Partner of 15 years suddenly experiencing schizophrenic symptoms

Hello, I just found this site and just am trying to put my grief somewhere as it is too much for me to hold.

I started dating my partner when I was 17 and I am 32 now. We have shared such important years together. And it hasn’t always been easy, we’ve both had many problems. He has battled drug addiction off and on for the past 10 years and I have tried my best to always be supportive and patient and in return he has always been honest and open with me about it.

The past couple weeks have just been a downhill nightmare. I didn’t see the signs for so long, or maybe I didn’t want to see them, I don’t know but I blame myself for a lot. He had been becoming isolated after a string of bad and difficult friendships and a lot of his business ventures failing which he had put a lot of himself into. He stopped leaving the house, and eventually very rarely left the bedroom. I maintained having my life, I would still go out and see friends or family. I don’t know why I allowed him or me to live such a way for so long, maybe something is wrong with me as well. A few weeks ago he had started talking to himself and it sounded like he was hashing out old arguments he had had with people…eventually I went into our bedroom and he was just sobbing uncontrollably, and he is someone I have only see cry a few times. He was going on and on about different childhood traumas, abusive ex-girlfriends, abusive friends, etc. At first I thought maybe this was a good thing, that he was finally exploring grief and trauma that had pushed him into using drugs instead of facing the things that happened to him. We found a therapist and made an appointment and I thought that was solved.

Then last week he was no longer talking to just himself but said these people he had been upset with were talking to him. They were saying mean and horrible things and he would argue with them incessantly, crying, yelling, etc. Sometimes he would tell me he was crazy and then other times he would tell me one of these people were outside his window, or in the ceiling. He started becoming unresponsive to me, would tell me to be quiet or shush me when I would try to talk to him as he was trying to listen to the voices. I eventually called an ambulance last Tuesday because he was barely responding to me, he told me he thought he had been poisoned (from his drugs) and so I asked him if he would let paramedics check him out and he said yes. They took him to the hospital, however once we were there the doctor seemed irritated and told us all he could possibly do is give him a dose of Zyprexa. He said he couldn’t prescribe anything and that if he 51/50d him it would “ruin his life”. My partner said after a while he was tired and just wanted to go home and so I agreed.

The next day I went online and found a psychiatrist who I paid out of pocket to talk to my partner through Zoom, since it is hard to get him to leave the house. He prescribed him Zyprexa. A few days later my partner is out of drugs, so he tries taking some old suboxone he had and ends up sending himself into hyper withdrawal and asks to be taken to the ER. So I took him again. They treated him for the withdrawal and got him a prescription for suboxone. The entire time though I was telling them I wanted him admitted to behavioral health, that he had been having delusions and hallucinations and they were torturing him. After being there for 7 hours they finally asked if he was suicidal, he said no, and told me they couldn’t do anything, that he should go home and continue taking his medication. I was so angry.

A few days after that, everything seemed ok, he said he didn’t feel like himself and he seemed kind of flat but he had stopped talking to himself, he seemed less agitated and I started to relax. But then this past Monday I noticed he was talking to the voices again. I realized that he was maybe lying about taking his pill because it seemed odd it would suddenly stop working. He has been telling me all sorts of things I have been trying to not take too seriously but IDK, maybe they are true feelings he has been hiding from me? He has started telling me he is in love with a lot of people, that he is polyamorous, that he is in love with an old friend of his and that he couldn’t be with me anymore. I said alright, if thats what you want. I have been trying to not react too strongly, even though it is upsetting for me. Because he has also told me the voices are there to help him quit drugs, that he is on a spiritual journey, that it is the police department doing this to him, that it is a demon, that the women he says he is in love with are actually in a cult to torture him. Ugh, it’s just…a lot. Sometimes he seems to side with the voices, other times he is angry at them, and other times he seems terrified and exhausted. I hugged him the other day and he was just shaking uncontrollably and seemed so scared.

I am trying to be patient at this point. I feel like he is getting worn out and will accept help eventually. I have asked him to go to the clinic with me, he said no, I asked if the mobile crisis unit could come out and talk to him he said no. I have been told the only other option is the police and I am trying to avoid that as he has not done anything violent other than yelling at himself. He is no longer taking drugs so if that was an influence that is gone as well. I am just having such a hard time navigating the mental health system, as sometimes he says he is tired and wants the voices to stop but then other times says he doesn’t need medication because there is nothing wrong with him. I have told his family about what is happening, told my own family, told a close friend, I have a therapist. I am doing everything I can to keep myself strong. I am just at my wits end. It is just so hard when he used to be the person I went to when I had problems, he always had good advice, he was always there for me, always told me I could accomplish anything…I feel like I am grieving my partner and I am so scared he will never return.

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Yes, me too. After 32 years of blissful marriage I was deathly afraid I would never see my sweet angel ever again. I agree, it sometimes feels like you are mourning your loved one but she/he is still there, sort of.
After nearly two years of ups and downs I (think) have come to accept that this is it. That the current situation is what I have to come to terms with. Acceptance is liberating, a bit. It enables you to move to the next decision step and brings clarity to your life. I no longer hope for what was. I now accept that what is is likely what will be for the rest of my married days. I am 62. Retired. Had dreams of travel with my love. All changed now.
So here is what acceptance is doing for me. It forces the question, are you OK with this for the rest of your life. You can now proceed to answer this question. For me the answer is yes. Acceptance also forces you to forget what your life was together, planning everything together, doing everything together. It forces you to face the task of carving out a new life both as an individual who still wants to find meaning in my days and as a caregiver who never wants to abandon his angel.
I am not advocating a life sentence of caregiving (as some may view it). It is such an individual decision dependent on so many factors. I am advocating acceptance of the situation as a means of liberating you and enabling you to move on (whatever that means for you).
Best of luck. Stay strong. Continue to prioritize yourself, don’t lose yourself in all this. Kevin

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You are what anyone with a serious disability would want in a partner. What you feel and are demonstrating is what I consider the definition of true love. I hope you get occasional glimpses of her as you knew her before the onset. Even if that is no longer the case, talking to her and treating her as you always did is probably the best gift you can give her.

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Love can puts us to the test. Yours to your wife is true! Acceptance of the ‘new wife’ you are choosing to be with is amazing! It’ll definitely bring you and her so many blessings!!!

Thank you for sharing your experience as a caregiver and your love story.

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Rosyd, thank you for the kind words. My heart goes out to all caregivers who are on this journey. My heart pains for all those who become afflicted with psychosis or other forms of mental health challenges.

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I am so sorry for the trauma you and your partner are experiencing. Please keep a very succinct written record, including dates, of any of your partners delusions, words and actions that show they could be a danger to themselves or others. Any references to suicidal thoughts should be documented. This could be very helpful in persuading medical professionals that your partner needs inpatient psychiatric care. Use the LEAP method of communicating with your partner and try to help them assemble a “team” of family and friends for support. Best case scenario is if your partner will admit themselves into the ER of the hospital in your area that is known for the best mental healthcare around. Good luck.

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@polarbear , please don’t be hard on yourself for the mental situation your loved one is going through. You were and are doing the best you can and you have to be kind to yourself as well as your loved one. What you are describing is very similar to how my daughter’s schizoprenia “turned on” gradually from light to severe over a course of time prior to it becoming VERY obvious (at times) that something was extremely wrong. At other times, she seemed to control her voices and she seemed fine. I was so confused. Then I found this site and NAMI, and books on schizophrenia.

I agree with what @lomamar said, NAMI’s family to family class taught us to keep a journal and I kept one on both my daughter and my husband during our bad years. They helped me to see the patterns of delusions/hallucinations for my daughter, and my husband’s alcoholic delusions/abuse. These journals helped both get treatment and helped me to manage my own mental health.

ERs can help a person who WANTS to be there, or who is threatening harm to self or others. Otherwise, their hands are tied by laws. After a while, I learned to call the police and get my daughter Baker Acted any time she made a hint of violence. One time was when she stood in front of my bedroom door yelling at her voices that “everyone in this house should be dead”. The problem was that many times she would not repeat any threat or wish of violence once the authorities arrived. They had to witness it themselves, or their hands were tied and they could not take her away. In the end, for us, ONLY forced help through ERs, police and courts got her on a medicine that worked (and is still working). She was put on at least 5 different meds that didn’t work well before that.

You have many choices facing you in the future. @KevinSkilton is correct, that only you can decide for yourself how you can/will handle being a caregiver for the rest of your life. It IS a grieving process.This illness is a SEVERE mental illness, and it is the cause of so much pain and suffering for those with schizophrenia and those caring for and about them. Do come back to the site and read and post. You will find compassion and understanding.

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