Adult brother lives with me refuses t... - Mental Health Sup...

Mental Health Support

26,594 members15,473 posts

Adult brother lives with me refuses to get help seeking advice from people with similar situations poor hygiene no friends stays in room etc


Younger brother (33yrs old) has been struggling more and more with his mental state as time passes over last 10 years. He's intelligent and everyone loves him, at least at first. When I talk to him I sometimes say to myself immediately after; why am I being so hard on him? Then i realize he's just saying whatever to convince me and himself he's fine for that moment so he doesn't have to deal with it. His actions never change. I finally convinced him to move in with my wife and I. He's had a string of mentally ill or "project" roommates, the last being a much younger guy who was on S.S.I. for schizophrenia, who should NOT have been living unsupervised especially with another person who struggles with mental illness. The apartment he was in when we moved him out was an unholy level of filth I have never in my life seen the likes of. However nasty you imagine it could be is not enough...When he first moved in we thought if we get him in a more normal environment clean his stuff up he'd see how strange he had been living and try to take some action. So first thing I cleaned his car out. It was infested with fleas or something there was a film of filth on the inside of the windows I had to scrape off before I could clean it with window cleaner. My wife is a nurse physically took him to a doctor to get meds for his ADHD which is diagnosed, he's been taking them since but refuses to change dosage or meds(not working all day, has side effects). But I think it's more than just ADHD going on...

So here's where we're at currently. He does work a third shift job typically 11-12hrs a night making near minimum wage. But he works it because he's afraid to change literally anything in his life and because it keeps him secluded which he wants for some reason, even though he complains about his job and being single most times I see him. I've told him he can stop working I'll pay his bills for three months so he can regroup do nothing and figure out his next step in life, he refuses, he already doesn't pay rent...My wife has to get him to shower by nagging him for days or weeks. He's been here 6 months has only taken 4 showers. Doesn't brush teeth cut his hair etc..his breath smells like rotting meat, it has made me gag on more than once. He looks like Charles Manson, but refuses to cut his hair or beard. He eats only once a day at 3 am when he gets off and will only eat McDonald's or steak and shake and will sometimes eat udf ice cream because he "doesn't get enough calories". His body odor has a chemical smell I assume is from the amount of grease and corn syrup he consumes. He comes home goes immediately to his room watches Netflix for three or four hours on an old slow laptop, sleeps til he's almost, or is late for work gets up immediately walks out the door without brushing his teeth, changing clothes, etc...

I'm at a loss. And I've tried everything i know to do. If I kick him out I know where he'll end up, but even with us trying to help him and encourage him he refuses or uses his natural charm to make us and himself feel like hes trying to change just long enough to get us off his back til his next day off, when he'll have to talk to us again. On his days off he sleeps most of the day, but gets mad if you wake him up or gets mad that he slept so long and wasted his day off. He will eventually come upstairs like he hasn't been an insane person all week act totally normal for an hour or two then go outside read and smoke or run errands til he knows we'll be in bed then come home with McDonald's or steak and shake and watch Netflix for hours again. It's shear utter madness. I've gotten mad at him confronted him with it he'll say I know you're right I'm going to change, but never does anything different than what I've described. I've made appointments with counselors then he just doesn't go. I've had two friends stick their necks out and vouch for him to get him a job (well one a job, one an interview) in an actual trade that he refused or didn't take action on. He's miserable, has no friends, has only ever had one girlfriend is a virgin and terrified of women and sex, has OCD tendencies, ADHD, some form of bi polar or schizophrenia, I don't know what to do at what point do I kick him out. If he wasn't so scared of death, I would be afraid of suicide. But on the other hand he's super empathetic, is everyone's friend, people that meet him once love him ask me about him constantly, if we can get him out like socially which has happened a couple times he's Jim Carey(in looks and actions) pre-beard, but at home in his private life he's beardy Jim carey, and that's not cool no one likes that guy not even that guy...

God, this is way longer than intended. My apologies. Typing it out has been therapeutic for me though... If you have any advice or have been in a similar situation with a loved one and got them through would love to chat. Will elaborate further if clarity is needed on anything I've written. Also, know this was written quickly and I intend to post it without rereading it first so it's not softened or edited in any way. Lastly, there's so much more and I really hit probably only the points that bother me most, but I love him and I don't want to kick him out to a life of seclusion and growing mental illness most likely to the point of death. I've talked to doctors, a psychiatrist, preachers, homeless guys, I've run the gamut on trying to help this guy, but he doesn't want help he doesn't want to get better. This is almost a last ditch effort, but if he leaves and then kills himself or deteriorates into what I know he will inevitably deteriorate into, I don't know...he's got so much potential to help people who are in his current situation if he'd just help his damn self first

12 Replies

It's sad isn't it to see your brother waste his life, but is he really ? Maybe he is meant to live a different kind of life than yours, and maybe you can help him do that. Instead of expecting him to fit normal why not ask him what he wants to be within certain parameters . For every thing you give he has to give you something, like brushing his teeth . I am also wondering if a part time paid companion would be possible. Someone who might be a guide or mentor . A retired person might be interested.He definitely needs more structure in his life . What you and your wife are doing is amazing, so many people wouldn't. You'll find an answer, just be open to other ideas. Pam

HughMann in reply to sweetiepye

I wholeheartedly agree his journey is different than most. He has a gift and an empathy with people I have not seen with anyone else he would give a stranger the coat off his back without thinking twice, which is another reason it makes this situation even harder to watch, because he could be such a positive force for others if he would just... I will look into your suggestion of a mentor or paid companion I had not considered that route at all and I think he certainly may consider dealing with someone who isn't so attached to the situation. But if I have a life coach or whomever come to the house he'd be more inclined to talk and listen.

Reading this I felt like we have the same brother.

My brother, also 33, has been living with me for about 9 months now. Before that time he either lived with his other sister, his mother, or our father. He has never lived alone.

He moved in with me due to better job opportunities. He does work a full time job making ok money. However that’s pretty much the only thing outside of the house he does. He doesn’t have a drivers license and refuses to learn to drive.

When he isn’t working he stays locked in his bedroom either playing video games, sleeping too much, or watching tv.

He is a very very large guy. A very overweight guy possibly close to 350-400 pounds. He eats junk and take out, doesn’t work out, etc.

He also rarely showers and never brushes his teeth. Maybe once every 4-6 weeks. He smells so horrible and he just won’t listen when we tell him he needs to shower more and start taking better care of himself.

And his bedroom smells just as bad and is disgusting with food wrappers and soda cans everywhere despite me saying not to eat in his room and to put the cans in recycle.

All of this is signs of depression. But I am at a loss with what to do. With his living habits I worry about bugs infesting my house once the weather is nice due to his food and soda everywhere.

I really wanted to kick him out and call it tough love. It’s way past time for him to learn to live on his own. And he has the money to afford it, but my family tells me that I’m in the wrong. That he needs just a little more time. They make me feel guilty.

My fiancé said he had a talk with him the other day and he thinks my brother is going to start making changes, but I haven’t seen any effort. I think my fiancé actually just feels sorry for him.

So I just feel kinda stuck and frustrated. I can’t force him to shower, I can’t force him to go to a doctor (he says he hasn’t been since he was 15 or 16!!), I can’t force him to do anything.

Hi HughMann,

Welcome to this supportive community. As you have seen the folks here a very willing to come alongside and offer advice and support.

What you and your wife are trying to do for your brother is amazing, but at what cost to you both? This is going to sound harsh, but maybe the most loving thing you can for him is to let him go. If he doesn't really want to be helped to change, that is his human right, and even if that means that he chooses to end it all, again that is his choice and right.

Often with dysfunctional family members, it is hard not to feel guilty about what we have or have not done for them. But ultimately, when they are adults, they have to accept responsibility and be accountable for their own actions and decisions, no matter how unacceptable or destructive a lifestyle that may be to us. This situation could really put a major strain on your marriage and both of your mental and physical health. If you can get help to move him into a secure, warden controlled community facility where he can live independently with someone to keep an eye on him, that might be a start. In the UK we have social workers and community mental health teams who could help with that and his MH treatment, but I don't know what is available in the States.

Does anyone in the States have any thoughts or suggestions?

Check out our Pinned Posts section at our free mental health guides, and keep the international crisis support helpline handy.

Sorry I can't be of more help.

Please keep in touch and let us know how things go.

Best wishes,

MAS Nurse

HughMann in reply to MAS_Nurse

Thank you for the reply. My plan was to post this on a few mental health message boards, but there really aren't that many I could find. Healthunlocked came up a couple times in my searches and I felt this was the place to start. Thank you for the resource. I certainly will not let it affect our relationship and that's why I've been considering giving him an ultimatum and decided to reach out online. We've both been affected by him separately. I could see him start to affect us negatively together the more time passes and the more we deplete our local options as to what to do to help him. It seems like there really aren't that many places for real help when it comes to mental illness, it's not what I expected at all.


Hello HughMann,

Please contact the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) in your area. Join a NAMI family support group asap.

NAMI can provide support, education, and resources. You should not deal with this alone.

If NAMI is not in your area, let me know. The president of my local organization is very knowledgeable, and she is always ready and willing to help.


HughMann in reply to Hidden

I found them yesterday as well I intend to thanks so much!!!

Hi there are a couple of good USA sites. Try Inspire and Patient.UK (many are in the USA). Good luck. x

Hello Hughmann,

Try to step back a moment from this situation and look at it from a different angle, a more objective one rather than within the midst of all the emotional turmoil. You hit the nail of the head when you realized your brother often says whatever is necessary to convince you and himself that he's fine for any particular moment in order that he doesn't have to deal with whatever he's afraid to face. In your own words, "His actions never change." Of course they won't change unless he wants them to; the most you and your wife can do is try to empower him to do so. However, that's as far as both of you can go.

There comes a point where both of you end and he begins. This is the demarcation line between your responsibility 'toward' him and responsibility 'for' him. If he was 3 years old then this line cannot yet be drawn as you would both be his parents; but as he's 33 years old, and thus an adult, this line is essential to separate you. Without this boundary, the essential difference between co-dependency and inter-dependency becomes blurred.

The key to the next step is in re-examining, in really understanding what lies behind your words, "I finally convinced him to move in with my wife and I." Who's needs exactly are being met here? Once you figure this out, you'll know what to do next. Making a change to this near-intolerable situation is going to be painful; but so is also not making a change. What use are you and your wife going to be to your brother in the near future if your own health, your own well-being, your own relationship starts to fail?

Best wishes.

HughMann in reply to klindar

I received advice from a mental health professional in the first place that put me into the mindset of giving him a safe, clean, "normal" option for a place to live. They felt his living situation was causing more problems and that he would benefit from being in a more loving situation where he was around people. I suggested it and kept giving it to him as an option for over a year before he even considered it. And eventually the only reason he did is because it was easier than him finding a new place to live. I knew that then, but I had hope. But I gotta tell you, there are literally zero circumstances where I can see myself wanting a 33yr old moving into a house I just bought with my new wife...Im seeking real advice from people who have successfully navigated a similar situation. I'm not a dummy I'm not going to let him cause lasting problems or upset my relationship with my wife. I'm at the point where I'm delaying asking him to leave, selfishly, hoping for a miracle because I love him, I miss my friend, and I don't want to watch him wither away any more. At one time you and anyone else would have said to themselves upon meeting him, "that guy's going to do something great one day". Now at 33 the only thing anyone is thinking is, "that guy definitely has poop in his pants". That's a weird place to be when it comes to someone you love...I feel I have to tell you, I've continued to read on healthunlocked pretty regularly since recently finding it, but I've only commented on my own thread. I don't know the answers people are seeking and giving any "advice", no matter how helpful I'm trying to be, or think I am, could be wrong, possibly even dangerous. When the situation is something I know nothing about, and have no experience in, I'd just be feeding my own ego or satisfying some lack of control issue in my own life rather than helping someone who is at the point they're seeking help from complete strangers on the internet.

Hello Hughman,I have a slightly similar situation that relates to yours.

My Mum was alcohol dependent for many years and in the last few years of her life she totally gave up. I think she went a couple of years without a bath and never washed or cleaned her teeth. Her clothes always smelled of smoke and she lived in a dump.

The way I used to feel about her ranged from day to day. Sometimes I felt angry that she was giving up on life; other days I felt so incredibly sorry for the pitiful person she had become.

Seeing a loved one choose to live their lives in this way is truly heartbreaking and you have my every sympathy. The one valuable lesson I learned with Mum is that change only happens when someone is ready to and unfortunately we can't hurry that up.

Here anytime you want to chat x

Thank you so much for sharing this with me. My heart goes out to you as well.

You may also like...