A bright talented youngster once lived with his family in northern Michigan. Acting on stage at the age of 5 in summer stock theater, playing instruments, singing and developing into what surely was to be a creative and contributing adult. During his preteens, the family relocated to Ohio where he resides to this day. However with the onset of adolescence brought a dark cloud of despair for the entire family. This child, Perry, the apple of his parent's eye and the envy of his older sister this child, became troublesome showing signs of illusions of grandeur easily fed by his earlier childhood successes. Perry's behavior went from cute and idiosyncratic to heartbreaking and demanding.
During high school he excelled at everything. He applied to several schools for music. He was accepted at Julliard School of Music in NYC and Berkley School of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. He chose to attend Berkley after graduating from high school to study with a specific professor that was to teach there. Once matriculating at Berkley, his illusions of grandeur magnified, along with his fear of people, which kept him isolated. This fear became a reality when during the school year there was an incident where he witnessed a shooting outside his dorm. A man was shot and killed.This one incident became his 'trigger.' In cases like this, there are often 'triggers' as they are known, that start the spiral down a slippery slope shall we say. Perry called his dad who proceeded to drive the night through to retrieve him from school and bring him home to Ohio where he is now living.
After numerous trips, over what was about 8 years, in and out of hospitals, clinics and psychiatric wards, along with a few half way houses, a recommendation was made by his psychiatrist, that a permanent location, be found. A full care facility with a structured environment.This in itself was an arduous task, as there were very few facilities equipped with dealing with young patients with mental issues, especially schizophrenia, during those days. A nursing facility was found two and a half hours from his home. Perry was placed there where he resided for over 30 years so his medication could be monitored and administered. The family was told that this was the most that could be expected from him. The facility administered the drugs according to medical protocol for the times. Perry was 26 when he settled into his first long term residence home. His days consisted of going for long walks, smoking cigarettes, and keeping his own company. He had one faithful friend from his childhood and his family who would visit. Perry stayed within his shell in an embryonic state for twenty five years until a new psychiatrist took over his care.
A glimmer of light and change, ever so slight but Perry began to emerge from his shell. Over the next 5 years under his new physician he started to become a bit more interactive with family and his friend. Then suddenly one day a nurse from Perry's residence called his sister to inform her that he was unable to walk and was being taken to the hospital. She was called as their father was caring for their aged and ailing grandmother in Georgia.This one act was a turning point for Perry. Perry had become toxic from his medication which caused his liver and kidneys to shut down. Fearing the worst his sister took off to see him and to help with his care. This for her was a journey of a life time.
Upon arriving at the hospital, this brother of hers which was once a mere shell of a person was happy to see her. The lost sparkle of that once so bright child had returned to his eyes. Among the missing for so long, Perry was there not hidden, not in a shell, but emerging into someone recognizable. Each day she saw him, she noticed that the child once so securely tucked away was now evolving. Perry's sister along with his father and lawyer discussed Perry's plight. They all decided that a lot had changed in the years since Perry was first placed in his residence and seeing the change that had occurred through the removal of the old drugs and administering new ones they decided that a change would be good. Perry's sister was determined, to find a home with younger residents along with an interactive staff. With the aid of a caring and generous social worker she was provided a list of residential living homes which she began to investigate. After several days and looking at several homes she found what she believes to be a perfect choice. After the endorsement of his psychiatrist Perry was relocated. She had found the right formula; an interested doctor who wanted to explore more options, caring staff, an intimate facility, a nurturing environment, along with the right combination of drugs. This has lead to Perry having a home. This is the first time in 30 years where he is able to interact and has taken the time to become part of something more than his self. He is truly at home in his new place.
Perry is flourishing and creative once again thanks to the loving and caring environment where he lives. He is working on drawings and music. He is playing games, shooting pool, watching TV, listening to music and most of all communicating. Something he was unable to do for years.
I am not much of a writer but I wanted to tell Perry's Story, our family story. You see I am that sister, Anthe and through this story I hope to touch those of you touched by Schizophrenia. My hope is that you will come out and share your story with me as I continue to chart Perry's progress through this blog. I also hope in doing so to break the silence, stigma, and shame that we as a family along with so many others have felt.
Although Perry was a brilliant musician in his earlier years, because both Perry and I express ourselves through visual art I thought of the idea of bringing artists together with their siblings who have gone through this heart ache or similar. It is also my goal to create a platform for artists who have schizophrenic siblings to share their story. I envision an exhibition for their voice to be seen and heard as well as supporting NAMI, The National Association of Mental Illness. Through this process I hope we can educate the public on this disorder that has affected so many families throughout our nation.
Perry is now actively trying to work and a become productive member of society through the making and selling of his art.
With each piece purchased you will help him achieve this goal. Thank you.