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What’s Wrong with My Brother?

by Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

From the U.S.: So this started happening summer of last year. My brother all of a sudden threw all his clothes away for no reason. He would often come to my room at night and say ask how my day was and then say things that wouldn’t make sense. For example he would say, “did anyone call you, no? I think someone called me I don’t know who” etc. Recently this year he has been locking himself up in his room, not eat until nighttime. He won’t even sleep until 4-5 AM.

One time me and my bf brought home food and my brother came out with a bat accusing my bf that he stole his phone. He was just screaming and yelling so we had to get out of there. Fast forward to couple months later he would come in my room when my bf is here and say, “you’re still alive?” And then leave. Couple weeks later he comes into my room with food and candy that he made.

Is this some type of bipolar disorder? Anyways, fast forward a couple months to today, my sister brought her bf over and he came into her room with a bat asking what they were doing and he was about ready to swing until my sister asked him what he was doing. After that he left.

My brother would also ask my sister random things as well. Like yesterday for example my brother came up to my sister while she was eating and told her to open the trunk of her car. So she does and he looks in there and ask if she has any supplies and then says, if you need help fighting someone let him know and then goes back in the house.

He can still walk/bike/drive- motor skills are fine. Except when it comes to talking it seems as if he forgot how to speak sometimes. His words just don’t go together, but it’s been getting better. I just don’t understand what it is he has. Not to mention he was admitted into the psychiatric center, but they let him go because he wouldn’t talk or cooperate.

This has been going on for over a year?? Yikes! I don’t know what’s going on with your brother, but what you said really worries me.

The first concern is for your safety. He has threatened both you and your sister as well as your boyfriends. What is everyone in the family doing to keep everyone, including your brother, safe?

I hope your parents are taking his threats seriously. I hope they are willing and able to insist that he get the help he needs. You and your sister can certainly help but it is your parents’ job, not yours, to maintain a safe household. If your brother can’t control his behavior, they may have to figure out a way for him to leave. If he threatens any of you, your parents or whoever else is with him should call the police. It may require police intervention to get your brother to cooperate with treatment.

Your brother needs a medical exam. The serious sleep disorder could be causing his behavior or it could be a symptom of something else. There are also a number of medical conditions that can cause irrational thoughts and behavior. I’d also want him screened for illegal drug use.

If he is medically fine and drug free, then it’s time for a mental health evaluation. I’m glad an attempt was made. It’s a shame that he wouldn’t cooperate but that shouldn’t end family insistence that he get help. Did your family sit down with him to let him know how concerned you all are? When a family convenes with love and concern, it is sometimes enough to get someone into treatment.

Another approach is to get everyone else into family therapy — with an invitation to him to be part of it. A family therapist will help you all figure out new ways to respond to your brother that might get him into treatment. In addition, a therapist will know the legal resources and social services that can assist all of you, including your brother.

Bottom line, though, is this. Safety first. It’s often emotionally wrenching for families to call the police or to get a restraining order on someone they love. But, from my point of view, hard feelings are preferable to physical injury to family members and the resultant arrest for assault on someone who isn’t in control of his actions.

I wish you all well.
Dr. Marie

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