About four months ago, I moved in with a friend I’ve known since elementary school. We went to high school together, but then he dropped out and joined the army. I hadn’t seen him in years but he would call me every time he was in town. Once his army duties finished, he moved back to our hometown, and we decided to be roommates. At first, everything was great. We got along and seemed to coexist together really well. However, over the past month or so, there has been a drastic change in his behavior, and I’m starting to worry.
For one thing, he’s been getting REALLY into the bible and religion and “seeking the truth.” There have been some instances where he’s gotten into arguments with friends that almost became physical over what’s right and what’s wrong. And last week my girlfriend and I were about to go to sleep and he knocked on the door saying he needed to talk to me. He began saying “I need to learn Hebrew…etc.” I had to stay in his room with him for a half hour because I was afraid he was going to lose it. He kept talking to me about how he “found the answer to life,” believes he is a “true prophet of Jehovah,” and how “the system” is out to get him. (By the way, the last time he had an “episode” like this at his parents house, the police were called because he flew off the handle.) Then last night, it happened again. He walked around the block, then came back in and started to write all over the walls in his room. He kept saying things like he wanted to create his own religion, and again about “the system” is evil.
I’m worried about him; I care about him as a friend and don’t want to see him go downhill, but I can’t live like this. I’ve been (seriously) considering moving out, but I need to inform him at least a month in advance and I’m worried of how he’ll react. What if he goes crazy on me one night thinking I’m part of “the system.” How can I politely tell him I think he needs serious help and that I don’t want to live with him anymore. Should I wait another couple of weeks and see if things get better? Not only is this stressing me out, but my girlfriend isn’t comfortable staying in the house anymore, so it’s putting stress on my relationship too. Please help! — Scared Roommate
Your roommate is so bat shit crazy he’s writing on the walls and swearing he’s the “true prophet of Jehovah,” and you’re only considering moving out? Are you crazy, too? Pack your bags and get out of there! Stay with family; stay with friends; crash at your girlfriend’s place until you find a new apartment. And forget this nonsense about needing to give your roommate one month’s notice. Just write a check for the next month’s rent and figure the rest out later. If there’s a lease you need to break, talk to your landlord about what you’re dealing with. Or, talk to your friend’s parents.
If you’re truly worried about your friend — and it seems you definitely have reason to be — his family should be the first people you speak to. Obviously, if they’ve had to call the cops on him before, they’re aware of his issues, and should be updated on his most recent episodes. Having greater insight on his mental health, and perhaps more influence than you, your friend’s family will hopefully have better luck than you in getting him the professional help he needs.
There are a host of things that could be wrong with your roommate, including PTSD from any potentially stressful action he may have seen during his military service, but the bottom line is you’re fairly limited in the amount of help you can offer your friend. The person you really need to focus on right now is you and making sure you’re safe and out of harm’s way. Get yourself into an immediate temporary home, start looking for another long-term option, and get in touch with your roommate’s family and explain what’s going on and ask them the best way to communicate with your roommate that you’ll no longer be living with him. Good luck.
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