Friday, October 4, 2013

Mental Illness - Not adoption related.

Today this blog which is solely started to focus on our adoption journey is taking a break from its regularly scheduled updates to share something that has been weighing on my heart and affecting my family's life for a few years now (and it has nothing to do with adoption).

I haven't written or publicly talked about this as it truly hasn't been anyone's business... but today I was again shocked, disappointed and openly outraged at how the news media, along with well meaning people, think and speak of Mental Illness...

A CNN report was telling the story of the young mom who tried to drive through a barricade shouting that Obama was monitoring her.  The story ended with her being killed (shot in the head) with baby in car seat in car.  Per the newscast - the one year old in the care is unharmed (physically maybe..but this child just saw her mom killed).  He also said that had the Republicans passed the budget then the lady would've had Obamacare and could've gotten the help she needed for her mental illness. While the Psychologist they interviewed blamed the family and friends for not surrounding and supporting this mom.  They reported that she had schizophrenia and bipolar disorder as they found her medications at her home (which means she was likely already insured since these meds are $$$ so Obamacare would've added nothing for her). The psychologist said she may have also had postpartum depression or psychosis.  

I know I ruffled some feathers earlier with my facebook post and like most things in life - there is nothing I can do that will change your perspective until you've walked the journey yourself (which I wouldn't wish on anyone)....

I would just leave it there, but...

Education is important to me.  
Unbiased education that is...which I realize is always difficult to obtain because we all have underlying influences...  

So, I am opening myself up - maybe too much so, but I hope and pray you have a greater understanding about the lack of available care for those with mental illness.  

Maybe somehow this will cause you to advocate more for legislation that will help those in need, instead of pointing fingers....  Trust me, no insurance plan will solve this problem.

Mental Disorder or Illness by definition (per Merriam Webster) is a mental or bodily condition marked primarily by sufficient disorganization of personality, mind, and emotions to seriously impair the normal psychological functioning of the individual.

Collins English Dictionary states it much simpler as:  any of various disorders in which a person's thoughts, emotions, or behavior are so abnormal as to cause suffering to himself, herself, or other people.

It can include - bipolar, depression, schizophrenia.....

I have an adult family member who is suffering from bipolar disorder and paranoid schizophrenia.  

As a family we have sought help.  
We have encouraged care, even driven her to doctors and counselors, 
talked to her, 
prayed for and with her.  
We've talked with numerous providers.  
We have involved the police, 
We've had court orders to require care and institutionalization....  

Yet, she is untreated and alone (she refuses to stay with family). 
We have fears of horrible things like what happened today happening to her...    

How is it possible that we can't force her to get care?? 

Well, did you know that in the US there is no possible way to get help for adult family members who have mental illness against their will?  

Sure, there is the Baker Act but it is only good for 72 hours.  
SEVENTY -TWO hours...
After this time the patient is then released as long as they state they aren't going to hurt themselves or others.  Even if they are still saying all sorts of other things that confirm their diagnosis.

Reality - the mentally ill patients who don't see themselves as ill, 
those who refuse medicine because they think the medicine itself will harm them, 
those who think it is everyone else who is sick and not them,
those who think that the medical staff are the ones trying to kill them -
they may not realize what harm they are already doing to themselves and others.  

I know it is hard to imagine that people could really believe they are being shot at with magnetic rays 
or being watched by the President 
or being listened to through the TV/phones/radios or even the walls by aliens/FBI/govt...
or operated on while they are sleeping to look at their brains.... 
These people are ill, mentally sick 
and it is as real to them as insane it is to you.  

These individuals, however sick they may be - are NOT dumb.  
They KNOW what they need to say to be released from psych hospitals or police... 
Just the simple statement of "no plans to harm self or others..." 
at that point they MUST be released. 

So...this is why today's newscast hit so close to home for me... 
To say that an insurance plan would solve this...
To imply that the family hasn't tried to get help and weren't supporting...

I am glad no officers were severely injured today.
But my heart breaks for this young mom and her daughter who will forever be scarred by this event and her family who very well may have been supporting her. To me...knowing she has meds means she had support but may have chosen to not take the medications.

We need change.  
We need a way to help those who are so sick they can't see it in themselves.  
...Before they do hurt themselves or someone else. 

Why not allow for treatments to last longer than 72 hours?
Why not require once monthly injections of medication to be monitored by health care personnel like we have done for Tuberculosis treatment in the past?  TB outbreaks are awful...but so are these shootings and loss of life.  
Why not put blame where blame goes?   

In this case...
It is not family, 
It is not insurance or lack there of, 
It is a broken system 
A system that prevents loving families from protecting their family members and getting them the help they need in order to live a more normal life. 

For our family...damage is done..  Marriage torn apart, children are impacted.  
We pray for God to intervene and not allow more harm.  
We've seen how the medications do help (given during short, forced institutionalization's), but wears off before permanent change is seen.  
We've had to make very hard decisions in relation to physical interaction...  
My heart aches and it drives me to my knees in prayer.  
Praying nothing this tragic could happen to her, but I know it is possible, even likely.

Many with severe mental illness only get help when they've hurt/killed someone.  
Why must we wait until then?  

It is painful to watch someone you love have a complete personality change and live in total fear...
then to be helpless...
Completely helpless... 

If I offended you today... I am sorry.  
Maybe I shouldn't have shared my emotion so openly.
I can see your side of the picture too.  
A few years ago - my first thought was the same as yours.  "Thank goodness that crazy person was taken care of before she/he hurt more people."   

Now my response is totally different.
God continues to refine me and though hard, terribly hard,  I am thankful He is walking beside me and my family
and I remain hopeful.

Romans 5:3-5
Not only this, but we rejoice in our sufferings because sufferings produce perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope; And hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. 

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