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Worried about my brother

Posted: Sat Jul 21, 2018 10:55 am
by Tarantula

I've written about this before I think, well...

... I am increasingly worried that my brother might commit suicide one day. He is desperately miserable, has been depressed for years, was beaten and neglected as a child (and bullied at school for being brown), our mum drank during the early stages of her pregnancy with him and he's very lonely. He doesn't have any friends. He just moved to a city in Spain (perhaps following my example - I moved abroad last year), but so far seems to have simply brought all the same baggage with him. He's online all day long. He doesn't bother to eat and his sleeping patterns are messed up.

He met a girl on Thursday, asked to see her on Sunday, she said yes initially and then changed her mind over text. Because of this, he didn't go to the language social event he had planned to go to, and has talked about it at length. We spent an hour speaking on the phone yesterday about her, and some texts since. This is the level of hypersensitivity he has now - he can't cope with the smallest disappointment.

He hasn't had a stable job in years, and was just about covering his overheads as a DJ, which meant lots of late nights and sleeping in til noon. Because of that lifestyle, he decided to move abroad and do a course which will enable him to work as an English-as-a-foreign-language teacher. I think things will get better if he has some routine and structure in his life. But I am worried he won't get that far. He booked to stay at a residential language school to do an intensive Spanish course, but left after a short time because he didn't get along with anybody and the learning style didn't work for him. I believe he has dyspraxia, or another learning disability - he's very forgetful, extremely analytical, and simply cannot let a point go (however big or small) until the other person acknowledges it enough. He went to a rubbish council estate school who never picked up on his special needs, and of course our parents couldn't care less. On the contrary, our father would beat him for his so-called 'stupidity'. He was also made to eat food that he had vomitted up, and oh, so many other horrible stories.

Our mum was a GP until retirement but never lived with us. She also psychologically bashed him down for being a 'failure' and 'complete zero' because he didn't perform well at school, even though he is in fact very sharp and witty and bright. He struggles with some things, but excels at others.

He won't get help because he says it doesn't work and is a cash grab. I sort of understand that but, given the circumstances, feel he should give therapy another go. Or perhaps a peer-led support group. Or a 12-step group. Or SOMETHING. He won't do anything to help himself! Just sits online all day, sometimes FB stalking girls he used to be involved with or old school mates who were mean to him.

Just writing this is making me cry because I'm so worried and don't know what to do. I've spent years listening to him and empathising with him - our average phone call lasts 2-3hrs - but it doesn't seem to have made the blindest bit of difference. He won't follow any of the practical suggestions I make, even though he agrees with them in theory. I sometimes get miserable messages from him about how 'life is cold and cruel' and how he's an 'emotionally malnourished runt' and it breaks my heart.

Pls help.

Re: Worried about my brother

Posted: Sun Jul 22, 2018 9:01 am
by snail
Your role in being there and hearing him talk, with caring but without judgement, must be very healing for him. If he won't act on any suggestions I'm not sure what else you can practically do. I understand exactly what he means about therapy being a cash grab - it's hard to believe a therapist cares about you as a person when they are taking money and profiting from your pain. I think people who have parental abuse problems do need to have a surrogate 'parenting' process from the therapist in order to heal, and if your own parents put themselves before you, paying money to a therapist just feels like the same thing again, and blocks most of the benefit. I myself was very lucky in that I found a charity that provided therapy, and my therapist did not profit - I don't think it would have helped otherwise. It was actually financed by the Church (although the therapy was standard and secular) - can you help him find any charity-funded therapy? He couldn't say it was a cash grab then. Does the Church do stuff out there? In terms of working - it doesn't work every time, certainly; it depends on where the person is, and if the therapy is right for them. But it does work - there are a lot of people that wouldn't be here today without it. And it can't really do harm. Unfortunately one of the paradoxes about therapy is that it is the people who need it the most who are the most resistant to it.

Finding a self-help group is also better than nothing, or might help in the meantime - it would be much more accessible at least, with no waiting list, and there would hopefully be a non-judgmental attitude. The language barrier might be an issue to therapy though. But if he could get over that at first in the longer run it would really improve his Spanish. Can you do him some research on local therapy and local groups and give him some times and places to go?

What does he excel at, exactly? Could he do something relating to that, either as a job or a hobby?

Would you ever consider having him to live with you, on a temporary basis? Could you do that without compromising your own healing process and your own life?

I think the move to Spain is a very positive sign - it take a huge amount of get up and go to move abroad, and it suggests he has a strong motivation to improve his life, so that is something.

Re: Worried about my brother

Posted: Sun Jul 22, 2018 3:14 pm
by Tarantula
Hi snail

Thanks for taking the time to reply.

Yes, I had hoped that listening and offering empathy and support (please note: I don't talk to him like I write on PP, because I have a massively better depth of understanding of his problems, and since users on here don't always engage in lasting dialogue, I think it's better to get to the point) would help, but I don't think it has. Of course I'll never know where we'd be at if I hadn't done that... but I also wonder if all this time, I've been enabling his worse impulses by always being a crutch. For this reason, and because I'm exhausted, I have started to try to set boundaries and 'detach' when I can see we're just engaging in pure rumination - which is extremely difficult.

Yes, I could try to find funded services but since he is now abroad, I'm not sure if this is possible. I also feel a bit defeatist by this point - if I would go through this effort to set him up, only for him to not co-operate, it would make me even more discontent with the overall situation. So I must admit, I am reluctant to try going down that road. Previous experience has taught me that if he doesn't take on board whatever I try to offer him, I end up feeling frustrated and disillusioned.

Well, he was an excellent DJ. He never felt able to fully commit to it, though. He's great at composing music, too. I know that's a very subjective thing, but trust me - he is. He could've made something of that, but he never went for it, despite saying he wanted to. He's also the wittiest, funniest person you'd meet (when in a good mood), but his mind found a way of turning that into a bad thing - he says he was just performing and it was all overcompensation. It didn't come across like that, though; people were happy to have him around. He decided they 'only wanted him for that', but in my mind, exchange is a basic reality of life. Why do we like anyone? Because they make us feel good, in some way or other. They make us feel better when we're sad, or they make us feel part of community when they call, or whatever. It's not a one-way street. Friendships, or any relationship, is based on ongoing exchange. If people like you 'cause you're funny, how is that bad?? He found a way to make it bad. I'd understand if the jokes were at his own expense, but it wasn't like that. He's just very sharp and cuts to the essence of things in a funny way - I think it's a real talent.

As for having him live with us - I've thought of it. I do think that would bring me down without bringing him up, though. We used to live together and it wasn't great. He's also really messy, and needs a lot of attention, and is extremely sensitive. I think, to be honest, it would drive me nuts, which would have repercussions for my own productivity (I'm self-employed) and relationship. The last time he visited us, I found I couldn't relax and sleep properly out of worry. BUT I'd do it as an emergency response, of course I would.

Yes, he has got on a plane and gone to Spain. I haven't told him this, and I don't think he'd disagree, but to be honest that was more due to him running out of money than anything. He had a big sum of money a few years ago and, one way or another, blew it all on bad investments and decisions which seemed to make sense at the time. Due to only having a small pot left as a security net, he decided to make this last-ditch attempt by re-training as a English teacher and having a normal job/routine like everyone else. I think, if he can pull it off, that will be great for him. However, his track record for staying in employment is poor, but at the same time, being left to do his own thing hasn't worked either. So I worry about his future and what he'll do if the teaching thing doesn't work out.

Re: Worried about my brother

Posted: Mon Jul 23, 2018 10:28 am
by reckoner
Hi Tarantula,

I have no words to express my feelings about what happened to you both as kids, but it's anger and upset in equal measure. It's no small mercy that you have each other and you sound like an incredible sister.

I'm afraid I only have a small contribution to make as addition to Snail's advice.

Hearing more about your brother clarifies for me how remarkable your own recovery has been. Maybe that's a daunting thing for your brother to live up to? So it doesn't matter what approach you take, whether it's tough love or gentle compassion, maybe he just doesn't see himself as capable of achieving for himself what you have done, so there's nothing you can do that's right? Though plenty that you could do wrong and I don't see that you've done anything wrong at all. In which case, maybe you can only keep doing what you're doing and put what energy you have left in not feeling disillusioned and upset by a lack of progress.

Actually I can understand what he means about people only liking him for being funny. Being funny is clearly just one small aspect of his personality but people, especially people in a party-clubbing-type environment and lifestyle, are probably (from what I remember) only interested in that bit of him. When I was going out and clubbing, the nights were great, but the mornings were often ... just an empty feeling. It's a very superficial pastime, I think. I can see why he couldn't find it fulfilling, and how it might have ultimately left him feeling worse. Being talented at music is a fantastic thing - I can see that DJing is not a helpful outlet for it. Hopefully he can find another?

He seems to have all the qualities, including an interest in language, to make an excellent writer. It must run in the family because so are you. Has he ever tried - stories, or non-fiction, blogging? From what you say, he has a brilliant perspective to offer.

I'm sorry I can't offer more here, I don't know what more you can do, and Snail's advice seems excellent, but I can totally understand what you're saying in response and wanted to express my admiration for your attempts to support him.

Re: Worried about my brother

Posted: Sat Jul 28, 2018 8:24 am
by David020549
Dyslexia and dyspraxia are quite common disorders, over the years I have come across several very clever sufferers, although commitment and concentration is difficult, if they find a reason to concentrate WITH SUPPORT they are very successful, Richard Branson is a well known example.
One former business contact I had was a commodity trader, he was on the phone all day long making deals worth millions, each one he wrote down on a large pad in his scrawl, totally incomprehensible. Only his mother and sister could understand it without them he could not have done the job.
Another is a young engineer, give him a welder or a lathe he can fix anything and if you can imagine it he can build it, his parents give him lots of backup especially office work which he cannot do.

It is backup that makes the difference, someone who is always there to make sure that appointments are kept, payments are made, Branson's parents were well heeled but even they did not expect him to achieve that much. Maybe you can find a way to help your brother, it is going to need to be a close day to day relationship or he will just repeat the mistakes of the past. Don't let him live with you or intrude on your private life the boundaries need to be understood or if it goes wrong you will sink with him

Re: Worried about my brother

Posted: Mon Jul 30, 2018 12:40 pm
by Tarantula
Thank you both

Reckoner, you've picked up on the influence of clubbing environments, which has been his main source of social interaction for many many years. I think it's shaped the way he sees people and women in particular, and has made him cynical. I agree it's all fun and alcohol-fuelled spontaneity in the moment, and the light of day can present a very different picture. I'm both glad I had that clubbing phase, and glad that I'm not about that anymore.

Thank you. Music making is to him what writing is to me. When he writes, the content is very good but his spelling/grammar is very off-piste. He's never shown an interest in writing for enjoyment or creativity - it's always been about music. But yes he has real talent there, and is also very gifted in other ways - highly analytical and sharper than sharp - and also quite sensitive and a good listener.

I appreciate your response. Me and my brother have always been holding onto the driftwood for dear life together, as we float away from the shipwreck of our childhoods and the various sufferings that we experienced - some different, some the same. I can tell the stories, but he's the only one who really knows how it was - who was there.

David - yes, this sounds like him. He's very smart but also very up in his head and has trouble seeing things through. The examples you've given had the necessary support - my brother doesn't, unfortunately. He has his struggles and he's all on his own - no close friends, no gf and, of course, no parents or family support except me. I try to do what I can over the phone, but I must be honest, my own self-preservation prevents this from being a daily effort. I could try to call for a short time each day - perhaps in the morning to get him out of bed.

Re: Worried about my brother

Posted: Mon Jul 30, 2018 9:31 pm
by David020549
He needs an aim in life, cause in life he can commit to, schools have special training for kids with all sorts of neurological disorders, there are plenty of help groups in the UK and I'm sure he would be much better off in the UK. Is there a realistic chance of making a living from writing or music?, it sounds like a lot of disappointments and rejections. If he is a good DJ get a decent set of AV gear and he should make a living, a local guy runs 3 sets so there is a demand.
What he really needs is the support of a help group, does he accept that he has dyslexia/dyspraxia and that with training he can achieve a lot and there are plenty of examples of those that have. I think you have to give him priority for a while because if he goes downhill you will hate yourself for not doing more, we all have to choose our priorities .