More Sibling Vicissitudes

July 25, 2008

I’ve had more emails from my youngest brother’s wife. At one point, she asked me if there were any history of mental illness in my family.

I resisted the impulse to say, “We are all crazy,” though I suspect it is true. I mentioned that I had been treated for clinical depression, and that I thought that both my mother and father had been clinically depressed, though I didn’t know if they had ever been so diagnosed or treated.

The upshot is that a psychiatrist has diagnosed my brother as suffering from bi-polar illness. He is now home and receiving medication. I had been a little reluctant to call, but my sister-in-law said they would both welcome calls, so I guess I will.

Although she has an occasional tantrum (which we call a “melt-down,”) I think Random Granddaughter is doing OK. Also she has no genetic relation to us, though I suspect a lot of this stuff is infectious.

I worked for a while with someone who was bi-polar. He received a lot of medical treatment, though as far as I can tell it didn’t seem to help him much. But I guess every case is different.

12 Responses to “More Sibling Vicissitudes”

  1. Average Jane Says: that’s pretty close home. My dad’s getting treatment for that and I don’t know if it’s helping him any. I will be going to see him next week and should know. The doc says I have a 60% chance of going down the same road as I am genetically related. Lucky, RG.

  2. modestypress Says:

    The last couple of times I was around my youngest brother, I felt greatly disturbed. Although this was ten years ago, he clearly was not functioning well. I felt I see many of my faults and weaknesses in him, but in him they are much worse. I could hardly stand to be around him. This was long before his diagnosis.

    My wife asked me yesterday, “Why did it take so long to figure this out about him?”

    I think many people are [barely] functioning undiagnosed mentally ill people. Take me, for example. OK, don’t.

    I see statistics about how many people in our society are mentally ill, with the implication that they are a minority among the majority of the population who are sane.

    Probably trying to figure out what small minority of people are sane among the majority who are…well, crazy, is more realistic.

    If you think of politics and world affairs in this light, a lot of things start to make sense. Well, they don’t, but that’s what makes sense.

    Never mind.

  3. pandemonic Says:

    Aren’t we all nuts? Isn’t being nuts normal? I think sane people are abnormal, but that’s because I’m likely nuts.

  4. modestypress Says:

    Mr. and Mrs. Random’s motto for a marriage lasting 42 years: “We might as well stick together; we’re both too weird for anybody else to put up with.”

  5. David Says:

    Or as someone once said about the marriage of Thomas Carlyle and Jane Welsh Carlyle: “What a blessing that they married one another, thus making only two people miserable, instead of four.”

  6. modestypress Says:

    We’ve outlasted making each other miserable, at least we don’t make a full time activity of it.

    However, last night I was muttering about my brother being bi-polar, and most people being crazy, and my wife said, “I think you should stop thinking about your brother being crazy. You have problems, but you are not crazy. It’s crazy to think about being crazy all the time.”

    She has a point.

    On the other hand, when I was diagnosed with depression, she became irritated with me, and started to give me some “snap out of it” lectures, which irritated me.

    But then it occurred to me that my wife has had her depression issues. Essentially, her “self-medication” has two ingredients:

    1) She is too ornery to let herself be depressed. I think this is literally true.

    2) She is one of the few people I know who really does live in the present. This is an old cliche from the 60s, but observing her, I think it’s literally true.

    There you go.

  7. It’s still a cliche with anyone who reads Eckhart Tolle books.

  8. renaissanceguy Says:

    My brother is thought to be bi-polar by everyone in the family, but he has not been willing to get treatment.

    I have had depression and have chosen to treat it with counselilng and behvior modification rather than with drugs.

    Sometimes I wonder why we consider mental and emotional problems disorders when they are so common. Either the human race has devolved, which I think may very well be true, or some of our disorders are just part of the natural order after all.

    One thing about some of the disorders that seems undeniable to me is that our “advancement” has actually brought some of them on. Before there were “jobs” there wasn’t much job-related stress. Before there was so much leisure time and so many recreational options, people didn’t seem to worry so much about “boredom.”

  9. modestypress Says:

    Ren guy,

    There is an interesting article about treating depression by living a “caveman life style.” It ran in the AARP. It’s been on and off line. I’ll have to check if it’s available again. Anyway, it fits with your last paragraph.

  10. modestypress Says:

    I had to look up Tolle. Somehow, in all my family’s cultivation of “systems of solve all your problems if you believe this” beliefs, we missed that one.

    Fritz Perls was also a great believer in “live in the present.” Apparently he actually did live in the present most of the time. It caused quite a few problems for him and those around him. But he was “really there” as all these problems occurred. I prefer in being somewhere else after I cause problems.

  11. In my opinion, the enormous increase in bipolar disorder diagnoses is that antidepressants are ineffective for most people and anyone it doesn’t work for is called bipolar and put on mood stabilizers that also decrease depression. The vast majority of people diagnosed as depressed a decade ago and unresponsive to antidepressants are now being diagnosed as bipolar. All mood disorders are an enormous spectrum, no two alike.

  12. modestypress Says:


    I am inclined to agree, as I am in an agreeable mood at the moment. All mood disorders…enormous spectrum. I think that is valid. I am likely to have 31 flavors of mood disorders in just one day.

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