In the next few days I will be writing and having a guest post from someone but today I want to write about a frustration that has got my goat bigtime. It has to do with the letter that I wrote to Kathryn Power, “bigwig” at SAMHSA or, for those of you who wonder what the letters stand for, the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration, for Region One, which covers the New England region.
Apparently she took my letter very seriously, which I did not know. This may have been because I never received her reply, if she sent one, having given her the wrong return address ( I did not know the proper one where I was to be living at MRR in Brattleboro.) Or it may be because she failed to copy me on any of the emails she sent to any of the parties she subsequently wrote to, both in the Federal government and at the state level. Whatever the case may be, apparently she wrote to several officials, including the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services and possibly the Department of Protection and Advocacy ( which dumped me completely after assuring Susan Stefan, Atty at law known for her work against seclusion and restraints, that they were working closely with me). I never knew this, nor have I learned the outcome of these contacts. I only just today received faxed records of these initial emails.
So I know that Ms Power contacted Mirian Dephin-Rittmon who is the new commissioner of mental health in Connecticut. I would like to think that Ms Dephin-Rittmon responded somehow, but I have no such evidence, and if the response from Patricia Rehmer, her predecessor, is any hint of what I could expect, then the answer will b: NOTHING, nada, zilch, a big fat zero. And why is that? Because in Connecticut the Commissioner of Mental Health and Addiction Services, while she may nominally be serving all citizens with mental health problems, actually has no such mandate. Not at all. She serves in fact ONLY those who are hospitalized in STATE facilities, which are extremely limited, and how lucky for her, and in fact for them, because they get protections that none of the rest of us ever got.
It was not that we were not indigent and also on Medicare and Medicaid, and also on SSDI and possibly on SSI. Most of the patients at general hospital psychiatric units in Connecticut, if they are repeat offenders of any sort, are usually on assistance of this kind. How could they not be? Most have been “disabilified” – that is, disabled and made into disabled-thinking persons — by medications if not by illness and by the systematic undermining of their personhood by the State. (I know, that is an argument that needs to be enlarged, but elsewhere, elsewhere…) But they are not in State facilities, decidedly not. Why is that? Because courtesy of the State Government, most state facilities, especially for adults, have been closed down or turned into prisons.
So if you need a hospital, you must go to a general hospital psychiatric unit where the Commissioner of Mental Health and the Department of Mental Health actually have no jurisdiction or sway. Literally the only way you can get into the safety zone of a State Hospital, that is to say, into the ONLY state hospital that now exists in Connecticut, Connecticut Valley Hospital, is by being thought such a bother to the nursing staff at a general hospital that they want to get rid of you, and they send you off to CVH for “longer term treatment.”
But this, mind you, is a punishment, it is not something that they do out of caring or attempts to render better treatment. Not at all, and I should know. After all, I have been threatened with such “treatment” several times, and the last time was when I was at New Britain Hospital in 2014. There, because I was labeled “a borderline” and therefore dismissed as manipulative and dramatic. Every word I said was disregarded…Nothing I could say was taken seriously. And every act was regarded as willful and deliberate. So they could justify punishment and torture as my just desserts, and they tortured me by dragging me to the seclusion cell for swearing under my breath, and four-pointed me for hitting my head lightly against a wall, after they stripped me naked in the cell and I begged for a blanket they pointblank refused me ….
You see the picture? I was “so impossible to deal with” that they were going to “send me away” as punishment and in revenge.
We all knew this, we all knew that CVH was the last stop, their last resort and final punishment for those of us so obstreperous as to object to their outrageous brutalities and keep objecting rather than bow our heads and submit. In the end, because I was so determined to get out, to escape to Vermont, I did, I gave in and gave up and submitted, and it worked. I played their game and got out of their abysmal unit. I submitted, for which I cannot forgive myself…
My point here though is that it is only when a patient has been deemed such a pain in the ass that she is sent away, sent down the river to CVH that Pat Rehmer or Miriam Delphin-Rittmon ever comes into the matter. Before then, they are not interested or concerned with what happens or happened for that matter. They do not give a damn. Not that they don’t care about torturous seclusion cells or four-point restraints in general, it just ain’t their juris-my-dicktion to care about what happens to patients in city hospitals. Sorry, but it ain’t. So they don’t pay attention. They just can’t and so they don’t. It is, as my friend Josephine says, always as if newly minting the expression, what it is!
That said, there is Capitol Region and the Connecticut Mental Health Center too, but they serve exclusively the uninsured, so that of course was not for me, who have been covered by Medicare and Medicaid for years. So lucky me, I could luckily go to New Britain General Hospital and be tortured by the likes of Michael E Balkunas, with utter impunity because DMHAS has no oversight or jurisdiction over these psychiatric units, NONE WHATSOEVER.
Did Kathryn Power not understand this when she wrote to Miss Miriam? Apparently not. She might have believed that the Commissioner of Mental Health in Connecticut could or would do something to help a mentally ill elderly citizen who had been tortured in a psychiatric unit in Connecticut. Foolish Kathryn! And then maybe she thought that Protection and Advocacy could be called upon to help me as well? Oh, what a sad, sad day for Ms Power when she learned, or did she, that P and A in Connecticut has no interest in helping anyone? Did she really think I had not applied myself to anyone for help before I went to her? Where does she think I have been for the last year? Doing nothing? I have tried and tried and tried and tried. But no one answers and no one does a thing!
Oh, I could laugh if I were not so broken and so sick at heart. But I will not let the fuckers win because then the torture will just continue unabated. No, I will continue to nip and snap and irritate Mikey B. and the nurses at W-1 at HOCC in New Britain until they themselves cry “uncle” and change their ways. I will not stop until they are stopped in their brutality and stop hurting people. I will never cease this campaign until I know that patients at W-1 are safe from harm or W-1 is closed down and I am certain that Dr. Balkunas has lost his license for good.
But the worst thing was that Ms Power finally sent the letter to the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) in Boston which was directed to open a Complaint! Yes! But just whne I had hope for this, bizarrely enough, they closed it on the basis, get this, that my complaint “alleges abuse at MANCHESTER MEMORIAL HOSPITAL IN APRIL OF 2008″ — Say what?????? Huh? !!!!! My letter does no such thing. It never mentions Manchester Hospital at all. Why would it? I had never even been there in 2008 or before 2009. And the first time I was EVER at MMH was in October of 2009, so WTF??? THis is so bizarre and so outrageous and so disgraceful a reason to deny my complaint a basis to go forward that I have had it…To say in the first paragraph that I allege torture at New Britain Hospital in 2014 and then in the fourth or fifth paragraph to somehow segue in this extreme non-sequitor to alleging something in Manchester Hospital in 2008, when I was NEVER THERE…just gets me down completely, because you know, no one in the chain of information who saw this and they did, NO ONE CALLED THE OCR on this or told them to get their act together and fix their mistake,.no they essentially let it go and made me suck it up…
FUCK THE THE ASSHOLES I cannot take this shit any longer. FUCK THE WORLD I WANT TO GET OFF! I have had it. I’ve had it, No one gives a damn about anything…I give up.
13 thoughts on “I Will Be a Gadfly or Die!”
I believe that deep down, many do not see those with labels as even human. One huge eye opener for me was when I read some writing that some folks had written about me, and they didn’t know I was reading it. They say, “She is no longer a person.” They also said I should be institutionalized and that my wonderful dog Puzzle should be forcefully taken away from me. After reading all that, I wondered if I should laugh or cry. I’m glad I chose the former.
Oh and i wanted to say more’ about cops: in springfield vermont, where the cops trussed me up like Hannibal Lector to transport me to the hellhole known as the Retreat in Brattleboro, they told me, before even bringing me to the ER, “lady, either you get in the car or we will handcuff you and drag you! ” , no words about how can we help you just nothing more and nothing else…
I could not find out what IPE is but they are infinitely poorer for not hiring you, whatever their hidden sources of financial gain! I am sorry to hear that your need for disclosure threatened them…but maybe you want a more honest employer anyway, in the end?
I did love your image of the strutting cocks, whoops, cops with their cocks in exposed holsters….makes me think of the medieval cod-pieces that used to be used in place of well, anything downthere! They could just whip them out and voila! Seems like guns these days are indeed used as penis extenders, or just weenie substitutes!
To juliemadblogger 9/17/15,
You’re absolutely right about some of these cops. Too many of them, both male and female, really do get sprung on brutalizing us.
I wanted to say one more thing. Bravo for the parking lot performance. Be careful, though of who is in the audience. Shrinks and cops are threatened by people like us with such talents. After all, we’re a lot smarter, certainly than the shrinks. As for cops, how smart is it to strut around extensions of their penises stuck into holsters like that. Maybe their police trousers have no room for their…egos.
Pam, IPE just RETRACTED my acceptance into their program after sending me a huge welcome letter. Why? I asked for financial disclosure and they refused. So they said they didn’t like my questions…..Hmm….Do I smell discrimination?
Thank you everyone for these comments. Today after i emailed the fuckers at OCR about their mistake, and tried to explain to the MSW here at MRR what the mistake was — all nonverbally mind you, as i still do not have the ability to speak– she persisted in “gently explaining” to me how my complaint was “untimely” since it was about “Manchester Hospital in 2008”..!
Well, when she said that, a scream of fury and frustration rumbled up from the balls of my feet through my stomach and up into my throat and i finally let out the words in a shriek that could be heard all the way across the yard and into the house: “DONT YOU UNDERSTAND ANYTHING AT ALL!!! THIS HAPPENED TO ME JUST LAST YEAR!!!” Then i jumped to my feet and tore across the parking lot, screaming at the top of my lungs as if i were literally going to die. I screamed so hard i could not get my breath. Coming to my rescue, Charlene, a staff who truly gets it, let me smash blocks of ice on the pavement and shriek until I could not do anything but collapse in exhaustion.
It is not over. It will never be over. But at least that tension, for tonight, is relieved, and i feel that i can send off the finished complaint, this one against Dr Balkunas himself, personally, to the Connecticut department of health, and finally start a new drawing…
I think there should be a jumbo glow-in-the-dark billboard within sight of every psychiatric facility and “supported” housing complex for “mentally ill” people that reads: WARNING – ENTER AT YOUR OWN PERIL. Pam, you’ve tried harder than most of us do to get justice for the abuse and neglect that you’ve suffered at the hands of your clinicians. You deserve to be treated like a human being, not like a beast of pathology and your efforts to compel this modicum of decency from the people who should be enforcing our patient’s rights laws will not go for nought, regardless of whether or not these people do their jobs and punish the quacks who’ve victimized you.
I MISS YOU PAMMY. Sometimes I wonder if it’s the you I know who is treated and qualified such
Pamela, Bravo for speaking out. Yes, it is true that every single state does not protect patient rights. There is a clear conflict of interest. They protect the profits of the hospitals. Those in state facilities get no protection since the state protects itself. Judges are paid by the state. Mental patients who commit petty crimes can be locked up indefinitely without a jury trial. See the following: freejohnrohrer.org and hopeforgloria.org. Both these sites made by yours truly, by the way. No one is ever helped by state protection agencies. Their sole purpose is to stall or prevent lawsuits by victims. Yes, they will frequently fudge paperwork as another stall tactic. Or “lose” it. My own experience was similar to yours in 2013 and 2014. I put a link to this post up on my blog by the way.
I love you, Pam. My heart aches for you. I can’t even find the words… my heart just aches.
Pam, check out todays HARTFORD COURANT – front page story – “Kids In Shackles” wednesday Sept. 16th. Carole