Hope you have a good weekend everybody!
Hope you have a good weekend everybody!
My name is Lance. I struggle with severe depression and anxiety. I have admitted myself to psych wards, spent time in a mental treatment facility, lived in recovery homes, and take medications. My psychiatrist, whom I visit monthly, helps me adjust my meds according to my symptoms. I visit a psychotherapist daily, which has now been reduced to bi-weekly.
In conjunction with all this professional help, and my support team of both friends and family, I am determinedly working my program (despite stigmas about mental illness) to become a healthier person mentally.
An important fact: My mental health issues didn't come about just before I started my journey in the world of hospitals and medications. Mental illness has been a life-long, deadly serious fight.
FEBRUARY 6, 2019: My son’s still in the hospital. He has a new court hearing on February 13. He’s not yet stabilized with meds. I believe the doctors were supposed to add a mood stabilizer last night or today. Our visits start out okay, but go south as soon as he tells me it's in my power to get him out, right then and there. Things get ugly. He thinks the social worker and I are in cahoots to keep him locked up forever.
The social worker has gone above and beyond her job description to help my son and our family. Kudos to someone in the system who really cares. His psychiatrist is on vacation and out of the country. If the doctor comes back, evaluates him, and sees no improvement — not just stabilization from meds, but self-care, participating in group therapy, etc., — my son won’t be a candidate for a residential living facility. He’ll walk right out the door and come home, if he doesn't get robbed or beaten up first. We’ll have to convince a judge that he needs the state hospital.
One year, before college graduation, is around the time my son became a Christian — a really obsessive Christian. We didn't see this as a problem, at the time, — we’re not church-goers — because my husband and I were both raised in the Christian faith. We never pushed religion on our children. But really, what parent wouldn't be proud of a son who had been a dream-child to raise and was now being a "good Christian”. There were no drugs. No alcohol. We didn't know our son was beginning this nightmare journey into mental illness.
My family would rather remain anonymous. We’re not ashamed of my son. We speak about his illness to people, but we also have jobs where our names are our livelihood. My middle son has a full time job with a big company in our area and also runs his own business. My husband has a government (county) job. This is why I’d rather keep our names anonymous.
Hope you have a good weekend everybody!
JANUARY 30, 2019: Morning. It’s 5:30 a.m. and, as usual, I'm on the patio with my coffee and my dogs, trying to find some strength. Some clarity. Today at 9:30 a.m., my husband, middle son, and I will go before the mental health court to ask for long-term care for my 32-year-old son. I'm not usually easily intimidated, but I'm terrified — for many reasons.
Why am I scared? This is what I wanted, what I've fought so long and so hard for. What will the judge think of us as parents? Will he note the dark circles under my eyes? Will he look at my hair, that I haven't cut or colored in over three years (my hairstyle is always ponytail), and say to himself, "She doesn't practice self-care. How does she expect her son to do so?”
I know. I know how shallow this sounds. I'm dreading facing my son who always looks tired and wiped out. I know he’ll look worse today, after being in the hospital for 13 days. How do I keep from wanting to hug him (not that he ever lets me) or from talking to him? How will I keep my mom-emotions in check? He's already told the doctors, nurses, and social workers that his parents are insane. I know long-term care is what he needs, but my mom-heart feels like it's shattering. I know we’re all struggling, today, in different ways because of mental illness.
I hate this illness, a horrible thief that steals our children from us. My faith in a higher power is hanging by a thread, but if you pray, please say a prayer for my family.
Afternoon: We went to the hearing and waited and waited. While waiting, our son's public defender spoke with us. She encouraged him to sign the papers for a court-ordered living treatment facility, or he would most definitely be sent to the state hospital. The social worker finally came out and told us our son reluctantly signed for the residential treatment facility. There are negatives to either alternative. The hearing was postponed, while they try to find a facility that will accept him, given that he's not been med-compliant for more than three months — ever. So the state hospital is still on the table.
A few hours later, I decided to visit my son for the first time since he was Baker-Acted (involuntarily committed). I wasn’t going to try to persuade him to cooperate or beg him to let us help him because it's pointless. Even when he was signing the paper work with his public defender, he was telling her, “I’m not sick.” I wanted to see him, and take him some clean, warm clothing because it’s cold. He left the day of the Baker Act in shorts and a basketball jersey. I wanted to take him clothes, and tell him I love him.
The first 10 minutes he was hugging me, holding my hand, and telling me he would do anything, if I got him out of there. When I explained, “It’s in the state’s hands now,” everything went south fast. He was irate, delusional, and yelling at the social worker. Nothing’s settled, but I'm cautiously optimistic that he has a good, competent team working in his behalf. Of course, thing's change. Tomorrow might be a completely different story. It's such a roller coaster.
January 27, 2019: On Friday the hospital social worker called. We had a plan set in place for my son's release. He was supposed to go to a residential living/treatment facility, but this morning, I spoke to his nurse and she said he's set for release tomorrow and she doesn't know if they’ve found a place for him yet. Due to not having insurance, she said, “There could be a problem.” This is a completely different story from the conversation with the social worker on Friday.
This was a shitty decision to have to make — to say my son can't come home because he won't stay med compliant and because I'm afraid of him. I was sad, but relieved that he would be in a safe place getting treatment and, after 10 years (two years dealing with the mental health care system), he and our family would be able to breathe. I can't take a breath to relax, even when he's in the hospital, because I’m still dealing with red tape BS.
Ug. Twice, on this Sunday morning, I’m told there’s no residential treatment facility available because my son doesn't have insurance. “You can just let him go to a homeless shelter if you’re afraid."
So, this "mama bear" lost her stuff. The social worker put in an emergency call to my son's psychiatrist. He called back right away and began the usual "blah blah blah." I kept pushing, telling him what my son and family have been through — beatings from cops, sleeping with a gun in his bed that we had no idea he had — and everything we’ve seen.
Finally, the doctor said he could petition the mental health court to get him into the state hospital. We’ll have to go before a judge, my son, and his public defender and tell them everything from the beginning until now. The doctor said, “It's not a guarantee. The judge may deny your petition. Are you and your family willing to do this? Because it's hard. Your son will be medicated, probably calm. In the hospital, he's not nice or happy to take meds, but he's doing it.”
I said, “My family is ready to face this to get him the consistent long-term help he needs.”
Since every thing changes every day, with every conversation, with every person you speak to, I'm waiting for another phone call telling me something completely different. I'm so pissed. It's hard enough for a family to deal with a loved one with mental illness who has zero insight into his brain disease. Then, when you finally are able to get him to a hospital for help, you have to deal with the red tape, the social workers, and the nurses who all tell you something different.
I'm a strong woman but I'm mentally exhausted. I'm sorry. My friends and family really don't get the ups and downs we go through as caregivers. When someone says, "I feel your pain," I need to know that you do. I don’t like to hear that anyone else is suffering like me or my son — I wouldn't wish this life on anyone — but It’s comforting to know someone really has an understanding of mental illness and that you just get it. May the force be with all of us.
On a clear day, you can see forever…
Hope you have a good weekend everybody!
Racism is not a mental illness.
Mental illnesses are organic brain disorders outside the influence of parenting and environment. They are neuro-developmental illnesses that cause serious impact to normal cognitive function and impair the synapses in the brain that send messages.
Racism is a learned hatred response to “other.”
Serious mental illness should not be compared to racism, assholianism, selfishness, or greed. People with serious mental illnesses are typically super nice people who are scared to death of what their brains are doing and telling them. I refuse to let racists be called “mentally ill.” They’re selfish, ugly assholes. Big difference!
If racism were a psychiatric illness, it would respond to medical interventions and it doesn’t. The “cure” for racism is understanding. The cure for mental illness is non existent: the symptoms are only abated by therapies and medicine.
Calling hateful goons mentally ill does a great disservice to the suffering mentally ill we step over every day on our sidewalks. Their lives are cut short by brain disease and they’re already disparaged enough in our culture.
Laura Pogliano is a mental illness advocate. Her son, Zac, died in 2015 at age 24. He suffered from serious mental illness. Read Laura’s post, “ZAC, MY DARLING SON,” in the August 2017 archives.
Jared was my second son born into our family of two boys in 1991. He was a quiet child, deeply intuitive and sensitive, musically gifted, and athletic. A boy full of life and funny faces and stories. He always made us laugh. Our Jared.
As he approached his junior year in high school, life began to take twists and turns that led us to seek help. The hope was always that help was just an appointment away. Then, as Jared became an adult at the ripe old age of 18, privacy laws separated us. I was behind an immovable glass wall, unable to reach him. HIPAA stood guard like a heartless warden of his declining mental health. The nightmare began, and evolved into multiple chapters of heart-wrenching sadness, agonizing decisions, and defeating barriers.
March 12, 2018: My boy needs continuous prayers. He’s been in a group home for three years. I had to make him homeless in order to make him eligible for residential support. He spent seven months in a respite bed, above an overdose crisis lock-up treatment center in the worst area of Worcester, Massachusetts, waiting for a bed in a group home.
This past year, Jared grew more depressed over his circumstances and wanted desperately to return home. He began self medicating with alcohol. The house set up a protocol to call an ambulance if they believed he was intoxicated. The ambulance brought the police and, because Jared suffers from paranoia and schizophrenia, he didn’t believe the police were real police. They grabbed him, he pulled back, and they proceeded to beat the daylights out of him. They beat him so badly he had to be taken to the hospital.
North Hallway, Position 8 — A bed with a confused, hungry, and lost young man could be found in that hallway on a gurney. His illness, schizophrenia, was treated like a crime. His ride to the hospital began with a knee pressing into his neck, and tight cold wrings that left behind purple shadows of remembrance on both wrists. He was surrounded by at least six or seven other hallway-mates. They also bore the markings of a war-torn life battling the disease that we treat as dirty. I saw dirty hair, dirty clothes, and listened to dirty mouths. Whispering and cries were the audible clues they were suffering. No one was offered a drink of water. I observed avoidance. Did I detect annoyance?
Twenty long hours in that hallway waiting for the next step. This was a crisis — so many in need and so few helpers and healers. I was there for him, but no one showed up for any of the others. The lost and neglected souls of the North Hallway.
After the hospital, Jared was locked up at a Worcester police station and bail was posted. He had to appear in court to be charged with assault on police. When he arrived at court, they put him in lock-up all day. The judge heard his case at 4:30 p.m. He ruled that Jared was a danger to himself (drinking) and others (resisting police). They sent him to a Plymouth, Massachusetts, correctional facility for a mandatory 90-day rehab. This rehab required that he live in a cell, wear an orange jumpsuit, and be treated like a criminal.
My son tried calling me, yesterday, and it took four minutes to set up an account to pre-pay $1 per-minute to talk to him. By the time I did that, he’d hung up. I could barely breathe.
The grief and feelings of helplessness are indescribable. The mentally ill are so drastically mistreated and misunderstood. There are no beds available in genuine rehab places because of the opioid crisis. The only places left are correctional facilities.
Distress worsens mental illness. Mental health care is a system built on failure and supported by a nation that stigmatizes mental illness. It’s only recently recognized that we’re still in the dark ages when it comes to treating diseases of the brain.
January 19, 2019: Jared was just released from a 40-day imprisonment at a house of correction followed by a 35-day inpatient hospitalization at a state hospital. He had a psychotic break in late October while visiting me for a few days. He believed I was part of the KKK and pulled a kitchen knife out of the knife rack. He didn’t hold the knife up to me and I never saw what kind of knife he pulled. I called for help, reluctantly, because we had just had a three-year case dismissed for assault and battery on a police officer because he resisted them last time I called them.
The local police called in what is a called a STOP team, which I would classify as a SWAT team. Heavily armed men unloaded from vans and surrounded our house. They appointed me the negotiator and hooked me up to a speaker inside the house while a robot took photos inside the house. My small dog was inside with Jared. It was cold and raining. Every 45 minutes I had to stand three feet away from two men holding automatic weapons and one holding a shield and a taser. I was shaking like a leaf. I was luring my son into a trap. If he did anything threatening, I feared he’d be blown to pieces. Team members were in the woods, too. I could see little red lights coming from their weapons and helmets — a scene from Star Wars. The Ewoks in the woods. They evacuated my neighbors. It was insane.
After an eight-hour stand off, the police smashed a battering ram through Jared’s particle-board bedroom door that didn't have a lock, destroyed his room, stepped on his guitar, and arrested him. They charged him with attempted murder among three other trumped up charges.
I started a Go Fund Me campaign and borrowed money from my family to pay for a private attorney. The court appointed attorney was definitely not paying attention and cared very little about Jared's rights.
The local newspaper wrote a story that made my son sound like a terrorist — I believe to justify the manpower that was brought to the neighborhood. Over 25 state police cruisers, 2 local police departments, and an ambulance surrounded my home and lined my street. I wrote to the paper and asked to tell my side of the incident. They featured me and my story on the cover on the Sunday edition.
Jared’s back at the group home. He’s stable. They’re working with him to keep him busy and going to therapy and AA. I saw him yesterday. He was cleaning his room, lining up his shoes, hanging up his clothes, and tolerating my visit. In the past, he wouldn't want me in his space. This is progress.
Every day is a gift. I believe in God and the power of prayer.
Fall color in the snow…
Hope you have a good weekend everybody!