Tuesday, August 28, 2012

James E. Holmes and The Failure of Mental Health Treatment in This Country: How Available Was the Mental Health Care at the U. of CO, Denver for Him?

I was sitting on my front porch this evening after reading the NYT article on James Eagan, who played 'the Joker' (there is some psychic link in what he did and that of actor Heath Ledger who played that role, so astoundingly, you can never forget it: the tight, coiled, ruthless, poignant madness) as he blew away the lives of 12 people in Aurora, CO a few weeks ago.  Here is the NYT article; such a paper there never has been/ never will be again in the US or maybe the world, certainly not for Americans: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/27/us/before-gunfire-in-colorado-theater-hints-of-bad-news-about-james-holmes.html?pagewanted=all

I looked at the face of the boy, in highschool, smiling too brightly----to the left of the photo with which we are now familiar which is that of a forlorn soul who has piteously cursed his community and perhaps his own soul itself. 

As I meditated on the matter, I found myself winging into his jail cell.  What I saw there was a circle of angels, guarding him; they were forlorn, distraught, heads down, in confession, as it were, praying about the human dilemma.  I envisioned myself holding his hands, looking in his face, and saying, 'Friend.'  For surely, this young man must have a sense of being split assunder from the rest of humanity. 

I saw the angels' circle open in order to allow the slain souls to move out of the circle in order to find some measure of peace somewhere else in the cosmos. And then it enclosed around James Holmes again.

I don't know why this guy affects me like this.  Maybe its because of my client, I'll call him, Hank.  The first time I saw him he came into my office with his hand in his pocket, working something.  I thought: 'what has he got in his pocket.'  He told me sometime later that it was a knife.  That afternoon he was diagnosed by me as having schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type. 

James Holmes, as per the NYT article, texted a friend in his PhD program a query as to whether she knew what 'dysphoric mania' was---as he was crashing.  Its a kind of bipolar disorder, associated w/ psychosis.  My client, Hank, had been psychotic in the past. 

A couple of years ago he told me that he saw the devil standing behind me.  I looked around and said, "Hank: the devil is not there', poking my hand into the void. The other day Hank told me that a local lay preacher suggested to him that his mental illness was 'caused by the devil.'  Hank has a habit of calling me on an almost nightly basis to simply check in. 

Do you think that the psychiatrist or other mental health people at the U. of CO, Denver, were available to James Holmes like this?  I admit to being peeved that my diligence is dismissed as associated with NC Mental Health 'Reform.'  What do 'those jokers' think this business is about?  Do they think it is a 9-5 job?  If not, then why don't they pay us and give us street cred for the work we do?

But I digress. 

This past Saturday Hank, when he called me at 7 pm, Hank related the story about the preacher to me.  I told him that 'this is an old way of thinking about mental health stuff' and that what goes on with him is related to a problem w/ the chemistry of his brain. I suggested that he has an opportunity to educate others about what goes on with him.  And, thank goddess, Hank does this more and more regularly.  Why, the other day, he stopped his car, and simply talked to a man to tell him that his name was 'Hank' and that he was 'glad to meet you.'  In the little town of Waynesville this was not thought of as weird but simply a friendly if slightly strange gesture. 

On the other hand, I said, to Hank, that if that preacher wants to pray for you, I would recommend that you ask him to. 

Tonight Hank called me and advised me that while waiting to see the new psychiatrist at the local private company in Waynesville, NC, that another person with Bipolar Disorder was sitting in close proximity to him and they exchanged information about how it is to live w/ Bipolar disorder. 

Hank told the other person waiting to see the psychiatrist that 'I'll pray for you tonight.'  Understandably, the other person was grateful. 

So, tonight I have prayed for James Holmes.  I winged him a message suggesting that he was not devoid of people praying for him and all those sentient souls he sent hurdling away on that dark night, as he evoked Heath Ledger's Joker: a poignantly lost soul who in fact flamed out no so very long after he played that part.

Send a prayer up for James Holmes and the souls he inadvertently blew out into the cosmos. 

Or as my supervisor at University at Alabama Birmingham/ VA Hospital told me upon finishing my internship there, as associated with a little card he handed out to interns: "Pray for your profession."



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