As of 830PM, Family's Still Alive and Kicking (each other)

Thursday, January 03, 2008
Yesterday, I noticed that my 17 yr old step brother had changed the status on his Facebook account. Normally, it's some sappy nonsense about how he loves his girlfriend. This time? It was about how he loved his girlfriend and he wanted to kill the rest of his family. What's that? Oh, didn't I tell you? My step brother has some serious mental health issues. I was a bit worried so I sent him a message asking what's wrong. A few messages back and forth resulted in yet another threat, this time saying that if his girlfriend hadn't been around, he would have beaten my father until he stopped moving. You should probably know that my dad is 5'4", maybe 140 lbs soaking wet and carrying some dumbbells, and is 61 years old. The 17 year old is at least 6 inches taller and outweighs him by 50 pounds. Oh yeah, and throw in the mental health issues and you've got some problems.

My last message to him probably was not the best thought out idea - despite not wanting to antagonize him, I told him that while I cared about what was happening, about him, and my dad, if he threatened anyone in the family like that again, I'd call the police. Well, that pissed him off. Blah blah blah, shut the fuck up, you don't know what's going on... At that point I called home. Seems the step brother has gone to stay with a friend for a few days so it was safe for the parental units to talk about it - I'm not going to get into the details but needless to say it was the result of a couple of small things that most of us would have just let go but because of his particular problems, they built up and up and he exploded. I let them know what he'd written, they were upset but not overly worried about the situation. With a last request for them to be careful, we said goodbye, love ya, and hung up.

It's not the first time that he's threatened to kill my dad. Or his mom. Or one of his sisters. Or to hurt them in some way. This has been going on for some time. When he was a young child he was diagnosed as ADHD. He's subsequently had a number of various other diagnoses over the course of his 17 years, including autism. And then there was the situation at Christmas. What's that? Oh, I forgot to tell you about that too?

We received a call just before lunch on Xmas Eve from my sister who was practically in tears. Seems the brother started hearing voices the night before and became suicidal so she rushed him to the emergency room. They gave him some meds to calm him down, wanted to put him on a plane to the city immediately (he refused) to see a big city mental health doc and get some help. Unfortunately my parents were spending Xmas in Ontario visiting family. Sister drove brother to the city, brother spent four hours talking with a doc/psychiatrist who then refused to admit him or give him any meds. Sister begged, pleaded and practically screamed for them to keep him at least overnight. Nope, if it happens again take him to the emerg. Lots for a 21 year old to have to deal with. However, things seemed to calm down by the time they got back home (that would make almost 7 hours of highway driving for her in one day after being up all night...) and we haven't heard about any problems like this since then.

The family has it pretty tough. Not only does the step brother have major issues, the other 21 year old (twin) step sister is severly bi-polar, used to cut herself, and has been in and out of institutions over the past 5 or 6 years. My mom has suffered from depression most of her adult life as has my step mom. The sister who had to take care of brother over christmas was diagnosed with defiant disorder or something like that when she was younger but seems to be doing quite well as she gets older.

It's been a stressful holiday despite the happier bits. I did not sleep well last night and I've taken my own mental health day today. Work can wait, I need a snuggle from a furry, purry creature right about now.


Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

Speaking as someone who comes from a family that is riddled with mental illness, I feel your pain.

Red said...

So sorry to hear about this, Karen. It sounds like an awful lot on your plate right now, and I understand your concern for the safety of your family. Does your stepbrother live with your dad? Should the police be informed anyway? Would they do anything about it?

Karen said...

Things are better now. My stepmom called last night to let me know that my brother had just left again. Seems he came home to talk to dad - they had a good heart to heart about the situation. Brother realizes that he has a lot of problems and has decided to go for counselling and will undergo another psychiatric exam. From what she said, a lot of bad air was cleared out and hopefully things will be much better. Apparently I was also brought up in the conversation and it sounds as though once they talked to him, he understood why I was so upset about the whole thing.

* (asterisk) said...

Hmm, I don't even know what to say. The news here is always full of killers with mental health issues who should have been in an institution. As a result, I would be very cautious around this individual, family or not.

SME said...

Oh God, mental illness + adolescence is rough stuff. I know it was hell on my parents, and I was dealing just with depression, not violent tendencies or hallucinations or anything.
The teen years are strange enough without hearing voices and having emotional issues.
I really feel for you and your family and hope your step bro gets quality help that can guide him through this part of his life. It may always be a tough haul for him, but this time of life will probably be the worst for him and for everyone close to him. Hang in there!

Heather said...

Oh, man...I've had holidays like that - the kind where all you want to do is go back to work and try to do something normal, and then when you get back, you just want to go home and curl up into a ball.

I'm sorry. Really sorry.

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