Stalking Irish Madness

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The entrance to Ireland's "Gates of Hell."

The entrance to Ireland's "Gates of Hell." Source: IrishFireside hide caption

itoggle caption Source: IrishFireside

It's tempting to characterize journalist Patrick Tracey's family as beautiful, but damned. They hail from Ireland's County Roscommon, and for generations have been plagued by schizophrenia. When I say plagued, I mean it — the "Irish madness" claimed his great-great-grandmother, grandmother, uncle, and two sisters. His mom, after watching her grandmother committed to a mental hospital, suspected a genetic connection and swore never to have kids. Handsome, "half Irish and charmingly persistent" Mr. Tracey changed her mind, and she had five — Paul and his four beautiful sisters — Elaine, twins Michelle (Chelle) and Seanna, and Austine. They had a fairly typical family life, until, in 1976:

I was an average eighteen-year-old, home for the weekend during my freshman year in college. When the phone rang, it was Keith, Chelle's boyfriend, calling from Manhattan to say Chelle was on a bus back home. He keeps it short. "Michelle," he says, "is not well."

And so it began, the sickness of his own siblings from which it was "impossible to turn away." Patrick Tracey decided to face it, and went to Ireland to confront the disease. Have you had experience with schizophrenia? Leave us your stories here.

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My brother was diagnosed at 16 after a childhood of being very different. Our grandparents were Irish. My uncle was the first one to be called "different" that I am aware of. Unfortunately, he killed himself while trying to burn down the house containing the "evil" he felt he had to destroy. My brother, the middle of three, began hearing voices at an early age and it only got worse. He became violent and out of touch very quickly. I am the mother of 2 children - and I walk on pins and needles out of fear that they will inherit this condition. It is a special kind of hell to grow up with a schzophrenic sibling.

Sent by Tami Buchan | 3:20 PM | 8-28-2008

I have just been diagnosed with celiac disease and suffered throughout my childhood with digestive problems. I was shamed for not controlling myself well. I grew up around alcoholism and drank later myself. Within one week of giving up wheat, I thought more clearly. My life has changed. I believe diet and famine and oppression are the core roots of "Irish" so called madness. I suggest anyone with mental problems or drinking problems be tested for celiac disease and seek help with family dynamics. I have victimized myself because I learned to do so at the feet of the nuns and elderwomen who found me unladylike due to my stomach problems.
I am going to run out and get your book!

Sent by Debra | 3:20 PM | 8-28-2008

My father had schizoaffective illness, not full blown, and was able to function as a minister 25 years and a social worker 25 years -- a tyrant with family, a delightful eccentric with others, generous and pacifist as Ghandi in his life outside the family. My oldest brother, and his oldest son, are full-blown schizophrenic. His oldest son eventually wangled a diagnosis of bipolar but he is schizophrenic, with voices and delusions. My cousin's oldest son was diagnosed schizophrenic but graduated to bipolar. Another cousin, like my father, has schizophrenia that is not fully expressed. How does this affect us? For me, it has helped me represent schizophrenic clients (I'm a lawyer), and it certainly is a fascinating illness. Clearly it runs in families. Why are all "our" schizophrenics male? I wonder. I have 3 sons and have told them, don't stress yourself out; this runs in the family.

Sent by Catherine Ratliff | 3:23 PM | 8-28-2008

My nephew by marriage was diagnosed at 18 & I've seen my sister-in-law's struggles for the last 7 years. I think the family now realizes that an uncle who was incarnated years ago probably was also schizophrenic. I worry about my grandchildren, a 10 year old boy & a 4 year old girl.

Sent by Terry - Augusta, GA | 3:24 PM | 8-28-2008

Oldest sister severely schizophrenic; as youngest of 8, I think I've suffered most as a result. I'd like to know what Mr. Tracey thinks of the mental health industry's failure to focus on the family, as opposed to making the mentally ill family member the sole focus. "When Madness Comes Home," a book I recently found and began to read, has confirmed this for me. What do you think?

Sent by Lucy | 3:26 PM | 8-28-2008

my mom had schizophrenia. it was devastating for my family and i realize i never knew my own mother even though i lived with her.

beverly

Sent by beverly leady | 3:26 PM | 8-28-2008

I come from a family of 10 kids-mother and dad are each half Irish. My older brother has schizophrenia and we have all been affected by it. my father was relentless in trying to get my brother to find some kind of work. My mother is currently very ill and still lives with my brother and seems to be staying alive just to be there for him. I became a psychologist to try and understand and deal with it. One thing I notice in my work is that it seems that schizophrenia may be on a continuum with some people having full blow symptoms and others such as myself having very slight problems with coping with organization and being able to clean my house because I don't 'see' the mess. Anyway, I still work with my brother each week and we siblings are preparing for his later life. Thanks, Ann

Sent by Ann | 3:26 PM | 8-28-2008

I represent claimants for SSD and SSI. People with disabilities develop compensating strengths, and schizophrenics are no exception. And they can say very funny things. One client, compensated on meds, commented, "I used to think I was King David, or Jonah. Not now. The other day, the voices said to me, 'You know what, you're Jesus Christ!; and I just said, 'You're nuts!!'"

Sent by Catherine Ratliff | 3:28 PM | 8-28-2008

My father's schizophrenia developed when he was nearly 40. It is a nightmare that has lasted 35+ years. He is convinced that he is hearing the voice of God telling him that I am demon possesed and should be dealt with by the local church. Most of the local churches now have restraining orders against him as he interrupts their services to try to get them to "help me". He refuses to take medication becasue he doesn't have a problem, I do. He isn't considered a danger to himself so we can't hospitalize him against his will. He is too violent and unpredictable to be accepted into any sort of group home or assisted care facility. There are no options.

Sent by Shelley Batty | 3:31 PM | 8-28-2008

I have a brother two years younger than me suffers schizofrenia. Like Patrick I went thru the phase to resent him because he could not snap from it. With time I learned more about the discease and I could accept him, but it is harder to see him and remember the boy who grow up with me.

Ignorance, prejudice, and guilty are the worse. I can see that my brothers ands sister are ashamed of him. Up to today my mother doesn't say that he has schizofrenia, she always blame his behaviour to a motorcycle accident. Since my family lives in Brazil and I live in the USA I feel guilty because I am not there to help my mother to take care of him, and I feel guilty because I know that my understanding of the discease would make me a better caregiver. That his quality of life would be better if I was there.

Like Patrick I decided not have children. I decided that I could not have my mother's life.

Sent by regina bratby | 3:31 PM | 8-28-2008

We're also of Irish descent & my brother developed schizophrenia in 1991. He made the only 1st person documentary about living with the disease. Its called People Say I'm Crazy, aired on HBO/Cinemax in 2004. It traces his struggles from onset during his senior year at Carnegie Mellon - on through ten years of eventual recovery.

When we did our press/festival tours, I was so shocked by how many families are still blamed, and by the level of public ignorance (64% of Americans still think its split personality) -- that I'm now finishing a public tv film called When Medicine Got it Wrong -- about the first parents in the nation to rebel against the blame. www.whenmedicine.org

The stigma is still so strong that very few of us are willing to go public with our stories - either of living with the disease, treating the disease, or having it in our families.

A number of brave celebrities have "come out" about having depression, bi-polar disorder & most recently obsessive compulsive disorder. But can you name a single one who admits their mother, father, sister, brother or child suffers? The fact that all of us families protect those celebrity secrets even though we bump into them in psych wards & treatment homes is a testament to how aware we all are of the devastating impact of stigma.

We've all been blamed, misunderstood & ignored. We all bring flowers to someone recovering from surgery. But I can count on one hand the number of bouquets I've seen in psychiatric units.

Pretty sad when there are twice as many people with schizophrenia than with Alzheimers.

Sent by Katie Cadigan | 3:31 PM | 8-28-2008

My father suffers from schizophrenia. I don't remember seeing the signs of this as a child as I think they were more hidden from be, but, when I became older, his mental health quickly deteriorated.
From being a successful social worker to working at Olive Garden as a bus boy to not working at all and collecting a disability check each month happened in a matter of a few years.
I became subject to violent outbursts and physical violence, saw firsthand a man suffering hallucinations and hearing voices, making a fire in the toilet because he said he was cold, staying in bed for literally days, burning our Christmas tree, family photos, his Master's Degree.
He went from being the flawed but wonderful father to a monster I felt I had to run from.
This also put a rift between my mother and I. She felt she had to protect him, but, as a teenager, I needed her to protect me. I felt abandoned. My sister had a driver's license at the time and was able to flee, but I had to try and cope. I had to learn to shut things out and shut down.
His medications now are more suited to him, but he still suffers. It's hard to let go of the past, of the hurt that this disease brought, but after a decade of tumultuousness, I think we're finding our common ground. I'm no longer afraid of who my father is; I've accepted it. I've learned to forgive both of my parents.

Sent by Adrian | 3:31 PM | 8-28-2008

I'm a single mom with two adult schizophrenic sons. Obviously a trial, but there has been humor, too. Taking my oldest to the hospital one day while he was hearing voices, I heard him talking with his voices...."A lot of people think I'm crazy, but maybe I'm a visionary." Who knows????

Sent by Judy from South Dakota | 3:32 PM | 8-28-2008

my paternal grandmother was hospitalized with schizophenia after the birth of her last child. it was in the 40's, when post-partum depression was unknown, and I wondered for years why she'd never gotten out. The effect on my father and our immediate family was that I never got to know my grandmother, and her existence was shrouded in mystery. She was only 55 when she died in the psychiatric facility in New Jersey. I do not know the cause.My father also died at55 in 1984.
She was FrenchAcadian, and I am still working to find her family.

Sent by M.Roi | 3:33 PM | 8-28-2008

Unbeknownst to me I was raised by a schizophrenic. My mother was not diagnosted until I was 25, she was 70. She has always been a little off and I could never figure out why she seemed to be differant people, why it was hard to talk to her and why she made me nervous.
This condition too her away from me because by the time we discovered she was sick I had come to hate her because of her behaviour.

Sent by Elverta Whitaker | 3:37 PM | 8-28-2008

My mother developed schizophrenia in her late teens and while she manages it well, it continues to be a part of all of our lives even now while she is in her 50's. I became a mental health professional in part because of the mental health issues within my own family (my father suffered from depression, alcoholism and PTSD which, at it's worst, caused symptoms very similar to schizophrenia). Even into the 80's and 90's, when I grew up, there was almost no talk of how these problems can effect families. In my family there were no explanations for the children. My brother and I weren't told about our parent's problems until our late teens. That was far too late.

Sent by Ross | 3:38 PM | 8-28-2008

I grew up with a schizophrenic single parent who was 50 years old at the time of my birth. My dad has tried several anti-psycotics--all with extremely negative results--basically catatonia. I am his caregiver now as he is 86 (I am 36) and he has mellowed significantly as he has aged, although he still gets "messages" from the secret agents in the government as well as nightly newscasters. He occasionally will accuse other family members (who are rarely around him) of poisoning his food, etc. My dad's identical twin has a son with schizophrenia and my dad's only son (from a pevious marriage) has a daughter with schizophrenia. Another of my dad's children from his previous marriage has bi-polar disorder. Needless to say being raised alone in a schizophrenic household, I ended up with a lot of anger issues (which I dealt with in my early 20's) and ultimately at age 11, foster homes (because of neglect).For me, I have always been slightly concerned that I would develop the disease or that I will pass it on to my soon to be born son. In any case it has been scary, confusing, challenging and even at times entertaining (due to his extreme intelligence and creativity). Thanks for covering this often overlooked topic and it's effects on the schizophrenic and their familes.

Sent by sarah ratley | 3:40 PM | 8-28-2008

Wow, this is very interesting. Uncle Kenny was probably about the 8th child, so Grandap was later in life, they were indeed poor and hungry, and that's when Grandpa's alcoholism was active. Luckily, Grandpa recovered from his alcoholism later. Another aunt and uncle were also alcoholic in the family.

Sent by Jenny Turner | 3:43 PM | 8-28-2008

What you call schizophrenia I call demon possession or demonized. The author studied every cause except religion and the idolatry of Irish Catholics. But Jesus Christ today sets people free from the power of evil spirits! I've seen it first hand.

Sent by Steve_G | 3:46 PM | 8-28-2008

I am of Irish heritage (on my mother's side) and, like most Irish Catholic families, I am one of 8 children.
I learned in a Psychology class several years ago that there was a theory that Schizophrenia has been traced back to Ireland. I remember the professor gave us a hand-out diagramming the track from Ireland to New York and how it had then branched out all across America. There are a few "kooks" in my family, and the disorders seem to swing from anxiety and delusion to manic-depressive behavior. I, myself, was diagnosed with PTSD by a Navy Psychologist and received an early discharge from the service. Now, in hindsight, I know I have always been severely depressed since puberty and only barely managed to fake it through school, jobs (and I've had about 30) until I found the right psychotropic drug that controls both my anxiety and my severe mood swings. I now have a 35 year old daughter who has also managed to fake it for a while, but finds herself at rock bottom, with no eligibility for Federal or State benefits and who cannot come home because I have custody of her very "normal" daughter; and her presence here disrupts the house too much. I am at a loss on how to help her anymore. She has been given so many opportunities in the past 20 years and her problems just keep getting exponentially worse. She's had several abortions, two live births (neither of which live with her) and gave one son up for adoption. The men in her life have never married her, they stay long enough for the co-dependency to wear off, then leave her high and dry. I don't want her to end up on the street; but I don't know what else to do. To any outsider, she looks and acts normal.

'

Sent by Madge | 3:48 PM | 8-28-2008

Schizophrenia runs in my family, my maternal grandfather was schizophrenia, institutionalized for most of his life. My mother is diagnosed schizophrenic, with residual effects. Her niece, nephew, and a great nephew have recently been diagnosed with it also. I've lived in fear of my family unspoken secret disease. In my late twenties, I began questioning my past, my families' past. I was afraid the secret disease would come out in my children, so I asked my father about what he knew, he said that things that can't be changed is best I don't know about. Well he died when I was 30, and sent me thru a whirlwind of confused feelings. Angry that he took the history with him, I went into a anxiety/panic episode. Which led me to believe I was developing my mother's secret illness. In efforts to find my own answers, I researched her prescribed drugs. And I came to the conclusion that she was schizophrenic. I interviewed other family members who confirmed it, and that's when we learned of the other relatives diagnosis'. So they were all living with the secret, thinking they were alone, until my anxiety episode. I often questioned why I had to deal with anxiety, but I was thankful later, because my other family member found relief. Thru therapy I had my fears calmed that it's unlikely at 30 - 35 that I would develop it, and my anxiety and panic disorder disappeared totally.

Sent by DR | 3:52 PM | 8-28-2008

While the disease is horrible it has to many definitions. I originally was diagnosed with it however my doctors have discovered that it could be I am MPS (multiple personality )
I have often wondered what link it would be that the Irish perhaps get the disease more often> Have there been any studies as to why therefore? My Mother is of direct Irish extraction on her Father's side. He resembled some of the descriptions you mentioned on the radio. However, what I actually had suffered from (am now recovering) was MPD.
Which the doctors have told me can resemble
schizophrenia.
It bothers me however that although there are genetic links to diseases. Amino acid complex also has a lot to do with how we function as individuals(and no longer only DNA). Why then do we persist in thinking that only DNA are key to human individuality? Mind you I am not unhappy as much as frustrated and feel that linking diseases like this one to simple to only concentrate on DNA as it's source? Thank-you

Sent by Yvonne | 3:53 PM | 8-28-2008

Hmm... My dad is from Roscommon and is an older parent. my mother had me at 38, my sister at 41. my father was 42 and 45 respectively. neither of us have been diagnosed with schizophrenia but my sister was on anti-depressants for a reason unknown to me - she doesn't seem quite balanced. i am a bit moody and a counselor once guessed that i was depressed. i am most interested in the connection between nutrition, drinking and this and other mental illnesses since we both drink and are strict vegetarians or (my sister) dieters. i'd love any correspondence. thanks

Sent by mike | 3:54 PM | 8-28-2008

I wish my call had been taken in regards to Mr. Tracey's book about schizophrenia. I wanted to ask him, and to get the listening audience to consider, the trust behind the mental health industry: That there is a great paucity of support for families of the mentally ill. The industry focuses almost exclusively on the family member diagnosed with mental illness -- schizophrenia in particular -- rather than the rest of the family. In her book, "When Madness Comes Home: Hope and Help for the Families of the Mentally Ill," Victoria Secunda writes, ". . . family supports are crucial to the well siblings' emotional well-being. Yet the specific concerns of brothers and sisters are SELDOMLY considered by mental health practioners and policymakers." She also writes, "Siblings of the mentally ill . . . . learn to suppress their own intense feelings, particularly of anger, which might be construed by the parents as a sign that these children, too, are going to pieces. . . . They can no longer be themselves." As the youngest of eight children, at age 46 (going on 47), I have suffered from this since age 12. Even last year, during yet another family meeting at which the topic once again was "What are we going to do to help Donna," my ideas, questions, assertions and normal expressions of emotion were shot down, denied, shamed, scolded and basically ignored. This is the first time in my life I had the courage to really stand up to SIX older siblings who were overbearing and controlling. Obviously, I've suffered the most, besides my mentally ill sister. I was very disappointed, indeed, when I wasn't heard on your show either!

Sent by Lucy | 3:57 PM | 8-28-2008

Thanks for your show on schizophrenia. My cousin had her first psychotic break when my son was 6 years old, and it was then that my mother-in-law told me that her sister had schizophrenia. Somehow, all of this wasn't anything too alarming to me at the time, but as soon as I saw my 21 year old son this summer in an acute state of psychosis, did the reality of our gene pool hit home. Your program was truly a godsend, as my son's father has very much opposed getting guardianship of our son, believing that he is going to "snap out of it". Thanks to the caller who clarified how important that is to helping with recovery.

Sent by Suzanne Felton | 4:36 PM | 8-28-2008

My mother always thought my cousin's schizophrenia was from his father's side of the family---they were from Ireland and she believed it and alcoholism were the Irish curse.

But, a court order released the documents of my mother's grandmother (our great-grandmother). She was also diagnosed with Schizophrenia. Since we knew very little about her or her family, we had our DNA analyzed---probably Irish based on others with similar DNA!

For the record, several in our family hear voices and I've often wondered how that differed from schizophrenia---thanks for explaining the difference---it takes a load off my mind.

Sent by Jaclyn Morgan | 4:42 PM | 8-28-2008

I am unable to hear this story just now.

I do have an observation of my own. After working in the medical field many years along with personal experience I started to notice that many patients with mental health issues also had an Irish background.
Is this related to the Irish background itself, or possibly due to the huge number of Irish that came here it is just a coincidince because everyone has a little Irish in them?

BEGORRA

Sent by Victoria Corcoran | 5:29 PM | 8-28-2008

I heard the program on schizophrenia on August 28, 2008. I was quite fascinated about the subject as I am an older sibling of sister who is supposedly "bi-polar". My life with her has been one of isolation and loneliness as she shuns me during my darkest hour of need as recently my having surgery for my carotids and stents in my heart. She informed me that she could not be of any supportive help as it would ruin her "dream of a lifetime trip" which was 6 weeks from the time of the call. Since that phone call no contact from her or her children and husband to inquire of my well-being. She had always been a moody child, and I have been placed to be responsible for her. In her early twenties she had a head injury from an auto accident. Things became exacerbated when our mother became ill. After our mother's death, our only brother committed suicide. My other sister distanced herself and "disowned" me. I go around wondering what have I done? All I know is I'm the victim of some strange behavior I cannot explain as there has been no real diagnosis. I know that when she was on lithium she seemed connected. When she goes off her meds I'm the bad guy and won't talk to me for months, years. I don't know if we have Irish in us, but I do know for sure about the deep English roots on both sides of the family. Of course, genealogy doesn't give much information on the female side of the family tree.
It is lonely being the "normal" one as well heart breaking to be accused of not being "normal" by the ones who have a problem. It is so twisted. I must start reading these books that have been mentioned.

Sent by Johnie Beth Matthews | 8:31 AM | 8-30-2008

In response to Debra: I have seen the celiac disease/schizophrenia connection in other families as well. Interesting to note how celiac disease is more common in Irish/European populations too...

Sent by Allison | 11:19 AM | 8-30-2008

As the author, I should let the words be yours, since I've had mine. But I just had to chime back in for a brief moment to thank you all for coming forward with your stories of how schizophrenia runs in your families -- and to encourage others to not be shy about coming forward. To the single mom with two sons and the woman worried about her soon to be born son and to all the others out there, keep the faith and keep sharing. In that there's healing and recovery for all. The radio is a great medium, as is the web, because they respect anonymity. Also, my web site -- stalkingirishmadness.com -- may be worth a visit. You can email me directly from the site. Thanks a million. - Patrick Tracey

Sent by Patrick Tracey | 7:29 PM | 8-30-2008

I called the program to air my view, but wasn't put on air. I am Irish, visiting the US for a year and come from a large middle class family from Dublin. From what I know of my ancestry, we were not severely affected by the famine, so the argument for "famine" induced schizophrenia does not apply. I had two cousins on either side of the family who were schizophrenic, one committing suicide. My own family has a streak of bipolar running through it.

Someone mentioned celiac disease - an intolerance of wheat... that is becoming more understood.
I know from experience that the large family model is a recipe for dysfunction. Personally I have not had children and struggle with bipolar - cognitive therapy was helpful.

Recently, mental illness and suicide have become talking points in Ireland and we are facing up to our dark side. Sometimes I just hate that miserable dark, damp Island.

Sent by Maeve | 2:03 PM | 8-31-2008

I'd like to thank Patrick for his book that takes a fresh look at schizophrenia. My husband's grandmother is from Ireland and she had a daughter with schizophrenia. We were married in 1958 and had 5 children, our two boys are schizophrenic, one lives in a residence (age 49) and on lives at home with me (age 43). Both were diagnosed in their early teens (when nobody knew what the heck was up, including doctors!) My three daughters seem to have escaped, but 2 of them don't want children and the third took her chances and I now have 3 grandchildren all under 18.
The idea of famine being a cause could be easily be studied, as world famines are endemic - China (1940's), Africa (today) with no end of examples. Ethnicity should not be a concern in mental illness. Why hasn't someone studied this?
It is true that this illness is almost invisible. Twice an many people suffer from schizophrenia as alzheimers and yet I doubt if anyone in the USA could not explain what Alzhemmers is - how many have any idea what schizophrenia is? The sufferers have no visibility most are never seen and may never have lived really normal lives, so they appear to be a separtate species that the world can't understand. Only the family can understand this and mostly they are also at a loss, we are the only advocates for the future sufferers until such time as the public is educated. We need to have a united front for this illness. It really is comforting in a strange way to see your articles and to know that I am not alone.

Sent by Winifred Huff | 3:22 PM | 9-1-2008

I do not have schizophrenia in my family, but it is filled with depression and manic-depression (now known as bipolar). Suicide or attempted suicide was often a result. My father was extremely depressed off and on, in spite of his great success as a chemist at the DuPont Company (He is considered to be the inventor of nylon). He used to carry a phial of cyanide on his belt and tell people he was going to use it one day. He did.
He committed suicide while my mother was pregnant with me. I have had on-and-off depression all my life, but I am too much of a wimp to try to commit suicide. Two of my children, both boys, were struck with manic-depression. One killed himself. The other has made serious attempts at suicide. My grandchildren all seem to be doing well. Let us hope that this is the end of the series of mental illnesses.

Sent by Jane Wylen | 5:23 PM | 9-2-2008

I grew up with a brother who had schizophrenia. It was scary mostly due to no one explaining what was wrong.
For years, I feared developing the disease, or worse, my children.
My mother's ancestors were Irish and my dad was British.
My brother was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in 1963 when he was in his early 20's. Back then, no one talked about what was wrong. I wasn't told he had schizophrenia until after I married and left home. He lived with my parents for most of his adult life. He suffered for his sanity, as the song says. He had many hospitalizations, electric shock therapy, one medication after another trying to help him.
I kept in touch with him after my parents were gone. He got his own place.
In April 2005, he called me telling me that he was sick again. He started drinking. For two and one-half years, I brought him to detox..in and out many, many times. He just couldn't stay sober. I was told that I was enabling him and should play the tough love card. I did this and in the end, I lost him to acute alcoholism in 2007.
I wonder if he heard voices and the alcohol quieted them.
Once, he told me it was like having a radio stuck on in your head. That's enough to drive anyone mad.
People really enjoyed my brother. He had a keen sense of humor and was very intelligent. I miss his company.
In the early years, he was violent a few times. As he got older, and better meds were discovered, he mellowed.
He became a gentle soul.
I would talk to him about his brain disease. I'd ask him how he was and if he heard voices gently reminding him that it was okay for us to talk about this. How I wish I'd said this years ago.
My advice is to be open. Don't be afraid to talk to your loved one. Ask questions...How are you feeling today?
Are you hearing voices? It's okay to talk to me. The first time I asked my brother these questions, it was as if a burden was lifted from him. Finally, we could take the big elephant out of the room.
My sister and I often remark that maybe if we opened this Pandora's box years ago, it could have made a difference in my brother's life and our family. I find it sad that even in 2008, we are afraid to bring mental illness out in the open. I say, "Talk about it." Nothing changes, if nothing changes. Maybe we need a grass roots organization to end discrimination against mentally challenged people and educate the public.
My dream is that one day a cure will be found for schizophrenia.

Sent by Sharon | 6:55 PM | 9-2-2008

My brother was schizophrenia.
When he was 25 years old, he lost his job and he showed aggressive bent toward us.
At that time, he was diagnosed schizophrenia.
My parents and I have suffered from his violence for 15 years.
During those days I fell into bipolar disorder.
My mother looks like 90 years old although she is still 64.
Now my brother is 40 and searching for the job.
However, we are still spending unstable days.

Sent by tomohiro | 4:21 AM | 9-13-2008

Speaking of the Irish Disease, James Joyce's daughter Lucia was diagnosed with schizophrenia. She was diagnosed back in the 30's.

Sent by Bob Gallagher | 10:46 PM | 9-16-2008