Everyone has a story. And I have one too. Except it is not really mine mine. It is my brother’s story. It swept me off my feet. It changed my life radically. But it is his. And I have always wanted to hide it, not for shame or anything like that. But to protect his privacy and his own right to not talk about it.
And yet it is mine too. It affected me in so many ways. So recently I have embraced the right to tell it. Or at least part of it. Because a story shared is a story that hurts a little less. So it goes more or less like this:
Venice, the perfect family. Dad is a psychologist, mom a former model turned into play therapist. 3 beautiful children. A dreamlike time. The summer holidays at the Lido, beauty that surrounds us.
My brothers are so different. My little one is sensitive, and warm, and the sweetest person in the whole tropical universe. My older one is mysterious- he has huge mood swings, he has reckless courage. He has a magnetic charisma, and gets himself in trouble very often.
At the age of 15, he starts to experiment with weed. Oh, weed is so good, say many. Well, it is and it is not. Honestly, the scientific debate is still open, and from what I have read, but most importantly for what I have seen, weed is not always good. In the presence of a genetic susceptibility to psychosis, weed is really not good.
So, one morning I wake up. I
realize that nobody has called me to go to school.
They let me sleep in.
So strange, I tell myself.
The house is silent.
For a moment I enjoy the coziness under the covers, until my dad shows up and sits on my bed.
"There is news, Hiro. And not good news.". (You do not know that Hiro but your universe is about to be tilted by a few degrees, forever, so go ahead and enjoy that cosiness for a tiny little longer).
"There is news, and your brother has been attacked. And there are terrible details, and terrible consequences (and this is his story). And as a result of the shock, he has had a full blown psychotic breakdown, and he is not himself anymore." (and he will never be, Hiro, just enjoy a little longer the coziness under the covers).
"He has developed schizophrenia," I hear my father say.
Schizo what. What. Who? My brother? My recklessly courageous brother, my mysterious, charismatic brother is not himself anymore. Like a vase that gets shuttered and the pieces are then glued together. Randomly.
For him that night was terrible, his life was never the same. Schizophrenia is a terrifying condition. The sense of self is lost. And this is so terrifying because it is the sense of self that helps us overcome our internal challenges. Terrible hallucinations, and paranoias. A haunting state.
For me, the pain was so huge that I decided to leave and travel for the next few years, England, Spain, Germany. What I did not know at that time was that I had developed PTSD. A fear for mornings. And funny enough, a fear of sleeping in. I tried to run for so many years away from the pain, but that is not possible, we all know. Pain travels with you in first class. It arrives everywhere you go.
Many years later, mental health is one of my main concerns and interests. Trauma therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, mindfulness and self-compassion. I don't think I was able to help my brother much. So my hope, my ambition, my purpose is to try to help and support as many people as possible.
This is co-founder Hiroko's personal story on her experience with Mental Health & Illness. For us at MOMENT, Mental wellbeing is a cause we are passionate about. It courses through our veins and is the reason we get up every morning. In honour of Mental Health Awareness Week, we wanted to share our journey with you. To read Evian's story, click here. To read Anita's story, click here.