Katie Oxford always admired her older brother as a child, and she remembers being thrilled to watch him run track. She considered him “a gazelle.” According to CultureMapHouston.com, Katie’s brother was academically successful and involved in various activities. He had a pervasive shyness, and his father bought him the car of his choice for graduation, a yellow Corvette.
Her brother went to Rice University, and Katie recalls a question her grandfather asked him on one visit home during his freshman year. He asked, “What are you on?” Her brother just looked down and laughed. Aside from her grandfather, no one had any clue that her brother’s life was being derailed. Later, her brother told her that he “took anything he could get his hands on.”
As his college years pressed on, the signs of drug abuse became more apparent. There were accidents and numerous hospital stays, while Katie’s parents found themselves frequently running to their oldest son’s rescue. Many years later a doctor explained that the drugs had served as a catalyst, “A key if you will had opened the door to something they said was sleeping-a disease called schizophrenia. Over the years, the family fought for her older brother’s health, but nothing seemed to help.
Katie said, “At 21, hell everlasting entered his life and body. It latched onto his soul and fought for more space. His brilliance, both on and off the track, faded like a firefly in a jar.” Her brother just turned 60, but Katie has had to cut ties. She held his hand for many years, through various treatments and hospitals. Finally, she claims, “I saw what I couldn’t see earlier. That the monster (schizophrenia) had long turned into another one. Drug addiction.” Katie knows that letting go is the only way for her to survive this ordeal, and she claims that sometimes, letting go is also liberating.
She dedicates this piece to all those who walk the excruciating, yet extraordinary path with a loved one who suffers from schizophrenia.