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Taking Care of Mentally Challenged Family Member

Of all the challenges that life has thrown me, I have found that caring for my bipolar brother has been the hardest. Not only has he been diagnosed with depression and bipolar mania, but also with borderline personality disorder, as well as narcissism disorder.

How do these all play against one another? Initially my brother was hypermanic. If you started out at a street corner together, on your way to the subway, by the time you had taken your first 10 steps he would be half-way down the block. He would be so wrapped in his own mental world, he would not even notice you were not next to him. Arguments were common in discussions with him. No matter how much something you were trying to get him to do or to at least agree to were for his benefit, if he did not agree he would battle with you, and viciously at that. He would espouse his viewpoint to such a degree, that you felt you were dealing with one of the world’s most hostile and aggressive salesman and for the sake of getting him to shut up, I would eventually agree. And feel like I needed to shower after the interaction.

Now that he has been living with me for nearly two years, I have gotten to observe, up close and personal, how a person with these disorders on medication lives life. He has no regard whatsoever for personal nutrition. If I did not make him drink water everyday the only liquids he would drink are coffee and diet soda. He eats absolutely no fruits or vegetables. If I did not parcel out his cigarettes to him, he would easily smoke a pack of cigarettes a day, and still bum more cigarettes at his evening AA meetings.

Having taught sixth grade for twelve years, I have realized that my brother seems to share a lot of traits common to 11 year olds. He has been told to do the same chores, such as keeping his kitchen counter clean, hundreds of times. He has been told to clean the area around his toilet hundreds of times, In each case to no avail.

How do you punish a 52 year old. Like many other bipolars/mentally challenged in some other way people, the thing he wants to do the most is watch tv. Can you tell a 52 year old to go to his room, which is exactly what he wants to do?

This has certainly been a learning experience for me, and I seem to have to do more of the adapting than my brother does.

Ken Hassman is the owner of the back-of-book indexing service, Hassman Indexing Services, dedicated to providing high quality academic/scholarly indexing, medical indexing, trade book indexing, textbook indexing, encyclopedia indexing, journal indexing, and embedded indexing.