Faces of Addictionby Representative Daniel T. Kildee
Posted on 2016-01-06
KILDEE. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman for her work on
Tonight, I want to share the story of a young man from my district, James Brendan Bye. His mother, Barbara, a good friend of mine, shared her story with me and asked that I share it tonight with this Congress and with the country.
Brendan was born on August 3, 1989, followed by his sister, Megan Elizabeth. Their father left early on, leaving Barbara as a single working parent. Another sibling, Preston, blessed them in 1999.
Brendan was a wonderful kid, a respectful young man, an honor student. His love of playing sports was never realized because of asthma.
In his senior year of high school, things changed. He became paralyzed with fear, couldn't go to school, dropped out, and spent a year looking for help. He met friends that turned out to be bad influences, made experimental choices. His mother was aware of this sudden change and saw the signs of anxiety and depression.
Brendan, though, got his GED, started a job at 18, grateful for work in a city with high unemployment.
He struggled through his early twenties. His mother did everything in her power to help him. As a single mom, she worked and raised a family of three on one paycheck, often finding herself needing to look for help, including Medicaid.
For Brendan, because his symptoms of mental illness were not so easily recognizable, help was harder to get. He was not properly diagnosed or treated. His treatment plan did not work. It was not successful. As he sunk further into depression, prescription drugs led to illegal drug use. He self-medicated.
His mother, Barbara, did not share her home life with others. For her, it was an element of confusion and shame which became the norm. Unfortunately, in their community of Grand Blanc, heroin was readily available. Like many other communities, lots of kids from all backgrounds were using and dying from heroin.
Brendan first overdosed when he was 24. He was saved by his grandfather, Al, who helped him get into rehab. He was able to get ongoing treatment at Sacred Heart in Flint, where he had a great counselor who helped him. Things were looking up.
Last year, Barbara was happy. All three of her kids were employed for the first time. Their future looked bright. Heroin, it seemed, was out of Brendan's life.
He started taking medication prescribed by a doctor to reverse the effects of heroin, volunteered at a food bank, loved nature, loved his pets, loved his brother and sister. His relationships flourished, especially with his Aunt Amy, Aunt Carla, and his cousins. As Barbara told me, ``he was a beautiful person inside and out.'' At the end of August this last year, things changed again. He was taken off prescription medication, and a short time later his mother and sister found him collapsed in his bedroom. Brendan, at the age of 26, on September 8 of last year, died.
For Brendan, he is now in heaven. His struggles with mental illness and addiction are gone. For his family and friends, they continue to grieve.
Barbara has become an advocate. She wants to make sure we honor Brendan and his life by making sure that those who need health care can get health care, those who need mental health services can get mental health services. Her message, and really Brendan's message, is that we have to do more as a society and as a nation to deal with this incredible problem. It is the way we honor those that we have lost. It is the way we honor Brendan.