Boyfriend May Be Schizophrenic

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

I recently found out that my boyfriend may have schizophrenia. I realize I am not a doctor, and he has never been diagnosed that I am aware of, but based on what he has told me and some research I have done that is what I believe his illness to be. At first I just thought he had trust issues because he was cheated on years ago by the mother of his son…I also thought he was just uncomfortable in social situations. Our relationship has been a little rocky because he sometimes gets withdrawn. It is also a bit hard to read him because we live in different states, so I thought distance was a problem as well. We were recently going through one of a few “break-ups”…he starts to think he can’t trust me and that he hears mens voices in my apartment when we are on the phone. He has never been angry or violent, just hurt and confused. I dismissed the men’s voices because I had a really bad cell phone that had a lot of interference on the line and would always drop calls…I thought it was just a bad connection. I have been nothing but faithful to him. During this time when he said he was thinking about ending our relationship again, I felt helpless…I thought that if he didn’t trust me at this point, he may never trust me. I have done nothing but reassure him. I thought maybe ending the relationship was our only choice instead of going through this cycle over and over again. I figured one of two things would happen:1) it wasn’t meant to be (which I don’t believe at all) and I could start healing or 2) me ending the relationship would make him realize that he didn’t want to be without me (as he has said countless times) and maybe he would start to trust me. When we were on the phone about to discuss the possible ending of our relationship he started to tell me about his ex cheating on him. I just listened…this was the first time he had opened up about it. As I was listening he started to tell me that that is why he had issues with trusting me. He believes that people can hear his thoughts. He believes that someone put a device in him that allows this and that he is certain that I have known about it all along and I may even be an undercover agent. He said he doesn’t understand how I could love him because I can hear his thoughts and sometimes he has terrible thoughts about me (pertaining to the cheating) His exact words were “I don’t think I am crazy, but if I am then I am really crazy…but I don’t feel crazy” I realize the word “crazy” is not an acceptable term…I am just quoting him. So I don’t know if he realizes he is ill or not. I think there is a window of hope there based on that statement. Maybe he will be open to treatment. This all came as a complete shock to me. I didn’t react very well…actually I didn’t really react at all. We still discussed our break up…I could not process anything really…and all I could say is that I love him. For the first time he didn’t say it back. I told him that hurt me, and he said what’s the point now, people who love each other don’t break up. I could tell he was very hurt. We haven’t had a whole lot of contact in the past few days. I don’t even know it he wants me in his life anymore. I sent him an email telling him I love him and I am here for him when he is ready to talk. He sent me back an email saying that he had gotten my email and we will sort this through in time. I am hopeful because he hasn’t shut me out completely. I love him very much and we have talked about spending our lives together…marriage…children…the whole deal. I don’t know what my next step should be…I do know that I love this man and I will not turn my back on him. I want to help him and be by his side 100%. I am worried he will not want to get help and I am not sure of how to approach it. He said this has been going on for many years…so he has managed to live with it for some time. He hasn’t worked in over a year, and he also has a son that lives with him. That is another reason I don’t believe he or anyone close to him really knows about his illness. I believe his son’s mother would not allow the son to live with him if she was aware. He did mention he told his mother…but I don’t know what came of that. If anyone has any support or suggestions for me, I would appreciate it. I have been trying to educate myself as much as possible. And any advice on how to talk to him about it would also help. I have a planned trip to see him next week…I still plan on going. I will only be there for two days, so time is an issue. Not that I have to figure everything out then…but I would like to make the most of the little time we have together. Thanks for reading!

A. The symptoms that you have described may be a sign of schizophrenia or a related psychotic disorder. His symptoms may also indicate illicit drug or alcohol use. A third possibility is that his symptoms are indicative of an untreated medical condition. All three possibilities need to be considered and explored.

You believe that he may be willing to go to treatment. That is very encouraging. Individuals who are willing to seek treatment have a more favorable prognosis than individuals who are unwilling to seek treatment.

On your next visit, encourage him to seek help. If possible, offer to attend some appointments with him. The idea is to make him aware of the fact that you’re willing to support him in any way that he needs. He is more likely to seek help if he feels that he has your support.

If he is resistant, remind him that he is loved. You and his son care and rely on him to be well. Inform him that ignoring the problem not only affects him but also you and his son. Reminding him that others rely and care about him may motivate him to receive treatment, even if he is reluctant to do so.

Generally speaking, be loving and supportive but also adamant about the need for help. In the case of psychosis, the importance of early treatment cannot be overstated. The “find help” tab, at the top of this page, can help you to locate a mental health professional in the community. If you have additional questions, please do not hesitate to write again. Take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 20 Sep 2011

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2011). Boyfriend May Be Schizophrenic. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 28, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/09/20/boyfriend-may-be-schizophrenic/

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