My previous two posts on the sad state of mental health services has inspired my friend Lee to share some of her experiences of life with her son. It is important that people talk about these issues and get it out into the open. There should be no shame attached to mental illness. Thanks Lee.


Out to get you… out of your mind

by Lee K Curtis

We can’t make you get help. You’re over 21, an adult capable of making your own decisions. But you’re not. You’re a paranoid schizophrenic, convinced that we’re all out to get you.

Your father is not your father. Your mother is not your mother, you claim. You arose from spontaneous generation?

We want to help, really we do. Sadly you must prove yourself gravelly disabled, or a danger to yourself, or to others. THEN we can help you, if it’s not too late.

So we wait. Two years, nine months and sixteen days later we have finally accumulated enough evidence. I sign an affidavit at the County Attorney’s office.

The cops break down your door and climb over mountains of garbage to get at you. They drag you away to the psych ward.

You barely weigh 100 lbs. A fungal rash crawls across your face and down neck. Your knee is swollen from sitting in one position for too long. Your vitamin D levels are critically low. No sun for my son.

We can’t force you to take meds without the judge’s order. You shuffle into the courtroom in shackles, accompanied by a police officer. It’s routine, I am told.

The procedure is purely a formality. Everyone can see you are a tortured soul in need of help. You are ordered to take medication and returned to the ‘behavioural unit.’ Talk about an oxymoron.

You are still sure we’re all out to get you. Our numbers are increasing. You’ll show us. Swallow the pills then puke them up. Three weeks later there is no change.

The doctor catches on and draws blood. No meds in your system. So they inject them. The demons begin to fade.

The bad thoughts have been with you so long you’re scared to be without them. They are familiar. Who will you be without them, you wonder? A good man with good thoughts, I believe.

12 thoughts on “‘Out to get you – out of your mind’

  1. Yes GB, such a difficult issue. Individual choice V perceived individual need, with public safety concerns as a catalyst for (often) inappropriate detention.

    I have one of those, and like Lee K Curtis, I have had to face the fact that chances are, our heroes will walk and each time he/she walks, the easier it becomes for those on both sides of the divide to get on with life without the other. Hope remains but it is a battered forlorn hope.

    1. I’m sorry to hear that Stafford, but thanks for commenting. It is a very complex and difficult issue but a good starting point is adequate resources from the Government so we can really get a grip on the problem. At least the situation has improved from what it was in the dark old days of lock them up and forget them (which sadly still happens in many parts of the world).

  2. that is intense, gabrielle. took my breath away. and presents challenging questions on both sides, however, the end result here is restored clarity for the suffering person, but what a difficult conundrum to be able to solve and how the process is backlogged so it takes just too long to get things happening, its important these things are brought forward, put on the table so to speak.

  3. What heartache for a parent to see their child slipping away from them. So many raw emotions involved & evolve through the tangle of getting through to the other side of clarity. Let us hope mental welfare gets the funding it so badly needs.

  4. I can relate to this. The emotion is so raw that I don’t quite know what to say. My parents put me in a psychiatric clinic when I was 20. I really was out of my mind but it was the way I had been for such a long time that I was terrified of who I would be afterwards. The whole experience – before and during – was like being in hell while still alive. Part of me is still numb as a result and it’s over 25 years later. But I am glad it happened and that my parents took charge. To be frank, if they hadn’t, I know I would have taken my own life.

    Thank you,Lee. This is an issue of such importance I can’t quite find the words. Thank you.

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