Local mother shares story of son's struggle with mental health a - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Local mother shares story of son's struggle with mental health and heroin


Bonnie Falzone-Capriola of Rockford spent 25 years with her first born son, Barry. 

Today, Barry is gone, but his memory still remains fresh in her mind.

Going through pictures of her late son, she's reminded of his heart felt smile. It's the same picture that brings her back to Barry's life, before addiction. 

"It takes me back to just before all the trauma started," Bonnie said. "I just want to go back right there and somehow make some change." 

Flipping through pictures she relives the memories and remorse of losing a child.

"When it's their death, that regret is very heavy and persistent," Bonnie said with tears filling her eyes. 

The haunting question of, 'what if?' 

At a young age, Barry was diagnosed with attention-deficit disorder. School was a burden for him. As he grew older, more and more of the trouble deep inside of him came out. 

"Around 15 or 16 it started to get really intense," recalled Bonnie. 

It was during this time that Barry would threaten to run away from home, refuse to go to school, and started to experiment with drugs. 

Barry would spend the next few years in and out of counseling where he was eventually diagnosed with bipolar disorder. 

"The doctor had given him some meds. They were pretty intense," said Bonnie.  "He wasn't functioning well. He was on the couch all day. He didn't like them. 'I don't want these,' he kept saying. 'You don't understand, when I take them I don't feel like me."'  

On top of that battle, Barry experienced a devastating break up. 

"He could barely function," said Bonnie. "Then he started talking about suicide and we had never heard that before." 

To help ease that depression, Barry checked himself into the psychiatric unit. Bonnie and the rest of her family thought they were turning a corner for good.

Instead, the opposite happened.

First, Barry turned to pain pills. Then the unimaginable. 

Bonnie recalled a phone call she had with Barry. "He called me one day," she said. "I'll never forget it. He said 'I'm addicted to heroin.' It felt like the whole world just slowed down in slow motion, like I was in a movie. That couldn't even be real. That he said 'I'm addicted to heroin.'"

It was then that Bonnie knew their lives would be changed forever. 

Addicted and depressed, Barry soon found hope at Remedies Renewing Lives in Rockford. 

Cheryl Piper, Vice President of Clinical Services at Remedies, recalled working with Barry. 

"He came in here desperately wanting help," Piper said. "He had tried almost every avenue to try to stop using heroin, he just couldn't stop. He started to look at this mental health issues. This man was depressed. Deeply depressed." 

Over time, Barry changed for the better. 

"He bloomed!" said Piper. "He was open. He wanted to talk. He wanted to grow. He wanted to change." 

The change, though, was short lived. 

Barry ended up getting arrested for possession of hypodermic needles. 

Bonnie recalls the downfall in her son. "That's where everything went completely downhill," she said. 

He was put in jail for 30 days. Barry was away from medication and away from treatment. 

Barry died from an overdose 11 days after being released from jail. 

While Barry is gone, he left something for Bonnie to get her through the coldest season of her life. A note giving an insight to his brain, his life, and his struggle. 

He wrote the nearly eight page note to his mother while in rehab. In part he wrote:

"Mom I know it's hard to watch your son kill himself. Hell, I could never know exactly how hard it is to watch me go, but please remember the threshold of pain I endure. When the day comes that I breathe my last breath, remember Mom, I'm resting. Finally, the peace I was always trying to taste." 

While nothing will replace the life of her son but these words serve as a clarity to the heart of a grieving mother. 

"When the game over happens and their life ends and it stops," said Bonnie. "You know that their suffering is done. It's done." 

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