My name is Noemi Garcia. I am a full-time college student and mother to a 3-year-old girl. I am studying to become a psychiatrist because I want to become a mental health advocate. My inspiration to be a psychiatrist comes from my brother’s story; he is experiencing a mental health crisis at this very time. On September 20th, my brother was arrested at Woodfield Mall. He is accused of criminal damage to property and terrorism. But there is so much more to the story, than what you saw on the news and social media. I am asking for your help to raise money for my brother’s expenses. He faces a sentence of 20 years to life in prison if convicted. Everyone who knows Javier knows he is not a terrorist. He is a kind person who has faced mental illness for many years. Your donations will allow us to get him the help he needs to deal with his mental illness.
The back story:
In our family, Javier is the peacemaker. He always wants to make everyone laugh, especially when they are having a bad day. He loves to draw, swim, and play basketball. In so many ways, he is just an average 22-year-old guy, but Javier has been through things that no person should ever have to go through. My mother left us when Javier was only 6 years old. This left my father as a single father to four young children. At the age of 18, my brother was diagnosed with early stage schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and psychosis. It started when Javier unexpectedly wanted to drop out of high school. He was hearing “voices” that made fun of him and made him feel like people were spying on him. In June 2016, when the voices didn’t stop, our family took him to an emergency room where he was transferred to an inpatient clinic at Amita Behavioral Health. This was his first hospitalization due to the diagnosis, but it was not his last.
My father and I tried our best to always keep Javier in a stable environment. This was easier to do after he was put on appropriately prescribed medication. We made sure that he kept up with his monthly visits with his psychiatrist and did everything we could to allow my brother to live a normal life. Javier was working, paying his bills, and always helping his family. He even decided to go back to school to get his high school diploma, which he received in May 2018. Javier was not letting his diagnosis stop him from chasing his dreams.
Everything changed in August 2018 when Javier went through a jaw correction surgery. During the recovery period, his Medicaid insurance was terminated. Our family was not able to afford to get him the medication needed to manage his mental condition. The same medication that gave us our Javier back, the medicine that helped him go back to high school after dropping out, was taken away from Javier.
Javier was switched to a more affordable generic brand of medication, but it did not work as well. He stopped driving and working. He started having severe symptoms and hallucinations. On July 8, 2019, Javier was taken back to the emergency room. In August 2019, he was readmitted to Amita Heath Behavioral Health because of suicidal thoughts, hallucinations and hearing voices in his head. Even after being released with medication, Javier was not stable. He was constantly scared for his own safety. Our family was desperate. At the end of August 2019, my dad and I tried to get him re-evaluated at Linden Oaks to see if something else was going on. We were worried and felt like he wasn’t getting the help that he so desperately needed and deserved.
On September 19, 2019, the day before his Woodfield Mall arrest, Javier was released from Linden Oaks Behavioral Health. He didn’t want to be released because the voices weren’t stopping.
How can it be that someone needs to hit rock bottom for people to see how serious mental health conditions can be? When I look back, I see that Javier was failed by the system. The system took away his medication when he was thriving. It took away his sense of safety and his control over his reality. He was in and out of different facilities, but he always left feeling like he wasn’t quite ready to be on his own.
Now he is being called a terrorist. Rather than receiving treatment, he is being threatened with life in prison. His picture is being spread around the internet and no one knows the real story. Javier is not a terrorist, nor has he ever been in trouble with the law. Javier has schizophrenia. Schizophrenia and a broken mental health system have stolen my brother Javier from us, and we are fighting to get him back.
How you can help:
The day Javier was arrested, my father lost his job. He frequently had to leave work to care for Javier. Now we have more expenses than ever, including legal fees.. By donating, or even sharing this, you are helping not only Javier, but you are also helping to raise awareness of mental health and the stigma around it. Your donation will also allow us to be one step closer to getting Javier the mental health treatment that he needs. Having a mental health condition should not mean that Javier’s opportunity to live a normal and healthy life should be taken away. Jail is not the place for Javier.
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