Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Wife has Schizoaffective Disorder. TW: Mentions of Sexual/Emotional Abuse/Suicidal thoughts


#1

My wife was diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder 2 years ago. We had just married this February and have been a couple for 4 years now. We met online 10 years ago playing video games when we were both about to become teenagers and had moved from video games to social media and instant messaging. After losing contact and reconnecting a few times we were finally able to bridge the gap 5 years ago and that is when it became more than an online friendship.

Throughout her life she has struggled with depression, even as a young child and has been taken advantage of emotionally and physically by a few people who were close to her and in a position of power. Needless to say she has extremely low self-esteem. She has also abused drugs to cope with her state of being and her suicidal thoughts. After attempting to go to a few psychiatrists who diagnosed her incorrectly and threw pills at her over the years, her last attempt seems to have a solid diagnosis. She was prescribed medicine, took it for a few months and has not taken it again/refuses to take it again due to extremely negative side effects. In addition to this she has become very childlike and acts and speaks like a child and has me do many things for her that she can physically do for herself (and does them when I am not home) because it gives her some comfort (have others experienced this?).

Between now and then she has gone through dealing with my toxic and abusive family (which I have cut off) as well as her mother and her mother’s side of her family entirely turning their backs on her when her parents divorced (just weeks after our wedding) in order to enable her mother’s destructive and abusive lifestyle.

There are various other incidences which she is still coping with including at least one incident of rape. She is struggling in college and wants to give up entirely (and at this point it may be for the best for her mental state if she were to stop) and has lost all contact with her friends except for those that take advantage of her need for attention and use her, or those that are apathetic and unsupportive. There are a few friends she may be able to reach out to but she is afraid that they would abandon her if they knew what she was dealing with.

In addition to this, she has gone through many relationships involving emotional abuse that has left her broken. They have pushed her to cheat on each other as well for her to cheat on me and so there have been various times during our relationship where there has been an overlap. I do my very best to my knowledge to remain supportive and have tried to prevent her from being around enablers.

I often feel that I am not treated like a person and she has recently admitted that she doesn’t feel she is treated like a person either because I do not express my emotions very well anymore due to being trained to hold back from showing emotional pain because she felt that I was making her problems about me and taking away comfort from her when I was actually empathizing with her. I attempt to show my love for her as often as I possibly can but she claims she feels that I don’t love her at all and it has led her to seek out ex-boyfriends to get the attention she feels she isn’t getting from me. At this point in time I fear that it would only make things worse for her to speak to her any further about ending relationships with them because it may be dangerous for her physically to feel unloved whether the love she feels she is getting from them is shallow or not, she feels she is at least getting something.

Aside from the obvious feelings of that go along with dealing with infidelity I am just finding it difficult to cope with being a caregiver and feel that I need more knowledge on how to be a better caregiver as well as how to take care of myself mentally and physically. I have suggested we see a counselor together as well as for her to see one privately in the past but she feels constantly judged and as if they are against her. It seems that every attempt to help her cope with or treat her mental illness is being stonewalled and I am seriously starting to consider involuntary hospitalization on the grounds that she is experiencing severe depression and has openly told me she doesn’t want to be alive. I fear also that this may not help her as she has been able to get out of hospitalization by taking the pills and saying she is okay in the past. Although she is not always openly miserable and I believe that at some times she is feeling more /normal/ than others it usually ends up that she was hurting badly inside at those moments. It is increasingly difficult to maintain good communication about what she needs/what we need as a couple and I finding it harder to balance everything going on.

I would be happy to hear what others are going through as well as whether anyone has suggestions for coping, treatment, care, or any other positive comments. I would like to do better than I am currently for her sake as well as mine. Thank you very much for reading, I apologize for the length.


#2

On the basis of these call-outs, I will suggest from a =very= experienced p.o.v. that even though I hate to suggest dx’s this way, you are pretty likely dealing with a combination of very severe and debilitating diagnoses including Paranoid Personality, Borderline Personality / Dissociative Identity, Schizoaffective, Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and possibly – but very possibly not – Schizophreniform Disorder NOS.

If she is as you have described, she is highy unlikely to be treatable on an outpatient basis and will have to go inpatient at a high-quality facility specializing in this combination of circumstances like The Meadows in Wickenberg AZ, about 60 miles northwest of Phoenix. (This is at least among the top five facilities in the world for this combination of dx’s, maybe even the top two or three at this time. See http://www.themeadows.com/)

It sounds like you have studied the matter online at least, or perhaps have read some books. I am going to recommend some more:

http://www.amazon.com/Traumatic-Stress-Effects-Overwhelming-Experience/dp/157230457X/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1438763793&sr=1-3&refinements=p_27%3ABessel+van+der+Kolk

http://www.amazon.com/Body-Keeps-Score-Healing-Trauma/dp/0670785938/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1438763793&sr=1-1&refinements=p_27%3ABessel+van+der+Kolk

http://www.amazon.com/Unspoken-Voice-Releases-Restores-Goodness/dp/1556439431/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1438763899&sr=1-1&keywords=peter+levine+in+an+unspoken+voice

http://www.amazon.com/Dont-Your-Emotions-Life-Teens/dp/1572248831/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1438763955&sr=1-5&keywords=dbt+workbook

http://www.amazon.com/Dialectical-Behavior-Therapy-Workbook-Anxiety/dp/1572249544/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1438763955&sr=1-4&keywords=dbt+workbook

DBT is the current gold standard psychotherapy for trauma survivors. The Meadows offers this therapy in combination with many other, excellent, evidence-proven psychotherapies, many of which are described in first three books.

You may need the help of support groups or books specifically for those who are committed to caring for borderlines (far and away the most challenging dx for spouses and family members to deal with). If you have not found these yet, please reply to this post, and I will run them down to you.

(For those on the forum who believe that I recommend abandoning “troublesome spouses,” please understand that I have worked with borderlines and drug addicts for decades. The borderline – even the borderline in denial – is far more treatable than the drug addict with an integrated anti-social personality. The borderline is terrified of abandonment, and that fear can be used to motivate her. The ASPD drug addict is terrified of =nothing=. And they are very difficult to move from denial through contemplation to acceptance and commitment.)


#3

I have not found that information yet. I appreciate any information and resources you can provide.

Edit: She also believes that she may have Hypothyroidism as she experiences 11-12 out of 16 common signs/symptoms. This may contribute to her negative state of mind as well. I am attempting to convince her to see a doctor with me so I can be there to support her if she is given that diagnosis. This may be fortunate for us though as the treatment may reduce some of her symptoms relating to her mental illness so she can get to a state of mind where she wants to actively seek treatment.


#4

Using LEAP may help:

http://www.leapinstitute.org/ - under resources are free videos on using LEAP
LEAP is a way of communicating to build trust. Listen-Empathize-Agree-Partner.

http://dramador.com/ - Dr. Xavier Amador is a clinical psychologist whose brother had schizophrenia. He is the founder of the LEAP Institute. Wrote the book: I’m Not Sick I Don’t Need Help! Can buy from his website.

http://forum.schizophrenia.com/t/8-ways-to-help-someone-live-well-with-schizophrenia/10496

http://forum.schizophrenia.com/t/the-caregiver-space/10783

http://forum.schizophrenia.com/t/a-thread-for-care-giving-tips-pics-quotes-and-or-phrases-welcome/2191

http://forum.schizophrenia.com/t/grieving-mental-illness-the-mental-illness-education-project-inc/2748