Friday, January 1, 2016

New Year, Same Problems

For most of my life I have been in charge of managing my brother's life.  Anytime he got in trouble or couldn't handle the stresses of life it was my job to make sure that he didn't hurt himself or someone else.  This became exhausting pretty quickly.  I started to resent my brother for always needing attention.  For not being responsible for his actions.  For needing the rest of us to tailor our lives to making sure he was okay. 

As he has gotten older my brother has been less destructive to himself physically but has not made any progress towards managing his life as an adult.  On Christmas Eve I found out that my brother is in yet another financial crisis created by him being careless and assuming that the rules of the world don't apply to him.  It has been less than a year since I saved him from the last financial crisis. 

Part of me wants to step away.  He's in his mid thirties.  He lives in another state.  At some point he has to step up to the plate and take care of himself.  But then I think of the other times that I have stepped back and I worry about things becoming worse.  As unfair as it is, this seems to be my burden in life. 

I have never had any desire to have children.  But I feel like raising my brother is a job that I got when he was born that will never go away.  It would be so much easier if my brother had a disability that was visible.  People would understand.  But with mental illness people can appear completely normal to friends and co-workers and be a complete mess inside. 

You can't force an adult man to see a therapist and go back on meds when he isn't a danger to himself physically.  And honestly, even if you could, I don't have fond memories of his time in therapy.  Weekly office visits and lots of drugs but no real progress.  Violent episodes.  Suicide attempts.  Jail time.  I am grateful that those days are over but still hopeful that there is a better alternative. 

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