Thursday, July 31, 2014

TN Commissioner defends decision to award contract to former employer

"One thing I'm surely biased on is that it's better to treat people closer to home with family and friends rather than committing them to an institution that's many miles away," Varney said.

Varney has it partially correct.  It is best to treat loved ones close to home -- when they will accept treatment.  

AOT could help with that, but wait ... TN does not have an AOT law.

So what about those who don't or won't accept treatment?

The ones who are too sick to realize they are sick?

The ones who have lost insight into their illness?

The ones with anosognosia.

The ones who have estranged themselves from family and friends due to their paranoia, delusions and psychosis.

The ones who have become homeless and destitute, eating their meals out of dumpsters and garbage cans.

The ones who end up in jail time and time again for petty crimes and misdemeanors.

You see, these are the people who will eventually be committed to institutions, many many miles away, because the ones near home have all closed. 

Treatment before tragedy is something I'm surely biased on. #tb4t

Read the investigative report here: - TN Commissioner defends decision to award contract to former emp

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

All Meds Are Not Created Evil

Doctors Should Treat the Mentally Ill Without Consent"So the next time someone spouts off against the evil doctors prescribing evil medications I suggest you ask them what they want the doctor to do after they have a heart attack and their heart has stopped." - Natasha Tracy @BipolarBurble 
Reposted w/ permission of author

Monday, July 28, 2014

An Ode to Ants & ADHD

true story ... enjoy!

I witnessed a most unsual sight
in my backyard today
a sprinkling of socks and a scattering of shoes
which I followed,
to my utter dismay

there under the backyard shade tree
I found my five year old son
scratching and screaming, squealing and shrieking ...

Dear Lord, What In The World Has He Done?

I scooped him up and ran into the house
all ready to dial 911
when I suddenly noticed his laughter and giggling
and the words, mom that really was fun!

What In The World Is The Matter With You?
You Gave Me Such a Fright!

mom I was just putting ants in my pants ...
I didn't know they could bite

Why Would You Put These Ants In Your Pants?
Why Couldn't You Just Let Them Be?

mom, my teacher told me I had ants in my pants
but when i looked, no ants could i see

So the next time you're pushed to your limit
consider this story of ants ...
it's best to endure a few wiggles and squirms
than to risk him losing his pants.

Karen Easter c.1998
in How to Reach & Teach Children with ADD/ADHD (2nd Ed.)
by Sandra Rief 2005

Sunday, July 27, 2014

It's Time to Tell Congress that you Support H.R. 3717

My friends GG & Faye advocating!
Maybe you noticed on my blog earlier this week, a new national nonprofit org Treatment Before Tragedy has been launched of which I am a founding member. Please consider joining us! 
Right this very minute, we are trying our best to assist Congressman Tim Murphy (PA-18) in getting the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act passed, HR3717 and WE NEED YOUR HELP!
Simply scroll to the bottom of the attached link to email Congress using our PopVox account. 
It's very easy!  Your doing so will HELP so many desperate families obtain timely treatment and support for their very ill loved ones.
Thank you for caring about families!

Marijuana + Mental Illness = Bad Mix

Q. How is marijuana related to mental illness?
A. Marijuana increases the risk of psychosis, in which people lose touch with reality and may experience delusions, hallucinations and paranoia, Volkow says. Marijuana is also associated with chronic psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia, in people who are genetically susceptible. Heavy marijuana use can lead these people to experience a psychotic episode two to six years earlier than otherwise.
Colorado police have reported two deaths this year related to psychosis-like episodes in pot users. In March, a 19-year-old African exchange student jumped off a hotel balcony after eating a marijuana cookie. The next month, a Denver man who had purchased marijuana, including an edible form called "Karma Kandy," began hallucinating and fatally shot his wife.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Ventings of a Reluctant Helicopter Mom

I must confess.

I am a helicopter mom.  

My years of experience have made me one of the best. I can hover like nobody’s business, but it’s not what you think.

I am of the critical care transport variety of helicopter parents, an air ambulance so to speak. This keeps me on my toes and I have no shame in that.

The shame, however, may be directly placed on what led me to become this type of parent in the first place – our broken mental health system.

You see, my 26 year old son suffers from a challenging mix of severe brain disorders, also known as mental illnesses and development disorders - Asperger’s, bipolar and ADHD.

On good days, when he takes his meds as prescribed, life is good. I am officially off duty from hovering. He functions so there is no need for me to over function.

But on bad days, when he does not take his meds, I have no other choice but to put on my helicopter mom hat. 

I don’t really want to wear this hat. 

In fact, I have never liked this hat.

Did I mention I really despise hats? 

Hey, wait just a minute ... I should NOT have to be wearing this hat AT ALL!

But I wear it because right now this very minute, I must hover to keep him safe -- only because the system has failed him and our family miserably.

Recently, following an unexpected week of inpatient admission at an out of state facility in South Carolina while on vacation, we returned home to Tennessee and had five good days in a row, unheard of. Our family was so happy to see my son well. He slept when we slept. He was not up all night and sleeping all day. The paranoia and agitation had subsided. I had my son back for FIVE WHOLE DAYS and life was good. 

Then he began to self-manage his medications and the wheels are quickly falling off. He is once again psychotic and I am hovering.

The only way to get my son to comply with treatment is for me, his mother, to file a petition for assisted outpatient treatment. Tennessee does not have a statewide AOT law, but we do have an AOT pilot program in my hometown of Knoxville. 

There is one catch.

The only way the bill for the pilot program passed muster with our State Department of Mental Health, was to tweak it so that ONLY families could file petitions. That’s right, not the provider as with all other AOT programs across this nation. No one but family members may file petitions. As a result, and to my knowledge, only one mother has filed a petition in the 2 years the program has existed. Why? Because filing a petition puts families - who are sometimes their loved one's only supporters - in an awkward, vulnerable and potentially dangerous position. 

When I mentioned this option to his care provider in an attempt to reel him in quickly, he cautioned me that irreparable harm would be done to our relationship if I did this and that he could not support that.

Then I flashback to 6 years ago - to his multiple arrests and a tasing due to symptoms of his untreated mental illness - and I thank God for the court ordered treatment that resulted in a mutual agreement to keep him out of jail (which worked, by the way and kept him stable for 6 years).  

I cringe. Is this Deja Vu?

Must it take another round of my letting go and his subsequent criminalization to get him the help he needs?  Well, there is NO WAY I am willing to allow these natural consequences to repeat themselves. Why don't I let him hit rock bottom again?  Because there is no rock bottom for kids like mine.  He just might not survive this time around.

So here I remain hovering ... and blogging ... tired and weary of a broken system that offers no relief. #TB4T

"We continually talk about serious mental disorders as brain disorders. What we don’t say is that our knowledge of how the brain works remains far behind our understanding of other organ systems." - Tom Insel, NIMH

Friday, July 25, 2014

Dwindling Mental Health Services Create Havoc for Law Enforcement - NPQ - Nonprofit Quarterly

Dwindling Mental Health Services Create Havoc for Law Enforcement - NPQ - Nonprofit Quarterly

'A Serious Epidemic' -- Mentally Ill Speak Of Struggles - Top News -

'A Serious Epidemic' -- Mentally Ill Speak Of Struggles - Top News -

Advocate! Today! Right this very minute!

Dear Friends, We are sharing stories with you for purpose: to fix our broken mental health care system. Please start today by sending an email to your congressional representative to advocate for proposed legislation, HR 3717, that has important bipartisan support. Read our analysis at this link and use our easy PopVox service, also at the link, to directly email your representative.  

Click here to Advocate

Jon, if you are reading this - still advocating my heart out for AOT in TN!

Kudos to the Stanley Family for their generous donation this week to the Broad Institute for psychiatric research!

Jon Stanley was my first mentor and my first point of contact with the Treatment Advocacy Center back in 1997. He is the one who first encouraged me to start a grassroots advocacy effort to implement an Assisted Outpatient Treatment law in Tennessee.  To hear him tell his story firsthand is truly inspiring. He and his family "get it". 

Speaking of families who "get it" ...

I'd like to invite you to join our new national nonprofit that was launched this week, Treatment Before Tragedy, of which I'm a founding member.  We are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends who believe our loved ones deserve the best possible treatment and care before tragedy happens. Please feel free to share this communication with others.

Here's the article about the Stanley's generous donation for psychiatric research:

BOSTON — In the largest-ever donation to psychiatric research, Connecticut businessman Ted Stanley is giving $650 million to the Eli and Edythe Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. The goal — to find and treat the genetic underpinnings of mental illnesses — was inspired by a family experience.
Ted Stanley made his fortune in the collectibles business. He founded The Danbury Mint, a company (later MBI, Inc.) whose first product was a series of medals commemorating the biggest scientific achievement of its time: the moon landing in 1969. While his business grew, his son Jonathan Stanley grew up as a normal Connecticut kid. Until, at age 19, Jonathan came down with bipolar disorder with psychosis, which got worse over the next three years.
“We’ll call it the epiphany from my dad’s standpoint at least,” Jonathan Stanley remembered of the turning point in his illness. “I went three days straight running through the streets of New York, no food, no water, no money, running from secret agents. And not surprisingly, after I stripped naked in a deli, ended up in a psychiatric facility.”
Jonathan was a college junior at the time.
“My dad came to visit, and he got to see his beloved son in a straitjacket,” Jonathan Stanley said.
The Stanleys were lucky. Jonathan responded well to the lithium, then a newly-approved drug. He went on to graduate from college and law school, too. Yet along the way, his father had met other fathers whose sons did not respond to treatment. He met other families who had to keep living with uncontrolled mental illness.
Ted Stanley said that gave him a focus for his philanthropy.
There was something out there that our son could take, and it made the problem go away,” he said. “And I’d like to see that happen for a lot of other people. And that’s why I’m doing what I’m doing.”
What he’s doing is donating $650 million, the bulk of his fortune, to the Broad Institute in Cambridge’s Kendall Square. It’s an independent, nonprofit partnership of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University and Harvard’s five teaching hospitals.
Institute founding director Eric Lander wants to begin using Ted Stanley’s money to catalog all the genetic variations that contribute to severe psychiatric disorders. He said the Broad Institute has already collected the DNA from 116,000 psychiatric patients.
“Once you have the specific genes,” Lander said, “you can then accelerate the biological study of how they function together in pathways. That’s the really important step, and that’s the key next step.”
In an article out this week in the journal Nature, Broad researchers helped find 108 sites in the human genome associated with the risk of developing schizophrenia. Lander said this sort of systematic research at a large scale is hard for scientists to do when they have to worry whether the next grant will come through.
“That’s what’s so exciting about this gift is a commitment to take on a disease in its real, full picture,” Lander said.
The former CEO who is funding the big new effort said a managed approach will do a better job of focusing on the customer: the patient.
“That’s not what happens in most medical research,” Ted Stanley said. “Nobody’s really in charge of making sure it helps families where brain dysfunction has ruined their lives.”
His son Jonathan Stanley is OK with his father shooting for the moon to try to treat mental illnesses.
“In a lot of rich families, a good chunk of this huge amount of money that’s going to Broad would have ended up in my bank account,” he said. “All I can say is, my family got it right.”

Thursday, July 24, 2014


Napa County Hall of Justice photo 1This is an update on a dear friend's son. I urge you to read it:  Uncivil Liberties

Then, as you go about your day today, routine as it may be, chatting with your kid on the phone, driving him to various social events, wondering what to fix him for dinner, I encourage you to think of courageous moms like Teresa Pasquini who would give anything to be driving her son to soccer practice today. 

Bless you, my dear kindred spirit mom friend. We WILL overcome this broken, dysfunctional system.


Sunday, July 20, 2014


Treatment B4 Tragedy
Introducing Treatment Before Tragedy

For the past year and a half, an inspiring and courageous group of family members and community leaders has worked to create a new national organization, Treatment Before Tragedy, or Tb4T.

Treatment Before Tragedy was founded to advocate for better treatment, services, research and a cure for those with serious brain disease, known commonly as mental illness, and their families.

Treatment Before Tragedy members live with the consequences and impacts of untreated mental illnesses every day, and understand mental illness to be a brain disease requiring significantly more medical research. We believe that serious mental illness should receive medical treatment as a physical, medical illness of the brain, not a behavioral disorder.

Treatment Before Tragedy’s members strongly advocate for significant changes in our nation’s approach to the care and treatment of those with serious brain diseases. We support H.R. 3717, the “Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act,” which seeks to improve the nation’s broken mental health system by refocusing programs and resources on medical care for patients and families most in need of services. 
Become a member here:
Please follow us on Twitter:

Please join us on our Facebook page:

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

(865) 539-2409 new MOBILE CRISIS HOTLINE for youth 18 & under in Blount, Knox, Loudon, Monroe & Sevier counties

The Helen Ross McNabb Center will begin providing mobile crisis services for children and youth in several East Tennessee counties starting Tuesday.
The mobile crisis provides a 24-hour response team for children under 18 experiencing a behavior health crisis.
In May, state officials regionalized the way mobile crisis services are provided in the state. They awarded Helen Ross McNabb Center coverage for the region which includes Blount, Knox, Loudon, Monroe and Sevier counties.
Starting Tuesday, there will be a new number for the crisis hotline number, (865) 539-2409