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Hain_roo's avatar

How do I convince a friend that he needs treatment?

Asked by Hain_roo (1674 points ) April 25th, 2012

My X was recently hospitalized after a psychotic episode.
He was released with an ‘adjustment disorder’ diagnosis and given an outpatient program.

Instead, he left the state. He’s under the impression that members of an elite and evil fraternal order are out to get him (part of the New World Order.) He’s convinced they’ve tapped his phone and hacked his computer, that they sit in unmarked vehicles and watch him.

I’m one of the only people he trusts and the only one he’s contacted because we live far from each other He’s afraid they’re going to go after his family if he calls them.
I’m no position to travel and I don’t know what to do! His elderly mother and siblings are of the impression that I’m the one who can reach him. Anyone have experience with this stuff?

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14 Answers

Coloma's avatar

Well..I don’t know what kind of therapist he saw, but his symptoms are not those of an adjustment disorder, they are delusional, paranoid and schizophrenic. Nothing you can do except try to alert the proper authorities, his family of his whereabouts
However, unless he has been diagnosed as a danger to himself or others, not much can be done.
Your trustworthy standing means nothing when dealing with a mentally ill person.
While you are not responsible for what he does you ARE responsible to do your best to see him get treatment and I wouldn’t keep his location a secret. Good luck, tough situation.

funkdaddy's avatar

It’s hard all around and will probably be a long term commitment if you decide to try and help. I don’t mention that to scare you off, just to prepare your thinking for small moves instead of thinking there’s a quick fix that will make things instantly better for him.

For me (in your situation) it was difficult to decide if it’s more important that he have someone he trusts (you) or that you try and get him help. Ultimately, if it’s possible, you want to lead him to realizing he needs help as opposed to pushing him that way.

In your situation I would ask questions about the strange things he believes, starting with asking if he’s willing to talk about it. Remember that he doesn’t think these things because they’re logical, he thinks them because something is amiss. Proving he’s not being targeted to yourself won’t help, he has to work it out for himself on his terms (and in terms he understands) and then take the extra step to recognize that something must be wrong for him to believe those things.

Once you know a bit more about what his needs are and hopefully can at least get him to admit the things he’s fighting with may be untrue, then you can try to negotiate a first step. Maybe that’s meeting with a professional, maybe it’s just setting up a time to talk every few days, maybe it’s moving back somewhere closer if that would help. All progress is good.

It’s exceedingly difficult to get someone help against their will. This is probably a good thing overall but it can be frustrating when you’re watching someone lose the life they’ve built. If you truly believe he needs help to get through this, try to find a way to show him that so he can make the decision himself. Make it as easy as possible for him, find resources in his area and have all the information handy. If you can call them beforehand (and he wouldn’t feel like you were sharing too much about him) then even better. Who does he call to make an appointment? Can he go now? What are their hours? How much is it?

Finally I’d just add that you need to make sure you’re OK with all this as well. It can be draining. Take care of you as best you can and get help with the parts you’re not comfortable with. Ultimately you have to remember it truly is his responsibility, just don’t use that as an excuse to give up when you don’t want to. Just don’t give more than you can lose.

Good luck.

bewailknot's avatar

Having a friend with mental illness can be a long journey. The mentally ill have rights, and it is very hard to accept that there may not be anything you can to effect a change. It is common with many diagnoses that they do not believe they are ill, and if you press the issue they still will not accept that they have a problem. Don’t forget that you have the right to set limits in maintaining this relationship, and you need to for your own peace of mind. If it becomes too much of a burden pull back.

Hain_roo's avatar

I thank you guys, just got off the phone with him and family members after a very long talks. I need to process that stuff and will be back when I can see straight and read/comprehend what you wrote.
:/

likipie's avatar

It sounds like it could be a form of schizophrenia, which I’ve dealt with on and off with my older brother. You really can’t convince him to get help if he doesn’t want it. I’m assuming he’s of an independent age so you can’t force him to go to the hospital or anything. The only real way he’ll get help if he doesn’t want it is if he gets arrested, they’ll get him the help he needs (although I don’t recommend choosing that route if there’s an alternative). The best of luck to you and your friend.

Hain_roo's avatar

While talking with him for several hours last night he disclosed that he believed his soon to be x wife and her x husband (Vietnam vet/special forces/intelligence guy who in reality has a history of shady dealings, including Russian mafia -confirmed) are trying to drive him nuts to take his savings and home (prime real estate on the water)
In truth this woman surfaced out of the blue as he was in the process buying the house. Her friend was his realtor and their lawyer friend drew up the papers (confirmed by family members). I don’t know what to think at this point.
Thank you again for the advice, I don’t think he’s a danger to himself or others.

wundayatta's avatar

Encourage him to seek treatment. Tell him that you don’t think he is seeing the world as it really is and that there are treatments that can be really helpful. He is probably in pain. If he is hearing voices, they are constant and annoying and maybe even urging him to hurt himself. He will be in pain.

He should know that the pain can stop. Treatment can help it go away. The voices, if he hears them, will not want him to get treated. They are lying to him. That is what voices like that do. But he can’t take your word for it. He has to do this himself. He has to make his own choice about which words to pay attention to.

He knows that the weird thoughts are weird thoughts. They are powerful, though. So it’s not easy to overrule them. But he has to be strong enough to do that. He has to find a way to stop running and get treated. His life will be so much better afterwards. He probably knows that, too. It’s still hard to believe you can choose to stop the pain. And it’s scary because you wonder who the real you is.

But everyone I know who is in his situation who is getting treatment is glad they are doing it. Of course, that’s a biased sample. Let’s just say that there are people who benefit from treatment and if he tries it and it doesn’t work, he can always stop. Even mental patients have rights in this country.

Hain_roo's avatar

@wundayatta He hasn’t heard any voices and the people he said were sitting outside his house in their cars at all hours did not follow him across country. Did you check out what I added (above your reply)
I am continuing to urge him to see a doctor, he said his health ins. isn’t accepted on the east coast.
There is strong evidence that his wife and her ex have been fucking with him, pushing him over the edge. Family members are beginning to believe this might be true.

wundayatta's avatar

All you can do is urge him to seek treatment. It doesn’t matter whether he’s being watched in reality or not. He can still benefit.

Hain_roo's avatar

Thanks, I will continue to do so!

imgr8's avatar

If he doesn’t want help he wont get help, even if you shove it down his throat.. If he’s not open to it, it won’t do any good. The best you can do is continue to be there for him and if he has any moments where he seems more ‘sane’ than usual, bring up the subject of getting treatment, don’t call him crazy, don’t tell him what he’s feeling isn’t real or that the way he’s acting isn’t who he is. All you can do is be there for him and hope he will come around.
Remember that it is NOT your responsibility to take care of this person and you have no obligation. Caring for someone who is mentally unstable, and especially being the only one this person trusts can be a huge burden, I know this from experience. Don’t put his needs before your own and don’t let him drive you crazy! If you think he is going to harm himself, someone else, or YOU call 911. It doesn’t matter what he wants, he has no idea what he wants.

Hain_roo's avatar

Thanks for the input, imgr8. I have at this point distanced myself from the X, because he now believes I’m ‘one of them’. I just can’t handle it anymore and just hope he gets help. :(

keobooks's avatar

Unfortunately, unless he seeks treatment himself or gets arrested, it’s unlikely there’s anything that can be done. My husband is a therapist for people with schizophrenia and watches for early signs of psychotic breaks. Unfortunately, once they have a full blown episode, they tend to get too paranoid to get help on their own.

You can’t talk someone out of a delusion. There is a chemical reaction in their brain that’s gnawing at the logic. If he’s “lucky” he may end up doing something that causes him to get arrested. Once the police realize his mental state, he’ll be released to an inpatient unit and given a large dose of anti-psychotics. Once he’s on those, he may be more receptive to long term outpatient treatment.

Hain_roo's avatar

Hope so, he’s on the verge of losing his house.

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