Mental Illness

by Bella Rum

It was a quiet but tough weekend around here. Crystal’s granddaughter (13) started manifesting signs of mental illness a couple of years ago, yet there is still no diagnosis, but doctors have medicated her, which I don’t really understand. The medication is not helping. The family has been through hell. She’s been on suicide watch a couple of times, but they only keep her for a week or so and release her.

Crystal’s son called her at work on Friday, and told her that things had spiraled out of control again. It was bad. She left work and went to them. When she was alone with her granddaughter, her granddaughter revealed self-inflicted bite marks and scratches up and down her arms and legs. She hates herself, and how she makes her family suffer, and this makes her want to hurt herself. She knows she is ill. It is the saddest thing I’ve ever known.

I don’t know all the ins and outs of their journey for a diagnosis, but I know results have been less than satisfactory. This weekend, after much hullabaloo, they convinced someone to transport and admit her to a psychiatric facility that I think will diagnose her, and give her appropriate care, and not just keep her on suicide watch and send her home. This is the hope.

A few years ago, a member of the Senate of VA, Creigh Deeds, attempted to admit his mentally ill son to a facility one night, but was told there were no available beds. Come back tomorrow. Before the night was over, his son stabbed Deeds multiple times in the head and torso, and killed himself in an attempted murder-suicide. I fear we only heard the details of this tragedy because Creigh Deeds was who he was. Deeds later filed a $6 million law suit against the state and its regional mental health agency for improperly denying treatment.

As for the weekend in our house, it was quiet. H found all kinds of stuff to do around the house, mostly outside. I did a little cleaning, a little cooking and a little laundry, and in between, I talked to Crystal. The mood around here was one of helplessness, but not hopelessness. I think she is in the right place.