Rab's Route

I've always found my brother Rab to be a highly intelligent, articulate man. But about 10 years ago, during the course of our everyday conversations and at family get-togethers, he would start babbling about conspiracy theories, and behaving really oddly. He was angry against the world and self-pitying, and had a bad case of the "poor me's". It seemed very out of character for him to be behaving like this, and that set my alarm bells ringing. We lost our older brother through alcohol abuse. He was in re-hab and Rab visited him every week, but he got more and more bitter and angry. He said one day, “I don’t know what the hell he’s in there for, it should be me in there.” So right away the red flags are up and my alarm bells are going again. My older brother got out and hit the alcohol again. He started abusing right away, and he died from it eventually.

Then when I was at Rab’s house one day putting something in his bin. I found it was crammed full of empty bottles, mostly quarter bottles of whisky. The bin was overflowing with them. He had always been OK with drink, just a social drinker down the local pub, never excessive. It turned out he was topping up when he got home, and was drinking in the house more and more.

Then Rab came to visit me extremely dishevelled, talking incoherently, and said he needed help. He looked so frightened, like a terrified child. It was a desperate cry for help at that stage. I got the number for the private re-hab but Rab couldn’t self- refer without having to pay about £2000. He couldn’t afford that so he decided to go down his own route. He tried AA for a while but it didn’t work out for him, as he had relapses. There was a moment when Rab was so ill I had to take him up to the hospital. I remember him sitting in my car and I thought, “He’s done that much damage to his body, I don’t think he’s going to make it.” He was falling in and out of consciousness and I genuinely believed he was going to die. I remember praying, “Please God don’t let him die.” They kept him in for a couple of days and I’m glad to say he didn’t die.

Then he found out about the Transcendental Meditation Centre through friends in his own circle, and that’s what worked for him. Rab was dedicated to the meditation and his recovery was quite fast. He tried to get me into meditation, but I didn’t feel I had a need for this. I had martial arts and my religion. That’s how I look after my emotional needs.
Like most families we became a bit fractured. We had already lost a brother through alcohol abuse, and some of the family had real trouble believing that Rab had a problem with alcohol. Rab wasn’t like my older brother -
a classic alcoholic who lost his job, his home, his family - with his drinking. Rab just came across as a social drinker. He could usually hold an in-depth conversation and keep his appearance together. Because he wasn’t staggering about talking rubbish and trying to pick a fight, half the family refused to believe that he had a drink problem.
I was the only one who realised he wasn’t just doing this to get attention, and that he needed support.

I was his driver. I would take him into his meetings. Eventually I had him put on the insurance, and let him have the car to drive himself about when he needed it.

It gave him that wee bit more freedom to help himself.
To be quite truthful I did get angry sometimes, a bit frustrated, and a bit snappy. That way I ended up having too much guilt, so I tried to focus on positive thoughts and gave him as much emotional support as I could.

Now we can have good, long, in-depth conversations like we used to. There isn’t that sense of anger and bitterness, and he’s lost the “woe is me” thing. We go fishing together. I think we are very similar in our beliefs, and for me that is an important part of our relationship. I trust Rab - he really is a friend and I feel close and comfortable enough to discuss most things with him. People don’t automatically like or get on with their siblings but I’m lucky. I do get on well with my brother, and I can talk about my emotions with him. We feed off of each other in that sense. It’s good to have my brother back.