Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Brother is Scaring me


My brother has been diagnosed schizoaffective. He called me today and he said something like

‘You know, I have to take care of myself first, then the Other Things’

He’s all vague and scrambled and calls to talk but not to really say anything other than to ask for money, which I don’t have for him.

He is homeless on the road. He asked for my address to send me drawings but my gut reaction isn’t to give it to him. Should I be scared of him and his elusive ways?


You know him better than us. I would be a little wary because it’s likely he’s seen the underbelly of society and probably sees the bad sides of human nature as he tries to survive being homeless. I don’t know. He may be harmless.


The things your brother has to do to survive homelessness make him likely to become a parasite attached to you. Try not to let him get his hooks into you because he could become demanding. Maybe you can help him here and there - maybe buy him a coat, or shoes, but don’t give him your address. Otherwise he could live on your doorstep. He might try to move in with you. Protect yourself. Help him enough that he doesn’t get permanently damaging injuries like frostbite, etc., but don’t give him your address.


Why are you scared? Has he done anything bad or dangerous before? If he’s not making sense, he obviously needs some treatment, but if he’s on the road, he can’t get it. It’s a very difficult situation. Being homeless means HE is vulnerable and in danger. He obviously feels that or he wouldn’t make comments about needing to look after himself. Have you tried asking him if he wants help with that? Can you help him find some kind of shelter?

I wouldn’t ever describe someone with mental health problems as a “parasite”. If people need help, they need help. There is evidence that the single biggest factor in recovery for addicts and people with sz is a stable home/place to live.


only you know to be scared…maybe arrange to meet him in a coffee shop…somewhere neutral…then gauge his mental state…
take care :alien:


I can not tell you how to feel towards your brother, I do not know him…or his specific situation. I’ve never experienced being homeless, I’ve been lucky enough to always have a place to call home. I was raised to always lend a helping hand when I could but if you feel like you cannot trust your brother living with you I’d do as Darksith suggested meet in a public area where you feel safe, tell him you’d be willing to help find shelter but you have to know more about him and his illness before you let him into your home. There are group homes, there are homeless shelters, there are places where people can go with mental illnesses to get the help they need to deal with the complications that come with it. Your home might not be the best environment for your brother…

I’m not trying to be judgmental but if you never dealt with someone with is illness you don’t know what triggers him into an episode of psychosis, and it’s not healthy for you to feel like your walking on egg-shells to take care of him. Yet if you look at your brother he obviously trusts and respects you because he wouldn’t have come to you for help if he didn’t, he just might not know what he needs, and you yourself may not be able to give it to him. I would do what you could to help him, but keep in mind you can only do so much, your brother has to meet you half way.


Thank you for your responses. @Hatty thank you for writing about thinking about this situation from my brother’s perspective. He IS super vulnerable and I am thankful and happy he’s still alive. He has run away from a group home since March.

He is in Pennsylvania and I’m in California, so I can’t just meet up with him. He’s never been violent towards me but I can hear in his voice he is very angry and I don’t know what to expect from him the last two years. I can just feel his anger and that alone scares me.

But you’re right HE is the one in the dangerous situation. My poor brother.


I don’t know your brother and you only mention his diagnosis, not any actual scary behavior. It seems you have been negatively impacted by the stigma that has left your brother with inadequate support. He is ill, not a sociopath. He is reaching out to you, his sister, and he doesn’t even know where you live. It is difficult to imagine he has much family support. Have you spent any time wondering what he must feel like if homelessness is preferable to his other options? He is not elusive, you are. You are the one keeping your address a secret from your own brother. Since you are on this sight, perhaps you can acquire a bit of education on how to be a better sister and human being.


Is there any family in PA.? What do they have to say about the situation?
I know that scary feeling from direct experience.
I guess you would have to know the circumstances to send your brother money-maybe theres a drug problem? I would call home and find out whats happening there.


None of our family lives in PA, he is just wandering around all over the country. There is no ‘home base’ to speak of, as my parents live in halfway homes and he’s burnt bridges with other family.

I think I have done the right thing. I accepted his latest call, in which all he wanted was money then proceeded to disbelieve me when I said I didn’t have any. He’ll just keep asking for more if I give in, that’s what happened last time.


So, your parents are in halfway homes? That means they are recovering from something too? Your situation does seem almost insoluble, I must say. If he does get to the point where he wants help, or to go back into some kind of safer accommodation, etc, is there anywhere you can direct him to in Pennsylvania? Can you use his knowledge of his parents’ problems to get him to recognize his own? It’s really tough!

When my son was psychotic and thousands of miles away, and gave all his (my) money away to random strangers, I sent some more but to a friend who lived near him with instructions to “ration” it. In fact, he came out of the psychosis very quickly and (bizarrely) managed to get back most of his cash. But maybe you can help through a “proxy”. I have also called my son’s mental health team from thousands of miles away to tip them off when he was getting ill again and not likely to turn up for his appointment. They went to him. I also found emergency night shelters, etc, by using the Internet. There’s a lot you can do nowadays.


Yes, our parents are both in halfway homes. My mom is schizophrenic and my dad is in hospice-like long-term care.

I don’t know anyone in PA, my brother also refuses to be seen by a professional, and at this time it seems like it’s completely up to him whether he’s treated.

You sound like an excellent mom! These things require so much care and often ongoing care, at that. It can be very trying. I’m glad for forums like these where I can vent in front of people who understand what I’m going through.


Well then, if possible just keep talking to him on the phone. He’s functioning at some level if he’s still got your number. My instinct is that he’s calling because he knows he needs help, though he may have little insight. Barb has made loads of posts with links about how to talk to people with no insight. Maybe those would be most useful to you. I do hope eventually you get your brother “back.” I hate how this disease shreds family relationships.