I have a twin brother named Nathan. He’s… pretty much the coolest guy I know.

Nathan was born over two hours after me. No one is sure exactly why, but he has several disabilities. His vision and coordination are limited, and his brain just doesn’t work the way ours do. He can’t tie his own shoes but he has experienced things that a lot of people never will. In ways he’s more mature and smarter than a lot of other people his age.

Normally, Nathan is a really happy, light-hearted guy. He’s had some really great teachers and they have all really loved him. In fact, I don’t think anyone that’s ever met him has not liked him. He’s fun… and considerate, and enjoys doing nice things for people. He gets spoiled rotten by the people who work with him, but he takes it all really well.

When Nathan and I hit the puberty age, he started having psychological problems. Delusions filled his mind… depression, anxiety. There was just this look on his face. He’s been in the hospital a few times, and the doctors seem to have found the right mix of meds to really keep him stable. And he is… almost all of the time. When these episodes start coming on, we increase the meds for a while and then put them back to normal. It’s manageable.

Yet… it’s hard to watch him suffer. I remember thinking I’d do anything just to take away his pain, his hurt.

And now I think that in a sense I really know what it’s like. To feel that intense pain and sadness… with no reason. Feeling trapped, a prisoner.. thinking irrational thoughts.

Nathan seemed to be heading for one of his episodes a few weeks ago so they increased the meds. It seemed to help, but last night was a rough one for him. He was just sobbing.

And then today again… He yelled at my mom and sister a lot, treated them pretty poorly… not normal behavior for him. When I got home from work he was sobbing.

We had a really good talk. On some levels.. it’s almost as if  Nathan is just a little kid. He’s used to really being taken care of for his daily needs, and those always will be taken care of by somebody else. His understanding of a lot of events is probably comparable to a child’s perspective. So as we talked about what and how he was feeling, he expressed his frustration that “this will never go away. I’ll have it until I die.” I told him I understood… and I reminded him that most of the time he doesn’t feel that way. He said he knew I understood.. and then, through his tears, said that he thought I was going to be the lucky one and not have to suffer from mental illness. He was so upset about it.

He may not always be able to express himself very well so it’s easy to overlook what he really does understand. It’s like when a kid says something to you that’s so insightful that it blows you away.

It breaks my heart to see him hurting… but at the same time it felt really good to be able to talk to him and calm him down. I love him so much.