My girlfriend of 10 years has been experiencing gradual decline in mental function for the last 4 years we’ve been together. (delusional thoughts, conspiracy theories, believing dead relatives and celebs are still alive, calling 911 on several occasions to “report” what she sees and believes). I believe a her condition be an onset of schizophrenia. Her behavior led to an intervention with family members which then led to a trip to a 5150 (In police handcuffs) : she is now back in family’s care across country, where she experienced another episode which required another visit to hold facility. It has become clear to me that this relationship is not going to work, my question is should I end all contact ie block phone, social media, etc.. She is addicted to social media and posts many many times a day. I’m sometimes embarrassed by the posts, but have remained friends on social media in an attempt to show support and be friends. I do care for her and wish the best for her. And if it means being in contact in some form, I will do that. I do miss the good times we had and the wonderful girl she was, but it seems like that girl is gone. At times i just want to break It all off so i can start to feel like myself again but don’t want to hurt her. Would you recommend I keep in contact with her for her wellbeing, or disconnect completely in hopes that we can move on more quickly? Thank you.
It’s difficult to witness someone you care about struggle so much. If she has schizophrenia or some other related serious mental illness, it will be difficult for her to function in a relationship until she’s more stable. Hopefully, she will get the help she needs.
The friends, family and loved ones of people with serious mental illnesses are often in a position of having to grapple with these types of difficult decisions. Sometimes an individual with severe mental illness will engage in problematic behavior. The people around them are then tasked with attempting to figure out what’s the best solution for all involved. For one’s own mental health and sanity, sometimes those relationships have to be severed.
This situation, to a degree, reminds me of the book Angelhead: My Brothers Dissent Into Madness. It’s about a family’s struggle with their severely mentally ill brother told from the perspective of a sibling. It’s a very well-written book that helps the reader understand how mental illness effects the lives of people who love and care for them. Though it is an extreme case, you might find it useful to read.
You mentioned that there are times when you “just want to break it all off so (you) can start feeling like yourself again.” That would suggest that your continuing to have a relationship with her is having a negative effect on you. If that is the case, then it might be in your best interest for you to end the relationship. If it’s harming you, then you should not continue the relationship. It would be unwise to remain in a relationship that is harmful to you.
Another consideration is to analyze the nature of the relationship you currently have with her. It seems that you are basically only friends with her via social media. If that is the case, then that is not much of a relationship. Relative to more traditional types of relationships, social media relationships tend to be fairly shallow. If the only “friendship” or support you are providing is via social media, then it may not matter much to her anyway. If you stopped following her on social media accounts, she may not even notice, especially if she were actively symptomatic.
This is a difficult question to answer because the decision is personal. If I knew more about the nature of your relationship with her, then it might be easier for me to give you advice. Generally speaking, you should not do things that knowingly hurt yourself. If you’re only contact with her is via social media, then that’s not much of a relationship. If you need to end it for your own mental health, you should. If you don’t protect your own mental health, who will? She may be upset with you or she may not even notice. Eventually, when she’s more stable, perhaps the two of you can reconnect and you can explain your decision, should she ask. Best of luck to you. Please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle