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Sunrise9
Casual Contributor

Help

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 

 

 

 

 

 

14 REPLIES 14

Re: Help

Hey @Sunrise9 

 

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?

Sunrise9
Casual Contributor

Re: Help

Thanks for your reply !
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
Tinker67
Senior Contributor

Re: Help

hello @Sunrise9 

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.  

 

Tinker

flybluebird
Peer Support Worker

Re: Help

Hi @Sunrise9 

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?

https://www.sane.org/your-questions-answered#how-can-i-care-for-someone-in-an-empathetic-amp-effecti...

 

https://www.sane.org/information-stories/facts-and-guides/families-friends-carers

 

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

Sunrise9
Casual Contributor

Re: Help

Thankyou Flybluebird

i will research these links and appreciate so much your reply and hope you and your loved one and doing well too

Sunrise9
Casual Contributor

Re: Help

Thanks Tinker67 

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

mishyanne73
Senior Contributor

Re: Help

Hi I’m Mishy, reading your post was both heartbreaking and familiar to me. I was diagnosed with schizophrenia at 24. On that day, I could hear over 400 voices in my head. I know cos I counted them. And I would admit this to a shrink? Never. I’m going to point that I am not a doctor nor would I try to improvise that role. There are many types of schizophrenia, one of them high functioning. It generally consists of an above intelligent person who simply has a psychotic episode ( easy to resolve and can happen to anyone). Back through the ages, there were studies conducted on this illness specifically because it appeared that most people diagnosed with schizophrenia were geniuses. I imagine your brother is highly intelligent, very hard on himself and is always on the move. Probably very intuitive (hence the voices, in a way). Don’t take it personally, he no doubt loves all of you very much. He needs you to leave him alone, stop questioning him and just trust and respect him. An interrogation style is going to not just frustrate him but possibly bring him to the edge. Someone needs to talk him into a holiday, a break - a de-stress. There are several helplines available for families in this position, my suggestion would be that you take this route. Also, when he doesn’t want to talk about his experience “in there” it’s really to save you the pain he’s just endured alone cos he loves you. Would never dream of putting you through it. You mentioned he’s responded in violence, schizophrenics are not violent by nature. However, they are very soft and sensitive people. How can you help? I’ve described this before to a loved one (after the event) and said if a schizophrenic asks you to leave them alone, they really mean it. They feel threatened, scared and confused a bit like a cat in a tree. Just back down and trust him to resolve his own mind. He will and when he’s ready he’ll come and thank you for it. That’s my take. My experience, in 24 years, gives me this insight. I hope he’s on meds, cos in the interim they will help but he’ll come back as a lesser version of himself and nobody wants that. Just back down, ask your parents not to hound him for answers that he may not have. He needs to get there first. Anyway , wishing you all the best , I really hope he’s ok and having been thrown into a psychiatric ward twice now I wouldn’t recommend bringing them into it unless you don’t have a choice. Xoxo smiles and butterflies 🦋 Seek help for his sake so he can better sooner

Re: Help

I so liked your post. Negotiating with him? No he’s not 3 and he’s probably smarter than everyone in the room. Try to negotiate - he’ll win. Having a psychotic episode is one of the most frightening experiences I’ve endured….
Sunrise9
Casual Contributor

Re: Help

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 

 

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