Loving Monsters - Small Rant

couragetogrow

Not Active
Feeling a bit frustrated.

I may have mentioned this a bit before. One of my siblings is diagnosed schizoaffective and largely I've seen how much my toxic parents contributed to his condition so it's been hard for me to abandon my support, but he's pretty awful as well.

I know he has delusions and isn't always in control of his thoughts like a "normal" mind. That being said, it's borderline abusive and has flat-out been abusive in the past. My sister won't talk to him for good reason. He's been sexually inappropriate to her and me. I won't be in his physical presence. I limit my support to phone. He's physically attacked every member of our immediate family.

I attend NAMI to help my sanity and I start to get resentful. I feel like I'm meant to excuse all of his bad behavior because of his diagnosis, but I've known people with bipolarism and schizoaffective that aren't cruel like him. To be fair, he's not always like this...but 95% of the time, whenever he's nice it's to get his way. If you're in his physical presence, forget it. He's verbally abusive, if not physically dangerous unless he's medicated. Which is hardly every because unless he's forced to take his meds, he won't.

I understand why he is the way he is. It's because he feels so much injustice from "the system" and how he was treated by my parents that he thinks everyone should suffer. He admits this. And he has gone through a lot of trauma. I have compassion for how a person could get to his headspace.

But it's very trying on my mental health because he has a lot of sadistic and narcissistic traits. I watch a lot of interviews with criminals to try and understand him more. I mean where is the line? I watched an interview a psychiatrist did with a sexual sadist child predator and they flat out have zero empathy. it's all about their needs regardless of the degree of hurt caused to another. I mean it gets dark. My brother is very similar. You talk to the mental health community they act like you're being a bad person for having boundaries, but if it came to their child I bet they would not have any guilt about having boundaries with a child predator. And pedophilia is in the DSM. Sure a lot of child predators have been victims of abhorrent crimes as well, but does that make them less culpable. I see the same trend with my brother.

Feeling gaslight by the mental health community. All this "love solves everything talk"...what about love for myself? love for my mental sanity? And if you watch enough of these videos, it's that preachy love talk that allowed people to put their child in harm's way; trust the wrong people. "He wouldn't do that to my child; I'm not looking at him through God's eye". I feel like being wise with one's love isn't talked about enough.

I hope I didn't offend anyone. It's not my intention. I would love to hear other's input if they've experienced similar situations. I am generally not an asshole lol. only sometimes assholes bring the asshole out of me.
 

Sideways

Moderator
There's a tonne of difference between schizoaffective disorder and criminals who have sadistic and narcissistic traits. Learning about the latter gives you no more insight into your brother's condition than learning about autism would.

You're entitled to compassion. But I'm not sure that it needs to come at the cost of compassion for your brother. It's entirely possible to have both.

Mod Note:
As an aside, I've removed the TW from the heading. We don't use them here, since every single thread would need one!! For more on that, you can read the Community Constitution
 

couragetogrow

Not Active
schizoaffective disorder and criminals who have sadistic and narcissistic traits
what if he's got all three?
You're entitled to compassion. But I'm not sure that it needs to come at the cost of compassion for your brother
can you explain this? i don't understand.

it's like when i maintain my boundaries with him and help in the ways I can, i feel sane. it allows me to continue having compassion for him, but also sometimes angry because he complains it's not good enough and some people in mental health make me feel like i'm not doing enough...like i should let him live with me...but sorry no. I don't want to die yet. why should i feel guilty for maintaining boundaries with someone who is a terror and brings me to the brink of my sanity and doesn't do anything to help himself when there are people with his same condition that actively work on themselves? those feelings make me want to abandon the whole thing because it's like I'm being punished for caring at all.
 

joeylittle

Administrator
Feeling gaslight by the mental health community. All this "love solves everything talk"
In my experience, love doesn't do shit for healing anything on the schizophrenia spectrum. Meds, yes. Then, sometimes words can work - but only when the individual wants to engage in treatment.

What you're describing reminds me a lot of my brother, before he (eventually) became med-compliant, and really started working on his co-morbidities.
I understand why he is the way he is. It's because he feels so much injustice from "the system" and how he was treated by my parents that he thinks everyone should suffer. He admits this. And he has gone through a lot of trauma. I have compassion for how a person could get to his headspace.
He has an interpretation of his symptoms, and you're describing that (when you say you understand why he is the way he is). But his logical interpretation (justification) for his aggressive violent behavior isn't the whole picture. I know you know this, but I also understand how confusing it can be.

Individuals on the schizophrenia spectrum can be extremely articulate. They can even appear to be in control, by providing justification for their negative behaviors. They don't sustain that apparently logical state for very long - but it can be long enough, so that frankly - people around them can be gas-lit into believing that yes - this person has in some ways been 'persecuted' by the medical system, or by their family. That there are external reasons for their disorder, they are victims and it's everyone else who needs to accept them as they are. Massive denial of the illness and how it's driving their behavior.
I know he has delusions and isn't always in control of his thoughts like a "normal" mind.
This is the part of the disorder that they generally cannot see - not until they accept that there's a significant problem in their wiring. Then, they can:
  1. Accept treatment
  2. Maintain medication levels/management
  3. Apply cognitive and behavioral therapy, to replace destructive coping strategies they've developed and habituated to.
I attend NAMI to help my sanity and I start to get resentful. I feel like I'm meant to excuse all of his bad behavior because of his diagnosis, but I've known people with bipolarism and schizoaffective that aren't cruel like him.
I'm a big supporter of NAMI, and I think the resources are really great...but it sounds like you might be going to a support group that is focused more towards bipolar disorder? (Sometimes it's the only option, at least it was in the last couple of cities I lived in). Or, if not - then you're just in a bad group. Honestly.

One thing I feel like I really know, from growing up around people w/ schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorders...no amount of empathy in the world is going to bridge that gap between reality and delusion. It's one thing to be tolerant of someone who is trying to work on it, and having a hard time getting onto the right meds, finding the right cognitive approach...Yes, when someone is working at it, understanding that it's going to fall apart sometimes - that's reality. And that's hard enough.

But offering limitless buckets of forgiveness...I don't know a person who could really do that without having to sacrifice a whole lot of themselves.

My mother is a lot of things...she didn't make sense to me until I finally understood why my father sometimes made NO sense. After I was given the full picture, then I understood why he was the way he was, and why she was the way she was, as his sole caregiver. He was high-functioning, sure - but he did some really horrible things inside our family, and that stuff was never addressed, or talked about...and for me, it led to cutting off all contact with the both of them. When my brother started presenting symptoms, and going through the whole rigamarole of diagnosis/med assignments/new symptoms, med fail, major meltdown....NEW diagnosis/NEW meds...and on and on - yeah, there was damage done externally, for sure. He didn't have support from my parents, he didn't have doctors really listening to him, his siblings were either enabling or in denial - yes to all those things - but STILL: there was something wrong in his brain, and it took him about 20 years to finally CHOOSE to find a different way of living. And then another 10 years to get to where he is now - living on his own, holding down a job, making friends...the majority of his years on earth so far have been spent on his illness. I have limitless admiration for the work he's done, and I also know that no amount of support from any of the rest of the family would actually have made it ANY different. But the guilt, the guilt is real. Feeling like you could have maybe done something more, or better, or or or or... I really hope you can hear me saying that what you are feeling is completely valid, and anyone who tells you that love can heal all things, doesn't understand pervasive psychotic disorders.
what about love for myself? love for my mental sanity?
Yes, and yes. You've got hold of the right end of the stick, here.
I've seen how much my toxic parents contributed to his condition so it's been hard for me to abandon my support
He would be as sick as he is, even if they had been perfect. Sometimes, in the brain - something doesn't work. HUGE oversimplification, but that's the real gist of it. Something isn't working. And brains are extremely plastic - they can adapt to the most unbelievable things, there's so much proof of that in science. But in order to accomplish those adaptations, sometimes they need some medical intervention. Schizoaffective is a disputed diagnosis, and the Schizophrenia spectrum in general is still being codified and organized; research is happening, but there's a lot that isn't yet understood. One thing is becoming pretty consistent, though - and that's the observable differences in the brain activity, and subsequent developmental changes. And the meds aren't perfect - not by a looooooong shot - but I truly, truly believe that they are an essential element of a treatment plan for this disorder.

The other essential element is willingness, on the part of the sufferer. Willingness to accept the illness, and a willingness to commit to treatment.

So until your brother decides to do that? It's really important for you to find the messages that support your experience, and validate your feelings - not those that strike you as really wrong-headed. B/c I think you're right - they're wrong.

All this "love solves everything talk"
Yeah....no. Just no.

This is a ridiculously long post, sorry.
 
Last edited:

couragetogrow

Not Active
He has an interpretation of his symptoms, and you're describing that (when you say you understand why he is the way he is). But his logical interpretation (justification) for his aggressive violent behavior isn't the whole picture. I know you know this, but I also understand how confusing it can be.
Actually this is very enlightening to me because I didn't think about it this way until now. Isuppose up to this point, I really believed that he knows what he is talking about because he's the one that's living it not me...
 

couragetogrow

Not Active
This is a ridiculously long post, sorry.
No, thank you for posting. It really helps that someone has direct experience with a family member with this illness. it's really something else and it's hard for me to understand him completely. Hearing about your brother gives me hope and thank you for validating my experience. I really do want to see him win. It's so frustrating because it seems so simple from my vantage point. I suppose half my anger is feeling like I can't get through to him, but I'm learning that the illness doesn't really work that way.
No amount of empathy in the world is going to bridge that gap between reality and delusions

I needed to hear this.
 
Last edited:

joeylittle

Administrator
Isuppose up to this point, I really believed that he knows what he is talking about because he's the one that's living it not me...
I get it. But really - he can't see clearly. All metal health problems will include some degree of this, an inability to perceive one's own experience with a neutral perspective. I mean, that's true for all human beings, to a certain extent - but the mental disorder (no matter what it is) has a built-in blind spot, specific to the disorder.

His blind spot is objective reality. As in, he can't see it. He's probably seeing it sometimes, depending on how symptomatic he is - but until he really accepts that he's got a problem, he just won't see it AT ALL. It's why the schizo-spectrum is so especially difficult to treat, and to live with.
I suppose half my anger is feeling like I can't get through to him, but I'm learning that the illness doesn't really work that way.
Totally. It takes a lot of acceptance, and honestly? There's some loss, and grieving for the relationship that wasn't ever going to come to fruition.

Can I ask, how old is he (approximately?)
 

Sideways

Moderator
can you explain this? i don't understand.
In my mind at least, while we definitely can get emotional burnout/supporter fatigue, things like love and compassion don't exist in finite amounts. So, you can keep having compassion for your brother and start being compassionate to yourself as well.

For me, the question is more about what compassion looks like. What is it, and what is it not?

I had a partner with schizophrenia. It's easily one of the cruelest illnesses I've crossed paths with. Ultimately, it cost us our relationship (and him a lot more besides).

But I still have a lot of compassion for him. I've had to physically and emotionally distance myself from him, and so my compassion doesn't look like much from the outside - it doesn't have much of a physical form. If people wanted to judge my compassion for him, there's not much for them to see.

But, I know it's there, and it's palpable in the limited ways that we keep in contact. I still care for him profoundly, even though our contact is now very limited and no longer face to face.

Because living alongside my compassion for him? Is plain old self-preservation. I couldn't have survived being his partner. I didn't break up with him because I lacked compassion for him, I did it because of how I value myself, and I had some compassion for the suffering I was experiencing because of his illness. Emotions are often messy, contradictory things. That's okay.

Compassion isn't the things you do or say for another person. It's an entirely internal experience. It helps inform our decisions, but it doesn't dictate our behaviour. And there are sometimes situations where we may have a huge amount of compassion for a person, and yet decide to behave in a way that doesn't necessarily put their needs first,

So, "I understand that my brother didn't choose this cruel disease and suffers terrible consequences from it and would never intentionally hurt me," can absolutely coexist alongside "but I'm not going to give him another chance to hurt me."

Hope that makes some kind of sense!
 

couragetogrow

Not Active
I didn't break up with him because I lacked compassion for him, I did it because of how I value myself, and I had some compassion for the suffering I was experiencing because of his illness

Thank you for clearing this up. I understand now. It's the reason why I don't talk to my parents. I can understand and have compassion for why they are the way they are, but not talk to them. And I do.

If this is the case, my compassion has never wavered for my brother but I just don't like how some people like in NAMI (not on this forum) want to judge my behavior and ways that I self-care. Maybe it's my projection and I'm misunderstanding. I suppose everyone is entitled to their opinion.

I know who I am. I have great compassion for Jeffrey Dahmer, but doesn't mean I would want to hang out with him on a Fri night.

It becomes a bit redundant for me, the whole love talk. Everyone has their limit to how much they're going to put themselves on the chopping block, and it irritates me that some people act like this isn't the case.

I suppose I need to be less triggered by others and just know I'm doing the best that I can do. I'm one person. I have all the love in my heart for others, but I can't fix everyone's life. I actually can't fix anyone's life, only support them along the way. The rest is their responsibility.
 
Top