Dating someone with *mild* schizophrenia?

  1. Hi everyone. My boyfriend was recently diagnosed with *mild* schizophrenia about two months ago and put on medication. We've been dating for two years now. I'm not sure exactly what it is, but he said it is a mood leveler and he takes it every morning.

    My question is, have any of you ever dated someone with a *mild* form of this illness? What were your experiences like? How did you cope and deal with having a partner who suffers from this?

    His symptoms: irrational worries (e.g. thinking I will do something that I say I won't do), strong dislike of a school setting (he's dropped out of college twice), some paranoia (e.g. if I stop texting for an hour or so he gets worried about what happened), strong jealousy (he doesn't like for me to talk to other guys), and dissatisfaction with life (although this may be due to the fact that he works a restaurant job and not his dream job because he doesn't have a degree yet).

    Before I dated him, he used to hurt himself like taking extremely hot showers and clipping his nails down to the quick. He also smoked. After we had been dating a few months, he stopped doing those things. He is aware that he has this illness and wants more than anything to make it go away and live a normal life. How can I help him? How can I take some of the stress off myself from the jealousy and paranoia?
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    Joined: Jan '13; Posts: 1; Likes: 1


  3. by   Meriwhen
    Moving to our Dating/Relationships section.

    Best of luck.
  4. by   TopazLover
    Mental illness is not that different from physical ailments. Would you have a problem if he had heart disease, say a bad valve, or if he had dibetes Type I? I am limiting it so you can see there are few extrinsic factors. He does not choose a mental illness. Life for him would be simpler if he did not have it. He has made changes in his life style including getting help for those symptoms that would cause more issues between you two. He may not deal with with multiple stressors. He may feel very inferior because of the tricks the mind plays and also how people treat him once they find out he has this diagnosis.

    If you wish to be with him learn about mental illness. If you chose to not be with him seek within yourself to know why you want to leave the relationship. It is not easy having a partner who has mental illness. For many with mental illness life is much better with someone who has some understanding of what the disease is. Other forms of mental illness may have the person more comfortable living alone.

    I am glad you asked and hope you get good feedback from others.
  5. by   somenurse
    The insightful post above, from AKY, is so compassionate.

    How OLD is this person?
    Some people with schizophrenia can escalate with age.

    It's true, mental illness is an illness,
    and the above post makes a good point, but, you might not find trying to get your sweetie with heart troubles to reconsider using all that butter,
    just as frustrating
    as finding your schizophrenic sweetie has cut himself again, or has set up defenses against the govt in your attic,
    as the same kind of equally exhausting or challenging thing to cope with.

    to me,
    the jealousy thing you mention, is not necessarily related to schizophrenia at all,
    and every male i've known with that "over the top jealousy" thing, it's been permanent,
    an ongoing thing that has to be carefully managed, for that man's entire life.

    caveat: People who feel jealousy are not all in that boat. nope. A very normal, balanced human could be brought to feel jealousy.
    Also, i've always personally thought, that in the EARLY initial stages of pairbonding, that at THAT early point, i think some people are more prone to jealousy, cuz they just don't truly know each well enough yet to trust.

    but, if someone has dated you for 2 years,
    and is STILL suffering from bouts of extreme jealousy,
    i'd suspect this dude might be one of "lifers".
    ...guys who require careful, ongoing managment and very very patient, super-understanding patient sweeties, cuz, it never really ever completely goes away. When this man is 50, he'll still be calling you at your mom's house, to see if you are really at your mom's house.
    He'll still be suspicious off and on, no matter how devoted you are to him. I don't know why some people are like that, but, they are, and of the people i know like that, it's hard to think of many where they were "cured" of the xxxxxtreme jealousy thing.

    again, i don't think the jealousy thing IS related to schizophrenia. A schizophrenic is not necessarily a jealous person,
    and a severely jealous person, is isn't necessarily a schizophrenic.

    also, personality types who are generally disatisified with life,
    that kinda tends to be who they are/how they see things, generally, forever. I don't think that is necessarily related to schizophrenia, either. Might just be who he is. Not to say such humans can not experience joy now and then, but, they tend to default back to "the world sucks" pretty often. I find that trait a drag to be around as an ongoing baseline, but, these people do find lovers. There are those that don't mind a chronically unhappy person.

    my two-cents guess on this man, is you might have a whole buffet of various, unrelated issues.
    The one that worries me the most,
    is the xxxxxtreme jealousy thing, though, that one, can be bad.
    Last edit by somenurse on Jan 26, '13
  6. by   leslie :-D
    i agree that learning as much as you can about his particular illness, would be the most beneficial and therapeutic act of devotion.
    i also find it a valid question, if his schizophrenia is going to escalate as he progesses in life?
    if you feel you are in this for the long run, then educate yourself about his illness, his medications, etc.
    feel free to discuss any concerns you have; call him out on his undesirable behaviors; and try to let the small stuff go.

    as with any type of mature relationship, in order to thrive you (both) need to accept, tolerate, compromise, negotiate, sacrifice...
    however you two define a successful, healthy relationship.
    it is not defined by schizophrenia/illness, or any other moniker.
    get your concerns addressed, and definitely be honest with your so.
    i would never consider abandoning a person based on a diagnosis.
    all of us, are so much more than that.

    the best to you both.

  7. by   VivaLasViejas
    Whew......he sounds more like someone with borderline personality disorder than schizophrenia. And I wonder what a "mild" version of schizophrenia looks like; the only people I've ever known with the disorder were delusional and often bizarre in their thought processes. Are you sure he was diagnosed properly, and has he sought a second opinion?

    But, I'm not going to sit here and play amateur psychiatrist. What's crucial is whether YOU feel, in your heart of hearts, that you can handle living with someone who has so many issues---especially the paranoia/jealousy and the SI (self-injury). These typically do not respond well to most medications, and mood stabilizers alone are basically useless for this purpose. It usually takes antipsychotics to reduce the symptoms and intensive therapy, such as dialectical behavior therapy, to teach life skills.

    Even more important is acknowledging the amount of effort and energy that will be required of you in maintaining such a challenging relationship. After dating him for 2 years, you already know a lot about how much he struggles with life; are you prepared to try to physically restrain him from slicing himself open during an exacerbation? To drive him to the hospital in the middle of the night when he's been off his meds for a few days and he escalates? Because these things---or some similar scenarios---WILL happen. It's the nature of the beast. Mental illness can never be cured, only managed, and sometimes all the meds and the treatments and the love in the world can't prevent a relapse.

    I'm saying this to you as someone who also has a mental health diagnosis and wouldn't want anyone to have to go through what my husband and family did before I got help. No, it didn't include SI or a stay in the psych unit, but as I've stabilized over the past six months or so, I've come to realize just how helpless they must have felt while dealing with my severe mood episodes. In fact, if I'd known 33 years ago that I was developing this problem, I'd probably have stayed single, and I definitely wouldn't have had kids. But as the saying goes, the universe is unfolding the way it should, and there's a reason for everything; I was simply fortunate to be blessed with the people who occupy my home and my life. I wouldn't be here if it weren't for them.

    You may be one of those incredibly strong individuals who loves unconditionally and never even considers walking away; if so, I salute you and wish you the best. But in the end, only you can make that decision.
  8. by   wish_me_luck
    Viva, I don't think it's BPD. I didn't/don't do that....or anything close. AKY, your post was very thoughtful. I give you kudos.

    OP, I too would say learn all you can about it. Have you asked him what you can do to help with the paranoia/jealousy thing?
  9. by   mariebailey
    Whatever his diagnosis is, I encourage you to consider finding a counselor yourself or a support group you can go to if you are committed to the relationship. NAMI NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness - Mental Health Support, Education and Advocacy has online discussion forums for family and spouses of those with mental illness. I think it is important to understand is that it is sometimes a few steps forward and then a few steps back when you're dealing with mental illness. You have good days and bad days, and it is not a problem that will just go away. Patience, perseverance, and understanding are important. Like the other posters said, get a clear understanding of his diagnosis. Then educate yourself on it so you'll know what to expect. It says a lot about you that you would reach out and ask how to help him.
  10. by   VivaLasViejas
    Quote from wish_me_luck
    Viva, I don't think it's BPD. I didn't/don't do that....or anything close.
    You have a point, since you know more about that than I do. I have only my experience with my son's ex-fiancee to draw on, and frankly, the OP's boyfriend sounds so much like her it's downright scary. Two and a half years of being affected by her illness took its toll on all of the family. Good to know that not everyone with BPD suffers (or makes other people suffer) as she did. I wouldn't wish that on anyone, especially someone I care about.
    Last edit by VivaLasViejas on Jan 26, '13
  11. by   imintrouble
    I'm not a callous person. I'm not dismissing the OPs obvious love for her boyfriend of two years. You don't invest that much time and affection in someone and then just turn off the light and walk away.
    I also come from several generations of family members with mental illness. My advice would be cut your losses and run for your life. There are repurcussions from this relationship that you cannot even imagine.
    Your extended family, friends, and future children. Living with someone with mental illness alters the way you think and how you behave. It will make you a different person. It already has after 2 short years.
    I sound so cold and heartless. I prefer to view it as being practical.
    Life is hard. It just makes sense to me not to make it harder than it has to be.
  12. by   Spidey's mom
    We can be compassionate but weigh all the options seriously too. Everyone has given some thoughtful advice and for me, if I chose to stay in a relationship like this with all the knowledge I needed, I would definitely not bring children into it.

    Marriage is hard enough - bringing children into an unstable atmosphere when you knew ahead of time about it . . .. not smart.

    In my opinion.
  13. by   wish_me_luck
    I understand imintrouble and spidey's opinions. I can be difficult dealing with mental illness in a relationship.

    OP, I would lay out your feelings to him. Tell him something like "We've been in this relationship for two years, I love you, but we need to work on ways to deal with your paranoia. How can I help/what can I do to help you diminish these feelings?" I would be gentle but firm. Explain to him that you do see yourself with him long term (tell him this only if it is true), but that's only if the paranoia and other feelings can be worked on. Tell him how you feel and what you expect from him. It's a negotiation thing--you meet him half way and he has to work to meet you half way.
  14. by   VivaLasViejas
    Then, there's a viewpoint from another side: the parent of the grown child who's in a relationship with a "mentally ill" person.

    I don't know if the OP still has one or both of her parents, let alone what they think about her situation. But here goes.........even though this story has a little twist: both partners have psychiatric issues.

    My 24-year-old son, who is bipolar AND has been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury (sustained during his service in Iraq), is in a serious relationship for the first time in his adult life, and it's looking more and more like we'll be hearing wedding bells soon. Unfortunately, he has fierce mood swings that make mine look tame, and he is not medicated as yet nor has he seen a psychiatrist or therapist since his diagnosis last summer. His girlfriend is 27, has two little girls, is smart, organized, and wise beyond her years. She just happens to suffer from severe depression, PTSD, anxiety, and BPD, although these illnesses are very well controlled and she sees her therapist and psychiatrist regularly.

    Now, just wading through what is known and figuring out which of them is worse off (she has more wrong with her brain, but his condition isn't managed) is one thing; it's much more complicated to assess whether the relationship can work with a half-dozen mental health diagnoses between the two of them. It seems to me that there would be an enormous potential for things to go terribly wrong. Not that things don't go wrong with so-called 'normal' couples (ye gawds, I hate that term), but it seems that the chances of it would be so much higher with a couple like my son and his girlfriend. Either of them could decompensate at any time; for that matter, BOTH of them could decompensate at any time. And dear Lord, what if they were to have children together??

    Granted, it's not my place to decide whether these two full-grown adults should or should not have a relationship. But I have to admit, it was so much simpler with my other three kids---even my gay son, who's engaged to become life partners with his man this spring. None of them has any psychiatric issues, and they chose partners who also are free of such problems. Their children are healthy as well, at least as far as we know. I know I've said before that if I'd known what was wrong with me when I was young, I probably would never have married, let alone had children. I wouldn't have wanted anyone else to have to live with my moods, and I certainly wouldn't have chosen to pass on my crummy genes to a new generation. (Although I'm glad life worked out the way it did!)

    So, there's a lot to contemplate when one enters into a relationship with a person who is "mentally interesting". Again, I urge the OP to be extremely cautious in taking hers to the next level, even though people with psych issues need and deserve love as much as anyone else.