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Saturday, October 8, 2016

The effects of mental illness and our "justice" system

Contains minor spoilers for Orange Is The New Black Season 4.

First of all, This is incredibly hard to write. I'm nearing the end of Season 4 of Orange Is The New Black. This season has really got to me, as it has portrayed two very mentally ill women who are in prison because they didn't have proper psychiatric care and didn't understand what they were doing because of breaks with reality. It's scary knowing that if politicians got a wild hair up their ass and I lost my Medicaid and Medicare I would also be without any medications or any psychiatric care, or if I lost my disability, because then they'd take away my medical care as well. I could easily end up living on the street or worse. When I see these women, when I see Suzanne catatonic, well I've been there. I know what it feels like to be catatonic and trapped inside your head, barely aware of what's going on, and not even knowing your own name. I was like that for three days when a friend's niece died from shaken baby syndrome caused by her babysitter. 

When I see Lolly going through delusions and thinking that people are after her, it terrifies me, because I've been there. I know how scary it is. I live with the certainty that if I lost my healthcare I would end up either dead by suicide, homeless, or in the correctional system. I've never been violent in my life, but I've been the victim of violence so, so many times. I've never had any legal trouble, but I did once think the cops were after me during a psychotic break because there were demons that came out of the TV showing Stigmata and got into me. I remember screaming night after night, as I hallucinated the headless horseman on a huge black stead, rolling a severed head toward me. That time blurs together, it was a bad time in my life. Unfortunately I've had a lot of "bad times." 

Police brutality has often been directed at the mentally ill. Here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here are examples of police brutality against mentally ill people. Mentally ill people are sixteen times more likely to be killed by police, and about one in ten people arrested have mental illness. One quarter of victims of police shootings are mentally ill.

What's scariest, is watching Suzanne and Lolly breakdown, and knowing with the signature of a politician's hand, that could be me, and it terrifies me.

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