Fall 2003, I graduated from Weaver High School- on my way to Virginia State University. Coming from being “Mr. Popular”, Homecoming King, captain on the Football team, and Junior Class President- to now unfamiliar grounds! I was now a small fish in an ocean. No family, friends or familiar faces in sight. So after a while of course I made some friends including my roommate (we had separate rooms but shared a bathroom).The crew consisted of my boy Mike, Jerry, Chris, Chi-Town, my roommate Beamer and Young Buck.
Fall 2003, I graduated from Weaver High School- on my way to Virginia State University. Coming from being “Mr. Popular”, Homecoming King, captain on the Football team, and Junior Class President- to now unfamiliar grounds! I was now a small fish in an ocean. No family, friends or familiar faces in sight. So after a while of course I made some friends including my roommate (we had separate rooms but shared a bathroom).The crew consisted of my boy Mike, Jerry, Chris, Chi-Town, my roommate Beamer and Young Buck. As with any college crew: we ate together, played ball, cracked jokes and partied together. All was good! Or at least I thought it was!
Going into spring semester 2004, VSU charted a coach bus to go to Atlanta to go sight-seeing, visit some museums and see the Morehouse vs Clark Atlanta rivalry basketball game. The whole crew was supposed to attend; well you know how that goes- the only person that actually followed through was Chi-Town. So Chi and I chilled together for the duration of the trip. This trip to Atlanta was the start of a new beginning for me. I wasn’t being myself, something was wrong with me, I remember having a notepad telling Chi that I was going to be a rapper, I recall opening up a little more to Chi-Town than usual. A day or so into the trip I recall Chi-Town telling me to catch myself and to slow down. He sensed something was up. He knew that my actions began to fall out of character. So the trip went on (it was a three day trip) we shopped, flirted with girls, laughed and got to know each other. We eventually became the closest out of the crew.
Later in the spring semester my actions became bolder, I started walking on campus with no shirt on, mocking fraternities, calling Women Queens: encouraging them to stop settling and feeling bad for themselves, to walk with their head held high this was not me, I was one of the shy ones from the crew, Chris was the playboy. I recall going to VA Best with no shirt on and breaking bread with the locals, as if I had known them for years. The school warned us about going to VA’s Best at night. I didn’t care. I was doing all kinds of abnormal stuff. I can remember turning in a Social Studies paper in an envelope and calling the professor, “my favorite white guy”- RECKLESS! Reckless to the point the old crew started to shy away. Except Chi-Town and Young Buck! I recall wandering around campus late at night listening to the Jackson 5, then one night this guy name Big Self (R.I.P.) saw me at like 3am on the yard. He was like, “Tock (my nickname) what are you doing out here man don’t you have class tomorrow?” I told him, “yeah but I’m bored”. He was like man hop in Man, I’m taking your butt to the dorm. Big Self was like the campus Kingpin. He was holding a big icy chain and a huge expedition. If you wanted girls and didn’t play football or wasn’t Greek you wanted to be in Big Self circle. So I hopped in his truck and just started crying- balling. He was like “what’s up man, talk to me”. I was like “man I miss my mom man; I miss my cousin Mikey” (who passed away). Big Self said, “man ya mom will be OK, she loves you bro”. We parked in front of our dorm and started to roll up a joint and asked if I smoked. I was like “na Man I don’t smoke”, he said “bump it more for me” So we just sat in his truck and talked about my mom’s situation, the girls we had recently messed with on campus and life in general until the sun came up. We laughed, cried and cracked jokes all night! Before we parted ways, Big Self asked if I was going to the Civic (a club that was hot back then) I was like,” yea if my crew going”. He said, cool hit me up!
The Civic: Everyone went except Chi-Town. we got fresh, I stashed my lil pocket knife in my pocket just in case and we walked to the Civic. I didn’t drink anything at all freshmen year but my actions still weren’t “normal”. SO we in the club and I am going hard-SOBER (or at least I thought), again no shirt on, pushing folks, no one could touch me. Then the bouncer snatched me up like, “yo, you need to put a shirt on and calm down”. I guess Big Self didn’t like how the bouncers were treating me so he came over to my surprise and was like, “yo let homes go, he with me”. Then Big-Self told me to go grab some water and chill the heck out. I did! Party went on; I found my shirt and slid out the party-solo. On my way home I began crying, why? I have no clue, but I was just crying. I recall laying my R.I.P. Project Pat bandana down, throwing my Bowles Park jersey in the river near the train tracks and then I threw my gold Jesus piece in the river but kept the chain. Still in my mind I was Ok! Later that night while I was wondering around campus with no shirt on, it began to rain hard. Jerry had seen me near the girl dorm like, “yo why are you out here with no shirt on in the rain?” “He was like you been tripping lately man you ok?” I immediately was verbally combative with him and the campus police showed up. I started talking reckless to the police as well. The next thing I know, they are in my dorm room saying get some overnight clothes you’re going to the hospital. They distinctively said, “you can come voluntarily or we will forcefully have to take you, but you are going”. So I gathered some stuff and told my roommate Beamer, “yo they taking your boy to the hospital, they think I’m going crazy!” For whatever reason Beamer did not respond or seem to care about all the commotion that was taking place, he didn’t even get up for the two officers that were questioning him about me. He didn’t even say call me or I’ll call you to see what’s up. He literally laid there and didn’t move or say anything. Until this day I think about that! Every day I think about it!
Voluntarily hospital visit: At the hospital, I recall waiting there with the cops on each side of me, jumping up because I thought it was my Uncle Stanley car drive by. From here I got into a wrestling match with the two officers: One male and one female. Luckily they didn’t beat me with that nightstick or stun gun me. But the two of them alone weren’t enough at this time, the other medical staff jumped on me as well. They stuck me with a needle and that took the fight out of me. I one of the doctors said, “This guy is 7:30” (Not sure if that’s a medical term or not). I know what it means in the streets. Once I heard that, I started cussing him out, calling him all types of names and spit on him. So you know they took me to the Psych ward! Once we got settled in the room and I finally calmed down the female Officer began to sing Gospel songs to me and praying over me. That right there put me straight to sleep!
The next day: So after a long night on the Psych ward and crying, I woke up and to my surprise my older brother and father was right there talking to the Doctor. Once I got dressed and ready to go, we had to have some type of hearing before they released me. In that meeting I recall looking at my older brother and laughing. He looked back at me with one of those faces: like,” na don’t laugh Man, this is serious”. So after all these series of events/episodes I finally learned that I had Barbiturates in my blood- someone had slipped something in my drink. My dad and brother were questioning the hell out of me,” like who were you hanging out with”? “where was the last party you went to”?, you beefing with anyone down here”?. In the midst of all this I recall Chi-Town giving them the scoop of my behaviors since the ATL trip. I recall Chris offering to store all my belongings in his storage until I got myself together. So head back to CT. Clearly I’m not in my right state of mind but to me I am- If that makes sense. My dad had explained what had happened to me and told me that I need to take these meds to get myself together.
Meds: So living with my grandmother at this time and I’m not taking the meds which lead to more events/episodes, (it was straight madness) on top of me drinking, partying, not eating properly, having bad company around. Grandma wanted to kick me out of the house. I had family who made fun of me, didn’t want me around, friends too. I did have a few good friends who had my best interest at hand but the clouds got so gray that it almost led to suicide. I recall one night sitting on the edge of my bed like, man if I killed myself would anyone care? I was in a very dark and lonely place.
Turning point: So I didn’t take myself out- Thank God. The next day I went up to Mt. Ida to visit my boy Choc, I don’t know if Choc was aware of what was happening or not but he sure didn’t treat me like a stepchild. He treated me like how he treated everyone- with mad love. We partied, clubbed hoped and hit a few dorm parties. Later that night I recall waking up in the middle of the night in tears- this time it was tears of joy. As if God used Choc as a burning bush to talk to me. I took Choc and his hospitality as God saying, “yo get yourself together, I want you to finish what you started at VSU, I want you to enjoy life). That night I decided that I was going back to college! The next day my mother’s humbled words told me-“son you’re not crazy, you have a lot going on, you had a nervous breakdown, a bad drink and need to take your meds so you can be healed, I love you and I’m proud of you”. While most family and friends counted me out and/or didn’t want me to go back to school, my aunt-in -law noticed that I would apply to all these other HBCU’s. Then one day I was at her house using her office, she said, “Brandon why don’t you just go back to VSU and finished what you started”, “the hell with people gotta say about you, everybody go through stuff”, “I believe in you-boy go ahead and go finish up at VSU”. This little bit of encouragement was all I needed to hear.
Accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior: June 28th, 2006, my Pastor Massey was preaching from the book of Nehemiah! The Sermon was one of those Sermons for me! That day I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior and never looked back. Two years later- fall 2006 I was accepting back into VSU! I packed my Toyota Camry up kissed my two grandmothers, visited my dad who told me to take care of myself. My mom told me she loved me and she’ll be praying for me. Glory to God- I was able to become a RA , I worked as a Security Officer, I was President of the NABCJ- National Associations of Blacks in Criminal Justice and I graduated with Cum Laude Honors. This turning point was NOTHING but THE GRACE OF GOD!
Currently I am happily married going on two years, we birthed our first child this past November. I currently own and operate my own lawn care business, (Buggies Lawn Care) where I host an Annual Christmas Bowling party/ Toy Drive and I serve on the Men’s Usher Ministry at Lakewood Church.
I have literally faced Dangers of the Mind (DOM’s) and still do every day! I had to overcome depression, shame, guilt, nervous breakdown after breakdown, uncertainty (who slipped me the drug) and embarrassment. To this day I deal with the fear of losing it again! I had to learn to love and trust again. I lost two years from my college career- but I had to persevere, There’s not a day that passes where I don’t think of what I’ve been through. How did I get over them? I feed my spirit with God’s word daily, I pray and meditate often, I give myself small goals, I wake up each day giving thanks to God and look for ways to uplift someone else’s day. I communicate (outside of my Wife) with wise people, I ask for help in areas needed. I’ve learned that we need each other and you get out of life what you put into it. No matter what’s happening on the surface, I always tell myself to keep my inner-peace.
To close, “I just want you to know no matter where you’ve been, no matter what you’ve done, God’s Grace is sufficient and he LOVES YOU”- Brandon Q Campbell