5. Mentally ill brother thrown back on the street

Chapter 5 in a series on mental illness.

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Six days ago my brother was released early from LA County jail where he had been incarcerated since violating my restraining order last fall.

He is now homeless again, has enough money to stay in cheap hotels for a while, but is refusing to see a doctor or get meds or help of any kind, has only the clothes on his back and a pair of sandals, no supervision or treatment, and no friends willing to house him any more.

He was released on his own, without meds, without any requirement that he receive treatment, and without any form of housing or structure for his life. He was manic and is very quickly degenerating each day.

The system basically is saying to my brother: “Screw you. And screw all of your relatives and friends. Your mental illness is going to resurface as your meds wear off, you will become an incoherent dazed obnoxious homeless person making life miserable for yourself and anyone you come in contact with.”

The U.S. system is a failure here as it is in so many other areas of health care. Libertarian fundamentalists must love this. After all, it is up to each person to fend for themselves.

[Note: Elsewhere see video interview with my brother on September 1, 2009.]

[Note: Elsewhere see excerpt’s of my brother’s writing about his own mental illness .]

I just got a call from one of his old friends in Santa Barbara. My brother is going up there on a train, unannounced, thinking his old friend will help him. He won’t, he can’t, and he should not have to. Friends and family of the mentally ill do not have the resources, skill, or time to treat a mentally ill person. And in most cases, they don’t have the money. My brother’s friend said he will meet my brother at the train station and ask him to get back on the train. My brother’s friend will tell Tony the same thing I have told him by phone and email the past several days, i.e., to see a psychiatrist, get back on meds, and find a structured living situation. We are willing to help you find that but we will not house you ourselves. That has not worked in the past and takes too much out of our lives. The U.S. system should provide that structure and care and obtain information and background from relatives. The system does not work that way. Worse, in the case where the mentally ill person is incarcerated, a travesty of common sense and human rights to begin with, the system compounds the problem by giving the mentally ill person rights to prevent his relatives from talking to his doctors.

So, society, here comes my brother again. Be on the look out.

In January I had made a comment in these pages that I was going to provide information to his doctors in jail since one of them had indicated they might be able to pursue a conservatorship for Tony. That never happened. I did not send them any new information and I have no knowledge that they pursued a conservatorship. They never contacted me about doing so. I have my own life to live, was burned out trying to help my brother, and all previous efforts had failed. The initial efforts toward that end were stymied last fall when Los Angeles Mental Health Court judge Melissa Widdifield threw the case out of court and put my brother back on the street. Conversations I had subsequently with social workers indicated that the process of obtaining a conservatorship was arduous, as well it should be, and would have to be renewed annually. Even though I was burned out on trying to help my brother, that is just making an excuse. I am now regretting I did not follow through on that effort, however futile it may have been. Looks like I may have another chance pretty soon, after my poor brother becomes incarcerated yet again.

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Update of ~March 24, 2010:

My brother is degenerating rapidly. His friend in Santa Barbara spent a couple hours with him but would not house him and told him he should go back to LA and get help from a doctor. The next night, my brother was homeless and could not find, or was not competent enough to find, a hotel. He told me that by phone this morning.

Since his release last week his state of mind has gone from having some insight into his situation to one of delirium, as evidenced by a string of phone calls and emails he made each day. At first, he was overtly apologetic about the

“outrageous and sometimes very offensive nature
of some of my past e-mails, as well as the sometimes
insane personal behavior”.

He BCC’d his friends:

“so as not to give any body’s e-mail address out to
persons they may not know or wish to share that
information with.”

He asked old friends to email him if they wished to renew contact.

But within a couple days he was sending very derogatory emails to some old friends, then, a few hours later, calling them or emailing them again with apologies.

He also called me this morning and was in tears asking if our Mom was still alive. She is 92 and lives in as assisted living home. My brother had made threatening remarks about the care givers there so that home is now off limits to him via a restraining order. I arranged to make a three-way call so he could speak with our mother.

The call was a monologue controlled by him. First, our mother has dementia. Second, my brother tends to have conversations more with himself than others. So on both counts, not a lot of communication was going on. I called him afterwards and tried to three-way call with a worker from the LA County Mental Health hotline. We got voice mail so we left an 800 number for him to call.

I called him later and gave him the number again. He seemed to accept it. At this point I doubt he will get help on his own. I predict he will become delusional and get into trouble with the law. What can I do? What can any of us do?

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Update of ~March 25, 2010:

This morning I succeeded at hooking my brother up with the LA County Mental Health Department Help Line. Tony had called me from a hotel near downtown Los Angeles. He sounded less manic but still manic. I convinced Tony to let me call the Help Line and hook him in to the call via 3-way calling. Elsie, the councilor who answered the call, has been working in this field for thirty years. She was very patient with Tony as he went into myriad details on a number of topics about his life and recent events. Elsie listened patiently, as did I, although at one point I suggested to Tony that Elsie needs to help other people so let’s get to the point. She gave Tony the address of a center at Maple and 5th, close to where he was, where he could see a doctor and get meds and possibly housing. Tony said he wanted an appointment because he did not have time to wait for hours for his meds. Elsie pointed out to him that the center is busy and that other people also need help and, if he does not get his meds, he is going to end up back on a 5150 hold, which is not something he wants. We must have been on the phone for at least a half hour with my brother. Bottom line was that Elsie gave him the address of a facility where he can see a doctor and get meds and Tony said he would go there to “make an appointment”.

After the call Elsie called me back and agreed that Tony seem paranoid and manic and that it would be a mistake for me to attempt to house my brother, something that has not worked in the past.

If past history is any indication, Tony will either not get meds or go off of them at some point. And he is unlikely to accept an offer of housing if it means any kind of supervision or structuring of his daily activities.

But at least we made one step towards hope.

Now it is wait and see.

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Update of ~March 26, 2010:

Tony called me this morning at 7:30AM while in line at the help center at Maple and 5th. I suggested he ask the Doctor for meds and a place to stay. I reminded him that the most effective medicine in the past had been risperidone. I was not sure Tony was processing what I was saying. He was moderately manic but we were able to converse. I then called the Mental Health Help Line who told me that what would happen is that Tony would go through an intake process.

Later Tony called me and said he had gone through the intake process. But he said he had to go back in four days for his meds. So I think he was not given any meds. I told him four days may be too long to wait. He had a new phone, replacing the old phone he had lost.

He said he was going to find an internet cafe to “play on the internet”. I am a professional software developer who makes a good living working on the internet. My brother’s illness has reduced him to a person treated as a criminal, often homeless, who is alone in the jungle and has to go to some internet cafe to find some joy. I find it heart wrenching that I myself cannot help him and that he is being forced to act as his own case manager.

Editorial Remark: I have nothing but disrespect for the Republicans who have thwarted good cost effective health care in this country in general and correct care for the mentally ill in particular. I have nothing but disrespect for the oligarchy in this country that allocates the benefits of our society to itself. Yes I am getting up on my soap box here because I hope that even one reader of these words who blames government for everything and thinks our system is fundamentally so good might wake up. The only hope for my bother is the limited help he is getting from the government. We should all be working to allocate more funds to those wonderful workers in our government funded programs that help the mentally ill.

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Update of ~March 27, 2010:

This morning my brother showed up at an old friend’s house unannounced. That friend was threatened by my brother a few years ago when my brother was fully delusional and had not been in contact with him since then. The friend did not answer the door and did not give any indication he was home. My brother fell asleep on the friend’s front porch. The friend called another friend who called me, since I tend to act as a clearing house on Tony’s activities for various of his old friends.

We then jointly called the LA County Mental Health Help Line. They wanted to dispatch a PET team (Psychiatric Evaluation Team) to assess the my brother’s state of mind and possibly take him in on a 5150. But the PET team was busy. By the time they could get there, my brother had left. His friend said my brother made an attempt before leaving to pry open a window but failed to do so.

Later in the day, my brother sent me an email to which I replied:

Date: Sat, 27 Mar 2010 17:34:39 -0700
Subject: Re: Health Care Problem.

On 03/27/2010 04:42 PM, Tony wrote:
> Hey Bro,
> I’m doing my best to get back on “meds”,
> but they make you jump through hoops
> dun they. I have an appointment for 3/30
> at 1:30 with LACMH to talk to a Sighcriattrist,
> at Maple and 5th. Mobhy he can get me hooked
> up with the psychmeds I need to sleep.
> No sleep again last night. I’m walking the
> street for funny. It’s a matter of opinion.
> Love,
> Tony

Dear Tony:

I called LACMH Help Line (800-854-7771). They said that the 5th and Maple place you went to does not give meds out on the first visit.

You can get meds immediately from an ER that has a psych doctor on duty, such as County USC or Harbor UCLA.

Go to one of those and get meds there.

I am willing to drive you to one of those if you want.

I would recommend that you call Matt Wells at Harbor UCLA. His number is [number not shown here]. He wanted to help you last year.

I heard from [your friends] about your attempt to get into [one friend’s] place this morning. [That friend] just simply does not want to see you again since that time you woke him and threatened him.

You will need to find housing on your own and get meds and become stable for many months first, then try to work at having a normal relationship with [him] or other of your friends who simply do not want to see you when you are off your meds and a manic and raving as you have been in recent days. That includes me.


The good news is: my brother does seem to be aware he needs meds.

Some bad news, which caught me by surprise, is that the LA County Mental Health clinic where he did go on Friday did not provide him with any meds.

In LA County there are several agencies not all of which communicate with one another and even within one agency, different units do not share data or communicate.

So in those, what are for my brother, rare moments where he agrees to cooperate, it is all the more frustrating to find that the most crucial care was not provided in a timely manner.

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Update of ~March 29, 2010:

During the past two days my brother has tried to visit different old friends of his but was turned away, since they see he is manic. In some cases he shows up at late hours. In one case, he was crying when the friend asked him to leave. His friends want to help bit have learned from experience that when he is manic and delusional there is nothing they can do and they no longer can support him or humor him when he is like that. He must get help and he is going to have to do it on his own.

Good news. Much to my surprise, my brother just called me and asked me to go with him to an appointment he has with a social worker tomorrow afternoon. He told me that would be a good idea since I am the most familiar with his case. This is the most forthcoming and rational my brother has been with me in the 12 days since his release from jail. It is a hopeful sign, however slim, that he is going to accept treatment. I will go to the appointment and be able to provide information to the social worker. I hope my brother will actually show up and not get into trouble between now and then.

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Update of ~March 31, 2010:

News not so good today.

The short version: I give up.

The long version:

It didn’t work out how I had hoped. I did go with my brother to the LA County Downtown Mental Health Center. I picked him up in my car on Wilshire in front of the Wiltern Theater and drove on Wilshire to downtown. My brother was in less bad shape than I’ve seen him in the past. He was relatively clean and was wearing shoes. His pants were somewhat dirty but overall he looked like a fairly clean homeless person. He was fairly manic but not raving. He told me that he has reinstated his disability income so that means he will have enough to get by assuming he can stay stable. That was the one piece of good news today.

We got to the Downtown Mental Health Center on time but when it came time to do intake, my brother would not agree to sign the intake form. And he wanted meds but would have to still make an appointment to see a psychiatrist, which seemed to agitate him.

Also, I don’t think he wants anti-psychotic meds but, rather, something to help him sleep. He advised me that he had still been “cheeking” his Depakote but taking Seroquel. He seemed to believe that Seroquel is to help him sleep. In fact, Seroquel is for treating his disorder.

As he is wont to do he had to be controlling the situation. He didn’t want to speak to a woman councilor, so she said she would just do the intake but then transfer him to a male councilor. He asked her if she was drinking and said he smelled Bourbon. I was right there and detected no such odor. He said he was told he would be given meds today and didn’t like that he would have to get yet another appointment with a psychiatrist to get meds at a future meeting. When he wouldn’t sign the form there was nothing the councilor could do since it is necessary that the person receiving care sign papers to agree in writing that if they are harming someone or abusing a minor then they can be reported to the police. The councilor could not help Tony since Tony refused to sign the form, so the appointment ended with nothing accomplished.

I had gone there naively thinking he would talk with a councilor and get setup to see a doctor regularly and obtain other advice. I had some documentation of his history with me that I was planning to give to the social worker or doctor. What was I thinking? Really, nothing happened. I was wasting my time.

We left the center having achieved nothing. I made an video interview of Tony but then accidentally deleted it. I drove him to the L.A. Mission and made another video there which I will eventually edit and publish here.

He said he would ask his “driver” to take him to County ER to get meds, by which he meant Seroquel. He has hired some black guy he met in the neighborhood to drive him around. That means he is burning through his money fast and who knows what kind of guy the driver is. The driver’s name is “D”. I spoke with him by phone briefly a couple of times and he seems pretty together. Somehow my brother is establishing relationships with some new friends, so to speak.

The driver came by and picked Tony up nearby in front of the L.A. Mission. I didn’t get a good view of him and was not particularly in the mood to establish a relationship with him myself in any case. They drove off.

Later in the day I got a call from Tony. He was more on the raving maniac side, asking me for the rest of his money. Should I give the rest of the money I was holding for him back all at once? What do you think? I considered making it conditional on him having an address where I can send the money. Instead, I told him I would transfer it on Friday. But I suspect he will spend it all in short order. I am tired of giving my brother an excuse to resent me. I feel like shutting the door on my brother until such time as he actually does obtain the help he needs.

I think what I am going to do is send the remaining money to him at an address he gives me. In other words, get an address, you’ll get the rest of your money.

Otherwise, I am exhausted and fed up with trying to help my brother. I am behind on my work and have my own problems in life to deal with.

I give up. For now least.

He is back on the street and his destiny will be determined there.

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Update of March 31, 2010:

My brother was arrested today, early in the morning at 1:30 AM.

I don’t yet know the details. Here is the body of the email I sent to his various friends, who are also my friends.

I had not heard from Tony for nearly 24 hours.

I just checked the LA County Sheriffs Web site.

He was arrested this morning at 1:45 AM.

My heart bleeds for my brother.

This concludes this chapter of my brother’s saga. When I find the time and energy, I will write a more succinct summary of all that has transpired. I will visit my brother in jail and urge him to continue his writing about his life and ask that he share that with everyone so that more people can understand what people such as my brother endure. With awareness might come some efforts to improve how we as a society deal with this malady to help the afflicted and, in doing so, also support their loved ones.

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Update of ~April 3, 2010:

Not so fast.

Yesterday I found out that my brother had been released from jail again after only two days. He called me saying he had “only” violated his probation so they let him go. In his call, yesterday, he said he wanted the last half of his savings and was very agitated. I told him I would deposit his money the following day (today) into his bank and that he could go there to get it. I had decided I didn’t want money to be an excuse for him to harangue me going forward. And, after all, it is his money.

Flash forward to early this morning. At 6 AM this morning I got a call from Tony. He was at Norms restaurant on Lincoln about a mile from where I live. He said he did not have enough money to pay for his meal. That meant that he has already spent the first half of his savings I had transferred back to him 14 days ago. That amount of money should have enabled him to get by for three months given the resources available to him in this town. Now, 14 days later, it was gone and he wanted the other half of his savings immediately.

The short story of this morning:

I went to Norms and gave Tony enough of his money to get by on for several days, with an agreement in writing, that we both signed, that he will go back to the Downtown Mental Health Center, sign the intake agreement that he had refused to sign last Tuesday, and make an appointment to see a doctor. He also agreed (and signed the agreement) that he will stop using my address, get a PO Box or other address by Monday, and that I will send him the rest of his money to that address.

I don’t believe he will be able to carry through on this, but at least I now have it in writing and if he does not follow through I can remind him about our agreement and use that as leverage to not take his calls or give him any further help until and unless he keeps his side of the bargain.

The unabridged story of this morning:

After he called me, saying he had no money to pay for his Norm’s breakfast tab, I called 911 and dispatched S.M. Police to Norms. I thought about just leaving it at that but then decided it was better to be involved with the situation, since in any case they would probably not take Tony in since he was relatively high functioning this morning. I called one friend to see if he might want to go to Norms with me but my friend’s cell phone did not pick up or his phone was malfunctioning as cell phones are wont to do. I would have been imposing on my friend anyway, so it was just as well he didn’t pick up. I went to Norm’s myself and interacted with both the police and Tony. The police said he was not acting in a way that was threatening to himself or others so they would not 5150 him. But if he didn’t pay his bill they could arrest him for defrauding Norms. They interviewed him out on the sidewalk and were very professional. They let me talk with him for a few minutes. It was coming down to me having to decide to help him pay his bill or let him be arrested. It was as if the decision to have him arrested was for me to decide. After Tony started rambling on about going to rent a room from one of his friends and making other unrealistic statements, I told him I was sorry but I was not going to pay his bill. I walked away.

I then noticed that the cops talked with him briefly then let him go back into the restaurant. They themselves left the premises.

I went into Norms to talk with Tony. I figured this was going to be the last time I was going to see him for a long time and I did not feel right about just leaving. I saw Tony looking out the window to see if the police had left. I approached him and said I wanted to talk with him. Tony told me that he could not leave without paying his bill or he would be arrested.

I had still not decided what to do.

We took a table in the corner seat with a view of Lincoln and the morning light coming in through big windows. I didn’t know quite what to do. On the one hand I am weary of his money being an excuse for him to contact me. On the other hand, I still retain a faint hope that he will have some insight to his condition.

I wanted to call the LA County Mental Health Helpline but could not remember the 800 number and it was not in my cell phone. So I told Tony to wait there and went home to get the 800 number. I called the Helpline from home because I felt I needed some help deciding what to do. But, after a few minutes talking with the Helpline person, I concluded there was nothing they could do to help me or anything they could say that I didn’t already know. They were asking the usual questions about whether they should send out a PET team. But the PET team would not find that Tony was a threat to himself or others at this very moment since, in fact, his behavior was quasi-normal. I tried to ask what they thought I should do about the money I was holding for him but that was not a topic they could advise me about. I realized there was no point.

I went back to Norms. I called the Helpline 800 number again and handed the phone to Tony. He went on and on with the patient Helpline worker talking about myriad details of his history, asking her what her qualifications were, wondering if she knew what an MDO was, going over the various levels of certification that social workers have and asking what her’s were, explaining that he did not want to sign a form that gave social workers rights to 5150 him, etc., etc., ad nauseum. He was not going to be getting advice or accepting it from that phone call. This went on for a good fifteen minutes. I asked him to give me my phone back.

A tiny bit of progess then happened.

At this point I was not sure yet what I was going to do. I knew I was tired and do not want Tony bothering me anymore. Tony had suggested I only give him a part of what remains of his money that I had kept for him while he was last in jail. I said I’d give him that now if he agreed to go sign the intake form at the Downtown Mental Health Center, stop using my address, and get an address where I would send the rest of his money to him. He agreed to that in writing.

The money is not an enormous amount but it would cover housing and food for a couple of months or more. The problem will be that he is not stable enough to locate and maintain that housing on his own. So the hope will be that he actually does go to the Mental Health Center and obtain some form of housing with their assistance.

Overall, I have to say, it was good to be sitting there at Norms with my old little brother having some kind of conversation. Tony seems almost on the verge of being able to hold it together. Yet two nights ago he had been arrested. He didn’t want to tell me the details and was evasive. But it came out in bits that he was with his new “driver” “friend” somewhere in South Central. Evidently he was staying with that person at some house there along with that person’s girl friend and I don’t know who else and really don’t want to know. He indicated he had threatened them in some way and they had called the police on him. I did not push for details but what happened was something along those lines. For, you see, no matter who Tony comes in contact with, part of him becomes paranoid about those persons or persons they know or sometimes a complete stranger who is passing by. My brother then sometimes makes threatening remarks to those people and gets into trouble.

Since his release 14 days ago, he seems to cycle about every 24 to 48 hours, having a manic phase where he becomes belligerent and verbally threatening to strangers or even friends by email or phone or in person.

He has sometimes stated that he was taking Seroquel before his release 14 days ago. Other times he insists he has been off meds entirely for 18 months or some other period of time. I have no idea what the truth is. But he is manic, has no realistic grasp of his overall situation, and per phone calls he has had with friends, has probably been drinking (even though he says he hasn’t) and/or taking some other form of drug that causes his speech to slur in those phone calls. He’s a mess. He needs help. I find it impossible to provide that help, and the system is incompetent to require him to receive help.

I do not know if I was doing the right thing by giving Tony any of his money. I was doing it more for myself to be rid of that excuse for him to contact me. And I am glad he agreed, in writing, to get an address before I hand him the rest of the money.

Frankly, I predict he will not go to the center and sign the form and not get an address. But that’s the rules. If he follows them, I’ll send him the rest of his money. If he does not follow the rules, I will not take his phone calls.

I handed him my Flip video camera so he could make some video as we drove first to my bank and then to his bank branch in Venice. I later realized he wanted to go there since he gets massages from George at Venice Beach.

I left him at his bank and drove home.

Before I left I told him that I didn’t think he was going to make it but that I hoped he would and that I have done all I can do for him.

I’m done helping Tony for now. It seems to be an impossible task.

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Update of ~April 7, 2010:

The next night Tony called asking me to come and get him. I told him I was not willing to do that. He also called our other brother who told him the same thing. It does not work. I tried that when I let him stay at my apartment in 2002, at my house in 2007. He was also not able to maintain stable behavior when he had an apartment in Korea town in late 2007. Ditto when he got stable again and lived with roommates for a few months in mid 2008 until he went bonkers, accused one of them of poisoning his food, began vandalizing things, and they kicked him out.

I realize the boundary I am drawing is a tough one, but I cannot help my brother by housing him and, frankly, when is is off his meds and manic, I don’t even like the guy anymore and do not want to live with him. I am only willing to help to the extent the system will help him or he helps himself. The system has proven itself incapable of requiring him to receive treatment, so he is on his own.

I didn’t hear from him for about three days until he called and said he had made an appointment in nine days to see a doctor but needed more money. He still did not have an address and was still manic. The money I gave him should have lasted at least a week and it was gone in three days. He said he would send me an email but has not done so.

This morning he called asking for money. His bank account is overdrawn. That means that in three weeks he has gone through money that could have lasted a couple of months or more were he to get the kind of housing he can afford on his disablity income.

So far Tony has not done what he agreed to do. He says he went back to the center and filled out the form but I have no way to be sure he did that. The other part of the agreement was that he obtain an address. Yesterday I sent my brother two emails and BCC’d several of his friends who are taking the same position I have taken. Here is the body of those emails:

Date: Wed, 07 Apr 2010 14:47:17 -0700
Subject: Call from Tony to Dennis


For the record, you called me today, April 7 at 1:56 PM.

I am BCCing all of your friends who have been concerned for
you or been affected by your recent activity, including L.
and T.

You said your are down to $300 and been staying at hotels, most
recently the Royal Pagaoda in Chinatown.

You called from a FAX machine, which seems to be a trick
you use now. When I call back I get a FAX tone.

I told you I would deposit money tomorrow.

That was stupid since it goes against the deal we signed.

So, no, I won’t do that. You have to get an address, per the
agreement you signed.

I’ll do a three way call with LA County Mental Health Helpline to
get advice on how to get you an address.

So call me back, any time, and we will do that three-way call.

The second email sent later in the day was:

Date: Wed, 07 Apr 2010 20:15:24 -0700
Subject: Rules for Tony

Dear Tony:

Since you are off your meds and behaving manically, I don’t
know how much of this will get through to you, but I’ll try.

First, I love my brother Tony when he is stable and takes his
meds. I do not love the person my brother Tony becomes, a
paranoid vulgar bully.

But even the bully Tony I am will to help, since there is
some of my real brother inside there somewhere.

But there are rules. I think any of your friends would
say the same thing to you. I am sure L. would, since
we have spoken and agree there has to be these rules.

One rule is that you accept living for however long
it takes in a place where there is some supervision and
that you can afford on your SSDI income.

If you do not do that, experience has shown that you will
fall apart again, increase your bullying and vandalism
and end up back in jail. The experiences in Eagle Rock,
at 5TH Street, in Korea town, and on Corning Street all
prove that.

Another rule is that you obtain an address before I
give you all of your money. You have spent or lost
$6000 in three weeks since being released.

We suspect that your driver “D” may be taking advantage
or you, or that you are gambling, or that you simply
lose your money and don’t remember where.

Obviously that means you only have a couple weeks
left before you run out.

After that you will be homeless.

So when you call me, I will take your call only if you
agree to talk to the LACMH Help Line and get their advice
on how to find housing.

Otherwise, when you run out, you will be coming to me
asking for more. I cannot support you Tony. It is all
I can do to support mom at this time.

Also, just like for Steve, another rule is that you
maintain your housing for a period of 12 months in
order for me to accept you back into my life on any
kind of normal basis. You have proven unable to do that
in the past seven years.

I realize you want to live without taking meds. That
has not proven possible, outside of jail for any extended
period, in seven years. So if you don’t get back on meds,
you will be on your own. We all give up, Tony.

Hence, the final rule is that you get back on meds under
the supervision of a doctor. Seroquel or whatever works,
but you simply do not function well enough to stay out
of jail unless you take meds.

Also, I know you want to start a Web site and write.
That will only happen if you start thinking straight
and there will be time for that after you accept these
rules and get stable.

I doubt that you will accept these rules, since you
are off your meds. But I hope you will.

To repeat, the rules are these:

(1) you accept living for however long it takes in a place
where there is some supervision and that you can afford on
your SSDI income.

(2) you obtain an address before I give you all of your money.

(3) you maintain your housing for a period of 12 months in
order for me to accept you back into my life on any kind
of normal basis.

(4) you get back on meds under the supervision of a doctor

If you cannot see that these actions are necessary, you are lost
Tony. Ask your other friends if they agree. Let’s take a vote.


Finally, this morning I had the following email exchanges with one of his oldest and best friends…

o o o

dear dennis,

i couldn’t have said it any more clearly and succinctly. tony has a big
fear that his friends will listen to what you have to say, and, will
somehow circle the wagons w/o him at the center. for example,
i would have never given him any money if i had talked to you first.

you are a big threat to his being able to manipulate any of us. i am
thankful for all that you have done for tony, i just wish you had
more to show for your efforts…don’t we all.


o o o

thanks for your support L.

Tony called me collect this morning at 8:30 as I was
getting going but I refused the call, since I wanted
to check a couple of things first.

I have access to his bank info via telephone so I
called and found out his account is overdrawn. So
the $1000 I gave him Saturday is gone and when I told
me yesterday that he had $300 left, either he was
lying, was delusional, or got ripped off.

If he calls me again today I will do as I said
in the email. Otherwise I will tell him to go
to the mission or sleep in the street. He can
sleep at the Mission for free.

Once he gets help and follows the rules I will
supply money directly to his housing.

There is no way in hell I am going to put more
of that money into his bank account.

I’ll also offer to pay a cheap hotel directly and hand
him some food money to get by for a couple weeks while
he arranges other housing.


o o o


all of this sounds good. if and when he gets more stable,
you might start thinking about a dialogue with him about
a conservatorship. also, scaling back your expectations of
him might take some pressure off both of you. the fact
that he hasn’t been able to hold a job, and, may never
be able to work, might help him to see your point of view
more clearly. he needs to know EXACTLY how you are
willing to help, and on what terms. when he is stable,
housed, and, medicated effectively, you will be able to
figure out if he can be employable, and, perhaps his
awareness of his inability to work will give you more
leverage. if he becomes willing and able to work, having
him contribute in a small way to helping him support
your mom could be beneficial to him….etc

i really am thankful for all you have done.

sincerely, L.

o o o

thanks again L.

Tony just called my from a pay phone but when I started to
tell him the rules, he started to talk over me. I will only
talk with him if he will listen and I will stick to the rules
I outlined (and the offer to pay directly for a cheap hotel
and food money for a couple of weeks).

Thursday April 8, 12:06 PM:

Tony called me collect from a pay phone to say he wanted another thousand dollars cash if his money.

I began to remind him about our agreement and to inform him what the rules are. He would not listen and talked over me and said he would go to the police to levy charges against me. I hung up the phone.

Thursday April 8, 3:50 PM:

Tony called asking for his money. I told him I would pay for a place to stay after he found it. He hung up on me.

A few minutes later he came to my place. He was yelling at me, calling me a “cunt”. I called 911. I have a restraining order so Tony was in violation of that and could be arrested and taken into custody where yet another effort could be made to treat his condition. Tony had left immediately so even though the police arrived within a few minutes, he was gone by the time they were on the scene. The SMPD officiers looked around the house for him and took down my summary of recent events to add to their report. During the interview, one officer suggested, effectively, that I just give him the rest of his money as a way to no longer give him an excuse to contact me. I pointed out to the officer that such reasoning is based on an assumption that my brother is rational. I.e., that if you do this then such and such will follow because that is how rational people act. In my brother’s case, rationality is not present. Of course, the same can be said of my attempt to define “rules” for my brother to follow. There is an assumption that he will be rational enough to follow the rules. After today’s incident, I am more than ever tired of the situation and tired of trying to help. Giving him his money would surely remove that excuse for him to come to my place.

I am going to the bank now to extract all of his money in cash. If he shows up again, I am going to give it to him and tell him to go away and not come back.

Thursday April 8, 7 PM:

I went to the bank and extracted the entirety of my brother’s money, $1500 in cash and $3000 in the form of a cashiers check made out to him. He has spent or lost a total of $6500 in less than three weeks so there is no reason to believe that this additional money will last more than two weeks. But I have had it. If he shows up again I am going to give him all of that money and ask him to leave. I will call the police and tell them what happened and to be on the look out for my brother.

A few minutes ago, an old friend of his, S., called me. After Tony left my place he showed up at S.’s house asking for his old hard drive (a computer disk on which Tony has some of his old writing). Tony also told S he has no money so S. handed him $5, enough to cover bus fare back to Downtown Los Angeles, where Tony said he was headed. Tony told S. that he was going to burn my house down. I don’t think Tony will do that, but I’m not taking chances. I am letting friends know that Tony is a threat and to be careful until he is under wraps. S. said that he kept Tony on his porch and did not allow him inside. He said that Tony was talking to himself and raving on about this and that. Then Tony left. No one knows where he is.

[previous update] [final update]

Friday April 9, 2:30 AM:

At around midnight Tony showed up at his old girl friend’s house in Echo Park. She and her husband would not let him in and called the police. Tony went around to the back of their house and started to sleep on their rear balcony. Then he did some push ups. Then he went down to their basement and entered their basement office. The LAPD arrived but would not arrest him since he was determined to pose no threat to himself or others and was an old friend of the family, so to speak. They took him in their car and released him a few blocks away, with no money, in the middle of the night, telling him to not return or he would be arrested.

I witnessed this by phone and spoke with the officers, urging them to arrest him on any charge, such as trespassing, so that he could be taken in and evaluated and receive treatment. I even called SMPD and tried to get them to go out and arrest him based on the earlier incident at my place. None of this had any effect. My heart goes out to my brother.

His ex and I agreed to call each other in the morning and strategize as to how to handle this when he shows up again.

Friday April 9, 9 AM:

My brother showed up at my place at 6AM.

I think he had walked 12 miles barefoot from Echo Park or maybe the LAPD brought him here. Maybe I will tell the full story another time maybe I won’t because right now I am just sad.

He was dirty and was in tears so I let him take a bath and sleep on my floor while I called the police who then came and arrested him for having violated my restraining order. Somewhere in my brothers mind he wants help but he won’t ask for it. Maybe this was his way to ask for help. I don’t know and I didn’t know what else to do.

Part of me knows that he just wanted a place to sleep and a friend, something he has had so little of for years now. He just wanted to be my brother and deep inside I so much just want to be his brother like we were so long ago. But that ignores the problem. He refuses to take meds or to get treatment and accept help from professionals. He is manic, has a repeated pattern of showing no ability to survive on his own, deteriorates once he is left on his own has a pattern of degrading to the point that he harasses people and vandalizes objects. I am a problem solver and never give up, but this time did. I can’t solve this problem. It seems hopeless. It hurts.

[previous update]

Today, May 4, 2010, is my brother’s birthday. He is 53 years old. He is in jail because he is mentally ill.

A process for placing my brother under a conservatorship has begun. Dr. Eide, director of the LA County Jail Mental Health Clinical Program, and social worker Esmeralda Hernandez who is handling my brother’s case, are going to submit an application to the California State Public Guardian. I have provided them with documentation of Tony’s history, details of past cases, and a summary of all of the events in his life of the past few years.

I am not optimistic that the conservatorship will go through. Tony will fight it. I can’t blame him. But he is not able to make the right decisions for his own life, so I hope this conservatorship will succeed.

According to the LA County Sheriff’s Web site, there are two cases pending against my brother: the restraining order violation described above and a more serious felony vandalism case. I do not know any details about the vandalism case.

And I don’t know if the process of obtaining the conservatorship will be somehow in conflict with the criminal case against him.

Each morning, each day, once or twice, my brother crosses my mind and I feel a sense of loss and I grieve a little. Each day. In time, I will go for days without thinking about him, as he sits in jail, as the system turns him into a “criminal”.

This closes out this chapter of Tony’s history, as we wait for the courts to rule on the conservatorship and the criminal cases.

[top] [ch.1] [ch.2] [ch.3] [ch.4] [ch.5] [ch.6] [ch.7] [ch.8]

30 thoughts on “5. Mentally ill brother thrown back on the street”

  1. oh Dennis, my heart aches for you today. i don’t know if the new healthcare bill is more respectful and supportive of people with serious mental illness like Tony has – i can only hope so – unless this november it gets shot down with the new congress. I wish I could offer you good news, or a suggestion or ANYTHING but I can’t. I can only say that I’m glad Elsie supported your sense that housing Tony would make no sense and perhaps not be safe for you. Do you ever talk to others who have seriously mentally ill family members?

    Thinking of you these days. Val

  2. I have come to find myself checking the LASD website every day, partly in hopes of finding that Tony has not been arrested again, and partly in hopes of finding that he has been arrested again. Being a thousand miles away from this nightmare makes me feel helpless, yet I see by Dennis’s efforts and frustration and all the thwarting the system and Tony have done that being there in person would be completely valueless. All I can do his hope things work out. Somehow.

    Having known Tony since the late 1960s, and having seen the first subtle hints of his condition begin to unfold as early as about 1978, and seeing no end in sight and no reason to be optimistic for Tony or his family, all I seem to be able to do is ache for him.

  3. I feel your pain, Dennis, to whatever extent I can. For whatever it’s worth, at least he’ll have a place to sleep for a while. He’ll never thank you for it, but you did the right thing. Now if only the “system” would do their part…

  4. My thoughts and prayers are with you. I have worked in the mental health field and the corrections field. I am now a parole officer that specializes in supervising offenders with SPMI (severe and persistent mental illness), often schizophrenia . I work with many task force teams to address their unique needs. What your are doing for your brother is outstanding, and though you may only have had small success if any, you are doing the right thing. If he is still on supervision I urge you to talk to his probation or parole officer. At least where I work we are no longer out to put people in prison, but to assist people staying strong in the community and reducing the risk of re-offending. When I work with people with SPMI, housing and money management are the hardest things to accomplish. Check with your social security office about getting him a Payee, someone that will help him manage his funds and control his money. If he has bills the payee will pay them directly. Take that burden off of you. I wish you the best, unfortunately you are right, the system is not set up for the mentally ill. Unfortunately those medications are still new and the research and drugs used make the medications very expensive. Let me know if I can do anything to assist you.

  5. I, too, think of my friend Tony. I check the LASD website frequently in hopes of finding a miracle. The nature of the charges listed against him were not disclosed, but the level of those charges (along with a litany of pending court cases) appeared grave. Felony. The word strikes fear into even the most hardened criminal.

    But is Tony a criminal? According to the letter of the law, yes. And that’s bullshit. Tony is a bright man with a kind heart and a future muddled by an illness no one seems to be able or willing to fix.

    This morning, I noted that his latest (and final?) case remanded him to a state hospital. Initially I greeted this with horror. But which is worse, years incarcerated in a zoo with violent predatory men along with the sham mental care the jail provides, or a state hospital where he will be force fed medication which has proven to transform him into a functional human being?

    I still have mixed emotions about the ruling, but there appears to be light at the end of a long, dark tunnel.

  6. Hello Dennis,

    I am a student at the University of Pennsylvania and I am moved by the story of your brother. I have worked in clinical and biomedical research on schizophrenia and have made it my goal to enter medicine to help though suffering from this disease.

    I have browse through some of your posts and have seen that risperdal has been effective for your brother. If that is the case, has your brother considered or have been presented with the option of an injectable long acting risperidone treatment? Though I’m not a psychiatrist I have worked in a clinical setting and have seen the effectiveness of long acting treatments in preventing relapse.

    I wish you the best and hope that you continue to support and advocate for your brother.



    1. The short answer to your question is, I do not believe my brother was ever on long acting risperidone. This is the first time I have heard of such a thing. For what period of time is long acting risperidone effective? I.e., what is the length of time between injections?

      Of course, the issue with my brother in recent years is that he stops taking meds when he has the choice. He becomes adamant about not taking meds and ends up becoming obnoxious and destroying property and being incarcerated. I would hope that if and when he has enough insight to take his meds and is not incarcerated, he will choose a treatment such as the one you suggest.

  7. Hi, i just want you to know that i too have a brother with the same illness as yours, i live in England uk and the mental health support system is non existant, i too have housed my brother to keep him off the streets (twice now), i did manage to get him sectioned last year and thought he would get the help he needed, it was a long drawn out process to get him into the mental health unit, he was released without treatment as he wouldn’t co-operate with the psychiactric doctor and therefore he could not assess him, this doctor did not believe he was a danger to himself or to others, (the same doctor who released another mental health patient back into society only for the patient to stab and kill a member of the public in a shopping centre) the short and long of it is, our government has not got the resources to deal with mental health as there is no quick fix. My brother will get arrested at some point for non payment of council tax as he has no money coming from any where as he wont sign any paper work as it is all a conspiracy as he is the divine majesty and he is waiting to go back to the palace! the only place he will be going is prison and then he will be released only to join the thousands of homeless people we already have on our streets!

  8. I couldn’t finished reading this without crying so much. I can really relate to you.

    I also have a mentally ill brother and I feel a sense of loss, like I loss my brother to the illness :(. There is not one day that goes by that I don’t worry about him. Everytime my brother is hospitalized it breaks my heart because it means that he had relapsed. And my brother was also in and out of jail starting when he was in his teens. He wasn’t diagnosed with schizophrenia until he was in his mid-20s.

    I feel so much sadness and sympathy for him because he cannot take care of himself. And this has affect me so much because I love my family so much and I am an extremely sympathetic person. Ever since my brother was in and out of jail when he was in his teens, I would sent him money every month and I would write letters to him every week to keep in touched with the outside world. And when he was finally released from jail in his 20s, I took him to the hospital and did everything that I could.

    The part where you said, your brother walked so many miles barefooted made me cried so much, because the same thing happened to my brother. When my brother was released from a 7 years sentenced, according to my brother, the official people dropped him off in Illinois (and we live in Wisconsin) and so, he walked into the freeway and got hit by a car. The police picked him up, dropped him off in Milwaukee County Jail, from there they let him walk home barefooted (around 6 miles). When he got home, he was unrecognizable. It was in the middle of the night in a very cold Wisconsin weather, with only a t-shirt on 🙁 . He weighed on 90 pounds, standing at 5’9″ tall. My whole family broke down in tears just seeing the sight of how unhealthy he was :'(. The next day, I took him to the INS office, (because they told him in a letter that he had with him that he must report to the office as soon as he gets home). He was extremely disoriented even the next day, so, after the INS office, I took him to the mental hospital.

    I’ve been so desperate in trying to find some ways to help him but I can’t. I am at my last string, I have no where to turn. The internet is my last option to turn for support from others with similar situation.

    To make a very long story short, my family and I are refugees from Laos. My father worked for the American CIA in Laos during the Vietnam war and we were granted a refuge to America. Since my brother is not an American citizen, his Green card and Social Security card was taken away from him because he was a criminal. Since his green card was taken away from him, he did NOT qualify for any kind of medical care or disability income. Last November 2010, he moved to Fresno, California and is now living there with no medications and no health care, and no income. My family in California try their best to help take care of him financially for so many years. But he is considered more than a handful since he is not on his medication. No one really wants to deal with him because of his fits and tantrum and delusions and hallucinations. He was hospitalized recently and was released two days ago.

  9. I found your blog after searching for some resources for my own brother. He is only 21 but has been on and off medication for ten years for severe manic depression. He refuses treatment for both his mental illness and his physical illnesses, though he is still covered by my parents’ insurance. After destroying parts of my parents’ home and burning bridges to all of his friends, he’s been kicked out and is living in his van. We have no idea how long he’ll be able to make his car payments, as he is usually unable to keep a job for more than a few months.

    Now that my brother is an adult the whole family is beginning to experience the distress that comes with a mentally ill relative who is not treated or housed. He is turning to drugs and alcohol to self medicate. We are almost hoping he’ll commit a crime and be required to be treated. This will be a long journey and all we can do is pray that he survives. Unfortunately my family can no longer stand the physical and verbal abuse that comes with housing and supporting him.

  10. I am in a similar situation with my brother…I couldn’t read all of it without breaking down. It’s funny how many similarities there are with my brother to what I have read. I live in Australia now and my brother is locked up in NY until his parole hearing next April…when if released he will stalk again because he is really not right and hasn’t gotten any help for his mental illness. I know he is just a number in an over burdened system and I feel for you all I have lost my brother so many times and often wait for more bad news. Has anyone found any sort of solutions or support? I’m frustrated aren’t the lawyers that represent him aware of his illness and why can’t he get back on medication and back into therapy and stop his delusional life from unraveling! The really sad part is he’s threatened family that lives near by and that have helped him so much in the past! I feel guilt that they are involved and anger and frustration and yeah! It’s a rough road having a mentally ill sibling! He’s living such a nightmere of a life! he also has been without shoes, homeless and lost many times. Sometimes I’m relieved he’s in jail atleast I know he is fed and fairly warm! ~ Anyhow wishing you all strength and progress in your struggles! Thanks, Tracy

  11. Tracy, my heart goes out to you too. And no, I haven’t found any support at all. Things are at its worst right now.

    I wish we can create a support group online somewhere, maybe on FB or something?

  12. Tracy, thanks for sharing that video above. It was very sad and touching. And thanks for sharing the NAMI website. I’ve already called every governmental and mental heath agency, include NAMI, and they cannot help my brother.

  13. And by the way, my brother has been living with me for the last three or four months (he had lived with me before). But it’s been really hard on me to have to support him financially and in every way. I did everything in my power to help my brother. I called every mental health and government agency to see if I can get him for my brother, but they can’t help us because he does not have a green card. I feel really stressed out because I don’t know what else to do.

  14. I’m coming to this post very late, but I just want to say that I share your grief. I found this blog while searching for any way to help my bipolar/autistic friend who is once again suicidally depressed, broke, and very nearly back on the streets. He refuses to apply for SSI, refuses to take medication, refuses to accept the help he needs.

    He’s been in-patient psych a few times, but it’s useless. They lock him up, bully him, medicate him with some useless SSRI, then put him back on the street. He has no job (due to mental AND physical health problems), no health insurance, and no family. THERE IS NO HELP FOR HIM. What kind of a country is this?

    His friends do everything they can, but we never know exactly what’s going on or why, and we can’t keep pouring money down this particular drain. I think we’d give him all the money in the world if we thought it would make a difference. But when he’s broke and on the ledge (literally), you could give him $50,000 and it would be useless. He’d spend it in a week on gifts for people, books for himself, drinks for everyone in the bar. Then he’d be twice as depressed that he “screwed up,” wasted everything, thinks now nobody will ever help him again, etc. It’s exhausting.

    He is not violent, nor dangerous to others. Although he does have his angry outbursts, there is no harassment, no threats, he’s never been arrested. He’s a wonderful, brilliant guy. But he simply can’t take care of himself and threatens suicide over and over and over again. I have made a million phone calls to every agency you can think of. If they bother to return my calls, the answer is always NO, there’s nowhere for him to go. I have helped him again and again, but nothing changes. Without consistent funds, medication, and some kind of ongoing psychiatric care, he cannot manage his life. I’ve been dealing with this drama for 20 years and I am exhausted and without hope.

  15. I meant, NAMI was helpful in that they referred me to different agencies. Actually, NAMI do have a family support group, etc. and that’s great, but I still have no money to support my brother. We barely scrape by every months.

    And “Heartbroken,” I feel your pain. Reading your post makes me realized that not alone in this nightmare. I don’t know what else to say or do anymore about this situation. I just feel so emotionally drained and tired.

  16. I think society is equally insane for not taking the proper measures to house people with such extreme conditions, even if against their delusion-fed will. God knows when this legacy of the Reagan years will finally end…

    I almost decided to go through the conservatorship process for my father, who has dementia, and also ended up deciding it was way more of a burden than I was willing to handle. It feels good to know I’m not the only one.

  17. Hey Dennis, I am aware this is old and I am not fully expecting a reply, but I would love to know how Tony has gotten on in these few years. I found his story very upsetting and am fully aware of how difficult this behavior can be to deal with, especially when you want to help a person who doesn’t want that help. If you are still active on this site please let me know. Wish you the best

  18. As I read this all I can do is cry I am 23 and have been going through the same exact thing for the last five years I have an older brother who has paranoid schizophrenia I don’t know what to do I really want to help him but I feel helpless I have done expartei and baker acted him many times before but he just doesn’t seem to get better the doctors dnt give me any info according to hippa laws I don’t want to see him kill himself or someone else but he is taking all that I have money time happiness joy concentration focus on my own family but I feel if something happens to him I will be at fault for not having tried harder he has no friends just me this is useless to write but maybe someone can provide me with peace of mind or some kind of advice I myself have learned that cannot coddle him any longer and have took steps to show him and I don’t want him to think I don’t love him which hurts me the most because I have been there day and night trying to help him in anyway I can but it’s just so hard when he really doesn’t want to help himself the government is joke when it comes to helping the mentally it’s not like they choose to have these disabilities GOD PLEASE HELP ME AND MY BROTHER I HAVE RUN OUT OF PATIENCE I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO

  19. It is 2015. I want to know how Tony is. The story above sounds like my brother. Is Tony still alive? Someone should make a movie about this. I, too, have a brother who got ill when he was 32. He has 2 Masters Degrees, is an Engineer and a Real Estate Agent, and a certified accredited Teacher. I am a Retired Nurse. My brother is now 57. He has gotten progressively worse. Our mom died last week…he came to the funeral …I found him on the streets laying on the sidewalks. I cannot believe we treat people so inhumanely! I get pissed when I see/hear a “take care of our animals” ad and I see/ hear from authentic illegals about all the benefits our country supplies them; but my brother lays on a street and eats out of garbage can, smokes someone’s ‘used’ cigarette and other disgusting habits. It makes me sick and I am so helpless. He is so helpless. ? I want to help him. I love him. But how?

  20. It’s 2016, if you ever check back to your story and read these comments….please update us. I have a brother who is making his way back to our hometown where our parents, his children and his (remarried) ex-wife lives with her new husband. We are all terrified.

    1. Hello Trish. As some comments elsewhere in these chapters indicate, my brother Tony served time for his charges of vandalism and is now in a community living situation that he was referred to by his parole officier. I will ask my brother to comment further. He tends to be very cynical about the psychiatric community and not very helpful in giving advice since, alas, there are so few choices. — Dennis (editor)

  21. Trish,
    My brother Dennis asked me to reply to your post, which I am doing. As I have no details about your brother’s condition, circumstances, crimes (?), it is difficult for me to give advice, (which you seem to be seeking). Since your whole family and his are terrified of his return, (you don’t say from where), I have to assume there is some kind of history of threatened or actual violence between him and some of you. If he is seriously mentally ill, and in denial about it as I was, it is unlikely any of his aggressive behavior will be discontinued, especially if he is not taking his psych meds. If he has a substance abuse problem in addition to mental illness, he has what is known as a dual diagnosis. I believe it is even harder to admit that you are mentally ill than it is to admit that you are alcoholic or a drug addict. Whatever his problem(s), if you are all still terrified I suppose he is not dealing with his behavior which has caused you all to feel that way. The bottom line with mentally ill or drug addicted people is not how they feel about themselves but how their feelings make them BEHAVE towards others.
    So here’s what Dennis did when I was behaving out of control and would not take my meds and stop drinking: he got a Court Order (Restraining Order) barring me from coming within 100 yards of him, my mother (who he was caring for), and his property. I found myself in a position where I had used his address on my unemployment benefits and had to go to his house to find my unemployment form so I could get my money, so I went to his house to look for it as my mother was old and couldn’t find it. Dennis came home while I was there, violating that Restraining Order, so I left and went and hid under his house. When the cops came, they figured out where I was and threatened to get their dog out to drag me out of the crawl space. I’m telling you this because you probably should do the same thing, especially if you brother is out of control and coming back to town because he has no other options. Desperate people do desperate things. Well, you shouldn’t let his desperation outweigh yours. It may seem harsh, but the cops hauled me away and Dennis’s problem was solved. The law is on your side, not your brother’s, and cops, well, cops feelings don’t get in the way of doing their job. The cops don’t give a fuck, only you do.
    You can look at Dennis’ Blog #6 about me on oceanpark.com, at the end of that thread, for a more detailed account of how I’m doing and how I feel about mental health care as we have it now. I responded to somebody else who had a question similar to yours. If your brother has been homeless and has no resources, then that’s his problem and he has to deal with it. If he is on parole, violating a restraining order is a parole violation and he will have to go back to prison for a while. One thing the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is good for is “correcting” your thinking about the law. The law may be biased towards the rich etc., etc., but it does serve the vast majority of law abiding citizens and not the minority who break laws.
    Personally, I hate the “Treatment Program” where my Parole Agent ordered me to go upon release from the state mental hospital, but my time here is almost up. Stay tuned to oceanpark.com for further developments, as Dennis and I have so as yet unformalized plans to expand his blog to the families and friends of the mentally ill and provide more information to that community about the conditions mentally ill patients face and the options they have to avoid getting caught up in that system. –TA

  22. Thank you for keeping this journal about your brother Tony.
    I too have a brorher who is similar age with similar behavior.
    My siblings and I are at witts end to make a decision about what to do next.
    John inherited enough money to go out and buy to slum houses. He took a long time but did finally get occupancy permit for the one he was going to rent to a family getting welfare. He acquired two cats anx scdig and lives in the 2nd house.
    But he’s used up every cent now and doesnt work, or cant keep a job, or finds odd jobs, but that’s not enough.
    We’ve decided to not give him financial help. He’s been bailed out too many times.
    – he too decides to not take meds.
    He us vulgar and horrible to us when he cant get what he wants. emails texts / which of course get blocked.
    My mother is 88 and in a nursing home/ so he cant milk her for money.
    He see’s the miney going to my mom’s nursing home as his inheritence going down the drain . My sister manages my mom’s estate and is the ine persin who has tried to help my brother the most; but she’s the ine who suffers the most from his ugliness.
    At one point my brother John was a very promising oil painter. But his mental illness has ruined any hopes of him fulfilling that dream. ( he did priduce a few nice pirtraits of family members) about two years ago / commissioned by my aunt – tryingvto encourage him to do his art. But he’s really gone downhill.
    Anyway. We think a guardian of some kind is thevonly way.
    But dint know where to start. He’s talking niw if splitting town and leaving everything behind. Like someone’s goingbto take care if his houses, the rental money that’s not being paid(needs state to come up with), his pets, the furniture, his belongings..
    So we’re frystrated as alm hell too.

  23. Your “the Republicans” stated is unwarranted, considering that it is Obamacare that has allowed the system to simply put Tony back on the street. ACA is the reason we cannot speak to their doctors. Do not politicize your brothers illness. I am grateful for ACA disappearing because now I can get my brother into a facility and out of my house.
    I am treated like a caregiver instead of a room mate. The disabled need the help not the illegal or unemployed.

    1. I totally disagree with your statement blaming ACA being the reason we cannot speak with their doctors. First of all, my brother’s issues go back way before ACA existed. My point was that what help my brother has received has been due to government funded programs, the kinds of programs that the Republicans have typically opposed.

  24. As horrible as this may sound some mental ill people should be stayed in prison. There is a roof over their heads, meals, and some (not good) medical available. There is no way around this fact. America is designed that you need an incredible amount of money to get, stay, live, and thrive here. The immigration system is set up so only the best and beautiful people get in. Hollywood movies are made and finance by these people that just want to feel good about themselves with nothing to do.

  25. I am a 72-year old retired teacher. My bipolar half-sister “Rose” is 15 years younger than me, which means we didn’t grow up together, as I gladly left home (and my Borderline Personality Disorder mother) a soon as I was 18.
    Both our parents are now dead, and we have no other kin.
    Rose abandoned her now- deceased husband and two estranged adult children, whom I have never met; nor do they want to meet any of their mother’s relatives. (I perfectly understand.)

    I am also a widow, after a happy marriage of over 30 years; no children, but 4 grown stepsons of whom I am fond. I didn’t want children for fear 1) I would go into permanent postpartum psychosis like my grandmother, 2) that my children would be BPD and/or bipolar like my uncle and aunts (all died unmarried & childless.) I still have doubts that I am “averagely normal” (aside from mild depression much of my entirely functional life) simply because I appear to be the only one in my family who is. Perhaps my niece & nephew are; but I have never met them and doubt I ever will.

    When we were younger, I was always more like a distant aunt than a sister to Rose: we have no interests in common, not even the same religion (she’s a religious fanatic, and I have refused to discuss religion because they just upset us both, and neither of us is going to change our beliefs. )

    As the “normal, functional ” adult child of a physically & emotionally abusive BPD mother, I have my own trust and boundary issues, and so have resisted emotional pressure from my aggressively needy sister to have “family therapy” via Zoom so we can “be friends”; and to “have a loving sisterly relationship”.
    It’s unrealistic. We (literally) live in different countries, the Atlantic Ocean apart. I don’t want to be more than 5 minutes in the same room with my sister, although I wish her well. Before our mother’s funeral in 2016, we hadn’t seen each other in 30 years. Rose is manipulative and I’m afraid of her even physically. (She has been loud & violent– when she is, I just leave the room.)

    If we could simply have “non intense” conversations, it would be OK, but she wants more than I can give.
    I would certainly never confide anything personal to her, as I don’t want it later weaponised against me — that’s what our mother used to do.
    A long time ago I did offer to build us two small houses next to each other on some land I own so that when we are old we can be near for security, but not live together. Then if something happened to her I could call an ambulance, etc. . But she turned down the offer. She’s lived in and out of homeless shelters the past 30 years or so- she’s now late 50’s, and not in good health. My mother’s excellent lawyer talked her into setting up a trust so Rose couldn’t blow her inheritance (from sale of Moms house, our old home). He now pays rent for a modest but safe apartment for her, and allows her grocery money and nothin more unless he approves it; which means she will live comfortably and hopefully not outlive her legacy. This is perhaps an “best case” outcome for a person like her.

    I feel bad about not having a relationship with her, but I have read much and know a great deal about bipolar, and my “understanding” of it only makes me want to keep my distance as I can’t deal with her, for the preservation of my own mental health.

    I have no faith in the efficacy online therapy; I know my sister just wants a forum to accuse me of “ruining her life by rejection” as she has before this. I’ve heard it all before, and refuse to pay money for more of the same.

    I have the right not to have “friendship” and demands for “sympathy and supportiveness” forced on me; I had enough of that with my hyper-critical, unpredictable, yet ever-needy mother. I have the right to say, “Leave me alone, I only want to be around (comparatively) “normal” people that I’m not “walking on eggshells” with just to get along”.
    My real brothers and sisters are my Church family . This may make me sound hypocritical; I agree, but I’d probably be a lot worse without my Church family, so I can’t be shamed by Rose calling me a bad Christian; perhaps I am. (I do pray for her.)

    So– there you have the point of view of a non-supportive elder sibling of a bipolar person. It really can’t be helped; I can’t help her, not attempt to engage with her without damaging my own mental health.
    Some things can’t be fixed in this life, –only the next.
    As the proverb goes,
    “The Iron kettle and the clay pot cannot be friends.”

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