Can Someone Over 40 Have Schizophrenia All Along And Not Know It?


Asked by rainstorm

Can Someone Over 40 Have Schizophrenia All Along And Not Know It?

Maybe someone out there can tell me what I can do to help myself. My situation, while not necessarily unique, is still a tough one.

I'm curious as to whether or not a person can develop paranoid schizophrenia or other schizoaffective disorder in their 40s & on.(?) Reason I want to know is because I've been having problems with paranoia/suspicion of others around me since my mid-teens.

Though I've been able to deal/cope with this most of my life using medication prescribed for general anxiety, I'm unable to purchase the anxiety meds due to financial reasons, and I'm unable to see a doctor. Not long after my 39th birthday ( 3 years ago ) the thoughts and odd behavior began to intensify. I don't know, but whatever's wrong with me, it's much worse that simple anxiety. My doctors in the past were paid for by state funds or employer-sponsored insurance, and they seemed unwilling to look any further beyond my anxiety and panic issues.

I also recently found out that I had a great aunt who spent the better part of 40 years locked away in an institution in Finland due to paranoid schizophrenia. She died there. No one in my family knows much about her or her illness, and the few who do know about it really won't talk about her because they are embarrassed.

My own mother has displayed odd behavior in this regard as far back as I can remember. I grew up with her constantly accusing me of stealing her clothes/jewelry/etc. She was both physically and verbally abusive. I grew up hating her because of the constant verbal attacks and nightmares that she was going to try and kill me one fine day. Now I see her just as a mentally ill old woman and try to ignore her behavior. It's hard, though, because I'm now having problems with this myself.

Is schizophrenia genetic? Does this even sound like schizophrenia? Asperger's Syndrome runs in my family as well. My brother and my son both have AS. I believe my maternal grandfather had it.

In the last two years I've quit two jobs in a row because the idea that my coworkers were plotting to get me fired was so overwhelming that I actually started crying in front of my bosses and coworkers, moaning aloud that everyone there hated me. I'm unable to read people's faces & body language, so I can never tell what they are thinking about me. I naturally assume the worst (and I'm frequently proven correct). I'm told this is a trait of people with Asperger's, but I don't think AS is my problem. All I know is that there's something fundamentally skewed about my thought process.

My doctors in the past have prescribed meds to me for anxiety and depression, but I stopped taking them a few years for lack of money and because they intensified the suicidal thoughts. Example: While on Prozac, I deliberately rammed my car into the back of a semi truck trailer at 40 mph and almost broke my neck. I've been unable to communicate to doctors what is wrong with me. Either they're not asking the right questions or I'm not giving the right answers, but I know that Anxiety is not "the" problem. I believe it's a symptom of something else much worse. The bottom line is that I can't seem to get anyone to believe me, let alone help me. Meanwhile, as the months go by, my mind is unraveling bit by bit.

My husband helped me start my own business this past year with the idea that if I was "the boss," then that would supposedly alleviate the thoughts that people around me were trying to get me fired. Theoretically, this should have alleviated a lot of my fears.

Wrong... instead it only created a whole new set.

Now I'm so paranoid that my employees and business partners are trying to find reasons to sue me that I can't trust any of them. I'm worried that the government is wanting to stick me with a massive tax bill and/or levy fines against me. This burden is so heavy that I literally can't function anymore. Now my business is suffering because I can't function more than 2 days in a row to get anything of any significance done. I don't care to spend any time with other people because I've never been able to deal with social situations well. What few friends I have left are no longer speaking to me. The peope who talk to me now are family - unfortunately, they HAVE to talk to me.

I'm spending most of my days staring off into space and crying because I cannot shut my mind off or at least get it together. I get maybe 4 hours of sleep per day, and just when I'm finally able to drop off to sleep, the thoughts creep back in and tell me I'm about to be in big, big trouble with the government and that I should just go ahead kill myself because there is no other way out. This stuff invades my dreams and wakes me up at 4:00am - I have to go outside into the back yard and talk myself out of suicide nearly every morning these days. Because I haven't been able to get help, I'm running out of reasons to convince myself to stay alive.

The stress of owning a business is far more intense than simply holding a regular job and the burden of everything I have to do is too much. I can't seem to get across to my husband that I'm having problems. He simply doesn't believe me or is unwilling to admit that there's something majorly wrong with me. He accuses me of putting on an 'act' to get attention, and he thinks I can just flip some mental switch and "fix this." He doesn't understand that what's wrong with me isn't simply a matter of getting a grip on my thoughts and getting my head screwed on straight. It isn't "mental laziness."

There is no "choice" in this matter. Why would anyone "choose" to lose their mind?

At 42 years old, I want to be a sucessful businesswoman and graphic designer. However, I find myself unable to control the thoughts that flow through my mind. Some days the thoughts are like little waves lapping at the shore of my mind, and on others, they're a tsunami of negativity and self-hate. This truly scares me. There aren't any disembodied voices per se, just this overwhelming notion that takes me over. It's a conviction that emerges out of nowhere, informing me that my existence is futile. The days where I'm convinced that everyone in the world hates me and wants to ruin me are now starting to outnumber the days when my thought process is more or less "normal."

What does someone in my position do?

I've tried to pose the above questions on other forums this past week while looking for answers and they are summarily deleted or disregarded because the word 'suicide' is mentioned - as if the very word itself will convince online readers to suddenly decide to top themselves. However, how can these kind of questions be answered if they are always deleted or ignored?

best wishes to all,



Hello again,

Late-Onset Schizophrenia is possible and can indeed occur in a person's forties or fifties. Read this SharePost about the topic of late-onset schizophrenia.

Also: people with schizophrenia often have trouble reading faces and body language.



Answered by Christina Bruni