It was quite some time ago that I watched a movie about two people who had quite an explosive relationship but who were nonetheless very much in love and wanted to be together. However, his job as a thug for a criminal gang prevented him from being able to fully commit to the girl. In the film he tries to get out of the clutches of the gang so that he won’t lose the girl, but they pull him back in for one last job. The girl promptly throws him out and tries to move on. When the job goes awry, the girl is kidnapped to try to bring the guy in. She is quite ticked-off about the whole thing and befriends the kidnapper. She tells him everything about the relationship saying that she had just had enough of it all. One day as they are sitting on the curb outside a roadside diner, the kidnapper asks her a question, “When you are truly in love, when is enough, enough?” She begins to give a long, drawn-out answer, giving examples and citing references when he interrupts her. “No,” he says. “The answer is never.”

I often think of that in my own relationships with people. Sometimes I get so frustrated when things don’t go the way I think things should that I’m prepared to throw it all away, to “throw the baby away with the bath water” as they say. It is then that I am reminded that when you love someone that enough is never enough.

Recently I was once again reminded that enough is never enough. One of my family members was diagnosed with a mental illness. It leaves him incapacitated some of the time, but normal the rest of the time. After years of dealing with this illness on his own, self medicating with drugs and alcohol, attempting suicide and pretty much testing the resolve and patience of the family, we finally found out that it was this mental illness that was the cause of his erratic behaviour. He has now been on pretty heavy doses of medication for the past four months. He is also trying to come to terms with having an illness, trying to deal with the past, trying to pick up the pieces of his life that had fallen apart while he was unaware of his illness.

I hadn’t seen him in over a year. The last time I saw him he was still trying to figure out what was the source of his troubles. He was sad and depressed, struggling to keep afloat. He recently came to Montreal from British Columbia for a visit and we were all looking forward to it. We found that, appearance-wise, he hadn’t changed that much and even his personality hadn’t changed that much. He is still the same guy that he has always been, maybe not cracking as many jokes as he used to. I found that we could have a serious conversation with reflection and insight which we could not have before. His eyes are different as they show much fear and hesitation when he is bright eyed and bushy tailed but he is often tired. The medication he is on is really strong to prevent delusions and keep a handle on his rage which I am told can get out of control. But the heavy dosage also causes him to be somewhat zombie-like at times. If he doesn’t remember to take his medication, it does not take long for him to become irrational and inconsolable. Everything is negative, no matter what anyone says he can take it and put a negative spin on it. He feels as though the world is against him and he can’t trust anyone. He thinks there is no point to anything and that he should just drink and take drugs until he passes out.

The duration of his visit was extremely draining, both emotionally and physically, for everyone involved. It was risky from the start for him as he was mentally fragile before he left. It started off well but went downhill as he basically felt overwhelmed by everything. My emotions ranged from joy to anger to pity to indifference. I can’t imagine what it is like to be in his head where he thinks and feels the things that he does. I feel frustrated because I don’t understand the illness, I am not even sure exactly what it is and how it manifests itself. I don’t know how to make him feel better when he gets into a spell. I feel for the family members who are the focus of his wrath when he hasn’t taken his meds. And I feel disappointed in myself for feeling angry with him. I wanted to tell him to snap out of it already because I don’t know what part is mental illness and what part isn’t. To me he is pretty much the same as he has always been, but then maybe he has always had the illness. No one knows how long it’s been there.

I feel disappointed because I felt ready to throw the baby out with the bath water. I was pushed to the point where I was ready to say enough is enough, that I can’t and won’t deal with it anymore. But then I remembered that I loved him, by choice. Besides the fact that he is my brother, I think he is a beautiful person on the inside. This illness may hide it most of the time but every now and then it shines brightly. So now all I can do is find out exactly what the illness is and read everything that has been written about it so that I can help him in whatever way possible.