Financial Destruction May 10, 2013Posted by Crazy Mermaid in Mental Illness and Bankruptcy, Mopney and Mental Ilness.
Tags: Financial Destruction and Mental Illness, Mental Illness and Bankrupcy
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Back in February 2008, I began my descent into total and complete madness. As my mania and delusions increased, my husband knew that I- a frugal person by nature- was out of control. He had no idea what was going on, but with no history of drug use or mental illness, he had no reason to consider them as explanations for my increasingly bizarre and outrageous purchases.
Even if he had known that I was in the throes of a psychotic break with reality, the truth is that there wasn’t a thing he could do about it. The bottom line was that although he was legally responsible for my debts (Washington is a community property state), he had no power to stop me from bankrupting us. Signatory on all of our accounts, I had every legal right to spend our money as I saw fit. No matter that I had lost contact with reality.
To his credit, my husband performed a small miracle. Despite the fact that there’s no 3 day grace period for car purchases, he managed to convince the dealership to allow him to return the $55,000 Lexus Convertible that I bought in the throes of my psychotic break with reality – paid for with a “hot” check- within hours of it hitting our driveway. In the meantime, continuing my out-of-control buying spree, clothing, shoes, jewelry, and lots of plants and yard ornaments all went on the plastic.
Within months of the start of my spending orgy, having blown through tens of thousands of dollars, I was involuntarily committed to a mental hospital, giving my husband some breathing room to do damage control. During my spending spree, I brought home armful after armful of merchandise, packing the bags upstairs to my bedroom and setting them down on the floor. Once I was involuntarily committed to the mental hospital, he enlisted the help of my mother and sister to return all of the merchandise.
Damage control underway, my husband turned his attention to the bigger picture. My purse in his possession, he tore up all my credit cards. He flagged our credit to prevent me from opening another account without his knowledge. And, reaching beyond his legal limit, he –without my permission or knowledge- closed all of our credit and bank accounts, opening new ones that I had no access to or even knowledge of.
Coming out of my psychotic break, I was ashamed and embarrassed at my conduct, even though my husband took pains to explain that the financial train wreck was, like my tremendous medical bills, another cost of my mental illness. He refused to consider my actions an act of moral bankruptcy.
I could do nothing to atone for my sins except put in place as much protection (from myself) as possible in case I again became psychotic. In the end, I realized that it came down to eliminating my access to all of our accounts. I have no credit cards. I don’t know what our bank account numbers are or what our bank balance is. In fact, I know nothing about our finances. My husband dispenses cash to me- me, a professional woman who made $100K a year. And that’s the way it has to be.
Clifford Beers and the Mental Health Bell April 24, 2013Posted by Crazy Mermaid in Uncategorized.
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In 1900, Clifford Beers, a Yale graduate and young businessman, suffered an acute breakdown brought on by the illness and death of his brother. Shortly after a suicide attempt, Beers was hospitalized in a private Connecticut mental institution. At the mercy of untrained, incompetent attendants, he was subject to degrading treatment and mental and physical abuses.
Beers spent the next few years hospitalized in various institutions, the worst being a state hospital in Middletown, Connecticut. The deplorable treatment he received in these institutions sparked a fearless determination to reform care for individuals with mental illnesses in the United States and abroad.
In 1908, Beers changed mental health care forever with the publication of A Mind That Found Itself, an autobiography chronicling his struggle with mental illness and the shameful state of mental health care in America. The book had an immediate impact, spreading his vision of a massive mental health reform movement across land and oceans.
“I must fight in the open.” Clifford Beers, in 1909, used those words to respond to critics who suggested he start his consumer movement anonymously. During his stays in public and private mental institutions, Beers witnessed and was subjected to horrible abuse. From these experiences, Beers set into motion a reform movement that took shape as Mental Health America.
During the early days of mental health treatment, asylums often restrained people who had mental illnesses with iron chains and shackles around their ankles and wrists. With better understanding and treatments, this cruel practice eventually stopped.
In the early 1950s, Mental Health America issued a call to asylums across the country for their discarded chains and shackles. On April 13, 1956, at the McShane Bell Foundry in Baltimore, Md., Mental Health America melted down these inhumane bindings and recast them into a sign of hope: the Mental Health Bell.
Cast from shackles which bound them, this bell shall ring out hope for the mentally ill and victory over mental illness.
—Inscription on Mental Health Bell
Now the symbol of Mental Health America, the 300 pound Bell serves as a powerful reminder that the invisible chains of misunderstanding and discrimination continue to bind people with mental illnesses. Today, the Mental Health Bell rings out hope for improving mental health and achieving victory over mental illness.
(Note: A Mind that Found Itself is a free Kindle book on Amazon).
The Case for Insanity April 10, 2013Posted by Crazy Mermaid in Uncategorized.
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The case for insanity is compelling.
I had ESP. BIll and Melinda Gates, Oprah Winfrey, the Dalai Lama, and numerous others all thought I was a genius. They fawned over my every idea and were at my beck and call.
God gave me my very own store. Science Art and More in Seattle contained some merchandise for everyone but most of it was for my eyes only. Scientific concepts that I had formerly believed were known to the general public were actually only presented to me. Bill Gates offered me a million dollars for a coffee cup in that store with scientific formulas written on it that would solve world hunger.
Bill and Melinda Gates offered me a job at The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. They promised me world travel and millions of dollars, along with a new car and new wardrobe as a signing bonus.
I counted a time-traveler with special abilities as one of my friends. He went back in time and cleared out parking spaces for me in a crowded mall parking lot. He formulated makeup, designed clothing and made jewelry especially for me and arranged for them to be placed inside a nearby Fred Meyer store for me to find.
I had a shopping buddy- a woman who shopped for outfits with me. She had exquisite taste and I had an unlimited supply of money.
I owned millions of dollars worth of jewelry, including a 3 carat yellow diamond in a platinum setting, and a priceless abalone bracelet that had once been owned by my (Mermaid) grandmother.
Trees bared their souls to me. I conversed with my (deep-voiced) rat terrier and my friend’s impossibly self-centered cat. I talked with a nasty blood pressure machine in a hospital who craved electricity like people crave food.
Last but not least, I was a genuine mermaid whose real name was Pangaea. Fish talked to me. I felt the webbing between my toes, which were my fins. I had a beautiful tail whose weight showed up on my scale (accounting for why I weigh more than I look like I weigh).
I was beautiful. Wealthy. Brilliant.
What’s not to like about mental illness?
NAMI Connections Support Group March 28, 2013Posted by Crazy Mermaid in Uncategorized.
I am facilitating my first NAMI Connections support group this coming Thursday, and I’m excited.
NAMI Connections is a signature program of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) in which people with a mental illness meet at regularly scheduled intervals. People come to the group for camaraderie and support from people sharing similar situations. It’s one thing to talk to your friends and relatives about issues concerning your mental illness. It’s quite a different story when you talk with someone in the group who has been through the same situation that is challenging you.
My issue that I talk with at support groups is my inability to hold a regular job, especially doing what I love, which is project management for major construction projects. I can no longer do that job for several reasons, including the slippage of my I.Q. (due either to the medication I take or simply the damage done by my mental illness) and my inability to successfully manage stress, which that job is full of.
When I talk about how much I miss my old job with my therapist, I call it my “pity party”, which she loathes. She tries to help me through my episodes of self-pity, but she can’t really relate. We’ve talked about this numerous times. I just couldn’t come to terms with never being able to do the job I love again, despite the fact that my job put me in the mental hospital.
When I tried to talk with my family about this, they couldn’t relate either. They’re all gainfully employed and don’t seek to gain identity and self-worth through their occupation. They don’t wake up at 5 a.m. every morning (without an alarm clock) panting to go to work.
Coming to a NAMI Connections support group and meeting a guy who was a Senior Project Manager for Microsoft before he had his nervous breakdown (also called a psychotic break) helped me immensely. He could relate to my identity crisis because he’d been through a similar situation. When I talked about self-identifying with a profession, he understood perfectly. Since he was coping well with this, it inspired me. When I asked him what he was doing to successfully combat the frustration of not being able to work at his chosen profession, he had some suggestions that he could share from personal experience.
Although he didn’t have a “magic bullet” for me, simply seeing his success gives me hope.
The great thing about a support group for mental illness is that the facilitator doesn’t have to have all the answers. It’s simply a way for people suffering from their medication side effects or symptoms of their illness to find companionship and understanding from their peers. That’s why it’s called a “peer support group”.
I hope the people who come to my support group get as much out of the experience as I do.
Mental Illness: Worst Disease in the World? March 14, 2013Posted by Crazy Mermaid in mental illness.
Tags: Involuntary Committment, mental illness
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As the worst possible disease, mental illness isn’t even on most people’s radar. But consider, for a moment, the facts.
Unlike cancer, mental illness has a lousy public relations campaign. It doesn’t have a public personality attached to it- at least nobody positive. There’s no Lou Gherig or Lance Armstrong or Stephen Hawking to bring a sense of empathy to the masses. Unlike breast cancer, hundreds of millions of dollars aren’t spent on events to publicize mental illness- events like the Susan G. Komen Walk for the Cure – where the color pink has come to symbolize breast cancer in everything from headbands to hand mixers. Unlike Lance Armstrong’s Livestrong cancer campaign, where yellow bracelets signify triumph over cancer, there is no little plastic bracelet color for mental illness awareness. In fact, because of its enormous stigma, you would be hard-pressed to find victims and family members willing to take the spotlight for mental illness.
Everyone recognizes that the term “cancer” is a blanket term for a multitude of illnesses all sharing the same basic characteristic: improper cell division. Unlike cancer, the general public doesn’t perceive mental illness as a blanket name for illnesses caused by brain chemistry imbalance. Both are breakdowns of normal bodily functions, yet cancer doesn’t have the reputation of being a character flaw or a sign of moral bankruptcy that mental illness does.
Patients with cancer are not embarrassed to tell their friends and family their diagnosis. They aren’t afraid of being thought less of as a person for that diagnosis, that somehow they fell short. But with mental illness, the stigma is so great that the fear of rejection and isolation is a legitimate concern. You just don’t tell anyone.
Because their loved one’s illness isn’t associated with moral bankruptcy and character flaws, friends and relatives of cancer victims don’t have the same incentives to keep anyone from knowing their loved one has cancer. Protecting themselves from the unspoken charge of moral bankruptcy by association isn’t a top concern of the families of cancer patients, so they get emotional support from those around them.
Other diseases, like cancer or ALS or a stroke, don’t cause its victims to commit heinous crimes. You don’t see a breast cancer victim as the lead-in story on the nightly news because she murdered a bunch of school children. You don’t hear about a stroke victim trying to assassinate the President. A lung cancer victim doesn’t jump off a bridge to get away from the horrible voices in his head. And yet the connection between these types of actions and mental illness, if the news media even bothers to make one, is voyeuristic rather than sympathetic.
No legitimate insurance company would dare decline to authorize or pay for mainstream treatment of a cancer victim, but up until a very recent change in the law, insurance companies had little or no such coverage for mainstream treatment of mental illness, reasoning that it wasn’t, after all, a real physical illness. When they do cover it, it’s under a separate policy from “physical” health, called “Behavioral Mental Health”. We don’t see major insurance companies splitting off cancer from a list of diseases, calling it “Cell Divisional Health”, severely restricting its access, and farming out its administration to an entirely separate company.
When it comes time for hospitalization, there isn’t a question of whether a cancer victim or stroke victim even needs to go to a hospital. If they’re seriously ill, a cancer patient doesn’t have to be at death’s door before he’s admitted to the hospital. But a mentally ill victim has to either be about to hurt or kill himself or others (as determined by a third party) or needs to have tried (and failed) to kill himself before a mental hospital will consider admitting him.
If they’re hemorrhaging, but not near death, a cancer patient isn’t turned away for lack of space. Cancer patients don’t have to wait until there’s room for them at a hospital. Unlike hospital space for the mentally ill, hospital space for cancer victims hasn’t decreased over the past 20 years.
Alzheimer’s patients aren’t routinely discharged from hospitals onto the streets, left to fend for themselves. Cancer patients aren’t routinely discharged before they are stabilized. And yet the mentally ill are routinely discharged out onto the streets before they’re ready all of the time.
The cancer patient doesn’t have to give up his civil rights in order to be treated. He can leave the hospital whenever he wants. But in order for a mentally ill patient to be treated, he has to give up his civil rights. Mental patients are locked in, physically unable to leave the hospital until someone else- the attending psychiatrist- says they can go- however long that takes.
Once in a hospital, a cancer patient has the option to discontinue medication at any time. Mentally ill patients who have been involuntarily committed, on the other hand, must leave their civil rights at the door when they enter a mental hospital. Whether they want to or not, they are forced to continue medication while they are hospitalized.
Comparing the physical pain of the cancer or the effects of cancer treatment with the effects of mental illness is in some ways like comparing apples to oranges. Whereas the cancer victim fights for her life, the severely depressed victim fights to die. Is the physical pain of cancer worse than the emotional pain of continually hearing horrible voices in your head nonstop? Is radiation sickness worse than lithium side effects? Is prostate cancer preferable to schizophrenia?
I’m not trying in any way to minimize the pain and suffering that these diseases engender. My point is that each of these diseases -all of them- including mental illness-engenders tremendous pain and suffering. None of them- including mental illness- is any less severe than any other.
For too long, mental illness has been a quiet disease. Quietly terrible, but still quiet. This is a disease- or a family of diseases- on par with cancer and ALS and strokes, and yet there is a huge vacuum out there. Nobody even thinks about mental illness as a true physical disease. It’s not even on the radar. This needs to change. We need to raise people’s consciousness about mental illness, and give it the parity it deserves. We’ll know we’ve done our job when “mental illness” takes its rightful place on the list of Terrible Diseases in the public consciousness.
Airport Security and Mental Illness February 28, 2013Posted by Crazy Mermaid in Uncategorized.
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I was recently invited on a “girls weekend” to Arizona, which is about a three hour flight from my house. My husband bought my airline ticket a few months ago, and I was excited about the trip. Before I left, he printed my boarding pass and handed it to me. My brother-in-law drove my sister-in-law and me to the airport and dropped us off. My sister-in-law and I were on the same flight, and together we made it through security, to our gate and to our destination without incident.
On the way back home, my hostess dropped me off at the airport. I was alone and hadn’t printed a boarding pass. I hadn’t traveled alone on an airplane since before I was hospitalized (almost five years ago), and back then you didn’t print the boarding pass from a computer (at least I didn’t). I managed to figure out how to print the boarding pass at the kiosk and was on my way to the security check point, luggage in tow. Suddenly, the voice returned.
Voice: They’re going to find something in your luggage. You’re going to be arrested and jailed.
The voice came from outside my head, as if there was a person standing next to me in line.
I fought back.
Me: I know there’s nothing contraband in my luggage. I packed my own bag and know exactly what’s in it.
Voice: They’re going to find something. Just wait and see.
Me: No they won’t.
Voice: Yes they will.
I had been expecting to walk through a scanner, and I was worried about that. Unfortunately, my fate was worse. I realized as I stood in line and watched the people in front of me that Security wasn’t allowing people to walk through the scanner. They were making people put their hands on their head and spread their legs apart as they “wanded” them. The voice intensified.
Voice (louder and more insistent): They’re going to find something on you.
Me: I don’t have anything to hide.
By this time I was shaking and had broken out in a sweat. I began to worry that security would suspect something was wrong by the way I was behaving.
I knew logically there was nothing in my bags or on my person, and I knew the voice was just figments of my imagination, but that didn’t make it go away. It intensified as they “wanded” me. The conversation went on like this until I picked up the luggage from the conveyor belt and slipped my shoes back on, which was probably about 15 minutes.
With mental illness, you never know when the symptoms are going to rear their ugly heads. I know I will never travel alone on an airplane again.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) February 15, 2013Posted by Crazy Mermaid in Anxiety, Mental Hospital.
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Obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder characterized by intrusive thoughts that produce uneasiness, apprehension, fear, or worry; by repetitive behaviors aimed at reducing the associated anxiety; or by a combination of such obsessions and compulsions. Symptoms of the disorder include excessive washing or cleaning; repeated checking; extreme hoarding; preoccupation with sexual, violent or religious thoughts; relationship-related obsessions; aversion to particular numbers; and nervous rituals, such as opening and closing a door a certain number of times before entering or leaving a room. These symptoms can be alienating and time-consuming, and often cause severe emotional and financial distress. The acts of those who have OCD may appear paranoid and potentially psychotic. However, OCD sufferers generally recognize their obsessions and compulsions as irrational, and may become further distressed by this realization.
Obsessive–compulsive disorder affects children and adolescents as well as adults. Roughly one third to one half of adults with OCD report a childhood onset of the disorder, suggesting the continuum of anxiety disorders across the life span. The phrase obsessive–compulsive has become part of the English lexicon, and is often used in an informal or caricatured manner to describe someone who is excessively meticulous, perfectionistic, absorbed, or otherwise fixated.
Despite the irrational behaviour, OCD is sometimes associated with above-average intelligence. Its sufferers commonly share personality traits such as high attention to detail, avoidance of risk, careful planning, exaggerated sense of responsibility and a tendency to take time in making decisions.
OCD occurs in two to five percent of the population, and is the fourth most common psychiatric diagnosis. The majority of OCD patients who have not experienced symptom relief may have not received adequate trials of appropriate medication and/or behavioral therapy. The remainder typically do not respond because of poor treatment compliance, unrecognized cognitive impairment, co-occuring psychiatric illness or poor understanding of treatment. Adequate treatment for OCD often requires that medication trials be longer than those for other psychiatric illnesses. Additionally, behavioral interventions are time- and labor-intensive, frequently requiring close supervision and support.
Located in Belmont, MA, the OCD Institute at McLean Hospital is a national and regional center dedicated to the advancement of clinical care, teaching and research of obsessive compulsive disorders. The program provides partial hospital and intensive residential care for individuals age 16 and older who suffer from severe or treatment resistant OCD. It offers an innovative combination of somatic, behavioral and milieu treatments not found in other programs. It takes Medicare and Medicaid among other insurance plans, and comes highly recommended by a friend who completed the 8 week program in September 2012.
(Reprinted from Wikipedia and The McLean Institute)
Mental Health and Competency Restoration in Washington January 29, 2013Posted by Crazy Mermaid in Involuntary Committment, Mental Hospital.
Tags: Involuntary Committment, Mental Hospitals
Imagine having a mental health crisis and finding yourself in a county jail, with little or no mental health treatment, isolated with no direct human contact, in a cell with no toilet or furniture for 23-24 hours a day, wearing only a smock, as days become weeks, then months, all while the symptoms of your mental illness get worse.
According to a report, released today by Disability Rights Washington (DRW), this is a recurring problem in local jails across Washington State. Over the last few years, people with mental illness, intellectual disabilities, and traumatic brain injuries have had to wait for several weeks or even months to get an evaluation to see whether or not they are competent to stand trial. If they are found incompetent to stand trial, they often wait additional weeks or months to get services at the state hospital where there is mental health treatment designed to restore competency to stand trial. While they wait in jail, they are held with little or no mental or behavioral health treatment, often under severe punitive conditions for disability-related behavior. This includes being held in isolation, where their mental health often deteriorates.
Individuals may be held for low-level infractions, like trespassing or vagrancy, often because mental health services were unavailable. “It is unacceptable that people end up in jail facing criminal charges simply because they cannot obtain the mental health services they need in the community. We are turning these individuals into prisoners when they should be patients,” said Emily Cooper, attorney with DRW.
“Jail is the worst possible place for people struggling with serious mental illness. As a society, we need to stop the pattern of unnecessary incarceration of people with mental illness,” said Gordon Bopp, President of the Washington Chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). “They are not criminals. Nobody chooses to have a mental illness, and therefore nobody should be jailed for having one. Instead, they should be offered treatment,” Bopp said.
Along with sheriffs, mental health providers, judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and disability advocates, DRW has worked on this issue through multiple legislative sessions. Last year, the Legislature adopted an aspirational, seven-day performance target for the completion of competency evaluations and state hospital admission for restoration services. The Joint Legislative Audit Review Committee confirmed in a report issued last month that the state hospitals are failing to meet this target, and the time people spend in jail awaiting evaluation and treatment is growing.
“The longer a person with a mental health crisis spends in jail, the more devastating and long-lasting the consequence,” said David Lord, DRW Director of Public Policy. “Eliminating the excessive time these individuals spend in deplorable jail conditions must be one of the highest priorities of the legislature,” Lord said.
From January 25, 2013 report from Disability Rights Washington “Lost and Forgotten: Conditions of Confinement While Waiting for Competency Evaluation and Restoration”
Mental Health Courts January 17, 2013Posted by Crazy Mermaid in Committment Hearing, Uncategorized.
Tags: Involuntary Committment
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Mental health courts link offenders who would ordinarily be prison-bound to long-term community-based treatment. They rely on mental health assessments, individualized treatment plans, and ongoing judicial monitoring to address both the mental health needs of offenders and public safety concerns of communities.
Mental health courts share characteristics with Crisis Intervention Training (CIT), jail diversion programs, specialized probation and parole caseloads, and a host of other collaborative initiatives intended to address the significant over-representation of people with mental illness in the criminal justice system.
In the early 1980s, Judge Evan Dee Goodman helped establish a court exclusively to deal with mental health matters at Wishard Memorial Hospital in Indianapolis. This court was a dual purpose court. It to handled the probate court needs of people needing to be on a civil commitment for psychiatric treatment and it established a docket to deal with cases of the mentally ill offender who had been arrested on minor charges. This was necessary as the mentally ill were frequently arrested and had charges pending when the treatment providers sought a civil commitment to send their patient for long term psychiatric treatment. Judge Goodman’s court at Wishard Hospital could serve both purposes. The probate part of the mental health court would handle the civil commitment. The criminal docket of the mental health court could handle the arrest charges. The criminal charges could be put on diversion, or hold, allowing the patient’s release from jail custody. The civil commitment would then become effective and the patient could be sent to a state hospital for treatment. Judge Goodman would schedule periodic hearings to learn of the patient’s progress. If warranted, the criminal charges were dismissed, but the patient still had obligations to the civil commitment.
In addition to arranging inpatient treatment, Judge Goodman often put defendants on diversion, or on an outpatient commitment, and ordered them into outpatient treatment. Judge Goodman would have periodic hearings to determine the patient’s compliance with the treatment plan. Patients who did not follow the treatment plan faced sanctions, a modification of the plan, or if they were on diversion their original charge could be set for trial.
Judge Goodman’s concept and the original mental health court were dissolved in the early 1990s.
In the mid-1990s, many of the professional mental health workers who had worked with Judge Goodman sought to re-establish a mental health court in Indianapolis. Representatives of the county’s mental health service providers and other stake holders began meeting weekly. After a couple years of lobbying local authorities the in Marion County, Indiana, the mental health court began as a formal program in 1996. Many consider this to be the nation’s first mental-health court in this second wave of mental health court initiatives. Since the PAIR Program did not operate with any new funds, there was not much scholarly research and therefore the accomplishments of Judge Goodman and the PAIR Program are frequently overlooked. The current PAIR Program is a comprehensive pretrial, post-booking diversion system for mentally ill offenders. A program launched in Broward County, Florida was the first court, to be recognized and published as a specialized mental-health court. Overseen by Judge Ginger Lerner-Wren, the Broward County Mental Health Court was launched in 1997, partially in response to a series of suicides of people with mental illness in the county jail.
Shortly after the establishment of the Broward County Mental Health Court, other mental health courts began to open in jurisdictions around the U.S., launched by practitioners who believed that standard punishments were ineffective when applied to the mentally ill. In Alaska, for example, the state’s first mental health court (established in Anchorage in 1998) was spearheaded by Judge Stephanie Rhoades, who felt probation alone was inadequate. “I started seeing a lot of people in criminal misdemeanors who were cycling through the system and who simply did not understand their probation conditions or what they were doing in jail. I saw police arresting people in order to get them help. I felt there had to be a better solution,” she explained in an interview. Mental health courts were also inspired by the movement to develop other problem-solving courts, such as drug courts, domestic violence courts, community courts and parole reentry courts. The overarching motivation behind the development of these courts was rising caseloads and increasing frustration — both among the public and among system players — with the standard approach to case processing and case outcomes in state courts. In February 2001, the first juvenile mental-health court opened in Santa Clara, California.
Since 2000, the number of mental health courts has expanded rapidly. There are an estimated 150 courts in the U.S. I was “processed” through my involuntary commitment through King County’s (Washington State) court, one of the first in the nation. Snohomish County (my county in Washington State) just opened theirs in October 2012.
Sam the Psycho January 3, 2013Posted by Crazy Mermaid in Delusions, Hallucinations, Hearing Voices.
Tags: Delusions, Hallucinations, Insanity
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Walking into the mental illness support group, I was surprised to see two teenage boys sitting side by side in our small circle of chairs. Very few young people came to our support group.
It was clear from Sam’s glassy and brilliant eyes that he was the one with the mental illness, and that his friend, Carl, had simply been the means of Sam’s transportation to the meeting. Later on, we learned that Sam’s mom had actually talked Carl into bringing Sam here. I surmise that Sam wouldn’t get in the car with his mom. Or vice-versa.
When Sam’s turn came to share, he said he was getting more violent against his mom, and that he was having trouble with his relationship with her. His principal complaint was that she didn’t agree with his religious views.
He claimed that he and God were buddies. He also claimed to be possessed by the devil and demons. He said he was routinely roused from sleep by the demons’ violence against him. They punched him and pushed him and yanked his hair while he tried to sleep. Oh yeah: and he said he wasn’t mentally ill. He was just possessed.
Initially, he and his friend sat quietly listening to the three of us share our stories. But as time progressed, Sam was increasingly claimed by his invisible friends. Talking and laughing with them, he faded in and out of our reality.
Sam said he had been taking two anti-psychotics for 2 months. Based on his severe delusions and his statement that he wasn’t mentally ill, I seriously doubt that he was taking his meds at all. His friend said that Sam hadn’t been back to his psychiatrist since he had been given the anti-psychotics. I suspect that was by choice.
Leaving the meeting, I realized the danger Sam’s mother was in. I hoped she had a lock on her door. After all, her teenage son, known to be very angry with her, roamed around the house believing that he was alternately God’s best friend or possessed by the devil and demons. It isn’t a stretch to imagine him slipping into her room at night and slitting her throat or stabbing her as she lay sleeping, convinced that the devil and demons- and maybe God- had directed him to do it. She would be just another dead mother whose soon should have been committed to a mental hospital before he murdered her.