Can I help my brother?
June 7, 2011 7:36 PM Subscribe
How do I help/support my self-destructive brother?
posted by anonymous to human relations (11 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
My brother is 19 years old. I'm a few years older. For whatever reason, he has had a much harder time dealing with life. He has grown increasingly more angry and depressed as he has gotten older. My parents are divorced and are unable to effectively parent or support him. My brother has been in trouble with the law a few different times for shoplifting and pot. No one is quite sure what's going on with him because he keeps all that stuff as secret as possible. He has been involved with a girl for several years and she has cheated on him and dumped him over and over and he keeps taking her back and trying to make it work. He has a pattern of trying to "save" people and is usually supporting at least one of his friends, who all tend to be unemployed drug addicts with troubled families. He has decided not to go to college and works two dead-end jobs.
Despite all of this, he is extremely smart, hardworking, passionate (when he wants to be), loyal, creative, handsome etc. He has no health problems and nothing holding him back other than himself and now, his record. He has so many talents and could accomplish great things if he could free himself from his self-destructive rut. I am pretty sure he is suffering from depression. He is usually high on at least one substance and he freely admits it is to diminish his pain.
I have tried to talk to him, but he won't participate. He is more a stony and silent kind of guy, at least for the past few years. I have encouraged him to use our father's health insurance to go to therapy, but he has shrugged the suggestion off. The whole family has tried to encourage him, and discourage the hurtful, destructive aspects of his life, but it seems to just push him away. I think we are all afraid of him in a certain sense.
It hurts me to watch him suffer, and see how much of his personality has been lost. He is like a zombie when I remember him as a funny, energetic, vibrant kid. I want to help him get and feel better. But I'm just his older sister and he won't accept help. He is extremely stubborn and guarded.
Will he just grow out of this? Is there anything I can do other than wait it out and support him unconditionally?
I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org