Dear Annie: Six months ago, I reconnected with the guy I have loved since grade school. “Thomas” left after graduation to live in another state. I know he has schizophrenia, and I’m willing to take the risk. Even though I’m 18 and still in high school, I plan to become a doctor. I’ve done research and know what I’m up against. Thomas says he hears voices and sees dark figures, and he snaps sometimes, but it seems like he can refocus once I get him to concentrate on me.
Last Thursday, Thomas broke up with me. He apologized for breaking my heart, but he says his schizophrenia is getting worse, and he fears he’s going to hurt me. Annie, Thomas knows I love him and would do anything for him. I gave up sleep and time to make sure he knows I’m always here. I listen to him and hold him close when he gets upset. I never get mad at him. We have never fought.
I don’t want to lose him again. That happened once, and we didn’t speak for three whole years! I don’t want to go through that emotional turmoil again. I know people say I’m “too young” to understand what love is, but I believe I have a good idea. I need advice. – Terri
Dear Terri: Thomas is telling you his schizophrenia is not under control, and he justifiably worries that he could hurt you or himself. Is he taking antipsychotic medication? He will need to do this for the rest of his life, and there are side effects. Schizophrenics also have an increased risk of drug and alcohol abuse. This is a lot of responsibility for anyone to take on.
We don’t doubt that you care deeply for Thomas, but you may be romanticizing your ability to “save” him. And your determination to have a relationship creates pressure that he apparently can’t handle. Please put his welfare first and simply be his friend with no other expectation, and encourage him to stick with appropriate medical treatment.