Friday, January 10, 2014

Mentally ill and choices

The first time I wondered if my little brother was mentally ill, we were getting off of the school bus and he took off running to the garage.  He said he saw a man standing in the woods across the street with a gun.  Somehow the window in the garage had a hole in it.  I do not know if my brother had shot the window with his BB gun and did not want to get in trouble, so he fabricated this story or what.  I just know that our house was swarmed with police and the searched the woods and found nothing, other than the neighbor's donkeys.  

I remember my Mom taking him to the psychiatrist after that episode. They did not know if he was hallucinating or schizophrenic or just lying for attention.  

I am not sure when things changed with my brother's personality.  I don't know if it's when our parents both remarried and there was no hope of them ever getting back together or if it was after my mom's marriage.  He always seemed to like our stepdad.

I will never forget when we were getting ready to go to Texas for our mom to get married, because in Texas you did not have to wait 3 days after getting a marriage license to marry.  I still have no idea why waiting 3 days when they were already living together was a big deal.  My brother told me to find all of my money and bring it with us, because our Mom and stepdad were taking us to get rid of us.  He had on elastic bans shorts and kept having to pull them up because his pockets were heavy with all of his change.  Just in case we were left.  I have no idea what he thought all of his change would get us.  As I think back, I think he was only 6.  Imagining my almost 6 year old gathering all of her money and thinking we were going to get rid of her wrecks me.  My family thought it was funny.  I cannot imagine that being funny under any circumstances.  Maybe the trying to keep his shorts from falling down, but that is it.  

We went with them on their honeymoon to Florida.  It ended up being my Mom and me in the pool and on the beach most of the trip, while my brother and stepdad played mini golf and did other guy things.  My family loved to pick on me because there was a man in the pool with his two sons, that was actually playing with his sons.  I do not know how many times I tried to set my newly married Mom up with this guy.  I thought he looked like a great stepdad.  He was actually playing with his kids.  

We came back home and the real stepdad emerged.  He was not working at the time.  He worked shut downs at plants on occasion, because it was good money and he could work 1 week a month or 1 month out of 4 and it paid about the same or better than a full time job. So when he was home, he would spend the whole morning drinking his coffee, reading the paper and yelling at us to clean house.  He reminded me of the wicked stepmother.  Mom would get home and the house would be clean and she thought stepdad had done all of the work.  

I am not sure when the shift happened and my brother started looking at my stepdad as his hero and not wanting to see our Dad unless he had to.  I remember he started staying home occasionally on the weekends that we were scheduled to go to Dad's.  My brother had diabetes and one weekend he had to do a 24 hour urine test, because his blood sugars were going crazy.  I was told that the reason he did not want to go was because he did not what to take the jug, because  he was embarrassed by it.  It was not until I was an adult that my brother told me that he told our Dad that he hated him and never wanted to see him again.  I have no idea where that came from.  Our Dad died in his sleep 4 days later.  Those were the last words he said to him.  

I have no idea if he got involved with drugs and alcohol in high school or afterwards.  He got addicted to pain pills.  A couple of days after I had my 13 year old, my Mom brought him & his girlfriend to visit.  I noticed the next day that out of a whole bottle of pain pills, I only had 2 left,  I assumed his girlfriend had taken them, because at the time, I still looked up to my brother, even though he was younger than me.  

I think my family hid a lot of things he did, because denial is much better than facing the fact that he had problems.  Every job he had as a teen and in his early 20s, he would be fired because money would disappear from the register.  Family even gave him chance after chance.  A relative that owned a furniture store hired him to deliver furniture and he tried to keep the delivery truck, along with money. 

He married for about 12 months.  He started stealing pain pills from his mother in law and money, so they divorced.  He spent some time living with friends, then I'm sure something happened there.  

He ended up back at Mom's in his 20s.  Unemployed and bored.  She tried to get him to get help, but he refused.  He stole golf clubs and guns of my stepdad's and hocked them.  My stepdad finally recovered them all.  He knew most of the pawn shop owners in town.  Then, I'm guessing when he needed another fix, he stole my stepdad's identity.  He charged up his credit cards and would check the mail first and when he found checks from credit card companies to get cash advances, he would do that.  Eventually my stepdad pressed charges.  He spent a year or two in jail then was released on probation for good behavior.  He went back to Mom's house and was welcomed in again, this time almost in fear.  Sometime during all of this, he said he was going to kill my mom & stepdad in their sleep.  So, all of the guns were taken out of the house and locked up at family's houses and in the shed.  My teenage sister is living there through all of this and I am terrified he's going to kill them all.  He behaved for a couple of years.  Then stole both my Mom and stepdad's identity.  He opened credit cards in their names and was ordering stuff left and right.  He went to "test" drive a truck and failed to return it.  He went back to jail.  This time with a 7 year sentence.  We went to see him a few times, but not as often as I wish I would have.  We did exchange many letters.  

Three and a half years later, he was released.  My Mom told him that he could not move back in with her.  She offered to get him an apartment on the city bus line so he could come & go.  She even offered to pay for his apartment.  He found a house and lived there for about 6 months.  

Every time we saw him, he looked more & more sick.  Supposedly he fell down & hit his head so hard a month or two before he was released and crushed part of his skull, resulting in epilepsy.  He was complaining about feeling bad and not being able to eat almost constantly.

About a month after he got out of jail, we took our family and moved a state away.  My older two children remembered the chaos and were scared of him stopping by out of the blue.  

He kept complaining about headaches, passing out and vomiting, so my Mom took him to the doctor.  After what he said was a lot of testing, he said they found a brain tumor.  Then he said the doctor wanted to do a full body scan because most brain tumors do not originate in the brain.  He said he had a full body scan done and his pancreas was covered in tumors.  He said the doctor said that would be his last Christmas and he would be lucky to make it 3-6 months.  There was nothing they could do.  

This was September and family was very upset.  We had already lost that time with him in jail and now he was dying.  He moved in with an aunt and uncle, because they did not think he could take care of himself.  We made trips to town at least once a month to see him.  My uncle and cousin took him on a trip to play the two golf courses he had dreamed of playing.  Once he got back home, he spent as much time as he could on the golf course because he said that was where he could clear his mind and relax.  

January rolls around and my mom and uncle started questioning whether or not he really had cancer.  He claimed he had the medical report, but then Mom made him mad, so he shredded it.  My aunt and uncle asked him to go stay at Mom's just on the weekends, so they could have some time alone.  He did that, but hated it, because he said that he had nowhere to call home.  

At times he was starting to feel unwelcome & uncomfortable at our aunt and uncle's.  So he went back to stay with Mom.  We talked or emailed every day and he said that he would not stay at Mom's long, because he just couldn't stand it.  He said if it got too bad, he would go stay at a hotel room to cool off.  

He had a doctor's appointment scheduled a few days after moving in with Mom and told her that she could take him & come back & hear what the doctor said and see his records. He offered that to anyone in the family.  

The day before they were supposed to go to the doctor, he had a friend pick him up and said they were going to lunch and to pick up his medicine.  He was an insulin dependent diabetic.  I texted him and Mom that evening and didn't hear back.  She called me the next day and told me that he had left an did not show up at the doctor.  She went to the appointment, hoping he would show up.  The doctor could not really tell her anything, but when she asked if he had cancer, the doctor shook his head.  

He called everyone the next day and told them he was fine and just needed to get away and spend some time alone.  His voice almost sounded like the old brother I knew, not the slurred speech brother that he had sounded like since he got out of jail.  It sounded like a rehearsed speech.  I think he said the exact same thing to everyone.  

The night before when I found out that no one had heard from him, I remembered that the first time he was in jail, I dreamed that he was going to end his life.  Every time the phone rang & it was my Mom, I was scared that was going to be the call that he had done it.  Ernie and I went for a walk that night and I told him that I really felt like they were going to find him somewhere dead.  He texted and asked for my address.  He did the same thing with s cousin.  I begged and pleaded with him to not do anything stupid.  

Two days later, Ernie came home from work and pulled me into the bedroom and sat me down.  He told me they had found him in a motel room.  He had injected 2 vials of insulin.  He left goodbye notes for my mom, stepdad, uncle & little sister.  Not a word for me.  

The counselor at the church that we had grown up in, that had been trying to counsel him over the phone, told me that he had gotten a call from my brother the night that we had heard from him the last time.  He missed the call & it went to voicemail.  He let me listen to it.  My brother was sobbing and asking him to please pray for him right then.  That message will haunt me the rest of my life.  The brother that I felt like I had helped raise, because Mom worked all of the time, decided that it was easier to end his own life than to go on.  

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