HAPPENING NOW: MY SON'S LIFE IS AT RISK by Sherry Hunter

Current update on my son, Mitchel John:
(See Sherry Hunter's post on this blog October 10, 2017: "I'm Furious at Our Criminal Mental Health System.")

At approximately 6 p.m. last night, he was released from Utah County Jail. Instead of the jail calling me, as his legal guardian, they thought it would be cool to just transport him into Provo (I live in Spanish Fork) and drop him off at the historical court house. He managed to walk to a local sandwich shop and call me. He was disoriented and had no idea where he was at. Luckily, the sandwich shop showed up on my caller ID and I was able to figure out where he was. I told him to sit tight and that his stepfather, Mark, and I would be there shortly to pick him up. Now remember, my son is experiencing extreme psychosis and has been locked up in the county jail for the past week. 

By the time we arrived at the sandwich shop, there were three police cars parked in front. My son was sitting in the back of one of the cars. According to the Provo police department, they'd been called to the scene because Mitchel was in the middle of the street without any clothes on. Nude. 

My husband and I stood there and told the officers everything that had transpired over the past few weeks. We explained that Mitchel lives with schizophrenia and has been in psychosis for  three to four weeks.  "Each facility he's been admitted to has dismissed our recommendations to keep him in isolation because he's a danger to himself and others. He's acted out at both psychiatric facilities (Utah Valley Regional Medical Center Psychiatric Unit and Provo Canyon Behavioral Psychiatric Hospital) and has been arrested at both facilities and placed in Utah County Jail with no medication."

Our lovely system at work "treating" the mentally ill. 

The police pink slipped him (detained him to an emergency hospital setting) but weren't able to admit him to Utah State Hospital because it was after hours. The only other choice was Utah Valley Regional. Again .

Meanwhile, Wasatch Mental Health crisis department is working with Utah Valley Regional giving them a briefing of my son's medical and psychiatric history. 

Mark and I followed the Provo police to the hospital and waited there with Mitchel for a few hours. They restrained him and sedated him. He's not making any sense. And, of course, without being on any of his medications for the past two-weeks, he's only gotten worse with the psychosis. 

As of right now, as far as I know, he's still on the psychiatric unit at UVRMC. I've been in touch with Utah State Hospital and Mitchel's former psychiatrist who treated him for close to five-years. We want him to be admitted to Utah State Hospital where he will get the treatment he needs. I don't know why this has to be so damn complicated. It's cut and dry. He needs to be at the state hospital. I'm tired of the run around and being told that there are not enough beds to assist him. Screw that. My son's life is at risk. If he acts out and is arrested one more time, I don't know if he's going to make it. 

The officers who were called to the scene last night were trained as CIT (crisis intervention training) officers so they know how to handle a person with mental illness. We lucked out on that. The other two times, at both psychiatric facilities, the police were not CIT trained officers. 

Oh, and according to the paperwork that was in Mitchel's bag of belongings, he had another court date set for him for this afternoon at 1:30 p.m. I called the courthouse and told them that he was currently an inpatient on a psych unit and he would not be appearing. Their response: Too bad, so sad. We'll have to put a warrant out for his arrest then. 

Everyone who knows me through my posting on Facebook for the past 5/6 years knows how sick my son has been with schizophrenia. He spent five-years at the state hospital. The voices and delusions are back and he can't function. He needs treatment and medications, although the anti-psych meds are questionable due to the Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome that he had back in January.

This is not how a person living with serious mental illness should be treated. Something's got to give. I don't know how much more I can take.  I sit here waiting for my phone to ring. The mental health "professionals" had a meeting at ten-o-clock this morning. It's 2:30 p.m. I still haven't heard a word.

 

The hospital where Mitchel is being treated temporarily. While on this hospital's psychiatric unit, Mitchel's voices told him, "Pour hot coffee all over your face." He did. Now he's seriously burned and blistered.

The hospital where Mitchel is being treated temporarily. While on this hospital's psychiatric unit, Mitchel's voices told him, "Pour hot coffee all over your face." He did. Now he's seriously burned and blistered.

From the oldest

MY SON'S NEW GROUP HOME by Christi Anne

This is really happening! This is my son's new group home in Gilbert, Arizona. We just arrived for intake. This company does not charge the client room and board. They provide 3 meals and 3 snacks a day and they provide laundry soap. All expenses are covered through Ryan's insurance (state funded insurance). The other group home, in a crime and drug invested area, required 70% of a client's income.

This housing is not permanent long term. We will have staff meetings every 30 days and placement will be reviewed every 45 days. I was told that Ryan can stay as long as he needs to. A step down to a lower level of care is the eventual goal.

I prayed for this. I'm very grateful this opportunity opened up and wish there were more programs like this to meet the needs of the SMI population.

22195613_10210464367987975_8236811182530691316_n.jpg

This home is run by Arizona Behavioral Care.  Ten men share the home which is currently at capacity. www.azbehavioralcare.com

 

STUCK IN TEXAS by Joyce Berryman

Leah was born September 13, 1986. She was a miracle baby. I'd already given birth to three daughters and had my tubes snipped after the third. Later, my husband and I decided to reverse my operation. After one tubal pregnancy and a miscarriage, Leah arrived.
Leah's 31st birthday

Leah's 31st birthday

Leah had three teenage sisters to love and help care for her. Life was good. I gave Leah many advantages — private pre-school, pre-k, and kindergarten. She struggled in math and reading, so I hired a private tutor. Her grades in math brought up the suggestion to have her evaluated for possible ADHD, but her father refused to let this happen. We divorced after her fifth school year. 

In high school, Leah did okay. She loved music, took private lessons in voice, and performed with a music group. After high school, Leah attended community college, and worked at a super market.  During her second year of college, things began to unravel. Her first relationship ended, she dropped her classes, and quit her job. She stayed at home and started talking to herself. She called her voices the " people who live in my head."

Even though I'd gone back to school and received a degree in Paraprofessional/Special Education, I didn't see the warning signs. I asked Leah to see a doctor with no success. When she finally begged to see a doctor herself, I took her to a hospital emergency room only to be told there were no beds. This was in Washington State. The ER staff handed me some valium and antidepressants. Leah threw the pills down the toilet, so we went back and they gave us more. 

By this time, my whole family was trying to get Leah the treatment she needed. My sister lives in San Marcos, Texas. She told us about a community mental health service there that takes anyone regardless of income or insurance. So, we headed for Texas. Once in Texas, Leah improved a lot. Leah worked in the bakery at a major super market  for almost two years, never missing a day of work, often taking last minute shifts for other people. It was hard to think she was ill at this time. We were living with my two older sisters. My oldest sister has bi-polar disorder and with her moods, along with Leah's car breaking down, things began to unravel again.

Leah left home on foot in 90-100 degree temperatures. She returned home with blisters that no one in their right mind could walk on. Another time she left for four months and lived in a tent 20 miles from San Marcos. This was in the winter.  She tried to hold onto a job at McDonald's. Her boss wanted to help her and encouraged her to go home. It rains often in the hill country in winter, and some nights Leah tried to sleep sitting up in a plastic tub.  McDonald's had a truck stop close by with a bathroom. She was so tired she locked the bathroom door and went to sleep on the floor. The next morning, the truck stop manager told her, "If you ever sleep here again, I'll have you arrested." Leah's little encampment along side an I-35 access road was about a mile from the highway patrol office. They told her she had to move to a campground five miles away to be legal. 

The fear that dug into every fiber of my being, was not knowing if my daughter was okay and, if she did come home, how would I protect her? My fear abated when a crisis intervention officer typed a letter on official police stationery saying that Leah was fragile, severely mentally ill, and needed to be held, if found, because she had to take medication. 

When she did come home that spring, a judge signed an order that she was a danger to herself. Since then, she's been hospitalized twice. The second hospitalization was voluntary. She's been on many meds that make her worse. Sometimes she'd slap herself until her face was red and swollen. Sometimes, she'd come out of a trance and say, "Mommy, it's not me, it's the voices." I'd try to hold her hands, but she'd ask me to move away because "my hands will bite you."

Now Leah's on monthly shots of Invega and is doing better. It will be a year in November. I have a lot to be grateful for. Her treatment team includes me in everything. Leah is on Medicaid and I didn't have to beg for it. It took a year, but she received services for free, and Johnson & Johnson gave her the meds until Medicaid started.

We are a family working together to help Leah. She gets $470 a month from social security which is not enough to be independent. Young people with serious mental illnesses are handed a huge financial problem. If they can't work, they never get a chance to pay into social security. 

Everyone says we are so fortunate here in San Marcos. I agree but we're also held hostage to a place where Leah can get help. San Marcos is away from home and expensive to live in. Half of our income goes to rent. Leah and I share a one bedroom apartment. The rent increases every year by $40. If we could afford to buy a car, I could work evenings but all my energy goes to my daughter.

We appreciate what we have, but I wonder what happened to all the promises for community services after de-institutionalization in 1955? I believe the federal government owes compensation to full-time caretakers who took over the job of hospital staff when they abandoned thousands of people and families. The cost of lives and unmitigated suffering is unknown by any records.