Welcome & getting started
21-11-2021 09:32 PM
Hi support people I'm new!
I am just hoping someone has some/any advice or info to help our family
I have a beautiful brother who has battled paranoid depression, anxiety (I think he's been diagnosed with schizophrenia - he doesn't talk about that) and
it first started over 20 years ago around 19 yo
In his early twenties there were a few years where he barely came out of his bedroom and was not functioning at all - he isolated himself completely from his friends and couldn't work
After years mum managed to get him to agree to see a psychiatrist and psychologist who helped and he managed to get on some medication (anti-depressants and an antipsychotic I believe ) which made a huge difference for him - at least from what we could tell
Certainly he still has suffered but he managed to get back to work, bought his own home - he is simply brave, courageous and amazing given what I believe he overcomes on a daily basis to do these things we others can take for granted
he has worked so hard and still is living in his own home and runs his own business- he is an inspiration. He just always tries to take every day as it comes and do his best.
In the last year there seems to have been a major setback in symptoms for him - everything seems escalated
he struggles with paranoia
I don't know if he actually hears voices but I am sure he has auditory hallucinations from the way he behaves and reacts to some social interactions and conversations as if he is hearing something not said or making something said into something with a hidden message / agenda
He tells me it has always been like this but it seems to us (family) that
it has most certainly peaked again over the last 12 months and he is really not in a good place
we can see he is in extreme pain and anguish and he has expressed this and asked for help
he went back to his psychiatrist a few months ago and did a voluntary few days in a clinic doing a course/ therapy workshop or something
he didn't really want to discuss any details with us about it
he came out earlier than expected and is not interested in going back to do this again - I think he feels it will make him worse and I am assuming is distrustful
He has been isolating himself from his friends even people he really liked and is even untrusting of us his immediate family members, which is so heartbreaking
There have been some violent outbursts although he manages to control himself physically for the most part
none of us know what to do to help
privacy seems to prevent us from getting any information from his drs (which I understand and respect) But what do we actually DO?
We have the most amazing parents and he has all the family support him - he is so cherished amd important to us all
it is so painful watching him suffer like this.
and we feel like we have nothing to offer
him with solutions
He gets angry/frustrated about questions regarding medication
he seems to think currently that he is privy to some 'truth' that none of us understand and that his thoughts are right and we are all either involved or clueless ( the two seem to change depending on the day and situation although it could just be all the time and sometimes he managed it better outwardly
he has a habit of getting agitated and seeming to hear something in basic conversations that are threatening - when he does express some of his thinking there is a mysterious 'they' in lots of his points - although nothing is properly explained
his general statements are often that 'one day we will see' There seems to be a very sinister undertone that he feels something bad is going to happen that's beyond any of our control although at times I also feel perhaps we the family are part of this sinister business in his thoughts too (again this seems to fluctuate)
I know we are not supposed to challenge his thinking / reality but how should we respond to some of his positions when our loyalty or love for him is being questioned. what is the right way to handle these moments and conversations with him?
he is the most courageous, loving, generous, kind soul. He is so lonely in this and it is heartbreaking. He has expressed to me at times that he just wants this part of his life to be over - he wants to be happy and 'normal' and have a partner and a family of his own
i just hate it ! It's all so cruel
neither me or my parents know where to turn to help him right now. He is a grown man and is still functioning to work - we respect his right to choose but how do we help?
is there anything anyone can offer as a pathway for conversation or assistance
thankyou in advance
21-11-2021 10:35 PM
There is a difference between challenging and being curious about his thinking process. Have you ever read any information on negotiating techniques? What is the ultimate goal you are looking for here, is it to get your brother help or to try to maintain your relationship while he manages this difficult part of his life?
21-11-2021 11:10 PM
The ultimate goal is his happiness and health aussierecharger
Of course my relationship with him is paramount to me ! and to him too I would think - I think the breakdown of relationship is one of the very worst issues people face when they are experiencing this terror as it leaves them feeling so alone even if they are loved and wanted and cherished - doubting everyone must be terrifying and I can’t imagine a worse feeling
negotiating techniques are Not something I would have thought of - that sounds almost manipulative (which is not my style) but maybe I don’t understand
22-11-2021 07:52 AM
I'm pleased you've joined the forum. When I joined I found it such a welcoming and amazing community of souls who just get it, without needing to explain ourselves too much, and that was like a breath of fresh air.
I am a carer for my 17 yo son who lives with OCD and schizophrenia. He was diagnosed over 1 year ago but looking back on his life my husband and I know that he has grappled with anxiety and psychosis since at least 8 yo at times. The anxiety he learned to manage, and the psychosis and paranoia returned very strongly nearly 20 months ago. As my boy says to me, with the pandemic situation 'these constantly changing 'rules' really f*** with people with mental illness mum'. These are very difficult times for our loved ones who already struggle to manage their symptoms in regular life, but with the constraints of a pandemic has created a stranger world for all of us to navigate, especially our loved ones who are susceptible to feeling paranoid or suspicious.
I am really sorry to hear your brother appears to be becoming unwell again, and your love and devotion to him is apparent. I wonder if you have told him how you feel, how much you love and admire him? He probably needs to hear it at the moment, or read it, if you feel more comfortable writing it than saying it.
Regarding your observations about your brother, and wondering what he is experiencing, I wonder if you feel ok to ask? That way, you will know what is happening and can be supportive and empathic. I learnt very early with our son not to ask 'how are you?', but instead, 'what is happening for you?'. That way, he could explain his positive symptoms to me, and tell me what he was seeing or experiencing. I learnt to listen calmly, and to ask questions such as 'does that distress you?', or 'does that bother you?'. Talking about the symptoms in an accepting, matter of fact, and non judgemental way in which I don't become stressed helps him to be understood, and to know that I'm trying to understand what things are like for him. I do ask him if he thinks the medication is having any benefit, again without judgement, just listening. By being supportive, listening, showing care, there may be an opportunity to ask your brother if he would find it helpful to speak to a psychiatrist about what is going on. If your brother declines, just let him know that you care, you are there to support, and if he changes his mind you will assist him to connect with a psychiatrist. Being respectful of his agency, supporting his decision making, and reminding him of your love, devotion and friendship are so important to short term and long term positive outcomes. If you become concerned that he's a risk of harm to himself or to others you will need to take action to get him emergency medical help though. I hope it doesn't come to that.
Regarding his Dr, you can contact the doctor and report observations, and concerns. This does not breach privacy laws as you are not asking for information, you are providing it.
Are there things that you and your brother have enjoyed doing together in the past? Sometimes I look at photos with my son and remind him of good times we've had, or talk about funny stories. Reminiscing together, focussing on some good things, can help any of us by reminding us that the hard time we are going through won't last forever, that there will be new experiences, and good things can happen too.
And remember to take care of yourself, so you can keep being present for your brother.
22-11-2021 10:58 AM
Sending you a warm welcome to the forums here at SANE.
I am one of the peer support worker here (in case you aren't familiar - which means I have my own lived experience of mental health challenges), but I also have the experience of caring for a loved one who has their own struggles from time to time.
I really hear your strong love & care for your brother and I just wondered if these links available might also give some support to you?
I have also personally found that when I stay in a curious, non reactive way with my loved one whom I support can be really helpful. Also learning about their experience from them directly, when they are at the place to be open to that.
But reminding them how much you love & care for them as well as talking about other things other than their mental health has also provided connection in my own situation.
Hope you find some support through the community here.
All thge best - Flybluebird
24-11-2021 11:58 AM
i will research these links and appreciate so much your reply and hope you and your loved one and doing well too
24-11-2021 12:02 PM
I really appreciate your response and welcome
I’m sorry to hear your young son has had such a hard time too. I hope you are both managing x
I do try to do the suggestions you have mentioned but it’s lovely to have this reinforced as where the focus should be for us as we try to support him through this.
much gratitude and sending blessings to you guys too
26-11-2021 06:41 PM
26-11-2021 06:47 PM
27-11-2021 01:02 AM
Thankyou so much mishyanne73
your reply is so helpful and it really feels like you understand. I am sorry your knowledge comes from your own painful experiences - I hope you are doing okay right now
you are more than right !!
my brother is super smart, extremely kind, empathetic and sensitive in nature.
He is not at all a violent person nor do I think it's a schizophrenic trait (I probably wrote that badly in my post) he just is extremely agitated right now and is I suppose a better way to put it would be more reactive than normal.
The difficulty being that as we don't understand what he is reacting to it makes it difficult to remedy or avoid etc
he has indeed at times expressed he doesn't want me to know his thoughts and experiences and I know this comes from a place of protectiveness. We are solid siblings and chosen besties
we have been just trying to support him doing what you have said - being available and maintaining contact Most of the
time if he's not doing well we just sit together and I give him a hug or hold his hand and not much if any talking.
my parents are amazing too and I will share this with them as well
Thankyou for taking the time to help
Wishing you many blessings