Post # 1
Anyone have any good advice or experience with a family member with anexity disorders or other similar situations?
I could use all the help I can get! My new brother in law is 31 and still lives at home with DH’s parents. He has had anexity problems for over 10 years and he goes through periods of highs and lows. He has gotten accepted to grad school and tried to move in 3 times (last 3 years). Each time he goes to move but has a panic attack and has to cancel/move back home. He really wants to go to a good program that is out of state. He does not want to attend a local college. He cannot work and normally can’t drive. He hates to be on meds and has not had luck with councelling. He is currently is professional councelling but I never hear of any improvement. He switches meds and psychologists a lot. He was the best man at our wedding and did amazing, but the next month had the worst crisis of his life.
He is very smart and ambitious but seems to set his goals too high then gets upset when he fails. His parents have to drive him around places and pay for all his bills – including medical which I’m sure is a lot. The household situation is causing a lot of stress on him as well as his parents living in the same house. There doesn’t seem to be anyone else he’s comfortable living with and not on his own at this point.
We’ve hit a point where I don’t know what to say. His parents can’t take care of him forever but I want to be supportive and there for him. Sorry kind of a rant. Any words of wisdom/advice?
Post # 4
Well, one thing I can say right off the bat is that anxiety can be so incredibly debilitating and overwhelming, both for the person experiencing it and for the people involved in that person’s life. So, I do want to acknowledge that I’d imagine what you and your family is dealing with is incredibly overwhelming.
As far as what to do, it sounds like he’s taking some of the right steps (psychotherapy and medication). One thing I think that isn’t always acknowledged enough is the fact that seeing A therapist is not the same thing as seeing the RIGHT therapist. AND, just because someone is licensed/trained/etc doesn’t mean they’re qualified/knowledgeable about dealing with the specific needs of someone with anxiety. If he hasn’t already, I highly suggest that he seek out a therapist who specializes in anxiety, and/or someone who specializes in therapeutic techniques that are used with anxiety. (For example, talk therapy is not helpful alone in anxiety, though cognitive behavioral therapy is–different approach to therapy, more action vs. processing oreinted). And, as much as medication can be tough, it may be good for him to take the RIGHT medication in CONJUNCTION with therapy. Never medication along. I was told this once, and I think it’s a great way to think about it…medication gets people to the point where they are stable enough to function in therapy. Medication is never a cure-all, and in my opinion needs to be taken in conjunction with therapy.
And as far as what YOU can do–I’d say support him as much as you feel comfortable, without having you become overwhelmed as well. That could mean listening to him (without comment/judgment) when he needs it, or doing activities with him, or sitting with him. Asking him what you can do to help is a good way to help. And, realize that you cannot “fix” him or “cure” him. Even if you are a trained therapist, it’s never appropriate for a family member to be the one to treat a family member–the relationship is much too close.
So, those are some thoughts. Hopefully they help with some guidance. I can try and think of more ideas as well, if need be 🙂
Post # 5
@judithsr thanks for your kind words! He seems to be at a point where nothing has previously worked, so now what? I agree with the right therapist. I’m not sure he’s getting that but he doesn’t like to discuss it with family/friends. We can only hope he’s getting the help he needs.
Post # 6
I work in a clinic specifically for anxiety spectrum disorder patients, where we do an initial interview and then find them a student therapist through our college. I am a huge proponent of our practices of CBT – cognitive behavioral therapy – which helps patients to not only talk through their problems but also construct a plan for how to deal with their difficulties and learn to overcome them with reasonable steps to lead happier lives. Part of finding the right therapist is finding the right therapy approach – what has he tried previously? Do you know? He should learn to recognize the impending symptoms of a panic attack, consciously identify with their implications, and to effectively deal with their aftermath without it crippling his life (especially with such ambition!). I know I’ve just rehashed what judithsr says but it’s true!
I also totally agree with judithsr in that not only can you not “fix” him because you’re family, you also can’t fix him because he has to want it for himself or nothing will work. But it’s never hopeless – there is someone out there who can help him specifically! Trick is finding that person and therapy approach at a time when he’s open to it. (and also on the point that medication should be used in conjunction with therapy – definitely true!). Until he’s ready to face his problems head on, all you can do is be the best support and most open SIL you can be, whatever that means for his case.
Good luck – psych issues can be some of the most stressful disorders to deal with in a family member because they are hard to understand. I’m sure your support is helpful and important to him 🙂
Post # 7
@Rgeddy: I totally understand the feeling of now what. And, just to say again, I understand how challenging it is for you when you are so wanting to help, and he’s limited in what he’s willing to do/share/etc. And I’d imagine it’s tough for him too, feeling like he’s tried everything.
If he’s willing, I’d suggest to him to consider seeking out a specialist who works primarily with anxiety. I’ve had my share of not so good therapists, and have also worked professionally with people I feel ARE good therapists (and arent). The difference can definitely be felt.
There are ways to seek out therapists who specialize…I can give you some feedback on how to do that if you want.
And, I think for you what’s the most important (and hardest) to keep in mind is that you can only do what he’ll let you do. Ultimately, any change will have to come from him. And that can be SO hard to deal with, not being able to “fix” or change a situation, despite your genuine desire to help. It sounds like you’re already doing a lot, and all you can do, and that’s great. And remember, while you’re taking care of him, make sure you’re taking care of yourself too. It’s a cheesy analogy, but a good one none the less…when you’re on an airplane, you know how you’re supposed to secure the oxygen of you before soemone else? It’s the same idea with this…if you don’t help yourself, how can you possibly help someone else?
So, I’d say keep doing what you’re doing…supporting him in the way he needs, and understanding that you can only do so much, and whatever you can do is great. 🙂