I’m no one special. I wake up every day, live a somewhat ordinary life, and go to bed every night. Then I wake up the next day and do it all over again.
If you noticed a key subtlety here, I did not say that I live an ordinary life. I said that I live a somewhat ordinary life.
You see, I am bipolar. I am a bipolar blogger. I am a bipolar blogger with a seriously mentally ill adult daughter. I am a bipolar blogger with a seriously mentally ill daughter who is slipping through cracks the size of craters in a tragically broken mental health care system. A criminally, shamefully broken mental health care system that is going to get her killed through its ineptitude.
My daughter is 44 years old and she is ragingly psychotic. For the past 5 days and for the second time in two months, she was an inpatient at a psychiatric unit in New Hampshire. She was there because her father and I filed an IEA (involuntary emergency admission) on her and a judge upheld the IEA. The judge’s ruling stated that our daughter was of reduced mental capacity to care for herself and was in danger of personal harm to the point of death, incapacitation, or serious physical harm. Five days following that serious judgment, hospital staff found her fit to be on her own again. For the second time in two months.
My daughter became involved with the mental health care system in New Hampshire because she spent the summer breaking into other people’s homes. In three cases, she thought those houses belonged to her. In the fourth case, she broke into our home.
Each break-in was progressively more frightening and dangerous. First, after disappearing for ten days, she was found squatting in an empty house by local police. Second, after disappearing again, she broke two windows in our home while we were away. She broke into our gun cabinet, removed a rifle, and was taken to the emergency room by the police because she was badly cut by the broken glass. Third, she entered an occupied home and was found taking a shower by the homeowners. The police brought her to a psychiatric hospital in lieu of taking her to the station. In the fourth case, she attempted to break a window with a rubber mallet, insisting that this was her home and that the people living there owed her overdue rent. She was armed with a hunting knife and scissors. The homeowner owned a gun. We filed the IEA.
These actions, along with a long list of other delusional thoughts and behaviours occupied her summer. Yet, when hospitalised in the New Hampshire facility her healthcare ‘team’ deemed her well enough to go back out on her own on both occasions in only a matter of days. They failed to even study the information written in her IEAs. Will there be a third time? I would bet on it.
Is the system inept? Yes, it is. Is the system broken? Yes, it is. It is a system that puts people back out on the street long before they are ready. It is also a system driven by the unwillingness of insurance companies to pay for beds. It is a weak and dangerous system. I know this because we fought tooth and nail to keep her in Franklin to no avail. So, you can imagine what happens to people suffering from mental illness who have no one to advocate for them:
They slip through the cracks of a dangerously broken mental health care system.
Deb Wilk writes for various publications and she runs her own blog, Living Bipolar.