Pourquoi Il ne faut pas accepter les diagnostics de la Psychiatrie, ou
La normalité n’existe pas!
Bien que les psys parlent des maladies mentales comme si elles vraiment existent, les termes qu’ils utilisent nous montrent que les maladies mentales sont imaginaires et mythiques. Comme tout le monde le sait, les constellations célestes ne sont qu’imaginaire et ce qui constitue Orion pour l’Ouest, c’est quelque chose de différent dans l’Est, qui utilise tout à fait différemment des éléments célestes. Les psys utilisent ce terme aussi, “les constellations”, et ils ont construit leurs constellations d’une manière complètement analogue.
Although shrinks speak of mental illnesses as if they really exist, the terms they use show us that in fact “mental illnesses” are imaginary, the stuff of myths. As everyone knows, the nighttime sky is made up of constellations that are imaginary and that what constitutes Orion for the western world would be meaningless to someone in the east. The Chinese have a zodiac but it is entirely different from ours. Shrinks use this term also, constellations and they have constructed their constellations of mental illness in an entirely analogous fashion.
Parmi des centaines de comportements humaines, la conférence du DSM, composé de psys, a choisi ceux qui vont ensemble (mais pas toujours et pas tout le temps) pour constituer une maladie mentale comme la schizophrénie ou la bipolarité ou la dépression. Comme dans les menus des restaurants chinois on choisit quelque chose de chaque groupe de symptômes — on peut être trop agité ou trop léthargique, ou on peut entendre des voix ou avoir des pensées “différentes” qu’on étiquette les délires, ou on peut faire les choses trop vite ou trop lentement etc— mais en utilisant une formule de leur création, en trouvant ces constellations dans les personnes/ patientes les psys peuvent alors diagnostiquer n’importe qui.
Among the hundreds of human behaviors possible, the committee of the DSM, all shrinks, have chosen those behaviors, (called symptoms but they are really just behaviors ) that go together —but not always and not all the time—to make up a mental illness like schizophrenia or bipolar or depression. Just as we choose food at a Chinese restaurant, or used to, they choose something from certain groups of symptoms — one can be too agitated or too lethargic, one can hear voices or have delusions, or one can do things or speak too fast or too slow etc — but using a formula they created, finding these constellations in the people who visit them, their patients, these shrinks can then diagnose anyone at all.
La chose la plus importante à savoir c’est qu’exactement comme les motifs ou dessins imposés dans le ciel que nous appelons les constellations célestes, ces constellations psychiatriques sont basées dans l’imaginations (assez limitées) des médecins du DSM. Les constellations célestes n’existent que dans les histoires et les mythes grecs, c’est à dire dans l’imagination, et le fait que tout le monde les voit dans le ciel ne dit qu’une chose, c’est que nous avons appris à les voir. Mais nous voyons les constellations psychiatriques et les maladies mentales parce que nous avons appris les voir. Mais elles existent seulement parce que nous les avons accepté sur parole et leur réalité de plus. Nous nous sommes dit, « oui, ce que je vois, c’est une chose réelle cette constellation, cette maladie mentale, et je suis d’accord. » Mais les chinois ne voient pas Orion, n’est-ce pas?
The most important thing to know is that exactly like the imaginary drawings superimposed on the starry sky, psychiatric constellations are also based in the imaginations (perhaps rather limited) of the DSM committee shrinks. The celestial constellations only exist in the stories and myths of the Greeks, which is to say, they are imaginary and the fact that everyone in the west “sees” them only suggests one thing, that we have been taught to see them, these artificial groupings. But we “see” psychiatric constellations, the so called mental illnesses, only because we have also learned to “see” them. Their reality depends on the fact that we have been taught to see them and accept their “reality”. We have said to ourselves, “yes, what I see, it’s something real, this constellation, this mental illness, yes, I agree.”
But ask yourself, do the Chinese “see” Orion? And if not why not?
Et il ne faut pas voir ou accepter l’existence réelle des choses, des constellations ou des maladies mentales. Si on disait que faire les choses vite ou lentement, ce n’est pas un symptôme mais juste une différence humaine, qu’entendre des voix ou que voir les choses imaginaires, c’est un don pas un symptôme, et que ces deux tendances ne sont pas liées dans une constellation pathologique, les soi-disant maladies mentales se révèleraient ensuite n’être rien de plus que de l’imagination, une fantaisie peut être, mais une création imaginaire de psychiatrie, quelque chose qui n’a jamais existé vraiment.
It is not necessary to either see or accept as real these celestial constellations or the psychiatric ones, called mental Illnesses. If we said, for example, that doing things fast or slow, that’s not a “symptom” just a human difference between people, if we said that hearing voices or thinking different thoughts is a gift rather than a symptom, and that these human differences are not somehow inextricably linked in a pathological “constellation”, the so called mental illnesses would reveal themselves to be nothing but imaginary, a fantasy perhaps, but fundamentally an imaginary creation of psychiatry, something that actually never existed.
La prochaine fois je vais discuter la réalité de la souffrance mentale, qui n’est pas la même chose qu’une maladie mentale.
Next time I will discuss the reality of mental suffering, which is not the same thing as a “mental illness.”
I just watched your town hall appearance focussed on climate change, and even though I have been rooting for you and contributing to your campaign ever since you entered the race, I was thrilled to hear you mention both science, your faith in it, and the morass of corruption that characterizes everything in Washington DC.
I know you don’t have a lot of time to read emails, if indeed you read this one, so I will get right to the point.
There is only one group of law-abiding American citizens who can be and regularly are deprived of their civil rights in this country, with utter impunity, and that is the group of us who have been diagnosed with serious mental illnesses, like schizophrenia and bipolar conditions. On the word of a psychiatrist or even in some cases just a masters-degree-carrying “counselor” we can be deprived of our freedom, institutionalized and forcibly drugged for months, even years at a time. Why? Because someone else believes we might be dangerous, even though in fact future violence is notoriously hard to predict, even some will admit impossible to predict.
No one who has committed a crime is kept in prison because of possible future violence, no, what prisons are for, whether you agree with this or not, and I think it is shameful, is to punish, by applying violence to those who HAVE committed a crime.But many, even most of us who have been forcibly hospitalized and drugged have never been violent towards any other person, period. Look at the statistics if you have not already. As those predict, i have been the victim of a violent crime, but never have I been charged with a single incidence of lawbreaking…
Senator, the thing is, if you believe in science, and in rooting out corruption, look at what is going on in psychiatry, and don’t just get the word of psychiatrists, or people who run the so-called mental health system. They either do no know or do not care about the extreme damage the drugs they force on us have done and are doing. They are either completely in cahoots with big Pharma, or they too believe the lies they taught us, that schizophrenia and bipolar conditions are real disease entities, chemical imbalances that such drugs ameliorate if they do not actually amend them. As you may learn, psychiatrists now claim they never said this, that we patients “made them say it.” But this is a lie, and the chemical imbalance lie is still being used on us and the general public.
Psychiatrists as a group do know the truth of what Thomas Insel, former head of NIMH, wrote just a few years ago, that they spent over 20 BILLION dollars in their effort to prove that these things are real neurochemical imbalances, with neuro-anatomic foundations, and in Insel’s words, they “have not moved the needle” on discovering either the cause or any effective treatment.
And yet medication, drugs, are the ONLY treatment that hospitals offer Involuntary patients. In fact, if you are a willingly hospitalized patient, even then such drugs — which shorten the average lifespan by as much as 25 years — are de facto the only treatment. Sure there are “groups” but those who run them will tell you they are just to keep people busy, and are not intended to do anything else.
I am not one of the lucky wealthy people who have been treated voluntarily in posh privatehospitals. No, i have been beaten up and tied to a bed too many times to count, which is also involuntary treatment, in public and municipal hospitals, the only ones who took my Medicare and Medicaid, so I know where of I speak…
I could say so much more about this. I am a former medical student, and now an author and artist who was diagnosed and treated, in hospitals and out, for schizophrenia for decades.
The drug companies and psychiatrists lie when they say the drugs work. They do NOT lie when they say that is all they have…indeed it is! But is this right, to lock us up in hospitals because we are different and people claim we might be dangerous for being different? To drug us for life on compounds that drastically curtail our lifespans, and rarely increase our happiness, or our productivity as citizens? No, please see that a resounding NO is the only answer.
And keep us in mind when you become our next president.
I continue to be assailed by the same demons as usual, of which i will not speak except to say that it is an effort more often than anyone knows not to walk out of here and away into the cold of night, that indeed i feel deeply (and am told by voices much more powerful than they should be) that i should disappear for the good of all. If I seem strong and resilient it is only my fear of death and a rage that so many want me to die nonetheless, but i feel a terrible resulting sadness that i can’t find it in me to comply completely…In fact, whatever life throws at you, one either survives or dies. But no one can possibly understand how much anguish such a conflict causes me daily, minutely, even by the second, even when I appear at my most cheerful.
I give you Rachel Platten’s lyrics, because I like the song, and sing along with it, though I do not in fact believe that I have any right to believe in them for myself.
The above is are just some bruises of many I received during my month-long course of “psychiatric treatment” at the Hartford Hospital’s Institute of Living, on the unit called Donnelly 2 South in January through Feb 2013. In Connecticut, the Institute of Living, first known as the Retreat, and once quite famous as a posh sanatarium for the rich and famous though this is no longer true, was first made famous by Clifford Beers, I believe, who wrote about similiar torture he underwent there just a hundred years ago in the book, A Mind That Found itself.
(I WANT TO MAKE IT CLEAR THAT THIS WAS FROM 2013)
After burning my face with cigars and cigarettes, in response to command hallucinations, I spent the last month in Connecticut’s well-known Institute of Living (yeah the dangerous 6th month was JANUARY not February but nobody thought to check my math) being beaten up and trussed like a pig in four-point restraints almost daily for many many hours. Why did they deal me this sort of treatment? Why? Because “You do not follow directions”.
I DID NOT FOLLOW DIRECTIONS so they beat me up (despite my policy of non-resistance) and tied me, shackled me with leather and metal cuffs to a bed for dozens upon dozens of hours.! Time after time I had to defecate in my own clothing, because they would not even give me bathroom breaks. Get that? I was disobedient, so they shackled me to a bed as an excuse for treatment!
After this experience, I LOST ALL FAITH in the ability of any institution to do anyone any good who has a mental illness or sickness of the mind, or any emotional disorder or whatever you wish to call it. I GIVE UP! I will kill myself if anyone ever tries to send me back to such a cesspit of a place. I do not care if it is appointed like the Taj Mahal. NO ONE who works there is uncontaminated by the evil infecting such places. I may be the devil but I never wanted to be evil while they are ALL EVIL EVERY SINGLE ONE. I have NEVER been to a hospital where the people are kind and well meaning and where the treatment is actually kind and decent. Once in a while a single person, such as the Middlesex Hospital occupational therapist Christobelle Payne, may stand out in memory as being a rare human being of warmth and dignity and caring, but otherwise, they all to a one fail the test of being decent human specimens and all fail royally to be even normally humanly responsive to suffering persons. They are in it for the money and a cushy job, and don’t you forget it if you go into a psycho hospital, DO not expect to get well there. Expect deadening dulling drugs that never worked and the research tells so, and directions (ie ORDERS) that you HAVE To follow or ELSE.
Get out of there as quickly as possible, because your life depends on it. I am serious. DO NOT LINGER expecting care and treatment or to feel better no matter how helpful you might want it to be.
Furthermore. if you are a young person, do not listen to the sweet seductive advice that some may give you that you woul do well to go for “disability” and social security payments. THAT Is a load of total crapola and the worst thing anyone could tell anyone under the age of 40. Too many young people are being 1) told as children that they have Oppositional Defiant Disorder or ADHD, both of which are adults’ and psychiatrists’ ways of saying, “You don’t as we tell you to huh? Okay, then, we will label you mentally ill in retaliation!” But that is not the worst because they then “medicate” you young children or adolescents with Ritalin or SSRIs and if those cause the anticipated problems of irritability and anger management problems, and outburts and moodswings (!!!), then “add on” atypical antipsychotic drugs (and who would not think to themselves, in momentary awe and self-pity, “OOOh, I must really be Mentally Ill if I take an ANTI-PSYCHOTIC drug, right???”)
The thing is, they will justify these drugs with another label, a label imposed because you now have an IATROGENIC or doctor-induced, medication-caused illness, like some version of “bipolar”, or if they really dislike you, the untreatable Borderline Personality Disorder, which only means largely that you are youngish, female and emotional and angry and don’t shut up when they want you do. (Test: Do they want you in DBT classes? Then you have the BPD diagnosis, trust me. Dialectical behavioral therapy is FOR “borderlines” no matter how hard they argue that it is open all…)
NEITHER of these labels reflect your or anyone else’s REALITY, mind you, they are ONLY labels, and neither Bipolar nor borderline have ever ever been shown to be real bona fide physiological illnesses or even (for all the talk) genetic diseases. What is a “real mental illness” anyway? No one agrees on the diagnosis, in any one person, and no one can find any chemical test or neurotransmitter than it out of balance or even an anatomic difference between the ill and the well. They only have the person’s words and the doctors opinions… If you disagree, prove what you what to argue. Do not tell me, well Manic depression “runs in the family” because that is horseshit. Messiness and not making beds can seem to run in a family, you know why? Because NO ONE breaks the cycle and teaches the kids the value of neatness and making beds every morning. It matter where and how and WITH whom you grow up, and the myths you grow up with matter just as much. The notion that Manic-depression runs in your family is only that. A MYTH. but that doesn’t mean you cannot induce it or see it and make it real in your kids or yourself if you try hard enough.Lord knows teenaged angst these days is frequently dx’d as bipolar so jump on that bandwagon by bringing your child to a psychiatrist and they will be happy to oblige!
But do not think that your label of “Borderline” is something elevated and “nearly psychotic” as if that itself is anything superior to other MIs. Trust me, when someone else calls you Borderline it is shorthand for MANIPULATIVE, DRAMATIC, attention-seeking, devious, lying…if you like those words, go ahead and claim the diagnosis for yourself, but i doubt you will. So why do you vaunt it, and flaunt it? Do you not understand that the hospital and therapists actually hate your guts? Get a hold of your chart and READ IT. it is YOUR right and it might open your eyes to what those people REALLY think of you…It won’t be pretty or nice at all, but it will be instructive, and maybe you won’t want to be Mentally Ill with Borderline Personality Disorder any longer, hey?
Another few words as to young people going for social Security Diabilty: Someone asked me about this and my response is unequivocal. It is the very same trap that Welfare was for young mothers with too many children years ago…It had positives to it, but it ended up trapping many and many generations in poverty of the most extreme sport for, well, generations. Speaking just for myself, IF anyone had had the time to find out where my talents lay, in art and writing, and had been able to provide the community and home supports for me that I truly needed, rather than funding my rent and hospital stays largely, plus a visiting nurses visit to bring me medications. I might have blossomed and never ended up recurrently in the hospital for decades. I mean this from the depths of my broken heart. I was always an extraordinarily talented and intelligent person, and everyone knew it. At the same time, I had very real problems. But no one ever said, LET’S NOT FOCUS ON YOUR PROBLEMS. LET’S SEE HOW FAR YOUR STRENGTHS CAN TAKE YOU!
You know, I still cannot socialize or be away from home for long, and I cannot tolerate any 4- hour work day, far less an 8-hour work day…I do not have ordinary or “normal” stamina in any fashion. Narcolepsy is partly to blame and probably the mental issues and whatever else is at fault, I cannot say. But an extreme lack of stamina that eating well and exercise daily does nothing to help is a FACT of my existence. Nevertheless, I do not believe that I had to stay on Disability and “relief” all my life and be a leech on society…No, i just had no one from the ADA or any social services (god forbid a family member or friend) looking at my individual needs and assessing what I could do to earn a living and helping me, in deep and truly helpful way.,..I believe that my life might have been very different and more productive had the AMERICAN system not dumped me onto antipsychotic drugs and social security and essentially thrown me away…
But it will do it to you too, and you are assenting to it, if you go for disability at at young age. DO NOT DO IT. You will NEVER get free from those checks. NO ONE EVER DOES, unless they marry or get rich some other way…It is the worse decision you will ever make. I know that some living situations demand a check for rent, but don’t assent to their demands, make a radical decision to take charge of your own life, CHALLENGE the psychiatrist’s diagnosis. How long have they known you for anyhow???? Challenge the pills, or at least the dosage. DO YOU FUNCTION BETTER NOW???? that is the only question that matters. If not, the pills do not help. PERIOD. NEVER take any pill on a “For the rest of my life basis!”
Oh, I am so angry and broken at the moment that I cannot speak more. But if I can later on, I will say more to explain. At the moment, I have to attend to too many PHYSICAL bruises and to find a way back to sanity on my own, having been driven to the brink of near extinction by one of the best known hospitals in this state. At the moment I am both rigid with rage and so confused and broken that I scarcely know how to continue, or whether I even want to. Why bother? Why bother? How can people be such monsters, and in such monstrously powerful places and ways. I hurt so deeply and feel I will never trust an single person ever again when they say, “Come let us help you. You need our help.” YOUR help? Like being raped, I need your F—ing help!
GO jump in a lake of snot is what I should say to all of you so called helpers. I’d rather die. Go F— yourself.
All I want to say is that someone connected to me died on Saturday and I have reason to believe it was suicide. This is what I wrote to four people:
“The assistant building manager —– died — i am certain it was suicide — Saturday…i feel to blame, to blame, to blame. It is not that i knew or could have helped her, no, i feel like i caused her to kill herself. I’m shaking in –what? — terror, something! Even the music on Pandora is blaming me. What have i done?”
For hours there was no reply. I located two cigars in the bottom of an old purse, knowing what I had to do…I planned to place this photo:
and let fate determine the consequences, both what eventuated in terms of the voices and what happened after that. All I knew is that even Pandora “radio” is blaming me for the death — suicide as I suspect — and I do not know what to do. I have already been responsible for two suicides of friends. How can I take this again>???
Then my shrink brother wrote me back, after I thought he was long ago in bed and asleep. I quote him in part: “you feel guilty for taking care of yourself. I hope that makes sense. I know it applies to me, so I’m not just saying it. Let it go. You had nothing to do
with her death. It’s sad, if it indeed was suicide, but just leave it at
that. I do think it’s more than symbolic that the person you’re guilty about was the manager of the building you hope to leave for good soon.”
Then he suggested that I take an Ativan (for a change?) and go to sleep. I wasn’t going to, I was going to do something that was ordered of me, and which I felt was essential. But I feel a little less alone, and feel as if I can hang on another night. At least he didn’t get angry and tell me I am not his “top priority”…as if I needed that rammed down my throat ever or again.
I may not make it all night, but if I can sleep it would help a lot. I barely slept last night at all and all these songs on the Bruno Mars’ station are getting to me. I am crying because of how bad I feel…
Will I get through the night? Only the future can tell. I will take the Ativan, against my better judgement, and I already took the half that I refused of Geodon, much against my judgement because otherwise I would be blamed for everything that happens from now on. I do not need the Geodon, but I know what the nurse will say if I refuse it. Until I get to Vermont and then I am free to do what I choose, and if that means — well, I won’t go there right now.
Thank you for listening, if anyone out there really is — either there or listening.
Re “When Cell Door Opens, Tough Tactics and Risk” (“Locked In” series, front page, July 29):
The events leading to Charles Jason Toll’s death highlight the dangers of prison procedures, especially for vulnerable inmates who suffer from mental illness. Particularly concerning is Mr. Toll’s solitary confinement, a disciplinary technique repeatedly identified as ineffective and counterproductive, and even as torture.
The Justice Department has found that solitary confinement of mentally ill people violates their rights under the Eighth Amendment and the Americans With Disabilities Act.
Solitary confinement worsens psychological symptoms and can trigger outbursts tied to the person’s feelings of hopelessness and loss of a sense of self through extreme social isolation and sensory deprivation.
Providing mentally ill people with appropriate and compassionate mental health care, including integration of psychiatric, psychological and psychoanalytically oriented treatments, is crucial in restoring a person’s identity, alleviating feelings of loss and distress and reducing violence.
Mr. Toll’s solitary confinement, suffering and death were avoidable, and again show that the mentally ill are more likely victims of violence, not the perpetrators.
Middletown, Conn., July 30, 2014
The writer is a psychiatrist.
When I was a patient in May and June 2014 at New Britain’s Hospital of Central Connecticut, Dr Michael Edward Balkunas regularly imprisoned me in a horrific seclusion cell, without a single amenity but a concrete built-in bed and rubberized mattress, for nothing more than making too much noise for the approved hospital milieu. In fact, several nurses took it upon themselves, with Dr Balkunas approval, to do the same. This became literally routine. I was NOT, as is required by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, in IMMINENT danger of causing severe harm to myself or others. No, I was loud, disruptive and uncooperative, and I was rude. Period.
My first reaction when the double doors locked behind me was immediately to start screaming, at the top of my lungs, from the base of my lungs. But screaming brought no one. Okay, they did soon come in at me with three IM injections, but they came back every time with IM injections anyway, because as I took to calling it, these were part of the drill, they were “punishment injections.” I was pushed onto my stomach and shoved into the mattress so I couldn’t breathe and injected whether I liked it or not. I tried to say, “STOP! I will take the injections, just don’t hold me down.”
But sometimes they didn’t listen to me, and held me down anyway, and I got scared that they would kill me, because it didn’t matter that I didn’t struggle. There were four of them to the one of me, and they expected me to fight and so they forced my face into the mattress and held me tight, hard, and with all their weight….until I felt my breath go out of me. Did they have any idea that I was NOT struggling, that I felt I was going to die? Did they have any idea that they were killing me?
I don’t know. I don’t know. All I know is that I felt in mortal danger when they wouldn’t let me just accept the injections on my own, in my arm, but insisted on giving them to me by force in the buttocks, even when I said I would take them voluntarily.
Then they would leave and lock the double doors. And I would scream, and NO ONE would respond, even though I eventually learned that they could not only hear me through the intercom hidden somewhere in the ceiling, they could also talk to me. They wouldn’t but they could have. When screaming brought no one, I would strip and urinate on the floor, and I would defecate too as much as i could, and smear everything on the walls and floor. I would even eat it and paint it on my body. I didn’t care, I DIDN’T CARE! I just wanted someone to come in and help me.
Several times I washed and colored my hair with urine, thoroughly. But no one came back for hours. The urine, which completely soaked my hair, had time to dry completely. Not that they cared or noticed. If they had, they said nothing. It was nothing to them. Only Barbara RN asked me what was in my hair, and insisted that she wash it out when finally they released me. I went with her to the shower-tub room and allowed her to do so, but only one other person was kind enough to notice and do that. Everyone else just released me and expected me to somehow be reformed and “better” after my hours of punishment.
Of course that wasn’t the case. I got worse, much worse. I started defecating in my bedroom, at any hour,for any reason, any time I was frustrated or angry. They decided I had “borderline personality disorder,” that I was simply manipulating them. They failed to see that they had traumatized and broken me. They failed to see their continuing role in my behaviors…which were getting worse and worse the more they punished me. Every time they secluded me, or four-pointed me, I regressed more.
Dr Balkunas actually decided to commit me to the State Hospital claiming it would help me “get better.” But really he was just in punishment mode. You could tell, because he wasn’t using any of the methods that you are supposed to use for REAL borderline patients….If he really believed I was BPD he wouldn’t have kept at it. But he knew from my brother, a psychiatrist too, and my own psychiatrist, that I do not have BPD, so that was bogus and just an excuse to torture me. He didn’t really think I had BPD. He just needed an excuse to use solitary confinement and he knew that schizophrenia was NOT a good reason. A very BAD reason in fact, so he invented a secondary diagnosis to use. But the thing is, there are other therapies you are supposed to use in BPD, and he never bothered to treat me with anything but punishment and then threw up his hands and said, Well, the antipsychotic drugs take time to work, so you will go to the SH until they do.
Bastard! He gave up on me without even trying to help…so-called saintly doctor. Just a bastard! Because torture doesn’t work to make me better, he decides that I am the one at fault????? Well GO FUCK HIM UP THE ASS WITH A BROKEN GLASS JAR!
This picture is Tim’s sister in law, Dawn, whom I drew at Christmas, in 2012. It took me about an hour. The elephant below is remarkable only in that it is my first painting, in oils, that I have ever done. And for that matter, almost literally the first time I have painted anything, except for a few portraits. I usually draw, in pencil or oil pastel. I have painted some acrylic portraits, in the past, but none recently, as I told myself I’d better learn to draw a few years back “before I go any further with painting.” I never ever did anything with oils at all. So if I achieved any success with the elephant it was completely by chance. I find oils very difficult. I do not know how to work with them, nor how to manipulate a brush or the colors, or how to do anything at all with paint. So this is an interesting journey, and transition, if transition it be. I do not know what will happen. Whether I will switch to oils completely, or simply use them desultorily…We will see. I am now working on another elephant painting, just for practice. Both of them started with the use of oil pigment sticks, which enable a sort-of drawing technique, very bluntly, and ended forcing me to paint, using either my fingers or real brushes. So it seems I am being led willy nilly to the brush and paint pot!
This last picture started as a doodle that I did of another patient at the Institute this winter, but I liked it so much (and the patient hated it!) that I finished it by changing her to make her unrecognizable. I would have given it to her otherwise, but she didn’t want it, so I said nothing more. But I gave it to my friend Bill, who loved it. In the mean time, I figured I would finish it as I wanted to and did. I love it myself, and would gladly have kept it, had no one else expressed interest in it. But once I knew Bill loved it, well, I knew I wanted him to have it. And it meant I took extra care finishing it when I did. I never really knew much about this patient’s story, nor about anyone else there. Nor did they learn much about me. I do not believe they ever knew what the staff was doing to me that last ten days, when they kept putting me into four point restraints. That was the point: I was in seclusion so no one had any idea I even existed by that time. No wonder I ended by screaming non stop and blood curdlingly that last night when they restrained me the second time for no reason. Everyone who had known of me had left by then. All the patients were new, and no one even knew I was there. I was aware of it, and I knew that if I didn’t scream, they would simply four point me for another 8-10 hours and get away with it…Well, enough of that. This patient did not mind my drawing her, for the few hours that I was allowed to be in the general population. In fact, I think she was flattered that I wanted to. Unfortunately, she was not pleased by the results of my efforts when she saw the drawing…and made her feelings clear when she saw the drawing.
One of my loyal blog readers, Donna, wrote a long comment the other day, and I asked if I could post it on the blog proper, as I felt it was important for her story to be heard. She said Yes, and so I am reprinting it here.
“I have many personal arguments against taking antipsychotics. First of all, I endured schizophrenia since I was about 10 yrs old without anyone knowing anything about it. Without being diagnosed, that is. Yes, I had been thought of as weird and even retarded by my peers, mostly because of social anxiety and being an extreme introvert that were a result of or in addition to the schizophrenia. But my sanity hung on the fact that I was creative and could physically exercise to the point of exhaustion. I think that exercise (running) was the most potent antipsychotic I have ever experienced, probably due to the release of endorphins and the subjugation of ongoing anxiety for a few hours. The hallucinations never really bothered me because I couldn’t remember being without them. Nevertheless, once doctors knew of the hallucinations, that became their excuse for medicating the hell out of me. And subsequently robbing me of my creativity and the ability to exercise. You can see where this is going.
For one thing there was exercise equipment in the hospitals I began to frequent (after starting on antipsychotics, of course.) but I could not use it without a doctor’s prescription, which was never forthcoming. I guess they didn’t put much stock in exercise. It can’t be patented and marketed and sold as a pharmaceutical. Once I began taking Zyprexa, the option was moot anyway, because I gained so much weight there was no possible way to run anymore.
Although I had schizophrenia, as I said, for many years before diagnosis and treatment, I was always able to read voraciously, retain what I had read, and use that as grist for the mill of creativity. Once I started taking mood stabilizers (which, btw, never stabilized my mood) like Lithium, Depakote, and Tegretol, I began to REALLY suffer mentally. Yes, I could tolerate hallucinations, but what I found intolerable was the side effect of being unable to be intellectually stimulated. I was laid low. I could no longer read and understand the combination of words. I couldn’t sit through a movie because I could no longer process the sensory input — what I saw and heard became separate entities rather than combining seamlessly into a meaningful whole. It was a frightening, assaultive experience. Even music ceased to be soothing. All I wanted to do, and practically all I DID do was to lie in bed just trying to think one clear thought. It couldn’t be done.
After the antidepressant and mood stabilizer failure, ECT was tried. Again, that only made things worse. Then came antipsychotics. The first one I took, Trilafon, was a nightmare. Kind of like what you said, Pam — I then had an inability to tell dreams from reality. The scary kind of hallucinations started, like seeing a gargoyle when I looked in the mirror. And the parade of multiple antipsychotics drifted ineffectually past the window of my consciousness. Finally, when I was given Zyprexa, I “awakened.” Would I have needed awakening if I had never started taking these medications in the first place? I had my doubts. But on Zyprexa, I could read again. I could tolerate movies. I could write creatively. But the weight gain that started with Lithium began to really pile on with Zyrpexa. My weight doubled within a few months. I had always been extremely weight and diet-conscious. With Zyprexa came mind-numbing sedation and a tremendous 24×7 appetite. So I was eating and sleeping, but I was also reading and writing.
Talk about the horns of a dilemma — I could take the medication and regain my ability to think and create but be a slave to the fork, spoon and pillow, or I could stop taking medication and keep my appetite and weight within normal limits and be insane. What I’m wondering now is whether any of this would have been a problem if I had never taken the medications to begin with. I became much more insane after being medicated and stopping the medication. To my way of thinking, medication had stopped the positive symptoms but had made me especially prone to relapse every time I tried to ease back on it. And the hallucinations had never been much of a problem — not nearly the problem of weight gain and intellectual poverty. Zyprexa did at least give me back a portion of my mind. Medication giveth and medication taketh away; blessed be thy name pharmaceuticals.
SInce then, I have tried just about ever atypical on the market, with the exception of Invega, hoping to find the “right” medicaiton. They were all promising at first, but each with an array of intolerable side effects. Anxiety. Hypoglygcemia. Hypothyroidism. Akathisia. Pruritis. Mania. Severe insomnia. And for a long time, I could return (somewhat relieved) to Zyprexa and what had become my standard of recovery — stabilization and the ability to think and sleep again.
Now, however, I refuse to take the previous 40mg of Zyprexa. My psychiatrist seems to believe the higher the dose, the more effective the medication. I have weaned myself down to 2.5mg which is enough to keep me out of the hospital but apparently not enough to keep my appetite so revved up. It does not allow me to lose all this weight, no, but at least I am no longer gaining. I am writing again. And reading. The problem is, this dose of Zyprexa does not solve the problems of anxiety and insomnia, which are pure torture. So I take the minimum dose for several days, then double that for a couple of nights in order to sleep, then back again. I used to just stop taking the Zyprexa completely because the weight gain frustrated me so much. The stigma of mental illness is bad enough without the stigma of obesity. Schizophrenia is bad enough without metabolic syndrome or diabetes.
The real kicker, to me, is that yes I was having problems before I ever started on the psychiatric medication rollercoaster. I had some psychosis, depression, hypomania. I heard voices once in a while. I had a roster of impossible people renting space in my head. But I lived a close-to-normal existence from all outward appearances. I could hold down a stressful job. I managed to keep a marriage together. I was winning regional poetry contests in my spare time. I had my own home. But it was not until I began taking all of these medications that it all went to hell. And now, from what I’ve read and what I have experienced, my body can no longer tolerate being without the medications. Life is worse off of them now than on them. I have to take Zyprexa or go back to the hospital. I have to take it or I may end up living on the streets. I have to take it or risk killing myself. My doctor says oh, but the medication has SAVED you from these horrors. But am I where I am today — on SSDI, unable to work, a slave to my fat-bound body — because of antipsychotics and antidepressants? Or am I able to be independent, sane, and creative again because of them. Or both? Somehow, something doesn’t seem right.
This is the drawing I finally finished that I did at the horrible torture chamber of the Institute of Living. There are all sorts of hidden things in it that you must rotate it to see fully…
Hi Everyone, Sorry to worry Lady Quixote and anyone else. I was in Yale New Haven Psychiatric Hospital for last several weeks. A much better stay by far of which I have much to say. But I am recuperating for the next few days as I just got home a couple of days ago. Forgive me for being so out of touch, but even making a long distance phone call was nearly impossible from there…Luckily, the staff and doctor treated me and everyone with immense kindness, gentleness and dignity and respect, so I got what I needed, which was some weeks of healing. Praise whatever force of the universe you believe in for that! More to come as soon as I am able to write more and many thanks for all your concern and your patience.
These are the first two pages, including a note from the cover page, of my very very detailed Psychiatric Advanced Directive, and I think you will see why what happened at the Institute of Living, the psychiatric section of Connecticut’s Hartford Hospital, NEVER should have happened. Not only did I bring a hard copy of this PAD, but I wore a medical bracelet with a code for a very complete online medical record, with uploaded documented evidence, both of narcolepsy diagnosis and need for medication, proof from longtime outside mental health providers that I do NOT have “borderline personality disorder,” and other such assistive documents…ALL were soon ignored completely in the effort to discipline and punish me “for not following directions” i.e. not getting better fast enough and speaking my mind to the psychiatrist.
Prominent NOTE on cover page:
Miss Wagner has experienced multiple episodes of severe psychological and physical trauma. She must NOT be subjected to either physical or mechanical restraints or involuntary seclusion at ANY time. The use of either imposes a serious risk of re-traumatizing and injury, leading to regression and severe worsening of symptoms.
HOW TO INTERVENE IN A CRISIS:
DE-ESCALATION IS ESSENTIAL
1. PLEASE REMEMBER: I can calm down if YOU follow these steps and do not threaten me, order me around, or approach me in anger or in fear.
I need one person to talk to. I should be approached calmly, by someone who will speak in a kind and respectful manner, understanding that above all:
I AM SCARED and my anger masks fear. I am not dangerous. I WILL ONLY FIGHT IF YOU ATTACK ME. Please remember that any show of force and people ganging up on me to administer forced medication will be felt as an attack.
I can be persuaded to take oral medication, usually, if this is negotiated with dignity and kindness and not by means of threats.
DO NOT ISSUE ULTIMATUMS you won’t back down from…That will push me into a corner and you too, and will serve nothing but to escalate the crisis.
A calm unthreatening and unthreatened person should ask me calmlyand patiently if I can speak in a lower tone of voice, so she can hear me better. Ask me if I can take a deep breath and try breathing techniques that will have flown my head in the moment of crisis.
Should you have a COMFORT room available, you can guide me gently to it but do not close me alone. Make sure I am warm…
ABOVE ALL YOU NEED TO BE PREPARED TO LISTEN TO ME.This is not just a matter of forcing medication. Medication may not even be needed if you hear what is going on and what the problem is.
If you take these simple steps, it is virtually guaranteed that the situation will resolve calmly and without any need to resort to the sorts of violence that would permanently damage and re-traumatize me (or produce secondarily negative behaviors afterwards): seclusion, forcible injections, or mechanical restraints or physical holds.
STATEMENT TO CAREGIVERS
It is vitally important that you understand that despite a few previous in-hospital assessments, I do not have a personality disorder, borderline or otherwise (you can confirm this with any of my longtime outpatient providers) and that if my behavior seems out of control, it is because I am out of control: I literally do not at the time know what I am doing or why. I am not manipulative or attempting to achieve secondary gain. The fact is I have had tertiary CNS Lyme disease and after positive PCR and Western Blot tests during treatment, I was informed the condition is likely incurable. (Dr ******* of ****** NY, will confirm this.) During the initial illness, my brain developed multiple lesions, visible on MRI, which may predispose me to temporary emotional and behavioral extremes and abnormalities but these are NOT my norm. Anyone who knows me well would confirm this, if you asked them.
You need to understand that I am not always able to communicate the extreme fear I feel, the global paranoia that I experience, but because I feel so threatened and unable to communicate clearly about it I may become very angry at the hospital situation. I am not an angry person. I do have trauma issues, as many people do, which may be exacerbated by being in the hospital.
Please be aware in advance that my “memory in the p.m. for what happened in the a.m.” is often faulty. That is just how it is. When in crisis, I have little ability to recall from moment to moment what happens. This is why it is essential that I be able to write things down. I have lost many years to this amnesia and if I suffer additional trauma it will only make it worse.
I beg of you, do not make assumptions about me. Do not make assumptions about my state of mind. Do not “put two and two together” in your mind without asking me if the conclusion you have drawn is the correct one. You do not know what is inside my head without asking me.
Ascertain whether the information you have at hand is correct. Too many records and hospital charts have been drawn up (because “patient is not communicating”) on faulty information from earlier charts or information gleaned from others but not from me, and the consequences to my treatment have been devastating. PLEASE CHECK MY INTERACTIVE HEALTH RECORD ONLINE at www. — .com Use code ***** to get access.
I have been traumatized by abuse, sexual assault and by brutal treatment in hospitals, from being deliberately choked and given forced ECT to being kept in four-point restraints for several days at a time. So if I experience seclusion or restraints or even that euphemistic obscenity called a “therapeutic hold” it will be devastating and counterproductive. Such treatment invariably leads to increased anger, regression and worsening of symptoms, and my behavior becomes unpredictable afterwards. This is a response to trauma NOT because of any inborn temperamental disorder. I have already outlined a better way to deal with me and help me on page 2.
I KNOW YOU MAY NOT APPROVE OF POLYPHARMACY. But you need to understand that I must take the antipsychotic drug combination: Abilify 15mg with Geodon 160mg, a TWO-Drug regimen. Monotherapy does not work. I have tried many solo drugs over the course of 4 decades – Thorazine, Mellaril, Haldol, Prolixin, Clozaril, Risperdal, Seroquel, Zyprexa and others – ALL monotherapy has failed.
I will not take any drug that induces weight gain. If you force the issue, know that it will be a useless endeavor because I will stop taking it immediately upon leaving the hospital.
Finally, understand that if I am here in the hospital it is for a reason, and I want only one thing: to get better and be out of here as soon as possible. You can traumatize me and worsen my symptoms and keep me here too long, or you can work with me to achieve my goal, which should be the same as yours. I don’t see any other alternative.
Pamela S. Wagner
Now, I think that is about as crystal clear as it can be, no? And indeed, Dr Banerjee, my first psychiatrist LOVED it. Said so, and raved about how complete both were, both the PAD and the online medical history which he downloaded, printed out and brought with him to our first consultation. So what happened? YOU tell me! I will write more about what I think happened later. I am still trying to figure it all out.
I was a prisoner at Hartford Hospital’s Institute of Living’s Donnelly 2 South from January 10th until February 7th, 2013, the day before the east coast blizzard, and I only “escaped” because the torturing doctor went on a four day vacation and the substitute decided that I was not actually psychotic any longer and did not need seclusion or restraints after all…and opted to let me go the very day I was freed from both.
Good thing too, because it was a Thursday and all travel stopped the very next day and for several days after that. The picture above is one that Shedana, RN liked very much. She said it captured her “physique” and while the flooring is imaginary, the unit was structured much as it is pictured. At least while I had a bed on the unit, with my door facing the med room and another bedroom opposite. Shedana was a “good egg” but of course it didn’t help when they decided to attack me in force and secluded me for two weeks and worse…But more on that later.
The first doctor I had merely convinced me to take, semi-voluntarily, a fairly stiff dose of Zyprexa. which I tried to do with regularity. I soon found, however, that far from being the miracle drug it had once been, mixed with Abilify and Geodon it induced a state of apathy and boredom. As if the Intake and Feeding drug, the drug on which I used to feel enthusiasm to learn and read, Zyprexa, simply mixed very badly with the Output drugs of Geodon and Abilify, such that I neither could read and learn, nor do art or write. In any event, this abysmal lethargy pushed me out of desperation to paint this, in oil pastels.
After that, I simply started refusing to take the Zyprexa, and refusing a lot of other things…A great deal of abuse happened. But I did this picture before all my art supplies were confiscated for no reason other than punishment (you cannot damage yourself or others with soft oil pastels)
Before I tell you some of what happened, without naming names, lest a legal case be made against them, as there might possibly be a chance to do, let me show you most of the rest of the art I did there, though one of them is unfinished and may never end up being finished, since it was hospital art and may stay that way.
This one is an oil pastel, me with a dung beetle pushing a ball of shit around on my cheek…Says enough just that, doesn’t it.
This one can be turned any which way to see all sorts of things buried in the picture. It was the one I started first and never did get to finish. What I can point you towards is the central object at the very bottom, which you can trace up to the blue figure and see what is happening. It should tell you something…The hand on the upper left is pointing at this process. Also, the exploding biohazard ball is part of it all, representing me, the all-polluting biohazard…But you have to look at the picture carefully. There is a Boat To Nowhere, and there are a couple of turtles, why, I don’t know…yadda yadda.
Finally, the very last time I had access to any art supplies, and I do not recall whether it was my last morning or some other time, I painted this one with oil pastels. I believe it speaks for itself.
What happened was that they were routinely, literally routinely restraining me “for not following directions” as they would quite openly state. Four-point restraints, in a tight no movement position, for many many hours at a time, with absolutely no indication of how, just how, I might “earn” my freedom. Of course they wouldn’t tell me what I could do to “be good” because I hadn’t done anything to ‘deserve” restraints to begin with as they knew perfectly well. For example,. and this was typical, but it was one of the few opportunities I managed to document because they ha removed all my writing materials, illegally, but I forgot that I had a right to a crayon and paper until Feb 6th. That afternoon, I simply walked away from my seclusion room. I had had enough of them saying it was “merely a side room” not a seclusion room, then preventing me bodily from leaving it. So when I could do so without someone actually wanting to fight me, I walked away, and proceeded to enter the unit and walk down the hall to the end and look out the window, I took a deep breath, heard THEM behind me, and sauntered back to the proper end of the hall, the “lost end” where they kept anyone from seeing me or knowing what they were doing to me. Once I got there, they descended on me, the horde of the goon squad, some staff I knew, but most I did not. I did not bother to look at who was doing what to me. I simply lay passively on the bed, and put my arms out so they could do what I knew they would do. Tightly, they shackled my wrists out past my hips so there was no play in the restraints and I could not turn on my side or do anything but lie stiffly on my back. At the same time, others jerked my feet apart and just as tightly shackled my ankles to the lower corners of bed. Then came the coup de grace. They pinioned me on my side somehow, pulled down my pants, and injected me with three drugs: Haldol 5mg, Ativan 2mg, and Benadryl 50mg. Why, except as punishment I do not know. because I had, just a half hour before, been doped up on involuntary Zyprexa 10mg.
But of course it was punishment. The very fact that they told me it was “not punishment” but “what your behavior brings on every time, Pamela” only proves my point. At first and usually they only said, it was because I “didn’t follow directions” so if they were not punishing me, what were they doing? They most certainly were not following Centers for Medicare and Medicaid regulations for the use of Restraints and Seclusion only in cases where a person is in imminent danger or harming self or others! Indeed, the best they could do, when I protested, passively, saying just those words, was to respond, “You are not safe” as if that proved somehow that I was in danger or posed any imminent threat to the safety of anyone.
No, I did not. I didn’t threaten or harm anyone. I merely walked the length of the hall and looked out the window and then went back to my solitary confinement. But it was enough to trigger their retaliation, and that started at 1pm. I was not released, not even to use the bathroom or eat supper, no never even was a single hand freed to permit me to eat supper — until 7pm.
THEN, at 8:30pm, I became upset and frustrated because — well, I do not know now why, but I “threw a half a graham cracker at the wall” as I recorded later. And the goon squad descended on this dangerous patient again, not only with the strait jacket of four point restraints, but with the same 3 drug IM-in-the-ass cocktail.
This time, however, passive as I was as they trussed me up — and I said only, “For shame, for shame. You ought to be ashamed of yourselves, doing this to me…” — passive as I was, allowing them to seize my limbs and tightly shackle me yet again in truth I dared not resist, as that would only have justified their violence, and i already had my share of bruises. Bur I had come to my limit of the abuse i would silently tolerate. They could restrain and seclude me but they had up till now only silenced me in restraints because iu wanted to earn my way free quickly. THis time I didn’t give a damn. It was nearly nine o clock and no one knew what they had done to me. Everyone was getting their bedtime meds and going to bed without any understanding of what was going on. I was a stranger to most people on the unit, who had no idea I even existed. THAT was a situation that had to change. NOW.
After they trooped out of the room, stationing a 1:1 sitter at the door as usual, I stopped my merely silent and passive resistance and started to scream. I wanted to be heard. I wanted to scare people. I wanted them to wonder, Who is that person,. and what in god’s name are they doing to her? Are they torturing her? And I wanted them to ask questions of the staff that the staff could not answer. I screamed and I screams in desolation and despair, feeling like my life was at an end. The plan they had set up for me was impossible for me to live up to. In nearly 10 days I had not even earned my way to a pencil and my journal. Only to restraints and more restraints. I saw no way out of the hospital. So I screamed, long blood-curdling, heart-wrenching screams that I assume did the job of scaring all, as eventually they closed my door, much to the disgruntlement of the sitter who was forced to come inside with me and was no longer free to socialize. But not for a while. I kept on screaming until my voice gave out and I felt asleep.
The next day the substitute doctor freed me, I dunno why or how, but she did. and I thank my lucky stars as the staff doctor was a sadist and never would have. I have a lot more to say, but for now I am hoping to hear from a sympathetic lawyer who will take on my case for some reason for some purpose…Unlikely to happen. despite my bruised body and joints that are so out of whack I cannot sit indian fashion or cross my legs. Why won’t they help me or respond? I didn’t die, so they won’t earn a lot of money from my case, nobody gives a damn about mental patient abuse…
You really know when you are a third class citizen when you only MIGHT be worth more to them dead than alive.
We are what we do. As a society we are what we teach our children to do. And we are no better than what we allow to happen by our inaction, if we don’t act to stop it. Our gun laws permit, nay, they encourage gun use by everyone, they enthusiastically promote gun ownership and usage, and they turn a blind eye to gun ownership and usage by those who should never lay their hands on a toy gun, much less a loaded one.
Guns kill. They are not decorative or ornamental items. They are not collectors items. So let’s not fool ourselves. It may take a human agent to pull the trigger, but it is the bullet from a gun that kills. And get this straight: when a gun kills 20 little kids, it matters not whether the slugs come from a sig sauer, a glock, a .22. or a Saturday night special, what kills is a gun that does the only job it was designed to do.
When it comes right down to it, it is far too easy to kill someone when you have a gun, any gun: if you push or punch someone because you are angry, it is likely that he or she will be bruised, but they will live. It is only when there is a gun attached to your fingers that lethality comes attached as well. GUNS KILL PEOPLE. People using GUNS KILL PEOPLE, but people without guns do not so frequently kill people.
Let’s face it, Adam Lanza would have found it extraordinarily difficult to have murdered 20 children and 8 adults in less than an hour without his two handguns. The guns literally empowered him to do what he did. Without his guns, he would likely not even have attempted such a deed. Guns made him a god to grant and take away life, and in a moment of passion, he decreed that 28 people would lose theirs. Now, I don’t even believe doctors should be playing god, so I am horrified that all it takes is a gun, and Everyman has the power to do what only god should be in charge of.
Check out the website created after the Newtown, Connecticut, kindergarten shooting this afternoon, http://wearebetterthanthis.org, sponsored by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. God bless them, I fully support the Brady Campaign. However, I am not sure we — whoever we are — are truly better than any “this”…Who are we anyway, and what proves that we are actually better than we witness happening around us?
The stats are ominous and more than distressing. And they speak volumes about whether perhaps it’s just a big fantasy, our being any better than the murderers among us.
For one thing, you should know that while there are 34, 589 hardware stores in the United States, there are more than 129,817 licensed firearms dealers as of Aug 2012 . Of those, 51,438 are retail gun stores, 7,356 are pawn shops and 61,562 are collectors. The rest are manufacturers and importers of firearms and destructive devices.
There are also 80,000 ice cream parlors. Ice cream does 18 billion in sales a year, which isn’t bad considering an average ice cream cone costs only between $2 and $4. An average Glock 17, “America’s favorite gun,” costs around $500.00 You do the math and then tell me how easy it will be to convince gun dealers to change their ways…
But right now, why should they bother? Guns are great business! In 2010 the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) ran 16,454,951 background checks for firearms purchases. Only a small number of these purchases (78,211 or 0.48 percent) were denied. During Obama’s first term, and well before it ended, more than 50 million background checks had been run by the NCIS. This was a bonanza for the gun industry compared to the same 3.5 year period under George W Bush, when “only” 28 million such checks — background checks are an index of the demand market — were run. So clearly, if guns in the hands of the wrong people kill, chances are that more guns had to be getting in the hands of more wrong people than ever during the last four years…many many more.
Note that it doesn’t matter how many guns are purchased at one time, there is only one background check per purchase. After that, what you do with the guns and how many you have purchased at one time, is your business and yours alone… Oh and lest you think the so-called “mentally ill” would be screened out by the NCIS background check, think again. Being “adjudicated mentally ill” and barred from buying a gun is not at all the same thing as simply seeing a shrink or even being hospitalized in a general hospital, with or without your consent for 15 days.
I have been kept in a hospital against my will for even longer, but I have not been formally adjudicated mentally incompetent, or if I ever was, now that I am OUT of the hospital, I am no longer considered non compos mentis, and I could buy myself any gun I wanted to.
Frankly, I think that is only right. Why should some angry redneck be able to buy himself a Glock 17 semi-automatic handgun and I, peaceable and very, very unlikely even to pick it up, let alone use it, could not buy a sweet little .22? Furthermore, I would be far more likely to use it ON MYSELF not on others…
This last is a notable case in point, because unbelievably, suicide far exceeded homicide as the cause of gun fatalities at least in 2005. In 2005, 5.75/100,000 people committed suicide with a firearm, whereas “only” 3.43/100,000 people caused firearms homicides in that same year. Since in 2012, the suicide rate has hugely increased, probably due to PTSD in returning veterans, this ratio likely has only increased.
Approximately 34 persons are felled by guns each and every day in the US. According to the FBI Uniform Crime Report, between 2006 and 2010, 47,856 people were slain by gunfire in the U.S., more than twice as many as were killed by any and all other means.
Whether or not the suicidal mentally ill should have access to guns – and just how to prevent it, just how to define who is mentally ill would be a huge problem — I see a bigger problem with an angry man of any stripe being able to purchase a handgun. Anger is a big spur to impulsive behavior and impulsivity and guns decidedly do not mix.
So I ask you: How can we be better than Friday afternoon’s Glockencatastrophe if we buy or permit/encourage the purchase of so many more handguns than ever? We are a gun culture, we worship guns, we hav a national love affair with guns. What do we expect?
You know, one of the first rules of writing fiction is, if you “plant” a gun in the early scenes in a story, it must go off by the end…Similarly, if we have and are a gun culture, who are we not to expect to be a culture of shootings? We have the guns, how can we expect people, both good and bad, not to use them?
During the Newtown shooting, from what I gather, the shooter killed himself after he shot all the 28 other victims…All the high tech and paramilitary heavy weaponry with which the police have equipped themselves did zilch in the end to prevent mass murder. No, 20 small children and 8 adults were quickly and savagely murdered, a horrific act accomplished largely so it appears with two handguns, a plastic and metal glock and a sig sauer. The shooter supposedly had access to a Bushmaster combat rifle it is not clear that he used it for the killings.
Whatever is the case, things will become clearer in the coming days as the police reveal more information.
Perhaps I should be softer and sadder right now, perhaps I should not bring up things like slugs and guns and such at this moment. Forgive me for not wailing and beating my breast or crying but many more are doing that tonight elsewhere, so I am just going to save my breath for rage on behalf of those poor murdered children and the eight others…Any more tears added to that ocean would just be wasted salt and water.
One of the terrible consequences of the APA’s DSM is the Multiple Personality Mayhem that resulted from that fad diagnosis of the late 80s and 90s. I was hospitalized many times in those years, and I was appalled even then at how this once extraordinarily rare diagnosis was suddenly “popping out of the woodworks.” Somehow, multiples, with their putative history of extreme childhood sexual torture, were everywhere. At any time on a psychiatric unit of 18-20 beds, you might see 4 people supposedly suffering from MPD. It was absurd, but try and point that out to the professionals! No, they were much too busy creating very sick individuals out of the whole cloth of their own — the psychiatrists’– minds!
Even at the time I felt very frightened by what was happening, as I understood how difficult it was going to be, when it was all over, for such patients to come to grips with the fact that their disorders were invented for them by the doctors who wanted to have their time in the limelight. Now that the fad is over, where have all the multiples gone? Have all of them been converted to DID — that is, are they still being lied to? or has anyone decided to be honest with them and admit that the Dx was bogus all along, that they never did have MPD or any other such disorder. That their so called multiple personalities were suggested to them by the therapists and invented for them ditto.
It was a horrendous situation, and one that I do not believe anyone has dealt with completely honestly or fully to this day…Of course not. When did you ever meet a doctor, much less a psychiatrist willing to admit he or she made a terrible mistake, or say, I am sorry, I will make amends. Hah. That’ll be the day.
As I have been having a hard time dealing with things, I do art and do art and do art…It is as good a way to cope as any other I suppose. Anyhow, I hope to get back to writing here soon. In the meantime, I am investigating more about temporal lobe epilepsy and schizophrenia/bipolar illness. It seems to me very significant, and at the same time strange that so many people who bear the diagnosis of schizophrenia and/or bipolar are also supposedly burdened with yet another condition that is so tricky to pinpoint, so I may also be posting more about that in the future as well.
The more I read the less I am convinced that schizophrenia, as an entity, exists, one, and two, that if there is any such thing as “schizophrenia” no one has yet figured out what it is. Which is the same thing as saying it is an imaginary/artificial illness. Don’t get me wrong: I am not saying that mental suffering and psychosis do not exist, only that no one has proven, not to my satisfaction, that there is any such illness constellation that can go by the name of schizophrenia and be recognized as such by a preponderance of physicians world-wide… That offers a lot of leeway by the way. I don’t ask for a lab test or even a set of hard signs. Only a reasonable way for psychiatrists around the world to agree on symptoms that constitutes a recognizable disease that is the same thing no matter where you go, just as measles is measles and the flu is the flu…
But there won’t be any agreement, as we know. Because schizophrenia is a cultural construct. It is imaginary and largely meaningless. Except within the society that uses it as a concept in order to disapprove of and stigmatize certain ways of being, speaking or thinking. In that sense schizophrenia is more than just a construct or concept it is a social tool. It is a weapon used to keep people in line. In western society, if one doesn’t keep to the obligatory path, some semi-acceptable social role, the result is the withdrawal of social approvals and the substitution of punishment — think drugs, hospitals, seclusion, restraints — in their place. And yet, in other cultures, the very same “out of bounds” thinking or behavior, rather than being labelled schizophrenic or “crazy” is regarded as the mystic’s path and spiritual, highly regarded rather than anathematized.
This is nothing new. It has been observed before. So why do we keep going back to beating the same old same old drum: “We need better drugs to treat mental illness.” “We need better diagnostic methods to pinpoint mental illness. ” “We need better interventions to help the “mentally ill” who cannot or will not help themselves.”…YOWCH! Yada yada yada. Maybe we continue to bark up the same wrong, wrong, wrong tree. Maybe there is NO SUCH THING AS MENTAL ILLNESS, perhaps all along there has always only been physical illness. Perhaps much suffering, emotional and mental though it may be, is not illness, just part of the human condition, and while we want to ameliorate it, we call it illness at our peril.
What is real? Is anything true and factual? Or are we all just deluded and mad as hatters? This is a serious question.
What I recall and what was written down in my chart about a certain four days in July 2012 are so different it is difficult to figure out whether my experience was fact in any sense of the word or, as “they”claimed, simply paranoid and delusional. Of course there is some truth in paranoia and delusion, since even a paranoid’s beliefs are based in feelings that arise honestly and from a foundation, I firmly believe, in true things sensed but unacknowledged. Feelings always have their own veracity. But whatever the philosophers may say about the fiction of facts, still there is, there must be, something more to the consensual world of what happens than mere perception.
I mean, either that security guard in the Emergency Department last July deliberately attempted to strangle me, or he did not. Either it happened or in some fashion I imagined it. It is that simple, isn’t it? Yes or no, red or green, one or zero. Like a digital configuration, there’s nothing vague about it: either it happened or it didn’t.
There are records. I know what the ones they wrote say, as far as they go. But how to interpret them since so little was written down, and unless my memory is so completely at odds with reality as to have confabulated the entire episode – which by the way, is what they claimed all along – how to explain the discrepancies when so much is not even mentioned. That they whisked my gurney into a seclusion room and assaulted me en masse is my version. In theirs, the room change is noted only in passing, and of the IM medication all that is said is that it was given “NOW”. Nothing else of the incident I recorded in great detail in my journal some days later, and raged about from the first day I was admitted to the day I left. In fact, I’m still outraged, months later.
I wanted to go home, they wanted me to stay. That I was abjectly terrified of being kept there meant to them that I was “paranoid.” I claimed I had no problems and had never been diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder. That was a problem for they had more power than I did as well as my lengthy psychiatric history on their side to prove I must be crazy to make such a claim. Worse, I was loud, demanding, and in my increasing panic, getting angry. They saw my screaming as a threat. Even though I was blind to what was going on, any onlooker could have seen that I could not win and in the end of course I lost mightily.
But let me go back towards the beginning.
It didn’t help that I had arrived at the ED by ambulance and immediately refused to have my “vitals” taken, asserting that I was “fine!” I then accused the nurse of just wanting to get paid for taking them. In short order I was whisked to the so-called “purple pod” where the psych patients were buried for hours until the on-call psychiatrist deigned to come down to see them.
“Here,” someone said, thrusting a hospital johnnie and a pair of pajama pants at me. “Undress and put these on.”
I looked down and saw that I was already wearing pj pants from another hospital. No one ever knew the real nature of what I wore — they simply passed for scrubs — and they were so comfortable that I kept them on day and night. “I’m already wearing pajama pants. I only need to change my shirt,” I said.
“No, you are wearing very nice blue slacks. Now, put on the pajamas, or do you want a couple of strong men to put them on for you?”
“Actually,” I sniped, “they are hospital pajama pants. I pilfered them from –“ and I named the hospital. But I made a show of undoing the snaps so they would see that I was going to comply. The last thing I wanted was anyone touching me or “helping” me undress.
Soon an APRN, came by and I thought, Wow, they are quick here, maybe it isn’t so bad being taken to a big hospital. Maybe I can get discharged from here in no time. Unfortunately, she was there only to do a 15 second “physical exam” that consisted of looking in my mouth and listening to my back with her stethoscope. Period. Pronouncing me cleared for a psychiatric interview, she rushed off to clear someone else. Then I sat on the gurney in my cubicle and waited. And waited.
I remember being cooperative for what felt like a long time. I tried to sleep, and I listened patiently to what was going on around me. I swore that I would simply hold my breath and bide my time until someone saw me, so that, calm, I could present my case and they would see I was safe and sane enough to be sent back home, not admitted or sent to some hospital against my will. But it was taking so long, it was taking hours for someone to see me, and I knew they were doing it to me on purpose. Did they think I, too, was drunk or on drugs just like the others here? I started to complain that I had waited long enough and needed to see someone. I was NOT drunk, did not need to dry out. Where was the doctor? There was nothing wrong with me, I did not need to be here. I wanted to go home!
Things started happening then. Memory fails me however and even the chart, which I just obtained a couple of days ago leaves out way too much. All it says is that I was uncooperative, then irritable, screaming and combative. Meds were “offered”.
I remember this: When I refused to take soul-deadening Haldol by mouth, they descended on me, wheeled my gurney into a solitary room and jumped on me, intending to inject me by brute force. In the struggle, a guard gripped my neck and compressed the arteries, strangling me. I tried to get the nurse’s attention, burbling through forcibly compressed lips that I could not breathe. But her response, attending only to her needles and not even looking at me, was an impatient, “You’re all right!” In a pulse of panic, I jerked away as she started to shove the first needle into my arm.
“Damn!” she cried as a rush of blood spattered us and the needle danced away from my skin. “Hold still!”
I’d hoped to get some respite from strangulation but instead of letting go of me, the guard reasserted his grip on my neck and pressed down harder. I felt the light go black as blood failed to reach my brain. Darkness descended. Sounds grew confused and dim. Suddenly I knew that I could die, that this was how patients had been “accidentally” killed during notorious restraint episodes in Connecticut. I did the only thing I could: I went limp, hoping the nurse would get the injections over with quickly and that the guard would not kill me before she was through.
One, two, and then, astonishingly a third needle punctured my arm. She wiped my deltoid muscle with an alcohol wipe then removed herself from the gurney. “All done,” she said, removing her gloves with a smack and she nodded, indicating the door.
With a cruel leisure, the guard let go of my neck, but he leaned down as he did so and muttered in my right ear: “That’ll teach you a lesson about bringing a JCAHO case against M— Hospital…” Then he and all the others strode out of the room, leaving me alone in what I had already been warned was a soundproof room where you can “scream all you want, but no one will hear you.”
In other circumstances, I would have screamed, soundproof or not, as the door was left open. But nothing was ordinary anymore. A guard – thuggish bully, no doubt a reject from the police academy — paid to protect people, had just partially strangled me in revenge for – what? What had I done to him? My case against that other hospital should have meant nothing to him. But what was clear to me, trying to get a breath and calm myself, was that I was not only not protected in the this ED, I was in mortal danger. I could not scream or rage in outrage, I could not even complain or demand to see a patient advocate. My life was imperiled. Still panting, trembling, in shock, I lay in the semi-dark of that single room and prayed — not to any god, mind you, but simply for my life, prayed to get out of that ED alive. I promised myself that I would not say or do anything “wrong,” would comply with everything they asked from then on in order to survive the night. But it was a long night ahead of me and I had no idea whether or not the guard would come back and finish the job. I was so terrified my teeth chattered. I felt a hollow coldness inside me of unutterable fear. And there was nothing I could do but lie there and hope he did not return.
I did not name the hospitals in the piece above, though I usually do, and I refrained from doing so because I do not know whether what I am going to write now is indeed true or not. But if it is not, then I do not want certain people being alerted to this blog post and reading it and taunting me with “Yehaw, we got away with it!” Read on, and you will see what I am talking about further on.
So as I said, I am in possession of my chart, the entire thing, 60 pp for a mere four day stay in the hospital about which I speak, including an approximately 10 hour stay in the ED. In it, there is absolutely no evidence that anyone ever took me or what I had to say seriously at any time. Everything I said was dismissed as paranoid and delusional, grandiose, disorganized or confabulating. (BTW Confabulate does not mean lying, it means to unintentionally “fabricate imaginary experiences as compensation for loss of memory.” But whatever they thought I was confabulating I have not the faintest idea. Or memory. Alas, the chart says nothing of what I spoke about.)
What has completely upset the applecart is my own statement, written in my journal and elsewhere: “Why on earth would that guard care whether or not JCAHO was involved in that other hospital?” On that thought rests everything, because of course, he had to have cared mightily to have wanted to strangle me for it. Or did he? Did he care, and in fact did he try to strangle me, and did he even say those words in my ear? I am serious.
You have to understand something: Once, years ago, I heard, or hallucinated, hospital nurses announce over the public address system in nearly the same words how they were going to “teach me a lesson” about — whatever it was I had done…and I knew I had heard it, knew I was hearing it at the time, except for the fact that I was on the phone with my sister at that time. I held out the phone in the air so she could hear it too, but she told me she heard nothing, assured me that I was hallucinating. What I described was not only unlikely but so beyond the realm of the likely that she was certain it could never have happened. “Its just your voices, Pammy,” she said, “you have to trust me, you are hallucinating.”
So remembering this, it gives me pause. For why would that guard care about JCAHO and that other hospital in the first or even the last place? What could it possibly mean to him? Security guards are usually hired from outside agencies so his over-involved concern with another hospital’s accreditation suddenly seems to me absurd. And if he did not care, why would he have tried to strangle me? Oh, maybe he did hold me down too hard, and I felt that, yes. But if I could speak, then I know I could breathe, so I was not actually being strangled either.
Perhaps I was simply frightened? And could it be that in fact he never said anything at all? That I “imagined” those words, hallucinated them, and then continued to believe that I heard him say them and that he wanted to kill me, all the time since then? Could it possibly be that some of what the hospital personnel said was true — NOT all of it, but some part of it. That I was in fact hallucinating and delusional? It doesn’t make their behavior right. It doesn’t justify throwing me into seclusion and injecting me with IM meds when I was not a danger to myself or others. It doesn’t even make admitting me to the hospital the proper thing to do in the first place. But, but, but…if I have heard people say things, visible people say things that they simply have not said, when they have not said anything at all, and I know this has been the case, then it is, I admit, just possible that what happened at the ED this summer might be another instance of the same…It pains me to think this. It frightens me to think that I could have been so mistaken for so long.
But what’s more, I worry that I am wrong to believe I might be wrong! That the guard DID say what I think he said, did intend to strangle me, and that I am giving him what he wanted: I am letting him drive me into believing I was/am crazy!
I do not know what to think. And I may never know for certain what happened. Not about this. However, one fact that I can corroborate in the record I am painfully aware I “knew” for months: I was given 3 IM drugs during that episode. Yet you only have to read my chart to see that I was given only 2: Geodon and Ativan. The third drug, Haldol, was canceled immediately after it was ordered. The records clearly state that only the Geodon and Ativan were ever administered. This is so striking an error of memory that it too makes me think again about trusting what I was certain I heard in that terrifying room where they held me down and injected me.
I don’t know what to do with this…I don’t know how to handle it or deal with it. It doesn’t feel good, or give me any sense of relief. I dunno how I feel. Just shocked, I guess. And perturbed, because I don’t know what else I have experienced that never “really” happened.
Thanks to the excellent blog, Dispatches from the Underclass, we have the post above. It is disgusting but true that in some – too many states! – “we” are still executing the most severely mentally ill…
Yes, this is hospital restraint and seclusion – it really happened like this at Middlesex Hospital in 2010 (I am just reprinting it here to reprise it for edification’s sake and because it is relevant.) In fact there were many more personnel and guards involved and more men…I just didn’t know how to draw a crowded scene at the time, so I made it simple!
I admit I was angry. I admit I was loud and irritable. I admit that I may have been perceived as “difficult.” But never once did I make a verbal or gestural threat or even so much as stand on the floor or approach anyone face to face. In fact, for three hours I did nothing but lie on a gurney, quietly, and try to sleep and remain calm, hoping to…But wait. You don’t know the half of it.
Well, if my energy holds out, let me start at the beginning. Except that I do not really recall the beginning, largely I suspect, due to our good friend, Ativan. However, this much I do know: my case manager came to my apartment five days ago after I called her in extremis, just wanting to talk. She offered to come over to see me, which she has done before and left me in better shape than I was when she came. I assented, though I had some doubts about it because she seemed a bit too concerned for my good. I knew I had a writer’s week planned up at Wisdom House again in the NW corner of the state starting this weekend and didn’t want her to push the panic button.
To make that part of the story shorter, push that bright purple button she and an associate did, once they came and found me in a mess, unable to assure them properly that I was not hearing voices telling me to burn myself. Now, my plans were in fact to burn myself somehow, depending on what the voices told me. They had already instructed me to burn my leg that evening. That was partly why I had called the case manager, because I knew I would follow through. I also knew that I could not keep it a secret if I did follow their instructions, which would have ended my vacation plans prontissimo.
But when that other LCSW went out into the hall to use her phone, I knew it was under false pretenses — she said she had to cancel an appointment of hers because she was visiting me but she was clearly lying, I just couldn’t do anything about it. Just as I suspected, she called 911 to summon the police and EMTs. When they came, I objected to going to the ER, but you know of course it was “Pamela, it’s the easy way or the hard way. You are going to the hospital no matter what…” Argh, the usual story.
Worst of all — since I still don’t know whether legally they really had a right to force me — once in the ambulance, when I stated quite clearly that I did not want to go to Hartford Hospital, and this was clearly and prominently stated in my Psychiatric Advance Directive (PAD) of which I had made sure they had a copy, they dispatched me there anyway. When I screamed my objections from the back of the ambulance van they told me that the police had instructed that they could take away all of my rights with impunity. Oooh, I did not know what to do about this, but it put me in an evaporative fury. I simply had no power. Disaster nearly followed, and new trauma most certainly did.
Once in the ER, I was taken directly to the so called “purple pod” — the psychiatric section, and shifted onto a gurney in a curtained-off cubicle, told to change into hospital garb, which I did under duress but before I was forcibly changed by the guards, as was the threat, and was told to lie down and be quiet. I did. I submitted to a physical by an APRN that took 15-30 seconds, after which she pronounced me physically sound, ready for a psychiatric interview. Then I waited. And waited. And waited. The room — the purple pod — began to fill, and doctors and MSWs came and went and talked to people and passed by my cubicle, but none stopped or said a word. I remained silent, still hoping my semi-comatose behavior would bolster my case, earn me a ticket out of the ER without being hospitalized.
Then another woman, middle-edged, bent over from back pain, loudly asked to talk with a doctor, complaining, “I’m tired of waiting! My back hurts!” The response was that she would not get to see Dr So and So until she was sober and the alcohol was out of her system. She returned to her gurney for a time and then again was at the nurses’ station complaining of fatigue and wanting to have her interview so she could get on her way. Once again the same reply.
This jarred me out of my complacency. I grew irritated. Why were they making me wait? I had been there hours already and had not come in drunk or on drugs or anything like it. I had been quiet, submissive, and they just ignored me. Well, I dunno what happened next precisely, but I exploded (but in some sense in a controlled fashion, because I only got down off the gurney once, in order to use the restroom…) Some cropped-haired woman with an official look and a clipboard came by and I started rationally to ask her why I had not been seen yet, and she began an answer. Unfortunately I just barreled on about how I had been waiting hours and was not drunk and not high and, and, and…And well, it snowballed from there because of course nobody at the ER is professionally trained or for that matter paid well enough to care to learn or know how to calm an agitated person down without brutalizing them….This forever surprises me, since surely they must watch TV where such situations are frequently featured.
I take it back, or partly back. They claim to be professionals. They also, get this, several staff members of the ER claimed to have read my PAD, front to back, all 17 pages of it. They volunteered this information. Yet when push came to shove, when I became agitated, which has a PAD page all its own, what happened? Abuse par excellence. First they ganged up on me, a real no-no. Then they screamed back at me. Then they threatened me. One security guard (?nurse or ?aide) actually threatened to “4-point me” just for disturbing his purple pod. As if doing so would quiet me!
“Oh, you dare put me in restraints,” I threatened, “and I will have your ass so fast you won’t know what hit you. Middlesex Hospital tried that and now they are facing JCAHO and the DOJ so just you watch your step!!!!!” He said nothing more about four-point restraints, I can tell you that. BUT, BUT, BUT… they had other retaliatory measures in store for me, because soon thereafter a whole panoply of guards and nurses came barreling into my cubicle and rolled my gurney headlong into a secure room (soundproof and with a door that locked, a guard assured me). There while a female nurse attempted to inject my upper left arm with three drugs, two of which were on my PAD’s “forbidden drugs” list, and others restrained me, two guards viciously compressed my neck. They squeezed down hard especially on the right side, cutting off the blood supply to my jugular and carotid arteries. I knew this, I felt my eyes pop, felt blackness in my head approach. I tried to alert the nurse injecting me, could barely burble through hard-compressed lips, “I can’t breathe!” which was the only thing at the time I could think of that she would pay attention to. That they were choking me was a concept that simply didn’t form in my brain…Tough luck. She just ignored them and me and said, “You’re all right…”
I jerked away from her then, trying to get free from the guards. The nurse yelled at me because I dislodged her needle and started bleeding. But the guards only squeezed down harder, tightening their strangulation grip. I felt certain they really were going to kill me. Then the guard closest to my right ear said something along the lines of, “That will teach you about suing a hospital and getting JCAHO involved…” I feel like I have his words verbatim, but maybe I only recall the gist of them. Whatever he actually said, he clearly harbored enormous resentment about my complaint against Middlesex Hospital and the involvement of the Joint Commission and possibly the DOJ.
When they were through brutalizing me, the guard finally unclenched his fingers from my neck and despite my accusations, they all rushed out of the room, closing the door behind them so no one could hear me. I lay back, stunned, understanding then just how people die during restraint episodes. How close I came to being one of those statistics I can’t venture to guess. “Unfortunate ‘accidents’ happen and nobody is to blame, really, it just happens…” I imagined them saying to my family and friends. At the time it felt like an extremely close call. I knew one thing: what those guards intended, and they intended to hurt me. Perhaps in their angry zeal they would have killed me. They were thugs. They were coarse, vulgar men who had likely been judged unfit for the police academy but still wanted to wear a uniform, have authority and to carry weapons and beat people up. Understanding this and understanding just how much danger I was in was extraordinarily frightening. I do not recall anything else. I must have fallen asleep despite my terror, subdued by the cocktail of drugs I had been given.
The next thing I knew, they were wheeling me onto a psych floor at the Institute of Living, the psychiatric hospital associated with Hartford Hospital. This Once World-Renowned Retreat for the Rich and Famous closed its doors years ago, re-opening with the same name but as part of the city hospital. It now caters largely to Medicare and Medicaid patients like me, which is a 180° reversal. Clearly the staff, at least on the floor where they placed me, care about as much about their patients as their meager salaries/wages pay them to. Which from my fairly minimal (I have been there three times, for brief and uniformly miserable stays) but horrendous experience on Donnelly 3 South at any rate tells me cannot be more than a pittance. Either they are paid too little to give a damn about their jobs, or they are mostly all of them jaded, burned out, control freaks. At a minimum it seems they just want a cushy job and a quiet unit with untroubling patients, drugged to the hilt so they will have no problems to deal with, nothing that a seclusion room and IM meds in the butt cannot handle.
They were not prepared for me, not prepared for someone who had nearly been killed in the ER, one, and two, who really did not want to be in the hospital, let alone in their hospital. I was ornery, bitchy, and, to the maximum possible, was not ready to obey their pissant commands. No I was not. I was a human being, a very intelligent human being whatever else was going on, and they were not treating me with dignity or respect, so I would treat them much the same, or worse…Well, that won me a lot of friends, I can tell you, NOT.
They hated me at Donnelly 3 South, they really did. They despised me and made these feelings very clear, very clear indeed, retaliating and punishing me at every opportunity. It would have been, mightcould have been funny to watch these so-called professional nurses and psychiatric staff behaving so badly, so much like children run-amuck, they were that out-of-control, had I not been so vulnerable and so very much in their power.
But when it came time to force me into a “side room” and try to keep me from leaving it, you better believe they didn’t have an easy target in me. After my experiences in Middlesex and Manchester Hospitals, I have schooled myself on my rights, all my rights vis a vis restraints and seclusion. And you know that Ilet them know in no uncertain terms what the Connecticut statutes are, how seclusion is defined and when a restraint is taking place. How they hated me for this, and hated, oh, they –you know, I really have no word strong enough for the look of razorblades in their eyes when I pointed out that they were not following the most recent Standards of Nursing Care, or worse, how Natchaug Hospital nurses do things better, or how they were using seclusion and restraint when they had no “statutory right” to do so. I think the words “statutory right” both meant nothing – “what the heck is a statute anyway?” I could feel some thinking — and everything to them, and was impressive and frightening because of this. In any event, that look of utter negativity went right through me, as if they wanted to stab my eyeballs with an ice-pick.
Needless to say, however, they managed to use seclusion and restraint on me despite my protests. When I got too noisy for them instead of trying de-escalation techniques of any sort, they proceeded first to lead me into and then to push me back to a so-called “side-room.” When I got out, they forced me bodily pushed me back inside, and closed the door against my protests and verbal preferences, vocalized clearly, to go to the “least restrictive environment” of my bedroom to calm down. That constituted a restraint, and when they would not let me leave that room, it became, as many of my readers will know, by definition a seclusion. Then, when they forcibly held me down for an injection of the three drugs that interact badly in me, and which I had requested specifically not be given to me (alternatives were suggested in my PAD), they abrogated every right I asserted. That in itself constituted a restraint without legal justification, especially since I was nearly sleeping by the time they managed to get the injection ready and no longer even agitated. They had to physically attack me in order to RE-agitate me, to justify giving me a stat dose at all. They kept me in that “side room” guarded by someone all night.
As I freely admit, I was horrible to them, a witch, a bitch, a harridan, but they never once behaved with any professionalism, or tried any of the calming, de-escalation strategies that I suggested in my Psychiatric Advance Directive. Oh, they had a wonderful comfort room, pretty much perfect, but for the lack of a padded floor and muralled wall. But I myself had to ask to use it; it isn’t as if they offered the use of it or suggested that I return to it when agitated. In fact, they seemed pretty cagey about it, acted as if I might possibly want to “over use it” and said I could stay for a “little while.” And when the radio broke down, who gave a damn enough to find one that worked when I returned the broken one, or to get me a weighted blanket when I wanted one. I sat in the comfort room’s therapy chair — arranged backwards so you couldn’t use it to rock yourself by pressing your feet against the wall the way it is supposed to be used! Because it was cold in there (yeah, the other big problem) I asked for a blanket, the aide/tech who found me one walked partially into the room and then threw it at me! Not casually for me to catch, mind you, but at me. As if I weren’t worth the time, trouble, or effort for him to hand it to me. I don’t know what he was thinking, or not thinking, but it seemed clear that at least at that moment he didn’t give a damn about his job. Or perhaps he was sending me a message about personal dislike, which would have been incredibly unprofessional, but what can I say? It has happened before…What a soulless bastard.
If anyone out there reading this is a psych tech or nurse or employee at a psych unit or institution, you should know or must learn that matters like the blanket business, however puny they seem, do matter, they matter a lot. Never at Natchaug Hospital would anyone, tech or nurse or even attentive housekeeper dream of throwing a blanket at a patient, not in bed or in a chair or a therapy chair. No one would throw anything at a patient, not even a tissue, and most certainly not in anger or a fit of pique. Not even in momentary thoughtlessness. No, if a patient needed or wanted a blanket at Natchaug Hospital, it would be gotten, often warm from the drier, opened up and carefully draped just so over the patient’s body.
This has a huge effect and makes a massive difference largely because it is indicative of the fact that Natchaug actually has a philosophy they work with and behave according to, not one of words they just push through their teeth and get lipstick stains on. Almost always at Natchaug the staff member would cover the patient and only leave the room after making sure that same patient was comfortable. The blanket-bringer would know or have been carefully tutored that the job description included an attitude of wanting patients to be happy and to get well because Natchaug believes a troubled person can only get well when well taken care of.
You’d think, and certainly would want each and every psychiatric hospital to operate on such humane and compassionate principles, wouldn’t you? Alas, at least in Connecticut, Natchaug Hospital in Willimantic is definitely the Hope Diamond exception to what remains very much a charcoal rule. Hartford Hospital’s Institute of Living? I wouldn’t rate it much above coal dust.