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…