Abduction

Ivy Chaya Shiffler
24
1873

No sleep for four days straight, we reached out for help. My jubilant experiences of revelation were now beginning to turn fearful. I was detached and suffering from exhaustion. My husband and I were planning to take a ride through the woods and go to the counseling services at noon. It was still quite early. My aunt arrived at the doorstep, called in to help by my father. She assisted with the laundry and offered to take me to the clinic so my husband could stay with the kids.

While on the way to the clinic, my vision was fading in and out to white. The car felt like a flying machine as the houses zoomed past us. My senses were overwhelmed. In the car there was a phone call, I heard my aunt say, “Something isn’t right,” and we turned around, heading back to my house.

To our surprise, the assessment interviewer arrived with two police officers and a clipboard. Our children were very small, the youngest three months old. My husband wanted to witness the interview but had to watch over the children in the other room at the same time. I was alone with the three scrutinizers, asleep sitting up for the interview, nodding in and out. To my recollection I was unable to utter anything verbally. Somehow during the interview this woman wrote down on her clipboard enough to condemn me to a traumatic abduction. I was calm, I had no intention of harming myself or others, and I was compliant. Yet they removed my rights, told my husband he wasn’t allowed to take me to the hospital, that they were rushing me to the ER. I went to hug my children goodbye. I only got to my oldest son and they tore him from my arms and began to drag me from the house. Once outside they threw me in the back of a cop car in front of all the neighbors. I was being treated like a criminal publicly.

In the back of the car, I had an intense panic attack. The fear was immeasurable. I could feel my mind and body shutting down. The smell of gasoline flooded the car. Breathing became increasingly difficult. My vision began to fade in and out again, and I was seeing a spiral in my mind’s eye. The police officers ignored my distress and did their duty unfazed. I desperately tried to convince them to turn around once I saw the ramp to the ER.

Inside the ER I was strapped to a gurney and shot with three large vials of Ativan in the thigh. At first I blacked out and could see nothing, but oddly spoke in binary code, “One, zero, negative one, zero, one…” My mind was trying to balance itself and stop the trauma from unfolding. When my awareness of my environment focused I was both calm and wired from the drugs. It enabled me to talk when the ob-gyn came to interview me. I spoke in circles of past guilt, compounded trauma and worries, revealing accounts of self harm from my early twenties, unfounded fears for the lives of myself and my family and the current state of the world. This unraveling of emotion, referencing past events from before I had my children, was enough to make me vulnerable to meet their qualifications of an unfit mother in need of extended inpatient care. I was completely misrepresented on my medical record as “abusive” and hospital staff even falsely concluded from the temporary meltdown that I had an obsession with numbers.

Compounding the trauma of the condition I was in, and the abduction and the hospitalization away from my babies adding to that trauma, my husband and I would also have to endure a case open against us for the better part of a year during which the innocent were forced to prove themselves innocent. Under enforced restrictions, constant supervision, invasion of our home and privacy, and court cases, we proved that we were excellent parents, our children were above average in every facet of their development, and our home was as loving, enriching and nourishing as could be. Yet the stigmatic labels of “bad parents” and “crazy lady” would remain on our records as we would receive future mistreatment and prejudice from hospital staff, as well as being watched closely well after our case was closed. These scars and memories remain.

The following are some excerpts from my journal about my inpatient experience. Please know that the people in that hospital often reached out to one another in beautiful ways, but overall felt frustrated and stressed due to an oppressive and sterile environment with little positive reinforcement.

* * * * *

Eating Was Pain

The first meal I was served in the hospital was meatloaf. I am a vegetarian. I had been mistreated by police and social services so fiercely in the days past and traumatized so badly that I believed I had no choice and that the meatloaf represented a fetus from my miscarriage. I dismissed and dissected this falsehood and savagely tore into the meat with my utensils, because I also knew that if I didn’t eat while being monitored, I would have to stay longer. While being looked down upon by hospital staff, I went against every moral fiber and ate meat, because my choice had been stripped from me, and this was very apparent.

I cried into my meatloaf, completing the cycle of murder, and ate with harrowing vigor. I had no hunger that I could feel or recall, but I had just enough wherewithal to perform the function that would get me the check mark on my record that would get me that much closer to my children.

Kiara

Walked into the cafeteria, tired from being drugged. Ashen face and sunken cheeks. She was an actress with great prowess even in her weakened state. She imitated those around her to add comedy to her own grief and suffering. She imitated me. I disassociated from the intense shame and pain this caused me. I could barely react. Just barely noticed and interpreted the cold parody of how sadly and meekly I ate and failed to hold myself up.

But Kiara was not cruel. She was struggling, young and emboldened with resentment for how she was being held and treated. One day she took my hand and told me to come with her. She brought me to the karaoke room and gave me a microphone. She held the other mic. She tried to get me to choose a song. I could barely make a choice. Reading and other motor skills like speaking were foreign to me at the time. She was younger than me, very lean, short dark hair, and vibrant sparkling eyes. She laughed at me, and got me to smile and maybe even laugh at myself a little.

She chose the song. Now she sang, and tried to get me to sing with her. I could barely make a noise. I tried, but only dry air came out. She laughed again, “Is that all you got?!” She got me to clap and she danced and sang and tried her best with me, never giving up. I felt in that moment a friendship forming. First smile in days.

“Ki-ki” it said on her door. Everyone’s room had their name on the door. I walked up and down the halls for there was nothing else to do, and switched on and off red switches which I eventually found were to control a light on the floor. It was the only fun I could find at the time to occupy my mind. That and looking at the names labeling each room.

Kiki, or Kiara, had just been placed in the same ward as all of us. I remember for some reason her telling me that they kept her “over there” on the other side of the ward somewhere at night for some reason. Today she grabbed me by the hand again. She brought me to the end of the ward and showed me a door and tried to push us both through it. The giant security guard put himself into the doorway just as our bodies were halfway through. He saw in my face I was being led by Kiki and unsure of what was happening. Kiki came up with an explanation, not short of words herself.

Kiki wanted to escape with me. Maybe she thought with me it was possible, that together somehow we would make it through. Some people in there were glad to have a bed. They were glad to be accepted in and cared for. Not me. Not Kiki. Not KIARA. We were always ready to leave.

Sexual Harassment

In my immeasurably sensitive state, I was being harassed by other patients. Two females were working together to get an incoherent male to touch my backside and rub up against me in the cafeteria line. The staff did nothing. I informed them and they used doublespeak to misdirect me. I was told that I had to tell them at the time of the incident or they could not do anything. I said this incident had just happened. They said, “It already happened then? Next time tell us when it is happening.” And I was sent back to the line.

One older man made sexual gestures to his doorknob with his hands and pelvic area at me. Another older man held his genitals and walking toward me told me he had radiation disease. Some things that could have been ignored in a regular state of mind were deeply distressing in my current state. We all slept in the same floor together, these men and women, some of whom were sexually harassing other patients. The staff had little control and took little initiative or responsibility.

Neglect

The toilet was going off by itself or by remote control all night long in our room. I could not sleep. It just kept flushing louder and louder on and on for hours. The office was right outside my room. One of the reasons I was in the hospital was to get sleep after insomnia. No one in the office felt a need to address the issue of the broken toilet the entire evening. Sleeping was impossible that night. I really wondered if I was their guinea pig and they were torturing me with a remote control toilet.

* * * * *

While there was some human connection between patients and on-site therapists, overall the hospital added more trauma and little opportunity for healing. Mostly medication, “supervision” and a hospital bill.

In addition, I had the window in my room, which often animated to show me four birds flying by, representing my family being with me, or a face in the clouds telling me I am not alone. But in many ways I was isolated and alone, and that is how many patients were made to feel. There was little quality therapy or healing going on, if any. The one quality experience was when I attended an art therapy class that lasted less than an hour, and then they lost my artwork. As a professional artist I feel at least a little stripped of my rights and my property.

Am I bitter? Hmmm. No. Not anymore. The suffering happened for a reason. I am now, after three years, stating facts without investing my emotion. I have written the institutions several times, receiving cold, perfunctory responses. This is the true state of the mental health system in my experience, and the potential is so much more.

What I don’t want is for the trauma that was inflicted on me and so many others to be the repeat story for younger generations to follow. I want us to improve the experience for those to come. In my experience, the rush to the hospital was an overkill gut reaction to a transformative process that the assigned social worker simply could not grasp. She even went against legal limitations to write down untrue statements to get me abducted from my home by the police. They literally ripped me from the arms of my child, in front of my other two small children, one breastfeeding. This was unnecessary, as we were willing and actively seeking to receive help, and planned to go to the hospital peacefully. They thus brought on a massive panic attack in me and the onset of a complete dissociative trauma-induced coma for three days as well as muteness for a week after, trauma for my young ones, and ongoing trauma symptoms in me for years (still ongoing).

If you have lived experience, please consider starting an online or local peer support group and sharing your experience and methods of healing and recovery with others who need you. A grassroots approach and linking up with larger international online groups such as Shades of Awakening, Drop the Disorder, or Emerging Proud may be our only hope in a world where the psychiatric system is so entrenched in policy, big pharmaceutical money, and stigma. If you can add a listening ear, and share part of your story from time to time, you may be able to make a difference in your community that adds to a major paradigm shift in how we perceive mental health.

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24 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for sharing your abduction story, Ivy. Mine is similar, since I’m also an artist and mother who was mistreated by today’s “mental health system.”

    When I was force hospitalized, I was illegally, according to one of the paramedics, dragged out of the comfort of my own bed, since I was neither a danger to myself nor anyone else, except perhaps previous doctors who may have been paranoid of legitimate, but non-existent, malpractice suits. I was just suffering from a one time ever sleep walking talking issue. But being treated in such an illegal manner, is definitely traumatizing.

    You make a good point regarding “mental health treatment” today, “There was little quality therapy or healing going on, if any.” I absolutely agree, while I was held against my will in a hospital there was no “therapy” that I can recall. And from what I can remember of the experience, in the two and a half weeks I was held, the psychiatrist only talked to me three times for about 2 or 3 minutes each time. And for this lack of therapy, but egregious over drugging, my insurance company was charged $30,000. Plus, someone at the hospital switched out a $6000 antique gold bracelet for a cheap fake gold copy, which of course was further thievery.

    The doctor who chose to hold me against my will was eventually convicted by the FBI, though, because he was having lots and lots of patients medically unnecessarily shipped long distances to himself, “snowing” patients in the hopes of preventing them from breathing, so he could perform unneeded tracheotomies on people for profit. He had initially admitted me with a non-existent “chronic airway obstruction,” according to my medical records.

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-sacred-heart-hospital-verdict-met-20160304-story.html

    Thankfully, I did avoid the unneeded tracheotomy. But the crimes being committed against innocent people, for profit, by today medical and psychiatric practicers are truly appalling. God bless you and your family on your healing journey. Forced treatment does need to be made illegal, because the doctors are abusing this unjust privilege, due to their greed.

  2. Psychiatry is more about controlling people than helping them. Psychiatry gives drugs and ECT mainly to suppress people’s physical and mental functioning, making it easier to control them. It is not about healing people. The effects of the drugs can sometimes be reversible by not taking them, but many of these effects are permanent, and this is likelier the longer one takes these drugs. Sometimes, although the temporary suppressive effects may be the main goal of psychiatry, I sometimes think that psychiatry wants to cause permanent effects.

  3. A simple case of extreme sleep deprivation with mass hysteria by the “helping profession” who utterly fail to recognize it. The proper response is to give mom a break and let her catch up on her sleep. Instead they send someone with a clipboard to record the things a sleep deprived person says to create a public record. A sleep deprived person will often say strange things as they sleepwalk.

  4. Thanks so much Ivy, for sharing your story. It must have taken a lot of courage to put it out there.

    And what you said at the end of your article–
    “If you can add a listening ear, and share part of your story from time to time, you may be able to make a difference in your community that adds to a major paradigm shift in how we perceive mental health.” –is so very true, in my opinion.

    I think that there is another important way we can work to end this oppression besides peer support. That involves looking at the root causes of these types of problems to abolish them: homelessness, poverty, unemployment, racism, genderism, etc.

    You mention “stigma,” but I agree with Sera Davidow on this–that “prejudice” is what we should be looking at instead:

    “I don’t use language like “stigma.” I talk about prejudice, discrimination, and oppression, because that’s really what it is in the end.”
    —Sera Davidow,
    founder of the W.Mass. Recovery Learning Community

    Interview by The Sun.
    http://thesun.uberflip.com/t/49818-digital-edition

  5. I hope you realize that this series of events was not about you, anymore than a criminal abduction is about the victim.

    There are some mentally unsound people in your story, but you weren’t one of them. Whatever kicked off your sleeplessness was not a result of a brain disease or a “mental” disease. Lack of sleep resulted in your condition the day the truly crazy people, the clipboard woman and the two cops, arrived. They suffer from delusions of grandeur, messiah complex, anti-social personality disorder, and dependent personality disorder, at minimum. Their symptoms are expressed calmly. Lucky for them, because that is why they’re allowed to do what they do. From their earliest years they found that they enjoyed controlling others, and came to believe they were very good at it. They had little concern for the results of the efforts, only seeking more and greater opportunities to control people, calmly.

    Amazingly enough, governments tend to have jobs designed to keep such people occupied, which might be for the best, considering how hard they’d be to work with at any privately owned companies where collaboration and mutual respect is the order of the day. They operate a self-funding factory of sorts. The moment a normal member of society draws their attention, another product is on the assembly line.

    The ones that went to your house are The Getters. They gather at a residence or workplace, identify the target, and rarely leave empty handed. They deliver the target to one of their hives, whether it’s a jail or a hospital, where the Waiters hang out during the day. The Waiters take over and process the Target like spiders wrapping a half-dead fly in silk. Once the Target is immobilized, the Doctors are summoned. The Target is a human piggy bank for the Doctors. Nothing much in the way of improving the Target’s health or happiness is done. The length of the stay is arbitrary. They play it by ear until it looks like no more money can be extracted from the Target’s health insurance, or Medicaid/Medicare. Then the Target is released.

    There is no other way to make a living by making people unhappy than as a part of the Doctor’s lucrative factory. There is no regard for how the Target feels at any stage in the assembly line.

    We’re told all our lives, by pretty much everyone other than recovering Targets, that this function of government is beneficial. It would be illegal if the government (cops, courts) didn’t play a role. It’s legal because the Doctors, who harvest barrels of cash from the operation, say it should be. No other reason. Doctors but not lawyers or architects or engineers, who are equally smart and study for nearly as long, hold the status of Supreme Beings. They only study anatomy, chemistry and physiology, so why they are given authority over souls and minds is a perplexing question.

    The authority to abduct is supposed to be for the good of society as a whole. The Target endangers everyone else, you see. But the people who endorse and support the abduction, immobilization, and shaking down for cash are the ones ravaging society. They attack one individual at a time, though, so it’s not easy to see.

  6. It’s painful to hear that you were torn away from your small children. Sadly, this is something that I always feared could happen to me. I also found myself alone when I was interviewed by hospital staff. I cannot recall exactly what I said because I was already heavily drugged by then. Being traumatized by the hospitalization experience prevented me from getting the help I actually needed afterwards for fear that I would be sent back there. I view my hospitalization experience as a kidnapping and I am comforted that others have shared that they have had similar experiences. How sad, that moms can be abducted in the name of helping. Years later I still feel afraid sometimes especially after looking over my medical records and spotting flat out lies that the hospital staff used in the admission process. We hear as women all the time how if we feel depressed or anxious we should get help for ourselves never expecting that just those words could cause an abduction. I never mentioned a plan to harm myself, but expressed vague suicidal thoughts that I had earlier. My therapist says to me that this would never happen again, but in the back of my mind the possibility of abduction is always there. I could say more about how this affected my daughter, but it would take to long. But, the tragedy of the story is that it does affect your children. However, the individuals and systems perpetuating the abuse don’t care.

  7. Hi Ivy,
    This is such a great story. I read it a few days ago and meant to commend you on your bravery for speaking out so clearly and incisively. It is so healthy to share negative experiences like this without shame or guilt – many people unfortunately are made to feel they should hide having ever been involved with the MH system; but speaking out about it like you are can be healing and releasing. I also agree with all your perceptions about the very unfortunate abuses and lack of acknowledgment of harms that go on within the system. So much of it is out of the control of even the people who work within these hospitals… “they know not what they do” as it says somewhere in the Bible.

    I also shared a somewhat similar story a long time ago on one of my blogs, here – https://bpdtransformation.wordpress.com/2015/02/04/21-the-nightmare-of-psychiatric-hospitalization-in-america/