Aaron’s Story – My Brother’s Mental Illness

Aaron sits on a rock with mountains in the background. He is smiling widely.

Where do I even begin? For all of you that know me, know that I would rather talk about anything but my brother, Kyle. My big brother. My mentor, and for many years, my role model. Someone I always looked up to. I can remember when he started junior high and wasn’t around in the mornings anymore, and to my 3rd grade mind this was devastating. This was the first time I realized I missed him.

Growing up in the sticks and mountains of southern New Hampshire we definitely found ways to have fun. He would always include me with his friends no matter what; he never hesitated about shit like that. He was the most genuine, loyal person a brother could ask for. Not to mention an absolute brainiac; I could ask him anything and he’d have an answer for me. Throughout high school he had big dreams of writing screen plays and directing movies, and I believed in him so much. I attended some of the plays he produced and watched the audience get weak in the knees from laughing so hard. Kyle was onto something good.

Then something started to change. It’s not something you can explain in an instance…it’s not last night’s bullshit that you recap with the boys. It was subtle. It was silent. But before I knew it, I didn’t know who my big brother was anymore. He became psychotic, mental, insane, you name it. Irrationally pushing people away, burning every bridge. Lashing out at everyone closest to him; complete isolation. Conversations turned to one-word answers, guidance turned to confusion. I needed your help Kyle, I was growing up too, I needed my big brother. What is happening? Where did you go? This is the second time I realized I missed him.

Let’s fast forward; it’s been 11 years now, over a decade. I don’t even know how to explain…it got to a point where the never-ending vicious cycles, the manic episodes, just became too much. I became desensitized, I would say I was more lost than you, but that’s just not true. All you had to do was look in your eyes and see the sheer pain and torment happening in your mind.
You have been battling schizophrenia, and I have no idea what that must feel like. I cannot even begin to fathom walking a mile in your shoes, let alone run the never-ending marathon. It has been quite the roller coaster of emotions. After everything, EVERYTHING that’s happened… the hospital stays, jail, rehab, etc., you finally seem to be doing much better these days. You seem happy. There were times when I could have been so much better for you, but I wasn’t. I worried about myself, and I can’t justify it. I feel like I gave up on you emotionally. Everything with you has been on the back burner for years, and I put it there. Then tonight, having me over for dinner with your girlfriend, rich comical chatter while we played video games side by side. It felt like we were young again, not a worry in the world. I looked over at you at one point and thought to myself, this is the third time I have really missed you.