I Don’t Want to Use the C Word But…

Posted by on January 3, 2011

When I have a problem, I do what any rational person would do… I ask the internet.

So, I have a problem.

And while there can be much fodder for joking when you say someone is “crazy”…this is not a joke.

A friend of ours is losing it.

“It” being his mind.There are lots of extenuating circumstances which prevent us from doing anything to really help him and I’m just, I don’t know…

I’m scared. For him. And of him.

He’s paranoid.

And not taking care of himself.

He won’t listen to reason.

He doesn’t trust us.

He talks to himself on a non-working cellphone for hours.

His Facebook posts are, to put it mildly, totally nutty and make no sense.

Where he used to be easy going and, for lack of a better word, normal, he’s now agitated and hostile.

Well, he was mostly normal.

He’s always been a little weird. And we’ve never been able to reason with him.

He always thinks he’s right.

But I chalked that up to being 25. Then 26. Then 27.

However, now?

I see that he has some serious issues.

On one hand, I’ve always maintained that he has a personality disorder.

But recently, he’s definitely suffering from something psychiatric in nature.

He makes unreasonable demands.

When you ask him why he feels entitled to whatever his demand his, he talks in circles and riddles.

Complete nonsense comes  out of his mouth.

He thinks we’re trying to poison him.

And that he can hear people’s thoughts—people that are total strangers.

And he’s convinced that he can hear their thoughts because he put those thoughts in their heads.

And we’re all plotting against him.

To do what, I ask?

And the nonsense starts again. No actual answers ever come.

He’s alienated the few people in his life that actually care what happens to him.

We’re all kind of fed up. But we know he’s not himself so we keep trying to talk sense to him.

And it’s not working.

And I have no idea what to do.

What do I do, internet?


  • Apryl's Antics says:

    Check out the Baker Act and keep him away from your house.

  • Seriously, he needs help from a doctor or therapist. Be careful.

  • NotAMeanGirl says:

    Seriously, it sounds like a schizophrenic break. Unfortunately, without medication there’s little you can do. You might speak with any family he has about getting him involuntarily committed for 72 hours if he is a danger to himself or others. That could get him back on the road to recovery.

    • IzzyMom says:

      I agree. I think it’s schizophrenia, too.

      Sadly, his family disowned him years ago. They want nothing to do with him. He sleeps covertly on his stepfather’s back porch (because he kicked him out for being so difficult and irrational).

  • feefifoto says:

    Call the police? Call a local mental hospital to see if there is any way you can take steps toward getting him help of temporarily committed.

    • IzzyMom says:

      I called the non-emergency police and they won’t do anything unless he commits a crime, becomes violent or violates a restraining order. We’re afraid to get a restraining order because we think that will send him over the edge. Since we have kids, pets, own a home etc. we want to avoid agitating him any more than he already is. We’re afraid of what he’s capable of in this state.

      Our neighbor, who is a lifelong friend of his is in the same situation. We want him to voluntarily get help but whenever we bring it up he gets all wound up and thinks we’re all in on some plot against him.

  • Becky says:

    I don’t know that I have any additional information beyond what is above. He does need help, medical, psychiatric help. The problem is, he is a legal adult, and therefore nobody has the authority to commit him against his will.
    Do what you can to protect you and your family. I would say call the authorities, but what authorities? Who do you call?
    I don’t know.
    But he needs help.

    • IzzyMom says:

      We have something in this state called a Baker Act but you have to prove that someone is a danger to themselves or others and since we’re not family, we’re not likely to get very far from what I’ve read. Sadly, he doesn’t have any family that will get involved. It’s one of those situations where we’re all just kind of stuck unless he commits a crime, in which case law enforcement will get involved. But, of course, we hope he doesn’t commit a crime as that would just make everything worse. Arghhhh…it’s so frustrating.

  • Amanda says:

    I have no idea. I did think there was something that if you knew a person was in danger from the elements the city could help them in finding assistance. I am so sorry I don’t know more. I would echo the caution to keep your family safe.

    • IzzyMom says:

      We have a TON of homeless people here. Many are in need of medication and psychiatric care. Compared to some, our friend doesn’t seem so bad. But for him? He seems totally insane. I just don’t think, even if we could get him to some kind of mental health clinic (highly unlikely), that he would accept treatment. But I really do appreciate your suggestion. Talking about it here helps, believe it or not.

  • Sue says:

    maybe there isn’t an answer. Who’s to say that being medicated to the gills or in an institution would be what your friend wants, or would help him? He may be schizophrenic but he still gets to make his own choices about his life as long as he’s not hurting himself or others. Maybe the most compassionate thing to do would be to help him with creature comforts (or whatever he wants that you feel comfortable giving even if it’s not “normal” help) and respect his right to decide how his life gets lived, even if that’s not how anyone imagined it.

    • IzzyMom says:

      He’s not eating, he will only drink Red Bull, he hasn’t showered in weeks, he doesn’t have ANY income, he lives in fear that people are trying to hurt him, he lives outside…

      There are NO “creature comforts” in a life like that and I think you’re making an awful lot of assumptions, the most unrealistic being that he’s somehow enjoying the kind of life he’s recently begun living. Trust me, he’s not and he won’t have a life TO enjoy if this continues.

      • LeeAnn says:

        Is he on drugs? Being in recovery myself for 3+ years, his behavior could explain that. Whatever the case, he def needs some sort of help.

  • Ashley says:

    He definitely sounds like he has schizophrenic symptoms. A lot of times they can sort of simmer underneath the surface until a person reaches an age/a period of stress when it becomes apparent that they are no longer functioning well on their own. I think what you should/would/could do all depends on whether you feel he is of harm to himself or others. In either case, a 911 call is in order.

    • IzzyMom says:

      A friend contacted his little brother who made some reference to having seen some of this before so I think you’re right about symptoms lurking below the surface. What we always considered personality quirks could have been something else.

  • The New Girl says:

    I’d say it sounds like a Schizophrenic break, also. There’s not much you can do unless he makes threats against you or himself. He is not rational or reasonable and so trying to talk rationally or problem solve logically with him will not work while he is floridly psychotic.

    Best for all of you, perhaps, is to treat him with kid gloves while he is in this agitated state. Not to agree with his delusions, per se, but to not directly challenge them, which will increase his agitation and distrust of you. It is best to try to not become incorporated into the delusion, if you can help it.

    I’m sorry that your friend is going through this. Most of those ‘Personality Disorder’ traits are probably also related to his Schizophrenia in less active state, if that makes sense. Email me if you want, J.

    • IzzyMom says:

      That’s exactly what we’ve been doing…just kind of “handling” him and trying not to scare him or freak him out.

      Our primary concern, aside from the obvious, is that this is not going to work as a long-term “lifestyle” thing and he will end up getting hurt by someone else that doesn’t understand his situation—his paranoia and diatribes and overall demand-iness are extremely taxing —I can *almost* understand why his family has written him off. You start to feel like a hostage.

      But *sigh* we aren’t ready to give up on him yet. I keep hoping some magical solution will present itself and allow him to get the help he so clearly needs.

      You sound like you have experience in this arena—I may email you.

  • magpie says:

    My mother once hauled a boyfriend of mine off to the ER because he was acting crazy & suicidal.

    Is there a way to stage some kind of intervention?

    • IzzyMom says:

      If an intervention depends on him agreeing to get help, then no, probably not. He doesn’t think there’s anything wrong—it’s us, WE (his friends) are the problem.

      If he wasn’t an adult, I could probably get away with taking him to the ER but he’s a 27 year old man and the laws are so stupid here that I’d probably be charged with kidnapping him.

  • Jack says:

    Several years ago a good friend of mine lost touch with reality. He began to speak to people who weren’t there and would speak of being on a secret mission.

    Eventually he snapped and threatened his landlord. He was sent off to the county hospital mental ward for several days and then released.

    I kept getting telephone calls from other friends because I was the only one he didn’t threaten. Eventually we managed to get him sent to a new facility and they got him on meds that helped restore his ability to focus on reality.

    Apparently he had been on medication for some time prior to the breakdown we saw. But after a number of years of “feeling fine” he stopped taking the pills and had the episodes we saw. It is not unusual or some I am told.

    I don’t have any great advice other than I have great empathy for you. It was a very painful thing to watch, this disintegration of a person.

    It sounds like you are trying to be a good friend and sometimes that is all you can do.

  • eek. Let’s look at this another way: How’s your self-preservation holding up? Clearly, your friend needs help and is extremely fortunate to have you in his life whether he can process that or not. BUT…having lived through something sorta similar, taking care of another grown up who’s not your spouse is really really hard. Just make sure that whatever you decide to do, you remind yourself that your family is you first priority. It’s so easy to sucked into the vortex of other people’s urgent shit.

    You are obviously an incredible friend. hugs.

    • IzzyMom says:

      Thank you for asking about me. It only occurred to me after I read this how much this has been preying on my mind. As a sidebar. I spoke to a family member of my friend yesterday and found out mental illness runs in the family. We’re talking about some kind of intervention now. GAH.

  • roo says:

    Hey there, Izzy.

    I agree that your friend sounds schizophrenic. That doesn’t mean that he’s dangerous to you physically, but doing the sort of emotional caretaking that you are could certainly be dangerous to your own health and happinel hospitass. Unfortunately, you have no legal right to intervene, so it seems the best you can do is keep an eye on him, and, as so many others have pointed out, make sure your emotional investment in keeping your friend safe and well (which is admirable) doesn’t drain you of the resources you need to do the same for yourself and your family.

    As for his unwillingness to seek help for himself/ admit anything is wrong, the only insight I can add is that it’s entirely possible he has moments where he knows he’s in trouble. But the prospect of having your freedom taken away, the idea of having people lock you up and throw away the key, the “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” image of life in a mental hospital– losing your personality to drugs or other medical interventions– can be really, really frightening. Regardless of whether those ideas represent the reality of current mental health treatment, or not. And having to go to the hospital for something like that can feel intensely shaming– it’s hard not to feel the “crazy” label, the idea that no one will ever take you seriously again, the disenfranchisement…

    He may feel threatened on that level, in addition to the paranoia/threat he feels because of his illness. Which may make it even harder for him to hear what you’re trying to tell him.

    I don’t know if this information is helpful– it’s certainly not advice. Maybe it’s an insight that can help inform the way you approach convincing him he should get help. I hope so, anyway.

  • roo says:

    The above should read “health and happiness.” Damn mouse pad!

  • Kristina says:

    Sounds like Schizophrenia. Although you would like to act on your instinct as a good friend to be there, and keep in constant communication and check on him every now then, these actions might endanger you. It would be wise to contact his family and persuade them to seek medical attention. It is tough. But in cases like this, we must be vigilant and act on tough love.

  • I don’t know if anything with your friend has changed since you originally posted this. I just checked your blog today and saw this. I am so scared for you! After the events in AZ this past weekend, you never know what can set off a disturbed individual. One of my half-sisters is schizophrenic. She’s 11 yrs. older than me. Schizophrenics really need a personal caregiver to slip their meds into milkshakes as even if they start meds, they refuse to continue. There are so many aspects of this mental illness and every single one presents a different challenge.

    I admire you for trying to be a good friend and not giving up on him. That being said, you have to take into consideration if there’s even a remote chance that your friend could become unpredictable and dangerous. To echo one of the other commenters, you may have to risk being a bad friend to keep your family safe. I know I would rather be looked on by society as a bad person than later regret that I didn’t put some distance between an unstable person and a member of my family.

    Of course there are some schizophrenics who are completely harmless. Please take my suggestions in the spirit in which they are given. I don’t know every detail of what you’ve gone through so you need to use your own judgement. Maybe try calling a mental health agency to see if what they suggest in this predicament.

    Good luck with your friend. I hope you can resolve this in a positive way for everyone involved.

  • Jessica says:

    While there may be nothing you can legally do to get him into treatment, the idea of an intervention is a good one, if it’s done right. And by right I mean in a safe setting (several large men in attendance) with a trained mental health professional directly involved. The downside is that as someone who is presenting as schizophrenic with paranoid delusions, he is unlikely to just sit there and say, “Oh, OK, yes, take me to the hospital.” The upside is that if he becomes hostile (and especially in the presence of a doctor) you then will have the evidence needed for a 72 hour hold at a minimum.

    He is at the age when this illness fully presents. I am sorry to hear that he is having paranoid delusions, because that’s the part that’s likely to become a real problem if he’s not medicated.

    I hope that for everyone’s sake, his family is able to step up and do their best to get him into treatment.

    Good luck, and stay safe.

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