Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

I feel constantly in despair due to my brother

My mother lives with my 25 year old brother with schizophrenia and this is affecting my mental health to an excessive degree. I constantly worry he is going to hurt her. He has stabbed me in the past and I don’t see him that much anymore. It scares me because he has acted more forgetful recently. Is that common with schizophrenia? I am afraid he will harm her. I am looking for a place for him to live. I am working with places where he would be looked after. There aren’t place that are completely secure so there is the fear he will leave and go missing. My mother does not have legal guardianship of him. I wish my mother would cut contact with him immediately. But she loves him and at times even tells me she wants to keep living with him! He is constantly telling her to take him out even after she has worked long hours. He want to drive and he has already studied for the exam but I think this would be the worst idea because I feel he could cause harm on the streets. I am so worried about this whole situation. I want to improve some aspects of my own life but I can’t even do anything with this preoccupation always in my mind. I never feel like I do enough for her. I feel like I am living in a nightmare. I don’t know what to do.

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Does your brother threaten to harm your mother? I know you said he has stabbed you in the past, was he arrested when that happened? You had said back in May that your mom was going to try for legal guardianship, did she try?

In the past, many siblings have complained and have been concerned about how their parents handle issues with their children with brain disorders. I can understand that you are very concerned about your brother harming your mother.

Have you had an opportunity to work with a therapist yourself? Please don’t be offended as its a standard recommendation for all of us who are trying to find our way forward in our own lives while dealing with the complication of having a family member with a severe mental illness.

I am a parent and I know it was difficult for anyone to get me to change my course of action back in the early days. I really didn’t understand what was going on or how to proceed forward. They always tell us its a journey for our family members, well, its a journey for us as well.

Your mom has to want to change her path, its not easy.

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Yes he has threatened her when he doesn’t get his way so she’s constantly having to do go along with his whims. He was not arrested back then because we did not press charges. My mom hasn’t done the legal guardianship papers yet because my brother is constantly wanting to be by her side so its hard for her to even go out without him other than to go to her job. Plus we may go through all that process and he just becomes more angry at us and then guardianship isn’t even granted because he’s good at responding to authority figures for the most part.

I have set up an appointment with a therapist this month and I’ve told my mother to do it too since she needs to talk to someone other than me. My brother heard our conversation and started getting really upset thinking I was talking about him. I unlike my brother know that I have issues that I need dealing with such as my anxiety and depression. But I just feel really alone and unsupported in this whole thing.

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I relate
My mum has been full carer for my sister, schizophrenic late onset for 7 years.
She has big alcohol problems ( amazingly she drinks rarely at the moment) and has for years shouted abuse, often for hours on a daily basis Lately she has been sharing her delusional world view for hours at a time.
My mum has said to me that at the times when she has, unmedicated, tried to live elsewhere, it has been an even worse kind of hell not knowing how she is or what she is doing and that she makes the decision to choose her hell.

This last must be the reason that parents do this.
Someone here has said that a mother is only as happy as her least happy child.
My mum also cared for our deceased sister. She was schizophrenic since childhood and mum was carer for 7 years as well.
I relate to the physical health risk you spoke about for your mum, this sister stabbed my mum and pushed her off a chair she was standing on.

I myself have spent a few years being the supported schizophrenic person, but this has ended well, with my 14 year recovery after a severely bad course of illness over many years.

My mum is 77. She will not even be capable of not coping for much longer.
It is actually really good to hear from someone in a similar position to me. It’s pretty awful

She is hugely in debt supporting her, too proud to apply for disability.
Feels hated, all the time.
Is always unable to have a suggestion or an opinion because it’s wrong and shouted down with a lot of rudeness
Has to go food shopping every day because it all gets consumed in a bullemorexic binge purge cycle.
There is no end to this, other than both of their deaths. My sister extreme self injures and is always suicidal and has attempted.
She is 100% non compliant

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I’m glad you have the therapy appointment. Something that really helped me when I felt alone was a NAMI support group. If you are in the USA, check with your local NAMI chapter - many are having support groups meet via Zoom. They are also offering Family to Family classes via Zoom in some areas.

When was your brother diagnosed?

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You are not alone. We have to take our 26 yr old son with us everywhere we go. We can not leave him alone. He freaks out thinking someone is trying to kill him. Do not be afraid of calling the Police if your mom is getting hurt. I wouldn’t want my mom getting hurt…

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Thank you everyone for your words it makes me feel less alone in this situation to hear that others are going through this.

@brightbluesky1, as a sibling, you have unique perspective and concerns. Being safe is important. I’m glad you’re planning to see a counselor. This is a very difficult illness but there IS hope for some kind of recovery for our loved ones with SZ. We can’t solve all problems, but there really are ways to help persons with SZ. In order to do that, we have to learn all we can about the illness, and learn communication tools for talking with a person who is not always able to think and respond in rational ways. It takes a lot of work and persistence. Persons who have recovered are extremely grateful for their family who stuck by them. If it was ME that had SZ, I would hope that my family would do what they could to help me! Sometimes saying “no, you can’t live here (or can’t come home)” is the path to recovery. But there are no guarantees. I learned a lot through NAMI that was helpful. And I didn’t give up.

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This is the really difficult stage that you are going through. Until my sons medication was right he was scary too. Nearly killed us and I was and stil am nervous around him, from my experience. But we stuck to getting his treatment corrected and now he has someone that helps him get out and about doing life.

There is so much to do to get them onto the recovery stage. It is a journey that a lot of families can’t do because it takes so much energy.

Please message me if you want to ask anything as I am lucky one who has done well with my son. Not saying it won’t change as schizophrenia is complicated.

Sending love

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Thanks for your reply. Him doing something like that is what I am so afraid of. He does not to acknowledge he is ill. He does not want to take medications. He does not want to go to as psychiatrist. So does he have a caregiver now is that what you mean? Also, how did you defend yourself when he attacked you if you don’t mind me asking?

I know your anxiety and loss you have suffered after dealing with my brother’s disease process for 30+ years. The denial on the part of both your brother and mother is real. It takes an average of 8 years to obtain the correct diagnosis and treatment for a serious mental illness. The longer your brother is not receiving treatment the more damage that occurs in his brain and the possibility of being functional adult becomes more difficult.

  1. Go to the county mental health service where he lives and ask for assistance from a mental health professional with your situation. Ask them to help you with court ordered treatment. Take your hospital records that demonstrates that he had stabbed you and that he has the potential to be a threat to himself or others in the future. Ask them to help you make a safety plan for yourself, mother, and brother. They also will have resources for obtaining treatment, medication, counseling, Medicaid, social security/disability, housing, vocational support, etc…,.
  2. If he is a threat, then call the police immediately and ask for a mental health intervention. The police will take him to an emergency room and he will be placed in a M1 hold (72 hour involuntary mental health hold).
  3. Do not wait for your mother to act. Her denial may be just as great as your brother’s denial for years to come. Put your adult pants on and take action. HE needs ONE person to be his partner in this unfortunate journey! If you love yourself and family, then go to the county court where he lives and a begin the process of obtaining a court order for treatment. The county court where my bother lives has a specific lawyer that handles the mental health petitions. Call the county court and find out who and how to contact this person. Make an appointment to meet with him/her asap.
  4. The court and/or a lawyer with special needs/mental health expertise can help you file for guardianship and conservatorship. If money is an issue, then you can go to the free support services the court should offer to assist you in filling out and filing the paperwork (saves ~ $2000.00 if you do not have a lawyer do it).
  5. You will need to be a rock for your brother who is unable to think properly until he is stabilized on the appropriate medication. Stabilization can take weeks, months, and sometime years. Relapses are a reality and a mental health professional will need to assist you with them in the future. Your mother will become older and have more difficulty mitigating the situation therefore, a sibling who is closer in age is often a better guardian. I have been the only person in my family that has been able to cope and provide assistance to my brother for over 30 years. Find outside support for yourself as you hopefully have accessed by now. He knows I am his consistent advocate and this is my choice. He was not always happy with me but he knows that I love him. I also know that it could have been me or my other siblings that manifested the disease. Mental illness is a biological genetic disease and could affect anyone at any time. My paternal aunt also had schizophrenia but her family never took steps to help her. She lived her entire life isolated from everyone. My other/younger brother was depressed and committed suicide by age 24. Untreated mental illness is as lethal as cancer! Be grateful! Be courageous!
  6. Take family medical leave to address these issues asap. These actions are time consuming and one must be persistent. When you encounter a road block, find another path or resource. Do not delay!
  7. Learn as much as you can about the disease process, treatment, resources, support groups (for your brother, yourself, and family), and about self preservation and resilience. Specifically request help with the survivor guilt and the loss you personally will suffer related to your brother’s disease process. This continues to be one of my greatest hurdles.
  8. HOPE! The future is brighter related to finding genetic causes, targeted treatments, early identification and treatment, and the possibility of a cure. The Broad Institute in Boston, MA is the leading the way!
  9. Lastly, if I had taken the above actions earlier in his disease process by obtaining the appropriate knowledge the last 30 years would have been more enjoyable. No one offered me any consistent support or guidance. I let my medical colleagues know how important they are in the process in the hope that they treat these patients in a chronic disease management framework and improve outcomes for the entire family.

I hope you find my feedback and personal experience helpful!

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I hope you can get your mom to move in with you, if that’s an option. Most times it’s hard for moms to see a threat from their child so it might be up to you to enforce her leave, at least for a while. Hopefully you can find a good home for him so he can get the help he deserves… Ultimately…you should work on relaxing and calming your mind. Try tapping and breathing exercises so you can calm down. It’s difficult to get things done or to think well when in despair… :frowning: I hope things improve for you. If all you fear is that he will go missing or leave the places you have found for him, you can’t control that…you can’t control his actions or the actions of those in charge of him in a home. All you can do is tell them, warn them, and urge them to make sure he doesn’t leave or has restrictions of some kind. If you had some kind of police report or order to keep him at the home, that would help a bit.

FYI, if you have a guardianship over a person, you DO have control over where they live (at least in my state). If they go missing, you can file a Missing Person’s Report and if the police find him, they will return him to the place he is supposed to be. Still, not knowing where your family member is can be difficult, depending on how you feel about it, I suppose. I had a more distant relative with SZ who went missing for 7 years and then turned up. At that point, however, she had an illness that had progressed and due to the progression, was not curable. She died at a fairly early age. So doing the work to figure out how to help our loved ones, AND ourselves, is the only real hope we have. It is unlikely to get better on its own, although persons with serious mental illness do tend to mellow out as they get older.

Hi Smarti08,
My brother has had schizophrenia for 33 years. My parents were his advocates for all of those years until my dad died 2 years ago. Now I am in charge because my mom has dementia and cannot do anything for him. I feel that he is so far gone that I am not sure if there is any hope for him. He essentially has not been medicated for the last 15 years. I got him to start taking medication 3 months ago. But that relies on him coming to my moms home daily and getting meds from my moms’s aide.
He has shown some slight improvement but I am not sure what will happen.
It seems like everyone on this forum has their work cut out for them including me.
Since I have only taken on this role recently, I do not see any light at the end of the tunnel. I feel that this is an unfair burden on me , although I know how it has changed my parents life for all those years. I always knew that the day would come for me to take over. I cannot say I am happy about it. My brother can be very manipulative and he is genuinely not very interested in me. he was diagnosed at 22. We have had a very on the surface relationship ever since because that is all he allows. I do not see hope. My brother continues to deteriorate and his life is in my hands. My moms life is in my hands. All I see is my life becoming very complicated with no easy answers.

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Wow. Heartbreaking reality. Sorry for the loss of your father and for your mother’s condition.

Your life sounds like mine in 20 years. Our 19 year old was just diagnosed with SZ. He was already a major handful. And his younger brother (18) and sister (13) are pretty scared of him after years of violence, destruction, 911 calls and police at the house. When they were much younger we had a ‘safe place’ for them to hide when shit was going down. Hard way to be close to someone.

I’m 54 and my wife is 56. I’ve been so consumed with our new diagnosis and facilities and new meds that I’ve not had 2 seconds to think about tomorrow, much less 10-20-30 years from now for our 19 year old.

But your gut-wrenching post could have EASILY been written by one of my son’s younger siblings 20 years from today… All I can say, as a dad, is THANK YOU for standing by your brother. It sucks. Made more challenging with your mom.

But clearly you have a deep love and abiding commitment to your family. And I can only pray that my younger kids likewise step up if-when their time comes. Keep the faith.

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I’m so sorry for what you’ve been going through.
I’ve dealt my whole life with sz people. Two uncles and my mother. Hope I can help you.
You have to put your mother’s safety first. There are meds that can put your brother to a state that he can’t hurt nobody. I strongly suggest you talk to his doctor about this option.
If anything bad happens to your mother it would be awful, surely, but it would break him.
Protect your mother and protect your brother from doing something he’ll regret for life.
I know it seems too much. Talk to his doctor and medicate the hell out of him. Haldol works with my mother.
Act wise and act fast.

As difficult as the burden is…he is an adult. If he doesn’t enjoy your help, then I hope you can find a place he can be taken care of… It is a difficult burden, and always will be, but it doesn’t mean you have to deal with it hands-on, all by yourself. :slight_smile: hope you can find the right solution for BOTH of you. :wink:

Do you have any suggestions on where I would find a place to take care of him?

Hey j9sit,
So very sorry to hear about your dad. Now you have to deal with your mom’s dementia and your brother’s sz.
Of course it’s an unfair burden!

We’re here to help each other out through unimaginable problems and I would bet that most people here would agree that sz people can be very manipulative and take over our whole lives.
For what I could understand you’re fairly new to this.
There’s no light at the end of the tunnel. Sorry. You either accept it or you don’t.
For me it’s about love, actually. Either you love such person enough to allow them to bring so much damage into your life or you don’t. And I’m not judging. Twenty years from now I’ll probably be a very bitter person. No career, no husband, no children.
It’s such a horrible illness a horrible fate, and it affects everyone who is close to them.
I think you should look into places where he can be cared for.
Best wishes.

Hi Sando,
It is heart wrenching for me to hear that your son was just diagnosed with schizophrenia. I am 57 now. My mom is 85. It is sort of scary but true that I am your younger kids 30 years from now. My parents were living in a time when they did not want anyone to know about my brothers illness. They were also not very well informed about schizophrenia in general. I think that as a parent who is armed with an understanding of the disease and support groups and social workers and doctors will do better. I was very appreciative that my parents kept my involvement in my brother’s struggles to a minimum. I got married had children and had a full life of my own . I lived in a different state, so it was not like I could just pop over and help with something at the last minute. What I wish is that I myself could have made an effort to be more educated about schizophrenia. I am just reading everything I can about it now. Maybe I could have helped my parents make tough decisions?? Anyway, I do not want to be your crystal ball into the future because you need to stay in the present and do the best you can. I could never live with myself if I abandoned my brother. How can anyone do that to a human being. I also have to take care of him because he lives in an apartment 1 mile from my moms house. My parents put him there a long time ago because they could not have a life if he lived with them. So I really have to make sure that my brother stays in that apartment. Under no circumstances can he ever live with my mom. My brother can barley live on is own without a lot of outside help. So I have an incentive to make sure he stays there and does not get kicked out. It would be much easier to say I cannot deal with him if he did not live anywhere near my mom. But that is not the case.