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My Brother Has Schizophrenia

My brother had his first break at the very end of his senior year in college...one class shy of graduating. I had a feeling this was going to happen. After his freshman year, he was no longer the person I knew. He became increasingly depressed, isolated and paranoid. Despite my many attempts to get him help, he never got the help he needed until it was too late. My brother was hospitalized for 6 weeks then he had another break 8 months later and was hopsitalized again. The good news is that during his second hopsitalization, he came to the understanding that he was sick and he needed help. Since then my brother has been religiously taking his medications and getting more functional. However, people with his illness can not cope with stress at all. Our grandmother who we were very close to passes away early this year and our father has been battling with cancer and his health is slowly declining. These stressors have pushed him over the edge and now he is back in the hospital. My brother was manic for a week and he did not sleep....

My brother was such a cheerful, fun, goofy guy before he got sick. He had a future...he wanted to be a pilot...he wanted a family....but this silent disease has taken it all away from him. Is there anyone out there who has the same disease and has been able to beat the odds? I want my brother to have his life back or at least lead a functional life.

Nausica Nausica 31-35, F 14 Responses Oct 4, 2007

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My brother is been diagnosed for about two years, he is completely lucid and i feel horrible. He is in a really bad state right now and just recently got back on medication. Although he has been on it for two days now he does not want to take it anymore. He says it is making it really angry. I want to help him but he wont listen to anybody and does not want to help himself. Any ideas anyone? I love my brother and want to help him badly.

So sorry to hear about your brother. Unfortunately, medication noncompliance is very common. It took several hospitalization a for my brother to come to terms with his disease and take his meds. It was tough and frustrating to watch but all I was able to do was support him bests could and my family to cope with my brother's disease. Hang in there....

Update: my brother is living independently in a group home setting now. He is doing much better. He will be transitioning to living in an apartment this summer.

this is so sad...thanks for sharing !

Same thing with my older brother, he was the favorite of the three. He started showing signs of it when he was eighteen, in high school. He is a talented musician, and almost every girl was after him. He's gentle, sweet, and caring and everything a girl could want for a brother, or partner. He changed, and now people fear him, or think he's a freak. But there is hope, look up NAMI and try to go to some of their meetings. You meet with other families who have some of the same problems, and you can learn how to support your brother...Also, you hear some of the stories about the people who have learned to live with schizophrenia. And while they can't have the "normal, picture perfect" life, they still can live a functional one and have a family. Don't give up hope..they need someone to believe in them.

I am deeply concerned that a good friend is schizophrenic. He can stay up for 3 days at a time (he is not bipolar, tho,) or crash for hours. He talks incessantly of bizarre topics such as: being an entity, always was and always will exist, visites to other planets and galaxies; that people are either alive or "dead." He's had 5 kids with 4 diff women, none of whom he supports and thinks this is normal as "they are out to get him." He serves time in jail ocasionally for non-support. He hasn't worked in 12 yrs (he's 40,) he's brilliant, built his own computer, designs websites, and that brilliance shines thru when he is not babbling. <br />
I get angry and tell him I tire of his "holding court," obsessively talking about the same topics over and over no matter how many time outs I attempt. He is a man-child. He's broken down in deep sobs over a mere slight, or great anger at an offhand remark that was not meant to hurt. I am on eggshells constantly. He has zero social skills. I am his only friend in the flesh, and he even gets kicked off boards and forums online for rude behavior. He is always a "victim." His house (which is a spare home his parents let him live in) is the darkest, most depressing place I've ever been in. He keeps all blinds drawn to keep people from looking in (this is paranoia, as it's about impossible to see inside.) He will spend days at my place, at times talking incessantly to himself when I feel I must tune him out as I can't take the nonsense anymore. Then he disappears for days. <br />
I have grown very fond of this brilliant, complex, mixed-up man, care very deeply. I am scared to death to broach the topic of schizophrenia as I believe he would blow up, He says he was dx with "major depression." He said an MRI of his brain determined that he had no brain, which proves his superiority to others. He loves smoking pot and I find he really gets crazy after smoking it. His moods swing far and wide. He will not take so much as an aspirin. He believes in pharmaceutical conspiracies among many other conspiracies. <br />
I am looking for input from those experienced with other loved-ones with schizophrenia and wonder if it sounds like I am describing it. I have only shared the tip of the iceberg. I am deeply concerned.

I'm heartbroken with all your comments, WHY WHY WHY??? You wouldn't wish it on your worst enemy. Some people just don't understand or are too thick and judgemental. If this gets posted PLEASE DON'T DO CANNABIS OR YOU MAY END UP WITH SCHIZOPHRENIA

Hello

Hi Marie,<br />
I absolutely can relate with your feelings! When my brother got sick, I was angry and still find myself feeling that way. However, I have learned that Schizophrenia is an illness just like cancer or other terminal medical illness. I read and learned as much as I could about the disease. I recently found www.nami.org to be very helpful. They have a 12 week intense class called family-to family where you can learn about the disease and how to help your loved one with the disease. I believe some chapters have a support group for families. I found this organization to be the most helpful resource.<br />
there is nothing you could have done to prevent this disease. I hope this info will help. My brother has been living with this disease since 2001. He is stable but everyday is a challenge. My mom and I take turns caring for him. It is important to find people who can support you too.

Hi ,Im marie my 19 year old son was diagnosed with this disease in may this year a few weeks after his birthday while in prison.He was getting in trouble alot doing things he normally wouldnt do hes a smar young man.I had no idea when i noticed the changes in him that it could've been something so serious i had no Idea.I have become very angry,and feel very guilty,im wondering if there wa s anything i could've done diffrent im going through this alone because every one around me seems to keep on living life as if ,but im stuck dont know what to do? who to talk to ? I wonder if anyone other than me cares. Im hurt because i have noone who can understnd how torn up and broken i feel.I have not been able to see him because hes constantly in thhe infermary in prison.cant get to see him .I feelso guilty like i've abandoned my son.this is taking a toll dont know what to do .Can anybody recomend a support group in Hartford CT,I really need some help ???

Hi Guys<br />
My wife suffers from schizophrenia. I recently came across certain websites and a documentary which I found helpful. You can also try on www.iraresoul.com and www.isps-us.org <br />
You can get this documentary called "Take These Broken Wings" by Daniel Mackler from http://www.iraresoul.com/dvd.html <br />
<br />
I hope you guys find it helpful.

It has been two years since my last entry. My brother is doing well. He is taking his meds and is able to function well with his daily activities. But he still needs supervision. He is really trying hard to find ways to live with this disease. I am proud of him.

Thanks for sharing your story. It helped. My spouse has schizophrenia. I don't know what to expect from one day to the next.

Hi, I read your story and can truly relate. My story does not have a happy ending, but parts of it are uplifting. My youngest brother also was diagnosed at college age. He is an identical twin and his brother (now 32 yrs old) has not shown any signs of his twin's symptoms. Ray was a 3 sport high school letterman and honors student and national merit scholar. He had many friends and got a scholarship to attend college up north. He did fine for the first few years. That was until he became restless and decided on a whim after visiting his twin brother in the seminary in Spain (with my parents) to become a priest himself. He dropped all of his classes 22 credit hours in engineering (very difficult), and left for the seminary. He hadn't talked about a vocation before this so we found it pretty odd he would do this and so quickly when he was so close to graduating. A year after he had joined the seminary, they sent him home telling us he was very sick. We didn't believe them at the time. It took a while for us to come to terms with his diagnosis which was at first bipolar but then quickly became schizophrenia. He moved in with our parents and was in and out of hospitals as he tended to lie about taking his meds. It wasn't until he got in serious trouble with the law for leading them on a high speed chase down an interstate (he thought the flashing lights were demons chasing him). He also crashed into one of the patrol cars they thought on purpose. At this point, they pressed charges and placed him in JAIL, despite the fact they knew he was sick. Needless to say while in jail he got NO MEDS!!!!!!!!!! They wouldn't even allow us to bring them in for him. His condition deteriorated terribly. I visited him (they only allowed camera visits so I couldn't even hug him!!!) He waited there 6 full months before his stinking trial. When I saw him via camera, he'd grown this long beard and was totally unresponsive. He couldn't even talk to us and stood in the corner ex<x>pressionless. This was VERY scarey for us and <br />
much scarier for him. It was at this time that we "lost" him. He was committed to a state hospital for 2 years and started smoking cigarettes--A LOT. I was able to go up every few months or so to visit but it was apparent he was never going to come back the same. When he did, he had to promise to take his meds in order to live with my parents. Before that stay at the state hospital, he would go off of the meds and then take off either walking or in my parents car and go stay at a hotel or sleep on the side of the road even and not tell my parents where he was for months on end. Me and my 8 other siblings would all worry so very much about him. He was the youngest of 10 children (all the rest of us are successful, healthy, college educated people). At one point he had even gotten an apartment by the university he was attending and had been living with a roommate for a while before we found him. My brother managed to complete his degree in electrical engineering and graduated from this prestigious university WITH HONORS and with SCHIZOPHRENIA. Unbelievable accomplishment and one I am oh so proud of him for doing. HOWEVER, shortly after graduation, he got a job with NASA at the Kennedy Space Center. While there he became paranoid that people were against him and began to act strangely. He actually got very good treatment from their psychiatrists and his job was held for him during another 72 hour baker act stay at a hospital. Eventually we all realized that he was not going to be able to handle the stress of working. He used to cry out at church sometimes and need to be taken out. He even was picked up along side the road naked one time in the next city. He had slept that way under a tree and then wandered into someone's home. This story is so sad that I'm crying writing about it. <br />
After the stay at the state hospital though, his will to live independently was gone. He actually did almost anything my parents asked him to this time because he was sooo scared about the possibility of ever having to be committed again. During his stay at the state hospital he had tried to kill himself by drinking a gallon of bleach off of the cleaning cart. We found out that bleach doesn't really hurt you if swallowed because it is a base. Who would have thought?? <br />
He came out of the hospital a very good weight. But the atypical antipsychotics he was on really turned his appetite on and with full access to food in my parents house (vs. the hospital), he gained over 100 pounds in the first year back. He was practically unrecognizable. A great new treatment design called the FACT team (not sure what it stands for) paid home visits to Ray. There was a social worker, nurse and not sure what else. Anyway they were great in that they gave support to my parents and that allowed Ray to be cared for by people that loved him, not by an institution. While he lived with them there were some bad days and I wasn't always secure in my parents safety. Ray had become quite a bit guy but harmless. He would get unreasonable though. <br />
Long, long story short, my mom became sick with cancer 3 years ago. We didn't know it was cancer then. She wasn't diagnosed until 3 weeks before she died. I was with her in the hospital holding her head in my hand when she took her last breath. My other brother was holding her hands. Ray was a couple of floors below her in the emergency room. We had insisted he go to the hospital with us to visit mom that morning because he couldn't breath. He was gasping for breath for a day or two before we could talk him into going with us. I went downstairs to let him know mom had passed away. He was on 100 % oxygen at the time and still not being able to breathe. This sounds like it could be a soap opera, but unfortunately it is all to real to us. CT scan showed his lungs were 90% filled with fluid. Dr. asked me and my sister for permission to paralyze him and put him on a heart lung machine so his lungs could be drained. This is only 5 hours after my mother's death. Ray seemed very nervous about being fed while he was going to be unconscious. All he could think about was food that last year. He told me he would rather suffocate than starve to death. I laughed with him at the time assuring him I would look after him. The Dr. made us leave the room before he attempted to intubate him. Half hour later we hear Code blue over the intercome and sure enough it was our brother. My brother Raymond died November 7th 2004 7 hours after our mother's death. He was cremated and buried with our mother on November 11th, 2004, our father's birthday. <br />
I miss Raymond so very very very much and cry about him once in a while. My family I think felt relieved to a degree in that he is no longer suffering. I on the other hand had lots of faith in medical science and thought if he could just hold on for a while longer, there may have been a treatment developed for him so he could lead a more normal life. I believe now that was just wishful thinking. The more I read about schizophrenia, I learn that it is a progressive disease until the deterioration kind of plateaus in the forties. So much of my brother's brain though had already shrunk because of the amount and severity of the psychotic breaks he had. There really was no bringing him back from the hellish existence he endured for that last decade of his life. I miss him always and am so glad he was at my home to celebrate turning 30 that year he died. He couldn't appreciate the cake I made, but I know he could feel the love and the warmth of my hand on his back letting him know I was there for him. For what that means.

Your story is very easy to relate to. My younger brother had his first break the summer of his junior year of high school. It took months to bring him "back" and get him on the right medications. It was so heartbreaking to visit him at the hospital. I didn't want to cry in front of him because he was already so sensitive and scared. Some of the medications he was on would make his hands shake so uncontrollably that he couldn't even hold a fork to eat dinner. <br />
<br />
After that initial break he had a few smaller ones but ended up coming home stable. He hadn't had a break in almost nine years until last night. <br />
<br />
I called him to wish him a happy birthday and immediately recognized that he wasn’t doing well. He was in a frenzy and just kept talking. He even said that he felt like he was having a break. I asked him if he was taking his meds and he said that his doctor had just switched him to a new kind. I told him to call his doctor right away and tell her the new pills weren’t working. <br />
<br />
His longtime girlfriend who he lives and has a baby with knows of his illness yet has never experienced him having a psychotic episode. I called her and realized she was in over her head. They live 1000 miles away from family, are both in their mid twenties. <br />
<br />
She was shocked when I suggested that she ring the on call nurse and get him in for a med and psych eval ASAP. My brother’s girlfriend wanted to have him take some Benedryls to help him sleep it off. I had to tell her that’s unfortunately not how Schizophrenia works. Ends up the nurse had him admitted to the hospital and are keeping him for 72 hours. <br />
<br />
My brother's girlfriend shared that my brother had been off his meds for nearly four months. She said that he was fine at first but it got progressively worse. She had no idea how serious we all were when we told her to make sure he takes the meds every day. <br />
<br />
She is embarrassed and doesn't want any of our help. I think she may be feeling guilty or might feel like the illness is her fault which is not the case. We love her and know this is just a part of the devastation of schizophrenia. <br />
<br />
My mom is flying out to help him and to help with the baby. I really want to go too but don't want to overwhelm him or his girlfriend. On the same note he needs his family and our love and support. <br />
<br />
I want to help in some way so I offered to temporarily pay to have their son at preschool fulltime instead of only two days a week. I am hoping that if they know their son is taken care of during the day then they can focus on getting my brother well and educating his girlfriend about the illness. <br />
<br />
Like your brother, mine too is so gentle and sweet. He is empathetic and doesn’t want us to worry about him. I know he is so afraid right now. He’s told me how frightening the hospital experience is. I so wish he hadn’t moved 800 miles away. I just want to hug and hold him.