Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Supporting vs Enabling..where do we draw the line?

Where do we draw the line?

I just want to tell about my life a little bit when I lived with my mentally ill brother. I was responsible for the finances. He worked part time sometimes and earned money only enough for his cigarettes and small things .My job was stressful. I had a relationship with someone which was problematic and I needed support for. I needed a safe family atmosphere and all I found was a brother who destroyed things when he was in a rage,who stole from me,who sold my personal things when I went away for a trip,who called my friends and told them lies about me. Hostility was the norm.

And what was I doing? Crying “why? why?” and trying to figure out which was impossible of course ,questioning myself “did I say something that made him mad?” etc…My friends were telling me to leave,but there were things to be handled before that. The last thing he did was throwing a pair of scissors to my face when I asked him to go to the supermarket which made me run away for my life.I heard the scissors passed by my face,I heard the whistle of it .I was shocked. Thanks God I was protected.

Once,I was so angry that I locked the door and didn’t want to take him in and he broke the door. I was the one who had it fixed when I needed that money for something else .I remember asking myself "Do I have to sacrifice myself,my life ,everything just because he happens to be my brother? It’s sooo unjust! I don’t believe God wants me to sacrifice myself for another."I remember crying for hours and hours.I went to the doctor and he put me on antidepressants. They helped.

My father who was the parent was alive at the time but he didn’t care. He had mental issues himself and he wanted me to be responsible for my brother.I was all by myself,I couldn’t take him to the doctor.They told me to call the police but I didn’t.I chose to leave him.

The day I moved out to my own place,the first thing I did was having a deep breath and saying "Ohh my God! What a relief ! I am free now !"A huge huge huge burden was taken from me.

Why did I put up with all those? First of all I am a very giving,responsible,conscientious type of person.I was conditioned to give.Maybe I was trying to get the love I was deprived of by giving to people. I thought about those a lot… I have been doing all the necessary things to lead a healthier,happier ,more fullfilling life I learned about codependency and read a lot and tried to change my defects.It is a process,I am still working on myself.I can’t change anybody,but myself.

Another thing was I was alone. My mother had passed away,my father was mentally ill himself and he was living in another city with his 3rd wife. We never had close relationships with other relatives. My brother was my only family and I think I was in some kind of denial also.I remember ,at the time I still had hopes that someday he would be ok.

Then I left and we parted 15 years ago. He left the town and went elsewhere.I tried to contact him 4-5 times after a year or so. But he seemed uninterested so I stopped thinking about him. I tried to solve my own problems,focused on my own life,tried to be a better person,to have more fullfillment in my life. My life has gotten much more better everyday in all ways and I feel gratitude.I am a positive person,I believe in the power of positive thinking.

And six months ago,I heard that he was in very bad conditions. I was not ready to see him but I tried to help but things didn’t improve but got worse so I called him to come to my town. When I saw him,I inevitably remembered the life I shared with him, got mixed up emotionally .I now understand that my feelings are not to be discussed with him,with a person who is ill. Ok I’ll do this by myself,I’ll get all the help and support I can and process them. They belong to me.OK.

My husband went through some very tough times in his youth financially so he feels so sorry when he sees someone in need,in deprivation. Even for people he sees in the street so he is in favour of helping my brother. For him;helping is helping financially. But I know,helping has a vaster meaning.And sometimes you don’t help really when you think you are helping.

What am I going to do now? How can I support him but not enable? How can I support him but not let him use,abuse or hurt me or influence my life negatively?

Sometimes I think, “Do I have to? I am not his parent and I have my own life” but morally and as a person who is spiritual, I want to help him because he is desperately in need of help although he doesn’t think so probably.

This has been long.Thanks for reading.

(Note: I just want to learn something so much.After getting treatment,do schizophrenics acknowledge the pain they have given to others?And what do they feel if it is so?)

Hi, from previous threads I got the idea your brother is better now. Is that true? Is he getting treatment?

Well, speaking for myself and my own previous actions, I can say we feel a lot of shame and regret with our actions during psychosis. I had disconnected most of my family from my life, well, I thought they were all being controled by negative entities and so I didn’t want a relationship with that and I also went to a lot of trouble with money so I depended on my grandfather for a while during my psychotic break, and without his help I think I would’ve starved. So I believe family can be of great help, even when we don’t know what we do, if thats the case of your brother. And I if can say this, don’t hold against him his actions. It’s a terrible illness

Hi Minnii,I saw my brother only 10 days ago after a disconnection of 15 years. We didn’t have contact for all those years. I tried to but he ignored me so I stopped too…And he didn’t initiate the contact this time.also. I heard from some mutual friends that he was in deprivation and started helping him financially because I didn’t know what else I could do. But then I heard his conditions got worse so I told him to come to my town.Now he is in my town,staying at a hotel.

No,he is not getting treatment,not that I know of. When I saw him last week,he was calm and collected, He talked about being and feeling alone a lot and gave me the impression that he wants someone beside him so much. He was a very angry person most of the time in the past but now he is calm to my surprise.He didn’t tell me but I know that he has been living in deprivation for at least 2 years.Only from hand to mouth,so to speak.He constantly says “I don’t want to be a burden to you” etc…that kind of things.He is not greedy.

Is he against medical help? Can you help him with meds?

I’ll talk to him and try to take him to a doctor .He always refused that in the past but I don’t know what will happen now.I’ll try because it is the only option

Ok, I’ll hope for the best. It is a difficult situation you’re in :\

Thanks a lot Minnii.

This varies from person to person. My brother and I would talk at length about my psychosis over the last couple years. After I quit needing to talk about it he eventually told me how fucked up it was that he had to hear all of that. He was also super pissed that I attempted suicide.

My other family members are more just thankful I’m still here. I know they all had to deal with a lot.

So in my case I’d like to say yes. I am aware of the pain that I caused. People are smart, they started to remind me of how fucked up all that was as soon as I able to handle it. So I’d also say that it’s not a bad thing to explain it and show them.

I’m realizing now how insanely solipsistic I was before the hallucinations set in and how foolish I must have seemed to certain people.