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My Boyfriend Had a Psychotic Break & I’m Taking It Really Hard

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My boyfriend and I started dating almost a year ago and, in the beginning, he was struggling with some issues: depression, hearing/seeing things that weren’t actually there. He saw help and got better from what I thought. He joined the military months ago and he had a panic attack a few weeks ago and has been in the hospital twice, this time being over a week. Apparently, what they’re calling it is a psychotic break. He was really anxious, heard voices again, and was seeing things on walls that no one else did. He hasn’t been in the place to talk to me so I haven’t directly heard from him in almost a week. He was supposed to come home for New Years and now they’re holding him. I’m having a really hard time with understanding all thats going on and how it’ll affect our relationship from here on out. He is apparently going to have to be on medication for the rest of his life, which is heartbreaking as well. He’s being medically separated from the military, but that can take 6 months to a year so he’ll be across the country for that long in a facility. I know he must be having a very difficult time, but apart from my personal issues, this is really taking a toll on me. I’m not sure how to talk to him, or what to say. I want to be there for him but I don’t know how to do it in a way that isn’t treating him like he’s broken. How can I go about this and how can I make our relationship strong and/or is it possible to get it back to the way it was prior to all of this?

My Boyfriend Had a Psychotic Break & I’m Taking It Really Hard

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There is no easy way to navigate this situation. Right now, he’s going through a very difficult time with his mental health and stability. The two of you are interacting long distance and he is currently in a locked mental health facility after having a psychotic break. Until he is stable and able to live independently, it’s best to have limited or no expectations regarding this relationship.

When someone has a psychotic break, it means that they have experienced an intense episode in which they temporarily could not distinguish reality from non-reality. As you might imagine, that can be a frightening experience. Psychotic breaks are often associated with disorders that include bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, and several others. If someone has a psychotic break and never has another one, they may not necessarily have a diagnosable mental health condition. Psychotic breaks can be caused by drug use, extreme trauma, organic brain syndromes, among other things. If someone has more than one psychotic episode, they may be diagnosed with one of the aforementioned disorders.

The most common disorder associated with psychotic breaks is schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is a thought disorder that affects about 1-2% of the US population. Symptoms of schizophrenia include delusions, hallucinations, problems with thinking, concentration, motivation, and impaired daily functioning. Without treatment, it can be debilitating. Thankfully, treatment can stabilize the symptoms. Individuals with schizophrenia typically require lifelong treatment.

One of the biggest challenges with some people with schizophrenia, is not wanting to take their symptom-controlling medication. If someone does not take their medication, their symptoms can return and wreak havoc in their lives. The key to stability is continuous adherence to treatment.

If someone is actively psychotic or is currently in a mental facility, it’s going to be very difficult for them to focus on a relationship. His mental health and stability must come first. He may be able to resume the relationship once he is stable and regularly taking his medication. Until he is stable, and the two of you are no longer interacting long distance, tamper your expectations of this relationship. Try to be supportive, patient, understanding, and loving.

For your own personal self, it is important to analyze whether or not this is the right relationship for you. Relationships should not be one-sided. Balance is important. Your needs and wants matter, too. You may want to consider a therapist regarding this matter. You may also consider joining the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). They offer information and support groups for individuals who love someone with a severe mental illness. They likely have free support groups in your community.

I hope this helps to answer some of your questions. If you have additional questions, don’t hesitate to write again. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

My Boyfriend Had a Psychotic Break & I’m Taking It Really Hard

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

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. (2019). My Boyfriend Had a Psychotic Break & I’m Taking It Really Hard. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 23, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 10 Dec 2019 (Originally: 11 Dec 2019)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 10 Dec 2019
Published on Psych All rights reserved.