Talking about mental illness and epilepsy, my family has been hit real hard. Being the youngest of eight children in the family, I cannot claim to know much of the genesis of my elder brother’s (first child in the family) epileptic condition but the little I know are from the stories mum told us about his early life. From mum’s stories, my brother Franklin wasn’t born epileptic but this health condition started when he was just ten years old. The details of the fateful first day has always been something which I keep imagining as mum has never told me how and I always fear asking the details of that day since it might bring back those painful memories mum is trying hard to forget. But one thing mum always told us about was how sweet he was before he was struck by epilepsy.
Since from the time I can remember, I have always known my brother to be who he is now, the seizures, the hot tempered guy but trust me during his periods of normalcy, he is still that very cool guy he sure was before the illness. So we all have fun together during his periods of normalcy and bear with him during the seizures and all the other unpleasant behaviors that come with epilepsy.
I remember my childhood days where whenever everyone had to leave the house, I was mostly the one made to stay back and keep him company, or better still watch over him. Then will come the seizure and as usual, all the neighbours around will run into their houses leaving me alone to help revive him and direct him into his room, this I however did with all the pleasure. People usually try to avoid epilepsy patients due to the misconception that once the spittle which the patients always send out during these seizures touches someone, such person becomes infected as well. But I really do not share the same thought, and if this was the case, then the whole of the my family and even some extended family members would be epileptics by now. In the same way, I don’t blame our neighbours or anyone else for acting that way because my brother usually makes loud noise during this period which will scare anyone not used to him.
During his periods of normalcy, my elder brother is the coolest of us all. I remember my cousin nick naming him DJ because he likes listening to the radio.
Ever since my brother got struck by this illness, he wakes up every morning being in a worse condition than he was the previous day. I remember those days when we used to make fun of our brother that he had just one choice of drink which he took, “top orange” (a sweet drink). Today this story has changed completely, as he is now a drunkard. When he goes for one week without drinking or getting drunk mum gets so excited and calls us to join her thank God. There are times when he gets drunk and cannot even find his way home; we might after a day of searching find him very far off from home. I always ponder about what could make him get this much into drinking because during his periods of normalcy, he always promises not to drink again and after such promises he might stay for some days without drinking but will later go back into alcohol with more intensity than it was before.
There is no solution which anyone has proposed to mum and dad that they have not tried out, medical doctors, traditional doctors and so many prayer warriors. We however now stick to drugs from the hospital and off course to God Almighty whom we believe is our only hope now. While hoping and praying for a miracle to happen in my brother’s life, we do not let go of any opportunity to make him feel loved. Even though his behaviours might be very annoying sometimes, we try as much as we can to tolerate and help him out of whatever difficult situation he finds himself in.
This is the first guest blog we are getting here and we are most appreciative of our contributor. Having lived with and loved then lost a child and sibling to epilepsy and the resulting mental illness, we can only relate and empathize. By sharing our stories, we help others in similar situations know they are not alone, that Hope and love are the most important elements in any treatment protocol. Let’s share our stories therefore and be the hope for one another. We are happy to receive your stories.