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I am a 22 year old male and I have a younger brother 20 years old. I come from a patriarchal family in which my mother has always been a house wife. Though we have been a happy family until my father died unexpectedly in a helicopter crash. He was a helicopter pilot.

Over the past four years since the death of my father both of us have become smokers, have become daily smokers of pot and can't control ourselves whenever we drink alcohol. Though I have somehow managed to earn an engineering degree with a decent gpa and have been working in IT ever since I graduated last year. By brother on the other hand has somehow managed to graduate from high school ( my father died when he was in his final year of school and when I was in my second year of university), repeated the same year of university twice and eventually dropped out after 2 years citing that the course wasn't good enough. He stays at home with my mother and has been known to misbehave at home and break things.

He has tried to hold a job but one day stopped going for it and never bothered to collect his pay. He fights with my mother for money. Doesn't leave the house but sneaks out after midnight. Gets high at most times. Hangs out with people only if they have weed. I'm really worried about him. Since, I've stopped smoking weed and drinking alcohol.

He is also known to not leave the house for days, not brushing his teeth or taking a shower for days. His room stinks really bad and mostly keeps himself locked. He has no motivation and at every opportunity that might bring a change in him, he rejects it.

After a long time all three of us decided to go to Australia for a long vacation. I've got an approved leave from my employer and all arrangements have been made. Now he doesn't want to go. It's like he doesn't want to change. He refused to see a counsellor after seeing one for over six months. He refused to take treatment to get over his addictions. He's been bothering everyone and now no one likes him at all.

I feel he's really depressed but with all his friends doing so well in life, I feel worried about him. How can I get him to do something and not be in his room the whole day? He feels he's better than everything.

  • I have a brother in his mid-20's who acts like this without the drugs and is less confrontational. He has never held a formal job, did not complete his college degree, and mostly lives in his world of video games. I wish I had an answer for you, but my family is still wondering how to convince my brother that things need to change. He appears to be living just for the moment and not planning for his future at all. He's very intelligent, yet seems to be squandering his potential. It's kind of perplexing. – Jeremy Jameson Jul 31 '17 at 17:41
  • Thanks for sharing. I can understand what you feel. The sad part of this whole thing is that I sometimes feel that he's doing this just to make it difficult for the other people. And there's nothing I can do about it. – M Dhali Aug 1 '17 at 12:18
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This may be completely obvious (you yourself mention depression in your question), but the behaviors that you are listing are all common signs of clinical depression. The best description I ever read of depression is that it is not about feeling sad, but it is the inability to get motivated to do anything-you can't get out of bed, take a shower, eat food, etc. And often a person suffering from depression gets accused of having oppositional behaviors such as defiance or laziness.

I myself suffer from depression, and when it is bad, it really doesn't matter if people offer to help me do something (like look for a job), or tell me that I need to get up and get out. As a matter of fact, that can actually make it worse, because then I feel guilty about letting these people down when I cannot muster the energy to accept their help.

I highly recommend that you try and get your brother in to see a physician who can assess him for depression. There are both pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical treatments that can be quite effective for depression, and they may help him surface from this negative place that he is in and be able to move forward with his life. A good therapist is really helpful, but if you come from a family or a culture where therapy is not common, then see if a doctor, religious leader, or a former teacher might be able to help him (and your family) start working through this difficult time.

And, I want to emphasize--just because your brother is responding to this situation with depression does not in any way suggest that he is grieving more than you are about losing your father. It is just an indication that his brain processes situations differently than yours does, just like he might enjoy the flavor of some food or spice that you dislike.

In my experience, situations where depression is involved frequently become judgemental, with the judgement arising on either side-the person suffering from the depression or people who are not. Unfortunately, this can easily make people lose sight of depression as an underlying cause, and means that it takes longer to seek out treatment.

I don't know for sure that he is depressed, but if he is, I think taking steps to help him get through the depression will be likely to make it easier for your family to emerge from this difficult time stronger and healthier.

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If I was this boy's mother, I would tell him, "you are responsible for your own life. That means you are responsible for providing yourself with a place to live, and the means by which to have that place and feed yourself. You have two months from today to find a job and an apartment, and move out. You are of course welcome to visit at home any time, but you have to have your own place to live, and be providing for yourself - because this has gone on quite long enough. I am here to help you with this transition in any way I can - if you want me to go with you to look at apartments, or if you'd like me to look over your job applications or help you practice interviews, or choose what to wear when going to meet potential employers. But (insert date here), this will no longer be your home, and if you don't have somewhere else to live at that point, that is your responsibility too. I'm your mother, and I love you, and I want to take care of you. But you are an adult now, and I cannot take care of you if you are not taking care of yourself, and you certainly cannot stay in my house if you are unable to respect my rules and pull your own weight."

I will also add, as a personal anecdote, that if he can be persuaded to see a therapist, that would probably be the very best thing. I hit a dreadful slump in my early 20's (though I was still working, I'd dropped out of school), and about a year of therapy got me completely back on track with life. I also have had 3 friends who were in a much worse state than me (lying on the couch for days until they were finally fired for not showing up to work), and the two of them who saw therapists are now doing fantastically well, and the one who didn't is still doing terribly (basically a homeless alcoholic who's wife won't let him come home to see the kids).

Ultimately, though, you cannot control anyone's behavior. You can just try to get them to wake up and smell the roses. And keep in mind that enabling his behavior by providing a support system for which he shows no appreciation will be a disservice to him in the long run. Which doesn't mean you or your mother should withhold love and understanding (never!), but it is in HIS best interest to stop allowing him to be a leech.

  • Thanks for your reply. What you suggested was exactly what my mom tried to do but it didn't quite work out the way she wanted. Other family members got involved and it was a huge mess. – M Dhali Aug 1 '17 at 2:47
  • Maybe those other family members should volunteer to let him live with them, then... – MAA Aug 1 '17 at 2:51
  • I'm sorry to hear that though. I guess I'm all tapped out for suggestions then. Maybe your mom needs a way to get the rest of the family to respect her decisions. – MAA Aug 1 '17 at 3:02

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