No can describe how hard it is to deal with Jane Doe’s problems. The last time that she got arrested she didn’t call anyone and her relatives called the police and filed a missing persons report. When they discovered that she was in jail they were given a court date but they didn’t realize that her hearing would be held at the jail and they went to Superior Court instead. It got rescheduled for the following day because of her medical issues, and when her family arrived they discovered that only one member was allowed to enter the court room because it was too crowded. Her next court date was two weeks later at Superior Court, and while court was in session her 84 year old father had a major diabetic “Low.” After drinking a Coke he barely improved and when the paramedics arrived they discovered that his blood sugar was about 30. She stayed in jail and was given another court date. In the meantime, her father and brother went to the probate court to follow up on their filing to establish legal guardianship and financial conservatorship.
Her relatives revisited the same subject that they discussed the last time that she was in jail a few months ago: Where will she live when she gets out of jail? All of her relatives agreed that she should go to an inpatient psychiatric facility until she gets back into the routine of taking her medications, except her father who seemed to want her to return to his townhouse even though she did not take her medication the last time that she lived there, and she was living there the last time that she got arrested.
Here’s a brief synopsis of Jane Doe’s history. She was a healthy kid from a stable middle class family, she graduated from Emory University with a bachelor’s degree in nursing and later worked in the intensive care unit at a hospital. Her career lasted for about ten years and her last position was as an in-home visiting nurse. When she was about 32 years old she stayed with her brother’s family and they noticed that she had a habit of telling delusional stories, and then she left their toddler in his walker while she took a nap. They had her evaluated by a psychiatrist and her diagnosis was Bipolar and Schizophrenia. She was approved for Social Security Disability (“SSD”).
She moved into the basement apartment at their mom’s house but no one filed for legal guardianship or financial conservatorship. Their mom passed away at age 75. The probate court silenced the executor of the estate (which was Jane Doe), and the back-up executor (her brother). A court ordered administrator eventually evicted Jane Doe from her mom’s property because she refused to pay rent. That crisis led to her arrest in a courtroom and she went to jail for two months.
After she was released she drifted between relatives’ homes, sleazy motels, and back to jail because of a separate incident. Her brother filed for guardianship and financial conservatorship which took several months because the court had trouble getting her served. While she was in jail he won guardianship by default. All of her relatives except her father decided that when she gets released from jail she should go straight to an inpatient psychiatric facility and stay there until she gets in the routine of taking her medications.
The author of this article has provided housing for her twice. In the privacy of our home she told delusional stories about Walt Disney’s human clone program. Most clones live in Disney’s Magic Kingdom in Florida and they’re extremely wealthy. Her brother’s best friend of thirty years is one of six clones. A different delusional story is that brother and his wife bought donated eggs and sperm and made designer babies, and that their daughter’s true biological mother is a tall slender redhead. Also, she said that her 84 year old father’s part time cook is his lover.
She was disruptive at home. She habitually turned on all of the lights and electronics in every room and then took a long nap while everything was running. She left a gas burner on the cook-top on (luckily there was nothing on it). She ate a week’s worth of groceries in three days. At night she slammed the kitchen cabinet doors until 1 am. At night when she was in her bedroom she had loud, long conversations with someone who was not there. She usually stayed awake talking all night but sometimes she took naps which lasted for about two hours and then she returned to the kitchen. Her real bed time was between 5:30 am to 7:00 am and she slept until at least 2 pm.
She was also disruptive in public. At one store an employee rushed to the front end and exclaimed to her coworker, “Call the police!” Jane Doe was pulling merchandise off the shelf and making a huge mess.
At the grocery store she opened packages of cookies and candy without paying for it. At Walmart she tried to steal eye drops and candy. She had an incident at a grocery store and when the police arrived they discovered that she had a warrant for her arrest, and she went back to jail.
As disruptive as she is, the author of this article had empathy for her and tolerated her behavior until the bitter end. A similar mental condition overtook my mother during her twenties. She was violent and so my father was forced to file for divorce and take 100% full custody of the children. I was four years old and so I barely remember her.
Whenever I asked him about her he always lied because he didn’t want me to know. He was a single parent and when he needed a backup babysitter he never called her, and when he was diagnosed with congestive heart failure he didn’t call her.
After he died an older sister told me what he never would: The reason why he won 100% full custody of us even though I was only four years old was because the judge subpoenaed our mom’s medical records which revealed that she had been an inpatient at Napa State Hospital for eight months and over the years she kept getting sent back.
When she turned sixty she acted like she was eighty, and my sister asked me to help by taking her grocery shopping. I did it for my sister’s sake. I drove to mom’s cabin in the mountains near Placerville and when I arrived there were black plastic bags taped over all of her windows. She was surprised to see me because no one told her that I was coming, as she didn’t have a phone and she rarely checked her mailbox. She smelled and her cabin was filled with junk that was piled several feet high. There were hundreds of tiny little notes taped all over her TV, the wood trim and the furniture.
At the grocery store she wandered the aisles for two hours, and at the pharmacy she yelled bloody murder at the pharmacist. We went out for lunch and she told me delusional stories that were transparently ridiculous. Back at her cabin she ordered me around. I was exhausted and when I tried to leave she gave me more errands to run and more chores.
During my first few visits she kept me there way too long. Eventually I figured out that in order to leave I would have to be very firm about it. However, that didn’t work, and eventually I realized that I would have to just leave.
It was exhausting. Our grocery shopping arrangement lasted for five months and then I finally broke down and hired a caregiver. I should have known that mom would throw her out as soon as she arrived. There were no Taxis in the area and she realized that the only alternative to hiring a caregiver was to starve, and so when the caregiver tried again mom let her drive her to the grocery store.
That experience wiped me out but it also gave me an idea of what our family life was probably like when my parents were married. Also I finally understood what my mom put my dad through.
Anti-psychotic drugs have been available for generations but it’s common for patients to stop taking their medication. They think that they don’t need it because they don’t have a visual reminder such as an arm sling or a bloody wound. The only indicator that exists is how they feel and how they’re behaving, but they’re the least likely to notice it and so that indicator doesn’t count.
It would be helpful if pharmaceutical companies could offer anti-psychotic medications through a slow-release patch, an implant, or a shot that is similar to Depo-Provera. The state of California enacted “Laura’s Law” which allows the court to order outpatient treatment, which is modeled after “Kendra’s Law” in New York. Florida has the “Baker Act.” Unfortunately, they are the only states in the nation that address the problem.
People who have schizophrenia that is not treated have a lot of incidents which make them more likely to be confronted by police officers. They’re uncooperative and hostile due to their mental condition. Some of them appear threatening, or they’re deliberately threatening to police officers which forces them to shoot. For some reason the general public confused that mental illness problem with our nation’s racial discrimination problem and included it in the “Black Lives Matter” movement. They’re actually two separate issues. It’s important to stay focused on the real issue which is mental illness. A relevant question would be “Why do police officers shoot mentally ill people?”
There are several possible answers:
- A young suspect probably would not wear a medical I.D. bracelet that says “Schizophrenia”, and an officer would not be able to see it from twenty feet away anyway. That takes the medical bracelet out of the equation. It’s unreasonable to expect officers to identify Schizophrenia from twenty feet away 100% of the time. Some of them can do that, but not all of them, which raises the question whether they should all be able to do that and if that’s actually possible.
- Jails have medical wards for mentally ill prisoners which seems to indicate that there are psychiatrists working there. Therefore, if a police officer in the field suspects that a disruptive person is mentally ill, then he or she can call the jail psychiatrist and provide a video through their Dash-Cam, or their body camera if they have one.
- Officers need permission to take mentally ill people to the hospital. In most states they’re not allowed to unless they’re a physical danger to themselves or someone else.
- Regardless of whether a suspect is mentally ill or not, if s/he threatens a police officer then the officer must protect himself or herself. Officers can’t wait until they’re injured or killed to act; they have to immediately disarm suspects before they have a chance to attack. There’s a law enforcement term called “Deadly Force.” Under certain circumstances police offers are allowed to use deadly force. With that said, sometimes they can do it with a Taser instead of a gun. Tasers cause bodily harm and so far it has killed 47 people. With that said, it’s still a better alternative to a gun.