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I am bipolar type 2, and my younger brother was now recently diagnosed with type 1. Please help.



New member
Jul 27, 2020
New Jersey
Hello. This is going to be a long post but there is a lot to explain. If you read this entire post and give me advice, I cant overstate how deeply grateful I would be. Thanks.

I am currently a 21 year old heading into my senior year of college, and i have bipolar type 2. I was diagnosed when I was 19, but I had kind of known for a while that it was likely I had the illness. My family has an extensive history of childhood trauma, and mental illness is rampant throughout my siblings, parents and close relatives. Due to trauma, my older sister has had her share of issues (anxiety, depression, anorexia) but she is now great and has been for years. My grandma and mom also have had an anxiety disorder throughout there life, and based on his actions, I am almost certain my father has some type of undiagnosed mental illness.

Before I talk about my brother, ill share a bit more about myself. I was a normal child until about sixth grade, when I began to deal with a traumatic family experience. The details are long and unimportant, but I am certain this trauma was the catalyst that brought out the bipolar I was genetically predisposed to. For years going through middle school and highschool, I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety and was given various antidepressents to try and ease the problem, but with no success. Eventually as i got older and went to college, i started to notice an up and down pattern in my life. I would go through weeks to months of severe depressive episodes and then be fine for a while. Mainly, I noticed the lack of consistency and cyclical ups and downs. This coupled with the fact that I have severe insomnia (or thought I had insomnia) I realized there may be another issue. I got a new evaluation with my psychiatrist and it was determined I have bipolar type 2, mainly because of the long depressive episodes and the fact that I never really had a long or severe manic episode. Instead I have only have had short bursts of mania, lasting about a day to a few hours at most depending on the situation.

Once I received the diagnosis, I began to work on ways to improve my condition and become consistent in my life. I tried lithium, but it just numbed me out emotionally and didnt help too much with the depressive episodes. I have been off the lithium for a while now, and I am doing the best ive ever done. I have achieved this through developing mindfulness, some meditation, journaling, exercising 6 times a week, keeping a consistent sleep schedule, and by maintaining important relationships in my life, which give me a strong support system. Additionally, the study of philosophy (my major) has helped tremendously. This is because it trains you in rational thought and critical thinking. Reason or rational thought is something that I, and anybody else, can know for certain is objective and true. By applying this to my own thoughts, it allows me to stay on the right path and know with confidence that I am making the right choices. Considering that manic and depressive thoughts are irrational, this is precisely why rational thinking and philosophy helps me so much. The study of philosophy has also given me a sense of purpose and meaning in my life, and for the first time I am achieving a long term goal with consistency. I plan on going to graduate school and ultimately obtaining a PhD. I would like to teach one day. I have spoken with many different professors and a graduate advisor, and they are all confident in my writing skills and ability to achieve this, and are encouraging me to do so. I actually did so well in my metaphysics class last semester that my professor offered me a spot in a graduate seminar he is teaching, so I can get some experience with that before I graduate. The point is, I am doing very well.

My brother on the other hand, as been a mess for years. Hes had drug problems since freshman year of highschool. He currently just finished senior year, but didn't graduate. He was diagnosed with what I presume is bipolar type 1, as he has out of control manic episodes that last for weeks at a time. He has destroyed so many things in the house, said horrible things to my parents, been arrested numerous times, and severely abuses drugs. If I were to go into the details of all the destruction and pain he has caused, it would take an entire other post. He just got a medical marijuana card, which I believe has triggered his current manic episode as he is again completely out of control. When any of us try to talk to him, its like talking to a wall. He literally is incapable of comprehending what we say to him, and thinks he is totally fine. Its like he cannot register the fact that his behavior is abnormal. I feel I have so much advice to give him on how to deal with this, but knowledge is useless on deaf ears.

I am posting because neither me nor my parents know what to do. He is 18, so he refuses any help. I thought about maybe getting a court order for psychiatric help, but I think it just will make him worse. Anyone with bipolar knows you need to want to help yourself to make a change. I am also struggling to cope with this, as watching him go through this is like watching the worst version of myself. The issue is that I empathize with my brother on such a deep level. I know exactly what hes going through, and when I see him out of control or depressed, its like I literally share his emotions and feel what he feels. This takes a big toll on me. Overall I am okay and a very strong person, but this situation gets overwhelming at times. My biggest concern is that he is eventually going to turn to something like heroin. He already has an addiction to benzos.

So, what should I do to help him, and what can I do to better cope with this situation?

A particular question I have is how should I handle his mistakes. Meaning, every time he hurts me in some way, he gets upset that Im mad at him, and then i tell him i forgive him. But should I begin to not do that and shut him out a bit, so he can see that his actions are not normal? I feel like always forgiving him and telling him our relationship is fine (which its not) is what is enabling the behavior.

If you read this, I love you and appreciate you.


Well-known member
Apr 15, 2020
London, UK
Dear mbtf2188,

I'm sorry to hear that you are in such a difficult situation. Its not easy to see someone you care about who with mental health problems who is obviously in need of help but refusing it. I have a friend just like this. He's struggled with mental health for months and has been destroying himself with drugs instead of seeking help. Recently, his behaviour has become out of control, and despite our best intentions, no one in our friend group can get through to him.

I understand you're in a tight spot, but if you are the strong person you say you are then hang in there. You have to be patient with him, at least for the time being. Treat his behaviour with a reasonable degree of tolerance, but set boundaries. Let him know that there a some lines that if he crosses, he will face consequences.

In the meantime talk to him. As a Bipolar person myself, I know all too well what it means to be in denial about your illness, and I think you do to. It took me the better part of a year to get treatment and in that time, I nearly ruined my entire life. So communicate, communicate, communicate. Work him through the denial phase, draw on your own personal experience to help him. Perhaps organise a family and friends intervention, where all of you go round and tell him how his behaviour has affected you, he has to face the music eventually.

Finally, and I hope it doesn't come it, but should all else fail, Should he sink down a hole so deep that he becomes a danger to himself or others, then you must take the nuclear option. Get him committed for his own sake, before he does something to himself that he won't be able to walk away from. From the sounds of it, your brother is a really complicated person, its not just about his illness but also his character. And this is reflected by how you and he chose to deal with your illness respectively. You chose to get treatment, to work on yourself and to get better, he chose to destroy himself with alcohol and drugs and push away all his family members who care for him so deeply. You owe it to yourself to be strong. But of course, its your call in the end of the day.

Wishing you all the best. If you have any questions please ask away.

Zero One

Zero One

Well-known member
May 19, 2020
United States
@mbtf2188 I think you should be honest with him, stop trying to help him, and get therapy for the issues you are having with him/his behaviors.
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