Why I Walk - 2016
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8 Days To Go: Sophie Gabrion

Posted By Sophie D. Gabrion, NAMI Maine, Saturday, September 17, 2016

My brother and I were born two years apart.

  • When I was six years old, I had a princess birthday party with a Barbie cake and plastic champagne flutes. That was the year my brother started to change.
  • When I was ten, I entered middle school and joined the civil rights team. That was the year my brother was expelled for violence toward another student.
  • At the age of 15, I started taking college classes as part of a hybrid program. That was the year my brother started self-medicating with cocaine.
  • At the age of 17, I graduated high school with offers from all my top schools and a full scholarship. That was the year my brother was dishonorably discharged from the military after a psychotic episode was misunderstood for disobedience.
  • When I turned 20, I won an annual leadership award as a member of collegiate swimming team. That was the year my brother detoxed for the first time.
  • When I was 23 years old, I became the first person in my family to graduate with a Master’s degree and chose to focus my career on social services. That was the year my brother asked for my help for the first time.
  • When I was 25, I went back to bartending at night to pay off mounting student loans. That was the year my mother called from the hospital after my brother had overdosed, was barely alive and ended up in a coma.
  • At the age of 27, I got married in a beautiful ball gown on an autumn afternoon. That was the day my brother began drinking again.
  • At the age of 29, in between my divorce and the purchase of my first house, my brother shot himself accidentally as one of many incidents that resulted from a decade-long heroine addiction.
  • I am 30 years old and this year my brother has a program and is working it with a doctor he trusts for the first time. When I texted him to tell him how proud I was of my big brother, he said thank you and told me that he was trying.

As a sibling of someone with severe co-occurrence, you don’t get to separate your story from theirs. It becomes a journey that you take together. There is a power in that connection which transcends life‘s accomplishments or tragedies: it is the power of hope, and that is why I walk.



Public Relations Officer, NAMI Maine

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