Thursday, January 06, 2011

A Call for Help

I just received this anonymous comment on the post "Why Do People Stop Taking Medication?" If anyone has any advice for this reader please leave your comments in the comments section below.

I don't know where to turn and I cry everyday trying to find help for my brother. You see he was in prison for 18 yrs and when he came out he was on Risperidone. Everything was fine until he stopped taking it. I asked why and his reasons were the weight gain (about 80pds) loss of sexual function and he said his thoughts were not his own. He was not long before seeing a jail cell after stopping his meds. They kept in jail just long enough that his disability was cut off and now he is about to loose his apt. He thinks he is God. He has not had a meal in so long now and I am over a grand in debt trying to cloth and look after him, financially I can do it anymore and don't know what to do. He is now anorexic, if I were to guess I would say he weighs about 120 and he is six feet tall. This weight loss took just 3mths. When he was arrested it was because he was yelling in his apt and so I gather people called because they were afraid. They jailed him for over 2 mths trying to get a bed in the mental ward for an assessment. Well apparently the time ran out for the legal limit of holding him and that was three days after they got him in the hospital and the just released him. Everyone in the family has turned their back on him because they are afraid of him.
I don't want to see him end up on the street but what can I do to prevent it. I can't make him take the meds not can I write the letter to disability to get him reinstated. The local mental health association is of no help as I have called the worker that we saw when he first got out. So I am asking here on this forum if anyone has any suggestions.

Anonymous, is your brother agreeable to seeing a doctor? I'm not sure which country you are in, but I'm pretty sure that in the UK a person can be detained on a psychiatric ward under a section of the mental health act for the treatment of anorexia, as he is obviously a danger to himself (not eating = death). If he will see a doctor then maybe he could have his medication changed to something that doesn't affect his sexual function - Abilify seems to be one that doesn't have this effect. Unfortunately I think many, if not all, antipsychotics increase weight gain. Of course, although these side effects were the original reason for him stopping his medication, there is now the added problem that he probably doesn't believe he even needs them anymore, since he believes he is God.

Just out of curiosity, has he said why he won't eat? Or is it simply that he doesn't take care of himself? Either way, this is a burden too heavy for you to carry alone. Is there an advocacy service where you live? Any doctors surgery should be able to give you the details of one. They should be able to advise you on how best to get help for your brother, and may even make calls etc. for you. I hope this helps.


Smitty said...

I do not have advice for you in regards to your brother-- I wish I did.

I hope that it is OK that I have some hunches as to why people want to come off medications. They may feel that instead of being listened to, their truth has been silenced. Eighteen years, in the case of your brother?

They may be experiencing side-effects, the kind of side effects that would be addressed if treatment were more on par with mainstream medication, or homeopathic treatments. Now I won't try to argue that mental health issues are easily treated homeopathically, but it would be nice if more psych doctors were willing to work with alternative practioners... so as to heal side effects in the endocrine system, metabolism (diabetes) and digestion. I have had reflux myself that may have resulted from anti psychotics....

Mr Mans Wife said...

It's true Smitty, the side effects are often horrendous, and to treat them the patient just has more drugs thrown at them! I agree that treating patients with a more natural approach could be beneficial at times.

Thanks for your comment.

Peg said...

I am the sister of a schizophrenic and I offer my long term (fifty years) of observation.
If you are the immediate caretaker person you are in a losing role. They believe in choices and you, the subjective caretaker, by your closer concern reflect and provide choice.
My sister would not take the meds when my mother offered them but would for my father (who was firm and offered no choice).
After my mother died she would take them from my stepmother who was firm but reassuring but most importantly "objective" in her treatment of my sister. After the stepmother died the lovely and unassuming niece offered the meds and it was a no go.
In the home she lives in for many years now she takes the meds as offered.
If my mother or the niece came back from the dead she would not take the meds from them. She would take them from me her trusted sister but not from her other sisters of whom she has formed her opinions, whether valid or not!
It is not is business!
Find someone more objective and removed to offer them on a regular basis. ........Maggie

Anonymous said...

I happened to come across this site when searching for people living with a schizophrenic partner... I'm one of them, for three long and difficult years right after our wedding.

To the anonymous reader, from my husband's experience, other than side-effects like weight gain (in my husband's case from 71kg to 96kg in less than 2 months), declined sexual function (he's only 37) and skin irritation, he skipped his med because he didn't think he needed it.

Recently I heard that some people mix the medication in lemonade, food, etc. Don't know if that will help, but I think it's worth a try.

And me, I also don't know what to do anymore, after three years struggling with my husband's sickness. I'm from Asia, well-educated, but was forced to move to Europe (in a matter of two days) because of his sickness. I basically abandoned everything I had for him.

But after three years, on top of his sickness, my troublesome mother-in-law is constantly causing problems by demanding way too much attention from her son all the time and bad-mouthing me whenever she can. My husband loves me, but he doesn't see what his mother is doing to me. He needs his family, he said, and his mother loves him and pampers him like a child all the time.

I am depressed and at the end of my strength. I lose my temper very easily these days. My friends and family are all in Asia. And here I can hardly have an independent life due to language barrier and qualification mismatch. I just want to get myself out of this whole mess. But a divorce will be a huge blow to him... yet I can't see myself living a life like this anymore...

I also want to ask, what should I do?


Alabaster Frank said...

I realize that is reply is quite late... but, I just found this blog tonight. I suffer from schizophrenia and I understand why he doesn't take his meds... I refuse to take mine as well. Yes, at times, life is unbearable for myself and my family... but overall support is the best medicine. In my case, I have lived with this illness for so long, that I can't function without the company of my voices. I need them, despite the negative impact. The biggest hurdle for un-medicated schizophrenics, is the ability to resist self medicating... drugs and alcohol are common. The clouds lift and some clarity can remain when one is sober. The meds can help some, some not... but support always helps. I don't hold an answer to the problem... I just wanted to say I understand. I admire the courage of those willing to care and help inform people about this illness. Hopefully by now your brother is doing better and has found some stability... hard to find, but needed. Personally, I wouldn't force medication... choice is important to us, we have everything else stripped away from us and now you want to remove the last shred of dignity... that's how this would come across to me.

Mr Mans Wife said...

Alabaster Frank, you make a very valid point about the company of the voices, and I agree that support is essential.

Mr Man also felt very lonely when his voices started to lessen, and would try to fill in the gap with daytime TV and it's constant chatter. Unfortunately, Mr Man's symptoms were so severe that it was completely necessary for him to take medication - his own form of self medication was suicide, which obviously we wanted to avoid. He wasn't "forced" to take medication, but I had to ask him to trust me and take them. Thankfully, Mr Man does trust me, and took them. For this reason, along with support, I think it is vital to maintain open communication and trust at all times - if I had ever tried to deceive him in any way, I don't think he would have listened to me.

Thank you again for your comment.

Mr Mans Wife said...

Anonymous, I really wish I knew what to advise. I'm sorry that life has become so unbearable for you. Unfortunately I have no solution for troublesome mother-in-laws! If he enjoys the attention she lavishes on him, I can see why it would be difficult to convince him to leave - but what about you? Don't you also deserve the attention of your family? Maybe you could reason this way with him.

Although he may need additional support due to his illness, it doesn't mean that he can have his own way all the time! Maybe he just doesn't realise how the situation is affecting you?

When Mr Man was in hospital I was at breaking point, and so exhausted. He wanted me to visit twice a day. It was hard, but I had to explain to him that although I loved him very much, I also had to look after myself, otherwise I would get to the point where I wouldn't be able to help him at all. It helped that a nurse explained this to him also, and he was very good about me not coming for a day while I got some much needed rest.

I think sometimes when you are caring for someone with mental illness, the whole situation can become about them, and how they feel. But it really doesn't hurt to let them know how you feel as well. I used to avoid crying in front of Mr Man, but actually, when I did cry he would look surprised, like he'd only just realised that other people feel distressed over things too, and then he would forget about his own feelings for a little while.

So the only thing I can recommend is that you discuss how you feel with your husband. I don't know how ill he is at the moment, but he may surprise you and be stronger than you think.

I really hope this helps.

Mr Mans Wife said...

ps. I would also recommend trying to get some support for yourself. You don't say which European country you are in, so I don't know what the services are like where you are, but maybe visit your GP, get some help with your depression, ask to see a counsellor, and ask if there are any support agencies for carers.

Anonymous said...

My ex-fiance was homeless for a time and found a place that helped him with getting his disability, get and take his meds, and give him an apartment there. I know it is in Cincinnati but don't remember the name of it. Maybe there might be more places like that. Or if you could find the one I was talking about they might be more help. I hope so and your brother gets what he needs very son.

Debra Fairchild

Anonymous said...

I've just came off medication for paranoid schizophrenia and I really do not like the side effects, I am 27 years old. In the past 10 years I have spent 5 and a half years on medication with 4 and a half years being well without it, them 4.5 years all at once. When on medication I have severe sexual dysfunction and I just dont feel my self and have anxiety. This leads to depression. If I have to go back on medication its probably going to end up being for life and that means being depressed and single for life and also just not feeling myself. I'm not suicidle at the moment but if I require medication for life then its going to be a life that i don't want. I will eventually give up and then become homeless overtime. In my experience with antipsycotics I would prefer an overdose with opiates or valium with vodka, just to go to sleep an not wake up. Of course this if I have to take them for life which there is a good chance that will happen. I've noticed that when it comes to medication side effects you are told that you think you have side effects but you dont or the side effects are actually parts of the illness the medication is unable to treat, anything to take blame away from the medication. Maybe people handing out these drugs should try them at a high dose for a few years and then remember we have no choice but to take them. Taking them for a few years is not very nice and as for life I'm just not intersted.