When she's sick, Brandy Clark knows she can lean on Boe.
And as her brother, Boe Clark knows the role he serves.
“I love my sister,” he said. “She's like the female version of me. Not being there for her is not being there for myself. I just wish I could do more.”
When they're together, Brandy and Boe Clark talk rapidly and laugh often.
They go to support group meetings together. They go thrift shopping together and take dance classes. They cook together.
That's how it has always been. They grew up in an abusive household marked by generational poverty. Life was hard, but they got through it — together.
“I call him when I'm having a meltdown, and he talks me down from the meltdown, he tells me everything is going to be OK, and that's how it's been our whole lives,” she said. “When we didn't have enough food to eat, when we didn't have nice clothes, when we didn't have anything, he was always right there.”
A couple of years after college, Brandy Clark had a crisis that involved inpatient treatment at a mental health hospital. Her crisis was a journey, and it's still hard to talk about.
“You're angry with your family for putting you in this place. You're angry that you're locked up somewhere where you have to wear scrubs and they take away your forks,” she said. “You're mad, but you've got to deal with that, and you have to get the proper treatment.”
At 30, she has accepted that she has bipolar disorder. As with diabetes or a heart condition, she will manage her brain disease to best ensure she is successful in her recovery.
And she's not doing it alone.
“I'm lucky in that regard,” she said. “Some people with mental illness have no one.”