Katie: Healthy realism

“I’m no longer trying to be the savior. I take it as it comes.”

Katie remembers that her younger brother, Kevin, did not like to listen to authority and became easily frustrated. At age 18, he frequently drank alcohol, drove while drinking, and used illegal drugs. Now she believes these behaviors were self-medicating for an undiagnosed mental illness. As a freshman in college, Kevin had a psychotic episode. Katy recalled, “He was like a different person. It was really scary because you could tell he was in a different world.”

Many hospitalizations for severe symptoms followed. Kevin’s hospitalizations increased with age, sometimes several occurring in one year. During his first hospitalization, Kevin received a bipolar disorder diagnosis, which years later was altered to schizoaffective bipolar disorder. Katy wonders whether a childhood sledding accident resulting in a brain injury contributed to his illness after Kevin took his sled on a snowmobile trail, was hit in the head, and needed many stitches.

Kevin currently lives with his mom, but bounces back and forth between hospital, group home, and home.

He can be very hard to live with. He goes from ‘I love you mom’ to calling her horrible names. I have a brother with schizophrenia and my brother Kevin with schizoaffective bipolar. They’re always in and out living with mom. Kevin gets these ideas and it's cyclical. It happens every time he’s in the hospital. “Should I get my own place?” He gets an apartment for 30 days and then goes back to mom. He hasn’t worked in years, although I believe he wants to. He comes out of every hospitalization and every group home, saying, “I’m going to get a job. I want to have a family.” It’s a cycle and sadly, it hasn’t worked out for him.

Although Kevin has two college degrees, he has difficulty working with people. Katy describes his life as “eat, sleep, smoke, and drink Mountain Dew.”

More of the Story: Trying to Help