I am having difficulty putting into words how special my brother was during his time here. So I figure I will get into more detail in hopes of helping others understand.
My brother, Peter, was born on February first, 1989. He was my parents first child, named after our Mother’s Father. He was healthy at birth, and according to my Mom, he was an extremely calm baby who enjoyed sleep more than my little sister and myself. He was lovable, intelligent, and kind even in those first few years of life. But between all of this, and the birth of myself, my brother experienced health problems early on. He was diagnosed with asthma at a very young age and began treatments shortly after. After this, he was diagnosed with immunity issues and my parents had to drastically change his way of living.
When I was four, my brother was hospitalized for the first time due to fluid in his lungs. And through all of it, he remained the bright happy child he was. Thankfully, these health issues improved a bit as he aged and he was able to attend school like other children his age. Our Mom knew early on that her son was smart. It became even more evident when he soared above his classmates in every subject that was taught to him. Especially reading and history.
But his poor health followed him until he was a teenager. I remember finding him passed out on the floors of our home when we were getting ready for school. I remember watching the slow decline of his physical health catching up with his mental health. And to this day, those images and memories still haunt me. It was watching the inward destruction of such an intelligent kind person that made me question the world around me. It made me ask “Why him?” more often than I ever imagined asking.
He nearly died to a severe allergic reaction. And that is when my brother changed. He was fearful of dying young and leaving his parents and siblings behind. It stressed him out beyond belief, and yet, he remained such a spectacular person. When my mother went through a depression, he was there to hold her hand. When I struggled with my school work, he was there to help me. When my sister would cry for our Mother and Father, he would calm her down with ridiculous stories that he made up off the top of his head. He remained, through all of it, our older brother.
But things changed for him again. He was diagnosed with panic and anxiety disorders, as well as chronic depression. These diagnosis did not explain his other symptoms that he was experiencing. He was having difficulty going to school and being away from home. But his grades never slipped. But when it became too much, he had to be hospitalized for over a week. Both for his mental health and a life threatening staph infection that found it’s way into my brothers blood. Upon his recovery and return to school, he was told that he was expelled for his absence. School, education, learning in general were his passions. He once told me “All I want to do is learn. And they wont let me. I want to know all I can, and they are stopping me.” It’s then his mental health starting fading quicker than his physical health. He was too scared to ever leave the house. He wanted nothing to do with the outside world, as that world was cruel and cold to him during his time of need. In this time, he retreated into all the books he could read. He began educating himself. As he did for years.
He was then diagnosed with agoraphobia and severe OCD. His compulsions are difficult to explain, and something he never shared. Therefore I will respect him by not explaining more than needed. But these compulsions endangered his life every day. He was hospitalized ten more times in the span of two years. Both for infections, and his mental illnesses. And yet, he still remained our older brother. My parents sons. We remained his family, and naturally became him caregivers.
He taught me more than any school could teach me. He taught me how to enjoy reading. How to enjoy learning all the world has to offer. And through these lessons, I learned to do what he did. I learned to find joys in my family and within my friends. My brother, in the end, taught me how to be a decent human being in a world where decent people are truly lacking. He had a beautiful mind, and a large heart that aided in his internalized world. While the general public and certain family members saw him as a lost cause because of his mental illnesses, we never wavered from our stance right beside him. I did anything for my brother. As did our Mom and little sister. I would have died for my brother. I would have gone through his pain for him just so he can escape it even for a day.
Peter died on August 11th, 2012. The death has left my family torn apart. We are void of that beautiful mind, that beautiful person. Peter dying being my biggest fear has come true, and I am still struggling to understand his death. His death makes the appeal of giving up and not caring very tempting. But I remind myself of the boy that never gave up, that was always there for all of us even when he was in pain himself. The boy who learned when the world try to stop him. The boy who read hundreds of books over and over again.
The boy who proved them all wrong.
My family is trying to raise $3,000 in his name so we can create scholarships for children and teenagers who are mentally ill, but also to create changes in our school systems and mental health care for those who cannot afford it. I am mentally ill as well, and I know how it is to be denied and stigmatized by the world around me. In his name, we want to make mental health a priority in our schooling systems. We want those who are mentally ill to never be scared of being expelled because of their illnesses. We want all of these people, these human beings, to have a chance in this world like everyone else. And like we fought for our brother, we will not stop fighting for these people. They will be our priorities, and we will do what ever we can to help.
This money will help us go a long way. This money will help us keep our brothers memory and philosophies alive. And in the end, this is what he has always wanted. To change the world around him. To help those who need it. To, for once, make them the priority.
And we will work in his honor.
Thank you for reading. Please share if you are able.