An e-mail I sent Aug 27, 2013 to 1-800-suicide. Is this what it means to get “help”?

I sent this letter to the person in charge of 1-800-suicide the day after I made a call to them. This was only a few days after I got out of Mount Auburn Hospital, where I was abused. I was scared to death after what they did to me. Because of the actions of a number of hospital personnel, I was questioning whether it was truly worth it to go on with my life. I had no one to talk to at all. It was 3am. What was I supposed to do? Many people have parents or siblings they can call at 3am, if they really need to. I had no one. 

I needed to make a decision. I needed medical care, but was scared to death to see a doctor. I had been badly traumatized and the sight of a doctor or medical facility scared me so much that I feared I’d never see one again. I knew any medical appointment I made with my “health plan” meant whatever doctor I saw had access to my records. I had set up an appointment at a walk-in clinic for Sunday. Should I go to this appointment? I was told this was a GP I was seeing. But what if he insisted I see a shrink? I knew I was flagged in their system as….as what? Just another mental patient, I guess, a waste of their time. So why bother? I knew I’d get shitty care anyway.

It was 3am. I needed to make a decision within a few hours. Cancel? Or go to the appointment?

I was stupid enough to call 1-800-suicide. Why?  Cuz the last thing I wanted to do was to call the local crisis team. If I EVER did that, I was sorry every time I called. I wanted to call out of state where I could be sure no one knew me. I figured that meant an unbiased opinion.

Oh boy was I ever wrong. That was the last time I called 1-800-suicide, for sure! I sent the following e-mail the next morning to the complaint person who runs the deal.

Hi George,

I believe it was Saturday night/Sunday morning at around 3am when I phoned 1-800-suicide.  I have no friends I can call at 3am and no family.  There are no available “talk” lines open at 3am and my own local crisis team cannot be called without giving them my name and location.

I did not wish my mind put at ease.  I can put my own mind at ease.  What I needed was help making a decision based on the facts I was going to give her.  No special medical knowledge was needed.  I am not good with people but others do have this skill and can help me, and this was what I needed at 3am.  It very well could have ended up a life and death matter, but I was finally able over the course of those wee hours and the following day to make the decision and I made the right one. 

Regarding the call itself, I first asked where I was calling to make sure the call hadn’t been routed nearby or to my local crisis team. Then, I asked if the crisis worker had set a timer and was going to cut me off and give me a “one minute warning” at 9 minutes and then hang up after 10 minutes.  These calls are a waste of my time because I have had cognitive trouble and cannot express myself efficiently.  It takes time.  My ability to efficiently express myself is impaired even further when I am stressed out.

The crisis worker demanded to know if I was suicidal.  I said, “I have anorexia nervosa.”

She insisted that I phone a “talk line” instead.  I said, “Do you understand what anorexia is?” 

She was clearly insulted by this question and sounded annoyed when she said, “Yes, I do.”  Then she proceeded to blast me for making an “inappropriate call.”  I really don’t need to feel so unwanted and like no one wants to listen, especially since that’s one major reason why I starved myself in the first place.

Two weeks ago, I went “full code” at an emergency room because of self-starvation.  I am lucky to be alive today, but my kidneys are working only partially and that’s permanent damage due to starvation.

No one working in the suicide field can tell me that they truly know what anorexia is and then put me off like that worker did.  Anorexia is the desire for thinness over life itself.  Anorexia almost killed me.  I now desperately want to live.  Is there a crime in wanting to live?

Finally, after getting further lectures from this worker about my “inappropriate call,” I hung up on her.  All I know is that I was phoning from Massachusetts and she was in Connecticut and it was around 3am this past Sunday.  I can get you the exact time if that’s helpful off of my cell phone records.

It is my dream to start a helpline for eating disorders that does what no other service provides.  I would like to start a line staffed by real people with lived experience with eating disorders who have known first hand what it’s like to be scared about what is happening in body and mind and have no one to turn to.  We would be open in the wee hours, when a service like this is truly needed.

Have a nice day.

Julie Greene

***

“George”” never wrote back. I sort of knew he wouldn’t. People like me didn’t matter anymore, I figured. My opinion was considered completely worthless, as was my life. I had starved mainly because my family and many in my community clearly didn’t give a shit about me. The abusers at the hospital had only served to reiterate that fact. They never even saw me as human.

If society saw me that way, as subhuman, what was the point of going on? I vowed over and over that what I needed was to get away. I didn’t know how yet.

 

 

My commentary on 2012 rape of a male patient by nurse in Oak Lawn, Illinois

Here’s the link:

http://patch.com/illinois/oaklawn/nurse-had-sex-cardiac-patient-prepping-transplant-lawsuit

You can google this and find much commentary on this case, more commentary than news articles, in fact. This was the first news article on the lawsuit that I came across on Google so I am using this link as reference. I also saw a You-Tube that made this into a joke.

It ain’t no joke, and someone questioned that if this patient had been a woman, would folks be making light of it?

I can sure see why the patient “waited” before initiating a lawsuit. I know myself how hard it is to get a lawyer to take on a patient harm suit. I can only imagine the trauma this patient went through. I know that patient rights groups run by the state only serve to stall cases and never do anything to help. In fact, their aim is to reduce lawsuits and protect the reputation of medical institutions. Everyone I know who has gone to whatever state-run legal aid there is gets the runaround an no action. If you want to do a lawsuit, bypass these agencies because they exist as fronts to discourage and stall you from getting anything done.

Of course, where is the first place a patient turns? The state legal aid people. I assume the patient went that route and got stalled just like the rest of us. I am sure he isn’t being defended by a state patient rights advocacy organization. The nonprofits that have sold out to the local medical institutions won’t touch a case like this either.

I assume this is the reason for the delay. He had just had a heart transplant and no way did he jump u, run home, and go make all the necessary calls. I know after my kidney failure I was exhausted, too, and didn’t have energy to make zillions of calls at random to lawyers. I was stalled several months waiting for Disability Rights who of course did nothing.  The bar associations only gave me one name at a time. I’d call that one, wait for hours, sometimes days for a callback, often to find out the lawyer didn’t even do malpractice cases. I’d go back to the drawing board, get another name, get told about the same thing after a lengthy wait, get put on hold by the bar association, and there went another day and another day and another frustrating day.

I also called my state rep. This was right before I decided to leave the country. The state rep’s assistant listened to my story but that was about it. I also phoned NEDA. They listened and one person sent me links to legal help for people with ED. None of these links panned out.  I also called another nonprofit that I found out is getting funding from many of the wealthy hospital corporations. No help there, although they used to be good before they sold out. I phoned MEDA and asked if they knew of local legal assistance. The person hung up on me and that was the last time I phoned MEDA. I felt like giving up.

There was a once-a-month number you could call. I waited weeks for that day.  I phoned, and it led me to yet another dead end.

People were telling me to give up. That’s what these hospitals want. If you aren’t exhausted enough already, they will see to it that you don’t talk. After all, my own psychiatrist told me in spring of 2013 that her hospital was pissed off at me for blogging. They were angry because I was telling the truth about what happened to me, and apparently this was harming the hospital’s wonderful reputation. My psychiatrist worked for the same hospital. She said, in these words, “I’m giving you these drugs to stop you from writing.” She said I was “considered a liability case by the hospital.” At that time, MGH refused to allow me into a new program they were developing for ED. I blogged about that, too, saying I was being illegally denied care.

This is what is routinely done to people who are victims of malpractice and patient abuse. I read a few, not all, of the comments under this article. The article stated that the patient was “medicated” but did not state the patient was already under anesthesia. I know when I’ve had surgery I was given morphine prior to the surgery to reduce pain. Sometimes they give a sedative to patients. I imagine if he was a transplant patient they must have had him on something prior to anesthesia. I think it is well understood that if a person is awaiting transplant they are most likely unable to defend themselves. I also think it’s understood that under heavy medication and medically compromised, a patient isn’t likely to seduce a nurse nor have much in the way of sexual desires. He was probably lying there in a lot of pain and totally exhausted and scared he wouldn’t make it through the surgery alive.

I know the fear well. During my two stays when I was abused the worst, at MGH and at Mount Auburn, I was admitted in a life-threatening situation. Even after admission I was certainly scared I would die. When you are scared that way, and so weak you cannot get up, you will be more likely to be abused. Why? Because they can get away with it. They think they won’t get caught. They know you won’t be believed. I have seen abusers hide evidence of abuse when other personnel peeked into my room or entered. Of course they do!  I was powerless to do anything.

I wish my dad was alive. I know if he were alive, I could have called him and told him what was happening. He would not only have believed me, but actually done something about the abuse. He would have gone straight to those doctors and hospital administrators and spoken on my behalf.

Instead, I had no one. Others assumed I couldn’t possibly be telling the truth. Some believed me but didn’t have the power to change the situation. My dad used to be NAMI president for Massachusetts before he got cancer. No way would my  dad hear what I told him through the distorted lens of “diagnosis.” He would have listened, and known all along I wasn’t delusional, nor inventing my story, nor exaggerating.

If only I’d had family support I don’t believe any of the crap that happened to me would have happened. They wouldn’t have dared, knowing that I had family that would come to my defense. God help others who are in this position. I suggest as soon as you arrive at a doctor office or you are in a hospital, if you are on public assistance especially, PLEASE LIE and tell them you have a rich attorney pal even if you don’t, and make implication that this attorney you know well takes on malpractice cases. I don’t blame people for faking calls to attorneys because it scares the pants off of abusive staff. I should have done so myself and not been so honest.

Do you want to kill someone, and NEVER get nailed for it?

Okay, follow my instructions to the T.

First, pick your victim. It can be anyone but it’s to your advantage to pick someone who has very little money, no lawyer, and family that isn’t supportive or all dead.

Find out where that person lives. The name of the town and the person’s address. Call the local cops and tell them this person is either DTO or DTS, or better yet, both. That means danger to self or others. Tell the cops which hospital to bring the person to.

Now, call that hospital saying you are that person’s shrink. Tell the ER people some bogus name. Then, say that this person just left your office, is mentally incompetent (don’t let that suit and tie fool ya), lacks insight, is a chronic liar, and paranoid. Oh, and also that he/she is a very  poor historian. Tell the ER people not to believe a word he says. Tell them he’s so dangerous that they’d better immediately do a strip search and keep Security on high alert.

You can do this to a relative, a friend, an ex-friend, or…how about killing a real murderer? Do it to a shrink! Shrinks kill themselves, too.

The doctor has been depressed lately. Tell them that and tell them to monitor all his phone calls.

Now, call a hospital administrator (the one supervising) and give that person a similar line. Only add the following:

You need to protect yourselves above all. This guy is a worthless piece of shit. Watch him like a hawk. Don’t worry if your personnel are abusive. He doesn’t matter. He’s subhuman.

Okay, so there was never anything “wrong” with him, right? Just the usual human traits.  But now, even if he does get out, he’ll probably kill himself. They’ve treated him so badly he won’t be able to live with it.

Of course, if you want to kill directly, work in a hospital.

So? You’ve now murdered someone and you can collect your paycheck. Wipe your fucking hands clean.

Plea to blog readers on behalf of Gloria: Will you sign?

Dear readers, near and far,

I have written a letter to the attorney working for  Disability Rights New Jersey, a state agency, making requests that are long overdue for Gloria Gervase. Gloria is the patient who was recently attacked and blinded at Trenton State Hospital. I am going to send this letter to this person, Ruth Lowenkron, in two hours. I would like others to add their signature as well. I would like to send the letter via e-mail to anyone wishing to sign and then compile all signatures together and send the e-mail. I would also like to publish this letter in my blog and have it go “public.” I won’t publish any signatures in my blog, just the letter, unless you specify otherwise, to preserve confidentiality.

Please let me know if you care about this and if you wish to join this appeal for Gloria. You can write to me at julie@juliegreene.net and let me know. If you respond by way of a comment here, your comment won’t automatically publish (they never do). If you are sending your contact info that way, I will strip your contact info from the comment before allowing it to go live. That’s my general policy to keep anyone here from getting harassed by spammers.

Again, my e-mail address is julie@juliegreene.net. Thanks!

Coverup and resulting false psychosis

I think it’s now well established that many people get locked up due to misunderstanding. There was once a well-documented story of a man who was locked up for a very long time. They claimed he was schizophrenic and that he spoke in “word salad.” Of course, this is a famous case now. What happened was that a new doctor came onto the ward. This new doctor was a foreigner from an Eastern European country. Honestly, I cannot recall which country it was. Maybe Hungary. At any rate, this new doctor made an amazing discovery. The man who was supposedly schiz and speaking in “word salad” wasn’t crazy. In fact, he spoke an uncommon dialect from that small foreign country. No one had even known all this time. Finally, they released the guy from the hospital, admitting their gross error. I’m sure there is an article in Wikipedia on this as it is well-known.

We know that many people have dreams at night of their dead relatives. I myself had a dream of Joe within the first year following his death. I read that this kind of thing is rather common in some Hispanic cultures. I heard that the reason for this is because the family ties in such cultures are far stronger than in modern USA society. Therefore, communication with one’s dead relatives is considered not only acceptable, but a rather common experience.  However, shrinks, upon hearing these things, assume the person is either psychotic or terribly depressed. Why depressed? It’s common to have a dead relative appear to a person in a dream and “invite” that person to go join them in Heaven. These aren’t suicidal wishes, but joyful experiences. Shrinks do not take into account cultural differences and try to medicate these so-called delusions.

When I dreamed of Joe in the fall of 2003, I saw him quite clearly. He was happy and I loved to see his grin right there before me. He had died that summer.  I was overjoyed when he told me, “You should SEE this place! The food is great! And they have shows every night!” This wasn’t a reflection of my desire to leave the planet and go join Joe in Heaven. Hardly. I never saw it as an experience that was at all paranormal. It was a dream. However, I felt blessed. Joe had been a joyful presence in my life and seeing him happy made me very happy, too. I carry that memory of the dream with me to this day. Thank goodness I never told my shrink!

What if a person’s story is unusual, and so hard to believe that shrinks assume the person is delusional? I’ll bet this happens all the time. Stories of child abuse and rape get medicated and the person is told these things never happened. Will these antipsychotic drugs erase these memories or cause the person to assume they were delusional, when in fact they weren’t?

If the person is rather young, the “professionals” can bully the person over and over until they submit. Then, they actually will bend and break and go along with the “illness” claim.

False accusations of psychosis also happen as a way of coverup.  An investigative journalist learns the truth. He tries to leak it out. Someone with money and power is about to be exposed. However, this wealthy person or institution manages to get a shrink to declare the journalist “crazy.” He is forced on meds. If he won’t stop talking, he gets either permanently institutionalized and silenced, or he is killed.

What if they’d tried to medicate or institutionalize ALL the victims of Hitler’s holocaust and anyone who had been a witness? Nowadays, such a feat wouldn’t be so impossible. Put ’em all away, and no one would ever know the truth.  You could call it a Jewish mental illness, persecution complex or whatever.

So here’s an example out of my own experience.  I had a roommate back in 2000. I need to preserve anonymity even though this happened so long ago for the sake of this roommate. I was in the room with her and never once saw any indication that she was “mentally ill.” She was so intellectually brilliant that she outsmarted all the staff on the floor and made them look like fools simply due to her intelligence and broad worldly knowledge. She had recently graduated from a rather exclusive top college. She knew Latin and also could speak several modern languages fluently. She helped the foreign patients by translating during groups. None of the staff even knew Spanish and this patient was immensely helpful to these patients and an asset on the unit.

But she told me she was tired of being the unit translator and felt this was taxing on her. She felt pressured because she had missed job interviews due to this sudden unwanted hospitalization. It inconvenienced her, she said, and it was hard to return phone calls from potential employers while she was in there, with no telephone privacy and inability to receive calls without the future employer finding out where she was.

She told me they were accusing her of having some mental illness that she didn’t believe she had. I told her that Risperdal was a good medicine and she would feel better if she took it. Of course, I myself was fully compliant  at the time and kept telling myself, “Of course, she must have a real illness. How could a psychiatrist possibly be wrong? If a doctor says she’s psychotic, she must be.” I tried to be polite but really never saw “illness” in her whatsoever. When her family came to visit, I left the room so they could have privacy, but I heard arguments in there. I butted out and never asked. She told me, though, that her family said to her, “You are angry and therefore need medication.” I agreed with her that nothing is wrong with a good healthy family argument and there’s bound to be anger in any family. I agreed that her situation was so stressful that certainly, an occasional angry word slipping out would be rather understandable, if not expected.

One day, a staff came into the room while she was in the shower. I wasn’t aware of what he was doing, but now, I realize he was pumping me for dirt on her. He asked me, “How is this roommate? Is she decent?” He was trying to be a pal, to get me feeling cozy talking to him so I might reveal having seen unusual behavior. Then, they could find this as reason for “illness.” Of course, it’s been over a decade since all this occurred and it’s taken me all this time to realize these things.

If I recall correctly, I told him that nothing was unusual. I think he asked me if I smelled body odor on her. I said, “No, what I smell is newly dry cleaned clothing. I can smell the dry cleaning. It has a distinct odor.” I didn’t care for the smell.  But many people in the USA have their clothes dry cleaned, do they not? I suppose this information wasn’t particularly useful to the staff as this wasn’t some reason to accuse her of further “illness.” He left and never approached me like a pal again.

Both my roommate and I were discharged from this hospital and I had her e-mail address. I wrote to her, and she wrote back. We were both out and she told me her story.

This was nearly 15 years ago. I no longer have the e-mail she sent. I cannot repeat the details of her story but can give you a general idea.

I’ll bet you know others in this situation. This often occurs in young adulthood when a person applies to get a legal document signed, relocates, or tries to renew their driver’s license. Or gets married.   Or the person applies for a passport or needs documentation for grad school or a new job. You know what you need? Your birth certificate. For most of us, this isn’t a big deal.

There are thousands of people out there who were adopted. Some adoptions were legal, but many weren’t. Many occurred over international lines. You hear of parents going to China or Russia to adopt and coming home with babies. You hear of parents who adopt out of foster care kids that that were rescued from abusive homes. You hear of parents who adopt minority children, Native American kids from impoverished areas, or kids who have teen mothers giving their kids up for adoption.

I suppose most adoptions are legal, or the paperwork is done properly. However, I’ll bet every single person reading this knows someone, some friend of theirs, whose adoption wasn’t quite legal. Either the parents are aware this was illegal and adopt anyway cuz they want this child so much, or they are lied to by the adoption agency. The paperwork may look okay, but it isn’t.

What happens is that the adopted child has no knowledge of this and grows up with no knowledge of any wrongdoing. Their lives are stable and they have no reason to believe anything was done illegally. The adoption agency is out of the picture and the parents, if they know, have no reason to worry that the child will ever learn this dirty little secret.

Until. Until the kid needs their birth certificate for some reason. What now? This can happen if the kid moves to another state and needs to apply for a new driver’s license in that state. Or the kid needs proof of immunization for college or a job working with the public. Or the kid’s wallet gets stolen and they must have a birth certificate to get a replacement driver’s license. All kinds of reasons. Uh oh. It may be decades before this occurs, or it may occur when the child is quite young.

I personally know a number of people who were adopted or were shuffled around following a divorce. What happens to a person when they find out that the name they were called all their life isn’t their original name?

Imagine the shock. You’ve been deceived. You aren’t the person you thought you were. What now?

My roommate was one of these people. Her story didn’t seem, at the time, very plausible to me, but now, of course, since I’ve known several people who made this shocking discovery as adults, I realize just how common these things are.

So imagine this: You adopted a child illegally. This was so long ago, and it was swept under the rug, nice and neat and you don’t ever want to think about it. Maybe you questioned the adoption agency and you were suspicious that this wasn’t legal, but you didn’t really want to believe it and went ahead with the adoption. Years have passed.

Your child suddenly accuses you and all this is coming to a head. What to do? Surely, you cannot allow your grown child to continue in this manner. This child needs to be silenced.

How convenient that we have psychiatry. Shrinks can and will assume the child is nuts. Call the cops and have her dragged to an ER. The adult child is upset anyway, so it’ll be easy to “see” mental illness in her.

That’s what happened to my roommate. As fantastic as her story sounded, I now know she was speaking the truth. No pill was going to erase what she knew. It wasn’t a delusion nor psychosis.

When I received the email I had no clue how to react. At the time, I had known a few adoptees but hadn’t heard a story like this one. Now, 15 years later, I have heard several stories of these things and no way was my roommate psychotic.

A journalist gets the inside scoop and then, disappears. A medical student finds out about fudged research, but suddenly goes mad. A patient speaks of abuse in hospitals and then is sent to a highly secure locked facility. A veteran speaks of wrongdoing in the military, and suddenly, the veteran is whisked away to a VA hospital.  A suicide shocks a community and the victim’s secret dies with her, never uncovered.

My shrink tried to tell me I was “delusional and paranoid” about abuses in hospitals. Much of what I reported to her was witnessed by other patients and was common knowledge in the patient milieu, as they call it. I took the drugs my shrink gave me. Guess what? None of my knowledge of these abuses was erased. Why? These weren’t delusions at all, but fact.

Of course, now I have found plenty of others who were subject to similar abuses. I know now just how common my experience was. I didn’t have unusually bad luck. In fact, now that I have found so many other people who were abused as I was, I feel even stronger that these abuses must be stopped. No, the victim needs no medication to erase what they know. This won’t work. The victim needs justice or at least an apology.

Did they ever even apologize to that man from Hungary for the incorrect diagnosis and subsequent lengthy lockup? Do we even know? Or was he released, told to suck it up and stay quiet?