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Undiagnosed mental illness,

Community Member
My brother has displayed what I believe are symptoms of bi polar and schizophrenia since he was a teenager.
He has always talked to himself and whenever I would ask him ‘what did you say?’ he says he didn’t say anything. I have always felt he is acting out scenarios with people in his head and speaking out loud without realising it. He still does this at 37 year old.
Now as a married, father in his 30’s he has become worse. He works as a tradesperson and does not regularly shower and wears the same clothes for the whole week to work. He also does not buy new clothes and wears the same clothing from when he was a teenager. He constantly has dirty hands and an extremely offensive body odour.
He is unable to look people in the eye when they speak – his eyes dart around and he makes no sense, his responses are incoherent and sometimes he actually makes up words which make no sense to the conversation.
I have argued with my family for many years about his behaviour, habits and lack of respect he shows me when in my home. Basically, because I am the opinionated sister, my family have labelled me as a b**** and that I am talking behind his back.
My father believes he should not go to a doctor for help as it is shameful and that as a family we can help him. My father becomes angry at me when I tell him this is not my responsibility, but my brothers wife and my parents should encourage him to seek help.
On one social occasion a friend of mine asked if ‘that guy over there has Aspergers or something’ because they noticed his behaviour was unusual. I had to tell them he was my brother so they would not continue and embarrass themselves.
At family dinners, he sometimes leaves the table and suddenly falls asleep on the couch and leaves his wife to care for their 3 children.
I’m tired of the fighting and pleading with my parents to get him help and would appreciate if people could offer advice about how to set boundaries with my parents and other siblings to understand there is nothing I can do to help him if they are not willing to seek medical advice.
I would also like to know if these are symptoms of mental illness or just personality traits I have to accept.
6 Replies 6

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hello EmilyIn Paris, your concern is that you can see a problem with your brother, something your parents and perhaps his wife don't want to see or are not prepared to accept because that then labels them as a problem they may have created.

I am unable to give you a diagnosis as I'm not qualified but have you asked him whether or not he would go with you and his wife to see a doctor.

His father doesn't necessarily have any say in the matter as he is an adult but more so his wife does if this can be organised.

Best wishes.


Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hi Emilyln,

Im really sorry yourself and your brother are going through this.

Have you personally been able to raise your concerns with your brother?

Maybe when you approach him you could approach him in a calm understanding way.

Maybe your brother doesn’t realise he is doing these things?

If he does have a undiagnosed mental health condition he may not be feeling that well inside himself…… just show him understanding.

Maybe you could offer to take him to the doctor and you could both talk to the doctor, you could tell the doctor what you have noticed in his behaviour.

We can only hope that your brother can get the care and treatment he needs so life can be easier for him… if he needs it..

Has his wife noticed any changes in his behaviour?

Thank you Petal22, I have asked my parents to approach him as I am basically so tired of talking about it to the rest of the family. His wife thinks he is just tired from work and the characteristics I describe are quirky personality traits. This is something I have argued about this with my family for many years and they have told me I am just being mean towards him. My husband dislikes him and does not want him in our home and around our children (and I agree with him) as my brother is disrespectful and thoughtless when he visits i.e he will sit and read the paper whilst his children run amok in our home. I also do not want to organise social events to include him as I find his actions and appearance embarrassing. He is extremely tight fisted and would not want to spend money on anything (especially counselling which he does not realise he needs) I believe if I approached him he would laugh at me and tell me to go away in no uncertain terms - my family then would support him if he told them that I have done that and probably assure him that he does not need help, instead of using it as an opportunity to broach the subject with him. My father is especially ashamed that his son is like this and does not him to seek medical advice.


welcome to the forum.

You care for your brother and want to help him.

I have bipolar but had different symptoms to what you described . I was diagnosed at 16 and in denial till I was 32.
I would get angry if people suggested medicaction or seeing a doctor.

From his point view he may feel different and find it easier to be in denial and be angry with anyone who suggests he needs help.

As Geoff says maybe his wife could try to get him to talk to someone.

Your parents feel they are looking after their son because they maybe scared how others will react if he has mental health issue.

Look after your self.

Hi Emilyln,

Im so sorry to hear that you feel this way………. But I understand……..

Its sometimes hard to accept some one for the way they are in the present moment but by accepting your brother for the way he is now you could actually change your perception and try to help him.

and helping him starts from loving him as he is…….. if someone feels loved and accepted this can really help someone mentally who doesn’t feel well inside themselves…….. start just by trying to understand him.

If he does have a mental health condition life must be feeling hard for him.

Im really sorry that your Dad is the way he is towards him…….. maybe your brother has grown up to be conditioned to think that he’s ok and doesn’t need help for what people will think? …….. this is really sad …but these beliefs can be challenged and he can get help and that’s ok…….. hopefully your brother will awaken to this.

it has nothing to do with your Dad…… your brother is his own person and can make his own choices.

I understand your embarrassed by his appearance but this is also a sign that he may need help…….. maybe you could show him some understanding?

Your his sister and I can see that you care for your brother………. Maybe with time you could build a relationship and in an understanding way let him know that you want to help him if he needs it and to please make an appointment with his gp…..

He can do a mental health plan with his gp this will usually give him 10 free sessions with a phycologist…….. ensure he sees a clinical psychologist they can diagnose a normal psychologist can’t.

Maybe you could have a chat to his wife to talk to him aswell…… your dad doesn’t need to be involved.

Love and kindness is the way, I hope you and brother can build a relationship in the future through acceptance ❤️

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hi EmilyIn Paris,

I agree with much of what has been said in the thread here, and empathize with how you're feeling a lot.

My family has a few people with undiagnosed mental health conditions which are very challenging to be around - and nobody will seek help for them either. It's caused me anxiety my whole life.

I just wanted to add in here, that if you are not able to get your brother to seek help I think the best thing you can do for yourself is set healthy boundaries for you and your family to ensure you can maintain as good a relationship as you can without feeling triggered, anxious or unsafe. If that means limiting the time you spend with him, or reconsidering living arrangements (does he live with you?)

At the end of the day, we cannot force people to seek help that do not want it. As long as you make it known to them that if they feel they need support, there are options, then you have done all that's in your control. I know it's really tough when it's family, trust me! But we also risk causing more trouble when we try to force something as well.

While some of the signs you're describing do align with a range of mental health issues, it's almost impossible to say without professional help. For instance, schizophrenia is a really complex condition, which in the Aus healthcare system takes about 6 months to properly diagnose. So this takes full commitment from them to see it through.

Hope this helps.