Learning how to help my Brother

It was the month of November 2010
I was heading home to visit my father who was ill and my brother who had recently shown signs of OCD and Schizophrenia. Throughout my brothers childhood he had maybe only showed signs of Attention Deficit Disorder which was never officially diagnosed or addressed do to denial and or disagreement by my parents as to how to handle it. He never heard voices, talked to himself or paced back and forth like he was now. After a few experiments with drugs, it seems as though this was a switch that activated these conditions.

My mother, father nor any if by brother’s friends knew how to deal with his current condition. Education for family members on coping skills regarding mental health is crucial. Not only for the betterment of the afflicted but for the loved ones as well.

While visiting I was able to see first hand the unhealthy environment. My brother would pace off and on for hours, he’s taken walks with only a t-shirt in freezing temperatures and tried exiting a moving vehicle. In the state of Illinois if someone is over 18 exhibiting such behavior, there isn’t much one can do except call the police. Which, I did not believe was the appropriate course of action. Determined to help I devised a plan to trick my brother into going to the hospital. once I got him there and explained what he had been doing they kept him for observation. Against his belief, because he thought nothing was wrong and that he was fine. By Illinois law they could only keep him for 72 hours unless he was a harm to himself or someone else. I think trying to get out of a moving car and wearing only a t-shirt in freezing weather is potentially harmful to oneself. I knew 72 hours wasn’t long enough, he needed real treatment.

My girlfriend and I found a woman online. Her name was Karen. She was instrumental in helping us find resources that we needed to get my brother help. She had a brother that suffered and ultimately passed away from mental illness. But she fought for years to get him the help he needed. In the state of Illinois once a person is 18 they have control of themselves. Unless you have guardianship you have no control over whether or not someone gets help.

My brother ended up remaining in treatment for 6 months. This because I had an advocate in Karen. And constant threats of legal action if they were to let my brother out before he was better. You see, I had years of his detrimental behavior as proof he was not well and needed help.

A big issue with mental health is recognition and then treatment. Those suffering might not recognize anything is wrong. So those family members that do recognize it are trapped until that loved one causes harm to him or herself or someone else. Even after treatment the issue of continued treatment becomes a challenge.

My brother receives a monthly shot and is able to recognize the benefits. He feels much better with the medication. This was not the case initially. Once he felt better he would refuse to continue his treatment. This makes sense in many cases. If one has a headache medication helps and that’s that. But if one has diabetes, well now they might need medication for the rest of their life. That was the process I was able to help my brother understand. This was his new journey and continued treatment would only help him have more control of his life and it has.

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