Psychnurse and Jo:
Thanks for your posts. Yes, this is a tough time for me and my boys. My brother (38) is disabled as well with severe back pain (can't work) so he has always lived with someone. He has lived with my folks in the midwest for five years and came out in November - after I (39)treated him to a vacation with myself and three boys (12, 15 and 17) and has lived with me ever since. He did so well in the beginning (during his period which is not typically manic) but didn't take his meds - although he lied to me about this. His back went out (he has had two surgeries and has SEVERE problems) a week ago and he ran away for two days, drinking and binging (did I mention that he is an alcoholic,drug addict and gamble-aholic?) and finally came back after arriving in a taxi after being in jail all day sobering up after a DUI. He drank all week and started to become sublty belligerent and rude (he is usually a puppy ... sweet, agreeable, helpful with the boys, the life of the home - we all adore him). When he exploded on me, I wasn't prepared and didn't look for the signs.
Looking back now, it was the start of his manic episode. He has now disappeared and staying with friends assocaited with the cannibus club in town. I talked to my dad today who is an md and he said not to bother him as he may receive the kind of support he THINKS he need right now ... to not aggrivate him. He did caution me to lock my doors at night.
I had a long talk with my boys about bi-polar disorder and why my brother is acting the way he is. I had talked to them months ago, saying that Jim is bi-polar and will, if he doesn't take his meds, act out at some time. They are doing well to separte the good uncle from the manic uncle.
Why this is so hard for me know is I suffer from Crohn's and this is causing a major flare-up. I've been in bed with high fever and abdonimal pains for 24 hours. Also, my older brother was an alcoholic, drug addict, bi-polar and committed suicide 14 years ago. My sister who is an active, drop-down-drunk-horrible-mother-to-her-four-kids is also an alcoholic (I mean active, really drunk all the time drunk for 15 years, also through all her pregancies - I even tried to have her arrested for that) has a personility disaorder and tried to kill herself a few weeks ago and has quite a few stitches on her wrist. My younger brother is also an alcoholic. Me? A mild anxiety disorder for which I take a little pill and do well. I have such empathy for my siblings ... mental illness is such a terrible thing. I really love them so much and hate to see them suffer so much. They have all lived with me at some point. The amount of pain my parents have gone through, which I am sure, you can relate to Jo, is incredible.
I know that I will be here for my brother when he comes out of this psychotic rage ...and I'm thankful for this site to be able to share/vent. I will, however, like psychonurse recommends, expect him to take his meds if he wants to live with me.
Question: he tells me when I ask him if he is taking his meds, usually yes. When he first moved in he told me he hates lithium so I arranged him to see my family doctor who prescribed some new meds for him which he said didn't have so many side affects to he took the. About two weeks ago I could tell things were not alright ... it is like seeing someone with extremely high blood pressure - red in the face and agitated. He said he ran out of meds when I asked .. .he owed me money and got a check. I told him I would rather have him purchase the meds (he has no insurance and has about $250 per month) than pay me back. Thent things were okay until he started to have signs of raging (again, I know this in hindsight) so I don't even know if he took his meds or bought them. My mom said he lied to her all the time about his meds too.
So my real question is: If he lies to me about taking his bi-polar meds and I make it an ultimatime if he lives with me, how can I be sure that he takes them?
Thanks to you both for your support ... I really need it right now.
Hi, Liz -
As far as the ultimatum goes, get him the lithium - it's very cheap. Agree on a set time in the morning and evening for him to take it. When it's time, watch him take it and make sure he swallows and doesn't hide it in his mouth only to spit it out. This is really extreme, I know. Make him sign a contract with you agreeing to faithfully take his meds. In the contract make sure it states that he will no longer be welcome if he refuses or isn't consistent with his meds. He needs to fully understand that - a while being out on the street is a real deterrent!
I know you think you need to take care of him, but at 38!!! he is a big boy. BPs are not RETARDED! They should not be coddled. It is not your responsibility to care for him, it's his and all he has to do is simply take his meds so as to not be abusive to your and your family. I hope you take my advice - if you don't enforce this rule, you will be miserable.
I am sorry to sound harsh, but BPs are also master manipulators - we're not stupid by any stretch of the imagination. Don't compromise your families quality of life (and possibly their safety) because he's selfish.
And, if he does take his meds and you don't see an improvement in the first week, consult his doc. It's no good if it's not a proper dose. There is no "right" dose for BP. Every one of us is different and even when we are doing well, we will always require a med/dose change from time to time, some very frequently. He really does need a psychiatrist, GPs know very little, if anything about treating BP. It's the most complex mental illness of all and the hardest to treat.
Thanks so much for your help. I finally called my parents and talked to them - my dad is a an MD and my parents have been dealing with his manic episodes for a long time. This is new to me. I took everything he said so personally and now with some hindsight, I see that it was foolish for me to do so. He is a gem of a man - so giving, caring, sensitive when he is not raging. I just sent him an email to say to come home when he is ready and we will welcome him.
With that said, I am going to take your advice about the contract and giving him his meds. He is selfish and he his a manipulator. I have asked him if he was taking his meds and he has always told me yes, or apologized and told me he was going on them again. My mom said he lies to her too. My dad said that it takes someone with BP a few times of manic epoisodes to finally realize they have to take their meds.
I was thinking today how awlful it must be to have BP. How it must *&$% with your mind and emotions and self worth. I dont' know if I said this in one of my very verbose replies but mental illness runs in my family. I have the most mild of mental illness - anxiety/panic disorder which a simple little Lexapro pill daily takes all my nasty symptoms away. All my siblings have worse mental illnesses - one brother committed suicide 14 years ago and my younger sister tried to commit suicide a week ago - and hiding her stitches on her wrists with jewlery. i am the most functioning sibling and sometimes I feel guilty .. .and sometimes I feel way too responsible for them. After reading your posts and talking to my parents, I have to let go of feeling responsible for my brother (after all, he isn't retarded is he psychnurse? :) and let the chips fall where they may. If he ends up in jail or even dead, I am not responsible. I talked to my parents about having him committed and they advised against it as they (and his close friends) have had him and my sister committed more times than you have toes and fingers and they are always released after 24 hours.
Time for me to cuddle with my boys. Which, by the way, I've had my middle son checked for depression and he is on meds ... the way my family genes go, you just don't know!
Forever grateful for your time to answer my questions and send your support. It means a lot to me right now. I really love my brother and I'm trying to come up to speed with his DD. Liz
I am very glad to help, Liz!
I am sorry to hear of your family's history with mental illness. Mine has it too - My grandmother has 4 sibs that commited suicide, my cousin blew her head off last year, my dad is BP and won't even get it looked at, my mom has depression (both are raging alchololics BTW) and my sister is ok, except for some mild depression which is just situational. It DOES run in families! I hope your sister is getting the help she needs, bless her heart.
I am glad to hear your father is a doc - maybe he can understand BP a little more than most parents. my father still doesn't really accept anything is wrong with me that I can't fix with an attitude adjustment!! It's so frustrating - NO ONE understands it a physiological disease just like diabetes or heart disease! It just happens to be in our brain!
Sorry for my rant - feeling a little passionate this a.m.!!!
You don't know how glad I am that you are taking my advice - I know it's the very hardest thing to do to give BPs an ultimatum, but it's really just simple. Swallow a pill and be nice to live with. Most of us are really caring, giving, wonderful people on meds. I wish you the VERY best and your brother, too! If you ever need some help, advice, or anyone to talk to about it, don't hesitate to ask! I am a former nurse, but still have the burning desire to help, it's like a disorder LOL!
All the best,