Saturday, September 12, 2009

My Brother, Mental Illness, and Homeless

My youngest brother is mentally ill and homeless. Writing these words makes me feel terrible. I'm eleven years older than him and I remember when he was born to my mom and stepdad. He was the cutest baby and we all adored him. Unfortuneatly, as he grew older, there was clearly something wrong. He probably had learning disablities but in the 60's kids like him didn't get the help they needed in school, so they failed. When he was 2 years old he got very sick and had fever convulsions. I think that probably was the cause of his learning disablities. There was also something else going on with him but my mother and stepdad kept it secret. I suspect he may have a chromasome abnormality. My stepdad was ashamed of him because he didn't live up to being the son he wanted. He was damaged goods. On the other hand, he was not disiplined for doing things he shouldn't do and when he wanted to find a job as a teenager, they wouldn't let him. So he grew up with no disipline and no responsiblity.

When my stepdad died in 1995, he left my brother a mortgage free home, two paid for cars and about $50,000.00 in the bank. By this time, my brother had been diagnosed with bi-polar disease and was spiraling out of control. I think his father was trying to make up for the way he had treated him all his life, but he didn't have the good sense to put that stuff in a trust, so my brother would be able to hang on to it. My brother had plenty of friends during this stage of his life and lost everything he owned within two years of his dad's death. His life just got out of control. He lived with my mom for a while until he was so abusive to her that she threw him out, and then he lived for a while with my grandmother. Grandma felt so sorry for him but he was abusive to her too, and had to leave. He wouldn't stay on his meds and he got addicted to internet dating and started traveling around the country to meet these women. It always ended the same.

My mother died in 2003 and he thought he would get everything she owned, but he got a big surprise. Mom didn't leave him any money and he only got a few things that he promptly sold and spent the money. By this time, he was so out of control that none of us wanted anything to do with him. He would have violent outbursts and you just couldn't trust him. We lost touch with him until about a year ago, when I got a phone call from him, telling me that he was in Denver and in a program at the Rescue Mission to get his life straightened out. I kept in touch with him and he wrote me how his life was changing and that he had accepted Jesus as his Savior. I sent him a Bible for Christmas and told him that someday we might be able to see each other again and encourged him to stick with the program. They were helping him so much. He was on his meds and for the first time in years he was really better.

Then he got into the phase where they started job training. You see, over the years, my brother has become one of those people who think everybody owes him something. He is entitled because of his illness to collect whatever money or help he can get from people and not have to work for any of it. He promptly went off his meds, got a cell phone, which he knew was forbidden, and got kicked out of his program. He called me six times last week and I missed everyone of his calls because I was at work. I'm really bad at checking messages, so I didn't get his messages until yesterday. The last call he said he was in Atlanta, Ga and was headed for the Rescue Mission in Nashville, Tn. He also said he didn't know what to do, that he was really messed up and he had three bottles of pills with him that he was thinking about taking. I called the Rescue Mission yesterday to see if he was there, but they couldn't tell me if he was because of confidentialty. I left a message for him to call me if he can.

I don't know how to help him and it's so frustrating. I can't take him into my home because of his violent tendencies and you never know what's going to set him off. I can't finacially support him because we just don't have the money. It makes my heart ache to think of him wandering the streets with no place to call home, but what can I do?

Monday, September 07, 2009

My 100th Post!

This is my 100th post...and it only took me three years to get here! Suffice it to say I haven't been a very avid blogger. Over the last three years, I've blogged about loving Frankie Valli, my kids, my dogs, Tuesdays with Dori, trips to Italy, Alaska, Nashville, and Asheville.

I've talked about my love for photography, quilting, reading and anything grandchildren. I don't think I've had many readers and sometimes I feel like I'm just talking to myself, but that's okay.

I still have a job as a bus driver and I'm thankful to God for it. I will be starting my 22nd year in November as a bus driver and I've had lots of experience with all kinds of kids. Sometimes I've had bad times as a driver but most of the time it's been a great, fulfilling job. Hopefully I've made a difference in some of those kids lives. I know I've had some kids that have made a difference in my life. Here's some pictures I just wanted to share.