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.
Dear Annie: Our son is marrying a beautiful woman from Mexico. The cost of the flights are more than his siblings can afford, not to mention the hotel, dresses, tuxes, showers, parties, etc. But we will help our kids because we know our son would be hurt if they didn’t attend.
The bride’s family may put us up at the hotel, which would be nice, but I don’t want us to look like moochers. Do we still offer to pay for the rehearsal dinner? We have told our son how much money we can give them for a wedding gift, and all of this will deplete nearly all of our savings. Any advice? — Need a Money Tree
Dear Need: Please don’t spend more than you can afford. Tell your son you have a budget that will have to cover all costs, including the rehearsal dinner. If it costs more, he will need to pay for it himself. It’s OK to accept the offer from the bride’s family to put you up at a hotel. And it is not unreasonable to suggest to your son that he and his new bride have a reception later in your hometown for his siblings and other friends. We hope he can be reasonable instead of being hurt.
Dear Annie: This is in response to “Frustrated Dad,” whose son plays video games all night and sleeps all day. Our son was the same. When things crashed, it turned out he was hiding vodka, drinking all night and sleeping all day.
We had no idea our son was an alcoholic. Dad might want to check whether there is always a big bottle of mouthwash around. — Dad Who’s Been Down that Path
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to email@example.com, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 Third St., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.