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Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5424
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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brother with unknown mental illness

Customer Question

Hello, I am writing regarding my brother. I am not sure how to deal with this issue and need advice. He is ten years older than me, around 44. My brother has some type of mental illness.He is divorced (10 yrs) and father of 3, they do not live with him. He is very moody, secretive, selfish, he drinks, not sure how often but we get calls from him about how no one loves him. He has gotten in many fist fights, usually when drinking. He makes up stories about how my parents treated him. I do know he is on anxiety meds after his divorce. No one in our family really knew until recently. I got mad at him before figuring this all out and I said alot of mean things such as how he needs to grow up, stop being selfish, stop looking at porn, stop mistreating my parents and that he was a burden on the family. Now he won't speak to me or or my parents even tho they had nothing to do with our argument. He made up lies saying my dad beat him (this was not true, i lived in the house too and never saw or heard this). My brother then defriended my moms relatives on facebook bc he said they didnt ask him how he was doing or try to chat when online. I want to know how I can help him and talk to him again. I am afraid he will commit suicide. He has taken a gun out at least 2 times when he would call drunk and start saying how no one loved him, mostly blaming it on my dad.

Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 1 year ago.

Hello, I'd like to help you with your question.

Getting someone to get treatment when they refuse is always difficult, especially when dealing with an adult that you have no control over. You want them to see the importance of taking care of themselves but for some reason, they refuse. It can be upsetting when you care about the person and they will not listen.

It may help to ask your brother what he might be willing to do instead. If you can, talk to him again and let him know you are upset because you are concerned about him. Ask him how you can help. Suggest therapy. But if he won't go, consider going with the family without him. The stress caused by dealing with a family member with a mental illness is high. A therapist can help you learn how to cope and offer support which can help you feel less stressed.

Also, try asking him if he is willing to see his doctor. Sometimes a person who won't see a therapist will see a doctor. If he is willing to go, contact his doctor ahead of time and let him/her know what you are seeing with your brother. The doctor may not be able to talk with you because of confidentiality, but you can still talk with them.

Try asking other relatives or friends to talk to your brother. If he won't listen to you, he may listen to a friend or another relatives, especially someone closer to him.

Here are some other resources to help you with ideas on how to help your loved one:

http://www.heretohelp.bc.ca/publications/factsheets/families-friends-help

I Am Not Sick I Don't Need Help: How to Help Someone with Mental Illness Accept Treatment-Xavier Amador.

Most of all, offer your support. Be there as much as you can for your brother. Sometimes that is what makes the most difference in helping him to change.

If you have tried all of the above and he still refuses, you may have to let it go. Your brother needs to make his own choices, even if they are not the best ones. And you do not want to create more tension in your relationship by making this a big issue between you. You want to try to keep your relationship on good terms so you can keep an eye on him. And if things ever change and you can try again, maybe he will listen.

However, if you witness your brother either through seeing him or hearing him try to make a suicide attempt, it is important that you contact your local ER and police. You can commit your brother to the hospital against his will for treatment, which is called a 302. The police and your local ER know the procedure for your area so let them know if you are ever concerned about your brother again.

I hope this has helped you,
Kate

Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5424
Experience: Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.


Thank you for the advice. It is heavy on my soul and I wish I had not been so mean to him. I just wanted to add a bit more information regarding our argument, it started after my wedding, I married at 32 years old, and I worked very hard to put it all together myself and pay for it also, my parents did help me some but my brother must have thought they paid for the whole thing and so his participation was not very cheerful to me but in pictures he was having a blast with the guest. He thinks my parents gave me more growing up. But there were 10 yrs between us and they were financially settled more by the time I came around so it is possible but not in a harmful way. For some reason he has resentment towards me and my parents but when he is depressed he always runs to my dad for help, but then he hates him again. He sent me text messages on my honeymoon saying how he didnt believe in god, and how mom and dad loved me more than him. (after the just gave him 5000.00 to pay off his childsupport- he is a truck driver and damaged his knee and was off work, meanwhile lost his truck and got behind on payments for his kids) .Other than that, he does go to work everyday and kept his job for over 20 years now. He was so thankful to them then suddenly hated them again. Recently my father went in the hospital with heart fluttering and I asked my husband to tell my brother (for some reason he loves my husband ). My brother came to the hospital and was very emotional , he didnt talk to me very much but held my newborn son for the first time. Then after my dad was discharged, dad asked him to come to the house for thanksgiving, he said maybe. Then he never came and all the sudden was mad at my mom, whom he hasn't talked to either in one year. Recently I bought my dad a cell phone, he is 70 yrs old and its a smart phone. I live in texas and they live in KY , I couldn't help my dad set it up. My dad asked my brother to come help him , he said ok, then never showed up. My mom suspects its because my dad may have mentioned I got the phone for my dad. I am trying to give you all these examples because their is a jealousy within him against me for some reason.I have always been so nice to him and ignored his mean comments, moods, and I was always there for him. Also, he divorced when his kids were babies, and he got them every other weekend bc he lost custody. The divorced started bc he was depressed with a gun. The ex wife called the police and he ended up in a psyche ward, the let him out said he was ok the next day. My family was naive and believe him, that it wasn't his fault. He kinda led us to believe it was her family driving him nuts.So I am not sure how to approach him after not speaking to him for one year. I am a little afraid he will hurt me again by rejecting my apology, and its hard for me to recover from his behaviors. This argument we had was all via text messaging also. I am thinking maybe I should write him a letter. I am not good with words and I do not want to start crying if we speak in person or on the phone. I dont want to make it worse or irreversible. Also,from the issues I have explained could you give me an idea of what disorder he may be experiencing so that I can educate myself and my parents. Thank you.

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 1 year ago.

Thanks for your reply.

It sounds like he may have some depression with possible paranoia mixed in, but without being able to evaluate him face to face, there is no way to tell for sure. He needs to see a therapist so they can offer an evaluation and a diagnosis so you all know what you are dealing with. It can be very hard when you have no way to know what he is suffering with because you don't know how to react.

You can try sending him a letter. He may not respond or if he does, he might not be open to what you say. His behavior is not very predictable so it is hard to tell what he might do. But it might be worth a try.

Your brother has caused a lot of stress in your life and your family's so seeing a therapist as a family (with or without your brother) would help a lot. There is a long history of his behavior issues and therefore you all have been trying to cope for a long time, creating years of stress. It is hard to live that way. And you may not realize how much it is affecting you until you do have a chance to talk to someone.

Kate

Customer: replied 1 year ago.


You are right, what is sad, is my husband's brother has similar personality traits and so we deal with it on both ends. I was so glad when I moved away to Texas because I thought I didnt have to deal with it everyday.I feel so desensitized, I have a hard time being empathetic to either of them. And I struggle with wondering why they can't just pick themself up and move on. I used to be so nice, and I feel like i have changed. I know the constant moodiness has made it hard for me to speak up to other people, and I avoid confrontation because I am so sick of it and also afraid of reactions from others. I am used to it being an explosion or hurtful. So for example, its hard for me to even call in sick to work bc I am afraid of what my boss may say. Even tho its really not a big issue. I really appreciate your help. These few messages have made me feel so much better and I feel like I at least have a direction to turn now. I was living with alot of guilt because I do not want him to be alone.

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 1 year ago.

It is good that you are reaching out. No one should have to deal with this alone. And you sound like you are already experiencing the effects of what you have been through if you are feeling afraid of the reactions of others. It may mean that you have either severe symptoms of stress or possibly some mild PTSD. In that case, it would definitely help to talk to a therapist so you can feel better.

My best to you,

Kate

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