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Old 12-31-2012, 12:45 PM
 
Location: Man with a tan hat
799 posts, read 1,551,267 times
Reputation: 1459

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A family member (brother) has lost pretty much everything because he is chronically depressed. His wife left after he became abusive (he won't take any responsibility for this), he has no friends, can barely hold a job due to lack of attendance, and I worry that he will be homeless before too long. He states that he "thought I would be dead by 25"-- he is 45 and has not made any attempts to get help. He is still an attractive guy, smart, thin, has all his hair, etc. He is funny and talented. He still has a chance.

His wife was about 10 years younger than he was, and they were together for 10 years. In the beginning, he was better-- he was more interested in life, participated in more activities, etc. As the years went on and she started talking about having a family, he withdrew. He never said that he did not want one--- it was always a "someday." They took care of a little niece of mine for several years when another sibling was struggling with some health issues, and that seemed to really drive a wedge between them. My brother would demand attention and compete with a 2 year old to get it. His wife recognized that he was in no place to be a dad.

My SIL finally got fed up. She threw herself into her career and started making more friends, participating in lots of activities with her/our family and volunteer work to keep busy. My brother took that as an excuse to do nothing. He moped around the house and would just wait for her to get back from whatever she was doing. When she invited him to participate, he would typically refuse, or make everyone miserable so that whatever outing he joined in was cut short. It came to a head when he got physical with her after she started complaining that they no longer did things together. She moved out and was/is heartbroken, because she really does love him, but he refuses to get help. She also wants to have a family and is now facing the real possibility that this might not be an option for long. She has begun to work on the divorce, which is very sad for all as we really love her. My brother is very nonchalant and claims he will go along with whatever she wants. Even in this, he is too passive to be bothered.

I talk to my therapist about my brother often. I think he is addicted to his depression. He has flat out said to me "I am tired of people who want me to be different. Maybe I am happy being unhappy." but then he will turn around and complain about all the ways that life is passing him by. He doesn't want to do anything but watch TV and sleep. He has been diagnosed as depressed, prescribed meds (at my SIL's insistence several times) but he won't take them, won't talk to a therapist, or do anything else to set the wheels in motion for help. We(my family and I) have all tried different strategies to get him to open up or motivate but nothing has worked. I hate to see this. I feel like my window of opportunity is really closing. He doesn't seem to want help and it is making ME depressed to watch him throw his life away.

Can any of you relate? How can I be the best brother to him and still not let this drag me down? Sometimes I just want to shake him.
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Old 12-31-2012, 01:46 PM
 
Location: in my mind
5,333 posts, read 8,559,118 times
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This might be a resource for you - family support program at NAMI: NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness | Family-to-Family
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Old 12-31-2012, 07:03 PM
 
Location: Man with a tan hat
799 posts, read 1,551,267 times
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Thanks. I will look into that.
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Old 12-31-2012, 09:34 PM
 
13,511 posts, read 19,305,353 times
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Sometimes, even though it hurts,we have to walk the other way..I can relate, and it's a never ending battle (if I want it to be), so I've allowed myself to continue to love this person, but to also allow them to go down the path they've chosen..I do that for myself, a form of self preservation of my own well being and happiness...and it really helps...I think that about the best you can do is to have him knowing that you love him....... the rest is up to him.
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Old 12-31-2012, 09:56 PM
 
201 posts, read 236,443 times
Reputation: 219
Your brother needs help. And right now it sounds like you are all he has. I 100% completely disagree with purehuman. You cannot walk away from him. He's not some ******* you met on the street or some distant cousin, he's your brother. And we don't walk away from our brothers when they need us the most. We just don't walk away from the people we love, no matter how difficult or inconvenient, or emotionally draining, or financially burdensome or whatever.

Hang in there with him. Be the one person who does. Be the one person who he can trust and depend on. Have an actual relationship with him, be his friend, even if it is one-sided right now. And then maybe, just maybe he'll start opening up to you about what exactly is going on deep inside him. Because from the sound of it, he's got some real emotional trauma he's been covering up for a long time. Hang in there and keep us posted.
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Old 01-01-2013, 10:05 AM
 
Location: In the city
1,581 posts, read 3,857,741 times
Reputation: 2417
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chaotic View Post
Your brother needs help. And right now it sounds like you are all he has. I 100% completely disagree with purehuman. You cannot walk away from him. He's not some ******* you met on the street or some distant cousin, he's your brother. And we don't walk away from our brothers when they need us the most. We just don't walk away from the people we love, no matter how difficult or inconvenient, or emotionally draining, or financially burdensome or whatever.

Hang in there with him. Be the one person who does. Be the one person who he can trust and depend on. Have an actual relationship with him, be his friend, even if it is one-sided right now. And then maybe, just maybe he'll start opening up to you about what exactly is going on deep inside him. Because from the sound of it, he's got some real emotional trauma he's been covering up for a long time. Hang in there and keep us posted.

So, how do you propose to get someone to open up when they have 45 years of practice at being closed off and getting attention for it? The OP's brother sounds scarily like my ex. I "hung in there" for twelve years until he, too, got physical. There is no more reason to stick around after that. I don't think the OP is in danger of abandoning this guy, but maybe was looking for strategies to help with keeping his own sanity.

I don't think its fair to put the burden on the OP: his brother needs serious professional intervention and is unwilling to get it. It sounds as though there is a support system ready to embrace this guy but he, for whatever reason, can't get himself to take advantage of it. This is not a problem that can be solved by family, friends or other well intentioned amateurs. Its a fallacy to be "the one person" who helps. I lived that fantasy. My ex would always say "I don't care about anyone but you." This puts the responsbility for the depressed person's mental health on someone else instead of where it belongs-- squarely on the shoulders of the individual who needs the help. It is a huge and false burden. You can assist but please don't enable because of some magical notion that you can save your brother from himself.

OP, is this a situation where you can involve social services, particularly if he is on the verge of homelessness? I think that joining a support group for those with mentally ill family members as well as continuing individual therapy will be helpful. At least it was for me.
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Old 01-01-2013, 03:57 PM
 
1,680 posts, read 1,795,427 times
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I commend anyone willing to assist friends and family with depression. Personally I would be miserable in a relationship with someone whom possessed a mental illness. Totally willing to help receive assistance for said conditions but not a relationship.
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Old 01-01-2013, 04:12 PM
 
Location: Aventura FL
868 posts, read 1,123,159 times
Reputation: 1176
Quote:
Originally Posted by purehuman View Post
Sometimes, even though it hurts,we have to walk the other way..I can relate, and it's a never ending battle (if I want it to be), so I've allowed myself to continue to love this person, but to also allow them to go down the path they've chosen..I do that for myself, a form of self preservation of my own well being and happiness...and it really helps...I think that about the best you can do is to have him knowing that you love him....... the rest is up to him.
Walk the other way? Yeah, that's what people seem to do these days. That's why we have so many problems. No one is an island.
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Old 01-01-2013, 06:06 PM
 
201 posts, read 236,443 times
Reputation: 219
Quote:
Originally Posted by confusedasusual View Post
So, how do you propose to get someone to open up when they have 45 years of practice at being closed off and getting attention for it? The OP's brother sounds scarily like my ex. I "hung in there" for twelve years until he, too, got physical. There is no more reason to stick around after that. I don't think the OP is in danger of abandoning this guy, but maybe was looking for strategies to help with keeping his own sanity.

I don't think its fair to put the burden on the OP

OP, is this a situation where you can involve social services, particularly if he is on the verge of homelessness? I think that joining a support group for those with mentally ill family members as well as continuing individual therapy will be helpful. At least it was for me.
1.) People open up once they trust someone. OP's brother doesn't trust anyone because it would seem OP is the only person who has hung in there with him, at least in some capacity. And while I would like to pat you on the back for hanging in there with your ex for 12 years, I don't agree with abandoning someone because they're sick. Especially if you're married. Of course, I'm one of those "old fashioned" folks who believe you only get married once and it's for life, no if's, and's or but's.

2.) Being fair is completely irrelevant to the situation. Life isn't fair, never has been, never will be. And taking on burdens are a part of life. Those who avoid burdens never get stronger because they never lift anything other than what they're perfectly comfortable with. An increasing number of people in our society are far too afraid of venturing outside their comfort zones to tackle real challenges.

3.) This actually is a pretty good idea. In fact, I think everyone could use a little therapy once in awhile, just to unload that stuff that we've been storing up. But like I said in an earlier post, OP's brother doesn't trust anyone, not really. So it will take some time to develop relationships with others in order to build that trust. This isn't a process you can hurry. It may take years. But when it's family, years don't matter.
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Old 01-01-2013, 07:24 PM
 
12,535 posts, read 15,219,008 times
Reputation: 29088
Quote:
Originally Posted by whatisthedealwith View Post
A family member (brother) has lost pretty much everything because he is chronically depressed. His wife left after he became abusive (he won't take any responsibility for this), he has no friends, can barely hold a job due to lack of attendance, and I worry that he will be homeless before too long. He states that he "thought I would be dead by 25"-- he is 45 and has not made any attempts to get help. He is still an attractive guy, smart, thin, has all his hair, etc. He is funny and talented. He still has a chance.

His wife was about 10 years younger than he was, and they were together for 10 years. In the beginning, he was better-- he was more interested in life, participated in more activities, etc. As the years went on and she started talking about having a family, he withdrew. He never said that he did not want one--- it was always a "someday." They took care of a little niece of mine for several years when another sibling was struggling with some health issues, and that seemed to really drive a wedge between them. My brother would demand attention and compete with a 2 year old to get it. His wife recognized that he was in no place to be a dad.

My SIL finally got fed up. She threw herself into her career and started making more friends, participating in lots of activities with her/our family and volunteer work to keep busy. My brother took that as an excuse to do nothing. He moped around the house and would just wait for her to get back from whatever she was doing. When she invited him to participate, he would typically refuse, or make everyone miserable so that whatever outing he joined in was cut short. It came to a head when he got physical with her after she started complaining that they no longer did things together. She moved out and was/is heartbroken, because she really does love him, but he refuses to get help. She also wants to have a family and is now facing the real possibility that this might not be an option for long. She has begun to work on the divorce, which is very sad for all as we really love her. My brother is very nonchalant and claims he will go along with whatever she wants. Even in this, he is too passive to be bothered.

I talk to my therapist about my brother often. I think he is addicted to his depression. He has flat out said to me "I am tired of people who want me to be different. Maybe I am happy being unhappy." but then he will turn around and complain about all the ways that life is passing him by. He doesn't want to do anything but watch TV and sleep. He has been diagnosed as depressed, prescribed meds (at my SIL's insistence several times) but he won't take them, won't talk to a therapist, or do anything else to set the wheels in motion for help. We(my family and I) have all tried different strategies to get him to open up or motivate but nothing has worked. I hate to see this. I feel like my window of opportunity is really closing. He doesn't seem to want help and it is making ME depressed to watch him throw his life away.

Can any of you relate? How can I be the best brother to him and still not let this drag me down? Sometimes I just want to shake him.
Tough love. For yourself. He gets off on the drama he creates, and you can't change him. You can't force him to seek therapy or take his meds, and you can't control his behavior. The only thing you can control is your reaction to it, and in your case, sad to say, I would minimize contact with him. If you invite him somewhere, and he doesn't want to go, leave him home. If he whines about it when you get home, tell him that he had the chance to go with you and chose not to, so it's not your problem, and leave the room. If he does go with you and he tries to ruin everyone's good time by being a malcontent, stop inviting him places.

I mean, it sucks to have to do that, but if you indulge him, you're only going to encourage his behavior and you're going to drive yourself nuts in the process. Don't let his problems become yours.
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