Let the conversation begin.
How Many Calls to State Highway Patrol Does It Take to Raise Red Flag During Psychotic Break Down to Avoid Not Only Jail Time But Near Death Experience? Social Justice for Mentally Ill Nowhere In Sight
Hope Xchange Nonprofit welcomes and thanks guest post writer whose name is withheld to protect the innocent in an ongoing battle in a mental health court for social justice. A true bipolar warrior mentored in our Hope for Bipolars program by Kerry Martin, CEO and Founder, she bravely shares her story with us.
First Call to 911 - State Highway Responds Or Is This Really the Appropriate Response?
People were concerned enough with what I was doing during a psychotic break down that they called 911 in a span of less than 12 hours of me traveling south on a major highway. The State Highway Patrol responded. Or did they?
The first call was when I stopped in a major city at the Northernmost part of the state where I live. This state by the way almost ranks last in financial help for people with mental illness.
So here I am at a rest stop, coming home from 6 week training in acting, movement, voice, and scene study.
It was a beautiful morning. There was a picnic area way in an area of the rest stop that was gorgeous and completely empty. I started my movement practice, breathing, aware of my posture, crawling, and swooping. All these practices could look crazy, but it's what my classmates and I had done breaking down self awareness and ego. Then breathing and concentrating on the Alexander Technique: breathe in, shoulders melting into my chest, breath out, breath in, neck melts into my shoulders, breath out.
Then something changes. My hypomania switched to psychosis. I was confident that the chips were in place in me, that the captain was speaking to me and giving me directions on what I needed to do next. It was the same kind of direction that the master teacher gave during the classes, but there was no master teacher and I was the only person running around.
I had walked in the woods area, crept low, ran across to the trees, making certain that I was fast and agile. The training leaders were watching in the camper that had pulled up to witness the excellence I was showing. I was reminded how I had won the Physical Fitness Award several years at my school and somewhere in my brain I thought that those tests were just the beginning for the government to pick the fastest, strongest, most intelligent, agent, me.
I had run alongside of the cars that were parked across from the woodsy area and stopped in front of a black mustang. I stood right in front of the car believing that this car, that all the cars and trucks were part of the training. Then the State Police came up. I believed that this too was part of the training.
Could I remain calm and share with this officer what I was doing without tipping my hat to led him to believe I was doing something else than what I told him?
He asked for my license. I gave it to him. He told me that someone had called and said that I was running all around the woods and in front of parked cars. I shared with the officer that I had just finished an acting intensive in New York and that I was doing a Yoga practice that they had taught me.
I wonder what would have happened if I wasn’t so believable. If I didn’t present so “well”? If somehow that officer knew I was out of my mind and brought me to the hospital? But he didn’t. And I don’t blame him.
I am quite convincing when I am delusional because I believe whatever it is that my sick mind is trying to convince me. When he drove away I felt I had passed that part of the test, the training. That somehow I was being prepared for whatever mission they were preparing me for.
Second Call to 911 - Officer Lets Me Go On My Way Despite Reported "Odd Behavior"
Then I went to the restaurant a couple of hours later. Someone called the cops because I was once again wandering about. I wonder if the police officer that came and asked for my identification got any information that I had been questioned a few hours earlier in another city of my state?
When he called my name in was there a concern because this was the second call now of odd behavior of a woman who “looked” normal? I do not blame this officer at this time either. I don’t believe there is “blame” but there is a question about what happened the third time.
Third Call to 911 - Same Officer Who Responded Second Time Now Requests I Leave His County
The third time 911 was called, the same police officer that answered the second 911 call came when I was in front of a different chain restaurant. I had been emptying out my coolers and waving hello to the drivers who were exiting the drive thru.
The officer told me that I needed to leave the property. I asked him if there were any public parks I could go to empty my coolers and he said you could go on the highway and pull over to the side of the road.
He said he didn’t care where I went but I needed to leave the county.
Aftermath of Being Told to Leave the County: Psychotic Break Leads to Car Accident Where Innocent People Could Have Died
It was after getting back on the parkway that I truly believed that there were government vehicles escorting me out of that county. And somewhere between there and where the accident occurred, I was convinced that I was back to the training program and I was to follow the lead driver which I did so faithfully, that I drove right past my exit.
The accident happened 45 minutes past where I should have gotten off.
The police report says that driver involved in the accident called 911 twice saying that I was following him at a very close range. The car that I was following stopped short and I hit him. The police did not put that in the report. They said that I said God told me to hit the car and they arrested me for battery of the car and reckless driving.
I could have died in the car accident. My car was totaled. It rolled over three times down an embankment. My car and I landed upside down before I crawled out. The guy who stopped short, who I hit, drove off the parkway and waited for police to go back to the scene of the accident.
My friend found out he was arrested in 2013 for carrying a concealed weapon without the proper paperwork. She said he also was in the cement business, was Italian and lived in a pretty wealthy city. She thought he might be connected to the mob and believes that I’m lucky he didn’t turn around and shoot me. Lucky is not one of the adjectives I would use for my life or this situation.
Wouldn't It Be Humane to Bring Me to Mental Hospital Not Jail Given I Was Clearly Psychotic?
I was put in an ambulance and taken to the ER. I told them I was bipolar, that I had been sober for 27 years and that I took Lithium. They took my blood levels and my lithium level was 0.3 or something. It should have been at least 0.5. I was put in handcuffs and then brought to jail.
This I don’t understand. Even if I said what they said about God telling me to hit the car, about me following the car, about 911 being called three times hours earlier in the day, wouldn’t it be only humane and just to bring me to a mental hospital?
Another question that baffles me is why wasn’t I offered mental health court right from the beginning? None of these things happened. I was in jail for 6 days and only was able to bail myself out because four women in the cell helped me dial the phone. I had a concussion with three staples in my head. I was delusional. I was released from jail. I was now confident that the police wanted me dead because of everything that had happened. I was traumatized and continued to get sicker.
More Jail Time As Police Continue to Misread Clear Signs and Mistreat Mentally Ill - How Clear Does it Have to Be?
I did not show up for court. I had a rental car and I believed that the satellite of the car was being manipulated because the radio kept going on and off and my seat kept moving without me touching anything. When I get delusional I do not “see” things that aren’t there. I don’t hallucinate. I do believe things like there are radio waves that are trying to electrocute me, but I don’t hallucinate. Not ever. Not yet anyway.
My friend Jack had tried to stay with me all week to make sure I made it to court at the end of August. But the night before I was to go to court I was confident he had switched sides and was now an enemy, not a friend. I got in my rental car and drove north for about an hour. I hit a curb and called 911 and the police came and towed my car with my phone, my license, credit cards and money in it. So I had no phone, no ID and very little money.
I walked for miles to the bus terminal, eventually getting to downtown. I got into another rental car and could not find my way home. There was another 911 call when I had gone to a gas station and started emptying out my car. I had someone take my picture and left the gas station.
When I was driving I saw a storage place and turned the car around and went into the storage place. A police car followed me in. He asked for my ID and two more cop cars pulled up. I didn’t realize that everything was being videotaped from the storage place video camera. One of the police cars was a K-9 unit. They let me go, again.
I wound up going to a city where my older brother lived. I had not slept more than an hour or two for weeks. I left my brother’s house and got lost in his subdivision. I called the nonemergency number to help get out of the subdivision. Two patrol cars came up and they arrested me. They said there was a warrant for my arrest for not showing up for court.
Two days later I was transferred to the city where the warrant was based. When I got there they put me in isolation for ten days. They took all my clothes and put me in this thing they call a turtle outfit. It had velcro on the shoulders. They refused to give me my medication and tried to give me Valium. I told them I am sober. They said you’re getting the valium because you are detoxing. No I’m not I said.
My friend had called the State Attorney and asked why I was in isolation and they said that I was suicidal which I was not. I was released after I paid my bail and had been in jail for 21 days. Now, a total of 28 days in jail.
Why wasn’t I offered mental health court? Why wasn’t I brought to a hospital and not jail. When I went to court last week why did they revoke diversion and set a date for trial? Why did they say they were going to push my misdemeanor up to a felony? Why were they forcing mental health court on me now?
I write. I pray. I cry. I wait.
I went to see my doctor because I was thinking about going inpatient in the hospital because of all the stress this was causing me. She suggested I speak to my lawyer. The public defender said that he was not going to be my public defender after November 7. That if I go into a hospital and don’t show up for court there will be another warrant for my arrest. And then he said if I went into the hospital that I needed to make sure Mental Health Court could call me in the facility. Forget it I thought. There is no way that I am taking a chance to miss the MHC call or miss court.
Note from Kerry Martin to my mentee and brave guest post writer: Some living with bipolar disorder who encounter social injustice let incidents beyond their own personal control destroy them (because their strength was beat out of them during childhood and the system through no fault of their own) while others emerge from these struggles stronger. I refer to this latter group as bipolar warriors.
While I believe caring, compassion and love (yes, love) can help those who are not yet warriors, our guest writer came to me in need of mentoring already a warrior albeit even warriors at times need to be reminded they are strong. They too deserve caring, compassion and support, as we all do.
To her, I wish to say how proud I am to be her mentor. Fight on my friend and know I will always be in your corner. Focus on the light at the end of the tunnel - the light of justice. We will get you there and bask in its warmth together. #FightOn #ShineOn.