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Caring For A Friend Who Is Mentally Ill

schizophreniaI met a guy when last I was an inpatient in the psych ward. He was courteous, funny, and artistic. I was only there a week, but halfway through the week I knew we would be forever friends.

Last Saturday I drove to meet him at his military base. We drove back to Nashville. He bought an acoustic guitar. He played for me. He has 9 guitars in Maine where he is from, but he needed one here, with him.

He told me he had attended 7 high schools because he was always getting kicked out for being a “trouble child.” I find that hard to believe except for the fact that I know he lives with schizophrenia.

He hears voices in his head – a mixture of them, always talking or telling him stuff. He is NOT violent nor paranoid. Simply sick. He hates when it is quiet, like bedtime, because this is when it is the worst.

We have kept in touch since last I saw him. A few text messages here and there. But then I didn’t hear anything back from him for two days, which was strange.

Today I texted him a “Hey.” He responded an hour later with, “I am going into the hospital.” I asked what was going on. I asked him to call me once he was settled. I asked him to give me his patient number so I could call him. I told him I would be missing and thinking about him and I told him everything would be okay.

Then. I cried.

I cried because he was so ill that he felt the best place for him was the hospital.  I cried because maybe the voices were scaring him. I cried because he deserves a break Рfrom the voices in his mind and the hospital food and the meds.

I do believe he will be well. I do believe there is medication cocktail that will allow him to live a relatively stable life. They just haven’t figured out how much of this or that he needs.

And I hate it.

Don’t get me wrong. When you are sick, the best place to be is a hospital, that goes for mental illness as well. Wouldn’t you rather be in a place where everyone’s purpose is to help you, make you well, and protect you? I would. I have been. I know that it is better for him in a psych ward than the barracks.

But I just hate that he is in that “place” again – that head-space. I was hoping to hang out this weekend. Two “crazy” people out on the town. You see, that is another thing I like about him. He gets it. He knows about how it feels and how you are treated when you are mentally ill. He knows about the hospitalizations. He can relate and that is beyond nice. It is comfort.

All I can do now is wait for a phone call – and maybe that won’t come until he is released and has his cell phone again. I can pray to my God that he is okay, that he gets better. I just want him to be well and will do anything I can to make that happen. If that means texting him every 4 hours to remind him to take his meds, I will do it until he can do it himself.

Being mentally ill isn’t easy, but I know first-hand, that caring about someone with a mental illness is hard too.


Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at

Caring For A Friend Who Is Mentally Ill

Elaina J. Martin

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APA Reference
Martin, E. (2016). Caring For A Friend Who Is Mentally Ill. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 4, 2020, from


Last updated: 30 Apr 2016
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