Before the depression, the drug use, my little brother was happy, cheerful, giving, loving, hardworking, honest, and self-driven. He lived a purpose driven life. That was before depression got a firm grip on him and nothing I did, seem to break that hold. Gone was the positive and fun loving young man, in his place was someone un recognizable and at times unloveable.
As the student body president of his high school, my brother had it all, great friends and popularity. He was loved by his classmates, teachers, and school administrators. He could do no wrong and was the perfect role model for his peers. He was an honor student and highly active in and out of school. This success story continues all through college and med school. He graduated at the top of his class from the University of Texas Tech with his Doctorate degree in Pharmacy, the first one in our Laotian community to do so. Armed with two bachelors and a Doctorate he set off to do his internship in Minneapolis, Mn and that was when everything changed tragically, for him and my family.
The internship went well and he enjoyed working with the patients at the hospital. Upon completion of his internship he received and accepted a job offer as a pharmacist at Walmart. All the years of studying and working seems to be finally paying off. He no longer had to struggle to make ends meet. He was making over $120,000 a year and seemed to be doing well financially and emotionally. That’s why I was in such a shock and disbelief when I received ” the call”.
To this day I can’t tell you what time or day it was when my brother’s friend/co-worker called to tell me that my little brother was taken to the hospital. She wouldn’t tell me anything except where to call which I immediately did. However, I was more confused when I called and the nurse said what sounded something like “psychiatric ward”. I was momentarily caught off guard and at a loss for words and she had to identify herself a second time. I thought my brother’s friend had given me the wrong number! So I decided to make sure before I hung up and explained who I was and asked how my brother was doing, fully expecting her to tell me that my brother was not a patient there.There was a slight pause before she told me to hang on while she got his nurse. When his nurse came on the line, she told me that I couldn’t talk to him yet because they had to stabilize him first. By this point, I realized that my brother had tried to kill himself and was a patient at the County Medical Center, in the psych ward. How did he go from treating patients to being one? After I got off the phone I don’t know how long I sat there desparately replaying all of our late night conversations to comb for clues and serch for signs of trouble. All I could remember from my conversations with him was that he was tired from working overtime moonlighting for a second pharmacy. He never mentioned that he was depressed or that he wanted to kill himself. I kept asking myself, what happened that drove him over the edge? And how was I going to explain to my parents what happened if I didn’t even know myself!
Much later that night I called my parents and told them my brother had tried to killed himself. The first thing my mom angrily shouted was, “Is he crazy?!” She just didn’t understand what he had to be depress about and was angry at him for trying to take his life. She asked me for the hospital number but I told her he was not ready to talk to anybody yet and that I would let her know when she could call. Even though I promised her I knew that if my brother was going to recover, I had to keep my mom from calling him because she would end up stressing him out more from her scolding and interrogation. While he was hospitalized I kept my promise and told my mom point blank if she wanted him to get better she needed to leave him alone until he was ready to tell her himself about what had happened.
My brother did not get better after his month long hospital stay but progressively worse to the point where we had a family friend check on him daily and taking him food.This constant viglance would go on for several months until I brought my brother to live with me in hopes that I could shake him out of his depression. Looking back now, I can see how utterly naive and foolish that was!
*** Part Two: Intervention