13 March 2009

A post about my brother

I got a short letter from my mom yesterday. In it, she had enclosed a letter my brother had written to me. I'm not really sure he even knows she found it and sent it to me. It broke my heart, though.

Eddy is exactly 5 1/2 years younger than I am. When he was a baby/toddler, I remember being so very protective of him, but as we grew up, we weren't really what I'd call close. We fought like cats and dogs. All the time! The "I hate you"s were used a whole lot more than the "I love you"s. Even though we acted like we couldn't stand one another, we wouldn't stand by and let anyone else hurt the other.

We lived in a very small town. The schools were K-6 and 7-12, so my senior year of high school was his 7th grade year. I was the drum major, and he was on the drum line for a while. I probably gave him a harder time than anyone. (Let me also say that I was quite snotty at this time.) Eventually he quit band because it was "the" thing to do--football was. Our cousins on my mom's side of the family were all very athletic and popular. Eddy, not so much. But to be accepted, he did what was expected.

When Eddy was young, he would have night terrors. He would "wake up" absolutely terrified. It would take what seemed like forever for my parents to settle him down and get him back to sleep. The next morning, he would have no memories of them, and he would even become very argumentative when anyone tried to talk to him about them.

He also exhibited behaviors that many people attributed to his being a boy. My mom heard, "Oh, he'll grow out of it" many, many times. Being the pain-in-the-ass older sister, I would tell him he was mental and that he needed help. Sadly, I wasn't wrong. However, no one knew it at the time.

In high school, Eddy had horrible problems with authority figures. Heck, it wasn't even just at school. I can assure you that it was NOT because our parents weren't good parents. They were. Were they perfect? No, but no parent is. Did they do everything they could to make sure we were well-behaved children? Yes.

Eddy also had extreme difficulty staying dedicated to a particular task or interest. He would be gung-ho about a particular interest or activity, but within six months, he would have completely tossed that and be interested in something else. Music was and is the only thing that he has consistently maintained interest in.

Keeping a job? HA! He could get a job selling ice to an Eskimo, but he would eventually quit or be fired. If he quit, you could guarantee that he'd done so just before being fired. And it was always someone else's fault. At least according to him.

I guess it was around '93 or '94 that he married Kim and became a step-dad to her daughter. Our entire family loved them and accepted Courtney as if she were born into our family. Within about 3, maybe 4, years, Kim had had enough. Eddy had started using drugs, and she was not going to subject her daughter to that kind of life style. None of us could blame her, and it broke our hearts when she divorced him. (She still keeps in touch with my parents.)

Eddy spiraled deeper and deeper into his addiction. He would use any and all excuse he could to get money from our parents, our grandmother, other relatives. Eventually, he began stealing from our parents. The general attitude was that he was a dope head (he was) and that he'd end up dead in no time. (It's truly a wonder he hasn't.)

Several years ago, I saw an interview with Danielle Steele on Oprah. She had just had her book His Bright Light published. I decided to get it and read it. Every page that I turned could have been a page written about my brother. Was he bipolar? Could this be the problem? I began reading everything I could about bipolar disorder. I told my mom that she had to read the book. Shortly after I told her that, Kim called her and said, "I've just read a book about your son."

My parents began trying to work with Eddy and with mental health to see if he was bipolar. What a joke mental health was! Because he was using, they wouldn't even consider doing an evaluation because drug use often mimics the symptoms of bipolar disorder. When he'd be clean, he wouldn't want to go in for an evaluation. I mean, who WANTS to find out that he has a mental disorder? It was an endless, vicious cycle of using drugs, doing something stupid, getting arrested, going to jail, getting clean (while he waited forever for anything to be done), having his court date, being slapped on the wrist and let go, getting a job, doing well for a while, using drugs, doing something stupid...

Finally, after about 10 years, he was actually diagnosed as being bipolar. What a relief! But the problem was that once he got clean and on his meds, he started to feel good and felt like he didn't need the meds. So he'd stop. Within a short time, the depression would start, and he'd turn to drugs and the vicious cycle would begin yet again.

He is currently in rehab--for the 7th or 8th time. He just went last week (I think...maybe the first of this week.) He has been in jail for months, so he is clean and he is on his prescribed meds.

Over the years, I have hated Eddy for what he has done to himself, to our parents, and to others. He is an extremely smart person, and he could have been anything he wanted to be. I just wish that somewhere along the way he could have found the help he needed before he became addicted to the drugs. I truly hope and pray that THIS TIME is THE time that he manages to turn that corner.

I know this probably rambles and may not make a whole lot of sense, but it is hard for me to put into words what I want to say. If you've read this far, bless you. :) I hope you can kind of get what I'm feeling.

Have a GREAT afternoon/evening!


Tracy said...

I'm sorry your brother's life has turned out this way, sorry for the hurt he's caused your family ...
Just hard to figure things out sometimes isn't it .. we can drive ourselves crazy trying or we can just hope and pray there is a turn-around. I pray this for your brother.

Shay said...

My Dad is bipolar so I know what you are going through (just different circumstances). I think having an addiction to something comes as a part of the package of being Bipolar (however it would be inappropriate for me to elaborate on my fathers addiction). Unfortunately it destroyed our household as well when my Dad decided he didn't need his meds one horrible night that my Mom nor I will ever forget. I guess what I mean to say is I empathize with you, I hated my Dad at times...but heck he is my Dad so I will always love him no matter what. It's just a day to day struggle...but luckily God made us strong enough to handle it and keep our heads up high for better days to come (at least I try to).

Debbie Y. said...

Ditto, to what my daughter said, except for that he is not my dad so I have not forgotten what he did. I am sorry that your brother has hd to go through such turmoil and you and your parents as well. Living with and being related to a bipolar is not an easy thing to do.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your brother. Your family is in my prayers.

Ms. Marty said...

As I sit here posting this comment it is through blurred vision. No one can ever know the pain our family has suffered. Thank you for not being ashamed of your brother for openly talking about his mental illness and the problems that come with it. Unfortunately ours is not a unique situation. So many people go through life with the same problem but manage to keep it hidden. How miserable they must be if they go undiagnosed and never the appropriate care.
God bless you my precious child.
I love you.Mom

Julie said...

I really hope he manages to turn that corner too.

Prayers for Eddy...

Kristen said...

I commend your bravery on speaking so openly about your brother's issues! I know exactly how hard it is to deal with addiction & mental health problems within your family. I have a similar situation of my own. It's so hard to find peace with such a hurtful problem -and there's no such thing as a quick fix. It truly is a daily struggle. I'll be praying for you, your brother and all of your family.

Belle's Blog said...

It's so hard to deal with something like this... we all want to protect our little brother. I'll keep him in my prayers and your family also. I pray that with his will power and God's help this will be the time that works!

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