The Working Title Is…B is for Brian
Note: I share this with my brother’s input and full approval.
Ever since we can remember, our parents celebrated the gift of adoption that led my brother and me into their loving arms.
Along the way, my mom shared what little detail she had about our births. They played in my head like an ABC Afterschool Special – especially Brian’s, as his birth mother had (cue hushed voice) “some issues” that made her unable to care for him. This was never a shock to me since Brian also had “some issues” for as long as I could remember.
As I consider lessons learned—and yet to be learned—from quarantine, Brian may be a shining example of one of the most important.
It’s imperative that “some issues” shake the whisper and come quickly into full voice. Mental health must be discussed as openly and honestly as physical health. That is not an indictment of my parents, simply indicative of the times in which they lived. And the times, well, they better be a-changin’.
Sandro Galea, MD, from Boston University School of Public Health, recently wrote “We must recognize the pandemic that will quickly follow — of mental and behavioral illness.” Adding, “In the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, it appears likely that there will be substantial increases in anxiety, depression, substance use, loneliness, and domestic violence.”
My parents were incredibly attentive to my brother’s needs and sought care at every turn, especially after a diagnosis of schizophrenia and manic depression in 1980. However, Brian was a victim of time and circumstance enduring many hospitalizations until almost four decades later when a physician looked at the entirety of his condition and determined Brian had been misdiagnosed his entire life. Three years ago, another physician armed with patience and pharmacology skills, helped Brian take his first steps into life with Aspberger’s and anxiety. In doing so, he changed Brian’s life. And mine.
We must heed Dr. Galea’s warning and practice self-care and advocate for the mental health of those we love and those on the margins of society. It’s time to shake the whispered tones. No one questions why a diabetic pancreas needs insulin. Why should treating the mind be any different?
Brian is now thriving in a job he loves. He is filled with pride over working on the frontlines with a premier grocery store and co-workers who look out for one another.
Conversely, I have been quarantine-binge watching Peaky Blinders, so when I saw Brian at work sweeping up all the gloves customers have so cavalierly tossed all over the parking lot, my blood boiled. Lost in reverie, I reached for the imaginary razor blades hidden in my hat and looked to start pouring gasoline all over the offenders’ cars.
“What are we going to do about this?” I squealed. Brian, looked quizzically at me and calmly replied, “Well, I’m going to do my job and pick them up.”
Yes, yes, indeed. A much better solution.
It’s time to take the blinders off and take care of one another. Now, more than ever.