I hate my socially reclusive brother living with us

I hate my socially reclusive brother living with us
A posed photo of a depressed person.

Dear Troubleshooter:

I'm a woman in my 40s looking for a job. I was working after my divorce, but I'm jobless now.

Recently, I returned to my parents' home to live with them. My brother, one year younger than me, also lives with us, and I hate him. I really regret coming back.

He's been socially reclusive for the past 20 years, only going out to go to convenience stores. He doesn't bathe and wears the same clothes all year round. He doesn't groom his hair or beard, just letting them grow. He smells, too.

All day he just watches adult DVDs and eats. My brother lives like human trash. He has a weird look in his eyes, too, and bangs the walls and doors, chases after our mother, demands she give him money and then spends a lot of money ordering more adult DVDs.

My elderly parents both work part-time outside the house.

My father shuts his eyes to his problematic son and won't deal with him face-to-face.

My mother has given up on changing the situation and just endures it.

Since returning home, I've visited specialists for advice about my brother, but I was told they can't do anything unless my brother visits them.

If this situation continues, all his problems will fall on me in the future. Sooner or later, my entire family will collapse because of him.

As I have no friends or acquaintances to talk to or ask for support, I feel isolated and lonely. I can't find a job, either. I wonder whether my only option is to die.


Dear Ms. I:

I'm concerned about your brother's situation. I can understand very well how you feel distressed.

However, before thinking about how to cope with your brother, you need to be aware of one important thing: Don't get mixed up with his life.

More specifically, don't be overly bound by anger or dissatisfaction regarding your brother and don't neglect thinking about how you will live.

Now you're back at your parents' home. Make a plan about what you should do to support your own life and how to go about work and help with household chores. Why not go to a local governmental office or job-placement office when necessary?

If you start focusing on moving forward, you will feel more energetic.

About your brother, it is important to make a priority list of problems you are worried about regarding him and then go to a governmental office to ask for support based on the list.

If you just tell them that your brother is socially reclusive and dirty, and orders adult DVDs, it will be difficult for them to provide support.

Discuss your worries with your mother and clarify whether you need financial or mental support.

When you state your problems to the governmental office this way, you can get support more easily. Move forward and don't give up.

Junko Umihara, psychiatrist

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