I lost my brother in 2009

I should run down my family before I get into the meat of this post. I should also note that this will be spread out in a couple different posts.

My parents: B and K

Older brother by 20 months: TA

Younger brother by 17 months: JJ

Younger brother by 5 years: JC

Younger and only sister by 7 years: CJ

My brother, JJ, and I were two peas in a pod. We were often confused as twins as we looked alike and were around the same height and weight. I played war with my brothers and they played house with me. I’m not saying our life was perfect (far from it), but we always stuck together. My mom once told me that they (my parents) were called home from a date when CJ was a year old because the five of us got on top of the clubhouse and wouldn’t come down for the babysitter. In our defense, the babysitter was mean. In the babysitters defense, we could be a handful. My mom was always confused and scared about how we got CJ on the roof, as we had to climb up the side through a window and it was several feet off the ground…

My brother was my best friend in high school. We often sat up almost all night talking and watching movies. I was one of the first people he told when his girlfriend was pregnant when he was 21. I was hopeful, JJ started to really get into drugs and I was praying that since he was having a child it would straighten him out. His girlfriend was… tactless, redneck, but I loved her. She was a lot of fun and told you exactly what was what. When ‘little jj’ came along my brother was off drugs and working hard. Though things started to fall apart. JJ’s girlfriend and him broke up, he moved back home, and had joint-custody of ‘little jj.’

JJ also started to change. He was around 22 years old and started to get mean. JJ could cause problems, but he wasn’t mean. He was the kind of kid that would bring home hurt animals to help heal and then release them. He started to distance himself from all of us.

In 2006, on my little sister’s 19th birthday, my brother had a break from reality. He got drunk and tried to commit suicide.

My dad was woken up from sleep to my mom yelling for him. My brother was trying to get into the gun cabinet. My dad wrestled him to the floor and was holding him there as my mom called the cops. My brother was fighting, asking why he couldn’t kill himself. My dad told him that he loved him like my brother loved his son and he wouldn’t let him die.

My brother relaxed and my dad held him until the cops came.

My brother was never the same after that day. He was changing before that time, but it was a pivotal time in our family.

I had my first official teaching job. I came back from a vacation to hear that my brother tried to commit suicide and I had be in the classroom with kids 30 minutes later. My life changed that day, and it will never go back.

We slowly started to lose JJ. He had more periods of time where he wasn’t making any sense. I was interested in psychology (I was either going to be a child psychologist or a teacher when I was little), and so I started to search. I searched and looked. I talked to my mom and I said with the little knowledge that I had, that I thought JJ had drug induced schizophrenia. Time went on and as my parents tried to get help for my brother it was clear they needed more help.

I don’t remember the exact date, but my parents committed my brother. He was held for evaluation and after numerous tests they concluded that he had paranoid schizophrenia with panic attacks. He was put on medicine to control the disease.

But my brother never came fully back.

Continued in next post: Learning and Living with Schizophrenia.

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