Tag: Mental Illness

Dispatches from a Life-Long Government Employee and Conservative

 

One of the common themes on the right is that the government cannot do anything right, that government programs are wasteful and that they always provide poor services. There are many examples to point at, such as the VA, Public Schools, and the like. The general attitude is that government workers are lazy, have poor attitudes, and are generally no good.

I would like offer a counter to the conservative write off of all government workers and programs. This is not to say there are not many things that need to be trimmed. It is to say that blanket statements might not be accurate. Let me start with what my organization does.

Member Post

 

The New York man who slashed a woman’s face just hours after being released from the mental hospital has inspired legal action.  This victim is suing New York City for releasing him from his hospital too soon, knowing that he was violent.  The hospital countered that he was on his appropriate medications and was no longer […]

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Member Post

 

“There are bugs in my apartment”. That is what John told us as we stood outside looking at his couch in the dumpster. We had found it for him maybe three months prior. It was not new, but had been a good find. Now it had been cleaned with bleach, which had destroyed the upholstery, […]

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Evil, or Insane?

 

We know the motivations of the man who murdered two of his former colleagues in Virginia; he left tweets and a manifesto. What we’ll never really know is why he did it.

There is an unfortunate tendency today to explain away evil. Sometimes, it’s misattributed to home conditions; sometimes socioeconomic conditions; sometimes mental illness. But in this case, there are some clues that the killer may have actually been mentally ill. First, there’s the overwhelming and worsening paranoia. There’s also the voice from God that told him to kill.

Helping the Families of the Mentally Ill

 

On June 4, Representative Tim Murphy (R., PA) re-introduced the Helping Families In Mental Health Crisis Act. He has been trying to get the bill passed since December 2013. It has received significant bipartisan support, and now has 77 Republican and 38 Democrat co-sponsors. My representative Frank Guinta (R., NH) is a co-sponsor. Last month, my wife traveled to Washington, D.C., with E. Fuller Torrey’s Treatment Advocacy Center to lobby for it.

I knew something was wrong when my wife started shaking uncontrollably. “We told you this would happen!” she managed to say into the phone, her voice breaking. It was a few years ago, in late in November. A state social worker had just called her to inform her that her brother had stopped taking his medication for schizophrenia. He had disappeared. No one had any idea where he was.

Evil and the Conservative Mind

 

shutterstock_59006443I lost an argument the other day. It wasn’t one of those arguments that you lose because you didn’t care or because you didn’t try. It wasn’t an argument that you lose for a lack of articulation or for an inability to make others see what you see. It was the sort of argument that you lose simply because the law wasn’t on your side. That’s a difficult loss to take, and trying to sleep that night, exhausted and alert, as if shouting as loud as I could in an attempt to locate silence, I knew it was a problem for which I would find a solution only years after the opportunity had passed. Immediately after the argument, I stepped out and took a little walk with my client, a 14 year old girl, just to get her away from all the commotion of the courtroom. We talked about a lot of things, and anticipating conflict ahead, I told her of the principle of charity, to interpret every word spoken in the best possible light, to grant what good she could find, and to always argue tactics over intentions; she smiled and thanked me for helping her to get away from everyone.

Some time ago, a woman stared at me from a plastic chair across a table. We sat in a concrete room, her in an orange jumpsuit, and me in the usual suit and tie; the 4×4 table took up roughly 80% of our allotted space, with the rest adequate only for ingress and egress maneuvers. I tried what every other adult in her life has attempted, but was wholly unable to cut through the actual mental illness, the influence of her peers, whatever residual effects of drug use, and the ignorance of youth, to convince her that those people around her – the people she tells me she hates because they just want to control her and pretend like they know what’s best when she knows perfectly well what’s best – really do want to help her, and they really can help her, but only if she accepts that help. She got out of juvi and ran back to the gang whose insignia is tattooed across her back, where she trades sex for money and drugs, or is used herself as currency; but they also recognize mental illness, and where risperidone is replaced with beatings, eventually, the only solution is a permanent one.

Another solution would be forced medication with non-amphetamines, involuntary commitment, placement in a locked facility of the sort that got a bad name during a time when people seemed to acknowledge the existence of evil, and the occasional necessity for its ranking in order to settle upon the lesser of two. Today, I’m not sure what exactly we’re thinking. There are a few old mainstays when it comes to thoughts about insane asylums; the guy who thinks he’s Abraham Lincoln, the guy who thinks he’s Jesus, the guy who thinks he’s Caesar. They lived within padded walls for the very demonstrable reality that they were not, in fact, who they claimed to be. Today, we take a man who believes he’s a woman, and we give him hormones, silicone implants; we mutilate his body so that he will look like a bad caricature of the woman that he is not, has never been, and will never be. We don’t yet sew on beards, paste artificial moles, supply tophats, and house our country’s many Mr. Lincolns at the white house… but it isn’t entirely clear to me why we should change the word “delusion” to “personal reality” only in some cases and not others. And if we require that men’s bathrooms accept the short-haired, flannel-clad, woman with a chemically induced soul-patch and a silicone replica penis, why don’t we require Graceland to admit that guy down on 40th who sincerely believes himself to be Elvis? He’d certainly be more comfortable there.

In Sickness and In Health

 

shutterstock_190123037In an article I recently posted about divorce, someone commented that breaking up is the best option if you’re dealing with mental illness: “While you can be legally married to someone that is mentally ill, you cannot actually be married to them. This is because marriage is a “peer” relationship and you cannot have a peer relationship with someone that is (or even claims to be) mentally ill. You are forced into a ‘caretaker’ relationship with that person. I recommend that you accept that you are divorced in fact, and get divorced legally. Then get on with the business of having a happy life.”

Setting aside any situation that involves abuse (both physical and emotional), dealing with someone who is mentally ill takes strength, courage, and longsuffering—character traits most of us don’t have in abundance. It also takes sacrifice. That is never easy. 

Like the commenter said, when your spouse suffers from a mental illness (or any long-term illness), your marriage has changed. It’s no longer two people giving equally; you have become a caretaker— giving and often receiving very little in return. The result can be discouragement, exhaustion, and hopelessness (and that’s if the mentally ill person recognizes their condition and is getting treatment; it’s an entirely different story if you’re dealing with someone who is mentally ill and refuses to get help).