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My two older brothers were diagnosed - their journey and current state


#1

Hello all.

I have two older brothers (30) who are twins with each others, both diagnosed schizophrenic. Below is their complicated and heartbreaking story, which I share to hopefully gain some insight as to how to help them.

My brothers were raised separately from me in Central America ( I was born and raised in Miami). They had a rough upbringing, and I recently found out they were physically & sexually abused by their caretaker when they were kids.

They were reunited with our family in America in their early teens, and they quickly assimilated into the US lifestyle. They went to school, made friends, graduated, got jobs, girlfriends, and started attending college.

That all changed when they both started hearing voices in their mid 20’s. They were both diagnosed schizophrenic about 5 years ago, literally months apart. One suffered a brain aneurysm and nearly died having open skull surgery around that time. The doctor informed us he was born with malformed veins in his brain, which I think may be due to the fact they were both born prematurely due to complications (7 months).

Fast forward to today, and both of my brothers are still far from the lives they were living before their mental breakdowns. Since their diagnosis, they’ve been unemployed, living at home, and generally unable to take care of themselves. It’s taken a drastic toll on my mother, who essentially has had to take care of them and maintain a household by herself. She’s a tough woman, but she also experienced a very rough and traumatic upbringing in her home country which effects her to this day. Her house is not a very good place to live in, as she’s a hoarder, the A/C hasn’t worked for years (and in the always hot Miami you see how that’s an issue), and she’s a socially anxious person. I feel that environment only worsens my brothers conditions. She also works a grueling & physically demanding 50+ hour a week job, which leaves her little time for my brothers.

The brother who had the aneurysm (well call him G) is in better condition than the other brother (well call F), and is actually very social and loves talking to people. He takes his meds and goes out with friends often.

However, when at home G holds a negative attitude towards us, especially towards F, constantly insulting him, claiming that F is faking his condition, and overall creating a negative vibe. He constantly talks in a very sexually perverted manner, and informed me his caretaker in Central America molested him when he was 5 years old.

F on the other hand, is extremely withdrawn, to the point that you can talk to him for an hour straight and he will barely acknowledge your presence, if at all. He lays on his bed most of the day, goes out to the park to walk a few times, and eats. Thats it.

F refused to take the risperdone medication the doctors prescribed him for a long time. He was noncompliant in the psych ward, to the point were the multiple nurses had to tackle him to the ground. About a year or so ago my mother finally convinced F to start taking his risperdone, and I personally put much more effort into ensuring he had good meals by cooking him healthy breakfast every morning, started giving him L-Theanine as advised in these boards, etc.

F started dramatically improving. He began talking and being more social, regaining his sense of humor, etc. He started planning to get his own place, fix his truck to get a job, etc. It seemed everything would change for the better, like the cloudy veil that blocked his consciousness was slowly being lifted.

Shortly after, F’s risperdone medication ran out since his prescription was expired. I had to move back to my own place due to work. My his meds gone, me away and my mom barely home due to her job F quickly deteriorated to the state he was in before, and still is.

My mother asked the doctor to renew the prescription but he claims he cannot write the scrip until F comes in for another check up since his last one was years ago. F refuses to go the hospital at all cost despite our many attempts. It’s like a vicious loop that feeds into itself in which no one wins.

At this point we don’t know what to do. My mother is considering placing F under hospital care, but that breaks my heart as I’ve seen the poor treatment they are subjected to in those places, and the zombie-like state patients seem to perpetually be in.

I truly love my brothers and wish to help as much as I can. Any advice or tips would be such appreciated. Thank you for reading.


#2

If F responded well to Risperdone, but has deteriorated since he ran out, the hospital might be the best choice if he continues to refuse to go to see the doctor.

I live in Virginia, but my experience with the hospitals doesn’t agree with what you’ve seen.

The people in the 2 hospitals my son has been too (5 times inpatient in the last year), most of the staff was surprisingly kind to the patients, and my son was not a good patient to start. He tried to escape, etc.

The patients were not overmedicated. In fact, I would have been a little more aggressive with the medication if it was me calling the shots.

As far as zombie-like, if my son goes too far into his psychosis, he does pace around making little sense like a zombie, and it continues to get worse his first day or so in the hospital until the meds kick in. But, when they do kick in, he’s been good enough to come home within a week or two.

If you can get F into the hospital & back on his meds so that he can see how much he can improve, maybe he will agree to treatment. They should also have some group therapy & other counseling in the hospital to help him be more compliant when he gets out.

It’s not a guarantee, but it’s worth a shot, and better than what’s going on now. I would not avoid the hospital out of fear for what will happen there.


#3

It is far better to be zombie-like than psychotic, furthermore that state is almost always not permanent but sedation is not a bad thing while he has no insight.
I talk from personal experience, after 35 years of unmedicated schizophrenia my mother’s brain has been destroyed; she was the best student in her school and now she looks like a 5 years old child. :cry:


#4

Hello,

Hospital stays are rare and brief nowadays. It is much harder to get a person into the hospital than the cultural portrayals of treatment for mental illness suggest. No one stays there for very long; doctors of inpatients might medicate heavily to stop psychosis, then outpatient doctors usually try to find a good balance between medication/stability and quality of life AFTER the crisis passes and a person is living in the community again.

If he can get treatment, Risperdone is available in a bi-weekly injection. He would go to a nurse, doctor, or clinic every two weeks and the family would not have to constantly try to make sure he takes medication.


#5

My son is on a two week injectable Risperdal in slowly making progress. He’s able to communicate with us and he’s not responding to other stimuli. This is much different than when he went into the hospital. He is also talking about plans for the future that makes sense for the first time in a long time.

I hope your brothers get some help and I hope they can gain insight into their illness. I wish the same for all of us here.


#6

That’s what we are hoping for, but he refuses to go with us to the doctor or hospital in order to get him a prescription. There’s no way we can really force him…


#7

Like other people wrote, document all of this and make sure the doctors know if he is ever hospitalized again.

It’s true there is no way the family can force medication, so hopefully you can find peace that you did everything you could.


#8

I agree with you about the hospital. Where my son went was a very noce, clean facility with good staff. What she describes sounds more like the '50s/'60s here with the horrible overcrowding and everything. The main problem now is there just aren’t enough hospitals for the mentally ill.


#9

My son’s first hospital experience was for one month. There he was tested for all kinds of other things that could cause psychosis but there is a genetic vulnerability in our family (his family) for schizophrenia so with that and other tests being negative well it turns out to be paranoid Sz just like the other relatives. He was put on a once a month injection called invega sustenna and has been on that since. When he first came home I was shocked by how delusional he was!! But it was simply because the medication hadn’t had a chance to really do what expected. Once that all calmed down, he’s been fine on it. Well, not FINE. Nothing’s really fine if you have Sz. But he is much better and hasn’t had another psychotic break. Hoping won’t. But nothing is certain. Oh well. I feel so bad for you and your brothers and of course your poor mother!! Please keep us posted here.


#10

The only med that help my grandson was capone. He is pretty much back to normal only heavier. He actually went back to work a month ago and with people. Miracle drug. Had to fight to get him on it but fought hard and it worked.


#11

Clozapine not capone


#12

Hello Miaminative,

My son was also born premature and there was abuse from his father. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia when he was 17 and hopitalized 4 times. Hes 24 now. The hard part of being schizophrenic is believing your not ok. A schizophrenic believes everyone else is not ok so taking medication seems useless. I had to set down rules in order for my son to take his meds. The number 1 rule is take or medication or you cant live with me. It was a hard fight. One where i had to let him go roam the streets for a day or two wondering if he was ok. The number 2 rule is see your doctor. Occationally he fights this one to this day. And then of course he leaves and comes back later agreeing to go. Hes still takes his meds. I cant say this would work for everyone and the front work for this method is hard and stressful. But its easier later on and my son is not homeless or creating to much drama. (There is of course drama and strange conversations but he is schizophrenic.) And I love him and want him to be safe and safe to be around.


#13

Hospital stays rare and brief?

Not for my family member who has been in and out of hospital frequently.

After 2 years in the psych hospital, he is still in a State run facility.

I find it annoying that you make such a sweeping generalization about hospitalization.


#14

I’m sorry I annoyed you. The “sweeping generalization” is also a statistical reality https://mentalillnesspolicy.org/imd/longer-hospital-stay.html. 40 to 50% of people with SMI do not get inpatient or outpatient treatment. More people with severe mental illness are incarcerated than hospitalized. A person is more likely to go to jail than the hospital in 48 of 50 US states if they are very ill with psychosis. In 2015, 169,000 people with serious mental illness were homeless instead of hospitalized. 50% of people with these illnesses attempt suicide.

Read this series of articles: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/05/12/mental-health-system-crisis/7746535/
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2012/12/17/seven-facts-about-americas-mental-health-care-system/?utm_term=.6133dc458728

I’m glad your family member is an exception to the stark trend of lack of necessary medical care and sorry that your family member suffers from this illness.


#15


#16

That’s interesting. My husband was never in the hospital longer than 5 days, though he definitely could have benefited from a longer stay.


#17

My experience with my son’s illness has been the brief hospital stays as well. Maybe it is different from state to state? Anyhow, his first hospitalization was following a suicide attempt. The place where I took him ended up being absolutely horrible: they let him wear clothes with dried vomit on them for two days even though he had clean clothes, made him sleep on the cement floor even though beds were available. Some people have said it was because he was on suicide watch but how are you going to use a mattress to kill yourself? Bedding I understand. The second visit, the facility just drugged him up on Seroquel (like 250 mg a day) and sent him home after 5 days. I didn’t find either visit to be helpful. He didn’t have any therapy worth mentioning (15 - 20 minutes? seriously). I am very discouraged with our state’s (Oklahoma) mental health facilities. So sad because there is so much need.


#18

This may be a repeat.

Thank you so much for sharing stories of loved ones who struggle with schizophrenia.

It gives me great hope during the bad times.

And apologies to Lisa S., I was talking from pain and didn’t mean to offend.

Maple Woman


#19

Even in the state system I have found that it varies greatly. It varies by Dr., diagnosis, and whether or not there are enough beds in the facility.


#20

It’s more true than not true. Mental health services are bandaids treatment at best.