We are invisible. Feel free to ignore us. You already have.
Yes, I am bitter, but I hope you read this.
My name is Reid and I’m insane, but I’m not currently crazy. According to my latest diagnosis (my fifth since I was admitted!) I have something vague that will probably never reoccur. I am a 30 year old male and I live at Western State Hospital, a state-run psychiatric hospital in Lakewood, WA. Hopefully I haven’t bored you yet, because I’ve found that no one is particularly interested in us crazy people.
First, let me say that I belong in prison. I did something that would land most people in jail or prison. If you think I’m being humble, you are wrong. I’m in a place far worse than prison in many ways. The place I live in is every bit as violent as prison, and probably more so.
I am not listened to here, because I’m just one of many crazy people. I am not believed when I make a complaint. There are no statistics or reports as to how violent this place is, except when it comes to violence against the staff. For each staff member who gets hit or punched, there is a report and it becomes part of a statistic that shows how dangerous it is to work here. It is dangerous to work here. But what never gets mentioned is how violent and dangerous it is for us patients, unless something really spectacular happens like a fire, a murder or a suicide. Boring stuff like daily violence and threats of violence to patients doesn’t get reported.
If you are still reading this, let me tell you what I did. And please understand, I take full responsibility for what I did. My mother tells me that I was completely psychotic and out of control at the time and wasn’t responsible for my actions. Although I love and respect my mother very much, I disagree with her. It was me that did what I did, no matter what frame of mind I was in.
First I have to tell you, I have suffered from anxiety and depression since I was a teenager and I’ve taken various medications on and off. Every single medication had nasty side effects (one of them made my body jerk in seizure-like movements every few seconds), and late in 2010 I decided that I would just quit taking everything and live with the depression. Although I had no way of knowing it at the time, this was one of the biggest mistakes of my life. If I had known that going off my antidepressants could cause psychosis I would never have quit taking them. When I get depressed, I stop sleeping, and between severe sleep deprivation and the withdrawal symptoms of stopping my medication, I totally lost it.
By February of 2011, I had moved back in with my mother and brother because the friend that I lived with had had enough of me. I told my mom that something was wrong with my brain and I asked to be taken to the emergency room. My mother took me, but I was told that because I wasn’t a danger to myself or others I couldn’t be hospitalized and they sent me home.
I made a mental health appointment, but I couldn’t be seen right away and I was starting to get very scared. Can you imagine if your whole world started to go sideways and nothing was looking right anymore? If your thoughts became strange and you couldn’t do a thing about it?
I asked my mother to take me to the hospital again a day or so later, and she did. I asked them to please admit me to a psychiatric hospital because my mind was getting out of control and I was very afraid. They sent me home again.
The next night I asked my mother to please take me to the hospital again – maybe this time they would admit me. My thoughts were so disorganized and weird that I felt like I was losing control. I’d never been so afraid in my life. My mother was so tired from not getting much sleep because of worrying about me and keeping an eye out for me that she said, “Dear, the hospital won’t do a thing. We already tried two times. Please just let me sleep tonight and we’ll figure out what we can do in the morning.”
The next part is hard for me to tell.
I went completely psychotic that night. I totally lost it. That whole period of my life is kind of hazy, so I have to go off what people told me. I do remember that I absolutely believed that I needed to save my family, and that I needed to break into the apartment in our back yard where my cousin and her husband lived.
I was told later that I broke into the apartment and assaulted my cousin and her husband. After I broke in, my cousin’s husband grabbed his ice axe off the wall and hit me in the ribs with it (who could blame him, with a crazy person breaking in like that?). I grabbed the axe to keep from getting hit and we wrestled around on the floor, with neither of us in control of the axe. There was glass all over the floor from the window I had broken getting in, and we were both cut up. Somehow I managed to punch my cousin during this.
My cousin called the police. I’ve read the police report, and it was bad. People were screaming, there was blood from the glass that was all over the floor and there was me, the crazy person who caused it all. The police told me to get on the floor, which I did (thank God, because they would have shot me), and they took us all to the emergency room.
None of us were permanently injured, but what happened was awful. My cousin and her husband in no way deserved what happened to them, and I will be sorry and ashamed for the rest of my life for what I did. I am most sorry that I can never apologize in person, because I’ll never be allowed to see them again or have any contact.
So, you’re probably thinking, “Wow, why aren’t you in prison? You certainly deserve it!” I agree.
Let me tell you the rest of it.
After I got patched up in the emergency room, I was booked at the Snohomish County Jail and charged with burglary in the first degree. This was the first time I’d ever been arrested – the first time I ever did anything to be arrested for. I was told later that I was catatonic part of the time and howling like an animal the rest of the time. The only thing I remember is how afraid I was.
And then things just got more hellish. I was locked in solitary confinement for months, and strapped down in a chair part of the time. I wasn’t sleeping. I was locked in a padded room with only a grate in the floor for a toilet. I was told that I refused medications and food, but I just remember the hellish fear, how cold I was all the time and my utter confusion. I lost more than 40 pounds and I wasn’t overweight to begin with.
I finally started taking Haldol (haloperidol), a psychiatric tranquilizer that jails and psychiatric hospitals prescribe because it is very cheap. While this drug allowed me to sleep, it also made me have jerking head movements, body twitches, drooling, and it gave me this really weird restless feeling, which are all the usual side effects of this drug. My mother said my face looked strange, that my eyes were open wide and it looked like I was wearing a stiff mask. My mom asked for a newer generation antipsychotic with fewer side effects, but it wasn’t in the budget.
The staff started giving me high doses of another drug, Cogentin (an anti-Parkinson’s drug), to counteract the side effects of the Haldol. Unfortunately the Cogentin made my eyesight blurry, my fingers numb and caused constant nausea, but I took it anyway because it slowed down the twitches. As I said, I wasn’t crazy anymore, but I sure felt and looked weird.
A while after I started the Haldol, they let me out in the general population and I discovered that it was possible to be thankful while being in jail. Being out in the general population was like heaven at first. In solitary, I had been completely alone all day, except for one hour a day in which I was still alone but had more room for a little while. My first day out of solitary was like a miracle. There were inmates who asked me to play chess. I started to get a sandwich and an orange in the evenings because of how much weight I had lost.
Months passed. I found it hard to stay thankful, but I tried to remember what it was like to be psychotic and locked up all alone. Because of my mother’s constant petitioning, the jail infirmary finally allowed me to have a better medication and I felt much better. No more drooling and twitching!
I assumed I would be going to prison and I asked the attorney who was assigned to me about what kind of sentence I was going to get. She said that after she negotiated with the prosecuting attorney, I would probably have to spend up to 15 months in prison, with less time served because of all the time I already served, plus about two years of probation. She told me that I should go after a NGRI (Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity) because that way I wouldn’t have a felony on my record and I would get out of the psychiatric hospital much sooner. I told my attorney that I should go to prison, but she and my mother told me that I wasn’t responsible for what I did because I was completely psychotic.
My attorney told me that the maximum sentence for burglary in the first degree is a life sentence and that technically the hospital could keep me for up to my maximum sentence, but I shouldn’t worry because that wouldn’t happen. My mother begged me to try for a NGRI. I agreed.
Well, I won my NGRI. I was obviously totally nuts at the time of my crime and my attorney didn’t have any problem proving that. My mother was so happy she cried, right there in court. A week later, on my 26th birthday, October 25, 2011, I was transferred to Western State Hospital.
Next you’ll understand why I wasn’t being humble when I said I should have gone to prison. I wasn’t being humble, I was being selfish. I would have been much better off in prison. I would have done my time and then went on probation after I got out. If I messed up in any way, I would have gone back to prison, exactly as I would deserve to.
The counselor who admitted me that evening told me that I would be at Western State Hospital for many, many years, and that attorneys always told their clients they would get out sooner than if they accepted a felony. I was in shock and demanded to call my attorney. I found out that I didn’t have an attorney anymore because she had been appointed to county Superior Court and promoted to a judge.
I was told that I was now part of the medical system anyway, not the legal system. The counselor let me call my mom and at first she didn’t believe me. Mom said I must not be hearing the counselor right. I had the counselor talk to my mother and she told my mom that she saw this all the time – that the new patients were always shocked to learn they would be spending far more time in the hospital than they would have in prison.
I was taken to the first of the three forensic wards I was to live in, where I found out that there were only a few of us NGRI patients who hadn’t actually mutilated, raped, or murdered someone or burned something down. My brand new roommate had murdered someone, but he assured me that he didn’t snore. That night, my mother called the ward nurse and tried to explain that there had been a mistake. The nurse was kind, but she didn’t believe that I hadn’t murdered anyone.
Well, now I’m back at the beginning of my story. I have been here at Western State Hospital for almost five years. In the time I’ve been here, I have accomplished everything that was asked of me and followed all the rules. I went to my treatment classes (which mostly consisted of playing board games or cards, watching movies, or lifting tiny weights so ‘I don’t hurt myself’), took my meds and was told that I’ve met all my treatment goals. I haven’t had any more incidents of the psychosis that put me here and probably never will again. I’ve never caused any of the violence I’m surrounded by daily. My first incident of violence in my life was also my last.
I would have been free by now if I had been convicted of a felony. But while I’ve been told that I’ve met all the criteria for a conditional release (which would come with very strict conditions and continued confinement for several more years in exchange for slightly more freedom), the hospital won’t grant me this because I can’t prove that I won’t be dangerous in the future. Can anyone prove this? Even convicts don’t have to prove they’re ‘safe’ before they are freed. Legally, Western State Hospital doesn’t have to do anything more than say I could possibly be dangerous in the future to keep me here for life. The hospital makes $250,000 each year it keeps me here. I’m easy money; I don’t cause problems. No one will look into this, because what they are doing is legal.
There are many, many awful things that have happened since I was admitted. Suicides, murders, staff abusing patients, deaths caused by incompetence and much more. Any signs of grief and fear that I might show would be viewed as signs of my mental illness, so I keep it to myself. I still have headaches from how many times I was kicked in the head when a roommate attacked me while I was eating dinner. The good news is that my ribs have finally healed.
Okay, so now I have to admit that I have an ulterior motive for writing this. I want Western State Hospital to do the very thing I’ve been told over and over in my treatment classes: “Be open. Be honest. Be transparent.” I’ve come to understand that this motto only applies to the patients, not to the hospital. The hospital is rarely held accountable for anything, and legally doesn’t have to be held accountable. The hospital has become arrogant in how it hides its problems and how it treats its patients. Western State Hospital can keep me here for the rest of my life, for any reason at all. Or for no reason at all. It was granted this right by the state of Washington, which by the way, owns Western State Hospital.
All other hospitals in Washington State have to report problems and be held accountable to the DOH, Washington State Department of Health, but this hospital is owned by Washington State and it has exempted itself from reporting mishaps and problems. This is outrageous.
Why hasn’t the public demanded that Western State Hospital, home of some of the most invisible, voiceless people, be held accountable like all the other hospitals? Because crazy people are boring. Crazy people are distasteful and probably deserve what they get. There’s more important things to do than waste time on crazy people. Like watch TV, or play video games. Or a hundred other things.
I accuse you of the crime of not caring. You the public, you the individual. Any news article that comes out about the abuses of Western State Hospital quickly fade away in obscurity, because of your lack of caring. I’m not just writing for myself. Most of the patients here can’t speak up for themselves like I can, and therefore are utterly helpless to defend themselves against the lack of accountability.
But then, I’m insane, what do I know?
Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.
Reid, very sorry to hear about this. Although I am glad you have been able to make your voice heard.
It sounds like the hospital administrators should be sued for keeping a person incarcerated when they are no longer any threat to anyone.
This Orwellian, Kafkaesque story would seem to be a prime case for a legal challenge in the state supreme court or even the Supreme Court. Hard to believe this is happening here in the United States. Our social control system isn’t the same as North Korea or Iran; at least, I didn’t think it was…
Maybe Jim Gottstein or another lawyer with knowledge of the psychiatric system would take on your case pro bono. There seems to be a very strong case that you should be released, if you are not evidencing violent behavior and/or inability to care for yourself currently.
Lastly Reid, you don’t deserve prison, although I understand why you said that you do because you want to accept responsibility.
The night you broke down you overwhelmed with difficult emotions and needed someone to take notice. Your behavior was a call for help, not a cruel attempt to harm other people. What you needed in response is not to be imprisoned, but to have someone sit with you and listen to you, to understand what is going on and what your needs are. Unfortunately our offical legal/psychiatric/prison system rarely provides this type of empathic response.
BPD this is off-subject but your assistance would be useful in our Murphy talking points discussion — specifically regarding your knowledge of other sites where anti-psych discussions take place and we might able to pick up some support for this project. Also in general. But let’s not get into it here. http://www.madinamerica.com/forums/topic/we-need-our-own-murphy-talking-points/
Back to Reid — Could the editor let us know whether he will have access to our comments (or whether he’s in solitary for writing this)?
It would be good to know whether to comment to him or about him.
Yes, Reid will have access to all the comments though me (his mom). I have to copy everything and mail it to him at the hospital, because he’s allowed no internet access.
I agree, Reid doesn’t deserve prison…but the very sad thing is he’s currently trying to get his NGRI dropped and get charged with a felony so he can go to prison…he will get time served (we hope!) and not be in for very long, but even if he doesn’t get time served, he will have a limited sentence and know he will be free some day. His pubic defender says there’s not much chance of getting his NGRI dropped, but she’s going to try. This whole situation is so stupid, it’s beyond words.
Hi. I am a Washington state licensed attorney and have practiced law and taught law for over 20 years. I don’t know much about the legal issues involved here, but if you found someone else who knew more about the issues I would be delighted to be a pro bono attorney assisting that person. This is just wrong. [email protected]
I have nothing to do with this case but I imagine that Jim Gottstein would be able to either brief you on the laws or connect you with someone who can. http://www.psychrights.org
My guess is the more Reid’s legalities are handled by attorneys from state-funded agencies the less able they will be to provide a defense based on constitutional rights rather than loopholes is the “mental health” laws. Either way the goal is to free him, of course, not look for some kind of consistency or rationality; it’s the law after all.
Reid’s Mom might be able to help you with this too. At any rate, thank you big time, I think on this at least I speak for everyone at MIA.
P.S. Though I’m not a lawyer, pleading to a felony strikes me as a bad tactic.
Wow, thanks! I’ll send you an email about what’s going on legally with my son. His public defender has a huge case load and rarely contacts us to let us know what’s going on, but the last time we talked to her the only idea she had was to try to get Reid’s NGRI dropped and replaced with the felony charge. I hate this idea but we don’t know what else to do.
I’m the mother of Reid; because he isn’t allowed to have internet access he has to communicate online though me and he needed me to submit his essay to have it published. I’ve been working for years to find someone to challenge his legal situation, but because of a lack of money there has been zero interest in helping me with the injustice of his situation, other than various people saying something like ‘Wow, that’s awful, good luck with your search!’ There are people who say they would help if I paid them, but there is no way of knowing if they would earn their money or not.
The hospital can legally keep Reid locked up for up to life, all they have to do is say it’s not safe to release him…they document their reasons with all sorts of psych jargon and the court doesn’t care at all whether it’s true or not. I’ve even paid outside experts who pointed out how inaccurate the hospital’s assessments are, but unless the hospital supports Reid for release the court will not support him. I’m now in debt for over $30,000 in order to learn this.
So, so sad! My son has been in and out of hospitals in the past, with many medications not helping very much. His diagnosis has varied, but right now, after 25 years, it’s schizo-affective disorder (or schizophrenia with other stuff). Clozapine was the “miracle drug” for him and he lives here at home, but has a girlfriend and if you were to talk to him you would not even know of his severe mental illness. Upon release from one of the psych units at a local hospital the doctor suggested a state-run facility about 50 miles away … my response “over my dead body!” Well . . . it has been quite a journey, but he has been doing well for a number of years. I’m in the process of writing a book about what we’ve learned. My faith and prayers have given me much comfort and hope, and I will be praying that Reid will be able to get out very soon. We live in the south, so going to Washington seems out of the question … but I’m heart-broken by your situation, and would like to put my arms around you and Reid and say “I care, and understand some of what you’re going through.” Our health-care system for the mentally ill is just a mess!!! Many blessings to you.
My heart goes out to you. It’s a repulsive injustice. Is this evolved society from the 21st century? As someone suffering from deep depression who’s been twice in the psychiatric ward (only 2 weeks each time), I can only imagine the hell he’s going through. Tell him to stay strong. It’s heartbreaking :(.
And I keep thinking: how many more Reids are there in the world????
I’ve been getting email from people who want to write to Reid, thank you all! Reid would love to hear from people…the only problem is he really can’t write back to anyone directly…he is only allowed to have a floppy prison pen (that mostly doesn’t work) and the hospital doesn’t make it easy to get letters out. Now that the hospital has confiscated his computer, he does his ‘writing’ by calling me up and I transcribe everything, but this is a laborious process.
But if you don’t mind not getting a reply back (I talk to him almost every day though, I could pass on any message he might have) here’s his address:
Reid Bertino, Unit F-4
Western State Hospital
9601 Steilacoom Blvd SW
Lakewood, WA 98498 USA
Don’t put anything in the envelopes except for printed material or pictures and please don’t send anything offensive or objectionable, because he is the one who will get in trouble for anything he receives…it doesn’t matter if he had nothing to do with whatever was sent.
I send mail to him all the time…I print out news articles, scientific articles of various sorts and he loves history…
He’s not allowed to receive books, but I’m allowed to copy and print out books on printer paper and send it to him…I guess this isn’t considered a book! He’s currently working his way though Robert Whitaker’s books…Reid’s the one who got me interested in Mad in America. I didn’t send him these books before, because I thought they’d just upset him. Well they did and now he’s making me read them!
My email is [email protected]
he is only allowed to have a floppy prison pen (that mostly doesn’t work) and the hospital doesn’t make it easy to get letters out. Now that the hospital has confiscated his computer
Isn’t that special! Obviously nothing to hide there.
Tell Reid that at least one world famous political prisoner has written widely published books using only the floppy plastic ink cartridges like they have in Bic pens.
Surely the Director would love hearing from people too? 🙂
Oh my gosh, I didn’t even think about asking people to write to the CEO of the hospital! I write to her and other people at the hospital all the time, so they won’t put Reid on the back burner…if anyone wants to drop a line to the CEO just to let her know that Reid hasn’t been forgotten:
Cheryl Strange, CEO
Western State Hospital
9601 Steilacoom Blvd SW
Lakewood, WA 98498 USA
The last CEO was fired, I’m not sure what I think of Cheryl yet, but she does answer my emails which is refreshing.
I just talked to Reid…he told me to tell anyone who might want to write to him to either type out the letter, or PRINT very neatly…he can’t read other peoples cursive for the life of him or really any writing that isn’t very neatly written.
This story sounds very similar to my son’s story, except that he is in a CA prison with an release date. He is on so many psychotropic drugs, has been involuntarily medicated. He was never diagnosed until after his arraignment. As with this story, my son never committed any crimes or was violent before this. His six years in the system so far has been very tough. He has seven more to go, has had over 30 transfers, been extorted, sexually advanced on, assaulted, isolated, and the list goes on. Even with this, I am far more concerned about a real possible MDO (Mentally disordered Offender) status closer to release! I think there is time to find appropriate legal counsel and an outside mental health professional to help secure a release…..but I could be wrong. I am so sad for Reid Bertino and think his situation is extremely unjust! My son is 30 as well. I haven’t seen him but once in five years and think the medications are causing most of his problems. I fear if his situation doesn’t get better, he could end up a statistic in a state hospital! Is there anyone who could advise me in the right legal direction? I don’t want to loose him forever….Mom of CA inmate
You could contact Jim Gottstein – http://www.psychrights.org
I’m going to do just that after I’m feeling a bit less overwhelmed! I have so many irons in the fire, I get confused with how many things I’m juggling all at once.
Alright, I took a look at psychrights website and I sent an email…thanks for letting me know about it.
Wow! This does sound like my son’s story! I’m very sorry to hear about your son. I complain about how Reid is treated, but at least I can periodically challenge what happens to him because he’s supposedly ‘civilly’ committed and sometimes I can get the hospital to stop certain actions. Like the recent incident where Reid was restrained and hauled out of his bedroom because he asked staff to speak to him politely when they ordered him out of his room because they gave it to another patient. He was completely non-violent and polite the entire time, but he wasn’t complying with the order to get out of his room until they spoke politely…which never happened. Later, the hospital has admitted it was wrong to restrain a peaceful patient and wouldn’t do so again. This admission wouldn’t have happened in a prison!
It depends on the situation and what pressure is brought to bear.
Keep in mind that despite the medical trappings (or potted plants in the lobby or whatever) Reid is already in a prison. I believe that the Miranda law should apply to psychiatric interviews, in which anything you say may be used against you in a court of “law.” In Reid’s case this might have disqualified a lot of the testimony against him in court, would you agree?
Reid, thank you for writing such an outstanding article and posting it.
The idea that people are insane is coming from Psychiatrists and Psychotherapists.
So when people see someone, like say a homeless person, talking to themselves and seemingly very agitated, they will say, “He is mentally ill.”
I would look at the same situation and come to a completely different conclusion. I would say, “He is very angry, and probably for extremely good reason.”
The idea that people should just somehow learn to conform, and stuff their feelings about past abuses and the fact that they are being denied a biography, seems to come from Psychotherapy and Religion.
Underneath what is supposedly mental illness, there is always actual and legitimate conflict. But our society is built upon lies and denial.
The way to change this is never psychiatric drugs, psychotherapy, or getting Saved. It is in legal and political activism. Once we survivors are finally able to organize, then we will build for ourselves a legitimated identity.
Read More Here:
Thank you for your post,
OK so it sounds like — though perhaps there could be missing information — you lost it for a number of reason and the drugs exacerbated the problem. Had you often expressed yourself violently before? If not you might consider that psych drugs are known to contribute to violence (and this Is likely an understatement). You might want to have a lawyer look into this.
Just so you know, you are not sick and are not in a hospital; you are stuck in a waystation in the gulag. I see no reason why you should be locked up unless there is some reason to believe you will likely become violent or engage in criminal behavior. Is there?
Nope, Reid was never violent before and will never be violent again. His incident of violence was caused by severe sleep deprivation and withdrawal from antidepressants. Reid asked for help when he felt like he was losing control and he was denied immediate care…he was given a mental health appointment in the future, which was too late. He will now be taken seriously from now on if he says he feels out of control…this is about the only good thing that’s come out of this.
Selena check out John Rohrer’s story too. Ohio. Freejohnrohrer.org. There have been protests and multiple lawsuits. Maybe those who are in this situation can somehow get together a coalition, or their supporters can, and petition the federal government. Maybe all together if you presented all the cases as similar stories. Just a thought.
Clearly, “reason of insanity caused by prescription drugs…” but can we get the laws changed to make allowances for this as these drugs are clearly in the mainstream now?
Sorry about what happened to you, Reid. Glad, however, you were able to get your voice heard from inside a psych hospital. Since I know when I was unjustly and illegally (based upon forged signatures) held in one by this now FBI convicted doctor:
My family was told they could not visit me, my friends were sent away when they came to visit me, and I was not allowed any access, whatsoever, with the outside world. And I was being hospitalized to cover up prior easily recognized and complex iatrogenesis and medical evidence of the sexual abuse of my child – you know, apparently I was a potential financial “danger” to unethical doctors who were paranoid of a non-existent, but viable, malpractice suit and some wealthy and well connected child molesters. Actually, including the child molestation covering up bishops written about in this book:
But you found the right place, and you are the second NGRI from inside a psych ward to publish here recently. I find that promising. And those of us here all know today’s psychiatric system is deplorable, filled with greed inspired criminals, and is unjustly abusing its wrongly given power. We do care, and hope to change the current system.
I hope Jim will take your case, because I agree it sounds like you’re being unjustly imprisoned for much longer than you deserve, due to the $250,000 each year that Western State Hospital takes for their ‘care’ / abuse of you. ‘The Almighty dollar’ does seem to be to what all the psychiatric practitioners worship, if not Satan himself.
Although, I’d like to suggest you work towards requesting your doctors assist you in weaning from the drugs. Since your experience, “took my meds,” “I haven’t had any more incidents of the psychosis that put me here and probably never will again,” may be incorrect. Because weaning from the antipsychotics, like Haldol or any of the ‘atypical antipsychotics,’ can cause what’s medically known as a drug withdrawal induced “super sensitivity manic psychosis.” Google it.
And trust me, I know, because drug withdrawal induced super sensitivity manic psychosis is what resulted in my two hospitalizations. Thankfully, my second hospitalization resulted in an ‘adjustment disorder,’ thus no required lifelong medication, rather than a ‘bipolar,’ requiring lifelong medication, misdiagnosis. The bottom line is, withdrawal from the antipsychotics can also cause psychosis. This is part of the reason why the psychiatrists don’t want to wean anyone off the drugs.
I’m sorry that this man is insane. But i don’t want to share my public space with him. I have no doubt that once out, he’ll stop taking his meds and wind up attacking someone again.
Drug withdrawal caused this man’s violence. Not drug non-compliance. People routinely commit crimes when they’re quitting crack or heroin. Nobody ever claims that those folks should avoid becoming “violent” by staying on their “street drugs”. Mr. Bertino was in the exact same circumstance as millions of other people who never get railroaded into psychiatry. What distinguishes him from his free contemporaries are the type of drugs he was hooked on and the type of predators who got him hooked. “Junk” versus scripts and “docs” versus “dealers”. Same shit, different labels. That’s all.
If either one of you are referring to me, nobody is making you read my comments. It’s a free country and I’m free to have my opinion, just as you’re free to have yours. It’s too bad you can’t see a thought you disagree with without shouting “troll”. I haven’t been rude to you. I have my own experiences and my own perspectives.
Whoops, I didn’t see this comment before I commented on your other one. I agree with you, you do have your own experience and perspective…it is all to easy for people who believe in the same things to group together and pretend there are no other opinions out there…and to attack others who have a different opinion. It’s called ‘confirmation bias’…the tendency to only expose ourselves to things that reinforce our beliefs and to reject the rest.
I’ve read though all your comments, givemeyourking…I don’t consider you a troll at all. You don’t seem to be posting in order to cause pain, you are just expressing what a vast number of Americans feel but keep to themselves because they understand how politically incorrect their opinions are.
I occasionally post on sites that consider me a troll…like the National Rifle Association…boy of boy! A believer in gun control daring to post an opposing opinion? I’ve been asked why on earth I would want to post on a site with such an extremely different viewpoint as mine and where I’m definitely not welcome…it’s because we all need to take a close look at our confirmation biases and try to stretch our brains a bit…even if it means I have to read about the NRA.
The first two times I said essentially the same as the following it got posted in the wrong order, so I’ll just post it as a “reply,” which is that it’s very easy to let important discussions like this one get sidetracked by tangential irrelevancies, and I think Reid deserves better. Sometimes people can be too liberal for their own good.
Wow dude how stupid can you get. Why don’t you let the rest of us know where you got your crystal ball from? And why don’t you post your studies showing how taking psych drugs stops people from being violent..
because you don’t have anything.
givemeyourking…you are in the majority with your opinion and I appreciate it when people are willing to say exactly what they think. However, I challenge you to use your real name…it’s easy to express an extreme opinion while remaining anonymous. Many people are willing to express an opinion anonymously that they would never say to friends or co-workers…it takes guts to say what you really think and feel when people know who you are.
I also think we should never blast people for saying what they think, even if we deeply disagree…blasting people only encourages people to stay anonymous. I’ve looked at your other comments, givemeyourking…it is obvious that you have strong feelings about the mentally ill that you don’t feel safe enough to express, except when hiding behind a fake name.
And I challenge everyone to use their real name…unless they truly feel it wouldn’t be safe.
What source are you drawing from (of data) for your idea that the majority of people have the same opinion as this dude?
All you have to do is cruise the sites that you find ‘repulsive’! It’s amazing how many there are! All you have to do is talk to your average Trump follower…which while in the minority, there are still several million of these people who harbor the same type of beliefs as our givemeyourking commenter. And I bet there are plenty of ‘closet’ trump supporters, those who are too embarrassed to admit it. Pretend you are a right wing Christian and only look at websites that support right wing opinions…this is where I get my data from. And don’t even get me started on the NRA and the stuff they put out! It’s really distasteful and awful…but people really need to take a close look at what ‘the other side’ is up to and rather than saying things like, ‘that’s disgusting’, or ‘you troll!’ I think it would be far more helpful over all to try to understand where that person is coming from. Otherwise, each of us stays in our own corner of comfort and only listens to what we already believe in.
The “other side” you refer to is not articulated in the least by this poster. They’re much more sophisticated. It’s the arguments put out in favor of the medical model by those who actually run and profit from the system we primarily need to confront, not someone venting on the site. Unless you have lots of time to kill. People may have numerous reasons for posting these things (mostly ego related) but I think we should expend our energies fighting the official mentality responsible for such ignorance rather than getting dragged down in the bile. Bigotry is not subject to rational debate, after all.
Also, here is absolutely no reason should be expected to provide their “real” names. This isn’t about personalities, it’s about reasoned debate. At least it should be.
Make that, “There is no reason people should be expected to post their real names.”
I respect and honor Reid’s courage to not be anonymous. To show fearlessness in the face of such fear-inducing circumstances is the example of true courage. Speaking our truth anonymously can only go so far, for a lot of reasons. Mostly, it is the example of embodying fear and/or shame, and generates pain, anxiety, and depression.
To be powerful when creating change, and persuasive, I think the courage to be vulnerable would be vital. That’s how healing occurs, as well, which is internal change.
Without vulnerability, there can be no change, only resistance to it. It’s like letting go of the river banks and trusting the current. Those who don’t let go never move from that same place, as the river rushes past, causing them to dig their nails deeper into the earth. That’s a lot of resistance.
Outrageous! I’ll tell you what, Washington State, since money is the only reason you’re locking Mr. Bertino up, why not make a trade? Round up all the quacks that poisoned Mr. Bertino during his formative years, pump them full of their own “medicine”, and then, RIGHTFULLY, call *that* justice. You are locking up a SANE man whose “insanity” and “heinous crimes” were BOTH iatrogenic. THAT IS ILLEGAL! Google “Corey Baadsgaard” to read about another person who “offended” under the influence of psychiatric narcotics.
Mr. Bertino, stay true to yourself. You are NOT a monster, a meme for pro-force psychiatry fanatics, or a criminal. You are an honest, brave, and self-responsible man. Not only that, but psychiatry’s victimization of you (It HAS battered, cruelly and unusually punished you, wrongfully imprisioned you, and defrauded you.) has FAR outweighed the consequences of your psych-drug-fueled “crimes”.
Mad in America, please do ALL that you can to release Mr. Bertino from his psychiatric bondage. I, for one, will do anything I can to aid your efforts to help set him free. Thank you SO MUCH for providing Mr. Bertino a open and friendly place to tell his story. The only thing I ask is that you delete this man’s personally identifying information. Mad in America’s series of first-person accounts by NGRI inmates is revolutionizing news, science, and criminal justice. This website is on a hot-run to its first Pulitzer and, eventually, millions of people will read these articles. But before then, these inmate’s captor-quacks might just kill them off to try and stop their inevitable outing. These inmates’ lives are resting in the hands of this website’s very talented editors. You MUST protect them.
Mad in America, please do ALL that you can to release Mr. Bertino from his psychiatric bondage. I, for one, will do anything I can to aid your efforts to help set him free.
You overestimate MIA’s power and, probably, motivation. I think at this point in time the only thing that will work in these sorts of cases would be mass demonstrations with centralized coordination.
“Oldhead”, I’m not expecting MIA to work a miracle. All anyone can do is to try their hardest to set Mr. Bertino free. And that’s all I’ve asked for.
What Western State Hospital is doing is perfectly legal. The label ‘insane’ is a legal term that has nothing to do with the person’s actual mental health. There are many people locked up in psychiatric hospitals who don’t even have a diagnosis of a mental illness and many, many more who are incorrectly diagnosed (like my son, Reid). I agree completely…his situation is outrageous! And I worry very much that the hospital will injure or kill him…it has done both to many people already (this is documented, not hysterical ranting).
I can quite believe that the hospital has injured and killed people. Once someone is labelled as insane or mad they are deemed to be a non person.
When we say someone is mad we mean what they do or say is not valid and not worth investigating to find out if it is valid. We dismiss that person. We never look at context, ie why the person is acting in a certain way.
It is very easy to treat someone who is labelled mad in a horrible way. Lock them away behind closed doors and the risk increases as no one can see what is happening to them.
Your best chance of helping your son is to do what you have done, bring his plight to the world’s attention and ask for help.
I wish you and your son good luck in what must seem an enormous task.
Hopefully Reid will somehow receive word of people’s support whether he’s allowed to access the internet or not.
The best way to chase away vampires is to shine a bright light on them. I’m hoping this article will be spread around to other sites beyond MIA.
Also, if and when the press and others start interviewing you about this, please be sure to emphasize that Reid’s situation is not an aberration, but business-as-usual for the psychiatry/prison industry.
Send Reid our solidarity.
I am sorry for your and your family’s extremely difficult experience. It sounds like coming off the psych meds suddenly and then being refused immediate help when you went to the ER several nights before this tragedy played a big part in your loss of control. As human beings we are vulnerable to many things, and do have to take responsibility for our behavior, but it does sound like the sudden psych med withdrawal was a BIG factor here, that would cause most of us to “lose it.” Regardless, you and every person deserve to be treated with respect and kindness. The type of treatment you describe here only further hurts people and must stop. It’s not easy, but I will never give up trying to make this society and world a more humane, sane and peaceful place. One last thing – Mindfulness has been very helpful to me and many people I know…it may be worth a try, now or in the future.
Thank you! I’ll be forwarding all comments to Reid. As for mindfulness, I always thought that Reid would be the last person who would take an interest in something like this. But he actually has been reading about it and practicing it…it helps that this idea didn’t come from his mother!
Please check out this website. What does the Patient Advocate have to say about all this? Why hasn’t the social work staff initiated a hearing for you ?
Can you imagine? #1 among suggestions is “talk to the treatment team”. Ironic, as sometimes this same “treatment team” is directly responsible for the loss of those rights. That, in circumstances where a person was threatened with incarceration, has been my experience anyway. It doesn’t seem, considering the situation of the author, that things are very different in the state of Washington.
I think we need more former forensic patients, people who have actually been there, to fight for the rights of people on forensic units, also in jail, and in prison. “We are invisible” is right on the money. We do need people to care. Where people are caught up in the criminal justice and the mental health systems, they don’t have the rights that anybody does who has to endure one of those systems alone. This really is a travesty of justice in many ways, and people should have recourse to some kind of effective legal resource for recovering their independence from confinement and harmful substances. I also don’t think there is much real oversight there, and that is something that is desperately needed.
The first line in this compendium of useless and even dangerous suggestions (guaranteed to get one labeled a “problem patient”) is “What a patient can do when rights are taken away.” They could have saved themselves a lot of work and been more honest by simply stating, “Not jack shit.”
The patient advocate no longer speaks to me. She ignores my every effort to communicate with her. I talk to Reid on the phone almost every day and I keep a record of our calls in a journal I’m keeping for him (he had a journal there, but it disappeared during a ward search). I invested a lot of energy letting the ‘advocate’ know about each and very outrage, minor to major and I’ve given up. She responded to me at first, with comments like ‘I’ll look into it’ and then telling me that whatever it was that happened was no problem. Then she simply stopped responding to me. Whenever Reid files a complaint, this advocate forwards the complaint to the same person Reid complained about so the complaint can be handled in his unit.
And as for DRW…they say Reid should talk to staff. Talk about crazy making! Talk to the people who are guilty of the abuse in the first place!
Ghosts of the Civil Dead.
in my instance, speaking to the administration about their conduct resulted in the documents being ‘edited’. After a formal investigation they decided it may be best that the lawyers didnt know that I had been drugged with benzos without my knowledge, that it had been the police who referred me to MH for a knife which had been planted and they didnt find, and that the psychologist who had falsely claimed I was her patient have her name removed to conceal their remote detentions.
Government seems to agree that these human and civil rights abuses are best kept to those who are the patients friend.
Their toolbox consists of negligence, fraud and slander and is highly effective. If that fails then the police will mop it up.
Take good care Reid. Thoughts are with you.
“I accuse you of the crime of not caring.”
Not caring isn’t a crime. It’s a right, if anything. The right of free conscience. People turn away not because they don’t care, but more that their caring doesn’t extend that far. Or, they decide they don’t like your face. Or even more measly factors: such as how pumped up or deflated their ego feels after the encounter.
I am going to give you some sage advice. If I didn’t care I wouldn’t bother. I don’t care — not really — but I do care enough to bother.
First of all, and this is a little bit against the social bullshit but: where is dad? Mom is fighting for you but where is dad?
Second: moms don’t know how to fight boys’ fights. Moms give terrible advice to sons about fighting.
And third and finally: everything you do will be considered as an index to your insanity other than the things you do that make the people running the institution feel validated. You haven’t worked that out because here you are. The only way out is coming to the understanding that nobody has to care about you, think about you, worry about you, concern themselves with you.
Martyrs don’t get to decide their martyr status. Though many will and will continue to strive.
Another insight which may help you is this: madness is invisible until the music and the dancing stops.
Hi rassalas.redux. I agree with much of what you say…but it’s too much of a black and white statement to say ‘Moms give terrible advice to sons about fighting.’ This would have been a true statement about me a year ago…not any more though. I used to tell Reid to keep his head down and try to work his way through the system. What I saw as a result of this was a person who was getting more and more hopeless and depressed. December of last year, Reid got caught with tobacco and coffee and the hospital system brought him down in a most public humiliating process imaginable…then they repeatedly tried to get him to say how awful he was and what a horrible thing he did and Reid refused to even apologize. He said, ‘having tobacco and coffee is legal, you’re the one who seems to think I’ve killed someone’, because he was busted back to the same level as someone who DID kill someone. After seeing how bleak and hopeless Reid had become after this incident it occurred to me I was giving the wrong advice…I came to my senses and I told him what he needed to do was raise hell, to make waves, to utterly piss everyone off…they certainly couldn’t take anything away from him, they already took everything of value away. Reid immediately came to life and proceeded to do the very worst thing possible to the hospital…he started speaking out. Every single day. When he saw abuse, he said something. Reid is utterly committed to non-violence and he is even polite. But he points out wrongs when he sees them. And he pays for it every day. But he isn’t depressed! He has hope! Not to get out of there, but that he’s making a difference. And I’m doing the same thing. I no longer send weak, passive emails in the hopes I don’t make anyone mad…I send assertive and pointed and well referenced emails that make waves because they can’t be ignored. The other difference is I don’t do anything without his permission. If he says ‘no’ then that’s it, I don’t do it (not that I don’t argue sometimes though…).
And where is dad? Dad doesn’t want anything to do with a ‘mentally ill’ son. He’s nowhere. And my family has been of minimal help…I’m pretty much on my own. But an attorney responded to his story! I’m hopeful!
Good luck with the attorney. Sounds like it’s what you both need. I admire mothers that stick by their sons; I’ve known some people do terrible things but the mother is stoic. And that’s a wonderful and humbling thing to witness.
Fights are black and white. You either win a fight or you lose a fight. Mother’s are never to be seen for instance at the boxing ring. You might occasionally see them in the audience. But nowhere near the ring itself. Why might that be so?
Anyway, you have an attorney, hopefully. And dad doesn’t want in on the fight. That’s a real shame, as the dad’s input would surely help.
Thanks for taking the time to reply. I hope you return with updates.
Wow what a horrible situation to be in.
I have a possible suggestion for a way to potentially get some money to help with legal costs for Reid or at least help get his family out of debt though this will take some time to do and certainly may not get anywhere.
On the website Surviving Antidepressants there is talk of a class action lawsuit in the works against drug companies for causing people movement disorders. Apparently a lawyer has agreed to take the case IF enough people can be found to join. As it sounds like Reid may have had two movement disorder issues (restlessness is very likely to be akathisia which is a drug-induced movement disorder; and the twitching could be myoclonic jerks) if it gets anywhere he would likely qualify for the suit.
I would assume it is free to join and from what I read you may not even have to prove with a doctor’s backing that you had it (I’d assume since they can lie). With him being incarcerated in a hospital though that would of course go a fair way to helping him make his case that he did have movement issues as almost no one stays in those places without being drugged. Most psychiatric drugs can also cause movement disorders too.
Also this of course would be open to anyone else who had any movement disorders from psychiatric drugs, so any survivors posting here who are in the US or families of people who are locked up who fit this should look into it immediately. It applies also to people who have fully recovered from movement disorders as well.
To find the info go to Surviving Antidepressants and then look under the Current Events section for a thread titled “Class action lawsuit? Drug-induced movement disorders”.
Also I am not sure if Reid’s Mom has tried contacting the various professionals who are well informed about the psych drug/violence link, but perhaps they’d have some suggestions as to what to do. You could try Dr. David Healy; Dr. Peter Breggin; Dr. Yolande Lucire; and/or Dr. Ann Blake Tracy.
I hope that his Mom and the others posting here who have family in similar situations will continue to stick around the site. And please add my voice to those who send their regards to Reid.
I haven’t invested much energy in contacting professionals about the possible problems the psych drugs he’s taken…I just don’t have the time or energy right now, and law suits take forever! My main focus is getting Reid out of Western State Hospital and trying to keep him alive in the meantime. This is something we might do in the future, but for now I need to limit how many things I’m juggling all at once. But thanks for letting me know about this, Shawn!
Another good idea is a GoFundMe fundraiser for Reid’s legal defense. To his mom, look it up on Google. IT’s a website drawing attention to the person’s issue and soliciting donations.
I’d be trying to get the hospital to fix a ransom price too.
Might simply be a matter of a new Beemer, box of Havanas and some 400 year old Brandy turning up in Docs parking bay one morning lol
I just tried to set up an account with GoFundMe…after all that work of telling Reid’s story I was flagged for having ‘illegal’ content! I had to read though a bunch of stuff in the Terms of Service until I finally found out why my account was ‘illegal’:
“Without limiting the foregoing, you agree to not use the Services to: A. establish or contribute to any Campaign with the implicit or express purpose relating to any of the following: 12. the defense or support of anyone alleged to be involved in criminal activity;”
Well shoot…Reid was never convicted of anything, but it was alleged he was involved with a criminal activity. So much for not being guilty until proven innocent!
What if it is to help someone accused of mental illness ?
Maybe in the medical section or did you ?
I just found one by “NAMI Parents” looking for money to screw over a relative using psychiatry !
My entire account was removed…I read all about how to use GoFundMe and it didn’t mention anywhere that I could see that I couldn’t raise money for legal fees and when I couldn’t finish the request I was directed to the Terms and Conditions and I had to read through pages of stuff to figure out what I did ‘wrong’. But that’s a good idea, about being accused of a mental illness or something like that…but I’m not sure if I will be allowed to start another account now that I’ve been accused of violating the Terms and Conditions.
it was alleged he was involved with a criminal activity
Just checking — does it matter by whom it is “alleged”?
It says their service can’t be used for ‘the defense or support of anyone alleged to be involved in criminal activity’. Hmmm, I wonder who does have to do the alleging, it doesn’t say. And it does look like I’m now banned from having an account. My account wasn’t just placed on ‘hold’ it was ‘permanently removed’. I feel like a criminal!
Actually some sort of congratulations are in order, looks like you unnerved someone enough to try to undermine you. A backhanded testament to your perseverance.
I realize I’m going to sound pretty callous after all this outpouring of emotion, but this is a demonstration of what goes happens when you don’t have any generally approved ways to physically test the likelihood of an individual being sane. The ways exist all right- urine test for kryptopyrolle, tests for appropriate levels of serum histamine, hair samples for heavy metals, toxic minerals and such- but you’re not going to see them in orthodox psychiatry any time soon, despite its preaching about being a medical specialty.
My bad- should be “what happens” without the “goes” in there. Bad editing.
I think the best test is the fact that Reid has no signs at all of a mental illness…no testing needed! The only ‘symptoms’ he has are all the chart notes he generates when he annoys staff by telling the truth.
The point is that you don’t have to see him to know he’s not likely to be daft and you don’t even have to like him.
Hi Selena and Reid,
What a heart-breaking story and so terrifying and so mind numbing to try to live through such an unjust system.I can certainly support all you say about the crazy -making responses that come from ‘the psychiatric team’. From our experience with our loved one, everything you say resounds with truth.
Two comments Reid made particularly resonate with me: “Be open. Be honest. Be transparent.” I’ve come to understand that this motto only applies to the patients, not to the hospital. The hospital is rarely held accountable for anything, and legally doesn’t have to be held accountable. “……We found this to be so very true and so very scary.
The second quote really underlines what a caring and thoughtful person Reid seems to be:
” I’m not just writing for myself. Most of the patients here can’t speak up for themselves like I can, and therefore are utterly helpless to defend themselves against the lack of accountability.” It is so true that so many people that suffer are unable to write such a compelling post (or any post) Thank you, Reid, for thinking of them even as you are in the middle of your own terrifying experience. And Serena, as a mother, my heart goes out to you – it is obvious from this post what a great support you have been to your son.
Thanks Sa! I’m reading these comments to Reid when we talk each day. He said to tell you that most of the people on the forensic wards at WSH are far worse off than he is, because they can’t defend themselves at all. Recently when a very fragile and sick patient was ‘taken down’ by a security force (a nurse said he spit on her, Reid said it never happened and even if it did, the use of force was unjustified), there was no one at all to speak for him because he has no friends or family. Reid told security that they were hurting this man, but they just yelled at him to get back. Reid said this patient was so skinny and debilitated he couldn’t have hurt a fly, but this didn’t stop security from twisting his arm behind his back and shoving his face into the floor. When security took Reid down the last time, he was able to get the hospital to review what happened to him and for them to admit it shouldn’t have happened. Reid says even if the patients are able to speak for themselves, they don’t out of fear. Reid knew he would pay for speaking out and sure enough, shortly after his protest, security came and made him move to a more dangerous unit.
Mr. Bertino an supporters:
I was myself a psychiatric prisoner for a very long time. Although there were no criminal charges involved — which very likely spared me the fate you are going through — I was also forced to endure the system, not because I was a problem, but because I resisted it.
I am very, very, very interested in your case and will make it a priority to see that it is righted.
I am the former bestselling author of “Hearing Voices” and a former blogger for this site.
Issues of civil liberties are paramount for me. I will do what I can to see that you are freed.
My email is: [email protected]. If you or your trusted contacts wish to communicate with me, this is where you should do it.
It’s time for the bullshit to stop. In solidarity with you, my brother and fellow prisoner, I can only wish you courage to endure. I know it’s hard. I haven’t had to deal with it as bad as you, but I’ve been there. Love and peace, brother.
Actually you’re still the author, right? 🙂
Good to feel your anger.
Thanks Eric! Reid is punished almost on a daily basis because he resists the system, but he says he has felt so much better emotionally since he stopped trying work his way though a thoroughly dysfunctional and dishonest structure. He has sworn he will never again be silent when he sees abuse happen. I am so proud of him! By the way, if anyone wants to reach me, my email is [email protected].
I don’t want to side track the conversation on this post, but it sounds from your comment that you are ‘out’ of the ward now. I sure hope that it is true and I wish you all the best.
Shoot, I couldn’t find your book at the library, Eric, I like free books! I see it’s on Amazon…I’ll have to order it. Does your book talk about being a psychiatric prisoner? Reid plans on writing about his experience…I’m going to help, but it’s a daunting task because so much has happened. I just finished reading though Reid’s latest chart notes (I order a batch every month…staff hates this!) and I noticed that his axis 1 was changed two more times in the last 2 months…I think he’s on his 7th or 8th diagnosis since arriving at Western State Hospital.
Keep writing because your story should be told. Well thought out and well spoken.
Continue to educate yourself as the circumstance allows.
With this gift of insight you will continue to rise above and help others in ways you can only imagine.
Facing blatant disregard and utter lack of respect is maddenning. On a daily basis, it’s abusive–abuse of power. The message from the abuser is “You have no power,” for the purpose of control. That is assaultive to one’s spirit because we all have power, it’s our nature. As a result, this behavior can cause illness and imbalance in those around them. It is vampiristic.
The problem with the mental health system is that its INTENTION is to disempower people by punishing them for rightfully owning their power and using it to stand up for themselves in self-defense. Staff can be abusive and to their mind, they are doing their jobs because they are following standard protocol. It is the norm in that culture, tragically enough. It’s as though two divergent realities exist in the same space, and the abusive one dominates. In other words, the insane truly are running the asylum.
I applaud how you stand courageously in your truth, these stories must be told in order to bring change. You are extremely brave and pioneering. Very best wishes in your heartfelt struggle for freedom. You are helping a lot of people down the road as you help yourself by speaking your heart’s truth.
It seems like psychiatrically labelled people get worse punishments for committing the same crimes than unlabeled people who commit the same crimes. NGRI is no bargain! People with psychiatric labels who are even accused of crimes get treated as “guiltier” by reason of “insanity”. Mental “health” courts are no bargain either. I think it is best to just stand trial or even plead “guilty” and just do a jail sentence or pay a fine than to be treated as “guiltier” by reason of “insanity”. It’s egregious that due to stigmatization, psychiatrically labeled people are given worse punishment than criminals who commit the same crimes or even worse crimes.
You are absolutely correct…I wish I’d know this before I encouraged Reid to go for the Not Guilty By Insanity plea…I had no idea what I was getting my kid into! And this happens all the time…people spend years in no man’s land, supposedly receiving ‘therapy’. The law says Reid’s case isn’t a criminal case…but it isn’t a civil case either…were does this leave him? Locked up for life.
I was deeply touched by your story. I live in New Zealand so there is a limited amount that I can do to help you but I thought the least I could do was offer my emotional support. If you would like to strike up a personal correspondence then please let me know through this page.
I am a 47-year-old mother of two who was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder in April 2010 after I experienced a spiritual awakening. I was feeling blissful and connected to God. My partner at the time was concerned about my behaviour and put recording devices in the rafters. I did not imagine this. He was a sound recordist and he triumphantly took them down in front of me after I discovered that he had called the white coats behind my back. I had proof they were coming but he denied that he had contacted them. My four year old son said “Mummy, he slaps my face. Mummy, he laughs in my ear and locks me in the house and leaves me.” My eight year old daughter said “Mum, he was nice at the beginning but has been really mean to us”. My first instinct was to get my children as far away from him as possible. I knew that he would tell the authorities that he could take care of the children while I was being assessed at the police station. But I could not risk him being on his own with them after what they had told me. I got away but the police caught up with us the next day. I was put into hospital and the evidence that I was a danger to myself and my children was that I drove “at speed” without my corrective lenses (they fell off while I was trying to get away) and without my son properly secured in his car seat. Nobody believed my version of events. Nobody asked the children about what happened. I lost custody of my children and have never got them back. Up until that time I had parented my children using the “attachment” style and my son was still transitioning off my breast.
The trauma from this first episode of “elevated mood” caused me to become psychotic each time I became elevated after that. I have been psychotic eight times since then and believed that my children were in danger. I have tried to kidnap them from their own father many times. I have regularly accused him of sexually assaulting the children on public forums and to legal authorities. Each time this happens I lose access to my children for extended periods of time. I have spent 18 months in total in psychiatric wards with no contact with my children. I will never forget the time my son, aged seven, stood on the side of the road screaming while he watched me being forced into the back of a police car in hand-cuffs. All I had done was keep him home from school for the day. I was mentally unstable but the situation could have been managed in a way which did not traumatise my son.
The way in which I was handled the first time I had “an episode” set me up to have a deep distrust of my ex-husband, family members, medical professionals, and legal authorities which manifested in extreme paranoid delusions when I became mentally unstable due to stress. Each time I became mentally unstable I would be retraumatized as a result of my treatment by the psychiatric system, and the guilt and shame of how I had behaved. During one episode I deliberately (?) rammed up the back of another car on a motorway bridge. I was travelling at 160km/h. I could have killed us both. Unlike you, I was not charged. Unlike you, I do not consider that I was responsible for my actions.
My last psychotic break was this time last year. It was the worst one ever. It was triggered by stress and by me asking my son, aged nine, whether my ex-partner really did slap his face, laugh in his ear, lock him in the house and leave him. He said “yes”. And I was off again. I was off again because nobody believed me at the time. And they still don’t.
I am telling you all of this in the hopes that it will show that I can relate to the situation you are in. I have seen some horrendous human rights abuses in hospital which still give me nightmares. My own treatment by medical authorities had me running scared for six years. If they had only provided me with the right support at the very beginning, the outcome would have been very different.
It grieves me that you hold yourself accountable for what you did. I know how convincing paranoid delusions are and I can tell you that there was no way that you could come out of them until you felt safe. Medical authorities do not appreciate that the quickest way to treat someone in mental distress is to make them feel safe. When a person is terrified and trusts no one, their minds will imagine all sorts of things that did not or are not happening. Every frightening thought is instantly believed and then experienced as real. Many people say their psychosis was “more real than real”. I am sure you will understand what that means. When an experience is “more real than real”, you cannot see beyond it without the right support.
I truly hope that you will forgive yourself for what you did. Because you need to.
It is particularly risky in my community to speak out about abuses by mental health practitioners. They have the authority to have citizens drugged with benzos without their knowledge, and plant a knife in their pockets to obtain police referrals. Now, in their hands, they can within three minutes diagnose with major mental illnesses, and inject copious amounts of benzos and anti psychotics without consent, though they list it as PRN to give the appearance of consent being given.
Injected with enough drugs to lay an elephant out for a week, you are now ready for an ‘assessment’ by a psychiatrist who needs to decide if the person in their pyjamas laying on the floor of a cell in their own faeces and urine requires “treatment”.
Of course it nevers happens because the Clinical Director simply distributes fraudulent documents to lawyers who can find no way of assisting their now “patient”.
Be careful Ms Beritno
Just something that I personally would keep in mind (and bear in mind that I am in Australia). If any of the information from this thread should happen to turn up in the hands of the hospital, it may constitute a major breach of ethics. I do not believe that it is ethical for teachers to check students facebook pages, and nor should doctors (or anyone of a treatment team) be checking on patients via the internet. In fact, depending on how that information was made available to you by staff, it may also constitute stalking, having the information not being the offense, but the intimidatory or threatening use of the information to coerce or force.
Might be worth keeping in mind if there is retaliation for publishing.
Why do I smile when I think of the doctor, guilty of stalking taking an NGRI lmao
It would be good to get back to the original discussion, which I believe was focused on Reid’s situation and how to help him?
The above is not in reply to you Boans, it got posted in the wrong place.
It would be good to get back to the original discussion, which I believe was focused on Reid’s situation and how to help him, correct?
What about a GoFundMe account for legal fees? I know I’d be willing to donate
I tried GoFundMe…I found out it can’t be used for ‘the defense or support of anyone alleged to be involved in a criminal activity’. This isn’t fair at all! Every single person locked up on a psychiatric forensic unit has allegedly been involved in a criminal activity…and even though they will never have a hearing to determine if they are actually guilty or not, it is presumed they are guilty…the documentation in the patients’ charts refer to whatever the patient was accused of as their ‘index crime’.
The price of justice would go up if they allowed this, and that would not suit the wealthy. As it stands police find it very easy to separate someone from their resources and crush them via misleading people into Civil actions rather than investigate Criminal actions. Burden of proof is lower, easier to fabricate evidence etc…..
Start allowing people to fund actions over criminal matters the evidence is going to be examined more closely and …. whole bunch of problems and the end result is more cost to fit poor people up, rather than convict the real criminals.
One guy here the police asked him how he thought a murder might have occurred, wrote his response down and said it was his confession (gave him some jewellery from the murder scene too but ….). 12 years before someone worked it out. Now imagine if he was allowed to raise funds to defend himself? Whole bunch of const to make up more stuff to send him to prison for something he didn’t do and …. nah
And it is here that the lure of psychiatry is seen. No need for any evidence or facts, no accountability and carte blanche on criminality. And now with the ability to drug prospective patients without their knowledge and give diagnosis over the telephone without even meeting the “patient”? Just have police kidnap people and make them into patients later so that it wasn’t kidnapping? Sky really is the limit.
Police have in many ways lost the trust of the public now that we have SWAT teams to arrest people for standing near crosswalks with the intention of using it. People want statistics not justice, and those we can manipulate very easily, few plants here, but of arm twisting there ….
Mental illness, just make it up on the spot.
I’m guessing there may be comparable funding sites for political prisoners and the like, though I don’t know where to look.
I got this email today:
‘Dear GoFundMe Customer,
We are writing to inform you that your GoFundMe account has been removed due to a violation of our Terms & Conditions.’
So, forensic patients can’t get any help despite never having been charged of a crime.
I meant forensic patients were never convicted of a crime…they were charged with a crime and found not guilty. Except they are still locked up. I just wrote to GoFundMe because someone has to confront them with their discriminatory behavior. I got an email back that said someone would get back to me. We’ll see. I swear, the more I dig the more worms I find.
Thanks for speaking up with such a powerful voice! And for putting your atrociously unjust story out into the world. Words can’t describe how sorry I am for what you’ve had to endure all these years–and what you go on enduring. I wish I could help in a concrete way, but unfortunately I’m at a loss…. I’ve read other people’s posts (offering concrete suggestions) and I hope these will be of help to you…. What I can say is this: you have an incredible spirit. In your essay, I hear you speaking out on behalf of yourself and also on others who “are utterly helpless to defend themselves.” And from reading your mother’s posts, I see that you are regularly standing up for yourself and also for others (from within the confines of the psych hospital you’re in). What’s more, I know you pay a heavy, heavy price for it. I have first hand knowledge of the psych system, though nothing in comparison with what you’ve been through, but I do know how terrifying and violent the punishments are. And so I am in awe that you continue to stand up for justice in the face of such extreme repercussions. What you’re doing is truly outstanding and heroic. And I also know from reading your mother’s posts that you felt a lot more depressed when you were keeping your “head down.” And now that you’re “making waves” and calling out the abuses that are being done to you and to other patients, you feel better and more hopeful. What I hear is that you’re holding onto your dignity and soul in the midst of so much atrocity–and not just on behalf of yourself, but with so much generosity to others. You are doing an amazing thing, far more amazing than most people could ever contemplate who live their “normal” lives outside the walls you’re trapped within. That said, I am horrified that you have to endure this fate. And I will add you to my prayers (I pray to a Goddess of Justice)–that yes justice will be done sooner rather than later and that you will be out of this truly insane (for who are the truly insane ones here?) psychiatric system. And Selena, you are obviously an amazing mother! You two make an incredible team. I’m rooting for you both all the time…..
I read your post to Reid yesterday evening…he said thank you. And I thank you too. After reading your lovely post, it dawned on me how I very rarely get calls or emails to see how I’m doing and ask what the latest is with Reid. My main support person is Reid…I talk to him almost every evening). He said he was worried that I’d be on my own again when this latest interest in him died out…he’s pretty limited in what he can do from in there and he frets. Our friends and family are sick of hearing about Reid, so there isn’t even one person (except for Reid himself) who I have to talk to consistently. And Reid has even less. One thing you could do if you felt inclined, is to post occasionally on the new support forum on our website: https://mentalrights.org/forums/
Thanks, Selena, for your response. I will look forward to checking out your website!
And in the meantime, I am sending you and Reid all my best, and holding you in my thoughts/prayers….
Our website is having issues and I can’t afford to fix it right now, so I’m using Mad in America’s forums: http://www.madinamerica.com/forums/topic/support-for-reid-bertino/
This is horryfing. And it is the same where I live – once you are labelled mentally ill you can be kept in a psychiatric “hospital” for life and abused physically and emotionally if the masters, erm, I meant psychiatrists, wish to. Hope you will find peace of mind and all ends well…
Reid and I want to say thank you to everyone who has posted. Reid says it’s time for me to ask for help. He says what I need is a group of people to talk to, people who are interested in both of us and who genuinely want to hear all about the details of our situation and won’t dump us when things get painful, or even boring. After his story was published, he’s seen how important it has been for me to feel like I’m not alone; he’s asked me to start a forum on our website, which was a great idea. I wish I’d thought of it sooner! If you want to keep up to date and wish to offer support, please go to https://mentalrights.org/forums/
I just came back to this post and saw this request you have made for ongoing support from a group of people in terms of an online forum. I just went to the forum and saw that there were no responses to your posts and that you have stopped posting. I wonder if it is because, like me, people commented on Reid’s post and then moved on so never saw your request. The other thing I wondered about is whether those of us who do not feel it is safe to post publicly, feel leery of signing up to another site that requires your name and email.
I for one would love to enter into discussions with you and hear your updates about Reid. I know exactly what you mean when you say that your world becomes very small in terms of who is willing to listen on an ongoing basis to your situation. And just so you know, reading your comments and hearing about how Reid is so concerned about your well being , makes me think that you are exactly the type of person I would like to discuss these things with.
Do you think that you could open a forum for Reid on the MIA site ? I would certainly be there very regularly and believe it would support me as much as it would support you.
Wow, I can be pretty oblivious! I didn’t even know forums were available, or else I just plain forgot! I started a thread in the community forum entitled ‘Support for Reid Bertino’, I’m really hoping I can generate some interest. Thanks for cluing me in!
Our website forum is having problems and I don’t have the money for its upkeep, so I am glad to have this option.
http://www.madinamerica.com/forums/topic/support-for-reid-bertino/ is the Mad in America forum.
It seems like you would need a separate medical expert opinion to challenge the hospital in court. I wonder if he can get a current mental health assessment or psychological evaluation along with an official “risk assessment” tool being used to get at least the impression of a quantitative measure of his current risk? I don’t think you can counter the hospital on legal grounds alone. The judges respond to experts differently, so you’ll need expert counter-testimony to get him out.
What a ridiculous situation!!!!!
I hired a specialist (at $250 an hour) that cost me over $12,000, which included a mental health assessment, a risk assessment and testimony in court. He was completely ignored by the judge. When the judge gave his judgement (Reid was too dangerous to release), he only quoted the evaluator from the hospital, he didn’t even mention our specialist who presented a very well thought out and thorough report outlining exactly why Reid wasn’t a danger to himself or others. The judge said that as long as the hospital wouldn’t support Reid for release, he wouldn’t either, it was just too risky. He acknowledged that the hospital didn’t support ANYONE for release, but that wasn’t part of his ‘purview’.
Wow! Is that all in the court transcript? Because it seems like there ought to be some way to appeal this. It’s just so Wrong. Have you contacted Tina Minkowitz (one of the authors here)? She has a law degree- I just have empathy.
I have talked to so many people it just makes my head spin! Yes, there ought to be a way to appeal, but that would take money. I’m already $30,000 in debt in attorney fees, and that doesn’t include the independent evaluator’s fees. And there is almost no chance Reid would win, because as long as the hospital doesn’t support him no judge is going to take a ‘chance’ and risk winding up in the news for letting another ‘crazy’ out of there who winds up breaking the law. Lack of support and housing is what causes problems for patients that are released, but it’s all blamed on the patients. Reid is lucky that he will have a place to live with people who love him, but most patients don’t have this.
So sorry to hear. I advise you to contact MindFreedom http://www.mindfreedom.org/campaign/shield/mindfreedom-shield-program-overview which has sometimes led to successful collective action for release or at least improvement of the situation.
I started a petition of change.org to let Western State Hospital that there are people out there who want Reid to be free. Please sign the petition!
Selena, You should write a new article about your experience, and also updating people on Reid, and try to get Mad in America to publish it. That will bring the issue current on MIA and get more signers. Otherwise very few people will see this due to this being an old article you commented on.
Thanks Matt. I tried to submit an update a while back and I didn’t get a response, but I’ll try again.
This is so shocking. I wish more people knew about this.
Once again, it all depends on what kind of attorney you get to defend you in court.
The system is broken.
I’ve just read this personal story for the first time.
What is Reid’s present status?
Hello there Reid Bertino…
I’m not 100% sure what lead me to your article here on this website ❓ but whatever did lead me here I feel did so intentionally!!! For a reason!
First off i want to begin by sharing how incredibly sorry I am for all you are/have been subjected to at the hands of those employed to “help” you… Its NOT right nor is it just! There is absolutely NO EXCUSE to treat someone/anyone the way you and all patients living with in a mental health hospital have been treated… Regardless of what someone has done or hasn’t done, in no way will violence ever be solved with violence! The thing that gets to me the most is how those who have willingly taken or applied directly themselves for such positions to “take care of” and “help” rehabilitate patients in these “hospitals”, who have vowed to help better the lives of their patients, have repeatedly declared theyre own intentions for working in such field/position being to again “help” those who need it most and blah blah blah blah blah, are the exact ones inflicting the emotional, mental, physically and even at times spiritual abuse!!! It is DISGUSTING to say the very least and though I know it won’t make anything better I cant help but feel the intense need to declare out loud my deepest sympathy and apology for their actions that have only aided in worsening an already messed up system…
Secondly I felt i just had to reach out to you and prove to you that you are definitely NOT ALONE! Not that knowing others are, have and will continue to be subjected to the same terrible “treatment” as you would make you feel better but at the same time it does help because truly being alone in anything makes whatever it is so much worse…
As I read through this article my mind immediately began to go all over the place at a very ridiculously fast pace! I couldn’t stop myself from attempting to come up with any and all possible solutions for this nightmare situation many face on the daily basis… And then the intense feeling of powerlessness rushed over me just as fast… Then as I began typing this reply out and rereading what I typed i realized that just as you are NOT ALONE, neither am I and that made all the difference I needed to take action! Remaining silent makes one just as guilty! To be fully aware and do nothing was and is NOT an option for me! So with that I want you to know that someone (myself) is in your corner! Someone has not only HEARD YOUR VOICE but has listened to YOUR VOICE as well! Im not totally sure what I can do or how to go about doing whatever it is I can just yet but I WILL figure it out and when I do I will take immediate action not only for you but for everyone, myself included because THIS CAN HAPPEN TO ANYONE, ANYWHERE! Even to the sanest of people can easily, with in a split second turn victim to this horrible excuse for a system and those employed by it or a person’s loved one could easily as well end up a victim in a similar situation to this and be completely powerless to stop and/or change it… That is UNLESS INDIVIDUALS like myself COME TOGETHER AND DEMAND A MASSIVE CHANGE TO BE MADE AND THAT ACCOUNTABILITY BE TAKEN IN REGARDS TO THOSE PATIENTS WHO HAVE ALREADY FALLEN VICTIM AND THEYRE FAMILIES!
WE MUST BECOME THE CHANGE WE WISH TO SEE IN THIS WORLD! We must self educate ourselves on any and all subjects that we wish to see change in so that we aid in the best changes possible for everyone the change would have direct impact upon! We must put our voices TOGETHER to make them as loud as possible!
“Sure, alone we can do some things BUT TOGETHER WE CAN DO SO MUCH MORE!!!”
Hello – Selena – Reid – Please update…how can we help? How can I keep my son out of such a place? He has come close to being sent to one twice. He is currently in a hospital and everyone is telling me I need to get guardianship of him to keep him out of a state hospital. I am hesitant to be guardian of him – taking him to court. I hope Reid is out. Please let us know how he is doing.