Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Wife went missing, need feedback please!


#1

Hello forum, (hope it is the right one)

I am at wit’s end trying to handle and understand my situation so I thought I would get some input from a community that experiences mental illness regularly. I appreciate any insight given.

Summary - My wife of almost 10 years went missing last Thanksgiving (11/24/16).

Backstory - (I apologize for long post, just feel like details are necessary)

Prior to any of this, no evidence of mental illness. Everything legally has been done but all leads dried up.

Jan. 1st, 2015, her dad died and she took it pretty hard. She always liked reading random news posts online. Then, about 6 months after her father passed, she found a book that intrigued her. She told me about it and I read it. It was interesting but that was about it to me. For her, she became obsessed. The author was anonymous and talked about the beginning of Silicon Valley in the 70’s. She started researching to try and find the author.

I didn’t think much of it. To me, it was something she liked doing and it kept her mind off stress/work/etc. About a year later, June 2016, she was now very nervous about security and started putting tape on the camera of our phones, unplugging devices, putting sheets over the TV (non-smart TVs). Ill admit, there is SOME validity to being cautious but it was getting a bit overwhelming.

In late July and into August, she started telling me that there were people/hackers purposefully putting pictures on Pinterest and Instagram that were directed for her. She said they were doing it because she must have stumbled on something she wasnt supposed to. She would show me things all the time and I would engage in the conversation but I would try and redirect her and ask for reasons why. Never anything valid but she was 100% certain.

From August until October, she only used her phone a few times, stayed away from the computer, and (as far as I was aware) hadn’t talked/thought much about these hackers. Then on Oct. 14th, out of nowhere, came home and said we needed a divorce. There was no arguing the day before, or even the week before, she just randomly came home and said that. I was of course shocked and couldn’t believe it. When I asked why, there was no answer. She was almost angry with me. She showed zero emotion. Trust me, there was no infidelity on my part or no big screw ups that I knew of.

I had recently become a stay at home dad that was more of her idea than mine. Even though I didnt have a job, she said she thought 30 days was enough time for me to leave the house. Well, I thought, why am I leaving? She is the one that wants the divorce. But then, her strange behavior escalated quickly.

About a week later, she came home from work and had forgotten her password to online banking. Online, it told her she needed to visit a branch office to get it changed. She left, and when she came back was in a panic when she walked in. She had told me she saw people watching her from outside the bank and when she was on her way home, saw a suspicious license plate with something like “catchmeifucan”. Then she told me that we needed to go pull our daughter out of school because she felt like these people could abduct her. Before we left, she unplugged everything and said to keep our phones in the console of the truck. On the way there, she leaned over and whispered to me “I know a doctor and his name that I need to see”. I asked her who in a normal voice and she shushed me. I said well do you want me to make an appointment? She said, No, they will know about it and get to him before I go. We need to show up unannounced. I said ok but she never brought it up again. When we pulled up to the school, she asked me to wait in the truck and watch for anything suspicious. Of course nothing happened and we went home.

When we got there, she came up to me and said, “Listen and just do as I say” At that point, I looked into her eyes and had never seen her so extremely frightened since I had met her. After that, I just went along with anything she said. She said I needed to sweep the entire house and see if anyone had been there since we left. So I did and there was no one. Then I could’t believe the next part…she wanted me to cover the AC vents in the home because they could be poisoning us. I stood there for a second trying to comprehend what I just heard, then asked with what exactly? She didn’t know so I cut up trash bags and taped around the vents.

For the next 4 days we lived like this. No technology, slept downstairs, together, left the house as one, came home as one. She slept most of the time our daughter was in school. Then, when she had to go back to work, I drove her the first day because she was scared. The next day she drove and everything started going back to normal. Removed the bags, no more searching. During these four days, the divorce idea was non existent, she expressed how much she loved me, and wouldn’t let me leave her side. The third day after when went back to work, it was like it never happened and wanted to know when I was moving out.

A week after that, we argued about something and she said, I am staying at (my stepmoms house). It was literally a block away. 4 days of that and she calls me at midnight saying that she needed to come home because the “people” had gotten into my stepmoms house and moved things around and possibly put things in there. That is when she said something interesting. “I need to leave her house because me being here puts her at risk”.

A week after that, I finally move to my brother’s. This is when even more things started to go downhill and not make sense. I was, the entire time, trying to resolve our marriage (forgot to mention it had become a trial separation shortly after wanting the divorce).

I went over on 11/21/16 with a comprehensive list of things I was changing/working on after much self reflection. She insisted on listening to music while we talked because it helped her concentrate. Never heard that before from her. Afterwards, she came up to me, hugged me tight for a long time, and told me “I am liking what I am hearing … you sound like you have been working on this a lot. I am proud of you”

On 11/23/16, I went to our home and she was acting erratic, like super nervous, and the dishes had not been done in a week. There was random things moved around all over the house. She said she was making Christmas presents for the kids. I asked her about Thanksgiving and she didn’t know what she was doing. Later that night she called and asked what she should bring, I told her 2 bags of ice and she said ok.

11/24/16 - I mentioned to her to be there between noon and 2:30pm, so our daughter could play with family etc. She said ok. I texted her at 1pm and mentioned if she wanted to come now, my niece was waiting to play. No answer. I waited 10 minutes and called, she ignored it. I called again, ignored it. I texted and said to please answer the phone…nothing. My ex-wife went by there at around 2pm to get my other daughters guinea pig. My wife wouldnt let them in the house and asked them to wait while she went and got it. My ex asked, What time are you going to Thanksgiving? My wife said she didn’t know, they were making Christmas presents.

My ex called and said my wife was acting odd, so I called her…ignored. Then I texted her saying that I was coming to pick up our daughter since she wouldnt answer. When I got there, her and my daughter were gone. My daughter was playing a video game and it was still going, like she had literally picked her up and walked out.

Skipping thru some details for the sake of this being a novel already, I called again, no answer, texted more, no answer. Went back to my brothers for thanksgiving and after the meal, some people there were getting friend requests from my wife on facebook under a fake name and a selfie she took in the care with my daughter asleep in the backseat. I went back to the house and discovered 15+ notebooks of her journaling. Some coherent, some things looked as if she was writing things down for a camera to see. Like asking questions to no one.

At 4:30am, I get a call from the PD. My daughter had been purposefully left, on the opposite side of town. Like the part of town you don’t want to be in at night. My wife gave her medicine to make her sleep and left her. She then walked away, leaving her car a few blocks away, with all her ID, clothes, pretty much everything. No one has seen her since.

My daughter says, they were going to a “friends” house that did not exist. They pulled up to a house and never got out of the car. Then left and started walking around this bad part of town. She said my wife was asking people where a payphone was because she was trying to get her daughter home for thanksgiving. When they stopped and got out, she took my daughters shirt off and put hers on her. Then my wife found an shirt, apron, and boots by the dumpster. My wife also supposedly threw her phone in the dumpster. She had also chopped all her hair off to about ear length (few days earlier), and wore no makeup or jewelry.

My wife is 42 years old, been a nurse for over 20 years, devout Christian, cared about everyone, gentle soul, 100% in love with our daughter. She has never been diagnosed with a mental illness so I just don’t know if it can be onset at her age.

My questions are:

Does this sound like schizophrenia to you?
If not, what?
Was this just a mental break that became psychosis?
If it is psychosis, should I expect for her to have some moment of clarity and contact us?
In this mental state, do you think she would travel out of state or would she still be near here? (currently in Texas, born in Florida and a possible lead in San Francisco, nothing confirmed yet)
Would she just go homeless and never return?

I know the scenarios are vast and I am sure I have thought of most. My issue is location. She is obviously paranoid but I just don’t know what the possibilities are for distance. I really do not believe this was premeditated as it looks like she was going to go to Florida with my daughter and changed her mind. Then just walked away?

Any input would be appreciated.

I have experience with schizophrenia before but have never witnessed the beginning of it so I am not sure what I am dealing with here.

Thank you!


#2

We’re not doctors here, but that sounds like the start of schizophrenia to me.

For women, it’s usually later than men. And it can start in the 40’s for anyone, although it’s more common to start in your teens or 20s.

Isn’t it funny (or not), how we can rationalize anything into being normal just because we so badly don’t want our loved one to have a serious mental illness?

I’m so thankful that, for whatever reason, she left your daughter behind.

It’s hard to say whether she would stay close or travel. There’s a member on here who’s son continues to cross the country on buses & planes - it’s a common thought that they must leave where they are, or a change in place will make things better. Plus, your wife has the common delusion that “they” are after her & want to hurt her because she knows “something”.

That was my son’s first delusion so it sounds very familiar.

My biggest fear is that my son will do exactly what your wife has done - leave & we won’t be able to find him. I do know people have been found in the strangest ways.

I would not limit my search by location. Not too long ago, we had a member who’s son made it to Europe, and we have another one who’s son continues to cross the country thinking it will make him feel better.


#3

It certainly sounds like schizophrenia or even bipolar disorder. I have a family member, a female, who developed sz at age 50. My own son who’s 22 also has it.

I am so sorry for what you and your family have gone through and hope that she will be found and is safe. Some people are so terrified by their delusions which they believe to be very real, that they leave their family and even will live on the streets where they feel safer (I know it makes no sense but their brain is malfunctioning).

I hope that you have filed a missing persons report. Maybe she will be located in a hospital or with police. Hoping for your wife’s safe return.


#4

Again, I am also not a doctor, but it certainly sounds like schizophrenia. My daughter is regularly told by the voices to just walk away, and I am always afraid she will do just that.

I don’t have any advice about distance or where she could end up. I’m assuming that you have filed a missing persons report, but I know that doesn’t really do much in the way of finding her.

I’m sorry for what you have been through, especially your daughter. I hope that things work out well for your family.


#5

I would say, as a layperson, she could be ill with any type of psychosis.

The psychosis could resolve on its own or not. A break in illness might allow her to contact someone so she can get home. Every person who becomes psychotic responds differently. Some will not leave their room; some fly overseas.

@TAG is right about filing a missing person report.

The following two links have a series of steps you can take to find her. I like the first one better:

http://www.namifingerlakes.org/Documents/Locating-Missing-Persons-with-Mental-Illness.pdf

http://www.namihelps.org/assets/PDFs/fact-sheets/General/Mental-Illness-Homeless.pdf

I hope she comes home and receives needed medical treatment.

Best to you.


#6

I agree
Anytime she mentions some doctor she wants to see, take her to a doctor. Don’t wait for another chance. Perhaps, have a doctor in mind already and perhaps talk to them in advance.
I know of someone who needed marijuana and was taken by family to ER to ask for it. (Sounds crazy, but did work!)
Meanwhile another family member called the ER and explained to them that a person with psychosis is coming and to watch for that person.


#7

So sorry that your family is going through this. It does sound like Schizophrenia to me though I’m not a Dr. I’m really glad that your daughter was found safe. Are the police investigating your wife’s disappearance? If she threw her phone in the dumpster do you suppose that someone else retrieved her phone and made the fake profile since the selfie she took just before was used? She sounds real paranoid and like she was getting a disguise in order by switching clothes etc. I truly hope she gets the help that she needs.


#8

US health procedures are very different to here in the UK, but clearly her mental health is not good so find out how to get her assessed, once you find her. Don’t tell her anything about it though, just get her to a psychiatrist as soon as you can. Until you can get her to see somebody, you may have to think about keeping her locked in the house for her own safety, that’s a call you’ll have to make based on circumstances.

Most of your focus, for now, should be on finding her. Make sure everybody she knows, even her bank etc is aware of the situation as she could get in contact with anybody at any time.

I wish you the very best of luck in finding her and send you every ounce of strength I can spare.


#9

Thank you all for your feedback. This is something that happened so fast, I am still in a whirlwind of disbelief.

Yes, I filed missing persons report the day after. The only thing that will help in the long run was, she got charged with a crime of child abandonment, so she is in the criminal database. As soon as her fingerprints or DNA are run, she will be on a plane back here. Slight advantage to finding her rather than her just being a missing person. I am pretty sure psych eval will be mandatory and will be her option rather than jail. She has zero criminal history and has gotten 1 speeding ticket her entire life. Plus tons of people to verify she was not in her normal state of mind.

I am not sure if this means anything but she did upload all the pictures/videos from her phone to Amazon drive. To me, it feels as if she did this to protect us from “them”. I know I should have tried to get her help but since she was determined to put space between us, she wouldn’t listen or take advice from me after the mini-psychosis event at our house.

I do have an entire game plan once she comes back. She is a nurse and she was aware there was an issue. Years before I met her, I was a caretaker for a friend of mine with schizophrenia so I understand the challenges ahead if she is diagnosed. As long as she can get back to that point (hopefully) through meds, counseling, group therapy, and a ton of patience from me :slight_smile: I am hoping we can have a family again. I am fully aware that it will never be the same but at least she will be here.

The search continues but at the same time I have to take care of our daughter so I had to lay off a bit. I made San Francisco PD aware as well as here in Texas and Florida. At this point, it feels like all we can do is wait for her to get picked up by LE or have a moment of clarity and contact someone. I am praying that Mother’s day will snap her out of it and she will contact someone.


#10

Prayers going out for you. I have a paranoid sz husband as well. He is the opposite as he will NOT leave the house. He was at least picking my 6 yr old son up from school but 3 weeks ago he has refused to even do that now.

My husband has also stated and restates all the time that we are NOT together. I can move and he can live just fine without me even though he don’t have a job. It is pretty much like living with a room mate. You pass by the person who you love daily only to know they don’t want anything to do with you: don’t touch, kiss, say I love you or anything.

So I will speak positive here (whatever you say comes true right) and say WHEN she returns I hope she is loving and not so distant like my husband. Because after a while, it makes you re-think living with someone who you can’t treat as a spouse.

I know you have your hands full and thoughts are running through your head --stressing. I hope everything works out for you.


#11

Wow, I commend and admire your love of your husband. I am not sure she was at that state but it was similar. She was trying to do internet marketing schemes instead of working the last 2 weeks before she disappeared. When I asked her about bills/mortgage etc, she said she had a plan. Well I guess the plan was to ignore it, leave and let me deal with it? It almost seemed that anytime I breached this huge wall she created while getting through to her, she got scared, separated her self for a few minutes, then came back with it rebuilt. It was like I saw the light coming through but for some reason she couldn’t allow it. The entire ordeal from when she came home with the thought of divorce to the day she went missing was not what she wanted, it was forced upon her. Only way I can describe it.


#12

I am wondering if she was in a psych hospital, would they even have to notify you if she didn’t want to?


#13

Yes, I can sorta understand what you are saying. I see a totally different person than the man I married. So when your wife mentioned divorce it really wasn’t her saying that. It is a voice in head per say or another person. That is what it feels like anyway.

My husband has gone through is bad episodes but comes out. He never technically comes back to himself. He will never be THAT person I met. He will never want to go back out in public or never have much emotion (he has a cold heart now). But he is a lot better when the episodes go away. he does come out of them. And i hope your wife does too.


#14

No, and she could go in under a false name. The only real way to find out is if she were to contact someone. You can call blindly and give them a message to relay but she doesn’t have to do anything. HIPAA blocks a ton of searching. I understand the point of HIPAA but when someone gets admitted to a mental health institution and is found to be delusional, I feel like they should, at the very least, make attempts to obtain their real identity and contact family if possible. On the other hand, if you check yourself in and are non-delusional, then of course privacy should be intact. Don’t really want to start a HIPAA discussion but it has been a horrible roadblock in searching for a missing person.


#15

How is he with your son? Also is your husband under medical treatment or any sort of counseling? I know at times the medicine can be a problem, at least getting them to take it.

Yes, it felt like she was possessed and trying to fight it but lost the battle. So instead of getting us involved, I assume she felt like doing it on her own would be best.

The one part of this entire story that leaves me boggled and was the game changer was this: Since it looked like she was going to Florida for a few days, why stop, walk around for hours (in a part of town she has never been to), then rather than call me she drugs our daughter and walks away with nothing. Luckily my daughter was able to recall quite a bit for only being 5 years old or we would have had no clue this was intentional.

One thing she always struggled with is guilt…even before all of this started. So with guilt freezing her up normally and now voices distorting her reasoning, I do not know what it will take for her to break through this. I really don’t have a clue what her “rock bottom” is now and if she hits it, if she would contact us or if she even remembers phone numbers. It is an ongoing scenario battle in my head which I try and not focus on but it still is there unfortunately.


#16

My husband when he is not in an episode is great with my son. Except they don’t go outside and play daddy/son stuff like i wish or go fishing or anything. But he does pick at him and aggravate my son all day which my son loves.
When my husband IS in an episode, I have to start explaining again how daddy is sick and don’t mean to ignore us and he still loves you and daddy’s brain is not like ours. His is broken like a broken arm would be.

Either way, my husband says he does not need help. He is not sick. I just want to make him look crazy. I just started reading a book others recommended on this site called " I am not sick, I don’t need help". They said it is a good book to help me understand my husband and how to communicate with him better in his lingo so he will hopefully give in to getting medicine. Me saying, “look, you need help or you are sick and do weird things” will not work hehe. The book is supposed to tell me how to work with him better and maybe regain trust enough for him to get medicine.

Even on medicine though, I will miss the OLD husband I had from what I hear. It helps with most symptoms except delusions or something I hear. I don’t know. I am just researching and trying to know as much as I can. I am not sure how this will end if he refused to get help much longer: involuntary commitment is my last but maybe only choice. So for now, I will try and get him to go voluntarily. I have already done the begging, the "if you don’t go I won’t pay for your phone or cable, or the look what your son is seeing and you are affecting your son. None of that worked.

I don’t know if I am strong enough to involuntarily commit him right now. But if this keeps going on, it is either leave him like HE WANTS or get him committed anyway. I might be stronger as it takes more and more of a tole on me.


#17

Even if my son goes voluntarily, they make it involuntary because he doesn’t have the mental capacity to consent.
Basically, he’s too out of it to make his own medical decisions - to either accept or refuse help.

They do that because if they let them go in voluntary, all they have to do is give 48 hours notice to be able to leave.
Then, if the doctors don’t think they should go, they have to do the involuntary hold anyway.


#18

I know it’s an old post, but… late, adult-onset schizophrenia.


#19

I knew a guy like that. From what I know of it, schizophrenia usually occurs early, before the age of 20. But, once in a while, it hits later. I could relate his story, but I guess I won’t. Too painful.