new marriage.

I hope you don’t mind me posting since I’m not a spouse. I’m a sister. I have an Uncle who is Paranoid Sz, stable and working his butt off and my older brother who is Undifferentiated Sz with a healthy dose of disorganized. I live with my brother and see my Uncle when my Aunt gives me the all clear on his good days.

Because I live with my brother and used to be his front line care taker, I sadly admit that there was a time where I thought I knew so much more then I did. I was a bit of a little miss smarty pants on Sz because I foolishly assumed that it was all the same.

OH no. It’s not. What works with my brother, will NOT work with my Uncle. The way I talk to my brother will just trigger my Uncle. My brother wants to be a stand up comic and will make a lot of jokes even at his own expense. (He always goes for the funny) My Uncle is much more serious minded and will not put up with being joked with.

Then I started meeting people from my brothers Sz support group. After many months of making wrong assumptions and putting my foot in my mouth on several occasions, I now just meet everyone and think of it as “I know very little, and every person I meet is a new start with my education.”

When I give my perspective, I only go off of what I have learned from my big brother because he and I are close, I live with him and see him every day.

There are some common things however. False memories do seem to be common. My brother has very vivid memories of stuff that never happened. Now that he’s stable he’s beginning to sort through and untangle these memories from what happened.

Anxiety and Paranoia seem to also be common. It’s the level that’s different. My Uncle was a military man and his paranoia is towards others. It can go off the chart and he can become a bit defensive and come off as not so nice. But because of his military training, he’s very organized and can make very concise plans.

My brother is NOT militant in any way and has always been a bit of class clown so his paranoia turns toward the self and he will panic and have an anxiety attack. Also, my brother is blindingly smart, but very disorganized.

Example of when people smile at my brother… if he starts getting a bit paranoid, I listen, but I do tell him that I didn’t think of them as threatening. I do say, “Well, they are over there, not coming near us. What do you want to do? Would you like to just keep an eye out since they are staying away? Or would you like to leave?”

I understand your husband not up for therapy right now if his paranoia is acting up. But getting into a group for yourself will help ease the burden and give you an understanding place to vent, cry, laugh, and just let it go and as my brother likes to say, “get some new ideas”

I used to go to a sibling support group and it was a very valuable resource. I learned how to talk to my brother. I leaned how to listen to him and state my side of perception without dismissing his fears, concerns and perceptions.

In stead of “No, those people aren’t plotting against us.” I was able to take a breath and look at the situation from his view and then say, “Ok, I can see how this would be upsetting, but those people over there are staying over there and nowhere near us. We’ll go home and probably never see them again.”

If my brother keeps craning his head I know what he’s doing. I don’t say, “OH, just ignore them” because he can’t. He truly can’t. But I do say, “I see them too. I’m keeping an eye out. They are still over there not near us. I won’t let anything happen. You can rest, I’ll be the look out.”

Then when we leave, I do point out “Hey, nothing happened and it was all OK. We’re safe and fine.” The more we go out and all is well, the more the paranoia will let go. Then I can say, “Well, we went out last time and nothing happened, what’s different today?”

All I can suggest is keep learning, keep getting as much information as you can. Talk to a professional on your own. There are new drugs, treatments, therapies, philosophies, and more developing so quickly now. Keep up on your reading. Coping therapy and less stress will hopefully take the pressure off your fight against Bipolar as well.

Even if he doesn’t want therapy, there is nothing stopping YOU from getting a support group and a place or chance to vent your frustration.

I hope things smooth out for you soon.

Thank you for letting me post.


#4

Welcome to the forum and congratulations on your marriage.

Some of these links may help. I find LEAP to be very useful in helping to cut down on disagreements.

http://www.leapinstitute.org/ - under resources are free videos on using LEAP
LEAP is a way of communicating to build trust. Listen-Empathize-Agree-Partner.
http://dramador.com/ - Dr. Xavier Amador is a clinical psychologist whose brother had schizophrenia. He is the founder of the LEAP Institute. Wrote the book: I’m Not Sick I Don’t Need Help! Can buy from his website.
Search Xavier Amador and LEAP on youtube.com and you should find some long videos
http://www.treatmentadvocacycenter.org/index.php - under problems you will see anosognosia
Anosognosia looks like denial but is different.
http://lesswrong.com/lw/e25/bayes_for_schizophrenics_reasoning_in_delusional/ - helped my understand delusions

NAMI may have support groups in your area.
http://www.nami.org/ - National Alliance on Mental Illness.

I will caution you on the marriage counseling only because if the counselor has no knowledge of mental illness then they could make things worse so finding one that has MI experience would probably be more helpful.


#5

Thank you all for responding. He’s still quite deep into a paranoid episode of mania. I have found a NAMI location near me and will start attending support meetings at the next available date. Thanks for the links BarbieBF they are very helpful I need any and all suggestions I get for help. Thanks also kidsister I will definitely apply dealing with the paranoia like you do with your brother and see if it helps with our situations. You are so right I’ve found out the hard way that each person is different and deals with different issues and he doesn’t like to be compared to others either. I let him view the NAMI sight and he seems interested in going to support groups for others that are schizophrenic as well Here’s hoping this episode ends sooner than later and I get the calmer him back for a while. Thanks again you all. I will try and keep posted here because it does help to talk about my frustrations.


#6

I am a very highly functioning and recovered paranoid schizophrenic, so I shouldn’t really be commenting in the family section, but I want you to know that he can recover and you can move on from this. It is all about medication, therapy and insight, insight being what brings people back to sanity (once you know you’re insane, you’re not truly insane anymore!).

Trial and error with medications is a must. I myself tried plenty of different meds at different doses, different combinations of meds, ect. and I finally found the perfect combination last year right around thanksgiving. My life instantly became normal again and I have had very few slip-ups since then, and they were all due to things that I should avoid (sleep deprivation, forgetting a dose of my meds, getting myself into a stressful situation).

Therapy will help him learn to cope with his condition and see through his own flawed reasoning, hallucinations (if he has them) and irrational beliefs. Spending money on a good therapist is well worth it, my parents pay for the best shrink they could find for me and I am arguably the most highly functioning diagnosed person on these forums. He has kept me highly functioning, he sees a scholar-athlete and not a “schizo” and makes sure that I perform and do well for myself.

Insight in crucial. Once he knows the symptoms, the prognosis, the chemistry, biology and neuroscience behind his experiences, thoughts and actions, he has a great chance at entering remission, which is when a person with schizophrenia is no longer functionally impaired by their illness; basically, he will be able to ignore and cope with his symptoms. I am saying this because that is my story, I was a stereotypical, alcoholic, angry paranoid schizophrenic and now I am a person who lives with schizophrenia under control. I am on a full scholarship to college majoring in Psychology and am also a competitive powerlifter. I have friends, all A’s and an incredibly fit body and a patched-up mind, my meds, insight and therapy have schizophrenia beat.

I suggest the book Surviving Schizophrenia, you should read it first and then have him read it. It is the best “user’s guide” to the illness, I own a fair number of books on schizophrenia and it is the definitive guide to living well despite being diagnosed with the worst psychiatric disorder. I myself came to reality when I was in some honors neuroscience classes, we were studying schizophrenia and I was diagnosed at the same time, I gained the upper hand on my illness after that. I quit drinking and began trying medications a few months later, after the semester had ended.

NAMI is great for people because they will admit to being mentally ill and realize that they suffer from common symptoms of the same illness.

But I will be completely honest; if he doesn’t either gain insight into his condition or get on an effective medication regiment and follow it religiously, you should not expect a dramatic improvement. I know that sounds harsh but I have basically been the same as him (actually probably worse, I have a severe case, it just happens to not be treatment-resistant) and I know exactly how people get better because I did.

You should keep in mind that 1 in 5 people diagnosed fully recover, with or without medications. This illness is not to be taken lightly, it is horrific and sometimes people just don’t get better, and I hate to say it, but it is a fact that about a third get worse. It is realistic to expect significant improvement and high functioning from him, but he may have to learn to cope with his symptoms for the rest of his life, he may never stop experiencing some degree of psychosis.

But if he works, he is already way ahead of the game. Employment is considered a successful case in a psychiatrist’s office. He can quit suffering as much though, he shouldn’t just accept being psychotic. I myself was highly functioning but fully psychotic during the first year of my illness, I was also a drunk and absolutely antisocial unless I was liquored up. I just made it through the day and then drank what would have killed most people my weight, I had an incredible tolerance to alcohol.


#7

Thank you for sharing with me and I’m glad you decided to. Everything you said helped a lot in understanding more. I will go find the book Surviving Schizophrenia, I’m big on reading and absorbing as much knowledge of these things that I can so books are a big help. I have found NAMI locally here and the both of us will start attending the support group gathering. Hopefully he can fully recover eventually just as you did. Reading your positive outcome is inspiring that things will smooth over with my husband’s struggle in the future. Thanks mortimermouse again for sharing with me. Any and all advice suggestions and support helps me tons.


#8

:smile: I’m glad to hear that you are going to NAMI, they’re great. If you have any questions, whether it’s about meds, symptoms, side effects, anything, private message me, I am concentrating in behavioral neuroscience and I pretty knowledgeable about schizophrenia. I actually want to become an expert on it and do research on my illness, and now that I am recovered and doing exceedingly well in school, I know this illness inside and out, from first person and from an academic point of view. I always write my term papers on schizophrenia, I have given presentations about it and I have a passion for it.

Here’s one thing they won’t tell you in the books- there are types of people diagnosed with schizophrenia; there are schizophrenics, who are controlled by the illness, and then there are people who have schizophrenia, implying that you either have schizophrenia under control or it possesses you. I have been both types, fortunately I now have schizophrenia instead of schizophrenia having me, like it used to. I may come off as very coherent and healthy for a mentally ill person, but I in fact have a severe case and my prognosis was morbid, I was predicted to commit suicide soon.

I did in fact attempt suicide once over a year ago shortly before my diagnosis, I thought I would be living in the waking nightmare that paranoid schizophrenia is for the rest of my life (I had a clue that I was mentally ill, but at the time I had limited knowledge of schizophrenia and was in denial). Now I can say that I am a person who happens to have schizophrenia, you would never guess that I have it. That’s what my friends, colleagues and professors say about me.

No matter how dark the days were, I learned to tell myself that what didn’t kill me would only make me stronger. Now that I am recovered, exceeding in school and am a competitive powerlifter, I know that I was right, quite literally correct- I have turned the worst thing that ever happened to me into my greatest strength, schizophrenia is my forte, and I am literally strong as an athlete.

They key is to gain the upper hand, after that, it’s a new life. I used to be exactly like your husband (actually worse I believe) I can tell you that he is suffering but he has strength, getting married is a sign that he still lives on despite his symptoms. He is obviously strong, stronger than I was before I recovered, I was a defeatist until I learned about my condition and was diagnosed and given a firm talk by the evaluator that I was insane. He looked me in the eye and calmly said “You are very crazy.” after my evaluation was finished. After that, I took a while to face what was ahead of me.

I might be rambling, but I just want you to know that people can and DO get better, no matter how severe their case is. He sounds like he is hopeful and still values love, which is far beyond what I was capable of when I was ill. I was bitter and stone cold, I was incapable of love and too paranoid to get close to my girlfriend when schizophrenia struck me at 18. I guess my intellect and body was what had her dating me for so long, looking back I was very distant and distrustful of her. Two years later she contacted me apologizing for leaving me for a douche bag, but I said I took the blame, I was insane at the time. But anyway, learn as much as you can, get him to learn as much as he can, have faith in a good psychiatrist and a good support group and hope for the best.

Schizophrenia is not the ending to one’s story. It was the greatest challenge of my life, and it is already behind me, and I am only 20 years old, I have my 21st birthday in June. I went from being absolutely ill to flourishing, and I had a more severe case than your husband has.

As for the bipolar component, the treatment is much simpler; Lithium Carbonate is VERY effective at treating bipolar disorder. I had a girlfriend who was prescribed lithium but was not exactly compliant- when she took the appropriate dose, she was normal again, but she enjoyed being manic and took a tiny dose instead, just enough to keep her from being out of control. I suggest taking a hefty dose of Lithium, probably at least 1500mg to eradicate bipolar disorder. It’s a relatively quick fix compared to treating his schizophrenia with antipsychotics, which are actually major tranquilizers, they just happen to have antipsychotic properties, believe it or not.

Ask for the newer antipsychotics, they have less extreme side effects. GEODON, LATUDA, ABILIFY, SEROQUEL, ZYPREXA, mention these to your doctor. I have tried latuda and geodon, and Geodon was the only one that worked. Latuda made me worse, it didnt work and instead gave me horrible side effects. I rejected the offer for Abilify because it is the most risky med, it is a dopamine agonist, the opposite of all other meds. It is known to backfire or work like a charm. I was not in the mood to hear screaming voices instead of talking voices.

Just a warning- antipsychotics are the most heavy duty medications in psychiatry. The side effects can be extreme and you will likely have to try a number of different ones at different doses before you strike gold. I myself have tremors due to my medication, they have a special name for it (akathisia) and I take two additional medications to treat the tremors. I have a slightly restless left leg now, that is all that remains of my experience with schizophrenia, that and the memories.


#9

I enjoyed this post I have been married to my husband six years and was diagnosed with paranoid sz in the past year and half. He currently has tried meds but doesn’t take them at all…we have three small children and during his last psychotic episode he ended up leaving the state with our one year old. I was horrified at the situation and wanted out of the marriage cause I just couldn’t see myself risking all of our safety in effort to help him. He gets very angry, very delusional and even though he has never hurt anybody it is very terrifying each time it happens. When things calm down we talk and work things out about what to do next. He always ends up in jail cause we can never get him to a hospital and no one can make him go unwillingly. This time we have decided to not live together because he still doesn’t want to take medication. He had been seeing a therapist for almost six months last time and that helped but he needs medication.

I am doing my best to learn and seek ways to not be so scared and cope with this…I currently am doing an internship with a program that finds resources for mentally ill in our community and helps the family with a plan of action for crisis. Its very informative yet not enough. I too hope that I can convince him to take some type of counseling with me cause we really need to be on the same page and I need to better understand how to deal with him. Like knowing when to agree with his symptoms and when its okay to disagree and show him things aren’t chaos and plots against him.

At any rate this forum is very helpful and I am going to attend the next meeting with the NAMI in my area too. Good luck to you I pray divorce isn’t the only answer and they can be helped for their own sake and the families they have.


#10

I suffer from both schizophrenia and bipolar (manic depression) also. It is not a picnic for sure. Maybe both of you could see a therapist who is a psychiatrist for marriage counseling, and there maybe he could introduce medications for your husband to take. If you suffer from schizophrenia and bipolar meds are a necessity - I dont know if he is on medications for it


#11

Thanks to all who have replied. @mortimermouse I allowed him to read your replies and it sort of back fired. He wondered was it a setup but he did inquire as to things you did to help cope while recovering. I have yet to get him to go to counseling or any NAMI meetings. He initially agreed then told me that was a setup as well because he doesn’t think anyone will understand him enough to help him. He’s gotten so much worse within the last two weeks since I posted. I am at a loss as to what I’m to do and I have a very profound amount of respect for the family members and especially wives that are coping with the same situation as I. He goes off on these episodes literally every other day or few days now which is more often than normal. I can tell when it’s coming because even his voice sounds different when things are about to go south. He says he can’t trust anyone now, not even me because he thinks I may be “one of them” and I have no idea who “they” are and he cannot verbalize to me the answer to that. Also, he keeps jumping in the car and driving off for the past two weeks which is bad because they’ve took his license due to his mental disability and he’s not supposed to be driving. I attempted to take the car keys from him but he has hidden them when he’s in the house and I can never get a hold of them. He has driven to another state to his parents’ I found out and has been there for days so far. They had no idea, thought he was just visiting, I had to call and tell his dad that he was having an episode. I have NO idea what to do to help any further than what I’ve tried and everything I do to try and help him is viewed as an attempt to sabotage him which he thinks is proof I shouldn’t be trusted. My stress levels are unimaginable right now. I’m worried about my husband to the point where I literally feel sick (nausea etc) Once last week when he’d calmed down he admitted that he should go to the veterans hospital and check in for treatment and the very next day he was back in mania and didn’t even acknowledge wanting that. I am at a loss here and I just needed to vent to anyone who’ll understand.


#12

@selfsweets I don’t really have any helpful information for you, but I am truly sorry you are going through this. I really hope I never put my fiancee through something like that.


#13

Thank you Sasha. This website helps in itself and having people reply and offer nice words are a help as well.


#14

I hate you feel this way it’s awful I know the feeling when my husband is in psychosis I am so afraid of his actions and what he talks about I am literally shaking as if it were below zero. I am at a difficult place because I cannot get him to get help and I feel I can’t go on living with this fear about what will happen to any of us if he gets the wrong thoughts or voices. He is already filled with anger in his psychosis…I am feeling very lonely and sad tonight cause he’s in jail and I don’t want to live together anymore and he is done trying to work with me and it looks like we may not make it through this anymore. I just want you to know your not a lone as a wife in this having support is important i hope you find something to direct your paths.