Tag Archives: mental illness

Signs of Life: Mental Health, Guns, Storms and just… Why?

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Signs of Life #1.

My first serious watercolor pencil painting, but also a statement for 2012.

With all the DEATH, where are the Signs of Life?  Signs of Life #1

Traditionally, this is the time to run through the highlights of the past year. Vacations, accomplishments, major milestones, etc. We’ve had those. Nuri graduated from Law School and officially got engaged. Yeah! We went on vacation on Emerald Isle with Brian’s extended family. My own little version of Hell. Kat graduated from college and unofficially got engaged! Yes! Andy bought his own house. Dang! Nik got his first professional photography job. Huzzah! My Dad is doing great and is our new dog Disa’s enthusiastic walker and caretaker.

Obama got re-elected!!

My family’s Signs of Life.

None of us have been direct victims of the disasters of 2012. Drought, Hurricane Sandy, 5 horrendous mass shootings, Republicans. (OOpps, that just slipped in…) None of us got Lyme Disease, flu, had a heart attack, broke bones, killed in war. We have roofs over our heads, make enough money to pay for food and transportation. Nik had major surgery on his jaw and it went extremely well. We’ve managed to hold off Chuck the cat’s cancer for almost a year with 3 successful surgeries.

We have been so incredibly lucky.

On the other hand, some of us are in rough situations like millions of our fellow citizens. Two members of my family have no medical insurance. One is disabled. One has no job and one only has a part-time job. One depends on Food Stamps and Medicaid. Two can’t afford the physical and mental healthcare they need. Our family income has been steadily decreasing over the last 4 years, so my hubby and I can’t help the kids the way we’d like. My father has had to help with Nik’s medical bills.

We’re all still alive in our own homes.

Which is more than many families can say. So many have been hit by one of the series of man-made tragedies that characterized most of 2012.

Drought, Hurricane Sandy, 5 horrendous mass shootings, Republicans.

Global warming. Drought. A new Dust Bowl?

Hurricane Sandy. Global warming. Rising sea levels. Greedy developers and people in denial building densely on fragile barrier islands and wetlands, subsidized by Federal Flood Insurance and mortgage deductions for 2nd homes. Many insisting on rebuilding, lulled by false reassurances from pseudoscientists paid by the global warming denial lobby. Loss of life SO minimal in comparison to Typhons hitting the Philipines and monsoons in Bangladesh, but trust Americans to feel whiny and sorry for themselves.

Republicans. Pfff…. IQ-challenged toadying Tea Party minions without an original thought among 12 of them. Their fear & lie-soaked divisive campaign polarized the nation in a way not seen since the Civil War. I’ve wasted enough words on them.

This past Friday, there was the most horrific mass murder in  my memory in the United States.  I say “in the United States” because mass casualties regularly occur around the world at the hands of our government, religious fanatics, rogue regimes and greedy corporations. Even in the US, deranged killers have shot more people at one time.

For months, we’ve been hearing about a shooting in the parking lot, in a movie theater, in an emergency room, in family homes, in houses of worship. Never was it time to “talk about gun control”. The US has the highest rate of violent gun crimes in the developed world. Mindblowingly high. Our elected officials have no interest in tackling the issue. By the time I heard about the guy in the hockey mask shooting Christmas shoppers in a mall, I was getting “death-by-semi-automatic-assault-rifle-toting madman” fatigue.

But then came the children.

20 six and seven-year-olds and 6 brave adults trying to save them.

The media feeding frenzy started as soon as one of them picked up a disturbance at the school on the police scanner. “School shooting” I heard. Yawn. Another crazy high school kid. “Elementary school shooting” Ears perked, but, eh, probably a guy shooting his wife in the parking lot. “Teachers shot and unknown number of student casualties” Got my attention.  “Sandy Hook. kindergarten rooms. unknown number of children killed. SWAT team. Shooter dead”. Oh. My. God.  He’s shot the babies!

You never want to see these at your kid’s school:

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And you certainly don’t want to see this:

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So in their wisdom, the media are now providing us with headlines like:

“Mental health care in U.S. questioned amid another tragedy” ,

dealing with the mental health aspect of the Sandy Hill school shootings, pleas to not blame autism, and

“What Drives Suicidal Mass Killers”

from the NY Times, a thoughtful article detailing the convergence of factors that often lead a very sick young man like this one  to commit atrocities. Boy, no one’s ever suggested better mental health care might prevent a mass shooting, eh, VA Tech??

However, most articles focused on the gun control aspects, in about a 1:6 ratio (just a loose estimated ratio based on 5 major news sites):

“Has life in America gone insane?” ,

“Put reason back in America’s gun debate”

and one of the most important:

“Do We Have the Courage to Stop This?” ,

from the NY Times, includes this salient information:

Other countries offer a road map. In Australia in 1996, a mass killing of 35 people galvanized the nation’s conservative prime minister to ban certain rapid-fire long guns. The “national firearms agreement,” as it was known, led to the buyback of 650,000 guns and to tighter rules for licensing and safe storage of those remaining in public hands.

The law did not end gun ownership in Australia. It reduced the number of firearms in private hands by one-fifth, and they were the kinds most likely to be used in mass shootings.

In the 18 years before the law, Australia suffered 13 mass shootings — but not one in the 14 years after the law took full effect. The murder rate with firearms has dropped by more than 40 percent, according to data compiled by the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, and the suicide rate with firearms has dropped by more than half.

Or we can look north to Canada. It now requires a 28-day waiting period to buy a handgun, and it imposes a clever safeguard: gun buyers should have the support of two people vouching for them.

Most of the standard crazies came out of the closet:

Despite the report that Rupert Murdoch Wants Stricter Gun Laws After Newtown (he was Australian, after all), Roger Ailes, the head of Fox News “Doesn’t Get the Memo” and “David Clark, the executive producer in charge of Fox’s weekend coverage, gave producers instructions not to talk about gun-control policy on air. “This network is not going there,”” If you don’t talk about it, it doesn’t exist in the FOX universe, which lets you know they’ve stalled at the developmental stage before object permanence.

Cynicism runs rampant:

“Sorry, But Don’t Expect Any Change After Newtown”

“[America is] a country in which citizens own roughly 200 million guns, roughly one third of the entire planet’s supply. Ownership is allowed by the Second Amendment to the Constitution, even though a 10-year-old would interpret that the right to bear arms was directly connected to the forming of a militia. The Second Amendment is not as much a legal right to bear arms as it is a psychological crutch for our great American narrative of toughness. Don’t expect great change.”

Might it be different this time? President Obama vows to see that this never happens again a priority. NYC Mayor Bloomberg has pledged to use as much of his fortune as it takes to change laws. Even previously rabidly pro-gun lawmakers are unabashedly admitting no one actually needs a semi-automatic assault rifle.

Maybe they’ve heard. Maybe they’ll listen. Maybe they’ll do something. Maybe the things they’ll do will actually make a difference.

Stranger things have happened.

A Tree Grows cartoon fuzzy

In my picture “A Tree Grows” (cartoonized Version),

roots of a stunted, neglected tree reach through broken sidewalk toward the sun.

Swans & Kings & 3-D Hornets, OH My! (Part I: Swans)

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I’m in the midst of movie overload. I can’t remember the last time I saw 3 movies in the theater in the space of 5 weeks. That 2 of them were “grown-up” movies is just a bonus. So this post is the first of a 3-part series.

Hubby dragged me, with some friends from work, to see “The Black Swan”.  I knew nothing about it except there was a ballerina, a white swan & a black swan. Not a movie I’d have chosen on my own. Didn’t know I was in for a wild ride…

What a psychotic movie! Don’t get me wrong. This may be the most perfectly crafted movie I have ever seen. Nothing was left to chance. I plan to watch it 2 or 3 more times (after it comes out on Netflix), just to catch all the details I missed the first time. One hint – watch the earrings…

No spoilers, although that’s sooo tempting! They’ve been very guarded in what images they’ve allowed out, for good reason. This movie is a visual feast, with sparse, concise dialog. It should translate extremely well into almost any language.

If you haven’t seen it, there’s no way for me to describe the impact of being dragged down a psychotic black hole with a brilliant, unstable, (understatement there!) anorexic dancer. All I can say is, when I walked out of the theater, I was glad for the icy air; it helped me re-orient myself to the here & now.

If you have PTSD, psychosis, anorexia, or an aversion to lesbians or blood – don’t see this movie! It is exquisitely crafted & delivers itself perfectly. Maybe too perfectly? Go judge for yourself, but only if you have a very, very firm grip on your ego!!

Art: Dragonmum

Jails are NC’s New Mental Hospitals!!

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Article from the Durham, NC Herald-Sun newspaper website:

http://www.heraldsun.com/view/full_story/10404711/article-Jails-tackle-tough-issue?instance=homefifthleft.

Guess what?

Somebody noticed that that a huge percentage of  inmates have mental health problems…

And the NC “Mental Health” system has problems… No. Excuse me. No longer exists…

And it will make things in the prisons (ie what’s left of the state mental health system) even worse…

So now the Jails are tackling a “tough issue.

Who are all these brilliant people?

And where were they 10 years ago when the state was trashing their mental health programs?

Is there  a polite way to saybat shit stupid“?

Didn’t think so.

Maybe they can move all their mentally ill inmates into Dorthea Dix.

After all, Central Prison IS right across the street.

Will the “Feds” Just Bury That Stinking Corpse?

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Has we make some progresses?  Is they gonna be smoked by Uncle Sam?

Wanna take a sucker bet?

(My insightful, snarky, childish, cynical and/or totally disillusioned & disgusted comments are in Orange. Yeah, just like this! I was thinking about using full-color photographs of drowning victims to illustrate this post, but I felt it was horrifying enough by itself – so I’m just using the usual annoying gifs  & poignant photos stolen from other internet sites….)

From the Nov 25 News & Observer:

“Feds launch probe of N.C. mental health system”:

RALEIGH — The U.S. Justice Department has opened a formal investigation into North Carolina’s struggling (Too late. It already drowned) mental non-health system, the first step in a process that could trigger a federal edict for sweeping reform. They need an exterminator ,  not a broom.

The probe is the result of a complaint filed in July by the advocacy group Disability Rights North Carolina(the heroes!!), which contends that the state is violating the Americans With Disabilities Act (DUH) for failing to provide proper housing for people with mental illness. Is there a “Someone in the state government must have a brain” act?

Nearly a decade after the state Department of Health and Human Services (oxy-morons ) closed thousands of beds, (thinking, somehow, if they close them, the nasty crazy people would go away???) in government-run psychiatric hospitals as part of a reform effort, more than 6,400 people !!!! w ith s evere mental illness are housed in adult care homes scattered across the state, living in sometimes (usually) squalid and dangerous conditions. And the rest? Under the Bridge. If they’ re lucky. Remember the Bridge?

The mental patients, their care typically (always!) paid for with taxpayer money, are often far younger than the  elderly residents with whom they are housed.  In the last two years, at least four residents with mental illness have been killed by fellow patients who had histories of severe mental illness and violence.

That’s one way to cut the budget, isn’t it, Bev?

Vicki Smith, (Our struggling Heroine of this pitiful saga) the executive director of Disability Rights, after she stopped jumping up & down from the morsel that had been thrown her way, said the federal investigation could force the state to take actions to fix the mistakes (nice word for complete & utter incompetent failure) made during North Carolina’s 2001 reform effort (reform? really? effort?), which has also resulted in people with mental illness routinely languishing for days in emergency rooms, eating nothing but graham crackers & ginger ale, because no bed in a NC psychiatric facility is available. (exists)

And these are just the adults. Don’t even get me started about the kids!!

Word of the federal investigation also comes as the state (the state, as in “state of confusion”? ” state of oblivion”?) is debating further cuts to the state’s (already non-existent) mental health system and moving to close Dorothea Dix Hospital, because they don’t need to take care of “those people”, the communities will, won’t they?.

“Now DHHS is going to have to answer a whole series of questions about why mental health reform has failed,” Smith said. “This is huge, from our point of view. Huge.” Poor deluded woman.  Bet she believes in Santa Claus & the Easter Bunny, too… But she IS our heroine, so hush!

The Justice Department informed the state of its pending investigation through a five page letter received by DHHS administrators in Raleigh on Thursday.  However, because of the low literacy rate of DHHS employees, there was a delay while the letter was translated into simpler language by Bert & Ernie, so the state department did not (could not, would not) reveal the news until it issued a three-sentence media release earlier today, hours before the start of the Thanksgiving Holiday. Cowards.

Renee McCoy, a spokeswoman (ie patsy) for the state agency , said there would be no comment beyond the media release, which said the state will “work with the Department of Justice to provide all necessary documents and information in response to the complaint.” Can you believe that’s all one sentence?

There no longer is a NC Mental Health System.

All there is left to do is clean up the bloated, stinking corpse.

WRAL also reported:

The United States Justice Department has notified North Carolina that it plans to investigate claims made in a complaint filed last summer by Disability Rights North Carolina.

The advocacy group alleges that mentally ill people are being housed in adult (demented old people who have been left there to rot) couldn’t care less homes

(building marginally meeting housing codes) that lack the qualifications (the Homes?? you mean run by, um, I was going to say “people”, but that’s not the appropriate word in this context.  I’ll just leave that to your imagination…) to care for p eople (under the age of 70 who can’t be tied into a wheelchair) with psychiatric  disabilities (including brains fried from crack, booze & fetal alcohol syndrome) ….Disability Rights claims thousands of people with mental illness do not have appropriate alternatives for care (back to that Bridge again, huh?), a situation which they say violates federal law.

There’s a law against Bridges now?

Where do I send my great big DUH?

It’s now very, very early Monday morning. Today, the press pack will be on the hunt, attempting to tree those ol’ sneaky DHHS  ‘coons.

They best be careful; lots of rabid raccoons around the area recently…

Dorthea Dix is Floating in the Water with the Corpse of NC’s Mental Health System

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(Please see my previous post “When will they eeeeever learn?” for the 1st part of this unfortunate series…)

Hey! They’re at it again!

Who’d have thought? Did anyone “thought”?

I’m pretty sure the answer to that is

“No, and who cares?”

It’s just those crazy people. The court said they had to be cared for in the least restrictive environment possible; isn’t under the bridge least restrictive? The ones in prison? Oh, they’re not our problem. They’re criminals, right? Mentally ill, you say?

Look, there’s some birds!

The controversy over closing Dix has been going
& going for years. For much too long, it’s also been a distraction from the real issue: North Carolina no longer has ANY public mental health system. Yes, there are a few feeble farcical fronts (hehe) claiming to serve those poor, lazy, undeserving wretches. They left almost 1,000 beds (in the entire state…); surely there was no need for 1700… We have plenty of least restrictive environments… our roads are just great!!

Bird! Bird! Quick! Look!


No money? Why is there no money? Because we
MADE CERTAIN there was no money! We put NO MONEY in the budget, then we complain there’s no money?

Look! A Bird with Money in its Beak! Wait a minute; that’s not a Bird!

Flying to contractors in the county where the “New” Cherry Hospital is being built.

Did the State pick “the lowest bidder” ? Well, sure, we made certain of that…  Our buddy Jim-Bob put it in, of course…   Will there be cost over-runs?

BBWWWHHHHAAAAAA!!!! (That’s the noise the Bird makes when it sees food…)

Here I present the latest “News” article”:

Money problems pushing NC psych hospital’s closure

RALEIGH, N.C. — The spirit of “Dorothea Dix” says too many mentally ill people are still waiting for help from the state, or getting little like when she first visited North Carolina 163 years ago.

Her CORPSE is rotating in her grave faster than a cat on a fair ride!


“Dix” was actually Wake County activist Ann Akland, wearing a long, 19th century-style dress while playing the role of the public mental health pioneer in front of microphones and TV cameras. She pleaded on behalf of Dix workers, advocates and patients for state officials not to close the state psychiatric hospital bearing Dix’s name.

But she didn’t throw money…   they can’t hear if they don’t smell $ at the same
time!

“The same thing that was happening in 1848 is the same thing that’s happening today,” Akland said in front of the Legislative Building last week. “Many can live productive, independent lives, but they need help. They need treatment. They need help in our psychiatric hospitals.”

Who? What? Gov. Perdue can’t HEAR you…     Where’s the money??

Look!The Handsome Bird…

But with a modern replacement for Dorothea Dix Hospital in Butner already taking patients and the state facing a potential $3.5 billion budget gap next year, Gov. Beverly Perdue may have little choice but to close Dix.

How is it a ” replacement ” if it has fewer beds than JUH & DDH had together?? Do they understand the word “replacement”?

Oh, as in “They replaced the name-brand with a much cheaper after-market part made in Somalia”?

OK. I Understand now. Birds, do you understand?

“ The bottom line is there are no new moneys. There are very few resources, ”Perdue said in an interview.   “I don’t believe that given the current fiscal environment, North Carolina can afford to keep Dix open. Patients will be transferred and they will be given great, great care.”

Dear Gov. Perdue, When was the last time you visited an acute adult ward in one of our state hospitals incognito? Hysterical joke you made there – connecting the words “great, great” with the word “care”!

I’m looking for the News Birds!! 


Wake County legislators who want to delay closure at the hospital that opened in 1856 will need the support of other colleagues during the 2011 session. Many argue Dix exemplifies the failings of mental health reforms in North Carolina that haven’t made up for a 44 percent reduction in the number of institutional beds.

Hey! These the people are right! But they aren’t waving money,   so no one can hear them.

“Several years ago the mental health reform process was assumed to work, and it hasn’t,” said Rep. Deborah Ross, D-Wake, who plans to file a bill to try to prevent the closure if she’s re-elected.

Ummm, If the patients are transferred in December & you, if re-elected – Wait! What’s wrong with this picture? I mean, besides the Large Purple Bird standing in the way?


You’re ALREADY in office, sweetie!!   Where’s the bill?  Why is it waiting for your ” re-election “?

Of Course! Blackmail – It’s what’s for Politics!!

Stop hiding behind that Bird!

The General Assembly agreed in 2003 to build a new hospital to consolidate Dix and John Umstead Hospital, also in Butner. Dix, which had between 300 to 400 beds for several years, initially was supposed to close in 2007. Buildings there are several decades old, and residential space doesn’t comply with modern building codes.

Why in Butner?   Because it’s SOOO convenient for all the patients now served by Dix? Because then you can take the land DDH is on & sell it to the highest bidder? In direct violation of State Law? Wipe up all that drool off the floor, you (fill in the blank with ugly word of choice)

Don’t blame the Bird! That’s so disgusting, the Bird won’t even get near it!

The first patients arrived at new Central Regional Hospital in July 2008, but Dix patients were delayed for a year
while litigation by Disability Rights North Carolina led to safety improvements at Central. Now the Department of Health and Human Services is moving another 125 beds from Dix to Butner and 30 more to Cherry state hospital in Goldsboro. Only 30 forensic beds — for minimum security patients committed because of crimes — and a child outpatient program could remain at Dix by Christmas.

Falalala lala lala.

Sorry, Santa doesn’t bring new buildings for the Criminally Insane … Nor does he actually build more space at CRH or Cherry. Those extra folks from Dix will actually be put right into high-class rooms at – guess where?- the old JUH!!  Not to mention the o nes going to Cherry. Aren’t they justifying the new hospital because of “over-crowding”? Where are they putting these 30 beds?

On the roof? With Santa, I presume…

The shift is necessary, according to the department, because it received no additional funds to operate Dix this year, leaving it with a $29 million shortfall. State hospitals division director Luckey Welsh told a legislative oversight committee last week that the change will save the state $16.9 million and slightly increase the number of beds at the state’s four psychiatric hospitals. Dix workers have been offered jobs at Central.

Umm, see the beginning of my post…     No budget line = no $.

Welsh said later plans are being formulated to close Dix entirely, but state law requires it first get approval from
Perdue and the Council of State. Lawmakers also could vote against the closure. The forensic beds would stay at Dix for awhile longer even if Dix closes but would be managed by Central Regional.

Same song, different verse. Purdue’s stumbling all over herself to approve the closing. They’ve been formulating these “plans” since 2001.

Who’s formulating them? Monkeys with typewriters???

Bed capacity at state mental hospitals dropped from 1,717 as of June 2000 to 954 last summer, according to department figures. Advocates said that’s the wrong direction (duh) when community treatment hasn’t reached levels envisioned when lawmakers began reform in 2001 in part to comply with federal court rulings that mentally ill patients be served in the least restrictive settings possible. The idea was to use money saved by downsizing the mental hospitals to expand community treatment capacity.

Look! Isn’t that a Bird? Look at the Bird!! Don’t look under the bridge!

But budget shortfalls have forced cuts in services, and some state hospital admissions actually rose. The state also wasted as much as $226 million through providing non-medical care for at-home patients, according to a legislative report.

Wasted? Wasted? How ’bout “allowed itself to be robbed of”? Or “was complicit in $226 million disappearing into pockets of unqualified, uncontrolled, un-inspected greedy companies”? Or “so totally ignored what was going on, it was criminal”?

BTW, who is “The State”? Can “The State” be held accountable?

Hey, wasn’t that MY MONEY???? Bird, Bird, come back!!


“The state continues to operate (Dix) on an old, outdated, flawed plan about how to develop a continuum of care for people with mental illness,” said Vicki Smith, executive director at Disability Rights, which wants more attention to community-based care.

Old? Was this the plan they were using i n 1850? That one where Aunt Sally was locked in the back room & Uncle Paul was chained to the wall?

Akland, with the Wake County chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, said closing Dix makes no sense when thousands of people are in inappropriate settings for treatment.

No. Really? Isn’t that bridge an appropriate  setting?

Smith’s group filed a complaint in August highlighting poor conditions for mentally ill patients winding up in adult c are homes. Akland uses state data to argue there are six times as many prisoners with serious mental illness as there are beds in state mental hospitals. The Correction Department couldn’t immediately confirm the numbers.

Most “adult care homes” are only a little bit better than under the bridge. But I hear the food’s better in prison…Is that why there are more mentally ill people there? I hear they get “3 hots & a cot”…

Rep. Jeff Barnhart, R-Cabarrus, a likely key budget-writer next year should the GOP take over the House, said it would be a tough choice to close Dix. But he said it’s hard to justify keeping it open when the state is entering a third straight year of budget gaps. What? By that “logic”, we should close UNC Hospitals too. They cost a huge amount of $ and we already have so many private alternatives. Look! We have Duke & WakeMed & Greenville & Rex, etc…

“We’re more of in a survival mode,” Barnhart said. 

Yeah? When’s the last time YOU lived under a bridge?

Dead Bird.


I guess I should have titled this post:

“NC releases hundreds of mental health patients to least restrictive environment:  under the bridge”

Original WRAL article is Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved (copied from the WRAL News website)

When will they eeeeeever learn?

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New update:: 12/04/2010 —- All my graphics have disappeared!!!  I suspect it has something to do with, well, I don’t have any idea what!!  I know some were hosted on a German server, so maybe it’s the Wikileaks Witch Hunt Effect….  Please be patient & read this post with the understanding that it is meant to be highly illustrated… Meanwhile, I’ll pull my hair out hunting down the graphics…. 😦

This was originally posted in October 2008. I decided to update it with an addendum & more current graphics, since it is just as relevant today as it was 2 years ago! Sigh… OK, here’s the deal.

Another mental hospital in NC has lost its federal funding. DUH!!!

This news runs right along side the article about the current gov’s wife flying around overseas   and otherwise spending money that belongs to NC taxpayers (not to mention the juicy State job she got with a outrageous salary… )

I’m a community shrink in NC. Of course I had to write a comment on that article – I kept this one brief: “I agree, codeblue. It’s not rocket science.  It’s a matter of compassion versus greed. Sad, no, despicable but true. The mentally ill, the staff at the hospitals & MH workers in the community get the shaft while the administration dances in the aisles of their airplanes and says let them eat pork. I’m sooo angry with the current administration that I, a hardened Democrat & mental health professional, voted for (AAKKKHHH!!) the Republican for Gov. The devil’s having snowball fights! We can only hope that the whirlwind of coming political changes (and the clear breeze of reason Obama represents) will drop a house on the Wicked Weasleys of the North (Carolina)…”

(((Multiple Sighs))) Alas, this debacle didn’t start this year – or last year – or even last decade. It’s the tragic consequence of a nation-wide decision peyote-chomping pot-smoking morons   made in the 1970s.  In a massive group hallucination, it was revealed to them that mentally ill people shouldn’t be in hospitals.  They should be free!  Free! Free! Free!~ (Oh sorry…)

The local communities would open wide their collective arms and embrace these poor oppressed beings, providing them with care and love and housing and doctors and medications and caseworkers and therapists…and dance ring-o-round-the -rosie  and sing happy songs. Quite a hallucination, Huh? Why did they think these people were in the hospital to begin with?

Granted, there were some who were unfairly warehoused, who really weren’t that severely ill or left in back wards.  This was NOT true for the vast majority of patients. NC was blessed with a system of state mental hospitals that were some of the most humane in the country.  Dix was a shining example. It became a community in itself.  Patients worked a farm, providing them with productive lives and occupations well suited to their situations.  They also ran the kitchens, recreational programs and pretty much operated at whatever level they were able.  All this in a setting of supervision and stability.

 

Then came the wonder drugs!  Lithium. Thorazine. More antipsychotics. More drugs for bipolar illness.  Shazaam!!  Another group hallucination – if we just give these patients medications, they’ll all be better and they can be normal and they can just see a doctor once a month and any child can grow up to be president of the united states and tinker bell and the tooth fairy are our friends…..  Yeah. Right.  Of course.  Why didn’t any one think of that before?  I love the tooth fairy!!  He tastes like chicken…. They missed the part about what happens when you evict people from the only home they’ve known for decades.  They missed the part where the patients have to get and actually take their medications.  They missed the part about no jobs in the community, no doctors, social workers, case managers, housing…..

 

Some of the more clear-thinking in the pack saw the need for mental health care in the communities (’cause believe me, there weren’t none!) and worked to set up the community mental health centers. North Carolina did a great good job of this (in terms of what was actually done, anyway).

Although totally inadequate to fill the entire gaping hole of need, the young idealistic psychiatrists   (cartoon :Jung at heart) (sry. Really wanted to use that cartoon!) and therapists provided as much care as they could to as many people as they could reach.  Case managers often had to drive miles out into the country to pick up indigent patients without transportation (none of those in NC, are there??), they held group sessions for patients when there weren’t enough docs to see them all individually.  There was substance abuse treatment.  In the best cases, there was coordination with other services for the patients, such as voc rehab and/or developmental disabilities.

They had their fingers in the dam.

Nothing went right in this misbegotten scheme from the very beginning. Disoriented people “liberated” from their “imprisonment” wandered into communities no more prepared to take care of them than to launch a rocket to Mars. Communities recoiled in horror that “those people” were returning.

They all rushed to provide housing and jobs and transportation and love… OH. Wait. That’s the wrong fairy tale….

More homeless. More slumlords. More slave-wage laborers. Aunt Mitzi returned to being locked in the back room. Medication?  Doesn’t that cost money? Why should they take it? Insight does not mix well with mental illness! Alcohol, pot, cocaine – all readily at hand and, boy, are they better than that Haldol!! Crime, violence, drug addiction. …  all the fault of those crazy people they let back into the community, right?

 

Throw more money at the problem.  Funny how none of it seemed to get to the people who could actually use it.  The administrations of the mental health authorities swelled like a young man in lust….  Only the most dedicated mental health professionals (along with others who couldn’t find jobs elsewhere) would work in the system because the pay sucked – but the bore-o-crats were well paid on state employee scales, with state health plans etc.

Meanwhile, growing numbers of homeless appeared in the parks and on the sidewalks of towns & cities. In the rural areas, the poorer they were, the more squalid the circumstances and the further from any services they lived.

Enter the hallway bully, NC State Government.  Look! Look! A pot of money!    What can we do with this pot of money? Oh! Oh! It belongs to the mental health system!  Too bad!! Give us your lunch money!!  Look!  Over there!  A bird!! Ten million dollars?  What ten million dollars??

Not an isolated incident.  Just part of the hemorrhage.  The dam was leaking in too many places.

Meanwhile, where was the housing?  Where were the jobs?  Where was the transportation?

HAHAHAHAHAHA!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHa!!!!….sorry, I had to stop before I peed my pants…..

The hospitals became dumping grounds for those too ill or too addicted to lay quietly on the sidewalk. (The following is based in about a thousand true stories) After Joey knifes Uncle Bud in a paranoid rage , well, then maybe we’ll have the cops take him to Dix before they take him to prison. Can’t commit them unless they are dangerous to themselves or others.  The week before: What’s that you say?  Joey said he was hearing voices?  Said they we’re telling him there were demons hiding in people?   Well, has he done anything?  No?  Well we can’t commit him; there’s no proof he’s dangerous. Oh, sorry Uncle Bob…

Hmmmm…Now where’s that hallway bully?  Oh, look, there’s a bird!

Public mental health system? What public mental health system?  No.  You must have been hallucinating.  We can’t afford a public mental health system…

Look! Look! See the private companies who want to “take care” of all the poor!  See no services provided unless they are reimbursed by medicaid. See the happy corporate CEOs stuffing all that money in their pockets. See companies pull out of the mental health business after the public system was dismantled because they can’t make enough money exploiting the misery of the mentally ill. See people lose their jobs. OH! OH! There’s a crisis!  We must do something! ….

Silence. (picture: Johnstown flood) Sound of water flowing through the total breach of the dam.

We know what!!  We’ll take better care of our mentally ill by reducing the number of beds in the mental hospital! We’ll take better care of our mentally ill by reducing the number of beds in the mental hospital! We’ll take better care of our mentally ill by reducing the number of beds in the mental hospital! If we repeat it enough times, won’t it become true?

Oh, the hospitals we already have aren’t adequate already? Eh?  Did you say something?  Speak up!  We can’t hear you!

Oh, it’s just those mental health advocates.

No, wait!  There’s a voice: No more money until you fix what’s broke! Who’s that?  OOOOO NNNOOOOO!  It’s Uncle Sam! The only one the hallway bully is afraid of….

We be smoked. They figgered out we been employ’n high school drop outs t’ cares fo’ our crazy folks. They figgered out we couldn’t give a crap about thoz crazy ‘uns.

What?  Who died?  Look! There’s a bird!

 

9/27 /2010  Update: Former  Gov E  & the little woman are both under investigation. She lost her cushy job. They are trying to close Dix. Again. Nothing has improved in the NC mental health system. Medicare & medicaid cuts are making it harder for people to find care. As the “recession” continues, there is less $ to hire mental health professionals. Lalalalalala….

12/4/2010: graphics still missing. definitely a conspiracy….