Help! Bi-polar brother who lives with me woke in early AM, screaming hurtful obscentities!!

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Lizzo
Regular Member


Date Joined Mar 2005
Total Posts : 161
   Posted 4/13/2005 10:39 PM (GMT -7)   
I ask for everyone out there to help me. My brother has suffered with a bi-polar disorder for over 15 years and also suffers from alcoholism, drug and gambeling disorder as well as severe anxiety. Alll my siblings and parents have some sort of mental illness (I have an axiety disorder which is effectively treated with Lexapro).  My brother has experienced a severe back injury on the job and already has had three back surgeries.
 
He lived with my parents for the last few years, mostly confined to his bed b/c of his back pain. When he moved in with me last year, his back was in good order and we would go hiking and play tennis. Fast forward to the last few weeks, and he pulled his back while hiking, leaving him with severe back pain, nerve pain down his thighs and muscle weakness in his legs. These symptoms all spell TROUBLE and possible third surgery for him.
 
Instead of going to see a doctor, he disappears for two days to the next largest city, not returning my calls nor the repeated calls from my three sons (I'm a single mom) who had plans with him. He finally answers the phone to say that he has been hanging out in a city 2 hours a way, getting drunk and feeling sorry for himself.  I told him that I loved him and I wanted to know that he was safe and welcome home. He cried and said that it was the best thing he could have heard. He came back home (I had offered to pick him up if had been drinking) and he got picked up and charged with a DUI on the way home. He eventually arrived home at 1am by a taxi, walking in the house, looking like Frakenstein with his stiff legs that weren't working.
 
The next AM I took him to the ER room where he got some short term pain meds. I continued to support him over the next few weeks, never critisizing him nor saying anything harsh to him (I know if I did, he would explode). Once his back started to feel okay, he started to offer to take my boys to school, to pick them after school (he doesnt' work and I work full time).
 
I suffer from Crohn's and Fibromyalgia and have more bad days than good, so when he offers to take the boys to school, it is big help. I tell him that he doesn't have to do it but I am thankful for his help. When I have a flare-up, I can sleep up to 20 hours a day, fyi.
 
Fast forward to last night. I come back from the office at 10pm and need to work so I go in the family room and turn the TV on the lowest volume (can't hear it the next room) and work on my computer until 3am to finish a project. He wakes up to go the bathroom (he lives in my garage by choice - we have plenty of bedrooms but he refuses and hapened to sleep in the living room this night b/c it is too cold) and then comes into the family room at 2 or 3am and starts swearing every four letter word to me, yelling and waking up my three kids.  He proceedes to yell all kinds of crazy things, claiming that he doesn't want to be a taxi for these kids afterschool (he had always told me that the highlight of the day was driving the kids and hearing about their days) that he didnt' want to be a 'father' to the boys (he LOVES these boys) that he was tired of me complaining and being lazy (I have a full time job, raising the boys and have active Crohn's. 
 
My brother can be very emotional and irrational at other family members when they confront him (that is why I don't and have never have) but usually Spring is the worst time of the year for him. Last year he ran off to Alaska (never been there before) b/c he thought is dog wanted to run wild there. About ten years ago, during Easter, he thought he was Jesus Christ and strapped a bomb to himself and was going to ignite himself - my other brother found him instead.
 
With all this said, my brother does not always take his meds ... he was on lithium when he lived with my parents and stopped taking them. I made an appt with my family doc here who prescribed him with other meds which he said worked better. But every time he encounters a problem (DUI, back goes out, problem with the family) I ask him if he has taken his meds and he says no (I can sense when he doesn't.)
 
So, here I am, he yelled at me forever last night (it was really painful and uncalled for) ... and went to a friend's house for the next few days (he has zero days but may work at the cannibus club to make money). He said he didn't think he was welcome at my house (I said I never said that)  and wanted to blow off for a few days. When I said that I was devasted by what he said to me the previous night, he got mad at me and told me 'to get over it.' His behavoir was highly abusive and belligerent.
 
So .... my question is about the bi-polar disease. Is what I am describing average behavior for someone with bi-polar? I have not really have seen my brother during is manic behaviors, just heard about it from a distance and here I am faced with it. He was so incredibly hurtful last night (not his normal nature) and was the same today on the phone. He kept mocking me and told to 'get over' what happened. My boys heard him last night and was completely crushed by the way he treated me.
 
Well, have to now but would ge open to settle the issues.
 
Best, LIz
 
Any help about how to deal with him as well as how to deal wth disease in general.
Thanks so much! Liz

psychnurse
Veteran Member


Date Joined Mar 2005
Total Posts : 807
   Posted 4/14/2005 7:46 AM (GMT -7)   
First of all, I am so sorry you are going through this, you are not alone.
There are a few people here who have/are been in very similar situations.
 
I hate to tell you, this is characteristic of untreated bipolar I.  It's the worst of the two.  He is having psychotic episodes and desperately needs meds.    You have young boys at home, as long as he doesn't take meds, he is dangerous.
 
I have a feeling he is not a minor.  You must give him an ultimatum - take his meds or get out.  Those are your only two options.  There is no reasoning or love that will change his behaviour.  He may or may not even know what he is doing, but is abusive and possibly dangerous nonetheless.  You are the next of kin, you need to commit him for a short time to be stabilized, then if you want, take him in under the agreement that he stay on his meds.  If he doesn't cooperate with you for going to the hospital, you can call the police and they will take him there. 
 
Do not worry about how he will feel toward you  - you are doing him a favor he really doesn't deserve.  Yes, he's ill, but we are responsible for getting and staying stable.  No one owes us anything for refusing to take charge of our own illness.  I wish you the best of luck.

Jo A223
Regular Member


Date Joined Mar 2005
Total Posts : 45
   Posted 4/14/2005 4:30 PM (GMT -7)   
Lizzo, Yes I agree that these are symptoms that are 'normal' to bipolar. As the mom of a 25 year old bipolar son I have witnessed some of these things. They CAN go from sweet and loving to maniacal in seconds if crossed.There is a fine line that it takes to get them 'crossed' in my experience.Mine behaves as a 5 year old who is being refused a treat before dinner, only magnified of course. I agree with psychnurse that you must give him an ultimatum.You and your children's safety may depend on it.I have since divorced, (yes, our son and the stress of him was partly to blame)but when my bipolar son, my younger son, and my ex were all in the same house, we locked bedroom doors because we did not trust him!His dad especially was nervous, because the aggression would be directed towards him(my ex I believe has bipolar, too, and temper issues were always there, too)....I know and ultimatum seems extreme, but we have to remember bipolar sufferers don't have the same logic, reason, conscience as we who don't have it.And it is very draining dealing with the worry.I go to my son's apartment(which by the way has done $2,000 damage to and is going to be evicted in a month and a half)every time wondering what I am going to find. I mean as far as "is he still alive??"The stress is ENORMOUS, to say the least.And it affects my younger son who is 18, to see the way he is, and be powerless, to change him.I feel like we normal (and what is THAT exactly???haha)ones need a week of checking into a hospital for rest!And with all your family has been through, I know you can relate to that!For daily survival, I find the serenity prayer helpful, because we can only do so much.Beyond that, it isn't up to us.Do something( totally unrelated to your brother)fun for you and your kids, cause if you don't take care of yourself first, you will run out of steam!And keep posting here..I found this site and find it helpful to unload and know we're not alone..Take care.....

Lizzo
Regular Member


Date Joined Mar 2005
Total Posts : 161
   Posted 4/15/2005 1:26 AM (GMT -7)   

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.

Liz


psychnurse
Veteran Member


Date Joined Mar 2005
Total Posts : 807
   Posted 4/15/2005 7:00 PM (GMT -7)   

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. nono   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! confused

I know you think you need to take care of him, but at 38!!! he is a big boy.   BPs are not RETARDED! eyes   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. mad

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.

If he gets social security disability, he is elegible for medicare.
 
I really hope this helps, the ugly truth about us!  We're not all bad, tho - just when we're not on meds, LOL!

Lizzo
Regular Member


Date Joined Mar 2005
Total Posts : 161
   Posted 4/15/2005 7:56 PM (GMT -7)   

psychnurse:

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


psychnurse
Veteran Member


Date Joined Mar 2005
Total Posts : 807
   Posted 4/16/2005 6:58 AM (GMT -7)   

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,

Shannon


Jo A223
Regular Member


Date Joined Mar 2005
Total Posts : 45
   Posted 4/16/2005 7:43 AM (GMT -7)   
Psychnurse, My hat's off to you for the courage to give your view from the inside!That HAS to be tough, but only proof that there is hope for those who have it!All the things you and Liz describe I can relate to with my son.No, bipolar does not mean retarded by any means............The genetic part is true, too, My son's dad has it, I believe, but will not get help for it.The entire family has it to some degree I believe, because when I first started dating my son's dad, (we are since divorced)it was a constant circus of arguing and fists flying!A large family of 4 boys and 2 girls and never a peaceful moment.But Liz, you have to be tough (That's why they call it "tough love!")and demand his taking the meds.If psychnurse can be as logical and coherent as she is to us here on meds, there's hope.You have already been down such a tough road already.......WHEW!Suicides are one of the worse nightmares we have!I know when I'm arguing with my son, and he gets like"I can't take this!I'm going to have to go to the hospital!!!"I used to have a stomach lurching fear, and still do. But the difference is I have to say to myself"STOP!manipulation!"Because in all honesty, we can't stop them, if that's what's meant to happen.We can only do so much.And we do have other people in our lives that need us.My 18 year old son shows the strain of it.It's like a hidden worry, I guess you'd call it.I'm going to start going to NAMI meetings even though I'm scared the news will be more stressful.(hearing stories, I mean)but we can't do this alone.All take care and keep posting!......Jo
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