I Was 22 When I Learned My Boyfriend Had Schizophrenia, and It Changed My Life
We met each other while playing Mafia, and we went on a date the next day. He was a funny and smart guy. He graduated from the best math school in town. But he wasn’t able to finish college and at the age of 24, he was studying and working as a math tutor. We had a great relationship, full of love and understanding. It actually looked more like a fairytale. We spent every day with each other for 8 months. And then I found out he had schizophrenia.
My name is Polli Holli and recently I started writing about how I got myself out of a relationship with a person who had a mental disorder. Today, I am ready to share my story with the Bright Side readers.
I think the first hint was when my mother suggested that I go to the sea and spend some time with my family. I really wanted to get some rest after my final paper. He begged me not to go, he told me he couldn’t imagine how he could live 10 days without me.
But I still went to Cyprus. And he started to act very strangely: he wrote millions of unconnected texts, he tried calling me 100 times a day. Every day, he told me about his new business ideas and about some partners, he posted strange things, and he sent me photos of him walking in the park at 4 am.
Then, he disappeared for almost a day. He told me that he had lost his phone and that he was at a doctor’s office. In the evening, he called me from a different number, he could barely speak and he reacted very slowly. His mother told me, “Honey, we gave him a pill because he couldn’t fall asleep for several days in a row. He’ll be fine, rest and don’t worry about anything.”
And he told me that he decided to make our relationship a bit more fun and play a game of cat and mouse, so he threw his iPhone outside.
Threw it away. His phone. Just, in the street.
The next day, he didn’t call me again and I called his mother. Even though she tried to avoid the conversation, in the end, she told me the truth. She said that her son had schizophrenia and he was having another episode.
I called a psychotherapist I knew and I tried to explain the situation to her even though I was crying. I don’t know how but she managed to calm me down and make me believe that everything would be alright.
Our mutual friends started texting me, asking me millions of questions. It turned out that almost everyone knew about his illness. Everyone, except me.
His best friend told me that my boyfriend bought a ring and was going to propose to me. This news terrified me and for a split second, I was even happy that he was in the hospital and wouldn’t be meeting me at the airport.
4 days later, I returned home and I got really overwhelmed. I lost 10 pounds, and I was shaking all the time. After I had some rest, I went to his mother and we talked for over 3 hours.
She told me that my boyfriend was a normal healthy child. He was smart and talented. He was the best in his class, he won all the international competitions. He was a kind young man with a lot of friends and hobbies. After school, he entered a prestigious Economics college in Moscow.
According to his mother, there, he met a person that was the founder of a certain movement. And this was when it all started.
He started skipping classes and started working as a yoga coach. He wrote weird posts and he didn’t sleep days at a time. He dropped out of college and returned to his hometown.
His friends and parents didn’t support his decision which made him lose his mind even more. That year, the war with Ukraine started and he went to Donbas as a volunteer. The man who wasn’t able to even sneeze at a cat went to a different country to kill people. This was the moment his parents realized that something was completely wrong.
They took him from the train and brought him to a psychiatric facility. Since then, he has been having episodes every summer.
Interestingly, during the first 2 weeks of dating, I asked him to tell me honestly if he had any health issues. He told me about his asthma when he was a child. He said nothing about his developing schizophrenia.
I don’t know what I was thinking, but here was my mindset:
- Attacks only one time per year.
- He doesn’t kill anyone, he doesn’t rape anyone (he just fights with people in the street and shows them all the aggression — no big deal).
- He is the guy I know and I love.
Conclusion: I’m staying with him and I’ll find a way to cure him!
I started to read forums where women had the same problems, they shared their experience and they said that they were doing fine. It gave me hope that everything would be okay.
I just couldn’t believe that the diagnosis was true, I thought it was someone’s idea of a silly joke. “We had a perfect relationship. It was like a fairytale!” I told to my therapist. The doctor said, “This is why it is not true.” She prescribed me antidepressants.
At the time, my boyfriend and I (we were still together) didn’t communicate a lot. His mother visited him at the hospital a couple of times a week and we could talk on the phone. He cried every time and he told me how much he loved me.
After he left the hospital, I could barely recognize him. He had lost a lot of weight, he had a dull look, he cried all the time, and he kept saying that he didn’t want to live. His mother was sure that it was all temporary and that it would soon be okay. She bought an apartment downtown specially for us and she got all the necessary furniture.
A couple of weeks later, things really did become better: he started going to college again, and he met his friends. Once, he invited me to go to a restaurant. There, he got down on one knee and took out a box with a ring. When I looked into his poor eyes full of love, I was afraid that if I refused, he would have another attack, and so I agreed to be his wife. At the age of 22, becoming the wife of a man who has schizophrenia — why not?
Everyone I knew congratulated us, I had a ring on my finger, but I felt terrible about this decision.
We had been engaged for only 3 days when he had another attack. He stopped sleeping and his activity on social media increased. He started having obsessive ideas again.
I was rubbing my engagement ring and I finally realized that my future husband was ill and there was nothing I could do to fix it.
During this new attack, he thought he was some really successful businessman and he wanted to fight with everyone who disagreed with him. He was rude to people on the street, and he was eager to fight with someone and to prove his supremacy.
This second attack happened 2 weeks after the treatment in the hospital and his relatives decided not to put him back in there, but try to help him at home. The treatment worked, he calmed down, and seemed to have come back to normal.
But my attitude changed. He was no longer a man for me. He was an ill person who needed constant care and attention.
He started working again, he tried to convince me to move into his new apartment and build a family. We agreed to live together from Thursdays to Sundays and I felt better because his mother would watch him for at least half the week.
I asked him for one thing: go to bed early. That was it. I didn’t need anything else, just his sleep because it was the basic thing for his health. If he didn’t sleep for one night, he would have an attack. But he continued to play Mafia at night and he ignored my requests.
We started to have our first serious fights and we had only been in the relationship for one year. He started crying over every little thing and I stopped respecting him, I was dreaming that everything would just end. But it was really hard to decide to end this. My life had turned into a mess.
But one thing finally got me to do something. He went away to play and he turned his phone off. I tried to contact him until 1 am and then I just stopped. To my indifference, he said, “See? You are getting used to this and you are not as angry anymore!” I realized that he was trying to teach, me like a dog, and I almost started to hate him.
I definitely knew that I would break up with him. But his mother... She was very happy that I was still in their family and she did everything she could to please me. She invited me to her home. She bought new things for our apartment. And I started to feel guilty.
The New Year was coming and we decided to celebrate it with my family.
We had a fight in the morning, we went to his mother’s, drank a couple of bottles of wine, and went to my family’s place. He was really angry even though we had made peace when we were at his mother’s house. Then, he started crying and said that he wasn’t sure he wanted to be with me.
Instead of celebrating, I asked him to postpone the conversation until the next day and to not ruin the day for me and my relatives. He was quiet and closed off the whole time. He went to sleep right after the New Year came and I didn’t stop him.
I was sitting at the table, trying to eat a salad, and pretending to be okay. I saw my mother looking at me, I saw her sad eyes, and I couldn’t hold it in any longer. I cried for like 30 minutes because I was tired, ashamed, and depressed because I was in this hardcore situation.
On January 1, he changed his mind about leaving me. I wasn’t happy about this news and I knew I couldn’t do this any longer. We had a very long conversation and we cried a lot but we decided to break up.
It was seemingly okay, I felt that maybe I could take a deep breath and live a happy life. But no.
A week after we broke up, he called me on Saturday at 5 am. He told me that he wanted to return my phone that I had given him when he threw his phone away. I asked him what he was even doing up at 5 am and if he had taken his insomnia pills. “Well, I couldn’t fall asleep and I was drinking water.” So he was drinking water instead of taking pills... Okay.
“Do you really think I will let you go? You are my bride. You are not going anywhere.” These words sounded cold. And it was all really creepy.
He started spamming me with texts on social media. He told me that he would get me pregnant, what we would name our child, and that we would live a happy life. He started calling from different numbers, he asked other people to forward his texts to me.
A girl I knew who I had texted a lot about how much I was scared of him and how much I was tired of him, called me and told me that she suggested meeting me at work with flowers. Like, he wanted to come to my apartment, but she convinced him to show up at my office. Shaming me in front of my colleagues or following me into the darkness after work was much better!!
I was scared when I was coming home from work that day, and I was constantly looking around. He still had the buzzer key to my building and I took some big breaths before going in.
I didn’t know what to expect from an ill person. I called his mother and I asked her to do something. But she was indifferent. She just told me to ignore him and to not worry about it. But I didn’t feel calm, especially when I thought about all our fights during his attacks.
The calls and texts from people I didn’t know continued. I was walking home one day after a therapy session, and I got a text that made my hands start shaking, “Honey, don’t worry, he’ll come to you tomorrow evening.”
I became terrified after this text. I felt like the prey in a hunt. My father had died several years ago, and I only had a mother and a sister. We had nobody to protect us. I felt responsible for them.
There is no law in Russia about stalking, so the police couldn’t help. “Lady, when he comes, when he does something to you, then you can call us.” This was what they told me when I asked for help.
Fortunately, it turned out that my sister had a friend whose stepfather had a very high position in the police. He promised that a minute after I called him directly, there would be a police crew at my apartment.
I called his mother and warned her that I had contacted the police and her son would end up in jail if he doesn’t stay away from me.
And everything stopped. He stopped using other people to contact me and send me those scary texts. But I continued to look through the peephole before leaving my apartment for a long time. I’m still scared of guys that look like him and I try not to go to the district where he lives if I don’t really need to.
I hope that my honest story can help someone, so I will list the signs of a psychological disorder that I should have noticed before it was too late:
- controversial biographical facts
- problems with work, low social skills
- too much attention on them from relatives
- unbelievable disorganization in regular life
- very strong affection and unhealthy love
But these are only the first signs. Here are the clearest indicators of an attack:
- a completely changed behavior model
- unexplainable aggression
- no sleep and no tiredness for several days in a row
- being too open (I don’t know how to phrase this better); for example, my ex could easily write 7-10 crazy posts per night with just a couple of minutes gap between each of them.
I know that my story may make some readers angry. People have already reacted this way and tried to explain to me that people with schizophrenia are just like anyone else.
But I want to say that you can only build a healthy relationship with an ill person when they understand and admit to the fact that they are ill. When during a remission, they voluntarily take pills, they follow the doctors’ recommendations, and try to live a normal life. My ex thought that all the doctors were idiots and that he was the healthiest person in the world. I think that if he had admitted to the fact that he was ill, we would have found a way to make sure that remission would last for a long time.
I hope that you will never have to deal with the problem that almost ruined my entire life.
What do you think about this story? What would you do in this situation?
Preview photo credit The Basketball Diaries / New Line Cinema