This I Believe

Kelly - San Diego, California
Entered on December 4, 2007

I believe that individuals can transform into more positive beings by the influence of others. I believe that sometimes the suggestion that one is being influenced is far from palpable. This is how I feel when I look back on the undeniable effect my brother has had on me. He unknowingly has been the most influential person in my life. Though his experience is a hardship, it has opened my eyes beyond any return.

He was diagnosed with schizophrenia when he was 19 years old. I was only 13 but I indisputably have the most lucid memory of the day he broke down. Above all my emotions, I was terrified. Little did I know this experience would change me indefinitely.

I can remember a day I was walking downtown with some friends. Approaching an old man, alone on a bench, I recognized he was mumbling to himself. I froze, hoping it would go unnoticed but I start to hear them snickering. “Check out this freak,” one of them said. “He’s crazy,” the other responded. I kept quiet, not sure how to respond to their ignorance. They didn’t understand. That old man can’t help it, couldn’t they just leave him alone! I felt furious and dazed. I couldn’t stop thinking about that old man. The symptoms of his disease resembled my brothers. My friends were basically making fun of my brother.

I remember how my parents explained to me why my brother acted the way he did. Why he talked to himself and why he was constantly paranoid and anxious. As they described this disease I knew so little about, their words seemed to slow down and I became nauseated. I couldn’t believe the things they were describing to me. I started to think about all the hardships he would face in his life. I cried at the idea that he would never lead a “normal” life. I became enraged at the idea that there was no cure. I felt shocked that people were so uneducated and there was so many stigmas surrounding this horrible dilemma.

Not only is my brother the kindest and gentlest person in the world, his attitude and his will to fight inspires me more and more everyday. He has helped me gain knowledge about life and how precious it is. He has taught me that when even the hardest obstacles are thrown your way, it is important to stand tall. I strive to provide him with all the support he needs and I am humbled when I think of his strength.

Watching my brother being diagnosed with this mental illness was the hardest thing I have ever faced in my life. It seems that every day is just as hard. But he is the reason I am who I am today. I have learned to have faith that someday there will be a cure. And until then, I am so proud to have him as a brother. He is the strongest person I have ever known and I truly believe I have been transformed into a more positive person by his influence.