Helping my brother In-Law

My brother-in-law, John, had been a problem for several years and most in the family alluded to drugs as being the problem. John is now 54 years old, my wife (his sister) is 45 and his mother is 82. He had been living on his own and holding down a job as a steel rule die maker. He worked alone in his own room at the factory and no one bothered him. Partly because they feared him. He was know to have a violent temper and could snap quickly.

About 10 years ago, he set fire to his apartment. He lived upstairs at the time and was storing a five gallon can of gasoline in his refrigerator. He had decided to take it down to his car and it sloshed on a hot plate he had on, thus the fire. He thru the can out of the apartment and in the process burned his arm. He then left in his car, and left the apartment afire. Fortunately the fire department arrived and put out the fire before it seriouly damaged the building and the other tenant's apartments. John lived in Long Beach, California at this time. He drove to Newport Beach, about 25 miles away and was harrasing some very well to do lady about her living in HIS house. She called the police and they found him in the restroom at the beach. It took 4 of them to subdue him even though his arm was severely burned. He was sentenced to Patton State Hospital after a hearing and evaluation by the court. While at Patton, he was diagnosed as a schizophrenic and put on medication. He responded to the medication quite well and lost all paranoia and delusions. His only apparent side effect was a tendancy to weep and I think he was probably a little overdosed on the medication.

Our (the families) main problem has been John's mother. She has always tried to protect and help him in any way she can, especally with money. The other problem is that she is a Christian Scientist and has a hard time with any type of medical solution to a problem. She has worked most of her live and made a good living and until recently could afford to help him.

John was in Patton for 4 years. Upon his release, he immediately stopped takeing his medication, with the blessing of his mother. After all, she and he figured he was cured!!! It took about 6 months for all the medication to wear off and he was back to his old self. About 1 year after that he had a little "accident" in his mothers apartment and another fire occured.

We finally convinced his mother that he could not live there anymore and he had to be on his own. John agreed and left and started driving. He drove East until his truck broke down in the small town of Aguila, Arizona. He finally called his mother and let her know he was in need of money and she sent some to him. He was living out of his truck in a melon field. This was a very small town and the farmers did not seem to mind his being there. His mother became worried that he did not have a place to live and started arranging for him to spend a night or two in the little motel in town and get a couple of meals in the coffee shop. That escalated to him living full time in the motel and eating 3 meals a day at the coffee shop. All paid for by his mother!!! His mother was finally able to get him SSI and that covered about 1/3 of his bills there. She still paid the rest and he still had no treatment. This has gone on until Christmas when we had a family meeting and were able to convince his mother that she

1) no longer had the money to pay the bills,

2) that John was not getting any better and needed treatment, and

3) that we should all join a support group for help and guideance.

We joined the local support group in February and started going to meetings. They were a great help and provided us with a lot of answers and helped us for a stragety to deal with John and his disese. In the meantime, we read up on the disese, subscribed to your newsletter and tried to find a solution to our problem with the different agencies. Everything seemed to point in one direction. Cut off the money and have him evicted from his motel room. At that point we thought he might get violent and he would "become a danger to himself or others", the only way you seem to be able to get anyone treated these days. Afterall, John thought he was just fine!!

We warned the people at the motel and the coffee shop of what might happen. We alerted the mental health people in Phoenix. And lastly, we talked at length with the Maricopa County Sherriffs office. They were of great assistance. And we really tried to resolve the situation without an eviction - but that didn't work. On the day of the eviction, the Sherriffs arrived and told John that he would have to leave the motel room as his rent was no longer being paid for. He stunned us by agreeing to leave and walked away into the fields. No argument and no arrest!! What now? Well, he moved about one mile away and found a farm shack and started living there. The people at the coffee shop took pity on him and took him food everyday. This was undermining our attempt at getting him treated, but it releaved his mothers mind a little. At times very little!!! She was very distraught about him being homeless and what had WE done!!

Finally the Sherriffs came to the rescue and petitioned that he was causing himself grave and bodily harm by bathing in the canal in the field. The canals have the runoff of the fields and carry all kinds of chemicals in them. John is now in a court mandated treatment program for one year. He has been getting his treatment for about 3 weeks now and we hope for some improvement soon. As a final note. I know what we did may seem cruel to some, but we did it in his best interest. Our goal was to get him treated first, and then hopefully out on his own again. Through this whole process we were in constant touch with the Sherriffs and the mental health people, and the motel and coffee shop in town there. We also had the backing and support of the local Alliance for the Mentally Ill support group. The social worker and the group were just great. My advice to all is to join a support group. Learn about the disese you are dealing with as much as possible. Find out all of your options for treatment. Set a goal for treatment and make a plan and implement it. Stick with your plan!!

Sorry this got so long,

Thanks again,




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