Hello, I’ve been with my girlfriend for 7 years. I’m totally in love with her and I followed her to NY when she landed her dream job a couple of years ago. Recently, she was fired for reasons here undisclosed. Obviously this was a gigantic blow for both of us. Since then, she’s developed a series of behaviors that have led to me wanting to seek help here. In a nutshell, she has always been a sensitive and highly empathic person and she claims that she’s been given a new calling from a higher being. She spends her nights now looking across the street at one of our neighbors, like in a movie, and with a video game controller, she follows what he’s doing. She says that she is watching over him and that she will make his life better like this since he seems lonely to her. On top of this, she’s fasting; only eating fruits and nuts during a certain portion of the day. All of it seems super calculated and ritualized in great detail. I come from an extremely religious family so I’ve seen similar but never ever like this. And this doesn’t correspond to any popular religion. I’ll say that she has never exhibited behavior like this in all the time we’ve been together. I’m obviously extremely worried about her and on a selfish note, I miss her a lot because she doesn’t seem to need or want me anymore. The other thing is that she seems totally lucid when I speak with her, but what she does seems not right of course. She has not yet lost her temper with me or lashed out at me though even when I try to get her to stop. And another thing is that she’s extremely proud and distrustful of doctors so I’m afraid that if I try to get her to see one, she’ll break up with me. I’m wondering if I could get advice on what to do? Is it okay to start a correspondence with a doctor behind her back and try things out to see if she gets better? For example, since I’m a cook and she used to love my cooking, I’m going try to at least get her to eat by making some of her favorites. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
I wish that you would have shared why she was fired. It would have helped me to have a more complete understanding of what might be wrong.
You are right to be concerned. Especially odd, is her watching your neighbor and believing that she has any control over him. She may be exhibiting magical thinking, grandiosity and paranoia, symptoms commonly associated with psychosis.
Out of context and without intimate knowledge of your girlfriend’s personality, personal life, etc., diagnosis is impossible. Please keep that in mind.
Try to think back over the past couple months. Is there anything that could have triggered this event? She was fired but what about before that? Did she experience a trauma? A move? Health problems? A death in the family? Did she give birth? Has she been using drugs? Those types of experiences can sometimes trigger psychotic episodes.
Her distrust of doctors is concerning. It may mean that she is unwilling to undergo an evaluation, still that is precisely what is needed. Paranoia may also be why she’s refusing to eat the food you cook.
If psychosis is present, time is of the essence. Psychotic episodes are treatable but not if a person is unwilling to participate in treatment.
Tied into these issues seems to be your fear of her breaking up with you. Don’t worry about that now. This is not personal. She’s not doing these things to you. It’s important that you separate the person from the illness (assuming an illness is present). Her behavior is likely beyond her control and requires professional intervention. Love can’t cure mental illness; only treatment can, and that treatment must involve mental health professionals.
If you fear for her safety or yours, don’t hesitate to call emergency services. When people are in the throes of a psychotic episode, they often don’t realize that they are ill. They sometimes inadvertently put themselves or others at risk of being hurt.
You asked whether you should contact a doctor “behind her back?” I would not characterize your contacting a doctor as being “behind her back.” If she is ill and refusing help, then you have no other choice. It is the responsible course of action. Contact the professionals as soon as possible. They will know what to do. Please write again if you have additional questions. Good luck.
Dr. Kristina Randle