Home, Diag Forum, About, Contact Us, FAQ

Was I right to intervene?


#1

Hi everyone,

My boyfriend has recently been diagnosed with schizophrenia and is in denial of it. Honestly, I’m not entirely sure what is issue is. We are both into New Age philosophy so we are pretty open minded to begin with. But this started about a year ago when he decided he wanted to fast so he could get closer to god. He would go on these week long fasts and then after several months of this, he got withdrawn and told me he thought he was supposed to break up with me. So he did but he continued to fast and get sickly looking. Several friends and ministers expressed their concern but he ignored them. Eventually, his parents with my help got an involuntary hold for him. He stayed in the hospital during this time, but since he did not meet the time period under the DSM to be diagnosed with schizophrenia, he was released with no diagnosis. We got back together about a month after he was released, and he told me that the doctors couldn’t find anything wrong with him and that I was too quick to think he had a problem. For a while he was acting like his usual self, then January hit and he strted withdrawing from people and told me he was fasting again. Since he wasn’t diagnosed, I figured maybe this time would be different and let it go. He eventually got very thin again, stayed in his room all day meditating and did not take care of his hygiene. By April, the few times I would visit him, he barely spoke. Just sit there and stalemate at me with this creepy half smile gaze. I was certain he had lost his mind. But when other people would visit, they said he acted normal. I started to exit the situation because I was tired of all the weirdness. At the beginning of May, his mom told me that he volunteered to go to the hospital to check on his weight (he’s 6’3” and weighed 115lbs by that time). The doctors then transferred him to the psyche ward. I visited him several times and he told me the doctors may want to speak with me and gave me permission to tell them what I saw. So, I did and they used my observations as a basis to involuntarily medicate him. He was angry with me and blamed me for telling the doctors what they wanted to hear. (Basically saying that the doctors made their decision solely on my testimony alone.) They held him for 21 days and released him a week ago. I thought things would be fine since he was acting like his old self but instead he blames me for his diagnosis and does not want me in his life. I’m really confused. Before he was in the hospital he had shut down completely but now he’s engaged with life again and socializing. He claims I should have told them what he was doing was part of his religious practice and told them nothing was wrong. So, once again, he thinks I acted too quickly and betrayed him. I’m so shocked by this accusation that I’m questioning my own sanity. Maybe I was too harsh or maybe I didn’t understand his religious practice. But I thought I was saving his life. After I thought about it, he doesn’t admit to hearing voices or discusses hallucinations. But I can’t think of any other illness that would drive someone to this type of extreme behavior. Is this type of blame typical for newly diagnosed sc patients? Any insight is appreciated. Thank you.


#2

I would think they used their (the doctors) observations as well. It sounds like your friend could fake normal in front of other people. Now that he is medicated and acting well perhaps it was the meds he needed. As long as you think you did the best in his interest, I wouldn’t beat yourself up over it.


#3

Hello Bradlaw,
I believe you acted in his best interest, especially with the weight change, it’s not healthy. I would have acted with the same caring concerns. When you starve your brain of nutrients it can cause all kinds of problems.
It sounds like your boyfriend was not using any drugs that you know of?
So sorry for you, glad you posted. AnnieNorCal


#4

Hi AnnieNorCal,

You are correct. He does not use drugs. From what I have read, hunger strikes/starvation are not usuall symptoms of Sz. Is that correct?


#5

Some of our family members have stopped eating because of the belief that food is poisoned. This has led to weight loss and blood tests that showed all kinds of starvation markers for my family member.

I think telling the truth to the doctors was the right thing to do. They would never medicate against a person’s will unless they believed it was in the person’s best interest health-wise. It was their decision, not yours.


#6

@bradlaw Since you reported the truth, and there was an obvious concern over his weight loss, you certainly did the right thing. People with SZ can appear normal for periods of time and then it can change suddenly. You can acknowledge your boyfriend’s beliefs without agreeing to them. For a loved one who cannot recognize that he/she has an illness (and I have read that this is the case for 50% of persons with SZ…it is called “anasognosia”) I highly recommend reading the book “I’m Not Sick, I Don’t Need Help by Dr. Xavier Amador”. You can get it on Amazon. Other people talk about it elsewhere on the Forum. I encourage you to continue to learn as much as you can. Your post said that he was diagnosed with SZ but had no diagnosis when he was released from the hospital. It may take time for an accurate diagnosis or it could change as more observations are made. I also suggest looking at resources at NAMI.org (National Alliance on Mental Illness) which is a resource primarily for families and friends of the person with a mental illness. They have support groups and a no-cost Family-to-Family class. The one we went to was excellent and we wish we had not waited so long to take it.


#7

Thank you all. I appreciate your feedback. The guilt I’m experiencing is rather significant. It’s not like I wanted to betray his trust (as he sees it) but he just doesn’t understand how sick he appeared before he was hospitalized. He thought he was fine. Thank you for your responses.


#8

If you can, let it go. You did what you thought best and that is all we can do. One person here (on a long ago previous post) said letting the person with the MI make the decisions isn’t the best way to go. Who knows, some day he may thank you.


#9

Unusual eating habits can be part of the illness. At some points my son has restricted his diet to a few rather odd things, and has become very thin.

You acted in the best interests of your friend. It sounds as if he does not really accept the diagnosis, which is often a component of the illness.


#10

Hello Bradlaw,
From the postings here on the site, there are so many unusual symptoms of sz. An eating disorder could be a symptom.
My son would visit us on and off and he also being a very tall lean man, was never overweight. On a few visits over a period of 12 years he was extremely thin and it just broke my heart.
I can relate like you, to not really understanding what was going on. Some visits he was his old self, other visits you could tell he was struggling.
I have a very unusual situation with my son, his accident and his assualt. You can read some of my earlier post under activity.
Take care, AnnieNorCal


#11

Yes, you were right to intervene.

And the guilt is a normal feeling for caregivers. I believe that all of us on here, caring for someone who doesn’t know they are ill, have felt that guilt. I certainly have, and still do.

My daughter can somewhat control how she appears to others. She is now diagnosed sz. It took 3 hospital visits (forced), over 1.3 years, for a diagnosis. The policewoman most familiar with her told me recently that my daughter is smart and knows just what to say to avoid hospitalization (the police have been to our home over 35 times, but she as taken only 4 times).

She cannot see her own illness (lack of insight or anosognosia), just as your boyfriend cannot. Medication does not always give insight. That is why my daughter always comes off her medicine. She cannot see herself as “better” when she is on it. She doesn’t have anything to get “better” from, in her opinion.

Keep coming on here and reading past posts on different subjects. It is the best place to learn what you and he are up against.

Good luck. Hugs.