Dick: Ambivalent Feelings

The hardest thing for Dick is worrying about whether or not he is doing the right thing. Since his brother has moved farther away, he is ambivalent about visiting and sees him less often.

I don’t interact with him as often. My life is certainly better not interacting with him all the time. But am I doing the right thing by stepping away? That guilt piece again. You tell yourself you can only do what you can do. Since he’s changed his medication, I’ve been obviously trying to be more involved. I tell myself I need to go up there and spend a day every week. I haven’t done it because I don’t want to.

It is a challenge for Dick to balance self-care and looking out for his brother.

You always think you can do better. That’s the balance between self-care and caring for your brother. NAMI helps me with that guilt. You can only do what you can do. I think I’m doing okay. Could I do better? Probably. Check with me in a year.

He admitted he has made some mistakes with Stuart. In the past he tried logic in arguments with him. He no longer does that. He found the LEAP (Listen-Empathize-Agree-Partner) method described by Xavier Amador in his book, I Am Not Sick I Don’t Need Help, to be an effective guide for interactions with his brother.

Dick hopes that Stuart “can find that happy place between depression and mania.” Currently, he wants to see Stuart be less depressed and sleep fewer hours each day. He hopes Stuart will get back to fishing, an activity he loved and used to do five years ago. When Dick asked his brother why he no longer goes fishing, Stuart replied that no one will fish with him. Dick believes it is because he will not ask anyone. He realizes that his brother does better in comparison to many stories that he has heard. Since he is Stuart’s primary caregiver, he continues to experience the burden and concerns connected with his responsibility for his brother. Although Dick expresses ambivalence about caring for and monitoring his brother’s symptoms and treatment, he has become closer to his brother. He now understands that some characteristics such as being obstinate and irritable are a part of bipolar disorder.

More of the Story: Advocacy Through NAMI