“I just don’t trust the medicine thing anymore,” Brandon said. His mother, Brenda, interjected and mentioned that Brandon would benefit from some sort of medicine to help regulate his anger issues, but Risperdal is definitely not the one.
Instead of taking medicine, Brandon has opted to withdraw from the world. He lives in a home at the end of a gravel road, surrounded by the endless corn and soy fields of Indiana. He finds an escape in gaming -- video games, board games, Dungeons & Dragons. He has very few friends. “For me,” he said, “I try to be a hermit and say ‘none of it.’”
Brandon started taking Risperdal early in high school. In the first year, he gained over 100 pounds. When the gynecomastia first presented itself, Brandon and his mother attributed it to the weight gain, but when Brandon found a lump in his breast, they soon learned that it was more than the weight.
Brenda says Brandon has low testosterone, and during the time he took Risperdal, he had elevated levels of estrogen. While there’s currently no scientific connection between Risperdal and estrogen, Brandon’s estrogen levels dropped when he stopped taking the medication. “The doctors say his brain thinks it’s female,” Brenda says.
Gender identity has been an issue for Brandon. At 29, he’s had a handful of girlfriends, and was even married for a short time -- but many of the women, he said, had sexual and gender identity confusion. He, himself, has become paranoid about feminine things.
Brandon has since given up on dating, although he longs for a family. “I feel envious and resentful of men who have families,” he said. “Mostly envious, but a little resentful.”
Brandon acknowledges that he struggles with anger issues, but now he’s not sure which of the struggles he faces were caused by Risperdal and which were not. What he is sure of it this: Risperdal did not make things better. “When you think everything can’t get worse,” he said, “it can get worse.”
Brandon sits in the living room of his home with his mother, Brenda, in the background. He said that he grows his hair long so he can donate it to Locks of Love.