Hope you have a good weekend everybody.
Hope you have a good weekend everybody.
"Goodby Jacob. I remember all the fun we had in this Beetle. I remember you sItting right there. I feel you. I feel like I'm leaving you because I bought a new Beetle. I know it's not true. You and your brother and I put our thumbs together and pledged whoever was left would "LIVE THEIR LIFE!!" I think of that pledge many times a day. I love you both and miss both of you so."
Love always, Your Mom
I lost my son, Jason, to brain cancer. I lost Jacob because the ER thought he was lying about chest pain and because well, you know, "He has schizophrenia and all people with schizophrenia lie." He died on the ER floor and the hospital wouldn't pick him up off the floor until he was blue. The guards picked him up and dragged his body across the floor.
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.
"I'm listening. I hear you."
Hope you have a good weekend everybody!
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.
This home is run by Arizona Behavioral Care. Ten men share the home which is currently at capacity. www.azbehavioralcare.com
I wasn't going to share this, but I feel like people need to realize our mental health system is seriously flawed.
Two weeks ago, my son, Mitchel, was admitted to Utah Valley Medical Regional Center's psychiatric unit. He's been experiencing full blown psychosis. The hospital had his records and knew his circumstances and history. They knew he was a threat to himself and others.
Instead of putting him with a one-on-one or even in isolation, they left him with other patients and staff members. In his psychosis, he assaulted an employee. The hospital called the police and had Mitchel arrested. He spent almost a week in jail psychotic and without care. The charges were dropped.
We took Mitchel to the ER in hopes to find placement (another facility that would be willing to take him on). No one wanted to treat him because he had neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS) in January. (NMS is a life-threatening reaction that occasionally occurs in response to neuroleptic or antipsychotic medication.) Now, Mitchel's unable to take anti-psych medications due to the NMS.
Finally, Provo Canyon Behavioral Hospital decided they would take him. During his time there, the therapist and doctor called me a half dozen times looking for ways they could treat my son. I mean, who are the professionals here? I gave them history on what had worked in the past. Usually, when Mitchel's in full-blown psychosis, the only thing that works is keeping him away from others. Not that I wanted him to be put away in a room but, in order to keep others safe, I recommended that he be isolated.
Yesterday, the director of the local mental health facility, that regularly treats my son, called me. He said Provo Canyon Behavioral Hospital had Mitchel arrested due to a few incidents that had occurred. WTF? When a psychiatric hospital cannot treat a person with psychosis you know there is a problem with the mental health system. It's not just flawed. It's criminal.
Now, we wait to find out about Mitchel's new court date. Hopefully, the prosecutor will dismiss the charges and, this time, I have his doctor, from the state hospital, ready to admit him to the state hospital — again.
I'm crossing fingers the charges will be dropped or this could be a long, drawn out, debilitating process for my very sick son. He's sick. Nothing more. Nothing less. I'm furious at our mental health system for failing to help Mitchel and for dumping him into the prison system.
See other posts from Sherry Hunter about Mitchel on this blog:
October 19, 2016
November 30, 2016
March 28, 2017 (video)
June 21, 2017
From my friend, Sheila Ganz:
I am excited to share with you the new trailer for the documentary-in-progress Piece of Mind: www.pieceofmindfilm.com. This emotionally compelling film explores the impact of serious mental illness on two families and a man living with bipolar disorder interwoven with insights from an emergency room psychiatrist and visually intimate artwork. Our goal is to finish the film in 2018. I hope you will take 3 ½ minutes to watch the trailer. If you are moved by the stories please make a tax-deductible donation in any amount now: https://www.sffilm.org/artist-…/find-a-project/piece-of-mind. Post card gifts for donors. With a $100 donation your name will be in the credits of the film. Like the film’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pieceofmindfilm/ Thank you!
The feature documentary PIECE OF MIND is an emotionally compelling story about the impact of serious mental illness on two families and a man living with bipolar disorder interwoven with insights from an emergency room psychiatrist and visually intimate artwork. The film explores gut-wrenching experiences of a son in denial about paranoid schizophrenia, a sister shot by police and her lawsuit invoking the Americans With Disabilities Act, contrasted with a man’s attempted suicide, which leads to a positive encounter with police officers, taking medication and the desire to help others. PIECE OF MIND seeks solutions for this deeply personal public health crisis.
If you are moved by the trailer, please make a tax-deductible donation in any amount now to support completion of PIECE OF MIND in 2018. Information to send a check here. Post card gifts to our donors of the artwork in the film by Sheila Ganz – “Fear of Germs” and “Spray Bleach.”
$50 donation – 1 post card of your choice
$100 donation – 1 post card of your choice and your name in the credits of the film, or someone you designate.
$150 donation - both post cards and your name in the credits of the film, or someone you designate.
$200 donation – 4 post cards and your name in the credits of the film, or someone you designate.
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your choice of post card(s) after you make a donation. Thank you! All donors will receive a Thank You letter from the filmmaker.
Today, an estimated 44 million adults in America live with a mental illness, yet nearly 60% don’t receive treatment in a given year. What these numbers don’t take into account is the toll it takes on parents, siblings and children, as they struggle to keep their family intact and get their loved one treatment in a broken mental health care system. PIECE OF MIND explores solutions to care for individuals living with serious mental illness including increased funding for more beds and staff for psychiatric facilities, wider implementation of Laura’s Law and Kendra’s Law, and the importance of de-escalation training for police officers nationwide.
Making PIECE OF MIND comes out of Sheila Ganz’s personal experience. Her sister lives with schizophrenia. The agonizing powerlessness Sheila felt over her sister’s need for treatment drove her to support groups at National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) San Francisco, where she heard many different stories of family members with loved ones living with serious mental illness. “This issue was staring me in the face. I knew I had to make the film.”
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 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.
A happy hippo. He's laughing. No, really, he's laughing!
Hope you have a good weekend everybody!