My heart is breaking. I just finished watching an interview of Linda Bishop’s family about the documentary “God Know’s Where I am.” It’s a story about a woman who was released from a state mental institution floridly psychotic. She was given no medication, no money and they didn’t even make a phone call to her daughter or sister that she was being released. Turns out even a judge ruled she was sane enough and didn’t need a guardian.
So much for sanity.
Linda left that institution and wondered through the woods where she came upon an empty farm house. She stayed there for four months surviving on apples from a tree and water from the melted snow. She kept account of her daily activities by writing in a journal. Winter came and she eventually starved to death.
She died with all her civil liberties. She died with her rights on. She died an early death. She died a victim of an inhumane mental health care system that fails people every single minute of every single day. Lives are discarded like a piece of trash.
My eyes are watering with tears. I’m not a crier. But I see myself in Linda’s story. I was the inpatient who was released from the hospital floridly psychotic. Fortunately, I was released to my family. But days after arriving home, I took off on the road again only to find myself lost in the wilderness. Wandering lost, cold with frostbitten feet. My life was sparred.
The system failed me. But I survived in spite of it.
There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t pinch myself with how lucky I am. I am one of those people society gave up on. Thrust into a broken, incompetent mental health care treatment system. But here I sit today. Sad for the people who weren’t, haven’t been or will not be as fortunate as me.
I’m very unsure of what to do with all of my emotions. For many years working as an advocate has served me well. Now, my heart is heavy with all the tragic stories I bear witness to. Feeling helpless against a giant system with no fix in site.
The heavy, dark sadness stirs my soul. I want people to have civil liberties, but I don’t want people to die with those liberties on. We must do something to change this atrocious system.
To watch the documentary “God Knows Where I am” you can find it on Netflix.