I want to tell the rest of my son, Michael’s, story because I need the support of this community. If you read about Michael in my previous story, Two Knocks, then you know he was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder at the age of 17. But maybe what I didn’t explain well enough is that Michael is, by far, the most passive and kind person I have ever known.
I’ll cut to the chase, about one year ago, in January, 2015, after spending five weeks prior in a local hospital, Michael was released. However, upon release, he was still “not right”. He was psychotic and manic the day he stepped out of the hospital. He came home but then left again, in the middle of the night. He left a note for the family, not to worry about him, because he was setting out on his own to find his own truths, as he put it.
We were frantic, looking for him but then, the following morning, we got a call from a local policeman, Office Shepherd, who knew Michael and his diagnosis. The officer and his partner had coincidentally, been called to the area where they found Michael – sitting in the snow, barefooted, praying – because a horse had fallen into the pond across the street from the church where Michael sat. A crane had been called in to rescue the horse and was snarling traffic so the police were summoned.
Recognizing Michael immediately, Officer Shepherd called my oldest son, Nick, to ask what they should do about Michael sitting in the snow, no coat, no shoes. Really? They asked Nick? Anyway, Nick told Officer Shepherd to tell Michael to come home; we’ve been worried about him. So Officer Shepherd relayed Nick’s message to Michael and then left him alone to direct traffic.
About ten or fifteen minutes later, Michael began to hear a voice in his head that told him, “Get home! Get home quickly!” So he got into his car and careened down the hill away from the church and into the mayhem that was taking place in the intersection below; police, standbys, newspaper reporter, cameraman, horse… “Get home, get home quickly!” the voice cried.
Michael swerved and accidentally ran over Officer Shepherd’s foot and then crashed into a guardrail. He got out of his car and began to run home. The two officers chased him down (Shepherd too) and wrestled him to the ground and put him in the back of their police car, about twenty minutes too late, and took him downtown. But not to a hospital, no, they took him to see the judge.
As he stood in the courtroom, barefooted, as Nick stood outside the courtroom, crying and holding up his shoes, Michael was charged with attempted murder of a police officer and was immediately sent to prison.
He remained in prison for nine months before finally being transferred to a state hospital for the mentally ill. He has since been found not guilty by reason of insanity. However, and this is where I need help – I’m desperate – they have no intention of ever letting him out. My passive, kind son is currently being housed with the criminally insane and he may remain there for the rest of his life!
I have reached out to state and local advocacy groups and although they are outraged at what has happened to Michael, they offer no solution. I ask you, the community in support of the mentally ill, what else can be done to release my dying son? And he is dying. State hospitals bread insanity. It’s a pressure cooker and I fear every time the phone rings from the hospital that I will be told that Michael killed himself.