Life Testimony:

A brother with schizophrenia

It’s a bleak future, I think.

The Experience

My mother and father divorced years and years ago, in the 80s, so we were divided. There’s four of us, two sisters and myself and my youngest brother, [unnamed]. And my two elder sisters, one has a house in [unnamed], and she’ll come over and stay sometimes and my brother-in-law can work over here and sometimes I’ll go back and my other sister [unnamed] who’s just based in [unnamed] all year round.

I’m the middle, 39. [unnamed]’s 27, 28 in February. [unnamed] is a schizophrenic. Yeah, so, [unnamed] has schizophrenia.

Just disruptive really. First of all, we thought it might be autistic, you know. I remember my dad being very upset about it and it was just difficult really, because you don’t know how to…a mental illness, you just don’t know how to deal with it, because there’s a lot involved. There was serious temper, what’s the phrase? Erm, tantrums really. We just thought…over nothing. Sometimes he might be annoyed if he couldn’t find a sock or something like that, it used to just…I remember [unnamed] used to get hysterical about it, because it seemed like at one point he was taking it out on himself, because he knew, he really knew what was going on and then when he calmed down, for 2 or 3 days he just wasn’t himself. He used to withdraw into himself, and you know, you put it down to…but this was happening at age 10, 11, things like that and you don’t really put it down to the stroppy teenage years and things like that. Because I remember I used to be horrendous. I used to be really grumpy, but it’s because I wasn’t allowed out, I couldn’t go out and things like that, but you know, it’s just, I think it’s just a shock because the main thing was, we didn’t know what was wrong and you just think, you know, if it IS something inside, what can you do? You know, you try and talk to him.

I remember, I think it was, uhm, I think it was when I was about 14 when there was counselling and things like that and I remember we had to take him out to a, we were in Clacton, we grew up in Clacton, and he started a special school when he was 13, in Braintree which was great, he really enjoyed it, it was just a lot more laid back for him.

I’ll give everything I can. Because there was even a point where the Rochford Hospital in Southend you know, they had a unit there, where it was like a day centre and that just broke our heart, because we’d always associated that with severe mental illness, but once you get to know it, it’s not, I mean you could walk in there tomorrow and say look, I’m frightened for my wellbeing and for others and they’ll help you and things like that, so…

He’ll always say ‘I’m not a lunatic, I’m not a nutter’ and we’d all, like, you know, you’re NOT and he says you know, I don’t lose control, do I? and things like that. And it’s almost, like I was saying to you earlier, like Jekyll and Hyde, he feels himself you know that people just think he’s a crazy but he’s not, but he’s a really gentle guy, you know, but I’m not just saying that, you know.

There was a school, well not a school, but like a group run by a charity that he was going to, just based in just outside Braintree. That was annoying because about a year or so ago that closed down.

Just, no funding, no…you know it’s just they would average about 20/25 people a day it was yeah, but it was an old community hall really, like a community centre, it was good. But, as I saw it, everyone was excited about going there. It was almost like a little community.

Mental health provision

It’s a bleak future, I think. There was a community centre that’s up in Clacton. That’s gone. There was one just off, oh, what was it called. There’s a pub just on the high street, there was a community centre behind that, but that’s gone. A friend of mine is up in Thurrock. a little community centre there, gone. So, you know, things are being taken away. A friend of mine, my friend [unnamed], his brother is severely handicapped. There’s just basically, nowhere for him to go during the day now. Because they used to take him to a, almost like a day school that [unnamed] was at and that’s gone now, so it’s, you know…um, it does sound like the severely handicapped can stay at home, the mentally ill, they’ll just have to stay at home, because there’s nowhere else for them to go and as you say, they can’t be integrated into the community to work, because a lot of people will think well no, we haven’t got the resources we haven’t got the training, as well, because people always seem to put it onto the training, well no, I’m not trained to do that, you do always seem to get that bounced around a lot as well. But it almost is, you know, the attitude is as well, you know, well if they’re not fit enough to work, then you know they’re just going to have to basically stay at home, you know, there’s nothing we can do for them.