This is a long story so I apologize, but I really need some answers. My brother has been excited to go to Lollapalooza all year. He was finally going to go this past Tuesday. Well we got a call from him after only a day of him being there saying he wanted to come home. He was ballistically crying on the phone and saying he “felt the power of the antichrist.” I decided to drive to Chicago with my parents to get him. When we arrived, he was sitting on a bench without his bags. My dad asked him why he didn’t have his stuff and he said he gave it all away to his friends (it was all his clothing and his wallet.) He also said he threw his phone in the river because it was giving him fear. He then launched into a story about how secret servicemen were hunting him down because of his belief in God. The rest of the night, he continued talking about how God was giving him all these “tests” and how he felt like he was in a scavenger hunt. The next day his behavior got worse. He got up very early and started singing loudly (very unusual for him) then started walking around the city with no shirt, no shoes, and a guitar.
Since then, his behavior has continued to scare my family and I for 3 days now. Last night my parents had to escort him to bed because he couldn’t walk on his own, but then 10 minutes later I heard him singing loudly in his room and talking to himself. I am very afraid for my brother’s state of mind right now. He swears up and down he didn’t take any drugs, but we’re very convinced there is something in his system. However, it’s been going on for 3 days now, and the effects of drugs normally don’t last this long. My other thought is that he is having a psychotic issue. This has never happened before and I am afraid. Please help.
Your concerns about your brother are valid. As you suspect, it could be drug use or psychosis (or drug use that led to psychosis). Another possibility, is an organic brain disease but the only way to know with certainty is for him to be evaluated. If you can convince him to go voluntarily, that would be ideal.
He may be telling you the truth, about his not taking drugs, as he knows it to be. He may not remember taking a drug or he may have taken a drug without knowing it.
If he’s unwilling to seek treatment, then consider calling the local mental health crisis team. Many communities have them. You can call them to ask for their advice and to request that they come to your home to evaluate your brother in person. These are exactly the types of situations they are trained for and they can assist you.
You can also consult your local community mental health center, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) group (most communities have them) or the Treatment Advocacy Center in Arlington, Virginia, who can be reached at 1–703–294–6001. Here is a link to their website for resources in your state.
In the meantime, do whatever is necessary to keep your brother safe. His rational thinking processes are compromised and he might do something that he would not normally do, as demonstrated by his leaving the house inappropriately dressed. He needs treatment as soon as possible. Psychosis (if that is what the problem is) generally does not get better on its own.
I hope that you and your family are able to find help for your brother. Please consider writing back to let me know how things have turned out. Please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle