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Avatar universal

I don't know how to help my Bipolar brother...

I am going to try my best to not rant here about my brother's behavior and stick to the facts, but I can't promise that you wont be reading a bit of complaining by the end of this.  I have a 26 year old brother who is bipolar.  He constantly fights with my father and mother, often it is over my parents trying to motivate him to take on very basic responsibilities (showering, eating healthy foods, keeping the common areas of our home clean).  At times he threatens my father and I with physical harm, he is very intimidating (this would be a good time to mention that he is close to 7 feet tall, weighs close to 300 pounds and is a former college football player).  He has failed out of three colleges, all of which were very expensive and my parents have had to take on the burden of his students loans - he is not able to pay them due to his inability to hold a job.  He has also had his car, and several other items he purchased via financing, repossessed.  He gets in awful screaming matches with my younger siblings, who are just children, and says things to them that are so cruel and vulgar that I wouldn't ever repeat them in public.  My mother and I tried to confront him (in a very caring manner) about getting him on medication and getting him to see a therapist.  He responded to us by saying that he will never take take medication for bipolar or ADD (which he also has) ever again.  He is now 26, works a part time job, and has no health insurance.  He does not exercise, his diet consists entirely of pizza and Italian sausage,  he lays on the couch in our family room all day like a corpes, and he does not shower or change his clothes.  Lately, he has started ranting about conspiracy theories and spends all day watching survivalist TV shows like "doomsday preparers".  I am very concerned about him; I want him to have a happy and fulfilling life, I want him to be able to hold a job, I want him to be in good mental and physical health.  My parents have given him every bit of help that they can think of: he has had personal trainers, mentors, went to prep school, went to post graduate athletic school, was given three chances at very expensive colleges, they cosigned a car for him after his car was repossessed (which they now have to pay for as well), have sent him to countless doctors, have set up countless interviews for him, and now all of us are at the end of our rope.  We have tried to understand why he doesn't want to take his medication, and all he will say is "it doesn't work".  It's hard for us to enjoy each other as a family right now because of his condition - all of my other siblings and I are starting to do things like graduate from high school, graduate from college, get jobs, start grad school, move out, etc.  and when we try to celebrate these things, without fail he makes them so unpleasant that I am really afraid that my family members all resent each other.  Anyway, sorry for the rant... No doctors I have consulted really have any ideas for me besides sending him to a residential facility...  but, he doesn't have health insurance!  so, that's not really going to do anything... The only thing I see happening is that he will eventually physically harm one of my family members, get arrested, and receive mental health treatment while he is incarcerated.  I hope someone can give me an idea that will give me more optimism for my brother.  
4 Responses
Avatar universal
At 26, I was very similar, especially the obsessing on conspiracy and refusing help, though my family is not so helpful anyway. I lived on my own since age 14, so I ruined short periods of lots of people's lives, not my family. If it where me and that was my son, I would cut him off. If he doesn't want help, don't give him any. No food, no money, shelter, phone, nothing. If he wanted help I would require him to take all the help he needs, not just what he wants. It seems that the family he is harming is the same people who enable his lifestyle.

I am a recovering opiate addict who is BP1. I could be called ADHD, OCD, or many other diagnosis, but it is all related to bipolar for me. I resisted treatment until now, I am 42. I have dropped out of school 6 times, lost every job I have had, and scrambled to survive my whole life. I was going to be left by my wife and kids if I didn't do something. I am not violent, unless you count throwing furniture or smashing our RV into a pile of rubble. I never hurt my family directly, physical bodily harm I mean. I share that to show how I relate to some extent. I was so stubborn, thinking I was strong. Reality is, fear and weakness have been my main hidden motivators. I am finding many parallels in addiction recovery to bipolar recovery. I had to hit bottom and realize I was ruining my life and those who love me. The last time I had a manic episode that turned to anger, it became clear I was not gonna keep my family, I couldn't control it, and I had to get help end up in jail, an institution or dead. I got divorced at 26, now I realize due to bipolar. I had
Nothing to loss anymore and became an opiate addict, world traveler, and kept switching friends and places. Your brother is lucky to have you, but he is on a path to self destruct. This disorder gets worse with age for many.

As hard as it is, tough love seems to be the only option left. You deserve to have peace at home. My kids where losing respect for me, my wife was giving up, and that's all the family I have. If the kept supporting me though I didn't deserve it, I'm not sure I would have ever gotten help. So, I would say take my help or don't, but don't keep using this family as a target and hiding place from the world. Of coarse this is only my opinion, it was real hard to cut my dad off for ruining my life, so I know it's hard, but I couldn't help a person who doesn't want help or think what they are doing is wrong.

I hope he realizes how serious BP is faster than I did. Good luck.
Avatar universal
Talk to your parents about his childhood and when everything started to go downhill. Have them get pictures of him and videos when he was happy. Put together a collage or something. Maybe write him letters first. When my bi-polar went untreated I felt attacked anytime someone confronted me face-to-face. Letters give people time to think, time to understand what the other person is saying. Letters always made me feel better. Pushing him into all these schools and things may not be good for him. Take it day by day to help him be better. I didn't feel different on my bi-polar medication, either. I also have depression and my moods are a lot better on Venlafaxine (my depression pill) The 37.5 mg didn't work for me, it's good at 75 mg for me and I'm 138 pounds, so something stronger would probably help.
Avatar universal
I'm agreeing with weaver71. He really hit it on the nail for you. The only one who can help your brother is himself, and he has to realize it. I was noncompliant for a time when I was first diagnosed and I didn't accept it. ot took time and patience with me, but everyone knew Ibwasn't listening to them and I felt no one understood me, so I shut them all off. You all have already done all you could. It's okay to love someone and, I know it's hard, but you have to stop trying to help him. When my sister had a bad cocaine habit, she ended up stealing, lying, and whatever with everyone. It was hard to watch, but when I tried tobhelp and be supportive and kind, it didn't work. She went to 80 lbs. and she was asking for food money because she  lost her job, but it all went to her nose. Also, when you give and give, it just hurts them more and more because your feeding the disease, the chemistry balance and the addiction, not them. if you want him to feel himself again in all that, you have to stop enabling him...all of you. I had to feel completely alone, exhausted  and helpless and the pain of my existence in the raw, before I came crawling to my psychiatrist and sobbing saying I'm tired of fighting him and myself now, I'll take the meds and listen to him because I can't help myself. Your brother needs that chance. My family and I told my sister that we vouldn't give her or help her out on her terms because we knew we were hurting her when we did that and we have to close the door. It was one of the most heartbreaking intervention we could do. It felt sobwrong, but it was the right thing. She went away. We didn't hear from her for 2 years, but she came back on Thanksgiving and she was clean and the person who we always knew was there. She never used drugs anymore. We never looked back or  used that moment of her life as a weapon against her. We were just grateful that we didn't lose her. That was over 25 years ago. She's healthy and happy and has a great relationship with a guy she's been with for 15 years. She's also very responsible and very humane. She also knows how much we love her.

I am better also. Not only is it really hard to stop assisting him, but it is the only way now for you to do, but making things easy for him is not supporting him or understanding him. You can talk to a therapist, psychologist or psychiatrist to ask for a plan to intervene and stop enabling him or ask then for a resource that you all can talk to to come up with a plan. All of you have to do this together who want tobhelp him, and youball have tobsupport the plan and each other. It only takes one person to break the net and make the plan less effective. It was  really hard on myarents to not help my sister. They had to call one of their adult children and asked what to do, and we listened to them, and said stay the course.
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I feel you pain and hear your frustration. It can be very difficult to have a family member be so disruptive.
Quite possible it might come to that, what your last statement was, that he will injure someone, and be arrested, at that moment, he will be sent to hospital for assessment. and possibly treated.
You and your parents have done everything possible, it's possible that you've done too much. I used to try and understand my mother, she never took meds for long, has lived on the streets for 17 years, and it's nearly broken my heart. But, I will not allow her to devour my life, and neither should you. he is terrorizing your family, plain and simple.
The time is past for gentleness, he isn't well, and he's taking it all out on the family. I would have him committed against his will, or ask him to leave the house, and go to the residential facility, talk to a social worker or police about what your rights are. I know this isn't easy. But, something must be done for the rest of the family. He can be treated.
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