Tuesday, June 25, 2013

He Only Wants to Go Home

Monday, June 24, 2013  6:11 AM                                             I was out of the house only once
The Three H’s and a T have arrived.                                         The air is unbearable.
Hazy, Hot, Humid and A Thunderstorm.
High should be around 90 degrees.

As my siblings and I face the daily challenges of managing the care of our brother, we are presented with a moral dilemma.

Although Adam, as a young man, was very bright, he had physical and psychological problems which hindered his chances of leading a healthy, happy and productive life.

When he was still at an age where he could have and should have been helped, the stigma attached to mental illness was prevalent.  It was something to be whispered about or worse, completely ignored.

My parents certainly could not accept that their son was mentally ill.  They preferred to believe that he would mature and eventually out grow his temper tantrums and unusual behaviors.

While in today’s world awareness regarding mental health has risen, I believe that wariness towards those who are mentally ill is still prevalent.

In addition to Adam’s physical and mental issues, he is also an addict.

What we struggle with is where to draw the line regarding which decisions he could make for himself and which ones should be made for him, for his safety and well being.
Since he is quite capable of communicating what he wants and what he doesn’t, it creates a dilemma for us.

Do we have the right to decide what is best for him?   We certainly have not led the life he has.  But, just as we had the right to make our own life choices, he also had to right to and did make his own choices.

Now we have told him that after 25 years of living on his own, he can no longer do that.
He pleads with us to let him go home.  We try to convince him that he would not be able to take care of himself.  He doesn’t understand and tells us that he always took care of himself before.  “Why is it different now?” He wants to know.

While we know that he probably will never be able to go “home” again, we don’t know how to tell him this.  Instead we tell him that he needs to follow his doctor’s instructions so that he will get stronger.
I am sure he interprets this to mean that if he does get stronger he will be able to leave the 24/7 care facility where he currently resides.

I’m afraid that he will leave one day.  I can only hope that when he does leave, he finds a“home” where his tortured soul will finally find peace.


  1. Mental illness is so complicated. It seems like such a broad umbrella for what is acceptable human behavior. I can only imagine how tough it is to be your shoes with Adam. The severity of his mental health issues make it hard to let him make decisions on his own but for you and your sibs to be caretakers when he is quite capable of communicating what he wants and what he doesn't want (but you say nothing about his awareness of what he NEEDS) - now that's a fine line.
    In some ways, it reminds me of the struggles my sibs and I have with our aging mother who insists on independence when that independence may well be her downfall . So be it, in my opinion.

    1. Yes, we had that situation with our mother. It was heartbreaking when she had to move out of her own place. She lived with my sister for a while and then with me. In a way, though, with my mom, I believe she actually was happier not being alone.
      As far as what Adam understands about his needs, his thinking his quite skewed by his addiction.

  2. The tough questions.

    I hope you all figure out what the right thing to do is.

    1. Thanks Liz. That’s all we want to do, the right thing, whatever that may turn out to be.

  3. This is one of those things for which no easy answers exist. I have seen friends struggle with similar situations particularly with parents who have developed dementia--though the lines there seem more clearly drawn than those with your brother who can still communicate effectively. I hope there is some comfort to be found in the thought that you are at least asking the right questions rather than just making assumptions and assertions without considering his feelings.

  4. I'll tell you, MM there are so many more questions than answers. We seem to go around and around to the point that we forget what the original questions was. It does seem that it actually will be taken out of our hands sooner than later.