Youngest brother had first break while staying with us

Less than a week ago my brother had his first psychotic break and had to go to hospital and treatment center involuntarily.
I’m experiencing a lot of shock and he must be too. What are some things I can tell him or say to make this experience easier. He does not want medication and wants freedom and says he doesn’t really know what’s going on. I really need some words of reassurance to handle this new type of experience.

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Welcome to the forum. I see this experience is new to you; try to stay calm and safe overall. As soon as you have a chance check out the NAMI Family to Family classes in your area and join a support group, learning all you can about mental illness is empowering; the challenge with mental illness is to learn how to communicate with our loved ones, to start there’s the book “I’m Not Sick, I Don’t Need Help” by psychologist Xavier Amador. This journey requires to learn a new language. I’m sure the NAMI classes are going to be a lot of help. You are not alone but it’s a hard experience.

I commend you for your concern and sympathy for your little brother.

You came to the right place to learn tips from others and find lots of support.

Take care of yourself. It’s a must!

I wish you the best.


Hello @VKDubs , I’m glad you found this site. You can get lots of advice here, lived experience from those who are fighting the good fight. Reading past posts is a good way to get ideas for helping your brother to handle his situation.

Of course you and your brother are both in shock. No one is prepared for involuntary hospital stays! It is very tough to go through.

There is something called anosognosia, which the great majority of people with schizophrenia also have: lack of insight into their own mental state i.e. they don’t feel they are ill. Learning about this helps caregivers understand why their loved one won’t stay on meds or accept treatment. Doctors and nurses can tell your brother he had a psychotic break and he just may not agree or believe them.

My daughter never agreed that she was mentally ill until she was on forced medication for months. Now years later, after her episodes ended, she can look back and see her own odd behavior. She is still on medication. However, she still feels that the voices she hears are real people existing somewhere in the world, but communicating to her outside of their bodies.

It is best if you simply tell your brother you are there for him, will support him as well as you can, and that you understand he wants his freedom.It’s the first part of Dr. Amador’s LEAP method for communication to a person with schizophrenia. Listen. Empathize.(Agree and Partner follow.) If he cannot see his own behavior or thoughts are odd, it will be a struggle for him to accept treatment. @rosyd was correct to urge you to read that book. Dr. Amador also has videos you can watch.

Good luck.


@oldladyblue and @rosyd
Thank you so much for replying! I am going to order that book today. I started looking in to the LEAP skills and feel a little better prepared as to how to talk to my brother. Seems theres a lot of resources out there and it’s kinda overwhelming. Glad to have some place to start.

I have another question too, for family who’s experienced a loved one go to involuntary treatment. How often do you visit?
I can’t tell if I should leave him be for a few days or be there every day right now until he gains some clarity. I know it’s not sustainable for me to visit every single day if it’s a long visit, but I just want him to know I’m here for him. But on the other hand, every time I visit or call him it’s very distressing.

Another question I have is about therapy afterwards for my brother. I understand that having an acute mental break is traumatic (studies show symptoms of ptsd from the experience itself.) And then on top of that, having your bodily autonomy taken away is very traumatic. I’m curious if anyone has some feedback of certain types of therapy that have been helpful in providing empathy for someone who’s gone through this.

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To answer your question about visiting, I attempted to go every day as there are 3 hospitals in my city that a person can be admitted to by ambulance or police, and all are within a 15 minute drive. Sometimes the visits were pretty quiet and my daughter and I just sat together and didn’t even talk. Other times she was very angry and vocal. Sometimes she refused to see me at all so the nurses didn’t even let me in. Sometimes she sent me away early. Pretty much I just tried to show my support by being there.

Regarding therapy afterwards, my daughter always refused medicine or therapy after release from the hospital except one time. After that hospitalization, she went to a group meeting once. She then refused to go again. She said “All the people there were weird and I didn’t belong there.” The only reason she is doing well now is because of my seeing a judge (she had been arrested) and asking him for help to keep her medicated. He court ordered her to take medication or stay in jail. She chose medicine, and stayed on it even after the court order expired.

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Glad you are sharing your concerns.
When our daughter was first hospitalized I went every time visiting hours were available, usually on the weekends. I would go there and see if she’d see me. There were times at first when she wouldn’t let me visit but I could leave something for her. You need to check what the hospital requires. I did send a warm, soft blanket for her, some socks, underwear (certain rules), jeans, plus personal care items like lotion, toothbrush, etc. The first hospital we had to have names on every item but the other hospital (in a different city and state) let patients do their own laundry so it wasn’t needed. Also the second hospital I wasn’t allowed to see her in person but I did have a chance to wave to her from a window she was at before I left. This was hard and I still can feel the emotions when I had to do this.
When she let me see her in the first hospital I brought a puzzle we started to put together each time. Also she’s a reader and they usually only had romance type books there. There is a lot of idle time so getting some good books was a good idea. Just ask the hospital.
You can send letters, cards to your loved one. You can call and ask how s/he is doing even though they may not be able to tell you BUT at least you can leave a message for your loved one. Oh yes, who has POA mental health for your brother. You need to have this or his permission for the staff to share information with you
Of course, I prayed a lot for my daughter as well as others who know her. What is happening? She is taking her medicine and working full-time. It takes time, a lot of love and patience on your part to be there for your loved one. Our loved one needs our support!!! It takes a team so include others whenever possible.
I’ll send you another message about the effects of hospitalization on her experience.
Thanks for your care for your brother but remember you are not alone and you need to take care of yourself.

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The effects of hospitalization on our daughter.
First of all, I need to tell you that she ended up court ordered to be medicated which meant a trial before a judge. It was a heart-wrenching experience to see her taken back to the unit yelling and screaming. The court order was mostly done on our oldest daughters part who is a doctor and had a huge sense of urgency because the sooner you get help the better the outcome. I must say we had some different family relationships in dealing with our daughter’s experience which caused some conflict. I could tell you more but I want to share some things she mentioned about the hospitalization.
Our daughter is a brilliant student (like most of those who struggle with SMI). She was close to completing her doctorate in psychology. Okay she knew a lot about therapy and psychology but she felt dehumanized at times. It was more the attitudes of the workers. She did mention one nurse did sit down with her and chatted but most were sitting behind a closed desk area doing their work. I did notice one time my daughter went to get her snack and spilled some of her juice. The server didn’t respond in the nicest way. Of course, the patients were at different levels of functioning and she only talked with a few on the unit. She did have her own room but it felt cold and bare looking. She did have some art therapy and some visits from the psychiatrist. I sensed she wanted more communication with the doctor. She was allowed to call someone at certain times of the day so I did talk with her some. Oh yes, she could not have her cell phone. The limits of living in a closed unit even though she could walk around the unit was uncomfortable. There is a need to help the loved one process their experience hopefully with a therapist.

Remember though some of these experiences are difficult it is important that we can care for our loved one as best as possible. The ideal would be to have such a good mental health system where these situations could be taken care of before hospitalization.
PLEASE take care of yourself.

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I absolutely love your summary of how it goes during visits while our love ones are in the hospital settings. I’ve gone through each those same experiences myself. It’s not them, and with time we learn to not feel offended but be kind and respectful of their feelings.

We as mothers tend to want to fix things right away and we can’t. :frowning:


@VKDubs how are you doing? How are things going?
@rosyd yes, we as mothers want to fix things right away. But at least we keep trying even if it takes much much longer than we want. Hugs back.
@Julie1 good for you and your oldest daughter fighting for your ill daughter! It does take teamwork and often decisions cause upsets with other family members. It is a tough time.

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I had a therapist for a while after my loved one was involuntarily.

The best thing i learned was to be normal when they are able to come back home. Dont ask them if they are ok all the time or if they need stuff. Just be like i would normally be around them.

Take Care

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