MY SON, WITH SCHIZOPHRENIA, REMAINS MY HERO - by Tamara Lee

I spoke with my son Elliott last night. He was a little discouraged that he spent his birthday and Christmas and New Year’s Eve in jail this year.

Elliott has one roommate who is there for allegedly raping a man at gunpoint and just had nine embellishments added. One is a RICO (racketeering) charge. Another roommate is there for allegedly murdering someone. His own mother is testifying against him for the state.

So here is my son, with schizophrenia, sharing a cell with two people most of us wouldn't want to share a neighborhood with and he’s still in good spirits. He’s not delusional at the moment and is in much better shape than he was last year at this time. The state’s providing him with his shots and on time. We’ve learned to take this day by day. Every night he calls me and I always pray for him and the other inmates I’ve gotten to know. Some write to me and some I buy things for because their families have abandoned them. My son has shown me a world I never knew existed. He has grown my heart in ways I didn't know it could grow.

Elliott is my Daniel who lives in the lion’s den. He lives with hardened criminals — some have killed multiple people — and he does it with no fear. He actually moves past no fear to sympathy and empathy for many of them. He gives them his commissary when they first come in, makes sure everyone has coffee, and helps them in any way he can. He surmounts his own pain to help others. I can't imagine what his life is like, and I can’t imagine how I would handle the situation but he does it with such grace. He amazes me with all he’s been through. He amazes me.

Elliot remains my hero — he’s still the bravest person I’ve ever met. Our children, with broken minds, are beautiful souls in so many ways. If only the world could see…

Read Tamara’s post on this blog, “One Day at a Time,” September 20, 2018, in the archives on the right.

Read Tamara’s blog, Health Mind Ministry. Click here.

Elliott working on a helicopter when he was a helicopter mechanic in the US Marine Corp.

Elliott working on a helicopter when he was a helicopter mechanic in the US Marine Corp.

A HAPPY STORY TO END 2018 by Kathy Day

Remember the homeless kid I wrote about who had a really bad episode outside my apartment? The cops refused to take him to the hospital because he would, likely, be released. 

Two months ago he had a similar episode. I hadn’t seen him since. 

This A.M., Nick showed up at my door. Clean cut. Calm. He said, “I’m on meds and living in a group home a couple towns over.”

Omg! He looked so good. 

He said, “The second episode made me realize I needed help. I went to the ER and asked to go to inpatient.”

He was an in-patient for a month. While there, he was connected with outpatient services and placed in a room and board home. He has 60 days clean.

Bless his heart. He looked so good and said, “I’m happy.”

I love happy follow ups.

Read Kathy’s story about Nick, September 19, 2018 — The “Right” to be So Ill

Nick holding an Alcoholics Anonymous book and his 30-day sobriety chip.

Nick holding an Alcoholics Anonymous book and his 30-day sobriety chip.

NIKKI AND KEVIN - PART ONE by Nikki Landis

Kevin got out of the hospital Friday and was admitted to another hospital yesterday. When he got out Friday he was agreeable to the new treatment plan. Monday morning, when it came time to call and make some appointments, the agreeableness was gone. He got very agitated, started yelling, and broke our back door.

He left and started calling people trying to have our kids put in foster care. He's decided I'm a terrible mom and he can't take care of them, so they need foster parents. Unfortunately, the police showed up and questioned me in front of the kids. So they saw and heard too much. And his breaking the back door scared them badly enough that they don't want to see him. I worked for years to shelter them from the majority of his bad symptoms and, within 12 hours, it was all undone.

Yesterday, Kevin texted me not knowing what was going on, and he didn't seem to remember much of what happened Monday. He went to his psychiatrist and was admitted. This morning, I called him to see about meeting with his social worker about housing or residential treatment and he's a totally different person. He is not sick. I'm the problem. If we get a divorce then he will be fine. He has a whole alternate reality version of Monday that sounds like a typical marital fight — nothing like what actually happened.

Kevin is diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type, and severe PTSD (combat related). He can't come home. We've reached the point where I can't protect the kids from him anymore. But I'm a fighter and I'm not willing to throw in the towel. I believe he could become stable again. 

The first time I read I Am Not Sick I Don't Need Help it was a library copy. Then I gave away the copy I bought. I overnighted a new copy that will be here tomorrow. This is a different situation than I've been in before. I'm more detached and he is sicker. While I wait for my new copy, his anosognosia comes and goes. He accepts that he is sick until it's time to see a provider. It's the same pattern every time. When it's time to see a new doctor or therapist he freaks out and causes major drama. Within a few days, he comes up with a plausible story of some typical fight couples have. Then he decides he's completely fine.

Have any of your loved ones accepted long-term that they are sick? This has become the biggest barrier to his care but it is evolving so fast that I can't keep up and I need advice.

To be continued.

Nikki and Kevin

Nikki and Kevin

LET'S TALK ABOUT HOPEFUL VOLUNTARY ADMISSIONS by Mary Irwin Butler

Let's talk about hopeful voluntary admissions. We have had four very long ER visits (5-14 hours each) in the last couple of months trying to admit my fear-filled, very psychotic son voluntarily. When my son gets to the point that he's asking to go to the hospital, he's beyond ill and fearful. He battles monstrous auditory hallucinations while he's in crowded waiting rooms with the elderly, sick babies, and patients with infectious diseases. It's horrid for him and potentially horrid for them.

No beds were available in the Philadelphia metro/suburban area within a 50+ mile radius. These four useless ER visits led to exacerbated illness resulting in an involuntary admission which is always more heartbreaking and exhausting. Unfortunately, in our locale, we cannot call or look for available beds on our own. It must be done in a local ER as follows: 

      *Long waiting room wait

      *Triage evaluation (psych patients are rarely prioritized) 

      *Back to the waiting room and possibly another long wait 

      *Med clearance including blood/urine tests, etc. 

      *Psych evaluation by social worker when available 

      *Insurance approval — usually a lengthy process

      *Bed search (typically hours/sometimes days) 

      *Clinical review/approval by the admitting facility if a bed is available 

      *Wait for available transport to the admitting facility

      *Lengthy wait/intake at the admitting facility whatever hour fatigued patient arrives

At times, very ill patients have been known to lay in ER beds from overnight to an entire week+ until a bed becomes available. How terrible that someone seeking mental illness treatment is left waiting so long. Imagine if this happened to someone with appendicitis or broken bones. Understandably, patients with serious mental illness become uncomfortable, frustrated, anxious, and further disturbed. They receive very little attention from ER staff unless they're acting out. Many, including my son, give up and walk out of either the waiting room or the examination room. The process is pretty much the same here for involuntary admissions. They involve the police, lengthy paperwork at the County Crisis Center, and legal approval. So tack on several more hours.  

I've mentioned to several ER docs and nurses, to no avail, that these critically ill patients should have a separate waiting area, be triaged expeditiously to an ER bed, and not be left alone for long periods of time. It's a cumbersome and careless system. The entire process needs to be streamlined and more efficient. It needs to provide timely access to safe and attentive emergency care and in-patient beds.

The mainstream media paint the picture that if only these mentally ill individuals would seek/get the necessary help, then we wouldn't see these ongoing mass shootings. That may apply to a few but truly no one, especially the media, has a clue as to the availability of mental health care, let alone timely/quality care, unless they've walked in our weary shoes. 

Bottom line: We're serving our seriously mentally ill in a very questionable and trepidatious manner, if at all. The availability of in-patient beds is in crisis. It's no wonder. Several of the better hospital psych units in this premier healthcare area have closed (not profitable) in lieu of expanding profitable cardiac units, etc. A crying and growing shame leaving personal and community tragedies in the making...

Mary

Mary