I’ve been reading posts here for a while now. It has been nice to know that there are other people who would truly understand my family’s situation. It can be so hard to understand what it’s like until it is your own loved one struggling.
Anyways. I see stories where sometimes after years or even decades of heartache and hard work a comparative sense of balance is found. Not perfect by any stretch but not the chaos it was before. And I have seen stories where people fully, 100 percent thought their loved one would never ever get to that point, only to eventually find a plan that ‘worked’.
Knowing all that…What if you absolutely can’t see a future that doesn’t end in tragedy? I still love my sibling so much and my heart breaks for them. This is as close as a person can get to Hell on Earth.
It’s a combination of the near decade of the same song and dance, the heavy illicit drug use, my sibling’s alarming stalker-ish obsession with a couple select family members, the refusal to talk to a professional or take medications for longer than a month at a time…its so vicious.
A few years ago they were taking their meds with some regularity and stayed sober for a few months. And there were glimmers of my goofy nerdy little sibling that we hadn’t seen in years, and their eyes were finally so bright and focused. But things are so much worse now than they were then.
I find myself drafting obituaries in my head lately, and trying to hold onto that memory of those bright eyes and goofy sense of humor. I am so afraid of fully accepting that tragedy will be inevitable. I think I read somewhere here that we are sometimes grieving the loss of the person we knew, even though they are technically still alive? It’s so complicated.
I’m new here so I don’t have any sage advice. But I’d like to repost an article that @Cat_nip posted on another thread. I think it speaks to what you (and I and probably everyone else here) are feeling. We are grieving what could have been; what “should” have been. I look around and see the happy little lives that those around me live and I get jealous that they have something that was so cruelly stripped away from us by this horrible disease. You miss your sibling; you miss the person they were and the person they had the potential to be. And maybe some day that goofy nerdy personality will shine through again. But in the meantime, it is completely normal and ok to grieve for what you have lost.
Thank you, I’ll be sure to read through that one. And I agree, I’ve had moments of frustration/anger/jealousy over the fact my sibling won’t ever be “normal”. And that their mannerisms associated with the disease will continue to alienate and strengthen the self destructive cycle. You know how it is I’m sure
My brother had a suicide attempt last month that was very, very close to being successful. No need to go into details. This led to 3 weeks in a psychiatric unit. Last week he was released to a transitional living facility. My family went to meet him for lunch this last weekend and it was the clearest and most lucid he had been in about a decade. He was present, fully sober, able to carry a conversation.
4 days later now and he is slicing his own neck, sending photos of it to his biological father & saying stuff like “this should be what I’m doing to you, where do you want to be buried”. Referring to the demon/entity he has seen for years by a proper name - which is a first. It has never had a name before. Saying that he is actually that very demon now. Saying he needs to take care of some people causing him problems. Looking to buy an AK-47. Idk he he is back on the hard drugs already again or if he quit his meds or if they never worked in the first place? We are working on reaching out to the proper sources, and if any of us knew exactly where he was I would put out a call for a wellness check. Danger to himself and others.
The time gap between him being OK and him being alarmingly off the deep end seems to get shorter and shorter after ever hospital stay. It’s all so much (but also so not surprising anymore) and sometimes I feel the words starting to spill over and I just want to shout at whoever will listen “my brother isn’t Ok!!”
But people have their own problems, ya know?
Another sibling here. My older brother was diagnosed with schizophrenia decades ago. I send you all my empathy for what it feels like to watch, helpless and sad, as your brother changes from “goofy” and “bright” as you put into someone hardly recognizable. The pain is deep. The frustration of not knowing how to fix it or him is through the roof, isn’t it?
I would like to address your comment about your writing his obit in your head. For parents with sons and daughters with mental illness, that must be a harsh and difficult comment to read, but I want to share with you that I did it over the years too, during times that were simply too hard for me to bear. It didn’t really mean I wanted my brother gone. Not at all. I just wanted the pain for all of us gone, and imagining his demise provided mental relief to get me through the latest incident. So I’m glad you found that technique. You are allowed the full range of emotions and can use any harmless technique you can come up with to help YOU. His mind, yes, is betraying him (until or if he gets on some meds or ages out of his severe symptoms) but YOURS can be your best friend as you cope.
My brother also had a big complex and battle going on in his mind with my father. It was over the top. He never acted on it, but it was scary to listen to. I hope your brother doesn’t act out either. Is there a chance your brother is “just talking?” If not, authorities need to be alerted. How is he now?
How are you?
Thank you for your very kind response. I would say for writing mock obituaries it’s not that I wish he was gone, though you are right that sometimes when things aren’t great I (guiltily) imagine how much easier it would be if he was. More so it’s that at times I genuinely am not confident he will live to see his next birthday. And if he is ever gone I desperately want to make sure the world knows it wasn’t his fault that he became so strange and pushed so many people away.
Hopefully my brother is just full of hot air. Things have calmed down a little since I impulsively wrote my update. He is still at a new level of weird and saying the weirdest things. And we are all a bit on edge but there are no direct threats at the moment.
And I am well. There are moments it all gets to be more intense but it has all become a bit of routine at this point. I live across the state from him and the rest of the family so there is a feeling of not being able to help or provide support, but I do what I can.
Again thank you for your response it really meant a lot. I hope you and your family have found a semblance of peace after decades of your own experiences?
I am doing okay, thank you for asking. My brother’s behaviors certainly pushed me away for a long time and my other siblings stopped dealing with him, too, for many years. I try to forgive myself for not understanding that he couldn’t help being so strange. In my 20s and 30s, I just couldn’t handle or process what was happening. I’m in my mid-fifties now.
These days, I’m back in connection with him, weary of the responsibility sometimes but able to handle it. But the really good part is my brother has aged out of some of the delusions and extremes (I hope forever.) He works toward things now. He is a thoughtful conversationalist.
So, it does get better often.
I did grieve the old “him” during my years apart and now I take him at face value, which helps a lot.
Can I ask you at what age your brother began to age out of his delusions?
He’s 61 now. I would say for the past ten years he has changed, so let’s say 50. It might have been lessening sooner, but I wasn’t in frequent contact with him during his 40s enough to observe changes.
I should add, I don’t know what actually goes on in his head. Maybe he has all those thoughts still, but he doesn’t obsess or talk about delusions to the exclusion of everything else, like he used to do. He still has symptoms. Last month he announced that his neighbors are persecuting him. (I doubt that.) But the subject can be pretty easily changed nowadays and he goes with the flow, drops the thought or will even tolerate an opposing opinion (the neighbors seem indifferent and are busy with their own lives…) AFTER I listen to his opinion. That is a great improvement.
That’s definitely a huge improvement.
Yes, @Rabbit , what @Isabella said in her post is very true, it is OK to grieve for what is lost. The hell on Earth of severe mental illness affects everyone in the family. And those who have never experienced a living loss of watching their loved one disappear mentally before their very eyes cannot imagine or advise on the situation. Yes, I too imagined death for my daughter during her psychosis years and maybe it was a mental preparation for me if I failed to help her. My daughter is doing well now, but she is not the same as she was before the illness, and I still grieve for the person she was, and for the life I had before she got ill.
Your brother’s illness is so bad, with self inflicted harm, that it would be hard not to imagine a tragedy in the future. Imagination, I think, is healthy. An outlet. A release. I am sorry for your situation, but be kind to yourself, I think you are handling it well.
I agree with @chimain that alerting authorities to threat of self harm or harm to others is an important thing to do. Even if you are far away from the rest of your family, they should be prepared to call 911 as needed. I did it many times in the past for my daughter. It is good to know @chimain that your brother has mellowed out over the decades. Sigh, such a lifelong fight this illness causes.
@chimain You nailed it. ‘AFTER I listen to him…’
For so many years, even before we had a diagnosis, I was too busy, too harsh, too quick to dismiss all the bizarre thought patterns.
Looking back, it started in 8/9th grade. Such intense anxiety and fear. We had to homeschool 10, 11, 12 due to fears.
All this time, I worked as an exec in high-growth/stress companies. It was FAR easier to stay busy and disconnected. It didn’t get better.
Now, several years, hospitalizations, episodes later, I’ve learned the difficult lesson of ‘listening’. LEAP is so critical and I had been terrible.
Now, I’ve taken some time off, and spend hours per day with my son. Listening. And as you’ve said, often the delusions aren’t as deep or angry and soon move to sports or a funny tv show. Stop. Listen.
It’s tough for me. I want to argue, scream, and weep. But it’s like a bucking horse ride at rodeo. You’ve got to tighten your grip, and hang on!!
The improvements come AFTER I listen…
Yes, hang on and listen. Then see what is workable afterwards. I was terrible at it, too, for a long time. I didn’t think I could handle what my brother was saying, but turns out I can.
Love the rodeo analogy!
I also say to myself quietly, “Go on…I can do this aaaalllllll day” when my brother is talking. Gives me patience. And I really come away enjoying being with this fascinating person who is my sibling.
I know, its a constant grieving that doesnt go away
Like they say divorce is harder than death, aa it doesnt go away…its so sad, when they get it they lose themselves
.and all they did…my son became afraid to skateboard , surf, wouldnt go to any high school events…it is like a devil trying to take their soul and live in their body…