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Help! How to deal with my schizophrenic friend.

I

Inquirer

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Hello

My friend has been diagnosed with Schizophrenia for nearly a decade now. I have tried to support him as much as possible but it has been difficult as he has been institutionalised intermittently and housed outside of the area. The MD's have made little to no progress over the years apart from administering powerful drugs to keep his delusions in check.

The problem is this. We were best friends in school and I feature prominently in his delusions. From what I can gather I am a sort of sage/ arch critic. He idolises me as great man and a heroic figure, even though I am neither of these things and am just a normal bloke. He telephones me to argue when I (the character in his delusions) criticise him. He tells me I accuse him of terrible things.

The other day it all came to a head. He phoned me on a particularly off day and I told him in no uncertain terms that he couldn't read my mind, that he wasn't guilty of these crimes and furthermore was incapable of commiting deeds of such magnitude.

This pleased him not at all.

I feel the line between the real me and the fictional me has been degraded in his mind over time.

SO my questions for you, dear forum readers, is this. Am I bad for him? Why do I feature so strongly in his delusions still after so much time? Am I in any danger from him? Does it do damage to crush his delusions of fake me? Who has more authority for him, fake me or real me? Is contact with me harmful? Am I even asking the right questions?

He is my old, dear friend and I love him. I want to do what I can to help him. But at the same time I need to do right by myself too. I have responsibilities to people in my life now things are not so easy for me so dead weight is getting cut and I am not so sympathetic to the weak as I once was. What can be done?

Thanks for reading this

Yours Faithfully
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Gajolene

Gajolene

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Firstly I want to thankyou for standing by your friend for so long. From what you've written he has quite a severe case of scitzophrenia and I doubt anything you say will actually make things worse for him unless you've been encouraging his delusions. I know it feels terrible when we have to actually argue that certain things are not real and considering the nature of the illness and it's low prognosis outcome in some people. You can only do the best to your ability in being a support to him.

My son JD has severe delusions similar to your friend depending on how symptomatic he is. The 4 days surrounding injection days he is always worse and his delusions are very hard for him to control or to be talked down from.

Does your friend have any family, cmht support he relies on other than just his medications?. For some cases of severe scitzophrenia, the meds do little to help aside from keep the person stable enough to stay out of hospital and relapses are common when meds get skipped. It can be degenerative over time regardless of treatment and continue to worsen untill there is no choice but to institutionalize.

One of our psychiatrists told me it's basically broken down into thirds, one being forms of scitzophrenia that can be fully recovered with treatment, the second that the scitzophrenia can be stopped from progressing further with medication and treatment but will stay the same, or progress to recovery in a limited capacity and the third type will continue to worsen and show no response to medications and treatments.

I'm sorry you have been scared by him enough to feel in danger, and are so frustrated at not being able to help him. What did he say that made you feel in danger from him? Are you really serious about cutting him out of your life all together? Or is it the frustration of not being able to get through to him and bring him back to this reality that is making you want to give up on him?
 
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I

Inquirer

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What really concerned me was the degree of idolisation that he displayed towards me, even the point of introducing me to strangers as the greatest man in the universe. And meaning it. While I don't feel threatened by him at the current time it gave birth to doubts that he could turn on me at a later date. He constantly references violence, old fights etc. and maintains that I am really 'hard'. While I have been trained in self defence to an intermediate level and am more than capable of defending myself, I am under no illusions as to how 'hard' I actually am, having had the opportunity to train with semi professional kickboxers. He is still a grown man and not to be underestimated. Such talk makes me.. uneasy.

Just to give you an idea I'm a habitual toker with a sporadic employment record. I'm not a bad guy by any stretch of the imagination, but neither am I a man you would put on a pedestal and say- Thats a role model.

Family, it's a tired cliche. Absent father overworked mother. He lives alone in state accomadation when he isn't in hospital. I don't know how often he sees his mum but I know shes been at the end of her rope for a long time. He has another friend from the old days he talks to over the phone, and he has the medical staff and psychiatrists, but I don't know what their relationship is like or if they can reach him.

I would never get to the stage where I could cut him out of my life altogether. We grew up together and that has to count for something so I wouldn't reach the point where I would ignore his calls. My real issue is that our relationship is one sided. He calls when he hits bottom to vent.

Because of his condition he gets free travel all around the city. I repeatedly made him the offer to come and stay with me when he complains about the city, offering to pick him up from the train station at the limits of his free travel so the trip wouldn't cost him anything. But he always blows me out at the last minute then complains that I don't see him. If there is any visiting to be done I have to do the mileage.

There is no empathy in him. The troubles of others barely register. So I travel and listen to him complain but recently when it hit the proverbial fan in my life the total lack of interest he has really hit home. So given that I get absolutely nothing but grief from this friendship, and also my starring role in his delusions has got me wondering if it might be better for both parties if I try to limit our contact as there is a limit to how much grief I can put up with at any one time.

Thanks a lot for your reply just reading it felt like a weight off my chest. I have always felt a responsibility towards him as we were always close, we got high together for the first time, although I never developed a taste for artificial narcotics like he did, but for the grace of God it could have been me. This is why I have always made as much time for him that I could. But now more and more I realise that he made his own choices and I had nothing to do with him going off the deep end. I'm just so tired of it all and yes I am frustrated at not being able to get through to him. Even in his most cogent moments these 'voices' are still whispering twisted things. I have given all the advice I can now I'm down to "Go see a priest and tidy your damn kitchen." He told me the other day that I don't understand and he is right. I'm just worried I'm now doing more harm than good.

Once again thankyou for your time in regards to this, it is better to discuss with people facing the same challenges, although having to deal with it being your own flesh and blood is a different matter. My thoughts are with you.

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Gajolene

Gajolene

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Even if you treat him badly his delusion of you being a great man may stay even after you break your friendship with him . I do find these types of delusions come on in phases and do usually pass in time. I know too how unsettling it is when the mind is too disorganized and too wrapped up in delusions to connect with empathy and not realize the consequences of their actions. I go through this a lot with my son.

He also will get delusions that we have been body snatched by other people when he is really bad. Usually hospitalization is our only recourse at that time because he loses his own identity at the same time and will get upset with people saying his name or their names. My JD also gets gender dismorphia and often will think himself female and male several times in the same day. It freaks people out when he insists he is a girl and doesn't recognize his own body parts. Or he will post that he is a girl one sentance and in the next will want to marry any girl that comments on his facebook.

He has called several officials wanting to have his gender changed, wanting to collect millions owed to him, thinking he hasn't yet recieved a title, ect. and even accused us of photoshopping old polaroids to change his gender, when I try to prove to him he was born male. Or he will believe he has educational degree's or hero/famous person status on his own and will try to collect on it.

Going around town on his own is problematic too, I always worry he will be beaten up or dragged off to hospital. Luckily the police and hospital staff here know him well enough to know he isn't a danger and usually only will follow him home in the cruiser if someone gets scared by his disorganized speech and calls thinking he's a tweaker or something. Usually a young store clerk who can't understand him or why he won't stop smiling.

Sorry this thread isn't about me it's about you and your friend. Just showing a little what I go through with him. He my son has made other friends since becoming ill but doesn't have any friends from his past that are willing to keep his company. The new friends he has made do come over and have a couple drinks or a puff with him time to time. They accept him and like him as he is and don't freak if he gets weird with false memories. They also struggle with mental illness' of their own but nothing as severe as JD's. He does get sad over losing his old friends as he was very socialble and likable in his school years and had several. It's sad to see them shun him in public now, or the awkard and obviously uncomfortable experience of him running into them in public. I get upset myself seeing how they treat him now, and yes some are downright cruel.

If it helps keep posting on the forum. It's nice having other people who know how hard it is and difficult it is dealing with these types of things. I have had excellent advice from people here when lost and not knowing how to handle a situation. We also have nurses involved in caring for my son here at home. Even though they can't discuss his case with you, there is nothing to stop you from reporting worrying behaviour to them which they can address as best they can to help him adjust from their end of things.:hug1:

Encourage him to attend mh group meetings in his area too if he's depending on your attention too much just wanted to add that it helps for him to have other things to do than sit at home and call you all the time.
 
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Gajolene

Gajolene

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Sorry for the long post above, Just adding last your welcome to go to my facebook link below and check on my links there for help with understanding scitzophrenia and surviving scitzophrenia if you scroll through you'll find a lot of good links there there. I also have a thread ongoing on the scitzophrenia subforum called http://www.mentalhealthforum.net/forum/thread78835.html

Hope this helps.
 
Palladian

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Hi I have schizophrenia and can understand the delusions your friend has I suffer from them intermittently and one thing I would like to say is that I've only ever been violent once in my entire life and that was when I was having an episode and felt like I was going to be raped. I'm a pacifist so I don't use violence but have experienced extreme violence around me by gangs who apparently were on my side.
Your friend obviously is seriously ill you shouldn't take to heart what he says about you being his hero, there's probably a part albeit a very small part that knows his delusions aren't real. Even when I was full blown schizophrenic I was aware beforehand and afterwards that my delusions were not real. I've learnt to cope with them over the years I've weened myself off drugs - I used to smoke spliffs everyday and take acid and ecstasy every weekend. Now I don't do drugs at all - well I take drugs about once a year when I visit my old home town at christmas, but even that I feel has to stop it doesn't do me much harm but the initial shock to the system 'triggers' me off for about 20 minutes or so.
I don't have friends who are not ill I left them all behind in my old home town because of the embarrassment of being schizophrenic and because they all took drugs. I don't know a supportive friend would have been good for me and it would be nice to be able to talk to people who didn't mind me being ill.
I understand what your saying about empathy I myself have very little feeling towards others my illness has numbed all my senses intellectual emotional and spiritual. I say spiritual because although I'm an atheist I thought the DJ at raves was like a god.
I hope you can remain friends with your friend I really do wish at times I hadn't distanced myself from all mine I'm constantly promising myself I'll start my life again and will find new friends but this never seems to happen. Like I said my illness has enveloped all my capacities but underneath it all I still have emotions,intellectual and spiritual capabilities so I think it would hurt your friend somewhere deep down if you no longer was his friend.
I don't know what else to say at the moment - good luck :)
 

cpuusage

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My friend has been diagnosed with Schizophrenia for nearly a decade now. I have tried to support him as much as possible but it has been difficult as he has been institutionalised intermittently and housed outside of the area. The MD's have made little to no progress over the years apart from administering powerful drugs to keep his delusions in check.
Welcome to the forum.

i think there is a potential for people to make a good recovery from psychosis. No guarantees, there are variables & things are individual - But there is no shortage of people that tell a story of having come back from all this stuff.

How much is down to the individual, with help & support, & other factors - who exactly knows?

Think you need to have strong boundaries - if only for your own peace of mind & to live your own life. Without his cooperation & willingness, very little you can probably do anyway.
 
M

monkey

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hi ,

just want to say thank you for beeing such an wonderful man and care so much for your friend .
 
C

colin13502

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do you know if he takes his medication on schedule? is he using drugs or alcohol? drinking heavily and using recreational drugs can keep many schizophrenics very psychotic. if he has problems with those things it could help him greatly if you told his care team and talked to him about it. its really sad that you went from being a good friend to basically someone to dump his problems on, i think you should try to help him at least a little longer but if he doesnt want help and cant start carrying his weight in the friendship you should cut him out of your life.
 
M

monkey

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Hi ,

Does anybody know if fish oil is helpfull ? I am also trying to help a friend to deal with schizoprenia , I am not English so do please ignore my English !

Thanks
 
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colin13502

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Hi ,

Does anybody know if fish oil is helpfull ? I am also trying to help a friend to deal with schizoprenia , I am not English so do please ignore my English !

Thanks
ive read fish oil is slightly effective in some studies. one supplement ive heard of is l-theanine, studies have found it effective for anxiety caused by schizophrenia symptoms, your friend might want to try that. i take l-theanine for ptsd anxiety and i find it pretty effective.
 
M

monkey

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Thank you Colin ,

I will go to the pharmacy this weekend and buy the fish oil pills . I am worried about his memory because he is taking olanzapine which ...you know...as all this kind of meds has lots of sides effects . By the way , does anybody can recomend me some good books in relation with schizoprenia . I ve read 'Henry s Demons which was quite good and waiting for David Solomn s ' Far from the tree which will come to the lybrary soon .

I am just trying to learn about this condition as much as i can . Thanks a lot x
 
C

colin13502

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Thank you Colin ,

I will go to the pharmacy this weekend and buy the fish oil pills . I am worried about his memory because he is taking olanzapine which ...you know...as all this kind of meds has lots of sides effects . By the way , does anybody can recomend me some good books in relation with schizoprenia . I ve read 'Henry s Demons which was quite good and waiting for David Solomn s ' Far from the tree which will come to the lybrary soon .

I am just trying to learn about this condition as much as i can . Thanks a lot x
a good book is Surviving Schizophrenia by E Fuller Torrey, it covers pretty much everything about schizophrenia. its written by a doctor and its for patients, family, friends, and caregivers.
 
M

monkey

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Looking forward to read it , thanks a lot for the quiq answer , it is nice to see there are people that want to help x
 
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