I hope I can find some comfort in knowing I’m not alone.
My son, Joey, was just sent to Patton State Mental Hospital after spending seven months in San Diego County jail for trying to break into a car. (He’d been living in transient camps in San Diego County.) He makes $640 a month on SSI, not nearly enough to cover rent, basic needs, and food. He refuses to live at home because "I am an adult,” and he doesn’t want to be a burden.
At the jail, he was found incompetent to stand trial. I was reluctant about Patton but hopeful that maybe he would receive some long-term help. And maybe, just maybe, he would receive the care and education he needs to maneuver this world as a person with mental illness, and to be at peace with the wonderfully different person he is.
Come to find out, the only care and assistance Joey will receive, beyond medication, will be how to participate in court proceedings — not to yell out during court, not to speak unless spoken to — and how to understand the charges against him . That’s it. No life skills, no education on his condition or how to recognize triggers, nothing. My son sleeps all day and doesn’t have to participate in the court school, but that will make his stay longer.
My hopes were quickly deflated and we’ll be in the same boat as prior to this arrest and many others. Joey will go to court, be found guilty of another felony, released on time served (it’s already been close to a year for a felony that, at the discretion of the court, could have been reduced to a misdemeanor because his attempt to break into the car failed). He will be released, again, to the streets. There is literally no where else for him to go — except home with us which he refuses to do.
A vicious cycle. I’m prepared for Joey’s death, which is the worst and most helpless feeling. I don’t know what the answer is. I do know, for me, it’s not over until he’s at peace, healthy, and living the best life possible for him. He deserves at least that.