Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Questions and sharing my new found situation

First timer here. And due to timing, I had to write this over several days because I obviously can’t write this with her in the house nor at my office with others around.

I’ve been married 12 years and it was till recent when her brother told me to talk to a friend of a friend, etc who is a counselor and when I told him what was happening, he believed she has paranoid sz. And after reading on here and what others have said, it appears to be that way but in a milder form. I think i have it easy compared to what I’ve read on here. there was one gentlemen,.an engineer guy where my story is similar to his. I’m pressed for time but wanted to get some questions out there so ill give a brief run down, though it wasn’t as brief after all.

Married for 12 years, 2 kids 4 and 6. I believe shes always had it and after talking with her brother, it appears she’s been somewhat paranoid since teen years. There was some abuse as a child and she got into drugs early and did some things not proud of but eventually found God, who turned her life around, she has not drank, smoke or anything like that for 20 years. I am 46 she’s 44. she does not have any solid friendships, she always thinks that they hold grudges or talk about her behind her back about her past. I’ve tried to explain many people have a past and though some may not like you because of it, most don’t care and in fact, most admire how you overcame all that. But as you all know, reasoning isn’t working.

She’s pretty smart lady, very sociable so not withdrawn UNLESS, she thinks its a group of people who are talking about her. Now i want to clarify this and it will lead to a question below. When she thinks things are ok with others, then she’s fine with them, and that includes her own family. When shes under this delusion, then shes like a different person. She won’t even give people the time of day or she’s what I call cold to them. We can go for months with things being ok and then bam!

We have been with 4 different churches in 14 years of being together because no matter the friendships we form, they always deteriorate because she thinks the women hate her because of her wild past or is a threat to their men.

So here’s some questions i have.

    • How do you go from being fine with someone and then they’re the worse person in the world. Doesn’t she see that she could be the cause of others being shy or put off by her when she acts like that.
    • What causes these delusions. ex. everything is fine with others for a few months and then out of nowhere it goes into, they’re back at it, hating me, the dirty looks, not talking to me, not waving to me, whatever the case at the time. So what’s she do, they wave, she snarls and does not acknowledge them
    • I know the advice most (uneducated about this) give is, grow a pair, confront your wife, you’re the man of the house, well, they don’t live with it and have no clue. The anger, the rages, now as one person put in this forum, these episodes don’t last very long so I feel fortunate compared to what others have lived with but that is when I’m barely saying anything she finds offensive or disagrees with. I’ve tried to say the ole, I don’t see that, I think this may not be happening and that has never, ever gone well. In fact, she’s now has cut off her relationship with her brother due to him telling her she’s paranoid and this stuff is not happening. Now, he’s part of the others or “them”

From what I’ve read, we’re not supposed to confront or use reason or logic but to show empathy, what else should I be doing?

  • Will this get any better as age? And when people say it gets worse, what happens, more frequency? Will the delusions get worse in terms of being far fetched?

  • From what I’ve read, the people who refuse to get help or recognize it then it takes a bad breakdown before they will decide to talk with someone. Is that most common way for people with pz to get help?

  • is the horrible temper/anger a byproduct of this?

  • I have to admit this is hard and I’m dealing with a mild form of it with my wife. The ups and downs and all that goes with it, one example, we took the kids to disney world in March and it was great, she did great, not one delusion, she was friendly with people there, she organized it all and had a really great time and then within 2 days of getting back home, she’s complaining how the neighbors are now dissing her and then my sister does not reply fast enough in a text and she thinks she’s mad at her over something and this is the start. We do fine for a few days and she comes home from picking up our son from school and starts ranting about a teacher or some other mother giving her dirty looks. I can’t tell you how many times over the years that I’ve said to myself, I am living with 2 different people.

  • The ride back from Disney I kept beating myself up about not stopping this or trying to talk to her over the last 4 or 5 years, I see what’s happening to her and my heart breaks!! She is under torment on all these thoughts she thinks and though I’ve tried to talk about this when it first came up and so did many others, countless others have talked with her how to handle this because we all thought it was her being easily offended, extremely thin skinned, etc but now I know it’s not and so I am thinking of scenarios that will come up and responding differently as to try and get her to go get some help. And then I realize after she goes into the rant, how impossible this is because she has told me and others that other people have confirmed to her that there is a lot of gossip and bad stuff being said about her. And from experience, I know how this happens, she tells someone something and they say, that’s a shame that does happen and then she mixes up the words as to hear, yes, that is happening or something similar. Been there, seen that. So even if I try and say something, then she’s going to use that against me and then to her that would be equal to me cheating on her. Yes, I do believe if said something that this is not happening or she could be paranoid, it’s over, she would leave me because in her mind, that would be equal to cheating.

  • Last Question: How do you handle this? If she crosses into violence or if she starts with the government is spying on me or what I’ll call really far out stuff, then I will have no choice but to give some type of ultimatum but so far, all her delusions has some reality base. Workplace harassment is common, being ostracized and talked about in any women’s group and church is unfortunately far too common so when she tells others that her co-workers hate her because of her past and her faith, well, that’s easy. Lot of people have experience that or see it first hand. Offices-work places are notorious for this and so is church. This what makes it more difficult for me to even think about confronting this. If she started with the government is spying on me, then I think I could address that and I think she would even be open to listening but not what’s happening now.

And I thank all the people who have shared and replied, it’s been helpful in my new journey on this. It’s been hard because I don’t have anyone to talk to about this.

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From what you describe, your wife most likely does NOT have sz. By your description, she seems to have an illness or disorder that will most likely respond to professional treatment, as would schizophrenia in most cases, so find a professional who can help her.

Reality-based delusions, paranoia, low self esteem, and disproportionate guilt are all signs you have noticed that show she needs assistance.

For you, maybe there is a NAMI support group in your area (the group here meets once a week). They also have a twelve week education course for family members and friends of people with mental illness. There is also a 1-800 national helpline you could call and someone could answer some of your questions.

I hope everything goes okay for your family.

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Sorry to hear you don’t have anyone to talk with about this. This forum is a good support, but you need good family support too.
Your post has a lot of good questions. These are only my observations and thoughts on some of your questions.

Will it get worse: Possibly.

Getting them into treatment: Usually due to a loved one initiating it.

Temper/anger a by product: Yep. Keep this in mind…a paranoid person is a scared person. They are consumed with thoughts people are out to get them and “something unseen” by others means we are the ones who are delusional. If that is how you saw the world perhaps you would be angry too.

Crossing the line: Mentally ill or not anger and rage have boundaries which need to be set. Figure out what yours are and set them. Outline a plan of action on how you will handle things when boundaries are crossed. Do not avoid this out of embarrassment. If someone is standing on the edge of a cliff and in danger of falling you would not stop to think “will my actions embarrass them?” Same applies when they are on the edge of a mental cliff. If you need to call the authorities do so. Will it cause talk…yes and the paranoid person will not like that, but better safe than sorry.

Confrontation: Don’t. It will just exhaust you and probably make matters worse. A mental illness is not a personality problem. Being reserved is personality. Being paranoid is illness. Sometimes the stuff is eye rolling; sometimes there is a basis in fact. Remember YOU can NOT reason someone out of delusions. What works for us is sometimes is asking a thought provoking question and then let them sort it out while we remain silent. Doesn’t always work, but on the days it does it makes life much easier.

By all means though, find a therapist because whatever is going on, Paranoid SZ, Bi Polar or delusional personality disorder, you need someone in person to help you navigate through this. Take Care.

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In my world, what you’ve described doesn’t rise to the level of being paranoid or delusional.

It could be that she’s insecure, or if she was abused she might have some level of PTSD. It could also be depression with very mild psychosis - or bad social anxiety. There’s also something called borderline personality disorder. To be honest, to me, it does sound personality related - you know, we can’t all be perfect people.

And, people can be slightly paranoid from time to time and not have any mental illness at all - especially when it comes to people. I’ve been guilty of it, and it all comes down to doubting yourself.

I agree with hereandhere though - it doesn’t sound like paranoid schizophrenia to us.

However, you won’t find any doctors here, and while most of us are free with our opinions when asked, we’re not qualified to diagnose anyone - and we’re only hearing your side of the story.

If I were you, I think I might go see a therapist myself to talk it over and take very concrete examples of what you’re talking about with you.

There are also a host of medical problems that can cause paranoia, delusions, etc. - including thyroid conditions. You might want to talk to your family doctor too & ask him what kind of tests he might want to run to see if something else is out of whack.


Thanks for the replies. I did speak with a counselor who had a lot of experience with pz and had share a lot more with him and he’s the one who said he strongly believes it is pz, though in a milder form One example, she will no longer take a walk in the local park because she thinks it’s too close to home and people are talking about her and giving her looks, same thing going to Krogers or Walmart. As long as it’s within about a 15 mile radius of our home, she will always think people are recognizing her from pictures that people are spreading about her. She quit going to the gym, won’t go to our son’s sporting events because the other mother’s are giving her dirty looks. It’s all connected in her world there. and there are more but pressed for time.

I do have my red lines in place for any anger, rage, or things of that nature and even opportunities that may arise on something different that could lead me to use, “Let’s talk to someone about this”, she has expressed she would like to talk with someone to get to the root of her anger so that is my one possibility or when she gets to the place where she’s so upset and distraught over this, that I can lead in with, Let’s get you someone to talk with.

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With all due respect to you & your counselor, SZ is very hard to diagnose - and most people wouldn’t throw that out there without even meeting the patient.

You have to have persistent symptoms for at least 6 months & all other possibilities must be ruled out first.

My son had a full blown psychotic break at 15 - which included thinking that people from the government were coming to kill him, any doctor he was left alone with him would pull out a gun and kill him, there was talk of time travel, etc.

Even then, he did not get the paranoid schizophrenia diagnosis. He went on for years as major depression with psychotic features, psychotic NOS (they don’t know why you’re psychotic and it doesn’t fit any other category), major mood disorder, etc. In fact, he had to go into the hospital saying he was Jesus for the third time before they said paranoid schizophrenic, and even now the diagnosis is probably going to change to schizoaffective.

Thinking people are talking about you or giving you dirty looks might be delusional, but it’s not a bizarre delusion like people with paranoid schizophrenia get. If you’re going to say she’s mildly SZ, there are millions of people out there who could have the same diagnosis.

I don’t want to minimize your problem because I can tell you are really worried. I think your plan to find some kind of excuse to get her to a doctor for their first-hand opinion is a perfect idea.

If you need help doing that, I’ll recommend the book I always recommend - I don’t need help, I’m not sick by Dr Amador. It talks about how you can find common ground and persuade someone to go seek treatment even if they never admit they’re sick.

It’s meant for people more severe than your wife, but I think the techniques they teach are great to use for all kinds of situations - even with people who aren’t sick. And, if you’re like me and very direct in how you talk to people, it’ll suggest things you’d never even thing of.

I wish you luck and feel free to use us as a sounding board.

One more thing, because I always have one more thing. As you probably know, SZ is probably partially genetic. There are all kinds of things going on on both sides of our family, like most people, but my husband/son’s dad had some things in common with your wife. I, however, describe him as mildly bipolar but very functional. I don’t make a secret out of what I think - I’ve told him my opinion, I routinely tell him to put the crazy away or his crazy is showing when he’s acting up, and I’m thinking he should try the mood stabilizer my son just started…

For years, he would accuse me of cheating on him, and he would go through spells where people he usually trusted were out to get him. It might not have been as often as what your wife does, but it was fairly frequent. He just kind of snapped out of it for the most part in his mid 40s. So, if nothing else, there is that. He had a crazy childhood & had lots of anger issues too. I would never have thought he had SZ though. I know a few of his aunts & uncles are diagnosed with bipolar and I’m pretty sure his mother & grandfather had it too.

Check out delusional disorder - I think it fit him & it might fit her too.

I’m not saying she doesn’t have issues - I just don’t think she has SZ level issues, and you certainly don’t want to put that label on anyone if you don’t have to.

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So true that we are not doctors or even close, nor would any doctor dx schizophrenia without six months of symptoms.

I don’t understand why a professional would jump to schizophrenia when there are diagnoses like this:
Sadly, the internet contains dozens of diagnoses that might fit and still have absolutely nothing at all to do with what your wife is going through.

OP’s wife is obviously experiencing suffering and difficulty from what is possibly a treatable mental illness, so, yes, a real doctor with more than six months knowing your wife. Some diagnoses take up to ten years…

A good doctor and/or therapist are irreplaceable.

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First of all I am very sorry to hear that you and your wife are having to deal with these changes in your wife’s behaviors and that they are causing interpersonal and social difficulties. I understand the frustration.

There are as many diagnoses as there are illnesses and combinations of illnesses. Every one is different. In most cases it takes 6 months of steady symptoms that form a repeating pattern (it helps if you can keep a journal on what you see and hear to share with her doctor) As others have said, nobody of any substance will diagnose your wife by phone. It will take an office visit, maybe a few of them and there is the HIPPA laws which will exclude you from the proceedings unless your wife gives her permission for you to take part in the sessions with her.

I am no doctor, I do have a lot of experience caring for people with many different combinations of illnesses so sometimes things I read here sound familiar, still, a supportive opinion is no substitute for professional guidance and treatment.

I have heard of borderline personality disorder with paranoid ideations. Your wife reminds me of that (and I could be entirely wrong) but what reminds me of it is that people with BPD tend to sabotage relationships, sometimes they have trouble maintaining them or forming them…but with paranoid ideations that could matters even more difficult.

Still, my best advice is to find a reputable accredited psychiatrist and try to be present when your wife is being consulted, if that is not possible then try to get your notes on what you have witnessed to the doctor prior to the appointment, it will go a long way to clarify what is really happening beneath all of the paranoid beliefs that your wife will likely want to describe as her reality.

I also agree that NAMI is a great source of support and information if you happen to have a chapter near you. Their Family to Family classes are free to attend and they provide a comprehensive education in mental health and offer a network of support from other people who are caretakers that have loved ones who are in various stages of various mental illnesses.

In the meantime, welcome, Here is the link to the article I read about BPD with paranoia for what it is worth. It may sound familiar and it may not. My very best to you and your family.

JoeJoe, I have a daughter with schizophrenia and over the years I’m met many folks with this awful disease. From what you describe I don’t believe your wife has schizophrenia but she does have issues such as low self esteem, lacks confidence and is frightened that others will judge her. Suggest she sees a highly qualified and experienced therapist. I say highly qualified therapist because there are some really bad ones out there.

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