Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Brother hospitalized for the first time


#1

Hi everyone,
I’m totally new to the forum, and I’m looking for some guidance on the situation my family and I are in right now. Basically what has happened is that my younger brother (we’re both in our early 30s) was just involutarily committed because of what the doctor said is almost certainly paranoid schizophrenia.
He is the third generation in my family to get it, after my grandmother and uncle, so it’s a bit of a family curse unfortunately. He has been getting progressively worse over the last four or five years after he was sexually assaulted in his sleep at a party and later went through a bad break-up that more or less ruined his life plans and personal finances, becoming more and more paranoid and seclusive.
In the last six months or so he has started telling us all sorts of strange stories about things he belives are going on, from my parents supposedly breaking into his apartment at night to a bunch of kids having performed brain surgery on him while he was asleep. Yet most of the time he would still seem quite rational, just sad about his current life situation, so I think in our denial my family and I were hoping that it wasn’t schizophrenia and that he just needed to get his life back on track again.

Finally this saturday he started sending me all sorts of odd messages on Facebook about how he needed his ex back (she’s my wife’s best friend, unfortunately), writing sentences that were literally in two different languages at the same time. Early Sunday morning he showed up at my parents’ house in a very agitated and aggressive state. He had apparently not eaten or slept in days. At some point he started making these strange, dance-like movements in their living room before he suddenly froze completely and just stood there staring at the wall for about 15 minutes.
My parents of course took him to the hospital, where he was admitted immediately.

With our family history, the fact that he most likely has paranoid schizophrenia doesn’t come as a total surprise, yet I feel like I am in complete shock. After my dad told me what happened yesterday, I literally broke down in a sobbing mess on the floor. Today I had to go home from work because I couldn’t focus, and I keep crying all the time. I feel so, so sorry for him. As brothers he and I lived through a traumatic childhood together, and I wanted so much more for him than this. I live abroad, and due to that and his seclusion it has been difficult to stay in touch with him over the last couple of years, which I now feel incredibly guilty about it. I feel like I have lost my brother, and at the same time many of my own old wounds regarding my family have been reopened.

Is it normal to react this strongly to finding out about a sibling’s illness? My whole family is devastated, but I just can’t seem to be able to pull myself together and get a rational grip on the situation, even though I know he is finally getting the help that he needs in an excellent hospital.

Any advice or stories about how you dealt with finding out about your loved one having schizophrenia would be much appreciated. And I apologize for making my first post here such a big, dramatic one. I will try to contribute where I can.


#2

Going through this is like grieving a death, so it’s perfectly natural to feel this way.

You get sad, you get angry, you try to rationalize & come up with all kinds of reasons it’s anything but SZ, and sometimes you get acceptance.

But, since they’re very much alive, and this disease ebbs & flows, you get to repeat the whole process over & over.
I think it gets easier over time, but we’re 12 years into this (my son first became ill at 15) and I’m just starting to wrap my mind around the fact that he may never be completely symptom free.

Also, you probably have some other emotions in there as a sibling. You could be feeling guilty that it happened to him, and maybe scared that it could happen to you or your children.

In time, you’ll feel better and it really is a good thing that he’s getting some help. There are some amazing drugs out there and he might do very, very well. Many people do.


#3

Hello. As slw said, you are grieving the brother and a future you thought he had. It takes time to accept that his life is altered now and likely will be forever. Like you, we have a family history as well. However, it still came as a surprise to me when my son became ill at 21. I had difficulty for awhile and feelings of guilt. I was second guessing every decision and interaction. The reality is that I probably could not have prevented it. My son is not the same as before the illness but he is symptom free and back in college and working part time too. I feel very grateful that he’s doing so well. I hope that your brother responds well to treatment and can begin to enjoy his life again.


#4

Hi, my situation sounds similar to yours. My younger brother was just diagnosed in March after having his first hospitalization. We are both in our late 20’s and it is surreal seeing what is happening to him and I think it could have just as easily been me. He struggled in college and was finally finishing his last semester when he completely lost touch with reality. He seemed to have come close to this a few years ago for a couple of months but then seemed to go back to normal for about two years. This time it started out insidiously over months like before but then then escalated quickly within a few days to a total break. I was in denial that this was what was going on when it happened before, and I wish I hadn’t been. Even now, my brother does not fully accept his condition, and it’s hard not to be able to talk honestly to him about it because all I want to do is support him as he copes with the changes. We also have not had close communication in the past year or so, and I feel guilty too. I did not realize how isolated he had become in the last few months. It is difficult not knowing what to expect for the future or what to hope for. Over the past month and a half, I have found it easier to accept it myself by learning as much about sz as I can. The more I know the less scary it seems. The most helpful resource I have found so far is a book available on Amazon called The First Episode of Psychosis. It is written by experts on schizophrenia and is intended for people with schizophrenia and their loved ones. It has a lot of good information and left me feeling hopeful and more prepared to support my brother and cope with this.

Talking to my mom also helps even though a lot of it is just sharing our concerns/ updates on how he is doing/ worrying about him. I don’t live near my family, but it’s nice to be able to talk to my mom since we seem to be having similar experiences coping with this. He tried living with her after his hospitalization but it didn’t go well and now he’s living across the country with our grandparents. I am still figuring out how to live my life while all of this is going on… it’s always at least in the back of my mind and often at the front. So far his progress has come with ups and downs every week and some weeks have really been terrible. I’m hopeful that with continued medication and treatment he will feel more like himself and think more clearly, because right now he does not seem capable of thinking rationally. I guess the most important thing right now is that he takes the medication. The doctors are still working on getting the right meds and that part has been challenging. I guess that is just part of the process.

Anyway, I appreciated your post and hope for the best for your brother. Another thing that I have found comforting is reading through this message board and especially the patient message board. I think it is encouraging to see how so many people with sz are doing well.