By: Dahana St Jean
Hi, I’m Gabriela, and welcome to my life. Eh, at least to the part where I’m clueless to what exactly is going on. So, my brother Michael recently had a major meltdown at school that happened on Friday. And on that day, the principle attempted to take him to the school’s counseling center, but, things got out of control from what the principle explained to my mom. According to the principle, my brother began to act violently against all the staff at the administration department and the two security guards came to hold him down until the ambulance arrived.
I had to leave early from school once my mom arrived at the scene to speak with them afterwards. While staff were feeding my mom on the 45 minutes unusual act of my brother, I waited in her 2015 black Buick car on the driver side as I was on my phone casually deactivating all my social media accounts. Twenty minutes later my mom came in the car with tears running down her face. It hurts me to see her cry, but, for some reason I didn’t cry. I couldn’t explain the rush and mixed emotions I was feeling at this moment. It was much rather the frustration, the anger I’ve suddenly grew for my brother and how embarrassed he made me.
When we arrived home, my mom immediately pulled out the card the principle provided her where he had written down the number to the hospital he was admitted to. After being transferred ten times, she finally got through to the right department.
“Yes, hi, my name is Jane Pozier and I’m calling regarding my son Michael Jeffery Pozier who was admitted to your facility this afternoon, date of birth is February 20th, 200- [paused] “Now hold up, don’t you dare transfer me! This is the 11th time I’ve been transferred back and forth, and I just can’t seem to be at the right department. Look, I just want to know where my son is so that I can – [Paused] “What do you mean you guys sent him to another facility?!” Why?!” [paused] “A psychiatric unit?! Oh Lord. Just give me the number, please. Give me the number.” She said as she grabbed a pen and napkin from her purse and wrote down the number. “Okay…mmhmmm…yes, I’m familiar with the location…okay, thank you, sir.” [Disconnects line]
The next morning, my mother and I went to the Grand Morkin Hospital where Michael was admitted in the Adult Psychiatric Unit. It was a nice breezy weather and the sun was shining upon us as the wind blew our hair to its direction. Despite this beautiful day, thinking about my brother Michael and glancing at the expression of my mom weeping from home all the way to the hospital made the day a bit gloomy.
“Mom, stop crying. He’s alright.”
“Oh, honey. I’m just trying to figure out what I’ve done wrong raising your brother. I feel like such a bad mother to see my baby suffering like this. Do you think he’s on drugs?”
“Definitely not!” I said.
My brother and I have a great relationship. And for all I know, he would never do drugs. Never. Especially when we had seen the outcome it has done to most of his old friends from our neighborhood we grew up with. But, I would say that if he was in drugs, I’d believe his so-called friends might’ve sneaked it in him. He still hangs around with them and he would always tell me how they’re always pressuring him to try this type of drug or that – but he always refuses.
“So, when are we going to tell daddy?” I said.
“Not until he gets backs from Haiti next week. I don’t want to bother him.”
“But dad said that if there’s an emergency we can call him.”
“Not now Hun. Your brother is in the hospital now and is being treated. Everything is fine.”
“But mom, I think it’s best we tell dad an -”
“Sweetie, we’re not calling your dad! This conversation is over.” She firmly said as we made our way to the entrance of the hospital and into the front desk/ receptionist area.
A young Asian lady smiled at the front desk as she greeted us.
“Hello, how may I help you?”
“Yes, hi, we’re here to see Michael Jefferey Poznier.” My mother said laying her purse on the counter.
“Sure, what’s his date of birth?
“February 20, 2001.”
We provided the lady our driver’s license for verification purpose.
“Thank you, one moment.” she said as she picked up the phone. “Hey Alex, um, Michael J Pozier has visitors today. Okay, I will send them your way, thank you. [Hangs up phone] “Alright, here’s your pass, it’s going to be on the third floor to your left which is the psychiatric unit.” She said smiling.
“Thank you.” We replied as my mom took both our pass and lead the way.
We stepped out of the elevator reaching to our destination at the Adult Psychiatric Unit. A not so friendly big and muscular security guard who looked like a human version of Donkey Kong stood at the double doorway with his arms folded.
“Good morning sir, my daughter and I are here to visit my son Michael Jefferey Poznier.”
” Purse, keys, and cellphones in the locker.” He said pointing at the lockers to the left of him.
We proceeded to do just that as he stared at us with a serious face. He then buzzed the intercom on the door. A lady answered.
“Imma need a security check, code 234-43.”
We stood in front of him as he positioned himself back like a statue – folding his arm, chin up, and standing tall. He had on a dark black shades and black boots. Few minutes later, a security guard with a blonde ponytail who was a Laura look alike played by Angelina Jolie from the movie Tomb Raider opened the right side of the door. She didn’t smile either but at least she greeted us.
“Hello ladies, I’m just going to pat you all down, but, before I do so, do you all have any metals, knife, or any hazard things on you that I should know about?”
“No.” We said.
She quickly patted us down and directed us to sign the signing sheet.
“Alright, follow me.” She said as the security guard fella opened the door for us.
The visitation room was spacious with only a blue rectangular table with four chairs around it and an identical double door straight across from us.
“I’ll bring Michael out for you all, one moment.” She said as she walked into the opposite double doorway.
We took a seat and waited quietly. The environment was depressing so to say.
The door opened as Michael came out with the security lady. My mom got up and ran towards him with open arms and joy.
“Oh sweetie!! Are you alright, did you eat?!” She said examining him up and down for a second and hugging him tightly.
“Hey mom, yes.” He calmly said as he walked towards the table and sat down.
He looked like hadn’t slept in days with his eyes red filled with bags. My mom pulled the chair and sat next to him as she rested her right hand on his shoulder. He quickly looked at me and shifted his attention to my mom, giving her a look.
“Wait…mom, what do you mean am I alright? I should be asking you that question. I just got out from the meeting in Planet Mars with a couple of my prospective business partners. I’ve tried calling you last night, but the planet apes had you all hostage for 24 hours as planned. Which I was surprised they’ve released you.. all so… soon…and let ya’ll live.” He said confused.
“Yup. We lost him.” I mumbled under my breath looking away.
“Honey, what, what did you said? Ha.” My mom said with a nervous laugh.
“Nothing yet that’ll be mind-blowing. Stay tune for that. But, anyways, I can only talk for ten minutes. I must resume back to my meeting with Cody and Weisner. We’re almost done building the [Paused] “Oh! Security Laura, can I go back please? My phone is ringing in my room and I have to answer it.”
The security shook her head at him. “There’s no phone ringing, Michael. You have plenty of time to talk to your mother and sister.” She said folding her arms as she stood by the table.
“Shucks, mom, let’s reschedule at some other time to meet. I must get back into this important meeting. Oh, hey Gabby!!” He said in shocked.
“Hey.” I said lifeless. I didn’t look at him. I refuse to see him like this.
My mom didn’t say anything afterwards.
The nurse came out the door as she smiled making her way to the party of four.
“Hey, Michael. Is this your beautiful family?” She said while holding a clipboard in her hand.
“Nurse Wanda, why yes, you are correct…again.” He said annoyed.
“Oh wow!” She said with excitement. And you must be the mom?” She said as she turned toward my mom.
My mom sadly replied with a whisper. “Yes.”
Michael got up and stood in front of the nurse.
“Nurse Wanda, may I go back to my room now? My phone is still ringing louder than ever. I must answer it.” He said desperately.
“Michael, there is no phone in your room. But, if you want to go back to your room, you can gladly do so. I will have Laura escort you back there, okay?”
“Sounds like a plan! Oh, and mom, don’t bring Gabby back here anymore.” He said as he walked away.
My heart dropped. I then looked up at him in total shock watching him made his way inside the double doors as we made eye contact until the door shut behind him and the security guard. My mom quickly looked away as if she had seen a ghost. She sadly looked down tapping her right index finger on the table. The nurse sat next to her where Michael was sitting.
“Ms. Poznier.” She said with concern.
“Mrs.” My mom immediately corrected her while still whispering.
“Sorry, Mrs. Poznier, Um..” She paused and turned to me as my mom gave her no attention still tapping her index finger on the table. “Is that your brother?” She said looking at me.
I nodded my head.
” Okay, um…My name is Wanda and I am one of the assigned psychiatric nurses for your brother Michael for this morning…and um, lately he’s been having stories made up in his mind that he has this sort of meeting when he just sits in his bed facing the wall at night and talks to himself. He uses the remote from the break room for communication which he believes is a phone. He’s basically have a form of hallucination where he is hearing things in his head which is known to be an acute phase.”
“What’s wrong with him?” I said.
“Your brother Michael has a serious mental illness…I’ll have Dr. Ynagson go over his problem with you all shortly.”
“I want to know what’s wrong with my brother now.” I said in frustration.
“Understandable. I shall get him right away.” She said as she got up and left.
My mom and I stood silent for a good ten minutes waiting for the Dr. She kept rocking back and forth shaking her legs, eyes shut as she mumbled a prayer. At this point, I had to be the strong person for the both of us. But I knew, in this matter, I would soon fail miserably in maintaining my entire strength. My heart was still broken from the words coming out of my brother mouth of him not wanting me back. I needed a valid reason for his behavior for me not to be angry at him. Several minutes later, a tall look alike of professor Xavier from the X-Men movie approached us with salutation.
“Hello, my name is Dr. Ynagson.” He said.
We didn’t say a word as we just looked at him worried. I literally had no energy to speak.
“I’m sure you all are wanting to know what’s wrong with Michael, so I will get straight to the point. [Clears throat] Michael is diagnosed with a mental health disorder called Schizophrenia.”
My mother threw her hands up and shouted “Mezumee, epi das it! Mwem lave men mwen. Jezi, tanpri pran volan an!!!” My mother said panting as she put her head down on the table in defeat.
The doctor gave her a confused looked and turned to me.
My mother was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti and came down when she was in early late 40’s with my dad. She managed to obtain citizenship and a certification as a medical assistant and has been working in the nursing home for about twenty years now. She speaks good English but when it comes to certain information (mental health terminology) she has yet to comprehend. And that’s where I as her Haitian American daughter steps in.
“Dr. Ynaagson, English is not my mother’s primary language. She’s not familiar with the term you just threw at us… that schizo word.” I said. I’ve never heard of that word before, but I pretended like I knew.
“Ah, okay. Well, maybe I can explain it to you and you can translate to your mother afterwards. You must be his sister?”
“Okay, I can see the resemblance now…so, Schizophrenia is a rare chronic and severe mental illness that less 1% of the general population have. It’s linked to certain factors such as genetics and environments and uh, symptoms of this disorder can include false beliefs, catatonic behavior, and uh hallucination such as hearing voices which is most common.”
“Is it treatable?” I said.
The doctor let out a sign.
“Well, uh…there are treatments that reduces or stop symptoms that can help people that are affected with this disorder… uh to function and improve their quality of life. Hospitalization during the acute phase of the illness would be necessary…you know, uh, if they’re harm to others, self or are incapable to care of their illness alone, then it would be best to do an inpatient stay for stabilization. And of course, they would need to have some ongoing psychotherapy sessions whether it’s individual or group therapy and medication management. There’s really no cure – uh – for this disorder… at least not yet, I would say. “
“So, in other words, he’s never gonna get back to his normal self.”
“Unfortunately, this type of illness is a bit complex to manage depending on the stage or phase he’s on. Once your brother Michael is discharge from our hospital, he’ll be in your family’s care. I’d recommend you all seek a therapist that specializes in schizophrenia so that you and your family can understand the difficulties that are associated with his disorder. Such providers can also provide ways to help you all cope with his illness. It’s important for the aftercare that you all must support him and make sure that you go with the treatment that works best for him and that he’s consistent taking his medication. I can have my nurse provide you and your family on resources in where to find outpatient and family services.”
Tears came down from my eyes as soon as I open my mouth to speak. “Mmm…(sniffs) mmkay…(sniffs) Tha…(sniffs)than…(sniffs) thank you…” I said whispering as I looked down hopeless.
“I’m sorry I couldn’t bring you all any great news. However, there is a high chance that he may be able to manage to live with the type of mental illness that he has.” He said as he walked away.
My mother withdrew from the situation long after she first spoke to Michael here at the unit. The nurse Wanda came out with packets and information to aid us with Michael and informed us about his discharge sometimes next week and possible residential treatments afterwards. I kindly thanked Wanda as my mother and I departed ways from her and the two securities. My mom starred at the blank wall in disbelief in what she had witnessed in my brother. I couldn’t even believe it as well which left me speechless as I took out our purses from the locker. We exited the psychiatric unit, entering the elevator and returning to the main entrance of the hospital to go home.
“Gabriela, sweetie.” My mother said hopeless with tears still running down her face.
“Call your dad.”