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Boyfriend Had a Psychotic Episode, How Do I Help Him?

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About 5 months ago I met a very special guy. We were both in bad places at the time, neither thinking a deep emotional connection was what we were ready for. Life however had other ideas. The way it began was so organic we just went with it. One year previous he experienced drug induced psychosis. As the days passed we grew closer however, I was experiencing my own pain from an abortion I had had around the same time. Due to these factors, we lived unhealthily for the first few months, never unhappily, just refusing to take proper care of ourselves. It got to a point where I had begun to feel the effects of our (albeit loving and emotionally enriching), physically unhealthy relationship. For a few weeks he backed off and gave me time to get myself together. I thought that he had done the same. Once we began seeing more of eachother it became clear that he had not. He was smoking cannabis every day, virtually anorexic, barely sleeping. For the following few weeks I was there to give him a safe place. He felt unsupported by his family. Things went from not great to worse the past 3/4 weeks. I have been trying to keep him eating and staying away from drugs. The latter proving most difficult. The last time I saw him was right before he had a psychotic episode and was admitted to hospital. Its been a few days and he doesn’t recognize any of his family. I want to help him through this but I’m not sure if I should. I am leaving for university in around 3 months, I think his family think I am a bad influence on him. Have I been selfish by allowing our relationship to become what it has? He obviously wasn’t in a fit state of mind. When we were around each other he seemed ‘normal’. Always happy, laughing and very kind. I’m at a loss as to what to do now, essentially what appeared to be the ‘trigger’ to his episode (if there is such a thing) was leaving my house to go to his own.. do psychotic episodes have ‘triggers’? And if so does that reflect on anything in particular? All I worry is that I’m allowing my emotional involvement to cloud my judgment of what is best for him.

Boyfriend Had a Psychotic Episode, How Do I Help Him?

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A.

He’s not well. He’s not stable enough to succeed in a relationship. Based on the information you have provided, his psychotic episodes seem to have been triggered by drugs and unlikely anything else.

It’s good that you’re moving away. This relationship is not healthy for either one of you. In fact, your being involved with him might have inadvertently enabled his drug use. As you noted, things became worse when you provided him a safe place to live, away from his family. He was using drugs and there was nothing you could do to stop it. Until he is off drugs and mentally stable for a minimum of six months, you should not encourage a relationship.

The best thing you can do is encourage him to seek professional help. Suggest drug rehabilitation and therapy. If he continues to use drugs, he will, in all likelihood, have more psychotic episodes. Some research suggests that psychotic episodes damage the brain. Proof, they say, is that it takes longer to recover from each subsequent psychotic episode. He needs professional help, now more than ever. Anything you can say or do to make that happen will be of immense benefit to his mental health. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

Boyfriend Had a Psychotic Episode, How Do I Help Him?

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist and Assistant Professor of Social Work and Forensics with extensive experience in the field of mental health. She works in private practice with adults, adolescents and families. Kristina has worked in a large array of settings including community mental health, college counseling and university research centers.

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2018). Boyfriend Had a Psychotic Episode, How Do I Help Him?. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 18, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2015/06/25/boyfriend-had-a-psychotic-episode-how-do-i-help-him/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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