I always thought our story was unique. At the age of 2 1/2 Drew was still struggling to speak and would grunt or scream to be understood. He was diagnosed with a speech delay and was behind in his fine and gross motor skills. He was frustrated and so was I. We got him into early childhood prevention and off he went on the little school bus for the first time at the age of 3. It was difficult letting him go, but he learned a lot and I thought this would bring him up to speed to enter mainstream kindergarten. It did not. Drew continued to struggle in school and had a hard time making friends with others his same age. He had a twitch in his eye that stayed with him to this day and made us laugh with his no nonsense, no filter comments. What began as a speech delay, developed into something much more alarming. He often had bizarre thoughts and tried to explain them to me but would give up when I didn't understand and just mumble,"never mind". He was picked on by kids his age and came home on the bus with bruises on his back. Numerous conversations with his school, the child study team, teachers and even cautiously "threatening" the kid on the bus didn't stop the abuse. Drew played sports and I would sit on the bench for 3 hours with toddlers while Drew sat on the bench, not put up to bat even once. I confronted the coach who stated he didn't want Drew to get hurt.
Drew was an awesome brother. He loved his younger brother and sisters and adored his older brother Derek. He made a friend with the boy next door and they recorded videos of stunts and mock interviews calling it DJ News. He dreamed of being a police officer when he grew up and we didn't tell him the chances were slim that he would be able to carry a gun.
There is so much more to Drew behind his schizophrenia. He is a brother, a friend, a son who loves people and will and has given his last dollar to someone who needed it. I want the world to see him the way his family sees him and not the schizophrenia.
1 out of 5 people in the US suffer from a mental illness. We are not alone. If you would like to share your story of a loved one who suffers from mental illness please, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org