I wrote this story about my brother months ago but was afraid to post it but with many stories out about mentally ill citizens, I found the courage.
My Brother, my first friend, has always been special to me.
Growing up, it seemed like I was the only person who understood him. When he would talk, it was like no one knew what he was saying and would often asked me what he was saying or trying to say. I always understood him perfectly.
Although he was my best friend and brother, I used to get mad when we were kids and I would attempt to leave the house to play with my friends and my momma would say, “Take your brother with you.”
As we entered our teens, we went our separate ways socially. Topot became much more outgoing and popular. When he entered high school, all of the sudden I became his cousin. That’s what he told people. He was TOO cool to be my brother I guess.
But in his first couple of years in high school even with his popularity, he became different and it came and went. I did not understand this change in him. Eventually he started talking in different voices, had severe mood shifts and his sleeping pattern changed.
Later he was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic. This was a familiar term to me because my grandmother, “Mommie,” suffered with the same illness for many, many years.
With the help of medication, Topot got much better and was back to himself. We went back to being normal but only when he took his meds consistently.
As he got older, he was not as keen on taking pills to make him “normal” and this started his journey that would take him away from our family.
Fast forward to today…. When I see him, I recognize him but not as my little brother and my friend. He’s different, despondent, disconnected from reality, in his own shadow world of happiness fueled by nicotine, blank stares and self-soothing behaviors.
He reminds me of the homeless guys you see downtown in any city, kinda minding his own business, sometimes in your face begging for money.
It hurts to see him this way. We’ve tried every avenue available. There is usually success for a while but then it always slips back.
On one of the last occasions I saw Topot, he looked into my eyes but all I saw was this blank stare. I felt his eyes should have connected with mine but the forces in his head created difficulty.
Having a loved one who’s dealing with a severe mental health issues is daunting. Not a joke. Certainly heartbreaking!