Partner May Have Schizophrenia

Hi, my partner believes she may have schizophrenia. She doesn’t have access to get professionally diagnosed yet but we plan to get her evaluated but for right now I’ve been trying to help all I can. The problem is I have trauma associated with being yelled at and when she has an episode sometimes she will yell at me, especially if she is upset at me. She tries her best not to. I get very shaky when she does yell at me even though i know she doesn’t mean to and that she’s having a possible episode. What can I do to help calm her down and get used to if she does yell at me? And are there any tips for her so she doesn’t yell at me without meaning to?

Welcome to the forum @Evelyn_Bailey . My daughter and I agreed to use the time out sign (making a T with our hands) as our signal to each other that we should step back from the conversation and have some quiet time. It worked sometimes but not all the time.

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Generally from my own experience with the disease and years of caregiving of my brother with bipolar disorder, often yelling originates from beliefs of being contradicted, not being heard or respected. These can come inadvertently from tone of voice, triggering words or topics, misunderstanding details of elaborate delusional systems. Another source of yelling is aggravation stemming from overstimulation like excessive noise, chatter or other cognitive loading like excessive change of environment.

As @oldladyblue suggests, timeouts or time alone can help with this. Change of scenery by way of walks or drives can help. Change of subject or focus or other distractions can help, as well as apologizing before matters escalate. Rarely does yelling come completely out of nowhere, so it can help to pay attention to details prior to outbursts so you can defuse them in the future— this may be a tall order if you are suffering trauma at these times.

While it sounds like anasognosia (lack of insight into disease) isn’t an issue in her case, I still recommend Dr. Amador’s book “I’m not sick, I don’t need help!” because it introduces the LEAP method which can help to reduce conflicts when dealing with mental illnesses. The follow video introduces concepts behind the method:

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Oh yes, the LEAP method is great for furthering communication and could short circuit yelling as Listen and Empathize are the first two steps. That book is very useful. Good luck.

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