Beginning again has been hard. I went through a period when I could not talk about mental illness anymore. To reflect on a subject that is difficult and still remain positive as well as continue looking for what is good about something, rather than negative, requires grit and objectivity. This year since I last posted on any topic was year of change. We moved our son to Tulsa County where there are more facilities and services available to him rather than there were in Creek County. Money for people with mental health problems has been shrinking in the last several years and has never been in abundance for small Oklahoma towns. In Tulsa, they have impact teams who visit clients, form relationships with them, check to see if they are taking their medications. Even so, our family continues to support him and do much of what other people like him do not have available to them (we are told frequently that our son is lucky since most families give up or don’t want to deal with his particular disability).
Two weeks ago, our son was arrested for leaning against a wall talking to himself and shouting. His medications have caused him to have a form of Tourettes syndrome, so even though his meds help him in some ways, they also hurt him. Of course, so called normal people do not get arrested for this kind of offense, but as the policeman told me ( I went over to his police station and asked him what made him arrest our son), and got this reply: “he looked suspicious and he was leaning up against the wall of a “Drug Warehouse” store, plus he (the policeman) didn’t know him.” Sean has only been living in this suburb for a couple of months. It turned out the policeman could justify his arrest because almost 13 years prior to this arrest our son was arrested for a misdemeanor similar to this one–common to people with schizoaffective disorders. The lawyer we had at that time did not do his job. He charged us 3000.00 and according to court records spent 1 minute in court, the rest of the court time listed was done by a public defender. We thought his fines were paid and they were not. So his arrest today in 2013 was for failure to pay his fines or do his community service–something none of us knew about and something this lawyer should have told us. Even so, our son wasn’t capable then or now of doing anything that requires focus due to the nature of his disease. In the meantime, he is put in jail by a system with blinders about mental illness who lump everyone with severe personality disorders into one bag. Sean is a shy guy, isolates mostly, very gentle, and is terrified of policemen, especially policemen who are not educated about mental illness and who make assumptions about people like him. Of course, we got him out as soon as they would let us, which was 48 hours, but I cannot help thinking what other kind of damage being arrested does to you, if you are different (in the general public’s eyes).
I am learning over and over again to be calm, to walk through the steps or actions to take to be one of his advocates. I am lucky to have a group of support people that includes his father, his step-mother and step-brother, as well as my large group of friends who listen when I rant about what mental illness does to people who suffer from it. Oddly, or maybe not so oddly, I have been writing a lot of poetry this week and also engaged Sean in writing a couple of lines. He likes to paint and write and even though some of it is hard to understand, it is one way he expresses himself (I make up it does the same thing for him, it does for me). I am posting our two poems we wrote this week. I like his best even though it made me cry.
That Other You
Today–me– then we,
sailed through psychic oceans,
as needy birds pecking at the crumbs.
We pace up and down, speak in loud voices,
demand to be heard.
I explore the raw timbres throbbing at your throat,
listen for the way you give away love.
I tell you, write this—
burn for comfort, easy for you.
I imitate being human,
shift my mechanical gears
as I walk beside you.
The other me is an observer–
a Frankenstein, who filters
he’sa chain mail protection service.
We need something, but don’t know what.
when we hear, write this, we talk about our past.
Or Write This, the shape of words come from
a beleaguered source.
look like a basket of fear.
There’s a great humping bag on our backs;
we say, softly, Let them both go.
Then we say: that other you is you, always been you.
A body of words, in an ocean of words
lap at these rocky shores,
grip the shale on the edge or the driftwood near the bottom.
S. E. Black
Give my no-nonsense 4 credit bag of suburban home overview
and my bag of car-key alliances while you say yes;
I am a card-carrying member in my physically emotional keyless entry
with a domino effect of a pyramids lovely hour.
Don’t hold my folder of failure full of oven waste.
I am wonderfully hopeless.