Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Roommate Thinks He’s the ‘True Prophet of Jehovah'”

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.

*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at [email protected].

79 comments… add one
  • Theenemyofmyenemyisagrilledcheesesandwich April 26, 2011, 3:03 pm


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    • Theenemyofmyenemyisagrilledcheesesandwich April 26, 2011, 3:16 pm

      Ok, now that I have that out of the way, I would definitely be open to the possibility that he has some form of PTSD, as Wendy suggested. This isn’t your responsibility to treat, AT ALL, but you may consider working with his family to attempt an intervention. People can have religion/faith/spirituality and not need to wake up their roommates in the middle of the night to share obsessive thoughts about learning a language. And faith should never NEVER be expressed in such a way that your family and friends fear for their safety. PLEASE MOVE OUT. He needs help. There is no way around it. You’re sitting on a ticking time-bomb, and the longer you wait to give him notice, the worse it will be once you do.

      If you have good communication with his family, do keep that communication open and let them know what you are going to do. Hopefully as a military family they have been informed of their rights, and the rights of the former soldier to health and counseling services through the VA. Hopefully they have/had a contingency plan for when a family member returns from a war-zone (if that is what his duties entailed).

      I know you want to be a good friend, and like Wendy said, you can only offer just as much strength and stability as your yourself have. Get yourself to a safe spot, at a distance (physically and emotionally) from the behavior, and only then will you be able to genuinely help your friend.

      Good Luck.

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        theattack April 26, 2011, 3:44 pm

        His family should in no way hold an intervention. Interventions are for trained professionals, and with how crazy this guy is acting, this shouldn’t be taken lightly. It’s not something you sit around in a circle and talk about like they do on tv.

      • TheGirl April 26, 2011, 3:46 pm

        I agree. The police need to be involved. If you document everything and present it to them, they can have him involuntarily committed long enough for a psychiatrist to do an evaluation.

      • Theenemyofmyenemyisagrilledcheesesandwich April 26, 2011, 3:57 pm

        I didn’t mean to imply that they should try to hold one themselves. Of course any action should be led and initiated by a mental health professional. That’s why I was suggesting that the roommate communicate with the family to see what their plan is in response to his behavior, and whether they have investigate resources through the VA.

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      bitter gay mark April 26, 2011, 8:44 pm

      Yeah. Seriously…this is the ONLY thing you really can do. Get out now!

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  • SpaceySteph April 26, 2011, 3:08 pm

    NO NO NO do NOT wait another couple weeks to see if this gets better. GET OUT.

    I know you want to do right by your friend but thats not the friend you know and love, thats a mental illness. I’m sure your friend does not want to hurt you, but in his current state, who’s to say he could stop himself?

    The right thing is to get yourself safe first, then try to help your friend. Its like when they talk about the oxygen masks on the airplane- even though you love your children sitting next to you, put the mask on yourself first, because you can’t help anyone if you pass out from lack of oxygen. Same with this: you want to help your friend, but you can’t help anyone if he stabs you in your sleep one night.

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  • cat-i-z April 26, 2011, 3:11 pm

    I agree that you need to get out now.

    He may have to be involuntarily put into a hospital to get help… but help is definitely what he needs.

    This letter hurts my heart… the poor soldiers that come back with mental health issues. One of my best friends struggled with PTSD and suicidal thoughts after returning from Iraq… with the help of counseling he is much better now.

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    • spaceboy761 April 26, 2011, 3:18 pm

      With any luck, the local branch of the VA can help out here.

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    • ArtsyGirly April 26, 2011, 10:45 pm

      Actually since I am guessing that this guy is in his 20s it is also very likely he has schizophrenia which often manifests late teens/early adulthood. I have a friend that suffers from it and a lot of his symptoms were similar, but it was caught pretty early on. No matter what, get out of the situation because it is very easy for this type of paranoid and irrational behavior to get violent.

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      • Sypher April 27, 2011, 8:45 am

        I had a friend in college who thought he was Jesus. His personality had completely changed and he had started hearing voices (something I found out later). He started doing drugs and one day committed suicide by jumping off a bridge. To this day I still have trouble making the connection from who my friend was in freshman year to who he transformed into in senior year.

        We never saw this coming. Get your friend some help. It does sound like he’s either in the midst of a psychotic break or suffering from PTSD. It was awful, he was 20 and we never expected it.

        Get him some help. contact his family, see if there is a therapist they can call, if not ask the family doctor for a recommendation. Either way he needs to see something. This is the equivalent of cancer to the mind–he needs help now and you need to get out of there–he is not in his right mind. You have no idea what he will do–he is not the friend you grew up –he is crazy right now00it doesn’t mean he can’t be treated–but right now protect yourself and your friend by letting his family know the situation

      • MellaJade April 27, 2011, 11:17 am

        I totally agree with ArtsyGirly – when reading this I immediately thought it sounded like a psychotic break and the onset of Schizophrenia and not PTSD. Either way LW, you need to get out, get safe and let his family know what’s going on.
        Good Luck!

  • Mel April 26, 2011, 3:14 pm

    Not sure what your legal situation is with your apartment, but if you have a lease, Wendy’s right that you should talk to the ladlord ASAP. These are special circumstances that justify you being let out of your lease early. If it’s just an arrangement with your roommate, then the check for a month’s rent should suffice, or let him keep your security deposit. No one’s going to force you to live with what sounds like a mentally ill person. Your safety should be your first priority.

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  • Rachelgrace53 April 26, 2011, 3:16 pm

    DO NOT give him notice. Don’t even tell him you’re leaving. This could be very dangerous if he’s shown violent behavior AND it’s been escalating. Wendy got it right. Write a check for next month’s rent and say adios. And definitely inform his family. In his mental state, he’s going to need help, and only his most trusted friends and family members should try to intervene.

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    • elisabeth April 26, 2011, 4:14 pm

      This thought crossed my mind as well. It may be unlikely, or worst case scenario, but I’d worry for your personal safety. Someone suggested writing the next month’s rent check and leaving it on your way out the door – do that. Then you’re giving notice without endangering yourself by remaining there physically, but you’re not pulling out without notice, either.

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  • TheGirl April 26, 2011, 3:19 pm

    This guy needs to be committed. Involuntarily if necessary. The sheriff’s office or police department can help with that, but I recommend you ask his family to do it. Take a picture of his wall when he’s not around and share it with them. I’m not a doctor, so I can’t tell you if its PTSD or schizophrenia, but it sounds like schizophrenia to me, which usually sets in during your early to mid 20s. In either case, drugs can really help. I also recommend that you move out, leave the guy a rent check for the month and do not leave a forwarding address. No need to give him a reason to attack you or anything.

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    • SalMarie April 26, 2011, 3:53 pm

      You are absolutely right, TheGirl. I’m a med student and though I clearly can’t “diagnose” him, I strongly agree that this behavior has many of the classic characteristics of a schizophrenic spectrum disorder. Obviously there are other possibilities and he will need to be diagnosed by a mental health professional, but disorders such as these can cause a person to turn extremely violent quickly and without much warning, and it seems that your roommate is already trending in the direction of violence. LW, don’t take the chance that YOU could be the next target of his next violent outburst! As others have said, you need to move out now – though this person is a friend, you are putting yourself in danger by staying in the house with him. PLEASE contact his family immediately and let them know the full severity of the situation so they can pursue the help your roommate needs. It’s the best thing you can do in this situation for yourself AND as a friend.

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      • Anne (I Go To 11) April 26, 2011, 10:44 pm

        My first thought was schizophrenia when I read this letter, too. Glad to see I’m not the only one.

        Yeah, the LW has to get out. Now. I seriously doubt things will improve if the LW stays there. His roommate clearly needs help, and the sooner he gets it, the better. LW, you’re in my thoughts and prayers.

    • mf April 26, 2011, 4:38 pm

      This does sound like it could be schizophrenia. This guy needs help. I hope the LW talks to someone who can intervene.

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    • KBobK April 26, 2011, 4:49 pm

      I absolutely agree with you. As I read this all I could think is the roommate must have schizophrenia. Especially because the LW made it sound like they were probably under 25.

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    • Britannia April 26, 2011, 6:20 pm

      I was going to write the same thing – this has delusional/paranoid schizophrenia written all over it. It’s terrifying and scary to watch someone slip into this disease; I had a boyfriend go through this and I understand how hard it is to step back and realize that this is a very serious illness and you have to think of yourself first… this LW needs to move out NOW, and have his family have him escorted to a mental health facility for evaluation, preferably RIGHT AFTER getting her last box out of the door, because trust me – it’s incredibly likely that he will harm himself or others in a psychotic fit upon discovering her absence.

      Schizophrenia can be one of those “functional” diseases, where the person still maintains a baseline of living conditions, like feeding themselves and keeping a roof over their heads. This makes it hard to know when to intervene, because you’re worried of offending them, but seriously – intervene NOW, before this situation gets any worse. He may end up on the streets or in prison if he doesn’t get help NOW… or he may end up slipping so far into his illness that help won’t help anymore, and he’ll be lost to you and his family. It’s better to get his butt into a hospital now and have him hate you than to have him deteriorate too much to be saved because you waited.

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  • cmarie April 26, 2011, 3:20 pm

    Move out and move out now. Your roommate is displaying classic symptoms of paranoia as well as schizophrenia. Does he have any past history of a mental illness diagnosis, not just episodes? Is he on medications? Does he have a regular therapist/psychiatrist? Get in contact with his family and let them know what’s going on. Not to sound rude but frankly I’m surprised it didn’t occur to the LW to let the roommates family know that something was off the first night he came into the room. Either way your roommate has some serious mental issue at play here and unless you want to end up in one of his delusions you need to leave ASAP.

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  • Teresa April 26, 2011, 3:22 pm

    I don’t have much to add…..Wendy’s right – I’ve dealt with CooCoo before. You’re best bet is to write the check for next month’s rent, and then move out when he’s not looking……..Love the picture with the column…..made me giggle.

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  • SGMcG April 26, 2011, 3:24 pm

    LW, you should have moved out yesterday! PLEASE move out now. As you’re leaving, call his parents – they need to know about their son’s behavior and how you’re threatened by it. And let your landlord know about his behavior too, before the destruction of property gets unrepairable – they may also help you move out/break the lease.

    If your roommate hasn’t done so yet, call the Office of Veteran’s Affairs too. They really can’t do anything for him until they get his social security number and verify his service, but at least they can maybe point you in the right direction towards getting help for him.

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  • Quakergirl April 26, 2011, 3:33 pm

    Your friend’s behavior is not normal and it won’t get better. I get that you want to believe it will, but these are hallmarks of serious psychological illness. Very, very serious. Honestly, this situation sounds similar to what my boyfriend’s uncle experienced after returning from Vietnam. It took years for him to be diagnosed with PTSD and many years for him to reach a functioning adult level. He’s doing well now (in his mid-50s), but the years he went without proper help ruined his marriage, his relationships with his children and extended family, and his career prospects. If you care about your friend at all, you need to face facts and alert someone with the ability to help him, such as his parents or a VA counselor.

    As for yourself, move out ASAP. Crash with your girlfriend, your parents, or another friend. I’d suggest you give a rent check to your landlord for the next month and get a receipt or written acknowledgment, rather than giving the check to your friend, though, because who knows if he’s capable of keeping track of it or paying on time. If your name is on the lease or sublet agreement, explain the situation to the landlord, too, and see if there’s a way to release yourself from the legal responsibility so that it won’t affect your credit or future rental possibilities.

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      Skyblossom April 26, 2011, 3:40 pm

      And show the landlord a picture of the writing on the wall so that he/she is aware of the physical situation in the apartment. Also send the picture of the writing on the wall to his family to stress the urgency of the situation.

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      • Theenemyofmyenemyisagrilledcheesesandwich April 26, 2011, 3:42 pm

        Excellent point about showing the landlord pictures!

    • SpaceySteph April 26, 2011, 4:14 pm

      I do want to caution that its likely not going to be so easy to get out of the apartment if its a corporation as the landlord rather than an individual. Those companies are dying to take you for all your worth.
      To break a formal lease, LW, you need to gear up with a fight. If your agreement is just with your roommate or with an individual who owns the property, then it would be alot easier, especially given that he is unstable.
      It will also help your case if you get him committed.

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      • Quakergirl April 26, 2011, 4:48 pm

        Good point, SpaceySteph. Those mega-rental companies are red-tape machines and bastards to boot. Be sure to document everything. Take pictures of the walls, and if he is ultimately admitted to a psychiatric hospital, see if his parents can provide a copy of the admitting documents.

      • SpaceySteph April 26, 2011, 5:10 pm

        My apartment was broken into once and a bunch of stuff stolen only a week after the complex had my tub resurfaced. I went to the office and demanded the name of the company that did the work, because these men had been in my apartment (when the burgulars came in they only took my tv, my laptop, and opened one drawer to retrieve my gun. Nothing else was opened… so how did they know to open that drawer?) and I suspected them of being involved. They flat out refused, didn’t allow me to terminate my lease early when I said I didn’t want to stay because of it, and then charged me part of my security deposit because the police dusted for fingerprints which left black marks on the built in wall unit.
        Bottom line, those companies are evil.

  • Tudor Princess April 26, 2011, 3:36 pm

    Please, please tell your friends family to contact their local VA rep. http://www.va.gov. There are many resources available and many of them free. This poor soldier needs help and he needs it now.

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  • llclarityll April 26, 2011, 3:40 pm

    Wendy, come on. The roommate is so obviously mentally ill, and you call him “bat-shit crazy?” I thought you were more sensitive and in-tune with stigmas than throwing around damaging language like that.

    The guy is very clearly schizophrenic. The LW needs to call the roommate’s parents and encourage them to get him admitted pronto.

    I love ya, Wendy, but your comments upset me today.

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    • Jane April 26, 2011, 4:03 pm

      Agree. The roommate is mentally ill. It’s not productive to call him derogatory names like “bat-shit” crazy.

      While I agree that the LW needs to move out ASAP, I do understand where he’s coming from. If a friend were mentally ill, and I truly cared about him/her, it’d be hard for me to just pick up and leave. But LW’s safety should come first.

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    • Kristina April 26, 2011, 4:23 pm

      Yes, I definitely agree. I took offense to her calling him “bat-shit crazy”. To me it definitely shows signs of strong schizophrenia, as I have two family members who have it. No matter what it is, this roommate is someone who is mentally ill and sick who needs help, not crazy.

      Drugs and therapy and other methods often work wonders and many schizophrenic people are able to live fairly normal lives.

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      TaraMonster April 26, 2011, 4:41 pm

      I scrolled down to the comments to address this specifically. My mother is paranoid schizophrenic with delusions of grandiosity. The onset is usually early 20s and is often triggered by a major shift in everyday life, such as going away to college, or in this case, military combat. I blanched when I read “batshit”, even though I’m accustomed to the way friends, acquaintances, and strangers react to my mother’s behavior by calling her crazy. To say it bothers me is quite an understatement.

      And I’d also like to add that while it sounds like this guy needs to be committed, that it’s extremely difficult to commit someone unless they prove they are a danger to themselves or others (which, from the letter, sounds inevitable), and even harder to get a schizophrenic to keep up with treatments. I’m only pointing it out because some of the comments are throwing the idea around. That said, the roommate needs to move the hell out ASAP and let his family know what’s going on. If he’s going to get help, it will be his family who goes through the motions.

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      Wendy April 26, 2011, 4:54 pm

      Ok, everyone, you’ve made your point. I hear what you’re saying. I have experience dealing with the mentally ill, too, and I guess I take a more stoic/de-sensitized approach than many of you. I’m sorry if some of you were hurt by my phrasing.

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      • Addie Pray April 26, 2011, 6:27 pm

        This sucks, because “bat-shit crazy” was going to be my new favorite thing to say, in addition to dumdum. And bag of dicks is another favorite.

      • Thyme April 26, 2011, 7:34 pm

        I use bat-shit crazy and dumdum all the time, but will you please use “bag of dicks” in a sentence for me?

      • Addie Pray April 26, 2011, 10:55 pm

        Here’s an example:

        People: Wendy, you are being offensive.
        Wendy: Eat a bag of dicks.

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        Wendy April 26, 2011, 7:38 pm

        I like Ice-T’s version: “Eat a hot bowl of dicks.”

      • GingerLaine April 26, 2011, 7:59 pm

        I love that you have a link for this on the ready. It’s like “You pressed 1 for IceT’s hot bowl of dicks.”

      • GingerLaine April 26, 2011, 7:51 pm

        If it makes you feel any better, Wendy, I’m Bipolar II, my mom has severe OCD, and I too have a lot of experience with other mental illnesses among friends & family. And yet “batshit crazy” is one of my favorite phrases. I refer to my friends & myself as “bitches” too, particularly in conjunction with the aforementioned, as in “you/these/us bitches are batshit crazy.” 🙂

    • anna728 April 27, 2011, 5:23 pm

      If schizophrenia does not constitute bat-shit-crazy, what does? How does pointing out that they guy has a mental illness make it LESS correct to call him crazy? That’s what crazy means. This is a guy who is posing a risk to himself, his family, and most pressingly, the LW. When the concern is about getting the LW to move out so the roommate doesn’t have a violent outburst and hurt the LW, I am not worried about using perfectly PC terms.

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  • jottino April 26, 2011, 3:41 pm

    1) perfect picture on the article. lol.
    2) please leave now. like … now. look for a new apartment the minute you finish reading this sentence. if you haven’t already. ask your girlfriend to help (but not necessarily to move in … that’s a different letter altogether).
    3) DEFINITELY talk to his parents. they need to know ASAP.

    good luck! and good luck to your buddy.

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  • CollegeCat April 26, 2011, 3:42 pm

    If this guy is your close friend please help him. Its so easy for us to make fun and call him crazy but he needs real help and seems to trust you. The raving and scribbling on walls and fear of “the system” sounds a bit like paranoid schizophrenia to me. I’m no psychologist but it could maybe also be PTSD? Either way I think you should get in touch with his family ASAP to stage some kind of intervention and at least get him to a psychologist or treatment center – voluntarily or not. I definitely agree that you should move out and maybe not even tell him when and where you’re going – just do it! But you also shouldn’t abandon your friend in his time of need. If you have the time and energy to see him through this you will be a better person for it.

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    • llclarityll April 26, 2011, 3:43 pm

      Amen, CollegeCat. I said the same thing above.

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  • Sarah April 26, 2011, 3:49 pm

    This letter reminded me of that actor that went cray cray and chanted bible verses while chasing his mother through their apartment before he cut her head off with a samurai sword.

    …so yeah, move out now.

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  • llclarityll April 26, 2011, 3:52 pm

    FYI, the vast majority of those who suffer from PTSD and/or schizophrenia are NOT violent, despite being portrayed that way. http://www.nami.org.

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      caitie_didn't April 26, 2011, 4:03 pm

      That is definitely true. But this guy already has a past history of violent outbursts, so in this case the LW is right to be concerned about his personal safety.

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    • TheGirl April 26, 2011, 4:06 pm

      I also agree that is true; however, I think most of us were responding to the LW’s comments which imply violent tendencies: “he’s gotten into arguments with friends that almost became physical” and “the last time he had an “episode” like this at his parents house, the police were called because he flew off the handle.”

      Those are both bad signs. I can’t imagine his parents would call the police if they weren’t frightened for their (and his) physical safety.

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    • Sarah April 26, 2011, 4:06 pm

      Yeah, but doesn’t the delusions of persecution and that he has had an episode that required the police suggest that he could become violent? No matter what, schizophrenics do have a higher risk of committing suicide, which is why this issue needs to be dealt with this very second.

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      TaraMonster April 26, 2011, 5:06 pm

      Thank you for saying this. I mentioned above that my mother is schizophrenic, and she’s not at all violent. Some of the things she says and does are alarming, but not violent. As others have pointed out, this particular person DOES seem to be violent, and that’s what’s being addressed. He may not even be schizophrenic. There are so many variations on the spectrum of mental disorders, it’s mind boggling, no pun intended.

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  • THE_LW April 26, 2011, 4:01 pm

    Thanks Wendy for the advice & to all the commentors. Just FYI, I moved in with my brother (temporarily) until I find a more permanent situation. My girlfriend was urging me to move out ASAP & I listened. I had to sleep with my bedroom door locked every night.
    I just want to mention that as of now he’s on this “peace & love” thing. But I know that many infamous people (Hitler!) started with that concept in their mind. Unfortunately his family is just as crazy as he is as they see nothing wrong with his “passion” about faith & love. His dad even drove him around one day while he was wearing one of those middle-eastern man dresses (idk how they’re called) trying to “fight the system” by showing everyone that not everyone that wears that is *evil*.
    My landlord is aware of what’s going on & she’s being very rude about the whole thing. Hopefully he finds the help he needs & we get the landlord situation sorted out!

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    • mf April 26, 2011, 4:44 pm

      Thanks for chiming in. It’s always good to hear from the LW.

      If you can’t get out of the lease, contact an attorney who specializes in small claims and/or real estate. Also, if possible, document any “crazy” things your roommate does: take photos, record conversations, write down conversations, save emails, voice messages, emails, etc. If you have to take legal action to get out of the lease, these records may help.

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    • mf April 26, 2011, 4:45 pm

      Also, it sounds like you really want to help your friend! Best of luck!

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    • sarita_f April 26, 2011, 5:10 pm

      @THE_LW – I have to urge you to PLEASE go beyond the family for some help. Contacting the VA would be a good place to start. Hell, if you PM me details as to where he lives I’ll do it for you. This is urgently serious and the poor guy needs help yesterday. Please please please don’t just stop with his family. I’m no doctor but a family that encourages (and possibly has the same tendencies) is NOT a good thing.

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      • WatersEdge April 26, 2011, 10:59 pm

        Unfortunately it would be completely illegal for someone to come and get the LW’s friend just because the LW said that he was having trouble. If neither he nor his family thinks he has a problem, there’s nothing the LW can do except keep his distance and be there if his friend decides to get help.

      • THE_LW April 26, 2011, 11:11 pm

        As of now, he’s aware that there’s something not working in his head, but he thinks its anxiety…He’s seen a therapist at the VA 3 times but hasn’t elaborated on their sessions. I want to be there for him but at a distance. He knows he has a friend in me but the good thing is I’m out of there.
        We’re supposed to have a meeting with the landlord tomorrow, so hopefully she’ll see the writings on his wall & fully understand what’s going on.

      • WatersEdge April 27, 2011, 1:28 pm

        Good luck! If he’s being even 50% honest with what’s going on in his head, his therapist probably has a good idea of what’s going on.

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        bitter gay mark April 27, 2011, 4:12 pm

        Good luck with your meeting with the landlord. I can only imagine how stressful all this has been on you. Hang in there.

  • Krissy April 26, 2011, 4:01 pm

    Your roommate sounds like he’s suffering from a manic episode or paranoid schizophrenia. Given his veteran status, it might also have something to do with PTSD, but sounds much more like schizophrenia to me given the rapid onset of symptoms. This is a very very serious condition which in essence alters your roommates though patterns. It is highly unlikely that he will be reasonable about seeking treatment or confronting the strangeness of his actions. While most schiziphrenic people aren’t violent, there is still the chance that they can be, especially given your roommates escalting behavior. I’d get out of there as soon as possible, and not tell him where you are going. I would also get in contact with his family and urge them to petition the court for hospitalization. He really needs to see a professional and it sounds like the only way that is going to happen is by having him commited to a psych hospital for an evaluation. If the family is in denial or refuses to get involved, you can follow through with a petition yourself. The sooner he gets help the better. He needs a diagnosis and treatment before the situation becomes any more dangerous! Good luck and I hope your roommate can get the help he needs!

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    • convexexed April 26, 2011, 9:25 pm

      Absolutely, I agree that this sounds like a possibility. Don’t feel guilty, LW, for not being able to ‘talk it out’. It’s not your fault and it’s not his. If he’s schizophrenic or not, any mental illness or distress that would cause this kind of psychosis is paralyzing his very ability to be ‘reasonable’, or to be an appropriate judge of his own behaviors, actions, and interactions. He’s not just being stubborn or dogmatic; the normal ‘checks and balances’ in his cognition and emotions are compromised. As a family member of someone with mental illness, I understand how deeply painful it is when you just can’t connect to the person you once knew, the person who doesn’t seem to be accessible anymore. You have to realize your own limitations, as well as his current ones, and do what’s best for you (take care of your own safety and well-being), and to the extent that you can, do what’s right by alerting the appropriate family members. There are resources and help for him out there, as well as resources and information for family members and loved ones.
      In cases like these, the conventional considerations (giving a month’s notice, for example) have to take second place to the urgency the situation calls for.

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  • sweetleaf April 26, 2011, 4:09 pm

    Oh my! This happened to one of my friends! His body eventually just completely shut down and his coworkers found him unconscious (his thoughts about being Jesus Christ and the prophet of God kept him awake for 6 days). He was taken to the ER, then escorted to a behavioral health facility by the police. He was suffering from some kind of psychosis and got some meds. He is 100% better now!

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  • WatersEdge April 26, 2011, 4:09 pm

    I work in mental health (to put it lightly). This sounds much more like a psychotic disorder such as schizophrenia than like PTSD. Schizophrenia usually comes out between the ages of 18-25 or so. The onset may be related to combat stress, but maybe not. You don’t just get schizophrenia from going to war though, it’s a complex interplay between genetic predisposition and environmental triggers.

    1) Tell his parents. They need to know. He probably can’t be committed involuntarily unless he’s talking about harming himself or others, unfortunately, but it’s their job to step in and advocate for him. If they seem overwhelmed, gently suggest that they get a social worker to help them navigate the system. Or tell them to call their family physician to get started.

    2) Move out. Although he’s agitated and rightfully making you feel scared, he is probably not as much of a threat to you as you think. He may be happy that you’re leaving so that he doesn’t have to wonder about your motives anymore. Make up an excuse, give him one month’s notice, and get out. Blame some other circumstance, but not one that he can check up on. Unfortunately people lie to paranoid people all the time, which feeds their paranoia. Don’t tell him you got fired from your job- maybe that your family needs help at home, or you found cheaper rent elsewhere. Stay friendly and don’t act weird.

    I had a good friend who had schizophrenia onset around age 20, and I was the first person he told about his conspiracy theories, so I know from personal experience how stressful this can be. I’m so sorry for what you’re going through. Protect yourself first, but do everything you can to help him, too. My friend responded well to medication, and while he was never the same, he was definitely much better eventually. There’s still hope for your friend to lead a full life.

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    • applescruff April 26, 2011, 4:39 pm

      You said it all. I also work in mental health, and I would lean much more toward paranoid schizophrenia than PTSD. Possibly bipolar disorder with psychotic features, but either way, LW, your roommate needs help, and you need to make sure you’re safe. Family physician, the VA hospital, or parents can help, but the sooner your roommate is helped, the better. If this is in fact a psychotic break, he will get slightly worse the more times he “breaks.” The quicker he can get help, the better. Best of luck to both of you.

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      Wendy April 26, 2011, 4:35 pm

      I agree that it sounds like schizophrenia, but the reason I didn’t say that is because: a) I’m not going to diagnose people I don’t know, especially since I’m not a doctor, and b) since the guy is a vet and since PTSD could be at play here, he may be able to get help from the VA, which is an option the family should pursue.

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      • WatersEdge April 26, 2011, 10:51 pm

        I wouldn’t expect you or anyone else to know the details of differential diagnoses in regards to mental illness, but a few of the PP’s were saying things that weren’t quite right and I wanted to throw it in. Nobody should diagnose people they don’t know, and I’m definitely not doing that, but I am a clinical psychologist, so I know that the behavior described above sounds very much like schizophrenia and should be evaluated.

  • MajinMD April 26, 2011, 4:13 pm

    Schizophrenia, schizophrenia, schizophrenia. PTSD? Probably not. When I was in med school, I did psychiatry at the VA hospital, and schizophrenia was the most common reason for inpatient admission, and PTSD was far less common (both in the hospital and in the clinics), even in the military veteran population. Granted, this is all third-hand, but the LW’s roommate’s story so perfectly matches that of schizophrenia that it reads like a boards question.

    As far as what the LW should do, the first thing is get out. Not all schizophrenics are violent, but if they delve deeper into the disease without treatment they could experience hallucinations that could turn dangerous. If you need to give a month’s notice and you’re worried that he’ll turn violent, quietly inform your landlord and make arrangements to stay with family or a friend during that time if you need to. I would also be more proactive about getting him help if he has another episode like this. You would be completely justified in calling the police, and he would likely be put on a 72-hour hold in the hospital for further psychiatric evaluation. It might seem extreme, but sometimes these kinds of actions are necessary to get a person with schizophrenia into the treatment they need.

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  • AKchic April 26, 2011, 5:39 pm

    You don’t say where you live, so I can’t give you accurate specifics on what you should be doing.
    First thing is first – look for a place to live. Immediately. Move everything out. If he asks, tell him that you are getting rid of everything in order to make “changes” in your life. Don’t specify those changes.

    Next, contact his parents and tell them EVERYTHING. See if they know whether or not he has been seeing a counselor. You said the police were called the last time he had an “episode”. Were formal charges filed? If so, then if he was sentenced already, a probation officer is the next person to talk to. Otherwise, contact his attorney (might be a public defender). They need to know these things because a probation officer CAN request a psych eval. A public defender can bring up his psychological issues in court to try to get him help.
    Is he actively working with medical/mental health teams at the VA? If so – contact them. His counselors/doctors need to know about this stuff. Mental illness like you’ve described usually makes itself known to friends/family/public by mid-20s. He is in serious need of help. You say you are his friend, now it’s time for you and his family to advocate for him.

    He needs a psychological evaluation and a proper diagnosis. There will be medications, possibly bio-feedback therapies to help him. If he goes untreated, he WILL hurt someone. Not might, will. Assault is common. He may kill someone. Maybe even himself in the process. Don’t wait. If you have a local mental health outreach program, call them and ask them for help too. They might be able to give you location-specific information that I don’t have.

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    • THE_LW April 26, 2011, 11:14 pm

      Let’s just say I live in one of the most expensive real-estate cities in the country…I think his parents didn’t go through on the charges & honestly, I didn’t even know about that “episode” until we were already moved in!
      I’ve def. learned my lesson about thinking thoroughly about moving in with someone, even if they are a friend.

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      • AKchic April 27, 2011, 3:39 pm

        Good for you on realizing you need to vet your roommates carefully. Unfortunately, mental illness isn’t always something you can screen for and know without a doubt that a person will end up with it (or not end up with it).

        I hope you and your loved ones are able to stay safe in case he does turn violent during his episodes as you move, and I hope that you are able to get in touch with his parents so they can help him. He will need it.

  • Kare April 26, 2011, 6:53 pm

    Although it seems likely that the roommate has a mental illness, there could be an underlying issue such as drugs. I had a roommate who would pop Adderall and act crazy. She would lecture people on the Bible and come up with all these religious theories. She would also try to start fights, accuse everyone of stealing from her, and call the cops on people. When not abusing prescription drugs, she was totally normal. Needless to say I moved out. No matter what the cause of the behavior, the LW needs to get out ASAP.

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  • cdjd2614 April 26, 2011, 7:56 pm

    Many of the syptoms the LW described also go along with meth use. I know multiple people who got hooked on meth and they all had delusions and thought people were out to get them, one of them would throw steak knives at the wall cause she was convinced “they” were hiding in there. They would also go through their “phases” at night since it’s hard to sleep when taking meth. Whatever it is though, your roomate clearly needs to be committed, so get out, just make sure you don’t get caught in the process and become the victim of one of his outbursts.

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  • peter April 26, 2011, 8:50 pm

    Please contact one of the veterans organiations, specalist care is needed, your local cops will not be a good starting point.

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      bitter gay mark April 26, 2011, 9:14 pm

      Excellent idea. But you must be very careful as the guy is seriously paranoid. And you are in a dangerous proximity…

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  • Wendy April 27, 2011, 8:58 am

    Looks like the guy went off his meds when he left the family home and went out on his own. That’s why he was normal before and is not normal now. Get the hell out before something bad happens.

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    • AKchic April 27, 2011, 3:43 pm

      If he had a mental illness prior to moving out of the family home, he would not have been able to pass the military psych evals. He was able to join the military, therefore, there was no mental illness on record and no sign of mental illness at the time he went through MEPS.

      This came about AFTER he joined the military. Whether it is because of his service to our country, or if it is a chemical imbalance, drug addiction, or a serious mental breakdown (that might very well be genetic), this happened after he joined the military. Whether or not it was a factor in his departure from service is not explained and probably unknown to the LW. Either way, as he is not married, his family is the best ones to advocate for him unless the authorities get involved and he ends up with a case manager of some sort.

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  • cdobbs April 27, 2011, 9:30 am

    I was in a somewhat similar situation! This person actually thought he was a police officer and a member of the SWAT team. He even had a badge and bullets (never saw a gun, thank GOD!). He would have fake phone conversations with people about going to court to testify or that one of his “fellow officers” was killed in the line of duty (but then strangely enough, nothing would turn up on the news). One day the police showed up at our apartment to arrest him for impersonating an officer (needless to say I was stunned because I actually believed him). Since it was my apartment I asked him to leave as I was afraid (of him and for him). I did offer to help him get professional help (for mental illness and also drug and alcohol abuse). He basically lashed out at me and threatened me, so I removed myself from this situation. He ended up killing himself! To this day I feel terrible and wish I would have done something more!

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  • hyrum April 28, 2011, 4:59 am

    I don’t mean to be vulgar, but I have been through this type of situation before, and what seems to snap them out of it (or make them no longer want to be around you) is ask him if he loves Jesus. Then ask him if he would be willing to give Jesus head if he asked him to. If he does not, then how can he say he is a true follower.

    I hope he snaps out of it, or doesn’t freak out when you move out, or Jesus gets a blow job (don’t forget to introduce the guy as Jesus if he agrees to it, if you call him some other name he’ll know what is up, besides a dick)

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