I need to help my brother

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

From Lebanon: i dont know how to start and to tell u the truth im a little pessimistic now.im 22 my brother is 25 and he is diagnost with bipolar syndrom.but the problem nothing we do is helping,he dont get out of his room,hes afraid to do that,when hes out he thinks that evrybody’s pointing at him so he will get mad and start to yell,hes often saying that he hears voices or that somebody is whispering in his ear,he often wakes up scared or have bad dream.at one point he was very dangerous,5 years ago he used to scream indoors ,throw things in the house,threat me and my parents,he even started working with bad sporits,but now thank to god hes not doing it anymore.hes been to therapits,psychatrists,psychologs but no one seems to know what he has,they can all diagnos and give him pills.Well the pills helped to be calm and relaxed,but didnt help him to move on with his life,or let him think to have a job,ahd get a life.HES afraid to do that,and hes even not happy about it ,he wants help but i dont think were being able to do that,although my parents did their best and still doing it.,this last doc is going to give him seraquel,and hes even treating him with neadles…but till now no change,hes only been with him for like a 3 months maybe.MY brother needs help.We tried everyone,priests,elders,psycholigists,psychyatrits,,,, and still no use.HES 25 years old ,when is he going to h ave a normal life.he doesnt have a job,hes depending pn my parents till when,,,??? in shi condition he cant work.,I dont know if writting here is going to help me but franctly im kinda hoping u can help me even though im in the other way of the world.PLEASE HELP

A: Your brother is a lucky man to have a family that loves him and wants so much to help him. You already know that your brother is seriously mentally ill. He probably does need the medications that his psychiatrist is prescribing. Unfortunately, I don’t know anything about the services available in your country. All I can tell you is what I would suggest to someone in the U.S. and hope that it is somewhat useful to you.

My first concern would be whether your brother is accurately telling his psychiatrist about how he behaves and what he feels. If he will let you, I suggest you accompany him to his appointments and ask that you be allowed to share your observations with his doctor for at least part of his session. The remainder of the session is for his private conversation with the doctor. I also suggest that you and your family start some family therapy or get involved in a support group for family members of people with severe and persistent mental illness. Having a family member who is so ill is very, very stressful on any family. A therapist or a support group will give you all both support and some practical advice for how to handle your brother so his illness doesn’t tear up your family. A family therapist may want to include him in some of your sessions together to help him accept your help.

Finally, I don’t know if there are any community services available in your country for people like your brother. At least in some parts of the U.S., there are staffed group residences and work programs that serve those with severe mental illness. When someone doesn’t respond optimally to treatment, such programs can at least give the person a home, meaningful work, and the “safety net” of staff who make sure they get to their appointments and live a reasonably safe life.

I’m very sorry that I can’t be more specifically helpful. Perhaps your brother’s psychiatrist can give you and your family some guidance about what services are available in your own country.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 8 Jan 2010

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2010). I need to help my brother. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 26, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/01/08/i-need-to-help-my-brother/