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Rubyfree
Nov. 25, 2009, 03:48 PM
This is going to be very long and probably embarrassing. However, I am completely at my wits end and contemplating doing something rash.

My only sibling is a brother who is ten years older. He is 38. Ten years ago, when I moved out of my parents home, he moved back in, supposedly for six months or so to get his feet back under him.
He's still there.
Over the course of these ten long years, I've watched him change from a charming, curious, outgoing man into a neurotic, petty and dangerously obsessive one. I don't know where to begin to explain this- so here are some examples of behavior.

- He lost a job and was railroaded out of an entire industry locally after having a complaint lodged against him by an 19 year old female coworker. He doesn't understand what was inappropriate about his behavior; he felt that multiple daily calls and repeated requests to 'hang out' was just being friendly, despite her continued refusals.

- I had a cat who went to live with my parents while I was relocating. While there the cat was diagnosed with cancer; he deteriorated rapidly. A month after the cat went to live there my brother called me sobbing, saying that he couldn't get the cat to eat or move, and he was obviously dying. I was several hundred miles away; I told him that I was going to find a vet who would come to the house to end the cats suffering. My brother launched into a profanity laden tirade so loud that my boyfriend could hear it in the next room. This was on the phone, mind you. He accused me of wanting to kill the cat, told me I was torturing him trying to force him to be present at the 'killing', on and on.

- He has turned into a hoarder extraordinaire. My parents house has very little living space. More than 50% of the useable floor space is taken up by my brothers things. He collects action figures; there are garbage bags full of action figures in their boxes stuffed into the spare room. The hallway to the spare room is impassable because it's filled with piles of books, action figures, etc. The dining room is filled with his 'work'- he's taken up photography- and unusable and impassible spare for a path wide enough to walk through. The two unused upstairs bedrooms are literally wall to wall with his belongings. On a recent foray into one of these rooms, I found a box filled with empty condiment bottles, pasta boxes and food cans. There was also a box filled with dry goods from his old apartment that he moved out of ten years ago. The garage is also wall to wall with his things; additionally, he has a storage unit- that my parents pay for- that is wall to wall with such valuable possessions as my parents very first couch, broken down and threadbare, etc. He becomes violent when you attempt to throw anything away. I once poured myself a cup of coffee at the house and discovered that the mug was cracked; when I poured the coffee into a new mug the crack split and the mug fell apart. I threw it out. My brother found the mug in the trash a few minutes later and verbally assaulted my Mother for allowing it to be thrown out; he said that it was a gift, and that if she didn't want the gifts he gave her anymore he should give them back.

- Which leads to- his treatment of my Mother and to a lesser extent, my Father. The verbal abuse he subjects her to is extraordinary. He mocks her intelligence, appearance and decision making skills; he berates her for not doing things 'the right way'- things like his laundry, cooking him meals, cutting and matting his photos, etc.
My father is a difficult man, always has been, and has not always been very kind to my Mother, but he NEVER treated her like this. The stress in the house is palpable. My Father is done with my brother, has been for quite a while, and my Mother feels very trapped in the middle. The stress has begun to affect her mentally in a way that is flat terrifying. I fear for her long term sanity.

Repeated attempts to discuss this situation with my Mother are fruitless. She feels- probably rightly- that brother is incapable of functioning in society and that his only chance of survival is with their assistance. My father won't talk to me about it. My brother is also verbally abusive and cruel to me; I'm capable of distancing myself from him but efforts to discuss this with him result in screaming, name calling and other such nastiness; he loves to talk about how 'lucky' I am to have found a husband and have a house, etc, and that I can't possibly understand how difficult his life is. He has no friends, as you can imagine. My godmother makes frequent stays at the house to help my Mother out, but she isn't capable of standing up to my brother. My Uncle and grandmother- the only close extended family- can't begin to approach the level of involvement required to help him or my parents.

I recently had to put down my personal cat after a long illness. After hearing this, my brother spent several days telling my mother what a terrible person I was, how I have no respect for life, how I should have taken the cat to them so he could 'live out his days'. My brother had met the cat a handful of times. After this, I asked my parents to sign a health care proxy with my name on it; I envisioned horrible confrontations in a hospital on some distant sad day where one of them was suffering and being kept alive through great effort to no good end, and my brother refusing to allow them to go peacefully. They signed the proxy and gave me clear instructions as to their preferred level of intervention is such a situation.

He lives in their house rent free. They pay for his car, food, cell phone, you name it. He did recently start making some money through photography but up until that he'd been without a job for four years.

I'm heartbroken and at a loss. I have no idea how to help my parents get out from under his tyrannical rule or to get him the help he obviously needs. The stress on my end is such that at this point I am considering stepping away from my whole family to save my own sanity, but I can't begin to imagine what will happen to my Mother at that point.

Is there anything I can do here? I don't know what advice anyone might have that would help, but if you have any ideas- please, please share them. Sorry for the book; I'm grasping at straws here. Psychologists encouraged to reply ;)

SmartAlex
Nov. 25, 2009, 03:56 PM
My uncle is very much like your brother. I am barely on speaking terms with him. My mother is beginning to be afraid of him.

Kudos to you for getting your parents to make health care proxys and good luck with that. It's only going to get rougher.

I would recommend counseling for you. You need a support system, and someone to let you know your take onthe situation is valid, and offer suggestions for dealing with specific situations. If you can get your parents to go too, that's great. You aren't, by any means, the only person suffering through a situation like this.

Oh, and BTW, I'm in Western NY too. Howdy Neighbor!

mjrtango93
Nov. 25, 2009, 03:56 PM
First off is your mother or brother willing to see a phsychologist? It's sounds like your father would not be a candidate to really try it out, but another person for your mom could probably be greatly beneficial to her, and possibly teach her some skills for dealing with your brother.

As for your brother, (I am no Dr, but......) he sounds like he has something wrong with him. Almost schitzophrenic sounding, but possibly something like a bi-polar. The hourding and verbal abuse need to stop, and he needs to learn to re-integrate back into society. Before he moved back to your parents was he "normal"? Could he carry on with his life like other people? Can you think of an event that triggered the behavior?

Readygirl
Nov. 25, 2009, 03:57 PM
So sorry for you, a very difficult spot to be in. Obviously it sounds like brother has some mental health issues going on for which no one is going to address. Is it possible to call the local DSS and report elder abuse? The verbal screaming at you mother fits in those guidelines and they can send adult protective services in to make sure she is safe and possibly facilitate an exam of brother.
No names are ever given so no one will ever know if was you that called unless you tell them.

SGray
Nov. 25, 2009, 03:58 PM
when they ask, then you can help -- nothing can be done until they are ready

petesperson
Nov. 25, 2009, 04:13 PM
I am so sorry for you and your mother. Your brother sounds quite ill. I don't have any insights, but I have found the psychcentral.com forums to be very useful in dealing with a family member who had a different mental illness:

http://psychcentral.com/

winfieldfarm
Nov. 25, 2009, 04:16 PM
SGray, I understand your thoughts, standing on the outside looking in. But OP is not on the outside. She is in it, family.

I am sure OP is fearing the worst, something that can't be undone.

He needs to have a serious intervention. Sounds like violence towards her parents is the next step due to the anger. Unfortunately, you brother is probably suffering a serious chemical imbalance of the brain. This is a physical problem that can not be "will-powered" thru. Chemical imbalances generally need pharmecuticals to break the cycle and reset the engine. If it were me (and crazy runs in my mother's fam), I would strongly push for him to spend some time in a secure hospital situation to get some meds into him, get him diagnosed, get your parents some breathing room to try and come to grips with their son's future.

No matter what, the situation and the solution will make the faamily dynamic worse for everyone before it can ever get better. Whatever you do, you must be fully committed to the process and it's potential outcomes.

for your own sanity (no pun intended) I second getting yourself some counseling on how to stay focused and strong thru this. Call some in patient facilities to find out the process of getting a family member help.

Good luck. Having mental illness in the family is so emotionally exhausting to everyone it touches. Not everyone handles it objectively.

Rubyfree
Nov. 25, 2009, 05:18 PM
Before he moved back to your parents was he "normal"? Could he carry on with his life like other people? Can you think of an event that triggered the behavior?

He has always had these tendencies but they have become much more extreme. He certainly used to have a pretty normal social life & was a valued professional member of an insular theater community before he moved home.

I don't know if there was one 'trigger'- but he makes no secret of feeling cheated by life, and moving home was demoralizing to him. It's been downhill from there.

I am going to look into therapy for myself. I'm very much my fathers daughter; I don't do emotion very well, and talking to a stranger is sort of terrifying, but I have to do something for myself here.

SGray- I hear ya. I'm usually the first to trot out this valid advice. However, in this situation- I fear for my Mother's well being. I can't stand by and with that fear in my heart.

Winfieldfarm, thank you for that post. I have no idea how to pursue treatment for him by myself. Perhaps getting my Mother to attend therapy with me would be a start.

I know he is sick. I appreciate all the responses and kind words. This is very hard for me and it's comforting to have support.

slc2
Nov. 25, 2009, 05:48 PM
'Interventions' like the group meetings to confront alcoholics, are not recommended in most cases of mental illness. It's important to recongize how profoundly mental illness affects a person's ability to understand communication and evaluate information. It's not usually at all a good idea to 'gang up on' a person who's getting ill. A quiet, calm, VERY non threatening, patient laid back approach is far, far more likely to be absorbed and understood and gets a better response. Often mentally ill people are suspicious and afraid, many are having a hard time understanding conversations with more than one person contributing.

Keep it simple, gentle and non threatening - do NOT corner suspicious, threatened feeling people. If a person wants something - shades drawn, doors locked, I go ahead and do it. If they're terrified of something - hot water, ceiling fans, whatever, try to accomodate. Letting them have some sort of dignity, being supportive, it helps.

In most cases, keep it at one trusted person, and keep the conversation simple and non threatening. Often the person will make their own choice. An older sister, an uncle...often it's not parents. That has to be accepted - let the person choose. Often they prefer someone they have a LESS close relationship with.

Keep it very warm and calm. Don't argue about their past actions or try to prove to them they're sick.

Think of that first conversation as being one of many, and don't make it urgent or overwhelming. Just a single comment can help. Let the person back away and let them go think and process it.

'Joe, I see lately you seem very worried and stressed. I'd love to help you. I've been worried too. Want some coffee?'. And THAT CAN BE IT for the first time. Just take it easy and slow. You're confident and calm and not in a hurry, you get further. DON'T SAY 'WE'. Express your OWN feelings in a simple, calm way.

Getting counseling for yourself is a super, super idea. Dealing with an illness in the family is very difficult, and most people need suggestions about how to help their loved one as well as how to reduce their own stress.

It's also very hard to remain calm when a person is behaving in surprising and often frightening ways. Discussing it with someone who can break the behavior down into 'symptoms, not personality' and 'illness, not choice', really helps. Knowing what you experience is just typical of an illness can actually be conforting. It's awful hard to feel loving when someone is shouting or cursing. You need help and support too.

I think your brother needs a psychiatrist. It sounds like he is becoming mentally ill. People often go along mildly affected for a long time and get worse in their mid thirties. It's not at all unusual to hear people say, 'He's always been a little like this, but lately...'

Such a thing is no one's fault, least of all his. It's not a choice or a lifestyle or eccentricity. A psychiatrist can help him determine what he needs - medication, therapy, supportive planning - there are so many things that can help.

Don't blame your brother, yourself or your parents. These things are medical problems just like heart disease or diabetes. The only difference is that they affect thinking and behavior. No one event is responsible, no one 'caused' this. This is just something that happens. You didn't mistreat him, neither did anyone else. But often a life change will be when family members say, 'Oh gosh, Joe really just is not bouncing back from Grandma's death like the rest of us. What's wrong?'

It's often tough to get people to accept help. It's embarrassing and frightening for people, and even further, often people with these conditions have a tough time analyzing and observing and evaluating their own symptoms - they don't see them as symptoms, it's more things that happen around them or things other people do. Not because they are selfish or that - but because they have trouble analyzing and evaluating.

Not insisting they are sick or crazy helps. Suggesting ANYONE would need help after losing a job and having stressful life events helps. Emphasizing sympathetic help and support as being something everyone deserves and as a basic right, helps. Viewing psychiatrists as 'experts in helping people feel better' and as supportive friends also helps. Viewing treatment as 'finding out how to feel better' helps as does a practical, 'let's find out what to do and do it'.

I told one friend he deserved assistance after years of being a working man and paying taxes, saying help was his right. His doc later told me that was the first thing he said when he arrived for his first appt. You CAN help and you CAN make a difference in these situations...sometimes improvement comes in 'baby steps' and it can take time to get people to accept help. Patience, kind, gentle sympathetic persistence helps.

Bank of Dad
Nov. 25, 2009, 06:25 PM
As a mental health professional, I understand what a scarey frustrating situation you are in. Your brother's mental health is escalating toward becoming possilbly dangerous to your folks. Think schizophenia, delusions, bipolar. Obscessions like his are often seen with bipolar, as are his delusions about the cats.

One of the problems is what you can and can't do. You or your parents can't make him go for help. You can ask for police or court committment for a few days if he is a danger to himself or others. I have known of situations where a significant other provoked an ill person enough and a little scuffle ensued, then the SO was able to call the police and get the ill person hospitalized for an evaluation.

Calling adult protective services is a good idea and they may have resources to take care of your mother.

Your mother needs to see a professional to realize that protecting and enabling her son is not going to make things better, and in the long run it is harming him worse. Or at the least postponing the inevitable. Your brother may or may not become more functional on medication. Finding the right meds and therapy is not easy and many won't tolerate the hassle, side effects, or expense. For example, does your brother have health insurance?

Get as much help for the folks who want it, yourself included.

Good luck.

sickofcollege
Nov. 25, 2009, 08:42 PM
(((HUGS))) OP...I can relate to your situation.

Hopefully your brother gets the help he needs...Best wishes.

Windyfoot
Nov. 25, 2009, 08:55 PM
A&E has videos of thier show "Hoarders" on the website

http://www.aetv.com/hoarders/video


They also have some help resources listed:

http://www.aetv.com/hoarders/treatment/


(((Hugs))) for you and your brother.

pony4me
Nov. 25, 2009, 09:15 PM
I'm very sorry for what you, and especially your family, are going through. At best it's an uneasy situation. At worst, it's very dangerous. Your parents need to take care of themselves, and insure their safety. Your brother really needs to be living elsewhere. Easier said than done. It sounds like he has no money and no health insurance. I know of one couple that was so desparate to get rid of their live-at-home-parasite son that they sold their house and moved out of state, leaving Junior behind to fend for himself. They didn't tell him where they were going, and I assume they cut all ties with him permanently.

Come Shine
Nov. 25, 2009, 09:22 PM
First off, there is nothing to be embarrassed about. It sounds like a very difficult and scary situation. There is certainly some good advice offered.

Please, please be very careful about staging an intervention or provoking anyone. If you think there is any risk of harm to himself or others due to his behavior, please call the police to help deal with it. There is a case in court in our area where the father was stabbed to death trying to 'help' his son. Do not be embarrassed or ashamed about trying to ensure the safety of your family.

Can you access a mental health professional in your area to discuss your concerns and get some guidance about what might be the best course of action? Perhaps call your local hospital and ask for Adult Psychiatry. They should be able to give you some direction.

Taking care of yourself will help you take care of others. Like the airlines always say, put your mask on first.

All the best.

Noctis
Nov. 25, 2009, 09:28 PM
I really don't have anything to offer, other than I have family that is similar, but I just wanted to offer you hugs, jingles and prayers.

JanM
Nov. 25, 2009, 09:29 PM
OK, I admit I watch a little of Hoarders a few times, and what I saw and what I've read about it is that hoarding by itself is a long slow treatment process with very limited success. It sounds to me as if your parents are enabling him because they know if he leaves he will have no where to go, and will have no income.

I agree with the elder abuse complaint, but I fear what will happen as a result of this. It may simply enrage him, and he'll in all probability still be living there. I hate that your parents are having to live in this environment in what are supposed to be their retirement years, but you can't help people who don't want help and that apparently means all three of them. Unless your mom wants to leave there isn't much you can do to help her. And even if your brother is involuntarily commited (which may not happen) he won't have to stay long, and will probably go off of his medication almost immediately.

Would your mother leave if she had a chance to? That may be the only difference you can make. Or is there a city or health department ordnance that is being violated by the mess that could allow the health department or zoning to force a clean up? Your mother may be the only one you can help and that's only if she wants to leave, but would she move out permanently? or would she leave for a while and return to the same situation out of guilt or loyalty?

Maybe therapy for yourself is the only answer for now, and it might help you decide what your future role their lives will be. And if you try a therapist and don't find help from them switch to another one until you find the right person-not every therapist is right for every person.

Rubyfree
Nov. 25, 2009, 10:14 PM
Would your mother leave if she had a chance to? That may be the only difference you can make. Or is there a city or health department ordnance that is being violated by the mess that could allow the health department or zoning to force a clean up? Your mother may be the only one you can help and that's only if she wants to leave, but would she move out permanently? or would she leave for a while and return to the same situation out of guilt or loyalty?



I have offered her an out. At this point, I think my Mother would go back home- or is staying home- for my Father's sake. Without going into dramatic detail, he isn't in any sort of physical condition to leave at the moment. He may be difficult, but he's been her husband for fifty years, and they love each other very much. He's a much nicer guy then he used to be, possibly because my brothers behavior has enlightened him- but that's all sort of moot. They can't leave, and if she were to go- she'd go back for Dad.

I feel strongly about one thing- my brother will not hurt me. Even at his most enraged, he is sort of frightened of me. I'm not 100% convinced he wouldn't strike out at my Mother though. Dramatic intervention is unlikely for that reason.

I want to thank everyone again for being so responsive, kind and reasonable. There is much sound advice here. I have a lot of things to think over in the coming days.

JanM
Nov. 25, 2009, 10:37 PM
Ruby-don't be too sure he won't hurt you. He might strike back out of fear or rage and not even realize what he's doing until after. And remember like any animal we humans will attack when cornered. Unfortunately, since he is an adult there isn't much you can do about the situation, and even if your parents were willing I don't think they could make him leave since he's been a resident in their home because they would have to go through eviction procedures that are fairly time consuming, and they wouldn't want to make him homeless anyway. I don't think there's a good solution here unless your parents move out on their own to escape him and leave him the house-and I doubt they would do that or could afford to do that financially or emotionally. I wish I could help you, but you have already found a possible source of advice through a therapist. I wish there was a simple answer but I think you have done all that you can, and now need to watch out for own emotional situation. Sometimes being the responsible, grownup person in the situation sucks.

slc2
Nov. 25, 2009, 10:49 PM
Ruby, I am very sorry to say, you are wrong. 'He wouldn't hurt me', 'He's afraid of me'....no. No. You have to remember that when a person has a brain disease they are not guaranteed to do anything that one expects - they may behave as they have in the past, and they may not. No how much I care about mentally ill people I know one thing. Assume nothing - NOTHING. NEVER put yourself in a position that assumes 'he won't hurt me'...or for that matter, 'he WILL hurt me'. Assume nothing.

Your family needs to come to an agreement on what to do. If your mother is putting herself in harms way, Call adult protective services. Look - I've been to enough funerals in my life. Severely ill people are in the grips of distorted thinking and behavior they are unable to control - and a few of them, yes, will become violent. If your family member is in danger, call the police, call adult protective services. Raise hell. Call the mental health services for your county. You can have your brother removed from the home, and all the better for him if he gets in legal trouble - sometimes it's the only way to get them into care.

Yes, family members get angry. It can make you want to tear your hair out and run out the door and never come back, it gets so bad. But a person can intervene and help.

FatPalomino
Nov. 25, 2009, 11:43 PM
First off, there is nothing to be embarrassed about. It sounds like a very difficult and scary situation. There is certainly some good advice offered.

^^^^ Worth repeating.

I don't have anything more than a BA in Psychology, but gosh darn, it sure does sound like having a safe place to bounce some ideas around would be good (i.e. therapist). If money's tight, maybe you can find an email buddy (maybe even a COTHer) to share ideas. Sometimes, just having someone who can listen and is "on the outside" can really help.

I don't know much, but I do know that parents always try the very best they can for their kids- given their circumstances.

Sometimes, you just have to let go, and distance yourself, which it sounds like you have. At least your parents have one "successful" child- don't let this drag you down and ruin you, too. Say your thoughts, offer help, and relieve your guilt.... then wait for them to accept your gift of helping. They may never accept, but at least you know, you did the best you could given the circumstances, and you tried. A lot of others, wouldn't.

((Hugs)) I understand far too well.

see u at x
Nov. 26, 2009, 12:02 AM
There are people on here far more educated in this type of thing than I am, and I don't have any words to offer you beyond what's already been said so extremely well by most. But, I will keep you and your family in my thoughts and prayers. My heart goes out to all of you...what a difficult thing to be going through.

NJRider
Nov. 26, 2009, 01:03 AM
I second having Adult Services do an assessment. If it is deemed that they are in any danger or in an unsafe environment, that could open the door for you to go to court and obtain legal guardianship over parents and then you can make decisions for them in their interest. There ARE options for your brother, it is just easier for him to be where he is. There are programs that provide housing for the mentally ill funded by HUD, all kinds of free programs that will offer medical care and counseling , etc. There is a option for a place for him to go. It is easier for your parents to believe he has no place to go and to take his abuse....

Woodland
Nov. 26, 2009, 01:10 AM
O.P. you are describing a situation very close to my own. It could be my brother you are talking about. Your brother & my brother are mentally ill. If they will not get help you must help your parents be strong enough to push him out of the nest. Your parents will feel guilty. Get them counseling IMMEDIATELY! You may have to move your parents out and sell their home to get rid of him. Once he is on his own he might finally get the help he needs.

DressageGeek "Ribbon Ho"
Nov. 26, 2009, 02:19 AM
As a mental health professional, I understand what a scarey frustrating situation you are in. Your brother's mental health is escalating toward becoming possilbly dangerous to your folks. Think schizophenia, delusions, bipolar. Obscessions like his are often seen with bipolar, as are his delusions about the cats.

One of the problems is what you can and can't do. You or your parents can't make him go for help. You can ask for police or court committment for a few days if he is a danger to himself or others. I have known of situations where a significant other provoked an ill person enough and a little scuffle ensued, then the SO was able to call the police and get the ill person hospitalized for an evaluation.

Calling adult protective services is a good idea and they may have resources to take care of your mother.

Your mother needs to see a professional to realize that protecting and enabling her son is not going to make things better, and in the long run it is harming him worse. Or at the least postponing the inevitable. Your brother may or may not become more functional on medication. Finding the right meds and therapy is not easy and many won't tolerate the hassle, side effects, or expense. For example, does your brother have health insurance?

Get as much help for the folks who want it, yourself included.

Good luck.

THIS. Absolutely.

And so sorry for your situation.

nightsong
Nov. 26, 2009, 03:13 AM
As a mental health professional, I understand what a scarey frustrating situation you are in.

Your mother needs to ... realize that protecting and enabling her son is not going to make things better, and in the long run it is harming him worse.

Your brother would be a lot better off at a homeless shelter, where they have the resources to take care of mental health and lazy bun problems. I wanted to post this idea on the thread an off-topic day or two ago for the woman who was allowing an aquaintance to live with and mooch offf her, and the acquaintance showed no inclination to move out, get a job, or even leave the house.

And second the 'contact the health department' idea. They may declare the house off-limits until it gets cleaned up. Your father may have to go in an assisted living facility; why should your poor mother have to take care of him? There are PROFESSIONALS who can do a far better job and get him the help he needs. Mom needs a life, not two bullies running hers.

AnotherRound
Nov. 26, 2009, 07:27 AM
There's alot of good advice here, but the facts come down to the you, the OP, need to be seeing a counselor for yourself. What you can or can't do for your family is likely nothing. Your parents created this, your brother has no boundaries, violates other people's, the OP's boundaries are so poor she airs the whole thing on a public BB which can't possibly help either her or her brother in any manner, hints at the contribution her father made, describes a mother who either has enabled him or is ineffectual at protecting the children from him, nobody has appropriate boundaries, and the brother is perseverating on this until he is psychotic and probably a danger to anyone who tries to interrupt him. Bipolar is an anxiety based coping mechanism, probably not inherited, and very much created by the family, and his is probably bipolar II or III and getting worse over time, and very dangerous. I would suggest the OP withdraw from the comfort of public discussion and engage in some real effectual personal discussion with a therapist - for herself. We can only change ourselves. If there is anything to be done for the family or a family memeber, that therapist is the one to help the OP do it, not the monthly "Off our Meds Topic Day".

In my humble opinion.

slc2
Nov. 26, 2009, 07:42 AM
'helping' people can have surprising consequences - like delaying treatment and preventing them from getting help. in our backwards upside down crazy health care system, sheltering a person can backfire in very, very weird ways!

But this doesn't mean everyone should kick out every family member who is a PITA. Yes, actually, families often DO shelter family members with horrible problems, just to keep them alive, while they hope to get a local authority moving, or look for a new approach, or try to get the person to engage. There's no one right way for every family or every situation.

Homeless shelters aren't always the pat answer. Not all of them get people help. Quite a few of them just perpetuate sheltering the person! Not all of them are safe for sick people - they get victemized in horrible ways in some shelters.

It's actually far tougher than just getting someone in a shelter, to get them into treatment. And when a person is so sick that they refuse all help and fight it every step of the way, sometimes you just give up. And yes, frankly, most of them eventually die. Of exposure, of accidents, of being victemized in various ways, of neglected physical health. Only a few more mildly ill people will survive...and most more mildly ill people eventually will get care. It's the severity of the illness, how much they're out of touch with reality, that causes them to refuse treatment.

respectfully, AR, bipolar is not an 'anxiety coping mechanism' and psychosis is not 'the result of...' some sort of behavior choices. these are medical diseases that affect the brain in profound ways, and not coping mechanisms or the result of poor behavior or bad choices; many bad choices are outcomes of these diseases, but are not its causes.

But fact is, there is no diagnosis, and no one, least of all the sick person (or persons) most likely, has any idea what illness or illnesses are causing these problems, so it's not effective to discuss a specific disease. i think complaining about a psychotic person not being 'polite' or 'not having boundaries' is pointless - they aren't choosing their behavior, and they can't be 'taught' to change any behavior without first getting their disease symptoms under control. Even then, not everyone learns easily or quickly.

Having a mentally ill relative isn't always 'horrible', but having a severely ill, deteriorated, off medication, treatment refusing, substance abusing, violent relative IS.

it is quite often the case though, that elders can start having various signs of disorganization and loss of coping with issues of daily living - but without a diagnosis one doesn't know exactly where those behaviors are coming from or what would help...yes, honestly, some people have gone on so long that even optimal treatment isn't going to make them very independent again.

I disagree that discussing it on a bb is bad or a sign of something wrong with the individual posting it. these situations are near impossible to get one's arms around and quite often reaching out for help is the only way an improvement can be made for anyone involved. In fact, asking a group of friends for an outside perspective of what to do or how to start, is often one of the only ways things get into motion in a new direction. someone will have encountered something similar and have ideas and sympathy to offer. The problem is far more that people don't talk enough about these things than that they talk too freely or to too many.

severe mental disease is not common enough that everyone sees it frequently in the people they're close to or learns what to do - no one is taught in school how to identify or cope with these diseases. the first encounter one often has is the shock of seeing a loved one fall apart before their eyes, and their home and family destroyed. Within 50 friends, no one may have coped with it. But within a hundred friends, a few will have. Within a thousand friends, dozens will have, and there's more information and more help.

there are times when all a person can do is walk away. but often the most hopeless situations can respond to help. sometimes the only people who can help are professionals, and it is just totally beyond ordinary folks like me and thee...and often the professionals won't step in til the situation is at its absolute bottom, just due to local budget constraints or even to the limits of what they legally can do. sometimes all one can do is all one can do.

pony4me
Nov. 26, 2009, 09:30 AM
I can see someone discussing it on a BB because of the wide variety of opinions/suggestions and resources available. Long term discussion -- no, but ok for a good place to get ideas, and then take action.

In my community, homeless shelters are for temporary stays. They have a 45 day limit, and the person must get a job. The shelter then tries to line up low cost housing. That's for the people lucky enough to get into a shelter in the first place. That info is from a shelter director who I had lunch with a couple of weeks ago. My company had done a fund raiser for the shelter. This time of year, they need all the help they can get.

Another person I know of needed to see a therapist, and is waiting four weeks for an appointment. Care is rationed, whether we want to admit it or not. Most communities do not have the resources that are needed, so mental health care becomes a de facto family affair. Think about how many people you know with someone in a similar situation, and you will get an idea of the size and depth of the problem.

superpony123
Nov. 26, 2009, 09:49 AM
He has always had these tendencies but they have become much more extreme. He certainly used to have a pretty normal social life & was a valued professional member of an insular theater community before he moved home.

I don't know if there was one 'trigger'- but he makes no secret of feeling cheated by life, and moving home was demoralizing to him. It's been downhill from there.

Just because someone has been like this for a long time, you know, to say that "this is normal for him" does NOT mean that the behavior itself is normal or that there is not a medical reason for it. It is very easy for these things to go unchecked for a long time, and finally they begin to fester and grow into something much more terrible.

Violence? I hate to be cruel sounding, but if your brother is becoming violent, tell me, what is worse:

a) your brother hurting you, your parents, or ANYONE if he continues to grow worse (which these things definitely do when they go unchecked)
b) your brother being put in SOME kind of mental facility-which initially will probably make him seem crazier and more miserable, however it should help him in the long run AND possibly save someone from being physically hurt, and obviously it will take so much weight off of your family's shoulders.

I hope you won't think I am being cold hearted in saying he should be put somewhere. Most mental help places are NOT like old fashioned asylums. One of my grandfathers, as well as my brother, have serious mental problems. Trust me, it's better and much safer for EVERYONE, including the dangerous person, if the dangerous person is sent to a place where at least there is a CHANCE that they can find something that's wrong (have you considered bipolar disorder? he could also have a thyroid problem, which depending upon the problem, can make you act very much like a bipolar)

Your mother is not a mental help doctor, and I can see that she feels like she needs to take care of him because no one else would be able to, and that of course she's the mother: but there ARE people who do this for a living, and there are hospitals and facilities made exactly for people like your brother: because the people who are admitted there are unable to function in society on their own. I know your mother is only trying to help, but this "help' has very clearly done the opposite. It's NOT your mothers fault. It's just that she is not capable of dealing with whatever may be wrong with your brother. She's not a doctor, or a psychoanalyst. She's only able to take his blows and pay for him, because otherwise he doesnt have anywhere else to go-- which is helping him have a house, i guess, but the affects are devastating.

I highly suggest you as well as your parents see therapists. I also suggest you tell your parents they NEED to do something to get him out of the house. Tell him he's got X amount of time to get a job and find a place to live on his own, and he must support himself. If not, they will kick him out after X time anyway. If need be, get a restraining order if he is violent at the proposition. If they say they do not want him in their house anymore and he refuses, well, then he's not welcome at their house. He might as well be trespassing

I'll keep your family in my prayers, and I hope that everything works out for you and your family.

SmartAlex
Nov. 26, 2009, 10:33 AM
It's important to recongize how profoundly mental illness affects a person's ability to understand communication and evaluate information.

^^^^ So very true! Sometimes it's simply amazing. :eek:

Hoarders on A&E (monday 10pm) is one of my favorites. It helps me put some of it in perspective and see and hear some of the things that my uncle may be thinking and feeling. Since speaking with him or emailing is pointless.

Also, if the OP seeks counseling: Sometimes it takes a few sessions to become comfortable with a counselor. And if the first one isn't a good fit, keep looking. I went through 3 counselors, two doctors, and 5 medications before I was correctly diagnosed with ADD. I finally found a counselor I like. I go now and then for a "tune up". My husband also goes to her occassionally, and we recommend her to our family and friends. It's great to have someone like that you can trust to help you sort things out and put you in touch with other resources.

slc2
Nov. 26, 2009, 10:33 AM
In most cities the wait for housing out of a shelter is over 18 months.

In many areas there IS no housing out of a shelter.

In most shelters, there is not a 45 day limit. I know people who have been in one shelter for ten years!

In most cities, homeless people have to engage mental health services by choice and can NOT be compelled to accept treatment. There is usually a wait of weeks or months for a first appointment with a care provider, it will be strictly office visits, the family will NOT be informed of what's going on unless the patient signs a (temporary) permission for that (and the patient is unlikely to do so), the person can and will walk away at any time, refuse medication, etc etc etc, and 'the authorities' and the family and everyone else cannot do one single thing about it.

Further - there are virtually NO 'mental facilities' where people can be compelled to accept medical treatment against their will, no matter HOW crazy they are, unless something extremely extraordinary happens, and that extraordinary thing usually does NOT happen! There aren't even the hospital beds available for people who WANT treatment!

Nor is everyone involved interested in them getting treatment - many people get ppsitions at shelters and agencies because they have a very strong agenda against treatment.

There was a case of a homeless woman in NY who was so sick she was lying in a dumpster eating human waste, and the people in the neighborhood were so distraught they finally got the case in front of a judge who declared this severely diseased, deteriorated woman to be exercising her right to a 'lifestyle choice'!

Where did ANYONE here get the idea that it is so easy to compell someone to go to a hospital and accept treatment? Because it is NOT easy - not at all. Even people who are a danger to self or others can't be simply told to accept treatment!!! Occasionally they are detained for - 72 hours! Normally it is far far less than 72 hr! And during that time they are completely free to refuse treatment.

In most cases, 'The Authorities' and 'The Hospital' and 'The Police' and 'The Judge' and every single other person, organization and government agency involved, CAN NOT DO ANYTHING if the person refuses to engage and continue treatment of ANY type. Even if they are EXTREMELY SICK.

This is the core element of family's problems in dealing with treatment resisting adults. They cannot do anything - and neither can anyone else.

If a person commits a crime and is mentally ill, they generally go to JAIL, and they can refuse treatment THERE too. A huge percentage of people in jail have serious mental illness issues, and they TOO can refuse treatment, even if the illness caused the crime.

BlueEyedSorrel
Nov. 26, 2009, 10:48 AM
I have no advice to offer, other than cyber-hugs.

This is so common, I think every family has one situation like yours. In my Dad's large extended family, most have managed to become productive members of society....and then there is one cousin who is very much like your brother. Almost 50, still lives with his nearly 80 year old mother, can't hold a job, thinks everyone is out to get him, hears voices etc. My father says that from childhood there has always been something a bit off about him. My interactions with this cousin have been brief, but ever since I was a kid, I've been afraid of him.

You've been given some good advice here. Good luck!
BES

JanM
Nov. 26, 2009, 11:06 AM
The problem is getting help for an adult who had the right not to have treatment against their will. I don't think unless he is a danger to himself and others that they can commit him, and I don't see him agreeing to treatment.

NJRider
Nov. 26, 2009, 11:08 AM
The problem is getting help for an adult who had the right not to have treatment against their will. I don't think unless he is a danger to himself and others that they can commit him, and I don't see him agreeing to treatment.

Yes, that is why she is better served via legal means to help her parents. Her parents are not making good decisions for their well being.

FancyFree
Nov. 26, 2009, 11:10 AM
Rubyfree my aunt and uncle went through this exact situation. In fact, it's so similar you could be talking about them. The son came home to get back on his feet after some personal crisis. He was always unstable. The mother babied him so that he seemed to regress into a teenager. He became verbally abusive and threatening. My cousin couldn't stand to watch this whole scenario any longer. She told her parents that she would no longer have contact with them if they continued to allow her brother to live at home. She has three kids, so this was very hard on her parents. It did however motivate them to demand that the brother move out and get on with his life. After some very confrontational scenes, with the police involved and a restraining order issued, he did finally move out. They didn't hear from him for almost a year. When they did finally hear from him, he told them he found a great job, had a nice place to live and a girlfriend. From what they've said, he seems to have finally gotten a handle on his life. From what my cousin has told me, they would never have put any boundaries on him had she not given them an ultimatum. Like your parents, my aunt and uncle were complete enablers making the situation so much worse. I think it also made his mental state worse, by having to be so dependent on them.

Good luck to you.