Handling An Ex Who May Have Schizophrenia

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

I think my recent ex boyfriend has schizophrenia and refuses treatment. Me and my now exboyfriend have recently broke up after a month and a half of dating. When we met I knew he thought differently than I do but I didn’t think much of it. He spoke slowly and was very quiet and withdrawn at times…I thought it was just him being a musician (we met when I joined his band). He told me I made him comfortable and described how a lot of things made him uncomfortable for example, a pattern on the wall or the whir of the air vent. He also later told me the reason why he spoke so slow was because of all the racing thoughts in his head. It wasn’t until a later on in our relationship that I really got scared for him and his safety. He used to be very loving towards me in public and in front of his friends, but something changed. He started to treat me like a stranger. He would stand far away from me and barely speak to me. He once mentioned that he thought he might have schizophrenia and that his father may have had it. (He had a very bad homelife and lives with another relative…he basically tells me he has no family). He thought he had it because of an episode he had where he basically thought he was in hell the whole day, he called me paranoid and freaking out. After this it got worse, he would call me and be talking and then all the sudden hyperventilate and start freaking out or stop talking and ask me to keep talking to him. Eventually we ended our relationship…it was really emotionally draining for me. He would freak out if I asked him to speak to a doctor about this and tell me I didn’t understand him and didn’t want to try and understand it. He still calls me and we talk often but it is the same thing and now his stories are worse…he used to talk about the end of the world and how he knew how it would happen. Now its going to be a fight between heaven and the underworld. He told me last night the reason we broke up was because he is a recruiter for the army in the fight between them and if he continued to see me the voices (I’m not sure which side he is on) told him something would come after me.

I asked him what was after me and he told me he’d rather not say but the reason he always acted like he didn’t know me was for my protection and that he didn’t want me to get hurt.

Hearing this was really upsetting and when I cried he switched to being angry and telling me I didn’t believe him and how he knew I would not understand him. I begged him to get help but he just hung up the phone instead…I am just so fearful for him and he thinks that I am afraid of him. Is there anything I can do or is it just up to him to get help? I haven’t really met his family and he says they know about it but don’t care. Should I ask them to get him help?

A. You have asked many good questions. The situation is complicated. His safety and yours are paramount. I am not certain if you still are in contact with him but if you are and if you believe that he is a danger to himself or others, then do not hesitate to call the authorities or a local mental health crisis team. They can go to his home and interview him. If they believe that he is mentally unstable, to the point where he may be a danger to himself or others, they would take him to the hospital for an evaluation. He may be angry at you for calling the authorities but as I mentioned your safety and his is the priority.

I cannot determine if he has schizophrenia. That is too difficult to determine over the Internet. He does seem to be having delusions. He is also experiencing paranoia. Generally, if delusions and paranoia are left untreated they will become increasingly worse. It is also concerning that he is unwilling to seek treatment.

You should contact his family, or at least the family member he is currently living with. Tell them about your concerns.

You can’t force anyone into treatment unless they are a danger to themselves or others. Generally, in most states, that is the law. He may have delusions and paranoia but even with those symptoms it can be difficult to force someone into treatment unless they meet specific criteria designated by the law.

There is no “easy” way to deal with this problem. At this time, it is important to be vigilant. As I mentioned above, contact the authorities or a local mental health crisis team if you believe that he is a danger to you, himself or others. If there is a local crisis team in your community, it would be advisable to have their phone number available. You can usually find that information by looking in the white pages or by doing an Internet search with keywords such as “behavioral health crisis intervention” in your state or community. I do not know your specific location but here is a link to information about a Maryland behavioral crisis team. You could call them and ask for their advice about your situation. Please let me know if you have any further questions. I would be happy to answer them. Thank you for your question.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 5 Apr 2010

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2010). Handling An Ex Who May Have Schizophrenia. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 1, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/04/05/handling-an-ex-who-may-have-schizophrenia/