My name is Yvonne West and I am a 31 year old woman living in the city of Philadelphia. I have grown up around loved ones who suffer from mental illness. One person in my life that suffers from it is my younger brother Jason. He is 29 years old and suffers from Autism with severe developmental delay and mild schizophrenia.
My brother was diagnosed with Autism at four years old and later was found to have mild schizophrenia when he became a young adult, after he mentioned to psychologist that he heard voices telling him to do harmful things. He was violent towards many people including me and my parents. There were moments I remember hearing my mother tell me about parents of children on our block not wanting them to play with my brother because of how physically aggressive he was with them. I found some of those children would not come outside when my brother came running out with me. My mother told me about the time when my brother at the age of five or six got violent with me when I was only seven or eight years old causing one of my fingers to snap out of socket. I do not recall this incident happening but I am sure it hurt. She furthermore, explained that she spent a couple minutes getting my finger back in its socket and saw my brother not show any remorse and my father entered the house acting as if he never saw anything.
A Northwestern Journalism Masters student interviewed me and wrote about my story.
I started drinking when I was a junior in high school. A couple of buddies and me got a bottle of fruity vodka and drank it. It gave me this warm effect and it felt good. I drank whenever I could over the last two years of high school. At the time I had not been diagnosed, but drinking was probably my way of dealing with my obsessive compulsive disorder.
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