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Sibling help. Any advice? Not sure if I am doing the right thing. Long...

(6 Posts)
Nodecentnickname Thu 28-Mar-13 14:48:10

This is pretty complicated and I meant to post before regarding ongoing issues, I didn't and now it seems to have hit a crisis point.

It is regarding my brother. I will summarise otherwise this will become epic.

He has had this pattern of behaviour since his late teens.

Stage 1. He will get a new job/move to a new city/a course of study. Everything will be rosy. He is successful, clever, sociable, talented and so on. Life is great for him. This can last for a few months sometimes years. He is a lovely person to be around. Sensible, kind, loyal etc.

Stage 2. Something happens. Not sure what. Things start to unravel. He makes mistakes at work e,g is persistantly late, goes from being an exemplary employee to being disciplined. Becomes anxious, depressed, stressed. Displays paranoid behaviour and OCD tendancies. Is hard to be around as constantly wants to over old ground regarding our dysfunctional family. Very negative and it is very draining.

Stage 3. Impulsive behaviour begins. Spending money he doesn't have. He usually gets into huge amounts of debt at this point. Compulsive eating as well. I think he displays signs of mania. Heavy involvement in a political or social cause. Can become hugely irresponsible and selfish, doesn't seem to care about other people's feelings. At this point he can become unpleasant to be around and quite demanding emotionally. Says things he regrets at a later stage. Can be very combative and offends people.

Stage 4. Has a mini breakdown. Becomes inconsolable, may require medical help.

I have seen it coming for a while now. Every other time I have been the 'supportive' sibling, the shoulder to cry on. This time I have been trying to disengage myself simply because I don't have the emotional resources to deal with it. I have my own children now and I can't have him taking up headspace and my emotional energy. I have done it for years. I have worried about him, offered practical and emotional help and so on, but this time round I feel differently. Almost angry that he wants to drag me into his dysfunction and despair.

I was in the process of trying to emotionally disengage as the same pattern is happening except this time he has a wife and children. I feel he should take responsibility but he is letting his wife down continually with his haphazard behaviour. She cannot deal with it having empathy issues herself - potentially ASD.

This morning he was sobbing on the phone to me. I've never heard or seen him so distressed and bereft. She has told him to leave. I told him to pack a bag and come and stay with my family for Easter.

Have I done the right thing? I am dreading it but I can't NOT help him at this point. Any advice??

Nodecentnickname Thu 28-Mar-13 16:45:59

Sorry to bump this but does anyone recognise this behavour? I realise you are all getting ready for your Easter weekend, but if anyone does please let me know.

ASmidgeofMidge Thu 28-Mar-13 16:57:39

Hi. Hasten to say I'm not an expert, but bipolar disorder could be a possibility? Has he/would he be willing to see his GP?

ASmidgeofMidge Thu 28-Mar-13 16:59:59

It can be incredibly draining to support someone in crisis like this - I've got a number of family members with mh issues. Maybe use his stay to talk to him about accessing professional support as you (and wife etc) can't do it all. Be kind to yourself

Nodecentnickname Fri 29-Mar-13 00:13:33

Thank you Smidge. I agree re: bipolar disorder. In fact there is a strong history in my family of this disorder yet doctors constantly disagree that he has these problems.

He has for the first ever been to the doctors and has therapy as well as taking ADs -something he always refused to do. I am not sure what other help he can access. He is being far more proactive than he did in the past. Most likely due to having children.

He is here now and seems calm. Talking about marriage breakdown. I am pretty sure he need some kind of help as this pattern of behaviour is so predictable and draining for everyone.

AgentZigzag Fri 29-Mar-13 00:23:30

I'm not qualified in any way so I'm only saying what I think about your OP, but is it possible for you to use knowing the phases you've described so well as the way you distance yourself from him and protect yourself a bit?

What I mean is that because he's done this so many times before and survived to live another day, that you can use the experience that he'll pick himself up and get himself righted in the end to stop the constant worry that takes you away from living your life to the full?

That you can cut back on the worry but still be there to offer support in a way you find easier to give?

I can imagine that the worst case scenario his state of mind could bring must weigh on you if you think about withdrawing a little, but you can't shoulder his lot and your lot and still be in a happy place. It's not being selfish to put your family before the needs of an adult sibling, even if they are prone to being ill.

What I'm trying to say (waffling on and going round about the housesgrin) is that when it comes down to the brass tacks, you're not responsible for him! smile

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