My brother is ruining our family

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

From a 14 year old girl: Q: My older brother has currently been diagnosed with a form of bipolar disorder. I feel that now my mother and him use this as an excuse for every problem he causes. Recently, we have been housing a female teenager who also suffers from bipolar disorder. It seems as though my brother has became slightly obsessed with her and it has completely ruined our relationship as a family. He gets upset when she doesn’t talk to him or when she talks to another guy. He also likes to constantly knock on our door to talk to her. We, of course, answer the door but immediately after he starts talking I get so annoyed and try to close the door because all he does is bad-mouth her. He never lets me because he’s so much stronger and keeps the door open. I was wondering if this is because of bipolar disorder, or if it has nothing to do with it.

A:This is complicated. Although it is possible that your brother’s intrusive behavior is a symptom of his illness, it’s not okay for him to bully his way into your room. On the other hand, I don’t know from your description if the girl you share your room with is encouraging him in some way. Since your brother has a diagnosis, I hope he also is getting treatment. A combination of medicine and therapy will help him learn to manage his illness. Some clear structure from your parents about what is and isn’t acceptable behavior would also help him get in control of himself. You might ask your parents if all of you could see a family therapist to help you all figure out how to live with bi-polar illness and how to best help each other. Once they see that you are trying to help and not just complaining, they might be more responsive.
I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 13 Jan 2007

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2007). My brother is ruining our family. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 24, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2007/01/13/my-brother-is-ruining-our-family/