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Getting my brother help


radicalfeminist
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My brother has basically been a shut-in for over five years now. He is 23, he doesn't work, he never finished high school, he doesn't have friends, he doesn't go out - not even for walks. When he was younger especially he became very violent to the point that my family members and I were afraid of saying anything to piss him off. Although he's matured over the years - at least a little - he is still arrogant and aggressive and is pretty much a ticking time bomb. My parents have their own issues and neither have good relationships with him. He hates my father, he hates my sister, he hates my brother-in-law, he hates my uncles, etc. etc. He just is so angry and self-righteous and refuses to communicate with anyone.

 

That leaves my mother - who he is also aggressive and angry with but can at least manage to talk to him, and me. He's okay with me because I don't ever say anything to him - mostly because I know he is not looking for constructive criticism or advice, just someone to agree with him. I never agree with him, but I don't tell him off either. My parents don't have a lot of money, very little, we're in a lot of debt. He feels that my parents have a duty to support him - not just with food but also video games, films, electronics, gift cards. When my mother tries to bring this up he goes off on a rant about how he never gets anything and they can't afford to buy him anything, and he blames them for favouring me (they pay for my food and my medicine).

 

He constantly blames them for being bad parents - especially my dad who he is extremely vulgar/abusive towards. He also has a drug problem. My parents give him the money for the drugs because they're afraid of his escalating anger. My mother has voiced her concern that he might actually seriously physically harm one of us if we cut him off. On top of this he doesn't do laundry, dishes, or any sort of cleaning. He will urinate all over the seat and on the floor - most likely on purpose - (tmi?) and when he was younger he used to have some disgusting habits like throwing soiled toilet paper around the bathroom and denying that he did it. Thank god he's at least a few years over that. He basically leaves actual trash everywhere, though, he expects us to do his laundry. The other day he cleaned a drawer to find something and slammed his door because nobody thanked him.

 

Now, I know that he's an asshole and the way he treats others is no excuse and abhorrent, but he does have underlying mental illnesses. At the very least, in childhood he was dx'd with ODD and possibly ADHD (my mother doesn't remember). He definitely has a lot of anxiety and is depressed. I have approached him about getting help on a couple occasions - I told him where he could go and the process that he would go through and that I've found a lot of benefit from it, but he brushed it off, he doesn't want to hear it. I'm at the point where everyone else just deals with this and its helping to make us all miserable, but none of us know what to do to fix this. If anybody has advice and experience with handling this situation, it would be really helpful. 

Edited by radicalfeminist
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I think you and your parents should sit down without him and you should all openly talk about your concerns with him. Get it all out in the air so everyone knows where everyone else stands on this.

Next, he needs to be cut off from his drugs. If he becomes violent call the police, let him know that the police might get involved if he becomes violent towards any of you. I know it's probably the last thing any of you want but if he is never punished for being violent then he'll just keep doing it without fear of repercussions.

I also think that family counselling would be very helpful in a situation like this (if you could convince him to go), maybe even go without him a few sessions and see if he eventually warms up to the idea of it. If he does go maybe he could eventually go to individual therapy for his issues afterwards?

 

When I was younger, like around 8, I had a phase where I was depressed and acting out in a similar way and that's how my parents solved the problem. I actually enjoyed the family counselling after I dropped my guard and think it helped improve the bond we have as a family to this day. My parents also made me aware that what I was doing wasn't right and if I were to be violent or abusive they would get the law involved, it only took one time for me to learn that they were serious and I started to think about the consequences of my actions before I did anything from that point on.

Your brother is an adult though and it might take a bit more convincing than I did when I was a kid. But I think it could work if he's open and willing.

 

Good luck.

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Thanks for responding. I agree with you that something needs to be done - like an official "family" conversation but the only people who realistically can talk to him without him going into a rage is my mother and I and my mother is reluctant. I can't do it alone, I'm his little sister, he doesn't take me seriously. Yeah, the thing about him getting violent is that none of us really want him arrested/apprehended - but we are actually afraid of him as well. Its so complicated because we do love him, he is just out of control. 

 

Family counselling is very unlikely - neither of my parents would agree to do this, unfortunately. (In the past my mental health team had tried to set up something similar for myself.) I'm happy to hear the situation worked out for you. And you brought up a good point - this would have been a lot easier if my parents had taken action when he was younger (he's been showing these patterns of behaviour before he was a teenager even), but they definitely enabled him, and now he's very used to getting what he wants and he's a full grown man who could easily hurt any of us. 

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Maybe he feels stuck. Maybe he is depressed. He also could fit the description of schizoid personality disorder. "Schizoid personality disorder is a pattern of indifference to social relationships, with a limited range of emotional expression and experience. The disorder manifests itself by early adulthood through social and emotional detachments that prevent people from having close relationships. People with it are able to function in everyday life, but will not develop meaningful relationships with others. They are typically loners and may be prone to excessive daydreaming as well as forming attachments to animals. They may do well at solitary jobs others would find intolerable. There is evidence indicating the disorder may be the start of schizophrenia, or just a very mild form of it. People with schizoid personality disorder are in touch with reality unless they develop schizophrenia." Or he could be afraid of leaving his house or be socially anxious. But again he isn't a harm to himself or others, and unless he is you can't have him committed. My brother was the same way, and the only thing that gave him any hopes was his girlfriend who has now become his wife. He literally just sat at home and wasted his life. Again I well stress you can take a horse to water but you can't make it drink. And by the way if you are in the US, sometimes you can qualify for medicaid, under disability. They would pay for your medication and other treatments. 

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Oh, its obvious to me that he is both stuck and depressed. He does not fit the description of schizoid personality disorder - I have this diagnosis although I only think I have traits of the disorder. He's not afraid of leaving the house itself, I've asked this of him, and he's never had much trouble socializing, he is outwardly friendly when he does leave the house and has had many relationships. I do think he is harming himself and others, but I have no interest in having him committed, it hasn't ever crossed my mind. I'm Canadian, and if he gets a referral his therapy and psychiatrist will be paid for and he qualifies for public insurance which covers most of the cost of medication, so that's not the issue here.

 

I think avoidance and pent up anxiety is one of the biggest issues, but he says he doesn't want help/I've offered to go with him and I hate going places with others. 

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Yes, again it is kind of you for caring. I'm too the "favorite" child and this has caused resentment against my mother from my other brothers. But it is very hard to help someone who doesn't want help, or come to terms that a problem exists. After my dad passed I did everything I could to get my mom to take care of herself. She said she wasn't depressed, but it was very obviously visible. Seeing her suffer caused me to feel guilty for being happy at the time. Getting her medication, taking her to doctor did nothing but leave me with a bottle of pills she refused to take after finding out they weren't vitamins by my oldest brother. I did exploit the fact that she didn't know English very well, and the doctor suggested this route. She to this day have never fully recovered from depression, but I don't know If I was favored because I am so unconditionally loving to my mother to the point that I felt like I was taking care of her. If the person is in denial or says they don't want help, they simply aren't ready. I used to sit for hours trying to explain to my mom, that she was depressed, and that it was treatable. In the end, she just saw this as an attack, and that I was insulting her. 

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Yeah, its a similar situation here - he thinks that its an unfair criticism or attack if someone says something he doesn't like. I do believe he really believes it, too. He just can't ever see how he might be in the wrong or might need to listen to another perspective. It's frustrating.

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  • 3 weeks later...

My stepmother has very obvious mental health issues that have been left untreated for almost twenty years.  In connection with her issues she was physically abusive toward me, as well as other types of (non-sexual) abuse toward myself and the other kids.  Our parents either refuse to acknowledge it, or else they delude themselves into thinking that they're successfully treating her with herbal supplements and dietary changes and the like.  I'm no doctor and I can't diagnose, but it seems to me as though she has a severe case of bipolar or similar, along with a hefty dose of psychosis.  So yeah this shit isn't exactly going away.

 

One thing I had to learn is that... you can't help those who refuse the help, refuse to see that they need help.  You can't make them see what you see.  This would apply not only to your brother, but to your parents as well.  Underlying mental health issues or no, they are enabling his lifestyle and behaviour.  If they were to stop this, he might see the light or he might not, but the change in all of your own lives would be toward the positive without his toxic influence in the household.  However, so long as they choose to continue enabling his behaviour, believing themselves to have no choice in the matter, then this will likely continue.  Why on earth would he change his ways when he gets most anything he wants as it is?  He has no incentive to change, no reason to see that there's something potentially wrong on his end and reach out for help with that.

 

I tend to utilize a "distance myself, then sit & watch" sort of approach.  I've avoided contact with my father and stepmother for about ten years now.  They've driven most of their children away and they still don't get it.  But I, we, can't make them see it.

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that is a really hard situation to be in, and i'm sorry you're kind of alone in dealing with it. 

 

i don't know how you would get him to agree to get help of any kind, though he obviously needs it badly.  your description of him is so close to a first cousin of mine, for a minute there i wondered if you were talking about my family (but my cousin doesn't have a sister).

 

i know the last thing you want is for him to come into harm's way.  but i have a very strong opinion about his tendencies to be physically agressive.  like another poster said, if there are no consequences for violence, it repeats itself and often escalates.  i would be so, so sad if you came back to post that he had done something truly awful to someone in your family.  i don't want you to have to say "if only we had called the police before...".  the time to call the police is the very next time he does something that threatens your family's safety.  no excuses, no saving him from the consequences we all must endure when we do something violent towards another human being.  he feels safe attacking those who are close to him, and that is neither in your best interests or his own.

 

i also feel strongly about giving him money for drugs in order to escape the violence.  now instead of a very ill young man, he's an ill young man with a habit that is likely making him worse.  if cutting off the drug money means he's going to hurt someone, or even threaten to hurt someone, THAT is when you call the police.  and yeah he'll hate you for it, probably for awhile.  and it might happen again and again.  eventually, he might be so sick of the criminal justice system that he decides to enter the mental health system instead.  maybe.  but it's a lot more likely that he'll reach out for help when his life is truly in shambles due to the behaviour he feels he can't control.  jail is scarier than a hospital.  if given the option, he might then avail himself to help just to stay out of jail forever.

 

i guess my point is that he's not listening to you or anyone else in your family - he might be better off being forced to listen after being arrested.  even in a halfway house he might learn some strategies to control his aggressiveness, as well as learn to contribute to his own care (like cleaning up after himself), because nobody there "loves him" enough to try to do it all for him (and someone bigger and scarier might be a catalyst to learning how to not pick fights).

 

i know it seems so awfully harsh to do that to someone you love so much.  the bottom line is that you're not helping him by protecting him - you're helping yourself by solving one crisis at a time and *hoping* he'll never do it again (i mean this about your family, not so much yourself).  i cannot imagine what it would be like to have to call the police on my own child.  i believe strongly that i would do it, though.  i've seen what happens when families are in denial and constantly covering up for their children's behaviour.  it is hell for everyone involved, and things always escalate to really unfortunate and scary situations.  there are ways to stop that hell, but they feel worse at first.  and that "worse" is what's hard to get through - after all you've just decided to call the cops on your own flesh and blood.  and he will call all of you every name in the book and you'll feel like you've just done the most horrible thing a family can do, and that he'll be hurt in custody, and all kinds of guilt and fear will plague you for awhile.  none of it is easy.  but it's the right thing for him, and for the rest of the family, in my opinion.

 

i hope i didn't come off as bossy or anything!  i've just seen violent behaviour justified far too many times, out of love.  and it never ends well.  i can't know all the dynamics of your family and how things work, so my advice might be off base.  so i just called it as i see it from your post.  i guess this is my way of trying to protect you and your family from getting hurt any more than you already have.  and as a bonus, your brother may actually find his way to help, when he clearly has no reason to as it stands now.

 

i wish you best of luck.

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I completely agree with a lot of the replies here.  Both my parents were abusive alchoholics.  It was awful growing up, it left scars, yeah, I'm still learning to undo some of that damage but it also taught me many important things.  Some of those things have been said here in other replies but you need to really HEAR them!  I know you love him and only want him to get help, to be well, but HE has to agree to get help!  NO ONE ELSE can get him help until and unless he agrees to accept it!  All of you must accept and come to terms with that fact.

 

You said he's an addict like my parents. As long as he's on drugs you, everyone and everything else in his life comes SECOND (at best) to him!  Sadly, addicts often need to hit rock bottom and lose everything and everyone before they even have a chance to realize that they need help.  You MUST let him fall on his butt for his own good!  Enabling him is HARMING him!  I know none of you want to be causing him harm so everyone must stop enabling him.  I know that the last thing in the world any of you want is to see him hauled away in handcuffs but don't all of you deserve to be safe?  The bottom line is he is abusive and there is never a good enough excuse for that.  When there is no consequence for an abuser the abuse often escalates.  He could seriously harm or even kill one or more of you!  Going to jail may be exactly the wakeup call he needs to start recovering!  You would be protecting yourselves and giving him the help he needs because right now he has absolutely no reason to change.  He's got a free ride, people will do anything he wants, he doesn't have to do anything to earn any of it...I agree with the earlier reply, why on earth should he change??? 

 

Honestly I believe that your family needs help dealing with this.  Do you have intervention counselors there?  If no one else in your family will go to a doctor to talk about this YOU still can!  Find someone with experience in dealing with addiction and ask what your options are.  I hate to say it but it sounds to me like the only healthy solution for this situation is for you to get out.  Your brother and parents are refusing help so I really believe the only thing you can do for now is to save yourself.  I know that thought is probably horribly painful but if they won't get help, if they insist on clinging to a sinking raft, what is the use in going down with them?  I'm not saying abandon them!!  Out on your own surely you can become stronger and healthier yourself so that you can do MORE to help and support them when they're ready for it.

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This is such a tough situation. I really feel for you. Honestly, I think that if this problem is going to be tackled then you need to be very careful. I would imagine that it would be very easy to set your brother off and it might get very nasty. From what you described, I can imagine that he might get violent if confronted. IMHO, setting him off could be potentially dangerous. Obviously I don't know any of you but it sounds to me like all of you (minus your brother) would have to agree with what is to be done. You'd all have to have very strong wills and not bend even a little bit. It sounds like that would be almost impossible. I really think that you'd need guidance in how to approach the topic. You need someone that might be willing to facilitate talking to your brother. The thing is, it sounds like your parents probably wouldn't go along.

 

As much as I hate to say it, it sounds like staying out of it and not rocking the boat is the best/safest thing you can do right now. I'd certainly talk it over with my pdoc/tdoc and see if he/she had any suggestions. You can't change people that don't want to change.

 

I wish you the best. 

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