Maybe I’m Not as Sane as I Think I Am

For the past few months, I’ve been researching mental disorders, trying to find a classification for my dysfunctional homeless brother to see if there would be some indication of how I could get him out of my life. I thought he was bi-polar since he does suffer from depression, manic episodes of anger, and grandiosity, but he exhibits too many strange, sometimes terrifying, and often irrational behaviors to have a simple mood disorder.

A good indication of his problems has been the names he calls me, and the disorders he accuses me of having. So often people — even so-called normal people — project their problems onto others. And I seem to be my brother’s projection screen. He tells me I have a dissociative personality disorder. He tells me I’m a paranoid schizophrenic. He tells me I don’t care about anyone but myself.

mindSounds like a good place to start looking for what ails him. The closest thing I’ve found to describe him is schizoaffective disorder with some OCD mixed in. Or a paranoid schizophrenic with bipolar disorders and OCD. One of the indications that he’s had a break from reality is his spitting. Such a simple thing to create chills — that ptoo-ptoo-ptoo makes me want to run far, far away. I’ve had a hard time tracking down the symptom since it doesn’t seem to be all that common except in certain cases of bipolar disorder and narcissistic rage (and wow, does he have rage!), but recently I’ve found instances where some paranoid schizophrenics spit for the same reason my brother does, to “get rid of the poison.”

I’ve learned a lot through my researches, especially how prevalent mental disorders are, which makes me feel so very lucky, but finding some sort of name for what is wrong with my brother helps not at all. He’s still swinging from one mood, one personality, one delusion to another. (Though oddly, he seems to save his invectives and delusions for me. He seems to react normally — normally for him, that is — with other people.)

I’ve been taking my blog readers’ advice into consideration and researching various options, but there aren’t many. Current laws say that the most you can institutionalize someone without his consent is 72 hours. Perhaps they could keep him longer, but once the episode passed, they would probably let him go with a prescription for drugs he would not take. And after all the hassle, I’d be back where I started. I could also call the cops, but here they just warehouse the mentally ill and do nothing to get them help. And again, after all my efforts I’d be back where I started because they’d just let him out since he hasn’t really committed a crime except harassing me. In addition, someone who used to be a chaplain for correctional institutes told me the other inmates tend to beat up those with mental problems, so the jails try to get rid of them as quickly as possible. I can understand that — I have my own times of wanting to beat my brother just to get him to shut up and leave me alone, though I’ve been channeling my frustrations into less violent activities such as researching.

As inhumane as it might be to consign him to the garage (it’s not much different than confining the insane to an attic), it’s the only way I can live with the situation. It gives me comfort knowing he is locked out. He won’t break into the house because even at his most psychotic, he is careful not to do anything to anger our 97-year-old father. (He seems oddly protective of the old man, but that is probably just another of his delusions since he thinks I’m trying to strangle our father and inherit this house. But I don’t inherit the house. In fact, once father is gone, I will be temporarily homeless. Well, without a home base. That’s a better way to phrase it.)

I can see, though, that there could come a day when I do run away. He’s starting to get demanding and threatening. Right now it’s “get me a beer, bitch, or I’ll let all the air out of your tires.” I’m not getting him a beer, of course, instead I’m researching portable air compressors. (Most of the cheap ones plug into the car’s cigarette lighter, and I don’t have one in my car.) I’d get a room for the night to give me some respite, but then there’s my father to consider. If I leave him alone, and something happens to him, I could be arrested for elder abuse. Cripes. The situations I get myself into. Maybe I’m not as sane as I think I am.


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

10 Responses to “Maybe I’m Not as Sane as I Think I Am”

  1. Eleanor Anders Says:

    Sending many prayers.

  2. cluculzwriter Says:

    I’m frightened for you, Pat. I have had violence and murder touch my life and now I’m forever fearful that danger lurks everywhere. I don’t suppose there are other family members who you could seek out? I didn’t think so. I have nothing to suggest, except the unspeakable, which I won’t say now or ever. You’re in my thoughts.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      If your unspeakable is the same as mine, yep, it’s better left unsaid. I really don’t think he’s violent except verbally. And today is much quieter.

      Thank you for your kindness.

  3. Cathy Gingrich Says:

    Pat, You have my heart-felt sympathy. My grandson who is 26 yrs. has exibited all these symtoms. I love him so much, but I do not permit him to abuse me emotionaly. Your brother will never find the help he needs as long as you are there to house, feed, enable him to continue his self-destructive behaviors. It’s hard, but making him leave your home is his only hope. I understand the guilt, sadness, and confusion. You are worth it. Amen! Cathy G

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      It’s not my home, but I get your point, Cathy. The difference is he in not 26 any more. If he hasn’t sought help any time in the past 50 years, I doubt he will do so now. I appreciate your concern. Thank you. It helps.

      • Cathy Gingrich Says:

        Pat, The following is info I got from my daughter whose son is bipolar. She and her husband felt that this group, NAMI, did them the most good. I think it would be worthwhile checking out. Cathy

        NAMI believe the url is
        They are held kinda of in the format/style of an AA meeting. So some NAMI meetups are better than others. I suggest they try several different meetings around their area before picking a regular. They all vary depending on who’s running it, the location, that paticular group etc. Also doing the 12 week course was super helpful for us. It helps you get you familiar with everything. And there is a ton of information. Plus in the course you meet up with the same families every week for 12 weeks.
        Hope this helps. There should be a meeting lookup on the website based on locations.

        • Pat Bertram Says:

          Thank you. I checked. There is nothing here. (We’re in sort of a backwater, separated from many facilities by the mountains.) I’ll check around, see if there is something else.

  4. Kathy Says:

    I would not put up with this. I’ve learned that some family relationships you just have to walk away from. But it’s tricky because you’re there in your father’s home taking care of your dad. I wish I had the answer for you but I’m sure you’ll do what’s best for you and only you can decide that, of course.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Kathy, I will be walking away from the situation one of these days. For now, I don’t want to be the sort of person who walks away and leaves a 97-year-old man to fend for himself. Besides, I have friends here, people I can call in an emergency, so that helps.

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