by: Samuel Reyes
Pedro "Totti" Reyes was born in Santiago, Chile on March 26, 1954. He was my father's second-oldest brother. Ever since his 13th birthday, Totti began having abnormal mood swings, thoughts, and outbursts. This prompted my grandparents to get him tested for a mental illness. In 1969, Totti was diagnosed with schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterized by a breakdown in thinking and poor emotional responses. Common symptoms include delusions, such as paranoia; hearing voices or noises that arent there;disorganized thinking; a lack of emotion and a lack of motivation.
Statistics from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center:
-Approximately 1 of every 100 people in the UnitedStates has this disorder. Approximately 2.5 million Americans are living with schizophrenia today, and over 100,000 new cases are diagnosed each year.
-Economically, schizophrenia costs the United States over $60 billion per year in direct treatment costs, including direct healthcare costs, non-healthcare losses, and indirect costs.
-Schizophrenia does run in families. Having a close relative with this disorder increases the risk for developing it. Ten percent of people with a first-degree relative (parent or sibling) who has the illness will develop it. If one identical twin has schizophrenia, there is a 40% to 65% chance that the other twin will as well
-If an individual has schizophrenia, he/she is at greater risk for also having another diagnosis (depression, substance abuse, etc.). For example, the lifetime prevalence rate of substance abuse among persons with schizophrenia is 47%.
-Psychotic symptoms usually emerge in the teens or twenties in men and the twenties or early thirties in women. Symptoms may become better or worse at different times in a person’s life
Schizophrenia can completely alter every aspect of family life. In the Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, Noreen Brady writes, "The lifetime emotional, social, and financial consequences experienced by individuals with schizophrenia have significant effects on their families. Family responses to having a family member with schizophrenia include: care burden, fear and embarrassment about illness signs and symptoms, uncertainty about course of the disease, lack of social support, and stigma."
My mother & father on their wedding day (its their anniversary today! :D)
My father, Enrique Reyes, had a very strenuous relationship with Totti. He and his brothers had to deal with his mental illness every single day. He recounts the times when Totti would lash out against his parents and run away from home. My father and his four other brothers would often go out to find him, only to be dragged in all of Totti's problems. This included defending him in random altercations with strangers, as well as deal with dangerous people and drugs. His problems also occurred in a domestic environment. He would continuously start fights with his parents. This became the most important cause of my grandfathers' alcoholism. This also prompted my grandparents to seek other options to help Totti. This included a very large assortment of pills and electroconvulsive therapy. At that time, they believed these treatments would cure his problem. They were wrong. It triggered responses that made his illness worse.
Luckily, my father was able to use rugby as a way to get away from all the pain and hardship at home. Through this, he was able to leave his poor upbringing and get a full-ride scholarship to college and even represent his country. When I asked him about this experience, he stated that rugby was a form of therapy for him. He said that he forgot about all the problems at home and that it prevented him from throwing his life away.
Totti began going to counseling during this time. He was able to voice his problems and appropriately talk about his concerns. This led to a better relationship with his family and a much healthier environment at home. Upon finishing college, my father started his new life with my mother. For the following years, Totti remained an important figure in my family. Although I was not alive to experience his presence, my siblings frequently saw him. (I am the youngest of four children) Unfortunately, Totti died when I was 5 months old. In a series of events that had no relation to his mental illness, Totti drowned after being pulled by the current in Viña del Mar, a beach town near Santiago.