Your dilemmas: My brother has been diagnosed with schizophrenia

In her weekly column, JOAN LONG, a Bishopstown psychologist and psychotherapist, answers readers’ queries
Your dilemmas: My brother has been diagnosed with schizophrenia

"My brother has started to take medication for this now but he is still very closed and distant from us all."

Dear Joan,

I am writing to you because my youngest brother, who is 34 years old, has recently been diagnosed with schizophrenia.

We have had concerns for him over the last 15 years as he has grown distant from us all, and I feel that he has developed a dependence on alcohol on top of this.

He has become violent on some occasions and has been arrested for dangerous driving numerous times. He is now off the road permanently.

For years we have wondered if something traumatic occurred in his life that he did not want us to know about.

My parents are elderly people and they are very distressed about his diagnosis. I don’t think that they feel able to support him as well as they would like and they tend to ignore it rather than face up to it and talk about it.

My brother has started to take medication for this now but he is still very closed and distant from us all.

I feel very stressed about this because I know how much it is upsetting my parents, but I also feel that we need to make more of an effort to support him. What do you suggest I do?

Dear reader,

It is always difficult to watch someone we love suffer and I can totally understand how you are feeling.

When it comes to mental health, there are still a lot of stigmas attached to it, and a lot of misunderstandings as well.

Your parents are of the generation where it was not talked about as openly as it is today, so I am sure this is a huge adjustment for them as well.

You say your brother has begun taking medication for his illness. This is a good start for someone with schizophrenia as it will alleviate those symptoms which may cause violence and irrational behaviour.

He will receive regular support from his psychiatric team, who will assess him on an ongoing basis.

For you, can I suggest that you look for support from people that have had similar experiences?

If you go on to the SHINE website, it will give you information on local support groups that focus on schizophrenia.

Unfortunately, it is not an illness that is curable, but it is manageable.

For now, you need to know that your brother is taking the necessary steps to recover and live a healthier life.

I wish you the very best in your future.

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