I've taken.... now it's time to give

My baby brother gets out of hospital tomorrow with a shiny new Bipolar 1 label.

I’m not going to take on caregiving of my brother. He’ll be living with our parents. But I have asked to join my brother’s preservation team.

NOW… I’m trying to find a way to let him know that… yes! I am still very angry about this past year… but on the same hand… Yes the door is still open.

I tried writing the letter. I started in red ink to talk about the stuff that made me angry and went to blue ink as I cooled down. But then I’d remember something and have to pick up the red pen again. There is more red ink then blue ink on the page… I’ll try the letter again a little later.

The thing that is odd to me is seeing how my family is preparing to walk on egg shells. The tension at the parent’s house is thick.

It’s like they are trying to “temper tantrum proof” the house. I told my sis how outrageous this was that Mom and Dad are changing plans, and muting the house and changing the routine for this.

She said they did the exact same thing for me every time I got out. She told me about… family meetings going over relapse plans, activity plans, knowing and remembering when to engage in activity and when to back off. Sad to say, I had no idea all this was going on behind the scenes. If I had known it then… my paranoia would have hit the roof.

Now, I guess it makes sense. I was back, I was stabilized, but not that stable, I was still shaky, confused and freaked out a bit. I guess that would change the vibe of the house.

I know caregivers here a happy when their family gets to come home… but if you don’t mind me asking… is it always that nerve wracking? Is there that much stress to your loved one coming home, or is it relief or is it both?

Thank you for allowing this peek over the fence to the care giver side.

P.s. if anyone knows how to get mascara stains out of a basic white button down shirt, that would be really helpful too. Exam panic has reared it’s ugly head again, my sister cried on me and I can’t get more shirts until next week when the extra long’s come in.

All I can say is yes…

Right now my little brother looks like… well, you know those shows that capture the hurt wild animal, rehab the animal and then release the animal.

They film those few moments when the cage is open, the animal steps out and is frozen in confusion for a while? That would be my brother now I think.

He seems like he want’s to get out, but doesn’t. I can relate to that. There is no thinking in the hospital. It’s after that the hard work begins. I remember being afraid to come home too. I do remember crying and being a drama queen to come home. But when it was time to pack my bag and walk out the door, I was having a fit about leaving.

But I don’t remember what my parent’s did to help me get over that. I’m sure they will do what they did again. But I really am curious… what do caregivers do to cope with their loved one coming home.

If you don’t mind me asking… what did you do to sort of lessen the “wild animal catch and release” effect.

Open to all caregivers.

I think perhaps the motto ‘less is more’ may come into play. I don’t recall doing much other then taking a deep breath and not staying or doing to much.

He may just need time to be. Nothing else. To learn to relax in his own skin without pressure as everything will be the same but different as he is different now.

I’ve been reading bipolar sites and there is a lot of discussion about… "keeping engaged and active… Which seems the opposite of what myself and others with the Sz diagnosis need. But time to sort of breathe and adjust makes sense.

Maybe I have to keep in mind the level of keeping engaged.

My sis has been saying, it could also be the learning curve. She told me that… the night before I came home the first time, she and the others were sat down and told to be very quiet and not to disturb me, and don’t just walk into my space anymore and don’t just come up and start chattering like they used to.

I didn’t want to be dragged on errands and “engaged” but at the same time, I didn’t want to be ignored and have everyone afraid of me. As time went on, the house didn’t stand still just because I came home.

Every time son has come home from the hospital, we just pretty much wing it, taking our cues from him. If he wants to talk and share his thoughts then we are all ears. He usually does for a few days after release. We love it when son talks to us and wish he did it more. Over time we have learned how to deal with things, like not invading his space, what not to say, what to say, tone of our voices, body language, etc. Even when son is doing ok, things do remain a little tense around the house when he is home.

It is like walking on egg shells a bit, but actually we walked on MANY MANY more egg shells before he was admitted to the hospital each time.

My husband and I discuss son between ourselves numerous times a day, every day. What he says, where he is going, how much money each of us has given him, what he has eaten, how he interacted with the dogs, tone in his voice, how long he slept, does he seem to be doing ok, etc. He is typically the major topic of our conversations, and I’m sure he doesn’t have a clue that he is.

Funny you mention that. For the first couple of years into son’s illness, I took him everywhere I went, grocery shopping, hairdresser, you name it. It was just my instinct to keep him by my side. As time went on and the illness was progressing I had to stop doing that because it just became too stressful since son was up and down with his meds and his moods could become extremely foul. I finally decided I wasn’t going to subject myself to that any more.

Even now I am still a little “on guard” if we have the need to run an errand together.

I really hope that your brother follows doctor’s orders and family’s wishes. If he does, I think you and he are going to do just fine.

Yep. Same thing here. It is very hard to change your own life . But you have to make concessions for the other persons illness. Im pretty sure its been the same for all of us caregivers. At some point though, My son needed to be on his own-have his own space. This has worked well--but I am Less than a mile away from him. Maybe you can just take your cues from your brother-and be there as part of the team when needed. Sorry---I dont know about the mascara!

Thanks for this! A little insight for me on my own son XOXO

Mix blue dawn (it has to be blue. Don’t as me why) with peroxide and baking soda. Make a paste and rub it into the stain. Let it sit for a little while and then wash it.

My Mom found that trick on pintrest and its worked really well on those nasty yellow sweat stains that build up over time.

Sure. Families have to pull together when a member is in trouble. That’s what families are for. I’m still surprised my sisters want to help me, though after all these years. I just got back from dinner with both of them, I cooked.

So far my son has never been hospitalized, but he was only diagnosed six months ago. I don’t live with him. We live in different countries, but I love being with him. I don’t care what mood he is in. Just knowing he is safe is a relief. My whole response to his treatment can be summed up as relief, in fact. I used to hate it when he was paranoid and aggressive before his diagnosis, but since then I have learned not to argue at all, just listen, and so those moments blow over very fast. I don’t see it as “walking on eggshells”, I see it as a positive development in my own character. Arguing is generally bad and stupid and it is extremely rare for even “normals” to change their view in the middle of an argument so it’s best to give it up. So overall, I love my son, I love being with him. I know how to bring out the best in him so it’s good when he’s home with me or I am over there with him.