Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Schizophrenic relationship break-up

Hi, this is somewhat a modified re-post after originally using the “diagnosed” forum then being sent here.

I’m wondering if anyone has a partner who suffers schizophrenia and he/she has tried to break up the relationship during their illness? I ask because my fiancee of a few weeks ago, told me yesterday that she loves someone else. The man she apparently loves is someone she lived with 6+ years ago and he currently lives 2 hours drive away with his girlfriend (who I’m sure he’s now married to). She then told me she no longer loves me.

When I asked why she was still wearing the engagement ring, she told me it was to protect her reputation from the press, who she believes are trying to write a hit-piece on her. While she’s been ill, she has often asked if I’m wired or have a hidden camera somewhere, or if I’m in on the “scam”.

She then very willingly tried to give me the ring back.

As much as I want to believe this sudden and very uncharacteristic change of heart towards me is her illness, I can’t help question if my proposal a few weeks ago prompted this yesterday. Our relationship was rock-solid before she got ill -she even asked me to marry her first a few days earlier- and the only thing that has changed between us is that she got ill and I proposed to her.

I’m really desperate for help/advice, hence the reason I’m here, because I love her so much. But I don’t know enough about this illness to know for sure what’s happening. I’ve felt very unsupported and uninformed the whole time.

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I think most of us here have felt that way from time to time.

I’m going to guess it is the illness talking. And, the stress of the engagement could have been a trigger, or mania may have prompted her to propose to you.

Reasoning with her won’t really help as logic doesn’t work on paranoid delusions. It only reinforces what their false beliefs most of the time.

You might want to read Dr Amador’s I’m Not Sick, I Don’t Need Help to learn the LEAP method so you can communicate with her a little better while she’s acting like this. It has some good advice.

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Thanks for the reply and advice, slw.

In hindsight, it was a very bad decision to propose to her while she was still ill - I thought it could give her a boost towards recovery, and it certainly did have a positive affect on her for three-to-four days. But her feelings towards me have been very turbulent since.

It’s worth noting that two weeks ago, she said something similar to me about not loving me anymore and we shouldn’t get married. But a few days later, out the blue, she had an amazing day where she was almost completely back to her old self; laughing, loving and affectionate towards me. It was an incredible transformation in a short time. I was so happy to see her as she used to be.

Now, exactly a week later from when she first told me she doesn’t love me anymore, she drops the bomb that she loves this other guy and again doesn’t love me anymore.

I agree with you that it seems to be the illness prompting these feelings and that the proposal could have destabilised her, but it’s very difficult to rationalise it in my own head. I feel like I’m between a rock and hard place.

I’m definitely going to look at that book you recommend, and I’ll give you my thoughts on it. Thanks!

@stevonatron I am sorry for the emotional up and down that this has been for you at a time in your life you had expected to be so joyful. I’m wondering how you know that this special lady has schizophrenia? Could it possibly be b-polar illness? Sometimes a diagnosis can be complicated and can change. A commitment to someone with MI is admirable, but huge, so please be sure you do everything you can to become knowledgeable to learn more about it before you decide to spend the rest of your life with someone who likely will not be able to be the kind of life partner you had imagined. There is medication, and there is hope, but it’s not any easy road.

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Thank you, hope4us

I don’t know her diagnosis - her crisis team have basically refused to tell me what she is suffering. Rather, they just say it’s depression and anxiety and leave it at that. I think her parent’s know more, but they could be afraid of telling me the full extent of what she has due to stigma.

So I’ve been left to make my own assumptions and have been trying my best to research her symptoms.

From what I’ve learnt, everything points to her suffering from a form of schizophrenia. She has already been ill for two months, experiencing regular delusion/hallucinations, etc. Her emotional state is totally flat and her speech is extremely weak and disorganised.

I’ve been looking at pages online like this one:

I must stress, I’m not certain her illness is one thing or another - I’m no doctor and this is all new to me. I know she was ill once before, around 6 years ago and we (myself and her parents) believe that something relating to that episode has triggered this one too. Personally, I believe she has been suffering from loneliness, but I hadn’t realised this until afterwards when I found she had been wondering round parks on her own. I hate that I wasn’t aware of this and could have been there for her.

One thing I’m sure of is that I want to be with her through thick and thin. We had two amazing years together before this illness kicked in, there’s no way I’d give up on her. If it is a form of schizophrenia, she’ll be ill for at least another 4 months. It’s going to be very testing but I don’t doubt I’ll see it through.

It’s hard for the doctor’s to diagnose someone, and then one may not agree with the other one.

So, sometimes, it’s best not to get hung up on the labels, but to focus on the symptoms.

Besides, they treat psychosis with the same meds no matter where it comes from.

Here’s a question for you. How’s her sleep?
My son started off with a major depression with psychotic features years ago - and the labels have changed through the years.

Most of the times, his episodes start off that he’s anxious about something.
Then, the anxiety turns into racing thoughts & he can’t sleep.
For about 48 hours, that’s OK. On the third day, he knows he’s headed into a bad place.
On the fourth day, he’s gone.
After about a week, he is so physically worn out but still can’t sleep - he’ll get flat, he’ll say all kinds of things, sometimes he’s what I think is close to catatonic where you have to turn his face and say things several times to get through to him.

He has a schizophrenic diagnosis right now, but it’s probably schizoaffective since he has a mood component as well. Or, maybe he’s just got a really severe case of bipolar since that runs very strong in his family tree.

It’s just hard to say. Some people don’t fit neatly into a single definition, and it’s important to see mental illness as a spectrum disorder instead of trying to fit people neatly into compartments anyway.

Hopefully, she’ll come out of it. Some people do even without medication, although each time an episode happens, the chances of that go down. Or, maybe, you’ll find something that’ll convince her to get treatment. The right drug - which can be hard to find - can do wonders.

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@stevonatron You are reaching out to learn more and knowledge is a good thing. I agree with slw that you should not get hung up on the diagnosis, but if “mood” is involved, the treatment could be different (although some of the meds can be the same) than if it is just psychoses. Of course, that doesn’t matter much if the person doesn’t seek help (or is not sick enough to qualify for involuntary treatment). There is always hope and the course of such illnesses are unpredictable. I believe I am correct to say, however, that SZ and BP are generally lifelong. If you really want to retain a relationship with this lady, I suggest you talk about it more with her parents, if you suspect that they know more about her illness.

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I agree with you both - the more I’ve learnt about depression and psychosis, the more I realise it’s incredibly broad. The only reason I’m trying to narrow down her symptoms is so I can figure out how best I can help her, and so I know what to expect while she’s ill, and how to best minimise it recurring. And if/when it does recur, I should be in a much better position to deal with it than I was this time.

I’m really interested in what you wrote about your son, slw - in particular, the part you describe him realising he is on the brink of an episode:

My girlfriend warned me a few hours before she was consumed in mania. She told me she loved me but was on the precipice of another episode, and tried to give me the option of leaving her before it started.

As far as I’m aware, her sleep quality is very sporadic. Sometimes she sleeps all the way through, other nights she’ll be awake several times through the night for hours. I think it could be a combination of medication and lack of sleep, but she’s always very drained-looking.

Well, that’s when he has insight. And, when he had paranoid delusions - during the first 3 to 5 years of his illness. Since then, he’s progressed to grandiose delusions, which he enjoys, so it’s a little different.

But, people with insight can tell when an episode is coming on. It’s a short window though. Once he crosses over through a shadowland where he can see both sides, and crosses the edge into the Twilight Zone as he used to call it, he’s 100% sure it’s all real.

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I’ve started reading the book you recommended, slw, Dr Amador’s I’m Not Sick, I Don’t Need Help. One of the first observations I had was that (like the title suggests) it targets people who can’t get their loved ones to believe they’re ill.

The peculiar thing about my girlfriend is that she does accept that she’s ill. She sometimes says she doesn’t know if she’s thinking a certain way because of the illness, the medication, or if it’s herself. Whether she believes she’s ill or not is a very difficult question.

However, something that is important to note about her case, is that after her first encounter of the illness around 6 years ago, she stopped taking medication, believing she could go down the alternative therapy route. When she comes out of her illness this time, the book you recommended might be very helpful in getting her to stay on medication to try and prevent another episode.

As you’ve said in a previous post, I’ve also read that each episode brings about stronger hallucinations and delusion and less chance of finding the correct medication. It’s bad enough to think that this could happen again, but to know it will most likely be worse and more difficult to treat is terrifying. It makes prevention even more important.

I think there’s value in the book for everyone, even if they’re not dealing with someone who has a mental illness.

It gave me a lot of food for thought anyway & I think it’s changed the way I deal with people in general.

I’m kind of a “I’m right and you’re wrong” kind of person, so it’s softened my edges a little. I can’t do much with the A & P part of LEAP, because my son starts to figure out what I’m doing when I go there, but the L (active listening) and E (empathize) has helped a lot.

Those things don’t come naturally to me because I jump right over them and go straight to trying to fix things - and I’ve had to accept that I can’t fix this. But I can support, I can listen, and I can help him get the right treatment.