Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

My brother wants to live with me, but the rest of the family is very against this

My schizophrenic brother is about to be discharged after a long hospital stay, and wants to live with me.

When he was addicted to crystal meth between 2014 and 2016, he used to have violent thoughts about me, my sister and my dad, so we were all advised by a doctor back then to never live with him. There’s been no evidence of these violent thoughts since his meth addiction ended, but I’m aware he could be having them but just not sharing them out loud.

We used to get along really well before his meth addiction, so I have always thought that if I were to live with him, he would have some stability and love in his life, and would have motivation to take his medication everyday, because I wouldn’t let him continue to live with me if he missed a dose. So he would never regress to the point where he would be having dangerous thoughts about me.

Am I being naive in thinking this?

My sister and dad think it would be a huge mistake to let him live with me, because there is always a risk that he could hurt me. And to prevent me from ever letting him live with me, they say they’ll never talk to me again if I do it, which means I’d be left to deal with my brother on my own, which I definitely can’t handle. It’s way too much stress for one person.

They also say I shouldn’t sacrifice my life for my brother. It’s true that it would be a lot of stress and responsibility living with him, but I feel that a year or two might set him up to build a better life for himself. He’s had a traumatic few years, so he has extreme social anxiety and he says he only feels comfortable talking to family.

So I think a couple of years of stability and proximity to people he’s comfortable with might set him up on a path to more independence. Or maybe not - the pattern with him has always been hope followed by extreme disappointment when things don’t work out like we’d hoped.

What my dad and sister want is for him to live in a 1 bedroom apartment on his own. With our budget, the apartment would have to be a minimum of an hour away from the rest of the family and from his doctor. So he’d be pretty isolated from us and from his healthcare team.

So I think that’ll get him started on the same cycle that got him into the hospital. He’ll feel lonely, so he’ll stop taking his medication because he’ll want the company of his voices. Then he’ll lose touch with reality and end up in the hospital again.

I really don’t know what to do here. I’m going to speak to some professionals this week but I’d really love to hear the thoughts of people going through similar situations.

Wishing you all strength and patience as you deal with your own situations! :heart:

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Welcome, Nina!

My questions would be: How close have you been to your brother since the ending of his meth problem? Do you talk with him frequently? How do your talks go? Today is he the brother you got along with really well, as you say, prior to his addiction? Does he want to live with you? Does he talk positively about wanting to start fresh living with you?

Although I understand your father’s concern, it is not kind to threaten. You are hoping to help someone you love and care about and give him stability. Who wouldn’t want that when they are in need?

That said, I have had quite a few awful years caring for my husband. I worked six days a week and would never know, as I was walking home, what kind of a mess I would be greeted with every day. If it wasn’t that he had been trying to fix something that was broken (usually breaking it completely instead), it would be another dish or cooking utensil broken, splattered paint dried on the floor or walls, all the food eaten or some other product used up, an empty pan still on the hot burner on the stove, sometimes just all the furniture rearranged once again. I thought I was providing him with stability and making him comfortable, but his illness wouldn’t allow that. But, he has been unmedicated a long time.

He has been homeless almost a year now and there are no signs of improvement. Things might have been different if he had been on medication and was going to therapy. That would be my biggest concern with you, that you might run into problems if he stops medication. You say you wouldn’t let him live with you if he missed a dose, but have you ever had an experience asking someone to leave when they aren’t feeling well? Who would help you if you ran into a difficult situation?

I wish you the best whatever you decide. If you do decide to let him live with you, I hope that he does take his medication and follow up with care providers. Is there any way he could live in a group home (Maybe not if he is as uncomfortable with others as you say.) or studio apartment instead that would still be close to healthcare?

Keep us posted.

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I’d say it’s naive to think that you’d easily be able to evict your brother from your home if you determined he wasn’t taking medication.

First, it’s not always easy to determine compliance unless depot injections are in play. My experience is medications and the illness don’t work like a switch. You can be fine off medication for a while and then deteriorate fairly quickly under stress. If he is skilled at masking symptoms, relapse may take a while to detect.

Second, when you bring drugs in the picture, I feel you are increasing your risk of relapse. Not only do you have to worry about meds compliance, but make sure he doesn’t start to use again.

Third, going from I want my brother out of my house to actually getting him out is much harder than you think— emotionally and legally. If you don’t have him sign a lease agreement, you may not have legal standing to evict him. Even if you get a restraining order, it’s not the ‘magic’ document some people think it is.

My personal experience with my brother who has BPD and a drinking problem, is the MI probably didn’t make him violent, but when combined with drink, he crossed a line and we had to set him up in his own place. As much as you’d like to help him, I don’t think it’s wise to take on this risk— especially against the advice of his doctors, and while estranged from the rest of your family. I’d say the best you might do is try to get him in the best situation you can find, perhaps with a more healthy roommate that can be a second set of eyes for the family and any other support systems you can find like clubhouses and narc-anon or other support organizations.

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In a lot of states, it is extremely difficult to have a family member evicted from your home after you invite them in. Even if you only invite them over for dinner!
In South Carolina, for example, it can take 6 months to evict a tenant.

I would guess that, if your family warns against it, they’re probably right.

Personal example,
My brother lived with me for a while. His choices and his behavior alone were obnoxiously destructive at times and his disorder ensured things would not be easy, ever.
It was such a poor living arrangement for each of us that he actually did better on his own after he moved out.

I do not have answers, I only have thoughts about your situation. I believe connection is healing. Most people with severe psychosis live in a state of disconnection with themselves and as a result with others. My own son used to use meth. He did it to calm the voices and put out the “fire” in his brain. He has been clean almost 2 years. He lives with me and my husband and because we have a “team” approach to his illness, just as families who struggle with a cancer diagnosis would, we work together. We did not always work together. He was resistant at the start and did not recognize his diagnosis. He does now. He has a caseworker who sees him every week. He is under medication management which requires him to take meds. He is completely compliant now. We have looked to give him wrap around services–people who are safe and want to give him messages of hope and healing. We have prayed for “team” for his life so that we would not be in it alone. It has been a long journey, there are no exact answers, but my dear dad said years ago over and over “You can always change your mind”. He was right. Now, I see others have commented on eviction and this is a good point, but of course that is with the catastrophic expectation that he is going to go back to using. Every day is new. We cannot predict what will happen good or bad. This is where my faith comes in. Our community has affordable housing which charges a fraction of a persons income. Maybe he would qualify for that. Maybe he could have dinner with you regularly, and work to restore some of what got broken on his journey.
My sons voices can be cruel and mean and funny and warm. I get that they become his “group”. My son is in therapy now. We take one day as it comes. This is a marathon not a sprint. I am praying for you and your whole family now. Be gentle with yourself as you juggle these questions.
Is it possible to have a test run of one month? See if he can be respectful of house rules and lights out? Or see it as temporary with some goals in mind? This is where my son’s caseworker comes in handy–we are all working toward goals (even if it is daily brushing teeth!). Small steps.NAMI has support groups as does my own faith community. It helps to get help from others.