By Ebony Easter
My goal in writing this article is to describe the real dangers of psychiatric hospitalization by providing my account of being an inpatient and the important role that justice can play in healing and reshaping a person who has endured such things as I have.
Often, sexual abuse, physical abuse and substance abuse can result in acute psychiatric care by causing strange behaviors in people due to trauma. Many times, it is difficult to reach someone past their unintelligible thoughts and words such as when dealing with childhood rape or physical abuse because they have drawn themselves into a world only they understand and can control.
Luckily, there are skilled professionals who can recognize such origins of behavior and use cognitive and talk therapies to reach out to people suffering from these traumas before antisocial behaviors occur. In such cases where traumas are unresolved for years, behaviors among the suffering can become out of control, confusing and cause a compromise to the personal care and overall success of the sufferer.
I could go on to detail every little thing and the misery about inpatient and outpatient treatment. However, I can only share my experience.
My trauma stemmed from sexual abuse and so I can’t say anything other than I broke. Years later, during treatment, I incurred physical and emotional abuses. I never legally knew what to do. Nothing was ever litigated. I had to pull myself up to deny my problems and become well.
My trauma was not my fault but I could become responsible to my life improving, which it has. I could just never understand how something so obvious could get drugged over and lost in the diagnostic shuffle and then begin to create enmity between those trying to help me. I have had positive experiences that have been helpful, but I have also seen some atrocities.
I think if I could change anything it would be to never have had been abused sexually or physically. It was always the reason for validating hurtful treatment even when I was being good.
I feel my experience as a patient in mental health has put me on the other side of life, so to speak, as no one who is truly normal and well would have something incurable and mysterious, as frightening and unattractive. I just always recall being afraid, sad and angry all very typical of trauma, but compliant. Compliant until it hurt. Always lost, never going anywhere with anything.
I just kept hoping, kept believing I would get better. Part of this process was denying diagnoses, correcting information, being refused freedoms, being afraid of myself, being made so uncomfortable by meds. I was destructive at times, admitting my faults, but I cannot excuse the cases of abuse I went through.
One incident I went through took place in the ER of the now closed University Medical Center (UMC). I was brought into the ER after feeling ill in my apartment. I had a guitar I brought in with me as my belongings and hospital staff thought I was going to hurt someone. So they took the instrument and after that they forcibly put me on a gurney, tied me down and gave me a shot in the inner thigh, a procedure which in the field of psychiatric medicine is illegal. In the process of administering the shot given, the security guard holding me down tore my meniscus on my right leg, which to this day has not correctly healed.
Shortly after, I was taken to Crestwood Bakersfield where I was later raped by a nurse who worked there. To this day, I have not received treatment for my injured knee and nothing happened to the person who raped me.
To remedy the removal of humanity I experienced by not being able to tell anyone what had or was happening to me, and to be turned away by the bar and other malpractice lawyers constantly, I decided to help myself. I created this idea for a bill that if passed into a law would put the pathways of justice into the hands of the abused both in and out of psychiatry whether conserved, inpatient or outpatient. It is called retroactive justice and deserves consideration.
Retroactive justice will attack the existence of the statute of limitations in the realm of civil rights cases pertinent to psychiatric abuse. Retroactive justice will allow cases to be heard and processed by means of client/hospital auditing regardless of the passage of time and allow for reasonable monetary compensation for all damages and loses. In more extreme cases, criminal incarceration would be considered. This is an attempt to rectify damages caused to patients by staff members. Protection for victims and their families would be provided.
To learn more about retroactive justice, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ebony Easter is an advocate for patient rights. Contact her at email@example.com.