Brian Good, on his brother’s schizophrenia

"We lived a traditional family life in London, Ontario," Brian Good recalls. "I'm the third of four boys and we had a stay-at-home mom." Late in 1970s, the second-oldest brother was in a serious motorcycle accident and soon after developed schizophrenia. He withdrew from the family, talked to himself, heard voices and would behave strangely. He would take off on long hitch-hiking trips, to Vancouver and Florida, and ended up hospitalized several times, and was even arrested in Florida for making a scene inside a store because he was hungry and wanted a doughnut.

“It’s too late for my brother, but not for the newly diagnosed. Get treatment early.”

"My brother never accepted his condition," says Brian. "The medicines available when he was first diagnosed were horrible, and caused so many side effects that he refused further treatment. His living at home brought great stress to the family from his unpredictable and irrational behaviour at all hours. He would get so bad he would be hospitalized, get treated and controlled, then released and the cycle would start again."

Though he's recently been on a newer treatment which controls the disease, he's been ill for more than 30 years and no treatment now will ever make him better. He lives in a group home, chain-smoking and isolated. Brian is frank: "His life is wasted. I've lost a brother, my kids lost an uncle."

Brian recognizes that this happened to his brother despite all the great family support he had. His hope is that now patients and families have newer treatments to use that can bring the disease under control quicker and prevent the terrible cycle that condemned his brother. "It's too late for my brother, but not for the newly diagnosed. Get treatment early. That can spare families from going through what mine has."

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