Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Losing it in a time of pandemic

I had a text conversation early today with a group of people, most of whom I probably offended. I’m trying to decide whether I’m sorry or not....

Maybe it’s not an excuse (my business after all), but I had just had phone conversations with three different violent psychotic criminals as I drank my first morning coffee. Illinois’ psychiatric plantations, including at least Elgin Mental Health Center, Chicago Read Mental Health Center and Chester Mental Health Center, are all on lockdown in the desperate hope of preventing corona virus from getting a foothold and turning into an unholy disaster. I’m told there’s at least one confirmed COVID19 case at Elgin already.

I’m also told that precautions are lax. Floors get mopped, but there is less attention to sterilizing surfaces on the clinical units than there was during the outbreak of MERS a year or two back. The pandemic is mostly a justification for more restrictive, punishing control over patients and violations of any inconvenient provisions in the Illinois Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Code. The prevailing attitude is suppressed terror and fatalism.

One out of three staff (maybe) wear masks on the units, and only intermittently. Keep in mind, this is a (so-called) hospital, but only staff are allowed to come and go. The (so-called) patients are locked in, and right now they are not allowed any visitors. The only possible source of the virus, if it gets in, is staff.

If it does get in, it will be a real shit show. Almost everybody is taking drugs that cause complex medical situations and put people at high risk for the virus. And of course, they’re all packed into the institutional milieu, eating together, sleeping in multi-bed rooms, with almost nothing to do but look at each other and interact crazily. It’s a made-to-order death camp. The people in charge have been pretending throughout their careers to be real doctors, but they’re bottom-of-the-totem-pole as MD’s, and they resent that fact and instinctively, subconsciously perhaps, take it out on the patients.

Anyway, I was thinking about all this as I got out of bed this morning, turned on the news and checked my phone. The group text chain, which I had started myself last week to put out some good news about the pandemic that somebody had sent to me, featured at least one new message. The group includes two of my sisters, two nieces, and three couples who are long and very close friends. They all know my views on mental health and the character of my legal work.

Here’s how it went.

SISTER #1: (Sending a picture, text over an abstract multi-hued background that might be peaceful water...) You know if you keep a glass of wine in each hand you can’t accidentally touch your face.

FRIEND #1: (“Loved” the image.)
FRIEND #1: A little early, don’t you think? šŸ˜œ

SISTER #1: Everyone has their own standards. šŸ·

FRIEND #1: (Sending a picture of a beautiful island scene, possibly from the Maldives or Bahamas, with text under it...) There is a massive upside to all this self isolation. With less travel, less pollution and less human activity, the earth is recovering and healing. This was Detroit this morning. 

SISTER #1: (Laughed at the image.)

ME: Looks like a disaster.
ME: We don’t need idyllic fucking island beaches. We need our vibrant, exciting and productive civilization back!! I’ve got a perfectly beautiful beach in my back yard.
ME: (Sending a URL to nice pictures of Detroit, the real city.) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Detroit?wprov=sfti1

SISTER #1: Well that was cheerful.

ME: šŸ™ƒ
ME: I already spoke to two violent psychotic criminals this morning!

FRIEND #1: Go punch some pillows. šŸ˜œ

SISTER #1: (Laughed at “Go punch some pillows.šŸ˜œ”)

FRIEND #2: Talk about contagious!

FRIEND #1: (Emphasized “Talk about contagious!”)

ME: You betchya! šŸ˜¬šŸ˜¬

SISTER #1: Someone please send a spare Valium to the beautiful beach šŸ– 

ME: Im thinking our wonderful system of “forensic psychiatry” is going to be an unholy disaster with virus outbreaks in facilities like Elgin & Chester looking like death camps.
ME: (I love Valium, btw.)
ME: (Especially I-V.)

SISTER #2: (Laughed at “Well that was cheerful.”

ME: Locking people up to “diagnose” and “treat” them for their thinking and behavior whether they like it or not will turn out to be at least as embarrassing as several things they did in Europe in the 20th century, and equally as criminal.
ME: We’re paying $800/person/day to screw around with fake “diseases” on unwilling “patients” ... while a real viral pandemic is killing people?
ME: Maybe we deserve to have great cities like Detroit reduced to desert islands.
ME: šŸ˜„
ME: There’s cheerful for you!

SISTER #1: You need more than Valium. Thanks for sharing your cheerful thoughts with everyone. I’m sure we all woke up this morning looking forward to a rant. Count your blessings.

FRIEND #1: Did you find a pillow to punch yet?

ME: Hey you guys just got lucky today. I’ll revert back to my more social self now.
ME: But just a quick parting comment (after a third conversation this AM with a violent psychotic criminal) to finish off the rant and refer to an historical perspective...
ME: ***Psychiatria delenda est!***

FRIEND #1: Please put (my wife’s name) on this text so she can keep an eye on you.šŸ˜œ

ME: No, that’s exactly why she’s not on it. But you’ll fucking rat on me, I know.šŸ˜³

FRIEND #1: First chance I get! šŸ˜‚

ME: šŸ˜˜

SISTER #2: (Laughed at “First chance I get! šŸ˜‚”)

Looking back over this text conversation, I’m mostly thinking I really like these people. I hope they all stay safe and healthy through the pandemic. I also hope that we all — all people in Illinois, and all people, including the six who have called me (by 2PM) today, begging me to help them not die behind the locked doors of the Elgin/Chester plantation — will soon be safer than we have been at the hands of the corrupt, sadistic, fraudulent system called “forensic psychiatry”.

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