Learning to trust…

I had a new neighbor over at my apartment this weekend. She is 55+ and appears to be very friendly. She asked me, “Why do they say you have schizophrenia? You don’t act like it…”

With this being her first time in my apartment as a guest and knowing that she lives next door, I responded with a funny reply: “I take 24 different medications!” We both laughed. Then I told her seriously, “I’d rather not talk about that now.”

She appeared to respect my answer as the topic changed to her and some of her problems. I offered her something to drink and gave her some Kool-Aid I had made. The conversation then flowed along easily after that as we took turns smoking our cigarettes.

After she went back to her apartment, I was left with an overwhelming feeling of sadness because I truly would like to be able to trust her and tell her my story; however, given some of the circumstances that has happened in her life, I know it would be best not to tell her the truth anytime soon.

Then I thought of the irony: I am not sure if I have stated this yet on my blog or not, but back when I was petitioning for my complete freedom into society back towards the end of July, (or at least a little more freedom, such as the ability to leave the county unescorted by the mental health facility or my family), my counselor received a letter from the District Attorney in charge over my case. He stated that neither he, nor the Judge, would consider giving me any more privileges until my daughter turns eighteen.

This really came as quite a surprise because I hadn’t even met with the Forensic Review Board yet to plead my argument for additional privileges. After the initial shock wore off, (which didn’t take too long given that I’ve been in the system for over 15 years), it was replaced with a much stronger emotion: HURT.

I couldn’t believe that after all these years and all these letters back and forth from not only the Forensic Review Board, but my counselors and myself to the D.A. and Judge, they obviously seemed to hold this fear that since I murdered my son, I would automatically hold some sick, insane desire to hurt my daughter or end her life.

The fact is, the D.A. and Judge don’t trust me and given some of the behaviors of other people that know my criminal background that I have met since being put out on conditional release, I would say that the community or average person in the United States (including myself, had I never really known the details of a person’s case) wouldn’t openly welcome a “crazy” person who committed homicide back into the community.

The odds are unfortunately stacked up against me. According to a study done back in 2002, approximately 40% of people with schizophrenia stop taking their medications and relapse (see http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12416599). Given that high ratio, plus the fact that during these past 17 years I have witnessed several from my state’s forensic mental institution who got conditional release and then relapsed, plus a few that were completely discharged and relapsed…it is very frustrating because that makes it harder on the rest of us who are doing well.

I will never forget the words that were spoken to me by the second psychiatrist that came along around my third year or so there in the institution. I had just been involved in some altercation, I can’t recall if it were physical or verbal or both; however, this Doctor told me that if I ever wanted to get out I would “have to be perfect.” He was also the first to use this term when it came to describing my present reality: living under a “microscope.”

So to put it bluntly, I had to pray that somehow Jesus was my great- great- great- great- great grandfather.

To be honest though, the Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity verdict is “indefinite” and staff from even the Patient Advocate office will tell you that once you are branded with the NGRI acronym, you are in it for life. For example, I know of several cases where a person got discharged and then a few years later stopped taking medications and either got busted doing illegal drugs or got in trouble arguing with police.

They both got sent to jail for only a short time and then back to the state forensic hospital they went. Some went into prison; others got NGRI again. This is why I am writing my story and I thank God everyday for my 24 medications.

The society as a whole may have a hard time trusting me (and with justifiable reasons); but what most don’t seem to realize is that I have a hard time trusting society as a whole. It is difficult to live in a world with a past that can turn others into hateful, spiteful, and judgmental people.

This is why I will never stop attending the mental health facility I go to. I can be myself there; no make-up or skeletons hiding in the closet there. This is also why I blog under a pen name. I am a very sensitive person who’s stomach literally knots up whenever I sense negativity from others that is directed towards me (be it real or imagined).

Many people use the word “strong” to describe me; in some aspects, I guess I can see that to be true.

Yet when my mind starts reeling with thoughts about what do others really know about me… should I have trusted a person with my past or not… or how will I be able to hold back my honesty… (for I hate not being able to tell the truth)… It just makes me feel like a caged bird who is not permitted to sing as I experience this overwhelming fear and terror of being assaulted violently by others who feel that I should rot in hell forever…




About LaVancia Phoenix

I am writing an autobiography about recovering from paranoid schizophrenia and being given the Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity verdict for drowning my son in the bathtub. I'm hoping to smash through some of the stigma associated with people being labeled "criminally insane," as well as shed light for those still working on their recovery from this illness.
This entry was posted in coping skills, insanity, mental illness, schizophrenia, writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Learning to trust…

  1. Dearest Carolyn,
    Thanks so much for the reply. I’ve been steadily plunging through the process of editing and writing my book, as well as making jewelry for the upcoming holiday season. I just worked the past two hours on my first intricate necklace since I have moved into this apartment over two years ago and I thank God for the investment I made in my “crafter’s corner.”
    But the tiny seed beads, even given the new light and beading mats to work on started getting to my eyes, so I had to take a break and open the windows. The weather is finally making a change into cooler temperatures. My apartment went from 75 degrees to 71 degrees in less than 30 minutes. I am so glad because now I can wear a comfortable flannel shirt and save on electricity…well, I am off to surf the net and work a bit more on my book. Talk to you later…LaVancia


  2. emily says:

    Unfortunately I think that you will always be judged by society on the absolute worst behaviour of your peers. I’m not familiar with the processes of American mental health, but I imagine how that goes as well. Fear makes people do weird things, and they fear you will be like everyone else. I can well understand why your psychiatrist said to you that you have to be perfect, but in reality who among us is perfect? Not even Jesus, because He had to be born in human form in order to take on the sins of the world and die for us. I know sometimes it must be very hard to always have people judge your motivations, the only mildly positive thing I can say to you is that you don’t have far to go to live up to their expectations, and think how surprised they’ll be at how you’ll tackle this. If it means anything, I believe you will deal with having Schizophrenia well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Emily for the feedback…I have been surprised though at the amount of support and understanding I have received through people with a mental illness or those working in the field. I feel very fortunate to be where I am at. For example, I was out of one of my medications for a week. I did like I was suppose to: tell the housing manager a week in advance if I’m running low or will be running out. A week came and went and I didn’t get my meds. My feet, ankles, and legs started to swell really bad as a result.

      My counselor noticed and she got on the ball and informed the CEO. That very afternoon as I was getting on the van to come home, the CEO herself hollered at me. She was very apologetic and said somewhere, somehow, they had “dropped the ball” and she’d apparently lit a fire under the housing manager for being so late and not listening to me. I got my medication the very next day and I still feel very appreciative towards the CEO for taking time from her busy schedule to attend to my needs.So one thing I have learned is to try and let go of expectations of others, both good and bad.

      If you try to see people as learning how to respond to something that shakes the very core of their being, (the permanency of death, no matter how he shows up) to me it reveals their maturity level and where they currently stand on their beliefs.

      I for one believe that my son knew something was wrong with his mom. I also believe he loved me unconditionally, just as the God I believe in does. God knows my heart and that is the only one I feel will judge me in the end; therefore, all the hateful people in the world don’t bother me as much as they could. It’s just every so often when someone I don’t know is obviously profiling me with a “crazy” stereotype that I get upset and anxious.

      Thank you so much for your support and feedback though. Sorry if it took a while to respond. Sincerely, LaVancia

      Liked by 2 people

  3. isirian says:

    I’m very sorry to hear about your troubles, I can imagine that this attitude of society isn’t helping much… Though I have to say I’m not surprised, I’ve came across people being really hateful of anyone with mental illness, doesn’t help that schizophrenia is popular trope for crazy murderer in movies or games. I guess they are afraid of letting you go, you relapsing and they getting the blame for it. It’s really a situation where nobody can win :-(. I hope it will get better soon, somehow.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Isirian-
      Yes you hit in on the head-the mental health department of my state would be looked upon as seriously lacking the ability to help people recover if a NGRI got out and then committed another crime…basically this is how its put: they have to cover their asses. So I provide them with Angel Soft, Charmin, and Always Save toilet paper hoping that one day they’ll quit shitting on themselves from their own mantra of paranoia against me.

      Liked by 1 person

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