Thursday, June 18, 2015


I have written about mental illness on more than one occasion. It is an issue that is very close to my heart. I was so pissed off in December of 2013 when Congressman Tim Murphy introduced a bill for sweeping reform of the way we treat those among us who need us most, those living with diseases of the brain. A room that looked like this when he took the podium upset me in ways I can't even explain. Or, maybe I did, in the rant that accompanied these photos in my post dated Friday, the 13th of December, 2013.

Congressman Murphy took heat for a bill that made sense. A competing bill was introduced. It was a game of political wrangling. And money. Big money. SAMHSA, the government agency that oversees all, does not have one person with a background in psychology or psychiatry running things. That is just one of many issues. They system is broken. It's complicated. People have rights. HIPAA protects all but in the case of mental illness, families and loved ones play important roles.

What is needed is a logical, well thought out, reasonable plan which is what was presented by the congressman. He wants to make sure the needs of all are addressed and taken into consideration in what must be sweeping reform because as it exists, the system is not acceptable. That three jails have been listed as the largest "mental health facilities" in this country is wrong on so many levels. That those with serious mental illness have such limited treatment options and then, when horrific episodes play out on our televisions, the pundits ask, "How did the family not know?" I will reply for all. The family DID know. Oftentimes, the family begged for help. The unthinkable happens and suddenly, the family, who is handcuffed by HIPAA, is shouldering the blame with their own broken hearts.

Congressman Murphy has reintroduced the Helping Families In Mental Illness Crisis of 2015 Act. It is known as HR2646 and you can encourage YOUR member of congress to support this important legislation. I'm asking. Please. To those who might be inclined to resist, I encourage you to read what is posted below, written by my very dear friend who is One Grateful Mom, for today. If a person does not know they have a mental illness, they lack insight. For those who are functioning, those who can and do manage their illnesses on their own, no one is trying to usurp those rights.

Despite the repeated attempts by Congressman Murphy to explain that the needs of those who deal with something called anosognosia (and their family members) must be addressed, nothing changes. We can't have things play out as before: heels were dug in, party lines were drawn in the sand, persons with this lack of insight became volleyballs as frustrated, concerned, worried family members sat on the sidelines to watch this game of beach volleyball, many looking at that vast ocean beyond with a feeling that they were drowning. Many of the loved ones who do possess insight live with a crippling terror that their loved ones will hurt themselves.

This can't happen during this congressional session. Congressman Murphy has made it clear. Tell him what you don't like and let's find ways to make it acceptable for all. It doesn't get much more reasonable than that. His motives seem to be driven by a genuine desire to see change. Find your representative here. Ask them to support this bill. Email, tweet, FB message, CALL. 

I leave you with the words of my very dear friend. Her son, a young man I've known since he was a little boy, was diagnosed with schizophrenia. He suffered a traumatic brain injury in a serious car accident where he was in a medically induced coma for a number of days. Was that the trigger? Would he have developed schizophrenia anyway? The answers to those questions are important for research purposes, but for a mom, they matter little. What does matter? His life. The quality of his life. His mom learning to live with shattered dreams that we all have when we cradle our children in our arms as infants and as we watch them grow.


It’s the second Wednesday of the month and a wave of peace surrounds me.  I am happy, simply content.  No, I haven’t hit lotto or retired, but it seems to always be the best day of the month for the past year.   You see, my son gets his injectable medication on that day, a miracle for a man of 33 years old, who has suffered much and yet still has no insight into his mental illness and most probably never will.

Years of watching him take meds, dreading the climb upstairs to his bedroom with the pills and water, his anger and resentment, the name-calling, and worst of all, the look on his face as he swallowed what he perceived to be poison from his mother is gone for today.

The threat of another assisted outpatient treatment order has been enough to keep my son diligently taking an injectable medication. In fact, he has moved out of my home, works 3 days a week and is more independent than ever before.

It is not perfect.  The schizophrenia remains, but with the injectable there is much less angst and fewer symptoms. Sadly, he is only agreeing to the treatment until the “AOT” people are off his back.  But without his first assisted outpatient treatment order, he would still be battling the demons on the walls, and the streets, believing they were real and that I was somehow behind his suffering.  He attends no programs since for someone with anosognosia (lack of insight) they simply made him angrier.  How could he listen anymore to the lies they told?  Why did he have to waste 5 years with people who are sick and need help when he is healthy and educated?  No, despite their dedication to help those with mental illness, PROS programs did not help my son’s anosognosia.  There he learned to lie about having insight so that he would never have to return.  What worked was an injectable medication administered once a month.
But today I’m not thinking about any of this.

It’s the second Wednesday of the month and I am so grateful.  No longer do I dream about his successful business career or the family he might have had.  But, make no mistake, I still dream – a simple one - that he goes to the doctor and gets the injection because with it, he has a life.  With that injectable, he smiles and hugs me.  I know it won’t last, but for today I am one grateful mom.


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