My schizophrenic brother and our family


#1

My brother was diagnosed when he was 13 and he has been taking all sorts of pills and going to psychologists and psychiatrists for several years, he is now 28 and I am currently 21. He is quite functional and seems quite normal on the outside but after talking for him for a while and being around him, you start to notice certain things that escape the norm. Like his fascination for UFOs and the paranormal, the constant ramble of war about Russia and USA, and how people are possesed by evil spirits and the like.

I have some trouble dealing with him and relating to him as a family member and I often ignore what he says because I´ve grown pretty tired of it, (it has been the same talk for 8+ years. I would consider our relationship to be pretty solid but because of his condition it is hard for me to count with his support for our future or for me to count on him to actually help himself to live healthier and happier.

I am worried because he doesn´t take care of himself and he lets himself go, often not showering for several days and eating whatever he feels like eating (it was really bad several years ago, he wouldn’t shower for months etc). He fears and neglects responsibility and he lacks the courage and continuity to start and end activities. He doesn´t have real friends except his drawing teacher which spends 2 or 3 hours every week and he doesn´t leave the house much. He often refuses to do things for himself out of laziness and perceived inability. It is also hard to help him because he believes that others are out to get him and he is quite distrusting, even so he trusts me enough and likes me enough for me to consider spending myself on trying to help him.
I have seen him improve on some levels throughout the years, for example he doesn´t want to kill himself or that he seems somewhat interested in pursuing activities such as playing instruments and drawing. However, it would be beneficial for me and for him if he could take better care of himself to promote his health and if he could find some friends that could help him feel better.

What can I do to help him improve his condition? How can I help him live a happier and more fulfilling life?


#2

Hi there~
Just wondering if your brother has a mentor or case manager?
I have a son that was diagnosed at 19–he is 37 now. I know that he can do pretty much anything he wants to do,I have seen him do it. paranoia and stress play huge roles in his life and sometimes determine what he can accomplish-and this on a day by day basis. My son lives a day to day existence. Just getting through is very big and makes him happy.
This sounds a lot like your brother.
The best thing you can do is visit this site often. Read how everyone else deals every day. NAMI is a very good support group, Google it and find one in your area.
This is a lifetime disease that sometimes gets better as people mature. You didn`t say how your parents are handling this?
Good luck and hope you find an answer for yourself…and hopefully your brother too!


#3

Dear Mr. Eric,
I’m the younger sister of a man who is also battling this illness. My brother was diagnosed when he was 17 and he is now 29.

The things you mention your brother having a hard time with are things that seem very symptomatic; such as the hard time having and making friends, the paranoia, the delusions and the struggle with day-to-day task.

For your brother; talking about the evil spirits and UFO’s might fall under delusions, thinking everyone is out to harm him might be the paranoia. Also, this illness not only takes a toll on cognitive ability, it also takes a huge toll on self-confidence.

Sometimes what others perceive as “lazy” is really severe lack of energy due to high doses of meds. Or lack of know how due to the destruction of cognitive ability.

My brother went through a period of negative symptoms that made it very difficult for him to get through his day. He too hated to bathe and shower, but for him it was a paranoia. The sound of the water blocked out approaching attacker or family plotting behind his back. When he was on meds, and his paranoia and anxiety began to fade, he began to take better care of himself.

It’s not going to be easy for your brother to just find friends. My brother tried very hard for a long time, but deep down, he knew when his word salad and racing thoughts were kicking in and he was embarrassed by it. So he was afraid to make friends.

To help your brother, stay patient, learn about this illness and encourage his activities and most of all, keep being a friend.

If he’s on meds, maybe find out which ones and how severe are the side effects.

For many people, over medication can look like negative symptoms. What really helped my brother get back on his feet was meds, therapy, CBT, day hospitals that had vocational training, and of course, family support.

But many things you mention have a bit of commonality with other people who are also fighting this illness.

I encourage a lot of people to find out what they can about what SZ is and what it does, and I have a feeling you will see your bothers actions in a whole new light with a whole new understanding. That is when you will be able to help him heal and over come this illness.

Thank you for letting me post.

http://schizophrenia.com/diag.php
for symptoms

http://schizophrenia.com/family.php
For recovery tips

http://schizophrenia.com/sztreat.html
For treatments

www.nami.org
For more information


#4

Welcome to the forum Eric.

It sounds like your brother is doing pretty good. You may need to adjust your expectations. As Kidsis noted a lot of what is holding your brother back appear to be symptoms of sz.

Some other links you may find interesting:

http://www.leapinstitute.org/ - under resources are free videos on using LEAP
LEAP is a way of communicating to build trust. Listen-Empathize-Agree-Partner.
http://dramador.com/ - Dr. Xavier Amador is a clinical psychologist whose brother had schizophrenia. He is the founder of the LEAP Institute. Wrote the book: I’m Not Sick I Don’t Need Help! Can buy from his website.
Search Xavier Amador and LEAP on youtube.com and you should find some long videos
http://www.treatmentadvocacycenter.org/index.php - under problems you will see anosognosia
Anosognosia looks like denial but is different.