Wednesday, October 18, 2006

To Save a Life

I haven't been posting much lately (you noticed?).

My #1 son has gone to Chicago and was picked up a about a week and a half ago for wandering the streets and sleeping on park benches. He hadn't eaten for a few days. He was incoherent. He was placed in a hospital for mental observation.

After a week of observation he was put out on the street with no support except for a list of homeless shelters.

We do not expect him to live out the winter.

At this time he is not totally rational. He thinks he is God and it is his job to fix the human race. He doesn't eat for days at a time. He walks endlessly. He does not want to return home.

This all came about because we have laws to protect the rights of people who might be incarcerated in mental institutions against their will. A good idea. However, hearings are biased against those whose problems are not a threat to themselves or others in the next six hours.

When he is medicated he seems to get better, however he refuses to take his medications.

Deinstitutionalization has not fixed the mental illness problem. It has been transfered it to a less costly system (homeless shelters) of handling the mentally disabled.

BTW I had been meaning to write this for several days. Both my mother and my first mate thought getting the word out was a good idea. Writing this was more a matter of outrage than courage.

My job here is to speak for those who can't speak for themselves. Many thanks to those of you who have donated to keep my voice on line. And to the rest of you who encourage me by reading and commenting. Bring a friend.


Anonymous said...

Yes, I have noticed.

We have been struggling with this issue in the UK for many years.
I started work as a UK psychiatric nurse in 1977 and changed my job twenty years later.

Before the 19th century many mentally ill people were cared for by their
extended family, the community and charities. No cure was available.
Laws were enacted and Lunatic Asylums were created, some had 2,000 to 3,000 inmates. Each UK county had a 'Lunatic Asylum', note Asylum, -a place of shelter and protection. Unfortunately the lack of a cure and human organisation efficiency lead to an institutional regime at these asylums.

In the 20th century various therapies became popular, some extreme, hence 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest'.
As science progressed and medicines that ameliorated the symptoms were
found (all with side effects, some severe) the movement began.

As the new medicines became available huge numbers of mentally ill people were successfully moved out of the asylums to the community.

Then difficulties emerged.
What do we do with the remaining ill people?
What do we do with these very expensive to maintain old buildings?

Let's put the mentally ill people out into the community.
(It's best for them they are not really different -muticultural madness)
-And we'll knock down all the old asylums and sell all the land. $$$.

Result in the UK
Mentally ill patients living in the gutter.
Mentally ill patients killing themselves.
Mentally ill patients killing other people.

Lots of community workers, e.g. nurses, social workers.
Did not work, not enough of them.

If you don't take your medicine we can force you to return to hospital.
Does not work because there are insufficient hospital places.

My personal view:
Some people will have a enduring problem with severe mental illness.
We can either properly look after them or mistreat them.


Duchess Of Austin said...

Simon....I'm so sorry for you, and your son. I sincerely hope he comes around and takes his medication, although I can understand why he might not want to.

I have a friend, whom I saw recently after an absence of several years, during which her children had her locked up in a hospital for mental problems. Granted, she's probably (definitely) bi-polar, but in her manic state, she's one of the most fun people you've ever met. Smiling, happy, chatterbox....sunshine on the hoof, as it were, however the downside is horrible. Kinda like the little girl with the little curl....i.e., when she's good, she's very, very good, but when she's bad, she's horrid.

So, to get to the point, this hospital put my friend on medication for bi-polar disorder and her personality went right out the window. She's about one step away from catatonic now, and I wanted to weep at the loss of her "spark." She just sat there like a lump, hardly spoke, and there was no passion in her at all. So, I'm thinking that your son may reject his meds, not out of his condition, but because he fears what he is when he's on them. Pretty much a zombie.

I'm so sorry.

M. Simon said...


Thank you for your sympathy. In fact thank you all.

I think you are right about the meds destroying the personality re: keeping on the meds.

As anon Oct 18, 01:51:41 PM UTC points out, we have a systemic problem.

One of my guesses about all this is that some folks are more sensitive to smell than others. The smell of fear. The smell of anger. The smell of depression. Each of those states has a chemical signature.

If asylum air was cleaned of these signatures better, I think asylums would not be such horrid places.

linearthinker said...

I've noticed the psychiatric and mental health facilities can work miracles in performing short term intervention. I have personal experience with a child, hospitalized in the adolescent mh ward five times between age 14-18.
In each instance a sudden improvement in condition was achieved within 12 hours of the insurance coverage lapsing.