In an article entitled “My Brother Tom’s Schizophrenia” by Marin Sandy and featured in the New Yorker, we are given a bird’s eye view of what one family’s struggle was with schizophrenia. Defined as a chronic and severe mental illness, it is characterized by symptoms that include delusions and hallucinations, reduced social engagement, flat affect,and poor executive functioning.
A fascinating, inside view of what living with someone who has schizophrenia is like, this story helps us to understand the anguish a family goes through when a family member is struggling with their mental illness. I quote:
“Waiting for the light to change, I spotted Tom getting up from a bench across the way and ran to reach him. As I approached, he didn’t turn. “Hi, Tom,” I said, unsure if he’d seen me. He wore a heavy gray wool cap and a fisherman’s cardigan, his face ruddy from the summer sun, with a wispy red beard that wandered out in all directions. His fingernails were long, with ridges of dirt beneath them, and his teeth had yellowed deeply. I noticed how thin he was, bonier than I had ever thought his dense frame could be. Glancing my way, he said, “Have you figured out I’m your brother yet?” I asked Tom if he wanted to go to a sandwich shop across the street. After a brief hesitation, he agreed. As we ate there on the patio, he shifted from topic to topic, circling back, digressing, talking of Catholic priests and the samurai code and a new kind of education system for which he was designing the textbooks. I could hear the schizophrenia in his speech—the clanging.”
The story is one of courage, perseverance and hope; not only for those who loved Tom but also for Tom himself, as he tried to navigate and manage his very tenacious mental illness.
For the full story (it is a worthy read!): https://www.bostonjournal.net/my-brother-toms-schizophrenia-the-new-yorker/
To learn more about schizophrenia: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/schizophrenia/index.shtml
Photo credit: http://Photo by Jonathan Rados on Unsplash
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