A simple text from my brother helped me when I was struggling with schizoaffective disorder

Jonny Benjamin blogs about a life changing text from his brotherI never realised just how much of an impact a single text could have before I received one from my brother when I was unwell a few years ago.

I was in hospital at the time having treatment for schizoaffective disorder when the text came through. I didn't want to talk to anyone about what I was experiencing, least of all my brother. This was my older brother, the person I looked up to growing up. I didn't want him to think of me as being so unwell. 

He ain't heavy, he's my brother. 

My brother always used to sing the classic Hollies song, "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother" when I was younger. I wasn't really aware of the lyrics at the time but in recent years I've realised just how powerful they are:

"I'm strong,
Strong enough to carry him,
He ain't heavy, he's my brother.

His welfare is my concern,
No burden is he to bear,
We'll get there."

Sorry that you're suffering. I'm thinking of you.

I always get a lump in my throat whenever I hear that song played now. So too when I think back to that text he sent me. It wasn't a particularly long text but it's few words have remained with me ever since:

"Sorry that you're suffering. It's so tough isn't it. Thinking of you. You'll get there bruv x"

Me and my brother have always been renowned for winding each other up and taking the mick out of one another. (Much to our Mum's disapproval!) The messages we send between us are no different. So to receive such a heartfelt, caring message from my brother was both unexpected and deeply touching. The message was also a gateway that allowed me to open up to him about what I was going through. It felt like not only did he seem to understand, but that there was also no judgement there at all.

Our relationship only strengthened after that text. We still wind each other up no end of course, but I know I can always count on, and talk to my brother when I'm going through a bad period of mental health.

A simple message can be so powerful 

From that day I've never underestimated just how powerful a simple message can actually be when someone is struggling. Just that simple act of letting a person know you are thinking of them can truly make all the difference.


Find out more about Jonny's #FindMike campaign with our partner charity, Rethink Mental Illness.

A documentary about Jonny’s search is due for release this spring, for more information go to facebook.com/findingmike


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Comments

:) really nice

Its really nice to hear that your brother wanted to be there for you. it sounds like you needed that and still need that at times. My sister is very absent when it comes to me and my depression. cherish your brothers love even when your taking the mick. sounds like his head is screwed on right when it comes to you. all the best.

This is a really touching

This is a really touching blog, Jonny. I know people say actions speak louder than words but sometimes it really is the words themselves that help. I suffer from depression and, unfortunately, all too often I have people saying things like, "Can't you just be happy?", "Things are not all that bad," and, the worst one of all, "Man up!". I often wish that I received more words of encouragement from people around me; not necessarily people pretending to know or understand what I'm going through, but just to ask me how I'm feeling more often, or to let me know that they're there for me. I do have wonderful support from family and some of my friends, but I think people who say things like the phrases above don't realise how frustrating and upsetting it can be to hear them time and time again. So, I hope that more people get more messages of support as you did with your brother, and that people will grow more aware and understanding of mental illnesses. Also, congratulations for finding 'Mike!' x

Jonny

Texts from my friends have also kept me going when I've been ill. Knowing that someone is thinking about you while your world is in turmoil makes a huge difference. Thank you for sharing.

wish my sister would read this

I hid my bipolar 1 - was in absolute denial - for 20+ years because of the attitude of my parents and sister who just llabelled me "hypersensitive" and "attention-seeking" aand "immoral". Whatever I did was wrong," bad not mad" .. Even now my sister rolls her eyes if I dare to mention my diagnosis or try to explain some smalll aspect of my illness. Luckily however my wonderful son, age 19, totally understands and We can talk about anything - its such a relief to be believed at last. It horrible to think he may have inherited aa genetic vulnerability to this illness which has wrecked every aspect of my life - derailed my education, jobs, health, relationships, caused addiction, risk, sexual dangers, financial ruin .. And most of all, so much pain, confusion, self-doubt and isolation. To anyone suffering, best wishes for courage and hope. To anyon with a relative diagnosed - be kind:look back at their life in the light of their illness: what you thought were mistakes or laziness or badness were synptoms. Learn about the illness: you can be of most help if you educate yourself to know what they're up against!

Wonderful Story

It's great to hear you have such a wonderful brother. I also have schizoaffective disorder but have no idea how I would go about explaining it to all five of my younger siblings. I mainly rely on my mom for support, but who knows, maybe I'll branch out to the rest of the family one day.

Thank you for sharing Jonny.

I was really moved to read your blog. I agree that when we are ill a simple gesture can make such a difference. Thank you for sharing your experiences and all the best to you.

you help me understand

Thank you for being so brave. Everytime you speak, I feel my soul stirring up. I believe that someone I love has Schizoaffective Disorder, and your videos and sharing help me understand what he might be going through. He's basically shut me out, but I care so much about him, and want to let him know that I'm here, and that I understand a little bit; I have depression, anxiety, OCD, and yes, the voice in my head. It's scary, but it's good to know that we're not alone. Carry on, soldier... you're changing the world one person at a time. Thank you for being who you are.

mental illness

dear jonny, both sons have the disorder inherited from their father. i am told it improves as one gets older, and my husband has not been hospitalized in 30 years. my older son is working a full time job, after having graduated from a university, and has remained out of hospital for 2 years now, and as long as stays on his prescribed medication, works out, and continues to eat salmon, mackerel, and other fish with essential fatty acids (cod liver oil is good also) and sees doc regularly, he should do well. he is 26 years old and lives with us.. my other son, johnny, died two years ago due to an inexperienced doctor who put him on too much medication for his own good. our jonny is in heaven and is always giving us superman signs, his fav superhero in h.s., and #33, his football number . THE high school has since retired his number out of memory for him. please pray to jonny for your needs, he will help you, since he is very active and powerful before God! he has answered so many prayers and want to help the youth of today. i believe this as his mother. please respond, as i would love to hear from you. God Bless! ann pauley

The Power of Words

Dear Jonny. Thank you for your story. It's really very brave to talk about any problems in life especially when this problems about health... especially mental. Sometime just a few words from the Right Person can change your point of vision. And it's wonderful that you have that Person. I was very touched by your story. Thank you for sharing your expirience. :)

How brave is Jonny.

I've just been watching the pride of Britain's award and I cannot believe how incredibly brave you are Jonny to come onto the stage and talk about how utterly desperate you felt enough to commit suicide what an amazing person you are! and I'm so glad that gentleman stopped you from doing something so terribly final. I understand about feeling suicidal I myself have a mental health issues but knowing that when you do commit suicide how desperately it affects the people you leave behind. How truly sad they will be that you have gone from their lives I do hope that you're in a better place now and feel that you want to be alive. On a bit of a brighter note not that it really makes any difference when you're feeling so desperate but you are extremely good-looking. !! I just had to write something on your blog when I saw you on the television you are so so brave and I really hope you find happiness take care Johnny and be kind to yourself all the best from Jesse

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