I've been in a committed relationship with a schizophrenic man for almost a decade. The first four years of my relationship was an emotional rollercoaster, with the textbook amount of problems one can expect being with a mentally ill person. Paranoia, pushed boundaries, delutions, obsessions, hallucinations, anti social behavior, lots of unemployment. And 3 years ago he had a major dramatic melt down and he then volentarily checked into a mental hospital. For the first 2 years he was in treatment and finished with an out patient group counciling program. The last 3 years total that he has be diagnosed, he is like a new person. So much better to be with.

Over all now, he has mild bouts of occational jealously/obsession of me dealing with males, thinking I'm having fun without him, he stopped talking to me twice, for 1 month each (with only spotty contact) last summer (he demanded that I keep in constant contact with him and I was very ill with excrutiating headaches and back pain at the time and I told him off) and this summer (he thought I was being too demanding for asking him why he didn't give me a card on my b-day!, Which he has never missed a special day in 7 years!)We've been in constant contact for 7 years straight and after this last incident we still havn't got our communication back up 100%, its spotty at best, now I'm the one who has to reach out to him and for 7 years prior he'd always been the one initiating everything. It feels so weird.

So I fear this shift in communication means doom for the relationship and I still havn't be able to fully express my hurt feelings to my bf over the last issue because I fear he'll start having one of his stressed out mental episodes that triggers his inappropriate behaviors (listed about) I've always wanted to be able to just tel him how I feel when he does these things that are inappropriate (ill or not, I feel he needs to know his actions are having a negative impact on me, he thinks he is being totally normal when he does an inappropriate behavior). I don't know if he can distinguish between ill and normal behavior in himself very often, especially if its just jealously or obsessing. If it was a suicidal thought Im sure he'd know that was ill. His inappropriate behaviors all have a constant theme over the years tho.

How do I piece together his true nature? I'm still getting to know a peaceful version of him. What I gather so far is that he's always been a dreamer, layed back, non ambitious, non competitive, not driven, soft spoken, feels threatened by the presence of other men, romantic, sweet, he's charming, loves nature and the simple things in life, a bit jealous too, loving, affectionate, encouraging and helps me relax, tremendous support system for me.

It's important to note he has NEVER, EVER been violent, mean, abusive, cheated (that I know of) etc. He has a beauiful, caring, creative spirit and I love him very, very much.

With all said is it possible to have a some what normal relationship with him moving forward? We have talked about marriage and kids a lot. However, there is so much I still want to do in life and the career I want and I really don't know about having kids for a lot of reasons.

I realize that my bf will have special needs the rest of his life at some points. But he said that his doctor said people with his condition can live normal productive lives. Its easier said than done. But my bf believes the doctor I just want my bf the know the reality and hear other womens stories, because he can't understand that his illness has had a major effect on me and it will for any woman after me if things dont work out with us.

But having done research recently about relationships with ill men, the general consensus is that women have said it's hell. And it will put one's emotional and mental health at risk (this I full understand and experienced). I know its wise to heed ever bit of info.

I know full well no relationships are not perfect but there can definately be mostly healthy and rewarding ones for the most part.

What are some tried and true effective ways to communicate with a mentally ill person, without trigger episodes needlessly? I know stress is his big trigger. But everything stresses him. Is it possible to get what I want and need from him as his girlfriend?

Are there behaviors that I should just ignore and assume its ill behavior? What shouldn't I never ignore? Obviously, I know I can't ever tolerate violence, threats or cheating.

Might a particular therapy help him? What tools can his doctor give him to become a better communicator and partner?

I always want to hold him accountable for his actions but he unfortunately is really not able to do that. Again, I don't know if this is a character issues or an illness issue or both with him? I know some people are perfectly healthy that can't handle taking responsibility for their actions!

He's doing good with taking his meds and going to the doc. The doc even wants to ween him off the meds, which scares THE HELL out of me! The chance of a full on relaps for him scares my more than anything. He is doing well with a part-time job and going to school I don't want anything to disturb his progress because it could take a year or more for him to come back from that.


Any advice would be much appreciated, thank you in advance.

Please forgive the long post this is my first attempt at reaching out for help and support for myself.


Answers


bella
1436 days ago
Hi Skie,

we get a lot of relationship questions here and to be honest, your relationship sounds very good. His good points far out weigh his bad points. It's sounds like he has high functioning shizophrenia and it great that he's been coopertaive with his meds and treatment. This is one of the biggest challenges with this illness, is non-compliance with medication and advice from doctors.

You asked many questions and I'll try to answer some and the rest you can read a link I'll give you later. It's best if you can learn about his illness so you can be supportive. If he's going to be weaned off the meds, it's important to stay in contact with his doctor.

Group therapy seems to work better than one on one therapy. People with schizophrenia can live productive lives especially when they have supportive family and loved ones. It's also important for them to learn good life skills depending on their level of functioning.

It's great you already know his triggers and it's best to try to avoid them if possible - you sound like a good woman. You can look up 'how fight fairly' websites. When you're discussing an issue, try to keep things uncomplicated - lumping too many issue at once will make him feel over whelmed. Always remain calm and don't sweat over the small stuff.

Learn as much as possible about his illness and buy some books. It's better if he stays away from alcohol and substance abuse, particularly marijuana. I think you have a healthier relationship than most people. Here are the links:

http://psychcentral.com/disorders/schizophrenia/

http://psychcentral.com/resources/Schizophrenia_and_Psychosis/

http://psychcentral.com/lib/?cat=50,11&intersect=1&schizophrenia=1&orderby=title&order=asc



Skie
1436 days ago
Thank you so much for your help Bella, I appreciate it very much. This is the first time i was able to tell anyone that my boyfriend has mental illness. With the way society has stigmatized mental illness I was very fearful of people judging my choice to be with him, I was thinking I would just look like a nut and a fool for staying with him.

Your insight to the fact that you think he is high functioning helps put things in perspective. I always thought he was low functioning since his employment history was way low and it was hard to stay in school in the past. But I can see that there is definately worse now.

He is a very good, kind man and willing to listen to people's advice. Once he started in treatment we would discuss what he was doing, what was going on, how the doctors were etc. He had and continues to have a positive out look in seeking help and maintaining his health. He wanted to get better and he's working so hard every day. His meds are making him gain weight off and on but he is taking them well anyway, and he even had to switch meds a few times.

I will check out the links too. Just by chance, do you know of any physical therapy or massage that might help him with his muscle tightness? It makes him so tired too he has to lay and rest often.



bella
1435 days ago
If he's having muscle tightness, he/you should mention this to his doctor. I don't know if you have insurance. He may not be comfortable with a strange person massaging him. It would be very beneficial it he could learn meditation which would help him relax.



Psycent
1435 days ago
Hi Skie,

I am not a medical professional, but having lived with one parent who was schizophernic for over 30 years and now a sibling for over 20, I believe I can provide some insights which maybe useful to you, even though every patient is unique!

First take care of yourself : by that I mean if you fall ill taking care of him or enter into zone of emotional fatigue ,then eventually you will no longer be around to care of him. Expect him to be proactive and responsible for his own recovery, but without causing stress or judging him. Execising a certain amount of detachment with the results, but do all you can!

Regarding his bouts of jealousy/obsession etc. one way is to learn and become aware of his pattern of thinking or triggers , if possible trying to rationalise with him and revealing the errors in his thought process, as they usually bypass logic to arrive at conclusions. Though this has to be done very delicately, it might prove effective.

He sounds like a very nice person just as much as you, now that is something to be grateful for, as this is not always the case. Try to avoid putting him in situations esp. the presence of other men etc. where he might feel threatened. Even talking too much about other men might make him imagine non-existant affairs etc. Activites and environments that stimulate provide new sensory data, (but not causing stress ,such as short trips, being close to nature, or any other activities ) which interest him may be very beneficial!

" I don't know if he can distinguish between ill and normal behavior in himself very often, especially if its just jealously or obsessing. "

One thing to be aware of that Scizophernia results in some patients being exceedingly clever and manipulative, They behave in a particular way just to elicit the responses they want, once they get to know you well enough, which is why its important for you to take care of yourself!

'Kids' doesn't seem like a good idea one because of the stress, second because the gentic factor play a significant role in causing the illness when accompanied by a stressful or dysfunctional environment! A shared pet dog may help. And depending on how things progress you could adopt a child in a couple of years, if you want to.

"How do I piece together his true nature?"

Just take things as they come ,don't put too much stress to yourself trying to rationalize or analyse and comprehend everything!

"I still havn't be able to fully express my hurt feelings to my bf over the last issue because I fear he'll start having one of his stressed out mental episodes that triggers his inappropriate behaviors (listed about) I've always wanted to be able to just tel him how I feel when he does these things that are inappropriate (ill or not, I feel he needs to know his actions are having a negative impact on me, he thinks he is being totally normal when he does an inappropriate behavior)"

It is not unreasonable for you to expect him to have some empathy and understand what you are going through and how you are feeling!

"I feel he needs to know his actions are having a negative impact on me, he thinks he is being totally normal when he does an inappropriate behavior. "

Yes ! He needs to know, but you have to make sure that he doesn't feel like he is being judged, just his behavior!

"I always want to hold him accountable for his actions but he unfortunately is really not able to do that. Again, I don't know if this is a character issues or an illness issue or both with him?"

That is something you will have learn over period of time and knowing what to ignore and what to hold him accountable for is never easy, but never compromise on fundamental values! " always" may not be a good idea though!

"The doc even wants to ween him off the meds,".

Really ! That. I've heard and experienced is one of worst things you can do, once when my sister was off the meds ,she had a complete relapse and we had to start all over from square one!

Group therapy is not advisable in most cases as some paients have been known to personalise the experiences of others.

I just wonder why his family is not involved in his treatment, and why you can't take their help as well!

I wish you the best of luck, it takes a very special person to care for and be a caregiver of a schizopheric patient , especially when the patient is not related by blood! Take care!



Tiredofthisish
1431 days ago
Omg! I don't know where to start I have been in this crazy relationship with this guy who is schizophrenic for over a year now. It is such an emotional rollercoaster! One moment he loves me, wants to marry me, and wants to have children. The next moment he want to be free mostly when I put my foot down and things don't go his way!!!He imagines things that happens that doesn't, and always have delusions about religion and the government! He also accuse me of saying and doing things that I didn't do. He's constantly converstating with himself to a point where he can't hear me talking to him!!! I am so frustrated right now! I love him and I've have done so much for him.Today he decided that I wanted to be free, so he's going to let me be free like I want SMDH! I'm a grown woman if I wanted to be free I am capable enough of saying so. I was pissed and hurt once again, so I sweared at him and pulled off! Yes, I agree with Psycent he is also very manipulative. Lately, I've been reading about Schizo and their behavior and I've read that alot of them don't have successful realtionships because alot of them isolate themselves from people and end up being alone. I know that there is no other woman that will do the things that I've done for him, but I guess he doesn't realize that yet, and want to experiment more. Outside of his conditions he reminds me of your mate Skie. He is kind-hearted, faithful, and just a loving person and that's what I fell in love with, but if I knew what I was getting myself into in the beginning I would've ranned the other way. I think I'm going to move on because it's just too much to keep dealing with emotionally!!!

I just hate I have to see him sometimes when I go over my mother's house because they live in the sam apartment complex. I fell for a unstable man and now I have to deal with the hurt and just move on!!!!



Skie
1423 days ago
Thank you again Bella. Psycent, thank u for sharing your story and advice. Tiredofthi, I wouldn`t recommend trying 2 notice the signs of mental illness and taking these red flags seriously. And not getting too involved too quickly till you think they are reasonably sane. It is a hard life with schizophrenic no doubt. Life is tough enough with a healthy man. If I could get my 7 years back and start over by myself and work on my own self first before having any relationship I would have never got involved with my bf in the first place! Nothing against him but women need to take of themselves 1st b4 anyone else. Even though I love him, I love myself more. I`ve stayed with him because I knew he could get better but he was afraid 2 get help at first. I knew their was hope 4 him. I went through so much with him but now I am finding out from my research of the illness and learning other women`s stories that my bf is indeed 1 of the truely good ones. My heart goes out 2 the poor women who have been hurt by ill men. But I am blessed that my bf is good and is progressing so far and is 100 % gentle and never harmed me. And having had an mean unstable unloving father growing up I see now that I had father issues that probably influenced my choice of men. So now I am working on myself. My dad has even been working on himself and he has become such a better person. I think it is very true that our childhood influences us in adulthood in ways we don`t realize. So when we have bad relationships and we want to fix or help our partners that could be a clue in us. Just some food for thought. take care all.