When my Brother Andrew reached his late teens he become more and more reclusive to the point of sometimes never leaving his room for days on end.
For years we didn't know what he was experiencing. Some people are able to verbalise their issues but Andrew has never really been able to.
My brother has schizophrenia and this is my story
My brother Andrew became a Liverpool fan in the mid 90’s as he was entering his early teens. Why he chose the reds over other teams that were more successful during that period I don’t know but it’s been a constant in his life to this day.
In 2007 we learned from a visit to NHS that my brother had disclosed to them that he had for many years heard voices. These voices were constantly telling him that he is incapable of working, that he is no good to anyone and that he is useless. These voices would come from people he passed on the street, from moving vehicles and sometimes from his own family. My brother has schizophrenia.
In 2010 Andrew went with a good friend of the family on a ship that was meant to last a few weeks travelling round Europe and it abruptly ended a few days into the trip with Andrew having left the ship in Rotterdam and him calling us from Waterloo station saying that he was coming back home.
Andrew, Dad and Steffie
For all the negative experiences that my brother and my family have gone through because of schizophrenia there are the positive ones that would not have happened if it weren’t for his mental health.
Restaurants and holidays
Nowadays the majority of Andrew’s year is spent with my parents in their house and in the last few years he only leaves the house for two types of excursions; restaurants & holidays
On the holiday front we try to spend a week a year in a cottage somewhere beautiful in the UK. We all get something out of the trip, including my wife who is originally from the states.
As his older brother by six years, if you were to ask me what his personality was like as a kid I would say that his spirit was always one that loved to laugh, play, dance and generally be the joker within any gathering whether it be with family or friends.
As I became a moody teenager I would look at my brother and sometimes feel annoyed by his joy for life and his natural ability to put smiles on people’s face which I sometimes I had forgotten to do while becoming a young adult.
You'll never walk alone
If I were to ask you what Alicia Keys, Aretha Franklin, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Judy Garland, Nina Simone and Tom Jones all had in common apart from being musicians what would you come up with?
They all have sung “You’ll never walk alone” which is a show tune from a 1945 Rogers and Hammerstien musical Carousel. The song that we will most likely recognise when played was written to comfort a character who’s partner had just committed suicide.
The song’s most successful was released in 1963 but the liverpudlian group Gerry and the Pacemakers which has become the anthem of Liverpool F.C and is sung by it’s supporters moments before the start if each home game. It is the words to this song that hangs above my brothers bed.
Liverpool and Australia
For eight months he lived with my Uncle and his family in the suburbs of Sydney, it was his first experience of being away from home for an extended period of time. All I know about his time out there is that he became an avid Australian cricket fan and we constantly banter about the fact that we both love teams (England and Australia) that are entirely opposed to each other!
Sunflowers and Steffie the Labrador
My parents who were anti-pets for as long as I could remember agreed with Andrew to get a dog and in 2009, Steffie entered our lives. My parents believed that a puppy would have a positive impact on Andrew’s life but she’s impacted all our lives.
Schizophrenia is complicated, it’s a long-term mental disorder of a type involving a breakdown in the relation between thought, emotion, and behaviour, leading to faulty perception, inappropriate actions and feelings, withdrawal from reality and personal relationships into fantasy and delusion, and a sense of mental fragmentation. That’s the definition and for anyone who knows of someone with it I am sure we recognise some if not all of those just listed.
I grew up in suburban Essex. My memories were of the area being safe but slightly dull. Houses built in the 1960s and 1970's had a template of looking and feeling the same no matter what neighbourhood you were in.
As a kid and to this day, if I am ever in a suburban place, I tend to be drawn to anything deemed as quirky and unique as this can sometimes stand out in a sea of dullness.
This is my ongoing project of suburban windows.
Dogs are us
I've always had a fascination for seeing if dogs and their owners are end up looking like each other because we perceive physical similarities or there is some truth into this.
I am yet to be convinced that this is always the case but I have a lot of fun meeting owners and their dogs as part of the process.
This is an ongoing project that will never cease to put a smile on my face.
Ballet in the park
This is what happens when you take an experienced ballet dancer and ask her to perform in Southwark park
Street photography for me is whenever I am with my camera and I see something slightly out of the ordinary.