Husband has schizophrenia; Help!

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Q. Husband has schizophrenia, symptoms more intense & wants to give me “proof” to draw me in. What do I do? I am a full time working mom who supports her two kids (ages 11 and 2) and her husband who does not work because (1) it is cheaper for him to stay home with the kids and (2) it is very difficult for him to keep a job. I have been with my husband for 12 years. We have always had a loving, caring and open relationship. For the last six years, I knew something was going on with him, but it was little things like he would leave the video camera on “to make sure no one was coming in the house.” No matter where we have lived he would insist that our neighbors have it out for us and were spying on us, had cameras in our house and would come in when we are gone. He would tell me he could hear them because he had super human hearing and was able to hear certain tones that I couldn’t. He would put earplugs in or play his headphones exceeding loud all the time. Recently though, my husband finally told the doctor some of what was going on in his head (my husband’s words). The doctor explained that is was schizophrenia. When they gave him the medication for it, he took it for two weeks then decided he did not need it anymore. Now his symptoms are getting progressively more intense and I don’t know how to handle them. It stated out where he would cover all the signal spots on the (where the red light is) on the tvs, vcrs,dvd players and even over the car stereo. He scratched the clock on the microwave so that “they couldn’t watch him.” He tells us that they are “synthetically producing our dreams” through something they have in the walls. He says that they are poisoning our food and water. He keeps insisting that they are out to get us. He gets very anxious, yells at me and will start slamming things or throwing things when I try to talk to him calmly about it or ask him to calm down. He wants to draw me and my kids into his delusions and says that he doesn’t understand why we won’t believe the “truth” and how “he is protecting his family”. He will start shouting into a microphone out the window to “these people”. My son recently took video footage with his phone when his dad was screaming in the car and sent it to me. Lately I have found that he has been lying to me, about little things. i come home and two of the four bathroom mirrors are broken. i ask him what happened he said he ook it down to clean it and it broke. My son said he took a bat to it. I found a hole in my closet wall today. I ask him what happened. His answer — I didn’t do it. He won’t talk to me unless I promise that I will listen to him and let him get his “proof”. I keep saying ok, but of course he never has “proof”. I am alwas calm and supportive, but he wont talk about it…not to me, not to his therapists, not to anyone. He won’t take his meds. When I threaten him with removing him from our house if he doesn’t, he said he would rather leave than take his meds. There is no way I could get him to a hospital. He’s too “smart” for that. I love my husband more than anything in this world, but I am wearing down. I don’t think it is fair for either of my kids to have to go through this everyday. I know they don’t want to see him like this either. But yet, they don’t want their dad to go. My son asks me why I always say that to his dad. I need some guidance because I don’t know what to do or who to turn to. I don’t have any family around for support and his family is across the country. I feel lost. Please any guidance you can offer would be a tremendous help.

A. I am sorry to hear about your difficult situation. It certainly sounds as if your husband is currently experiencing schizophrenia symptoms—extreme paranoia, and so forth—at this time. Since he is not able to recognize the need to take medications, which is not uncommon among people with schizophrenia, you will have to do your best to get him into the hospital. He is already at the point of breaking glass mirrors in your house in reference to a delusion/paranoia and this makes him a danger to others. This may be enough, coupled with his increasingly bizarre behavior, to have him involuntary committed to a psychiatric facility. To do this, you either have to call the police or call the local mental health crisis team to assist you in this procedure. You may think that these tactics sound harsh but unfortunately they are necessary. There is little else that you can do to get him into treatment at this time. If your husband is not willing to seek treatment you will have to seek it for him through an involuntary commitment.

With regard to your feelings of exhaustion because of his symptoms, it is understandable why you may be feeling this way. Schizophrenia is an extremely difficult disease; especially when the person with schizophrenia cannot recognize that they are ill and refuses to take their much needed medications. The disease tends to take a toll on the family. It can be thought of as a family disease in that the family spends much time and energy trying to care for or help access care for their ill loved one. It can be physically and emotionally draining. All too often, unfortunately, this family strain results in many family members abandoning their loved one with schizophrenia.

I tell you that the disease is difficult to treat not to frighten you but to encourage you to get support. You will undoubtedly need support. I strongly encourage you to inquire in the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI). NAMI is a family advocacy organization designed to assist other families in dealing with their loved ones with mental illness. Through their organization and resources, you will be able to learn more about the disease of schizophrenia and more importantly, how to navigate the mental health system. You will be glad that you made contact with NAMI. Write again if you have any more questions.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 25 Jun 2007

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2007). Husband has schizophrenia; Help!. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 28, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2007/06/25/husband-has-schizophrenia-help/