Here's the story: My younger brother is 21 years old, starting senior year in college this fall. For the last couple years he has slowly withdrawn from interaction with the parents (and me, and everyone else), and he seems to have a very narrow circle of friends. Hasn't been in a relationship that we know about since high school (straight as far as I know, but that is just a guess). In college his grades have slipped, he seems to be doing the bare minimum, and he doesn't show much interest in classes or what will happen after he graduates (if he graduates).
Now he is home for the summer with my parents, and by all account he has them down to their last raw nerve. He sleeps all the time (morning, noon, afternoon), shows no interest in anything, including getting a summer job. He is quick to anger, and communicates with one word responses if asked a question. He does not start conversations. Demonstrates a total lack of maturity. If he is up, he is playing Nintendo or mindlessly playing the guitar.
Is it drugs? Is it mental illness? Does he need to see a psychiatrist? How does one get a hostile 21 year old to agree to see one? I mean, he is legally an adult.
I'm getting this long distance, but I did see him a few weeks ago. I could really use some advice on how to proceed here. If we don't do something immediately he's back to college and who knows what will happen then.
Thanks in advance.
I truly hope there are no guns in the house.
If its not drugs, it's depression.
It might be depression.
Or, he just might be a spoiled helicoptee kid who is realizing he isn't ready to face the real world, and isn't smart enough to use grad school to avoid it. In which case, what he needs is a slap upside the head and a summer working as a garbageman.
Sounds like he's stoned a lot, and probably depressed. Whomever said make sure there's no guns in the house is correct. Now if we WERE a truly civilized country we could do a mental health check on him but since we're not...
Fucked in the head.
The brain undergoes physical changes after adolescence and for some people the result is the emergence of mental illness. Given his age, that's the first thing I thought of.
This might be a stupid thought, but when he does go back, can you inform someone at the school?
They probably can't reciprocate due to privacy laws, but at least if your parents talk to someone they can initiate contact with him if necessary.
you would, r6...
Is he a cutie like James Holmes? Would he look good with orange hair? Squee!
My guess would be depression. The slipping grades, the lack of communication, the anger.
Schizoid Personality Disorder. And R6 is right.
OP, has your brother ever been diagnosed with high-functioning autism or Asperger's Syndrome?
Depression, possibly drugs, more likely the first signs of bi-polar disease. If he has a psychotic break it could get ugly, and dangerous for your parents.
They need to haul him off to a doctor, possibly placed on a psych hold for testing and observation. But he needs help and NOW.
Sounds a lot like me before coming out. Had a year long depression before finally accepting that I was gay.
Was very confused, isolated, quick to anger when around other people and couldn't even begin to verbalize what was going on with me.
I forgot to add, he may be an adult legally, but if your parents are supporting him AND paying for his medical insurance they can insist he get to a doctor. Hell, they should just stuff him in the car and take him there, whether he likes it or not.
Depression. Sounds like me, I sleep all the time. Google psychomotor retardation and depression.
I seemed depressed to my parents during summer vacation after my first year of college. I missed my boyfriend; we were closeted, and we lived on opposite coasts. I was in deep brood during my waking hours. My mother in particular wouldn't leave me alone. I didn't come home after the second year.
Were I you, I'd consider a bullet-proof vest.
ummm...no they can't r14. Unless he is a danger to himself or others, he is an adult and they are stuck.
I've known people in different areas who have gone through variations of the OP's scenario and it's hell.
It sounds like he might have a vagina, in which case you and your parents need to just deal with it.
OP, I feel for you. It sounds like this has been building over time and this summer could be the perfect time to finally address this.
He needs a mentor right now desperately but I understand that your parents feel unsure of how to reach him and connect. An idle summer of sleeping all day and isolating is the worst thing for him even if it's what he craves. He needs to be in an environment that's meaningful for him and connecting to some peers and I'm sure he's miserable but unsure of how to turn things around.
He is likely suffering from some kind of untreated issue (and who knows if it's a hellish garden variety depression or something more troubling). The irony is that the last thing he'll want to do is have a spotlight on him or his issue and he'll likely fight you/your parents tooth and nail to go in for a diagnosis.
But this summer break is a window in time that should be leveraged if possible. He's home for the summer under your parents roof. Try and connect with him more over the coming days/weeks in any way that might resonate for him (video games? music? films? sports? whatever)
If you can start to chip away at the wall he has up and connect with him in any way you have a potential bridge to his mindset and feelings. And you can also begin to lay the foundation to getting him him into a doctor's office for potential diagnosis.
Please make use of these weeks before he goes back to school and make it a goal to have him diagnosed before he returns to school. Otherwise, this could go on indefinitely and he loses another year of his life to this issue. I'm rooting for you and for him.
Are you sure you're not being overly dramatic? It could be that he doesn't know what he wants to do with his life yet and isn't prepared for facing the real world and a very demanding job. Going to college, most students' goals was getting through and getting out.
Those who escape through video games are trying to dull their nerves. Does he need help getting a summer job in a video game store? How about having the talent to design a game? Maybe he just need to talk to people who like their career to see in which direction he should go. Some don't find themselves until their almost 30.
That was me when I was 21. I was terrified of becoming an adult--incredibly immature, completely aimless.
Depression, get him help
Something's up. He sounds depressed. He could be very private and had something (like a relationship breakup that he won't tell family about) that he's trying to cope with through vid games (I use gaming when overwhelmed or stressed).
OR... he just expected Summer would be a break from all responsibility. I suggest your parents seek help privately from a qualified therapist (or other professional) for how to proceed. If the college has Summer staff, maybe they have referrals for just this sort of thing.
Having no clue what's right therapeutically, I'd probably tell him he must be out of the house for 3 hours a day while I was home (evenings if I worked full time), and make conditions for him living there (such as pulling his weight around the house; finding a job or volunteer opportunity - the idea is using time productively and not being a slug all summer, the wage isn't important). But maybe I'm too harsh?
I think it's worms. Or rickets.
It is not typical behavior that the OP describes. Quit associating your own experiences as "scared to grow up" or being lazy or whatever. If the behaviors described here are accurate, the brother has some serious issues brewing. The withdrawal, the lassitude, the lack of communication, the anger issues all are symptomatic of a variety of concerns. It is not possible to tell what the problem is without taking action.
Since you're out of things because of distance, your parents need to sit down with the guy and talk straight to him. If he is quick to anger, they need to be prepared to stop him in his tracks with the basics of (1) you're an adult and responsible for yourself and (2) your actions here are not acceptable, and there are consequences.
They need to let him know of their love and concern, their willingness to assist in dealing with whatever the issues are, their right to know what is going on since he is now an adult under their roof, and their firm commitment not to let this go. Call it an intervention if necessary. And if you are the only other family member with a lick of sense, try to be there for the initial or follow-up conversation.
He needs to fess up if he's using drugs or drinking. If he's depressed, he needs to get help. If he's a selfish, spoiled, lazy bum, he needs to get out of the house and take personal responsibility. He needs to work, be active, and talk. Period.
Remember that ignoring the issue will not help, that the person acting irresponsibly or from an unwell position does not get to call the shots (while living as a dependent), and that persistence will be needed.
Who are the friends? What are they like? do they go out a lot?
OP, you should know better than to ask DL to diagnose your brother. Of COURSE they're going to come up with ridiculous shit like Asperger's and Schizoid Personality Disorder.
He most likely has a classic case of depression; he certainly has all the symptoms. (Yes, I've been there myself.) No, you haven't said anything indicating severe depression or mania/bipolar, but at the very least he needs to be on some SSRIs. Also, your parents need to be supportive but at the same time quit coddling his ass; if I was them I would've told him before the summer started that he was welcome to stay at home for it but ONLY if he got a job (even a non-paying internship, as long as it's full-time). Btw are they footing the entire bill for school, or is he on financial aid?
r28 - I personally know three people who, as children and young adults, were great kids (one is my nephew). Then, between the ages of 19 and 22, they started exhibiting behavior similar to what the OP described.
Two are schizophrenic. The other has SPD.
Is it depression or something else? Who knows? I certainly don't. But don't dismiss the possibility that he could have a serious mental illness.
Depression. paranoia, possibly borderline, there are a bunch of diagnosis possible depending on the therapist who sees him. It's obvious that something serious is going on.
Friends of mine just went through this very thing with their son, starting at 20. Straight A's, college scholarships, success in college, many, many friends, then within six weeks, deep into identical symptoms. Alienated every friend, grades plummeted, dropped out of school, arrests, violent acts against property (at first), etc.
They had him in their house for five years before he left. He refused treatment. He is an adult, you cannot commit an adult unless he is a danger to self or others. Besides, if they could, and he was dangerous on occasion, what good does it accomplish? They won't keep him very long. He won't benefit unless he cooperates with treatment.
At the end he was terrifying. One day he attacked his father, beat him up and then moved out.
This is a very tough situation, but it will only get worse unless they get on top of it immediately. Get him to a shrink for an evaluation. Make it a condition of his staying there. If he doesn't and won't leave either, evict him -- see a lawyer first. He has tenant rights.
Aging parents have no business boarding an adult family member who has significant mental issues and won't get treatment. It can destroy them. You may have to get involved to the extent of being on site to help them.
Very tough situation.
Fill him with drugs! It's in the constitution.
Face it, OP.
He just isn't into you (or your parents).
Could be Bi-Polar. Definitely depression. For the record, I agree with r26. They need to tell him that he is loved, they are concerned and want to help.
It sort of sounds like everyone I knew at that age.
He sees the world for what it is, and that's depressing. I'm with him.
Hi OP, Im mid 20s so 21 wasnt that long ago for me..it was a really difficult time.
I started to hate the university my parents sent me to, and I changed majors so I would have to deal with being there even longer. This is when the people that are really serious about their future start buckling down, and if you dont have friends like that they start disappearing one after the other. I was constantly broke because school was getting more expensive every year, and that alone is enough to make you depressed. I wanted a job but couldn't find anything for a long time. I also felt a huge amount of guilt for not supporting myself more like my mom did, both her parents died when she was a teenager. I felt like was I wasting my time.
The two things that helped me the most were telling myself to stop feeling guilty and getting a job. When you are working it helps the days go by.
Definitely depressed....the question is why. He should start with some therapy and go from there.
21 is the key age for a lot of symptoms to emerge if there is a serious mental illness. But it would very unusual for a bipolar or schizophrenia disorder to show up if there is no family history. It could be garden-variety unipolar depression, which does show up at any time.
[quote]But it would very unusual for a bipolar or schizophrenia disorder to show up if there is no family history.
Again, I'm only going by my experience, but of the people I know, there was no family history.
Yeah there does not have to be family history to be either
Constipation. Get your bro on Activia, stat!
What was he like before, duh?
An outgoing, active, popular kid? Creative? Athletic? Smart? Well read? A good conversationalist?
Or was he quiet, non-athletic, staid, maybe a bit dull, prone to the consumer culture of gimme, gimme, gimme that game, laptop, surround system, 50 inch tv?
Did he drink, do drugs, hang out in bars with fake ID, steal, cheat, get speeding tickets, get into drunken fights?
Was he a church-going boy scout, did he have lots of dates, a large circle of friends, a hobby, any kind of interests? Was he ambitious did he have a goal to reach?
A little background, please.
Thanks for the replies so far.
In high school he was smart, straight A student, elected class officer, did track and swimming. Got a great academic scholarship to a private college so money worries are not the reason.
He drank and smoked dope in high school, but kept his shit together--whatever else he did, he never got caught. I don't think he's ever had so much as a speeding ticket.
He has always been quiet with a very dark sense of humor (he would actually fit right in here). It's odd, but he never had hobbies, collected anything, or even watched much TV.
I'm not terribly worried that he will harm himself or others. It's just this lack of engagement in the world, the idling in neutral all the time.
I just don't now how to get him help without making it worse. If he decides that the family is against him, that we're the enemy, there's no going back after that.
Anyway, I'm going back there this weekend to see for myself. Maybe he just needs to get drunk and get laid.
I'll keep you posted.
Does your brother ever:
*Pace a lot, appear lost in thought
*Prefer to be "alone with his thoughts"
*Have a sense of humor that could be described as observational
*Is "a good listener"
*Enjoy repeating phrases, words, or singing the same lyrics from a song to himself
*Make repetitive motions with his hands, or have "hands that have a mind of their own"
I do many of those things, R44. Diagnose me?
Asperger's Syndrome, or high-functioning autism.
OP, play good cop / bad cop with your parents. They are the strict rulemakers. You are the non-judgmental buddy. Maybe he'll open up to you. It worked in my family (I'm the oldest).
I heard that valedictorian types frequently have a nervous breakdown early in their college career. College is looser than high school's structure and they don't know how to process it, plus they're coming off years of stress trying to get into the best school.
Maybe your parents should say go ahead and do whatever you want for June. Take the month off. Rest, rejuvenate. Then get busy living like a normal human being come July 1. That's reasonable.
Yeah, try finding a job on July 1st, R47. It's already too late. All the go-getter college kids were job hunting for summer jobs at spring break. Internships are set up in the fall for the following summer. A slacker who doesn't have a job by the second week of June is likely not going to have one.
Sondheim an aspie?! Explain please!
Um, you've heard his music, right?
Google "Stephen Sondheim Aspergers." Other people have written about it better than I can on my iPhone.
"Sunday In The Park With George" is about an artist with Aspergers and his difficulty in dealing with other people.
"Into the Woods" also has themes about the Aspies' inability to deal with world.
See also: THE ENTIRE OEUVRE OF WOODY ALLEN.
He needs to get his entitled little ASS kicked.
Ass-burgers seems to be the answer to EVERYTHING today. That, and silly-ass disease.
I suspect prescription drug abuse. What are his friends like?
Sounds like classic depression.
Either mental illness or depression.
And I hope to God I don't have Asperger's. Being with people always ends up being exhausting and I need my time alone. I love parties, but to me they only lead to flirting with everybody I like, and that's not always appreciated (when I'm in a relationship).
Hate the way people relate to one another. Don't understand it. Wish I had a creative job and hung out with a creative crowd.
Hate my job.
Sounds like depression to me.
If he is eating a lot and possibly masturbating a lot, could be Kleine-Levin syndrome. It mostly affects teenage boys and they typically sleep for many hours a day.
It looks like depression, but it isn't.
It sounds as though he's depressed.
How the fuck would OP know if his brother is masturbating a lot, R57?
OP, FWIW, don't push too hard this visit. Go back this weekend to 'get the lay of the land' and see if you can realistically start to build a new connection to your brother.
Any activity you can do with him while you're there will help, i.e. play video games, go out to eat or to the movies, take a walk or hike, go for a drive, whatever. Ideally get him out of the house and around people for a bit.
Hell, if it seems OK, smoke a joint with him or have a few beers if it will help him open up. (If you sense that those things would not be wise than obviously don't go there.)
Your parents also need to make an appointment for themselves to meet with a counselor asap. They need tools and guidance on how to read the signs better about what's really going on.
It's not clear if this kid is just going through a lousy phase of being an antisocial/lazy/unfocused slacker who needs his butt kicked or if it's something far more complicated that needs to be handled very carefully.
You don't have to act like, "Super Brother" but even just 'hanging' with him is a really good stepping stone to help him start to feel connected to someone again. And you can really start to try and figure out what's going on in his mind. If your radar starts to go off that something feels 'off' or troubling, don't ignore it. Just gather facts as best you can right now and then after this trip you can evaluate the next step.
Keep connection with him after your trip. A funny text every day or a random phone call every couple of days to stay connected is helpful. Build a connection to him with the hopes that you might prove to be the voice of reason for him down the road to convince him to get his butt into a dr's office. If he thinks you 'get' him, he just might be open to what you have to say. But first you have to put in the work to get him to feel connected to you.
Use this trip as a fact finding mission to get a sense of what you realistically feel is going on. Maybe there are professionals on this board who could offer some helpful generic comments after your update next week??
Well, OP? How did things go?
Hello, OP. You're still in my threadlist. So what happened?
OP, I have two words for you:
I haven't posted because I'm not sure what to think. I don't think it's depression, at least that's not the main problem, but he's 12 years younger than I am, and it's obvious that kids really are different these days.
It's almost like a spring inside him never got wound. He has no ambition, no plans after college, no real interests other than fucking around with his guitar and playing computer games, and he's a bit of an asshole who radiates a very unpleasant know-it-all attitude. At least that's the attitude that comes through when he isn't busy letting the entire world know just how boring he finds everything and everyone around him--something he works very hard at. You ask him a question, and you get a smartass answer, guaranteed.
I asked him about working this summer, and what he was planning to do for money in college. He looked at me like I was simple minded and said "I don't need much money to be happy. I live modestly. This is my last summer of freedom."
His only real interest seems to be busting my parents' balls, and as someone who has been there/done that I have to say he's really very good.
My point is, I think he's basically a spoiled, lazy, 21 year old jerk, completely full of himself, living in a fantasy world, and he seems to have the maturity level of a 14 year old. What was really scary was that his friends seem to be the same way.
I'm not worried about him like I was two weeks ago. In fact, I'm sort of looking forward to the ass-kicking life will give him when (if?) he graduates college and has to enter the real world.
R64 how do you think that college students are different these days?
I dont know if it is depression. I dont think people who are depressed put in the effort to push buttons as described concerning his parents. Honestly, it sounds like a drug abuse issue.
Sounds a lot like me at that age.
I turned down all offers of help.
All I wanted to do was hang out in the Village.
OP, he will not get the ass kicking you expect from the "real world" because he will not enter it for a very long time. He'll be living with your parents until well into his late twenties, early thirties. That's what's different about this generation. They have no real desire to ever leave home. Why should they? They have it too good. They live rent free, have all their meals taken care of, etc. and a lot of middle and upper middle class kids have an entire wing or floor (basement) of the McMansion to themselves.
It's not like the good old days when young people couldn't wait to leave their parents' cramped homes and get out on their own. A lot has been written about the shift in young adults (boys in particular) away from wanting to grow up fast, to not wanting to grow up at all. And it has happened in just one generation. Increasingly, young men express zero desire to marry or even have a LTR (again, why should they?---it's so easy to get laid nowadays without all the baggage).
It used to be embarrassing to still be living at home past a certain age. Now it's just the opposite. These deadbeats are proud of the fact that they don't have any obligations. They laugh at their friends who pay a fortune for rent, car payments etc. and have no money left to have any fun.
This whole situation sounds like what happened to my sister- she was very much like this, and I guess I was a little bit, too. I think we've both grown out of it. We both (at separate times) took overseas jobs, and that helped us earn money, figure out what to do with our lives, and made us feel a bit more confident. But feeling like that in senior year isn't unusual, although it's super unpleasant. I recommend that he get a job that allows him to travel. Living on his own and being made to move around can really help with the growth process. And for what it's worth, my sister took six years to graduate college and was very depressed before she took her job in Europe, but now she's happy, has lost weight (not in an unhealthy way), and is turning out fine. And I'm doing fine, too. It's growing pains.
On the off-chance it isn't, though, let him know that he can talk to you if he needs to, and let your parents know they can talk to you, too. I know my parents were freaking out about my sister- but they aren't anymore.
Your brother sounds like a self-possessed, sensitive human being who is surrounded by an unprecedented holistic negativity : locally, YOURS, and globally....just look the fuck around.
Back off, vampire