When I cry

23 Sep

When will mental illness be seen as a REAL illness, and one that needs actual care, one that has patients who need a different kind of care?

How many more children need to suffer or die before someone just fucking gets it?

This is the shit that terrifies me about my illness. This is the shit that makes me so frustrated and fucking angry with a system, and a world, that discounts mental illness as something that isn’t such a big deal. Or when something happens, it’s just as excuse to “get off” with a lighter sentence.

I feel like I’m screaming into nothing when I ask why we cannot find a way to protect these families, even if it’s from themselves. Where are the support systems? Where are the spouses to go if the mother does go off her meds? Where are the supports in case a parent needs to be hospitalized?

The fingers will lash out and point that this woman is a terrible mother. They will say that she’s using her illness as an excuse, and that she’s a criminal who should burn in hell. We’ve heard it all before. We’ll hear it again.

Spend a day in their shoes, hell spend a day in my shoes before you cast those stones.

Cheryl L. Meyer, co-author of “Mothers Who Kill Their Children: Understanding the Acts of Mothers from Susan Smith to the Prom Mom,” said she studied about 200 cases of mothers who killed their offspring.

“In almost every case, people knew what was going on and just didn’t step up to the plate,” Meyer said. “In some cases, social services were available but the mothers didn’t access them, sometimes over fear of losing their kids. The last person who will tell you they have a mental illness is people with mental illnesses.”

Are you listening now? Is anyone listening? Does anyone actually care? Or are these women so far on the edge of a population you don’t care about that they don’t matter?

Would it matter if it were me?

11 Responses to “When I cry”

  1. Dragon September 23, 2007 at 3:33 pm #

    This scares me to death. I read these stories and think, god, could I do something like that? Why are people more afraid of mental illness than they are of things like AIDS or malaria or any of a myriad of other physical, transmittable ailments? You can’t catch crazy, people! These poor women deserve better than to live or die with the blood of their children on their hands. They aren’t the only ones responsible. There should be more information about it, there should be social services that are automatically required to do things like home visits and respite care, things that everyone would benefit from and would take away the stigma of it only being for people with mental illness. But there isn’t, and there probably won’t be for a very long time. It makes me sick.


  2. Hannah September 23, 2007 at 8:06 pm #

    I hadn’t heard this story and oddly enough, I read this as I was mentally composing today’s blog post on the theme of “today my toddler was driving me mad”. The perspective on my minor issues – I’m tired and pukey and just don’t have the energy my little guy is demanding right now – was like a bucket of cold water to the face. On the one hand I’m sorry I clicked the link. My heart cracks for those poor children, caught up something they may never fully understand. But on the other hand, I thank you for sharing this, no matter how uncomfortable and upsetting it is to contemplate.

  3. Caitlin September 23, 2007 at 8:59 pm #

    I think it’s telling that many moms who need help are afraid to get it because they fear losing their kids. I wish we could destigmatize mental illness, so people would feel safe coming in earlier and there was more of a focus on helping moms treat their mental illness while providing support. You hear bad things about the foster system, and I can’t blame any mom for wanting to keep her kids out of it.

    I just think we make more problems by continuing to stigmatize moms who are dealing with mental illness. I had PPD, and it’s one of those things that can get worse and worse without necessarily getting better. I think if I had felt less like I was failing at life and more like I do when I have a bad case of bronchitis, I would have been able to enjoy more of my son’s first two years. It’s a no brainer to go to the doctor when you’re physically ill and nothing is working, and it should be the same for mental illness.

  4. CharmingDriver September 23, 2007 at 10:26 pm #

    I think part of the problem with an illness that more or less requires medication is this: How do we remove the stigma of mental illness but at the same time track a patient with kids to ensure they are staying on their meds and in a ”good place” (or as good as possible; a place that doesn’t allow for self harm, drowning kids or setting them on fire).

    There has to be a midway point between trusting adults to do the right thing without fear of repercussion if they ask for help and monitoring them to the point of invading their right to privacy.

    Hugs baby, thinking of you.

  5. ann adams September 23, 2007 at 11:15 pm #

    I agree with everything that’s been said of course.

    Our very small mental health unit here just downsized due to budget cuts. It wasn’t that great to begin with and now there’s next to nothing.

    Why are the mentally ill ignored until something awful happens? Then, of course, it’s all their fault.

    I was going to email you to thank you for your comment and then realized I hadn’t checked on you in a couple of days.

    Hope all is well with you.

  6. mercurial scribe September 24, 2007 at 2:30 am #

    I wish people understood that bipolar is just like autism or diabetes or any other medical condition: TREATABLE and the importance is on maintenance and prevention. I don’t know if I’m capable of that kind of cruelty when I’m ill, when I’m out of my mind because my brain can’t function correctly. But I refuse to find out. My husband knows that if I get off my meds without doctor supervision, he has full rights to take our child and refuse to see me until I’m under doctor supervision and working toward stability. It’s scary and horrible but true because I never want to hurt my family and I’m willing to be committed to an asylum before I do that. I can’t help but ask myself where was her husband? Her family? Her friends? Why didn’t someone step in?

    She’s going to have to live the rest of her life with the guilt of killing her youngest child and torturing the two that survived. Any way it goes – jail, institution, death penalty or whatever – that guilt may very well eat her alive.

    ryc: See my post.

  7. bine September 24, 2007 at 3:16 am #

    oh my. this is terrible.
    and after all i’ve read here and around your community, i wonder if she had similar problems … wrong meds that just didn’t work as they should, a doc who didn’t care or know enough, if she was just fed up trying …
    yes, i agree strongly with dragon and caitlin – there should be more information. i came here almost a year ago because i needed to know more than what’s on wikipedia … but the general public doesn’t know a thing about it and that’s a big scare.

  8. thordora September 24, 2007 at 6:47 am #

    I’m still so fucking angry about this. So mad.

    There absolutely needs to be some way to monitor the mentally ill-which means funding. Ever tried to find help? Wait lists months long-the only way I got into someone relatively quick was by going right mad and into the hospital.

    There MUST be a better way. We wouldn’t treat any other segment of the population like this. I can’t just go see my doctor like I can my GP. Maybe in 2 months I can.

    Sometimes I can’t wait that long.

    Another family destroyed because the mentally ill just aren’t worth the time or money.

  9. Judy September 24, 2007 at 9:33 am #

    But it also comes back to the issue of people not wanting to have any sort of public health care system at all, and certainly not to pay for those “crazy people” who “just can’t get there act together.” As my ex used to say, and his mom recently told my severely depressed mother (who can barely afford her medications) “You just have to suck it up and go on.” Ah, yes, great words of wisdom.

    When I was going through PPD, and finally willing to realize that’s what it was, I wanted help – needed help – and even once my husband finally got it, he was trying, but just couldn’t do enough, or do the right things. Here we are, 1,000 miles away from friends or family (not that my family was any help anyway), and I had no clue where to go or what to do. Where do you turn, what do you do, when you feel you are at your breaking point? And what are the consequences if you tell someone?

    Thankfully, we’re all fine (mostly), and I never reached the point of these women, but it did become obvious that there are no real supports, and none of it is taken seriously. And when Andrea Yates was on trial again, how many people wanted her to be put to death? Then again, maybe death would have been an easier way out for her. I have to believe that for her, and those like her, getting treatment, becoming sane, and understanding what they did is a fate worse than death.

  10. Netter September 24, 2007 at 10:12 am #

    I have lots of thoughts about this, anger being foremost. But I can’t help but be thankful that I was able to get help. There but for the grace of Prozac go I.


  1. Anonymous - September 23, 2007

    When I Cry

    “When will mental illness be seen as a REAL illness, and one that needs actual care, one that has patients who need a different kind of care?” Theodora asks the right questions – now we need the right answers.

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