Did Not Know He Had Schizophrenia

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

I met my partner (now ex) we dated for 4 months and in all that time he did not tell me had a been suffering with schizophrenia. I found out recently he has been receiving treatment for the last 4 years.

I only found out through a relapse which occurred for him after he decided to stop taking his medication. That’s when things started to go wrong. The week leading upto me finding out about his condition was very stressful and may have triggered his relapse. My bag had gotten stolen and I lost everything. I became rather upset and angry and shouted at me as he was with me at the time of the incident. He began to behave very strange a few days later and I decided to meet up with him in person at his home to talk things through. However he was not answering his calls and was responding to my texts in strange way. I had thought maybe someone had stolen his phone and was replying back to me in a childish way. Eventually he picked up and he sounded at one moment very distant and the next very angry. He wasn’t making any sense. I thought the best solution would be to meet up and discuss it through we agreed to talk things through in the morning. I was very disconcerted as none of this was making sense to me.

The next morning I met up with him at his flat. The first thing i noticed was how dishevelled he looked and how much weight he had lost. I didnt want to talk in public so i said i would meet him at his flat and talk with him and his brother who also lived with him to try and find out what was wrong. This was the first time i was going to meet his brother who lived with him and to go to his flat. However upon arrival at the flat his brother was sleeping so I decided not to wake him and talk to my partner. However he seemed very disorientated and one minute angry and the next sobbing like a child. I was in his room with him asking him repeteadly if anything was wrong and what had happend. Why had he lost so much weight in the last 3 days since I saw him and why he was behaving and acting irrational. He showed me a gift which he had bought for me a day after my bag got stolen, he had bought me a replacement iPhone after showing me he chucked it on the floor. Becoming aggressive, he held my wrists with both hands and held them tightly and constantly saying “how did you get stronger than me?’” he then all of a sudden became emotional and started sobbing. I knew I had to wake his brother in the next room as I finally realised my partner wasn’t well. I managed to wake his brother and said his brother needs medical help something is wrong. He got up replying “whats he done this time?” i started to panic and I asked to know what exactly was wrong with his brother. He responded by saying that my partner was seen by doctors over a 1yr ago but docs don’t know exactly what was wrong with him. He was very evasive with his answers. I asked him further is he on any medication he replied yes but it’s a very small dosage. I became angry and said how could his family have not told me about this and was this fair on me and my partner? As soon as my partner saw my voice was getting raised and I was nearing the truth he yanked my arm, forced me into his bedroom and closed the door. I started panicking and wanted to leave and cried for help. His brother tried to come into the room but my partner forced it shut and after 2 repeated events to come in my partner punched the door leaving a hole. I cried out that he should call the ambulance or police. But I also realised I had to calm down as it was making him angry. He told me to sit on the bed and sit crossed legged, I thought the best thing to do is just buy time with agreeing to whatever he wanted. So I sat cross legged on the bed and he held my wrists tightly refusing to let me go. He started twisting my arms and kept repeating how did become stronger than him. I responded by telling him to stop as he was hurting me. He continued till I managed to pull my wrists free. He grabbed my arms and started to pull me towards him till I was on top of him. At this point I started crying and he released his grip on me. I managed to get into a sitting position and I could see he was calm watching me get upset. I stroked his face and decided to calm him further. Telling him to lie down and rest as he looked like hadn’t slept for days. He did as I told him to. As soon as he lay down I managed to escape from the bedroom and out of the flat. I ran onto the street and was helped by passer bys who called the police and paramedics. I was in distress and could not think clearly.

I’m sorry to write such a lengthy version of what happened even now after 3 months I still feel upset. In hindsight the signs were there I just didn’t ever think it was schizophrenia. As far as I knew he was an educated accountant 29yrs of agr that I had met who was looking for work. He told me due to the economic climate he was working short term contracts as that’s what was only available. He was very secretive about his employment history and no matter how much I probed he would not tell me and said he would later at some point once he secures something more permenant. I though ok fair enough, I’ll wait to hear when he’s ready. I also repeteadly asked him if he was on any medication as 1 month into the relationship as we got off the train from a journey his knees had given way and he had to be helped up. I repeteadly asked him of there was anything he needed to tell me. If he had health conditions which I needed to be aware of in case I needed to help him if something should happen. He said no, he said his leg had just fallen asleep and the lack blood circulation made him buckle. I noticed his hands used to sweat a lot and joked If I made him nervous. In hindsight I can see the signs but at the time I feel I asked the right questions and in good faith trusted him to be honest with me.

He was hospitalised for over 2 weeks and his doctor felt I had to be informed about his situation and condition and told me just enough without breaking patient confidentiality. I felt so distressed with everything that happend I felt it best to end the relationship. I had to get the police involved but decided not to press charges for domestic violence as I felt he was not intentionally trying to harm me. He just needed treatment.

I found out through the police he had another relapse after a few weeks of being released and he was hospitalised for over a month. The police recommended I get a restriction order against him for my own safety.

Even after everything has happend I feel like it was all just a bad dream. I still cannot believe that this loving, kind guy turned out to be hiding such a big secret from me. I am only 25yrs old and I feel like I have abandoned him and maybe because of me he is relapsing. He may become more ill because he was just looking for someone to love him. However I know after going through what I did with him it was terrifying. I know I am not strong enough to deal with his condition. I feel if I stayed with him I would need mental help. He or his family should have told me about his mental health, I could have made a choice and have been prepared for it.

Lately I feel I am becoming more and more angry at the whole situation and with what happend. He has been told by police not to contact me. I just feel like I have abandoned him. I am lucky i knew him for only 4 months and was still in the early stages. Am I a horrible person for leaving him to just get on with life? He still regularly emails me apologising for his actions. I know it’s not his fault. When he was well and on medication and I was oblivious to his condition he was the most loveliest guy I had met. But I feel betrayed and let down and truly saddend by it all. I haven’t spoken to any professionals or counsellors till I came across this site. Thank you for reading, I hope you can give me some advice and direction as I feel very mixed up about it all.

A. Most relationships do not last, especially in the dating phase. The dating phase is a time when individuals get to know one another. You only knew this individual for four months. Most people, in that short period of time, do not provide detailed medical histories. It’s not something that’s typically discussed in great depth early in a relationship. It would be unusual to discuss, for instance, whether an individual has a history of breast cancer or cardiovascular health problems while simply dating. Therefore, it’s not surprising that he did not reveal his psychological problems to you at such an early point in the relationship.

It is also important to consider the fact that there is a stigma associated with mental illnesses and with schizophrenia in particular. That stigma adds to the difficulty of sharing those intimate details with someone you are just getting to know.

There’s no evidence that he and his family were attempting to betray you. I believe that your anger is misplaced for the reasons that I have described above.

The other aspect of your question is related to guilt. Should you feel guilty about not dating an individual with a mental illness? It does not seem as though the reason for deciding against dating him is because he has a mental illness. It seems as though you made that decision largely because he was not a match for you. At the dating phase, many people will not be a match for you. That is the nature of dating. It is not something for which you should feel guilty.

Finally, if you were to return to the relationship, you may be doing so solely because you feel guilt. Most people would not want to be in a relationship with someone who was only dating them because of guilt. With regard to breakups, it is not typical that both parties want to separate. Usually one person gets hurt. It’s unpleasant but it is the nature of dating and relationships.

I hope that this answer helps to clarify your thinking. If you have additional questions, please don’t hesitate to write again. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 17 Oct 2012

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2012). Did Not Know He Had Schizophrenia. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 29, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2012/10/17/did-not-know-he-had-schizophrenia/