A Tiny Rant About Treatment of the Mentally Ill: Brother Update

If he were Britney Spears, he would still be in the hospital but because he is a 42 year old man without decent insurance (or paparazzi coverage to keep those who are supposed to be looking out for his welfare on their toes) he is wandering free tonight. Which is a lesson to us all to not allow our mentally unhealthy friends and family have a breakdown in Marin County California. The General Hospital there doesn’t feel obligated to keep suicide attempt patients for the full 72 hours if they can figure out any way to release them sooner.

Despite multiple attempts to speak with doctors, DNOS mainly got stone walled, and when she finally did get the admitting doctor on the phone he wouldn’t give her his name. The psychiatrist decided that CB was not a danger to others (which I only sorta agree with as he regularly threatened to kill us when he was a teen and his ex is terrified of him when he is having one of his “episodes”) and that he is not a threat to himself. So I guess swallowing a bottle of anti-anxiety meds and a twelve pack is not a hazardous activity on the West Coast like it is everywhere else.

CB repeatedly told DNOS that he was going to get himself released and he would try to kill himself again, but to the doctors he was cooperation incarnate. He is a masterful manipulator. I will give him that. However he is so incredibly deluded I can’t imagine that he really fooled anyone.

The truth is he is very ill and treating him after all these years will take time. Time is money in the medical community in the United States and if you don’t have it, or the insurance equivalent, you will not get the attention and treatment that you need to get better.

My parents have accepted the fact that the next phone call from California could be about CB’s death. According to DNOS, they spent supper Saturday evening planning how they would have his body shipped back home for burial. They decided cremation would be best.

DNOS is very angry with CB. At one point in a conversation with him she told him she would have to call him back when she was calmer because she couldn’t deal with his shit him. This was when he was telling her his plans to extricate himself so he could be free to try again. CB retaliated by refusing to take her calls after that and finally told the hospital not to release any more information to his family. Typical. Deliberately drawing us into his drama and then pushing us out when we don’t respond as he wants us to.

But how were we supposed to respond? Only he knows and he wasn’t forthcoming with what he wanted from us. Whatever we were supposed to have done, we didn’t.

Knowing CB as I do he could very well be attempting to kill himself right now. Or he could be fuming and foaming at the mouth about how all his problems are our parents’ fault and that none of us really cares about him at all. To whom? Good question. But CB can always find an audience when he needs one.

I hope he chooses the latter. I don’t feel like carrying any regrets that I didn’t try and figure out how to get in touch with his doctor last week when he first threatened to harm himself. Of course, the doctors at Marin General never bothered to contact CB’s doctor either, so I guess I am not the only one with marks against me.

The United States of America is no place to lose one’s mind.

8 thoughts on “A Tiny Rant About Treatment of the Mentally Ill: Brother Update

  1. Thanks everyone. CB called today. He is back on meds and sounding quite out of it. He still has a job. He is bunking with his ex temporarily. He sees the shrink this week. Fingers crossed.

  2. Annie, I feel for you. I have been on both sides of this situation, both as a mental health consumer who had to go starkers before I could get help, and watching my ex try to cope with finding placement for truly mentally ill people in crisis. I could tell you stories, but I won’t. Just remember, you can’t control other people, either relatives or doctors. Hugs.

  3. your parents are doing the right kind of preparation – as are you. prepare to let go, hope that things turn the corner. you really can’t do more…

    and the medical insurance situation is beyond frustrating. when my sisters student insurance hit the limit on paying for counseling? the therapist decided that it was a “family dysfunction” problem, and asked the rest of us to come in – restarting the insurance clock. i had to make a visit, in a suit with a briefcase, and hint that legal action was pending, before they stopped harassing my parents to come to counseling…

    you really can’t fix this one – personal responsibility lies with your brother. yes, even though he is mentally ill, he still has choices.

  4. Ooompf your last line.

    That is so tragic. On many levels and clearly for many people.

    I read an article today that said: when you’re admitted to the hospital physical illness, people send flowers, cards and get-well wishes. When you are admitted for mental illness, there is no fanfare, only an allegedly polite averting of the eyes.

    This has got to be like a vise around your mind and heart in some way. I’m sorry it has been like this, and has been on you.

    Take care, and imagine me sending cards, flowers and well-wishes.

  5. Annie, I’m so sorry that you all are going through this. I can empathize with you, having endured something similar with my own brother. The anger at the system is understandable, especially since you are so far away. It is so easy to feel guilty, too, but please try to let that go. I don’t know that there ever is a “right thing to do” in these situations. If you had contacted his doctor, you don’t know how he would have reacted. It is possible that it could have set him off sooner, you just never know.

    Also as far as trying to figure out what he wanted you to do, it could well be that he would have reacted the same way, no matter what you did.

    Your parents must be hurting tremendously. Being there for them might be the most helpful thing to do right now.

  6. That must be very difficult. My mother has
    mental problems and I know how exhausting that
    can be but no where near what you are dealing
    with. Prayers sent for your brother and your
    family.

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