Post # 1
This is mostly a scared and worried vent, I just got a message from my mom letting me know that the doctors are 90% certain my brother has lymphoma (no more information than that as of yet). He’s been dealing with swollen lymph nodes and dental abcesses since the summer and it took three months to get him in for an appointment with the specialist, but that’s Canadian health care for you. He’s 27.
I’m really terrified that this is going to be the thing that pushes him right over the edge–he’s been living with a slew of disorders all of his life that all add up to a very unstable personality. In general he’s calm, but sometimes he gets violent and often he’s depressed. Over the years my parents have dealt with having him thrown in psyche wards when he gets violent, altercations with the police, and multiple suicide attempts that ranged from cries for help to legitimate attempts, the worst of which was when my mom found him hanging.
We don’t really talk about this part as a family, so it’s hard for me to put it into words properly, and I don’t really know how to put this without coming off horribly insensitive, and I don’t know if anyone who hasn’t gone through serious long-term depression with a family member can understand… but my family and I have… sort of come to grips with the fact that sooner or later, my brother will probably be successful in killing himself. It’s really, really weird to explain, but we know that at a certain point in time (basically whenever my father, who is his only real friend, passes at some point in the hopefully distant future) it won’t be long after that. I think part of it is a coping mechanism that helps us just empathize with what he goes through on a daily basis and helps us all understand the severity of his mental illness.
But throw in cancer–even one that has good survival rates, like I’ve read so far about lymphoma–and that changes things. He isn’t emotionally or mentally stable enough to have a doctor’s appointment rescheduled on him–how is he possibly going to cope with cancer treatment? And my mother went through young cancer already once, with her sister, who passed away (longer story: my biological mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer while she was pregnant with me at 27–there it is again–and when she passed my aunt, now my mom, adopted me). I can’t imagine what she’s going through, or what my dad is going through, because he’s always irrationally blamed himself for my brother’s issues. And it really, really scares me that I can imagine what these next few months are going to be like, and then I feel absolutely a million times worse when I think about how he must be feeling, with this on top of his regular depression.
Does any one else have experience dealing with severe mental health issues on top of a health crisis? Any experience with family members dealing with the same?
Post # 2
I’m so sorry that you are going through this. I have no frame of reference or advice but I’m just very sorry for you.
Post # 3
omg i am so sorry for you too….
My SO’s family is full of mental illness, so i can sympathize in that regard and if you would like more detail just pm me…
but I was also tested for lymphoma about 6 years ago. I was only 20 back then, it came up negative but it was a very stressful time..
i hope nothing but the best for your family and especially your brother.
Big big big hugs* <3
Post # 4
A family member of mine was Manic depressive Bi Polar he was also disagnosed with a terminal illness and passed away.We had been estranged so I did not find out till two years after it had happened, even though I had basically thought of him as gone already it hit me pretty hard.
I always though I would find out in time ( if something were to happen) to say goodbye or atleast be able to go to the funeral and pay my repsects. I didn’t get to do either of those, I felt very empty when I found out about his passing.
I totally understand that you have accepted his fate as I did the same thing with this person. All my advice would be is to try and enjoy the time you have left because if he was to pass away thats all you have.
Sorry to you and your family in this hard time
Post # 5
It can be difficult dealing with a loved one’s mental illness, and I understand how sometimes the family needs to accept that they can’t help their loved one (I had to put a similar distance between myself and a very dear friend who eventually drank herself to death, because she did not care about her alcoholism while I did, and it was destroying my life). I think you need to accept that his cancer diagnosis does not automatically make you more capable of supporting him, nor does it make him automatically more able to cope with his illnesses. This does not mean to ignore him or stop caring; just don’t beat yourself up on top of all the other emotions you have going on.
It may be worth joining a support group for loved ones of people with the same kinds of mental illness as your brother has. You may learn new coping skills and also may learn about new options and approaches to being his support system when you yourself are already stretched thin. At worst, you will find some empathy and learn better ways to get yourself through the upcoming tough times; at best, you may find some new techniques for helping your brother manage his mental illness so that he can be better able to manage his physical illness.
Post # 6
Horseradish: Thank you for your understanding. I hadn’t thought that this would affect me to this level, but the fact that it has at all really does prove to me that I need to find some sort of support group.
I’m all discombobulated and having trouble putting together rationale sentences, but your comment really has given me some comfort, even in just knowing that my family isn’t alone or horrible for having accepted the possibility of him killing himself.