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Worried About My Brother

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I think he may have developed depression? My family is growing concerned with my brothers well being. We come from a large family, our dad the oldest of six and our mom the oldest of three. All nine are married with children. Needless to say we have a lot of cousins, some of whom are married with kids ourselves. My family is really close, but yet we don’t talk about the inner/deep stuff, we just have fun together, and my brother and I (we are the only 2 children of my parents) never talked about stuff and were pretty distant of each other. And neither of us told our parents anything. So talking about things with him or my parents is really weird. There are NO divorces in this large family, and no blended families either. On top of all that all of us live within 60 miles of one another in San Diego. All except my brother. He graduated high school here in San Diego and then, after graduating with honors, 3rd in his class, he was accepted into Arizona State where he spent 4 years getting his BA in computer engineering. He was already working in his field before he graduated so he stayed there. After three or four years he got tired of his co-workers and the politics of his company and changed companies. He then was tired of renting so he bought a house, 4 bed, 3 bath…Larger, brand new, home. Mind you this whole time he doen’t have many friends, and never a girlfriend that we know of. He doesn’t drink at all. I think I saw him try a beer last summer and didn’t like it so he never fnished it.

Arizona and San Diego are not that far apart so visiting has been pretty easy and money, while important, is not an issue at all!!! We have a family reunion every year in Yuma, AZ (half way between him and us), and he comes home for Xmas, and any other major events such as weddings. Our parents usually make it out to see him 1-2 times a year, and my husband and I, with our three kids, try and make it every other year during the summer. He has always been independant and set in his ways, which is why we think girls have never come into the picture. And looks, well he didn’t make the top 100 most gorgous men alive list, but I have seen worse. Over the past 4 years we have noticed his change. We tried saying it is just him in his independant ways, but now it seems obsessive. He eats the same thing and amount every day. One bowl of a certain cereal every morning. If we want to go to breakfast he may nibble on something, but eats his cereal before we go. His house is clean, but it is just him there and he works full time. Everything is in its place, but it is okay if something gets moved.. it doesn’t mean the end of the world. He gets irritated with people very easy. Like when someone states the obvious, for instance…going to the dr. because your throat hurts and you think you have strep and want some meds. you wait in the waiting room (which is another problem… waiting… it is a waste of time and doesn’t understand the problem… if he has a 2:00 appt. he wants to be seen at 2:00) and then when he gets into the room the dr. asks how he is feeling. His throat hurts!!!! Didn’t the dr. read that before he came in!!!! Most people would have just answered the question without second thought.

Since graduating college the friends he had have moved on and he doesn’t have any friends we know of. He doesn’t go out because he doesn’t have anyone to go with, and bars/clubs are out of the question because he doesn’t drink or want to meet someone who goes to those places. He gets up and goes to work, with about 12 other faces he sees everyday, and comes home to a routine. He does not have, and does not want, any pets. I think because it gets off his routine. And then would have to clean up after them which is a “waste of time”. He has a complex about his looks. My family has dark hairs, and thick roots, and on the face it presents a 5 o’clock shadow affect right after shaving. He has been trying lazer hair removal every six weeks for 7 years. Nothing is helping with that. Now this year he has said he is not coming home for Xmas. My mom is going crazy hurting for him, feeling helpless. He says he is still taking the 2 weeks off work he usually does to come home, but this year he is going in for more lazer treatments, at least 2, during that time off. He says he doesn’t want anyone to see him until he can fix this facial hair problem. I think the facial hair problem is just a small issue that he is blowing up into smething bigger to cover the underlying problem. He hasn’t talked about any suiside issues, but I don’t know what he is thinking. When we try to talk to him about it he blows it off with just some agh…no…no.. Basicly just some grones and head shacking.

When he goes grocery shopping he buys the exact same things every time knowing exactly how much that list of items will be to the penny. And if a price changes he complains (to himself not the store). I think the complaints are more why people have to change the price than it is about the money. He won’t spend a penny where he doesn’t need to. He is swimming in money, so we know he isn’t depressed about money. He always seems sad, and out of place. Watching everyone around like an 18 month old just soaking it up. What makes this so much more difficult is not living in the same town. And the idea of him moving back home or someone moving out there is out of the question. We just feel he is simply existing. Going through the motions. It is almost like Tom Hanks in the movie “Cast Away” after he settled into life on the island. Only my brother is doing that by choice. It is like a body going through the motions with no life (or personality) inside. I hope I gave you enough history and info to help me out. What do I do, or where do I start? Thanks, Worried Sister.

Worried About My Brother

Answered by on -

A.

Basically, you have described your brother’s habits and idiosyncrasies but nothing you wrote leads me to believe that he is suffering from a serious mental disorder. To know for certain if he were suffering from depression would require that he be evaluated face-to-face, by a trained clinician.

It seems to be that he is living his life the way he wants to live it and you do not agree with his choices. Maybe you are concerned with the fact the he never goes out or perhaps you hope to see him meet a significant other. It is kind of you to be concerned with your brother but even if you are worried about him and disagree with his choices there may be little that you can do to change him.

Your brother may not do things the way you think he should but he is not breaking any laws nor is he placing himself or anyone else in danger. I would encourage you to tell him about your concerns and suggest that he seek help but unless he is a danger to himself or others, you cannot “force” him to do anything.

Unfortunately, you might be very limited in how you can intervene in your brother’s life. As I mentioned above, you can try talking to him about how you think he should change and explain why you’re worried about him but beyond that there may be little else that you can do. Are there other family members that might be able to convince him to seek help? If so, you could try to have them talk to your brother. I wish I had more advice for you but realistically, if someone does not believe they have a problem then it is unlikely that they’d be willing to go for help.

Try what you can to help but be careful not to impose your views and beliefs about how one “should” live onto your brother. He has a right to live how he wants, as long as he is not hurting himself or causing harm to others and even if you disagree with him, try to respect his choices.

Worried About My Brother

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist and Assistant Professor of Social Work and Forensics with extensive experience in the field of mental health. She works in private practice with adults, adolescents and families. Kristina has worked in a large array of settings including community mental health, college counseling and university research centers.

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2018). Worried About My Brother. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 23, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2008/12/08/worried-about-my-brother/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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