When Facebook Sent the Cops to My Shelter

Carlene Byron
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There’s something about a “secret” Facebook group that feels secure. It seems like it would keep secrets and challenges hidden safely away, just as I relied on the safety of the secretive, no-address private shelter where I was living and the post office box I used as my mailing address.

But somehow, something I had said in this “secret” Facebook group had been made known. And now, at almost midnight, a cop was banging at the door of the lady who had been keeping me safe in a secret place. My safekeeper was startled, anxious, not feeling safe herself. Neither was I.

How did a “secret” Facebook conversation bring the cops to an address I didn’t have to perform a suicide prevention “welfare check”?

Did Facebook send the cops to my shelter? And if so, how did they find me?

Most nights at quarter to midnight, I’d be sound asleep. That’s part of what it means to live successfully with bipolar disorder. You know that left to their own devices, your brain or those voices or that wild energy will disorder your life. You grab a sledgehammer and some 4x8s and start constructing a scaffolding that, on most days, can hold the chaos in check and create a shape for living. Part of my usual scaffolding is a regular sleep schedule. And I’d been good at managing my sleep for most of 30-some years.

This was not among my successful times. For several months, I’d been living in a friend’s basement, previously her husband’s music teaching and recording studio, now an apartment. The day I arrived, she was signing the divorce papers he sent. He’d gotten her best friend pregnant and was planning a wedding. Good for the immigrant girlfriend. Pretty tough on my friend.

In the weeks and months prior, we had bonded deeply over her husband’s betrayal. Like her, I was also the wife of a musician who relied on me for financial support and household management. Like her, I came from a family whose traditions made the idea of divorcing my husband unthinkable. And also like her, I felt betrayed.

My husband of nearly two decades had recently informed me that he was a woman in a man’s body. I’d found his leopard-print bras and long blonde wig in what was once his underwear drawer; the cat had made toys of the size 12EEEE high heels stashed under his bureau. I had migrated from our bedroom to our guest room, then, after “conversation” became a one-sided expression of his shouts and tears, put a lock on the guest room door.

Even before my husband’s announcement, I was living through difficult times. I was about 18 months out of work, trying to patch together an income from short-term contracts and a new home-based care business. My mother had just died. My father, who lived 900 miles from us, was sick. And this new challenge my husband had tossed into our life like a grenade: it was to be our secret alone. No family could know. No friends could be told. He especially needed me to keep it secret from friends at the conservative church we attended and where he worked two part-time jobs. The church would have fired him in an instant if they knew.

I tried scheduling conversations with him at coffee shops… people at nearby tables would move away from the evident hostility. I attended a different church for a year, just to be free to talk and pray with someone about what was happening. I discovered, almost by accident, that while my husband had kept me silent among our circle, he’d been seeking support from mutual friends at church.

That’s when I availed myself of the offered apartment. My friend had been running an under-the-radar shelter for women over a number of years, starting with a Muslim immigrant woman whose husband beat her. I would be the third woman to occupy her guest rooms that year.

These kinds of changes demand every trick in the bipolar stability book. No one sleeps well under these circumstances, but to sleep badly would destroy me. I carefully managed caffeine and sugar. I kept extremely regular hours. I let my audio Bible play all night to steer my racing thoughts onto a more comforting track. I ran a fan for white noise. I took to leaving a light on in an adjacent room, so I was never in the dark. I even slept on a sofa instead of a bed, to fool myself into believing I was just lying down for a quick nap.

But this night, I was up late. It was a bad night. I don’t even know why. I’m not sure that during these kinds of life experiences there often is a clear “reason why” one night is worse than another. It was a bad night because on that particular night, all the waves of my undesired transition were crashing onto me. My mother had died, my husband was a woman, and under our state’s common-property no-fault divorce law, he would get half of our shared possessions — including our almost-paid-for house and a quarter of the IRA my job had allowed me to amass toward our retirement.

So this night, I’d been online for a couple hours texting into an online support group of women dealing with separation and divorce. The group had been a great blessing to me. It was a place where people understood what I was experiencing and were able to sit with it. No facile words about the good that would come.

Early that evening, I’d acknowledged how desperate I felt. I said that I wanted to die — was even considering suicide — but was absolutely not, under any circumstances, going to take any action for at least four months. Because we lived in a community property state, if I died, my husband would get everything. And after the heartbreak I’d been through with my husband, the last thing I wanted to do was to set him up to inherit all of what I had earned. If I cared about being able to will my own money to the people I loved, I couldn’t die while I was still married to him.

The ladies on the line were quick to judge and condemn. God did not want me to die by suicide. I was rejecting God’s good plan for my life if I ended my own life at my own hands.

They were quick to express their own anger and anxiety. A mother had died by suicide. A brother. A friend. Suicide was the most selfish thing a person could do.

They were slow to listen and hear. I was not going to do anything for months. Four months, minimum. 123 days. Wanting to die was how I felt, and God understood that. God had heard it from better people before me — the apostle Paul and the prophet Elijah, to name just two (Philippians 1, 1 Kings 19). Neither of them took their lives either.

When the knock came at the door just before midnight, my landlady answered, of course. The sight of a police officer was disorienting to her. Had something happened to a family member? No, he said; he’d been sent to check on the welfare of the residents.

I have no idea what went through her head. Checking on our welfare? In the middle of the night? There’s no noise in the house, no noise around the house. Had someone seen a prowler outside? Had her own ex-husband called in a false report to harass her?

I was listening from my rooms and I knew almost immediately what was happening. “He’s looking for me,” I told her, and invited him downstairs to where I was living.

The young officer looked around at the main room. Its walls were cheerful in the sunny yellow Tuscan plaster that was popular at the time. It was arranged to provide a workspace with an oversized cherry desk, bookcases, and files; a small “kitchen” equipped with table, chairs, shelves, and countertop appliances; and a seating area. I settled into a pale green Morris chair next to a cherry hutch and invited him to seat himself on the sage green chenille couch.

“This is a pretty nice place,” he said.

Yes, it was.

So he explained that someone had reported me at risk, and the police had sent him to make sure I was alright.

Yes, I said, I was. And I said that I had never suggested I was in imminent harm. I was very upset that my husband of 17 years had come to the conclusion that he was a woman, and very upset that he was requiring me to keep it secret instead of working through it with people we knew. I was very upset to be out of the home that was nearly paid for, thanks to the high income I had earned. I was upset that my husband had managed to obliterate my social capital among our mutual acquaintances by telling a partial and misleading version of our story and by persuading me to keep my own silence to protect his employment. I was upset that to break silence would make me vulnerable for alimony, in addition to the house, the business I’d started, and 25 percent of my retirement that his attorney was claiming.

And I had said — in a private Facebook group of separated and divorced women — that I felt like killing myself. I had also said I would never consider doing it until the divorce was final, months away. By state law, any divorce was a minimum of four months out. There was plenty of time for the rage and despair to burn out.

But someone had seen the word “suicide” and sent up a flare. Who sent the cops to my no-name, no-public-address-listed shelter?

Was it an overly responsible social work professional in that private Facebook group of divorced women? Some professional people still don’t understand the meaning of “imminent harm.” They’d rather call in the big guns than take a chance that they overlooked a symptom.

Was it one of the group’s public school teachers, someone who’d been through “mental health first aid” training and was more ready to jump the gun on a possible diagnosis than trained to assess real clinical need?

Or was it Facebook’s artificial intelligence?

My main takeaway from that night is that we are rapidly running out of safe places to express despair. Once, we took our despair to faith leaders. There was a time when 4 in 10 people in emotional distress sought out a minister first.

Now clergy are being trained in “mental health first aid.” They are learning that they are “incompetent” to provide comfort and support to a person who has run out of hope, and they are being trained in the “competence” of passing us along to professionals licensed to provide medicines. How wise is it to ask clergy for emotional guidance today? They’re being untrained in the skills of spiritual and emotional support, and they’re being retrained to throw us into the therapeutic-industrial complex.

Likewise scout masters. Even caring neighbors. Everyone who has any inclination to nurture others is being trained to find themselves helpless, and to offer the false hope of a psychiatric intervention instead.

Then there are the folks who have any kind of professional caregiving license. Day care workers. School teachers. Social workers and case managers. Support staff in nursing homes and hospitals. Licensing requires them to report any suspicion of abuse, any suspicion of self-harm, any suspicion of the potential for self-harm. And while the social worker or mental health aide might correctly follow protocols in the office (is the danger imminent? is there a plan? have means been procured?), an online conversation seems more fraught. The person with the license has never seen the person who is insisting she would never kill herself in the immediate future. In the office, the licensed professional would probably hear non-imminent harm — a “plan,” as it were, to die no sooner than four months from now.

Online, the licensed professional feels less certain. It can’t hurt to check, right?

Likewise for the people who screen conversations that Facebook has flagged. Better safe than sorry, right?

Except here’s what their “safe” meant to my safety.

I was living with no address, for my security and for the protection of my kind hostess, who loved to care for women in distress but wanted to avoid confrontation with our angry husbands.

Now my name appeared in a police call log, accessible online. It was associated with the address where I had been staying in secret.

I had been using a “secret” Facebook support group as a place to find comfort and compatriots. This secret group was the first place I “met” women who had, like myself, watched their marriage collapse after more than a decade when their husband determined he was gay or transgender. It was a place where I could “talk” with people like me. Except, as it turned out, I couldn’t.

I stopped participating in the group for months. Someone’s attempt to prevent a suicide of which there was no risk prevented me from continuing to use the best support I’d found in several years.

To this day, I have no way of knowing whether an overzealous member of the group flagged me to Facebook or whether Facebook’s own algorithms called me out. Nor do I have any way to know how my non-address became known to the city police after they got the “welfare check” call.

We’ve all read about how Facebook experimented with modifying its users’ emotional states. We’re anxious about new patent filings that would help Facebook identify our moods by observing our faces through our webcams. And for more than five years, Facebook has been trying, one way, then another, to figure out if a user is suicidal and then to stop them from hurting themselves.

Some part of us can understand why good and kind people want to help other people to live.

But a much larger part of me says that these good and kind people are entirely lacking in insight as to the consequences of their actions.

When you send the police to a home in the middle of the night, you add a new challenge to an already difficult moment. Will the landlord decide this tenant is a problem and refuse to renew the lease? Will neighbors suspect “something’s wrong” with “those people” and start to keep their distance? Will a person be hospitalized, whether or not “appropriately” by current standards, and face the professional consequences of having an inpatient psych term on their employment record? Will reasonable anxiety escalate to unreasonable paranoia because the police — in my case, professional partners until that day — have been told to look at them with a wary eye?

We still live in a world where emotional distress is grounds for ostracism and discrimination. “Suicide safety” false alarms are just one more way we create distance among people. We redefine people who are suffering as people who are dangerously ill. We use their suffering as grounds for accusation: they are the most ultimately selfish of all people; their selfishness injures good people like me. We separate their suffering from our own: I deserve to rage and cry; you deserve to be locked up. I deserve free communion with friends on social media; you deserve an “eye in the sky” who can, at any minute, send intruders to damage your life.

My story had a relatively benign ending. I left the online group for months. I felt even more isolated than before… separated from my husband, living out of boxes in someone else’s home, still not attending the church where he worked and we’d been members for seven years, newly uncomfortable in community alliances where I’d volunteered (along with local police).

But I survived. I survived that night’s humiliation. I survived the four months until the earliest possible date of divorce. And I survived the day, a year later, when my husband served divorce papers on me.

There’s one thing I can say for people who want to die. Most of us are survivors. Hardly any of us need to be locked up for our “safety.” Every one of us needs to be embraced as a human who lives the ordinary human experience of suffering.

So whoever it was that sent the cops to my door — whether an algorithm or an overanxious person — think two or three times before you do it again. Because the odds are that the odds are already stacked against me at the moment you find so terrifying. I don’t need the weight of your fear added to my burdens.

Some of us do die. And the more you make us feel “different” and “alone” and isolated, the more often that will happen. If you need me not to die, if you can’t live without me, then live with me — everything that is me. Listen and let me express the pressure of fear and anger and distress that’s built up inside me. Don’t send guardians to “protect” me behind the literal walls of a locked ward and the social walls of stigma and shame.

Three years later, I am using Facebook again. But not nearly so much. And I never share anything important in a “secret” group. Because today I understand that Facebook knows all my secrets and is willing to tell them. I can’t trust Facebook to treat me as a human, with dignity. And I no longer do.

50 COMMENTS

  1. I keep telling people about Facebook, maybe this will grab people’s attention!

    I have to say, it’s rather hilarious that liberals are suddenly so bent out of shape over the Trump campaign using Facebook to lure voters when Democrats have been doing the same type of thing for years.

    More info on Facebook treachery can be found here: http://stallman.org/facebook.html (This is written by the developer of Linux.)

    • From what I remember the man who developed Linux is an upstanding and ethical person. I’ve come to the point that I have no use for either party in Congress at this point in time. Very few people are actually representing the interests of the people back home who elected them to Congress. Very few seem to have any backbones.

    • Richard Stallman, a hero of mine, and an American, is not the founder of Linux. Although he is an advocate of free iterations of Linux, such as Trisquel and a critic of non-free iterations of Linux, such as the well-known Ubuntu. He’s the founder of the Free Software Federation, GNU and the concept of copyleft. Linus Torvalds, a Finn, is the founder and a developer of the Linux kernel.

      But good to see Stallman being promoted here. The whole free software movement needs more attention. ‘Free’ as in freedom, ie respects your fundamental right to privacy and control/ownership of your data.

        • Sounds like you know what you’re talking about. I was sure I’d heard him identified as the developer of Linux, likely on RT. Anyway what he says about free software seems to make sense to this non-geek. I’m not promoting Stallman specifically here, but this page is from his personal site re: Facebook (he breaks down other platforms too, there are also links to these).

          • I used Linux for a long time and was very pleased. I had to switch back to Microshit just recently so I can apply for work-at-home jobs. I found that I can install many Open Source programs because many of them have Windows versions.

          • @ Julie Green

            Windows software can be run inside the Wine environment on Linux.

            The sad fact about Linux is that it is now the system that forms the infrastructure of our surveillanced and monopolised digital age. The hope was it would drive a revolution in openness and freedom.

            Those bloody naive libertarians!

            Someone said to me yesterday, “I’ve had enough of Facebook. I’m moving over to Instagram.”

            Facebook own Instagram.

          • Yes I was using Wine and running a number of programs but Wine does not always work and I ran into incompatibility with my devices and also, difficulty trying to see the computer screen. With Windows I have less trouble all around with accessibility. I am using as many open source programs as I can. Actually I have not purchased any programs since I purchased this unit. Also, with Linux, many programs had this terrible keyboard lag and I type very fast. I could never resolve that. Now that I have switched back I am realizing just how annoying the keyboard lag was, and how much it hampered my writing. It was in all my programs, not just in the browser, and I use a wired keyboard. I am sad I had to switch back, but I learned so, so much from using Linux, including how to install an OS and many other useful skills.

  2. Social media exists for data mining, propaganda and influence. Facebook isn’t doing anything remarkably different than any other platform including Mad in America.

    Ask yourself why it’s important for the author to identify a former shelter resident as an immigrant muslim woman beaten by her husband. This revelation has propaganda value whether it was intended or not.

    Where do our posts go on Mad in America? Maybe we should tell everyone about Mad in America and how the cops could visit them based on what they post because that’s certainly true.

    • If someone posts something advocating violence or criminal activity this can be expected with any site. There is no comparison between FB and MIA, which does not even collect personal info as a condition of participation. Though it’s wise to think twice before you post anything anywhere.

      • Mad in America collects data from everyone who posts. Otherwise the cops could never be called in those situations you’ve mentioned. There are clearly similarities between all social media platforms and the same questions and concerns apply.

        Maybe Facebook isn’t so much of a problem as the cops are. Sometimes the police beat people up for exercizing their free speech rights. They have shot so-called psychiatric patients. Many people feel frightened and obedient in traffic stops.

        Americans are told to trust the cops, trust the troops, trust the Constitution, trust the President, Congress, your Governor, your doctor, trust Facebook and other authority figures primarily through the media.

        • That I know of, MIA editors are concerned that spammers show up who post stuff marketing items that have nothing to do with MIA content. They do have to delete spam content. They also have to delete or “moderate” anything that goes against their policies, and they are transparent about these policies. I don’t see anything about their sending the cops to a user’s home. If they collect geolocation it is likely only because they have nonprofit status, and likely have to report where users are located (roughly). They may also do this for editorial purposes. They want to know which countries people live in. If many speak a certain language they may decide to expand to offer a part of MIA in that language in the future. We now have MIA in Brasil and MIA in Finland. Maybe next will be MIA in French for those who live in Quebec and other parts of the world where French is spoken. All websites do this and it’s not to “spy” on people.

          • I don’t quite understand why everyone’s worried if MIA is using cookies or whatever when every internet site records every keystroke of the keyboard, every tweet, comment, email, your Cloud where you store information. Your phone records the same information. The internet was set up by the CIA as a spy tool. I don’t understand why people don’t seem to realize this.

          • Sandra, The CIA doesn’t even care about most of us. They can’t follow every single person on earth nor even every human in the USA in detail, nor want to. They don’t care about little ole me. I am sure of that. I’m nobody of interest. I’m not a suspected terrorist. I doubt you are.

            The reason why I say this is because to follow and track every single person would require a large database. Their computers cannot handle such a database. Ever notice how often the post office screws up mail forwarding? That is because their computers cannot handle the sheer number of people in the US. More often than not, right? They screw up that yellow sticker, or assume you don’t live where you live and you have to sort it out or the census mixes you up with someone else. Now I have had two postal screwups, one that caused me to nearly have my bank account closed. Another cost me money because I was assumed for six years to live at the wrong address and I was barred from opening certain accounts, such as one with UPS for about ten years.

            The good part is that they really do not care. I’m nobody. Just an old lady, not a suspected terrorist nor crook. And more I cannot post here. I don’t care if websites track me via cookies. They track other people too, millions of people all over the world, and it only matters if I get arrested and accused of certain types of crimes.

            I have had the cops come to my home many years ago and accuse me of future dangerousness, even ask me where my weapons were. However, they came with no warrant, no paperwork, and when they accused me of posting on a site, they had no evidence that I had done so. I hadn’t posted what they accused me of! I explained the email I had sent, which they had no copy of, and in fact they had never even read it, nor realized that the contents contained no threats of violence.

            Someone had pushed the panic/paranoia button, clearly.

          • Julie, I certainly wasn’t targeting you with my comment. I know you get it. They store our personal information in Fusion Centers across America and will target that information to use it against us somewhere down the line (mostly against dissenters). Happy Easter Julie!

          • Sandra they don’t even think I’m worth it. I doubt I am even worth that in their eyes. I don’t have any money for them to take, no assets, no property, no car. No paycheck to garnish. No spouse and kids to kill. They could put me in a hospital and torture me again (it is worse on the medical wards) which is why I do not go to doctors and I am scared of therapy.

          • Thanks for clarifying.

            How could MIA collect data anyway when it doesn’t ask people for more than a name in order to register?

            Facebook is an entirely different matter. Hopefully the deletion craze will catch on but I doubt it since it’s basically an ego fest, and the system knows and counts on this.

          • But Emily you DO delete spam. That is a far cry from the “data collecting” implied in the post above, that I was trying to clarify. I was trying to say that you really have to take the spam down, which people appreciate. It is part of the the common sense of keeping up a website, which to a large extent happens automatically anyway via a spam filter.

          • There are six cookies that collect data on MIA. There are also 5 google cookies, some of which will follow you around after visiting here.

            There are 22 plug-in scripts, some of which will be collecting personal data for third parties.

            A script plug-in from “crazyegg.com” collects data on your behaviour while on the site, analysing what you looked at, for how long etc.

            These are all methods of collating personal data, the Google cookies probably being the most intrusive.

          • The addtoany.com plugin also tracks and collects personal data for a third party. In fact, somewhat controverisally, this plugin has a default “tracking pixel” that carries away user data to be collated into linked databases, that are sold to the highest bidder.

            Point of all this being that while data collection by MIA may be minimal and “trusted”, third party collection of personal data on this site, through over 20 plug-ins, is intense.

          • Why MIA has 6 cookies is a mystery. I’ll have a look at the cookies to see what it is they are doing. You only need one cookie to enable someone to log in and stay logged in.

          • I await your conclusions, and MIA’s thoughts as well. The “crazyegg” thing sounds particularly disturbing in terms of personality & behavioral profiling.

            On the other hand no official personal info is required to register.

          • Of course they use cookies! All sites do. They have to to run a site. It’s not malicious “spying.” It’s just how websites work. Anyone can clear their cookies anytime they want. Some people have their browsers set to clear cookies and cache every time they close their browser. The disadvantage to this is that IF you do online banking your bank will not recognize you and will ask you to re-identify yourself all over again. In the case of online banking, for instance, the cookies are used to make sure it’s you, and actually protect you from fraud. While MIA doesn’t collect data by maintaining actual lists, websites that have users and visitors, especially ones that sign in cannot function without cookies. This is to protect the users, too.

          • You’re right. The majority of sites use cookies to enable their users to log in. They are called session cookies. And you’re right that most sites use them. It’s true too that cookies can be automatically deleted so that when you leave a site, its cookies don’t go on to track you, sometimes indefinitely.

            Although many sites do not use cookies for entirely innocuous reasons. And there are some kinds of tracking cookies, for instance those instigated by Flash, that deliberately avoid detection and deletion. None of those are here, it’s important to add.

            I had forgotten about having an intention to examine the MIA cookies. My hunch is they are all innocuous.

            It’s the third party trackers I don’t like or trust. It’s like some smart-suited creep stalking you in a library, breathing down your neck and watching your every move, noting down every aisle you pondered down, and every book you so much as glanced at, let alone read, that gives me the heeby-jeebies, here, there, and everywhere.

            So as a general rule, when I encounter these creepy scripts, I put a bag over their heads and lock them in a cupboard, so to speak.

  3. Glad you weren’t dragged out of the privacy of you home, Carlene, as I was. Five giant men pulling me out of the comfort of my own bed in the middle of the night, while the sixth paramedic is telling them that what they are doing is illegal since I’m neither a danger to myself nor anyone else (except doctors paranoid of non-existent malpractice suits), is enough to send anyone into shock and disgust.

    The medical community is not intelligent enough to understand this however, and they do break the HIPPA laws. For them it’s all about illegally holding a person for as long as their insurance will pay, and performing as many unneeded medical procedures on that person as they can. One of my doctors was finally arrested for defrauding Medicare/Medicaid for having lots and lots of people medically unnecessarily shipped long distances to himself, “snowing” people until they could no longer breath, so he could perform unneeded tracheotomies on people for profit. Sick, sick, sick doctors.

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

    When I heard Facebook was nosing into people’s private business for the thought police, the “mental health professionals,” I knew this type of thing would happen. But, hey, Facebook seems to be embroiled with lots of privacy invasion scandals these days.

    https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2018/03/facebooks-cambridge-analytica-scandal-explained/
    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/ct-facebook-cambridge-analytica-ads-20180325-story,amp.html

    Maybe the corporations and the “mental health professionals” should learn to mind their own business, rather than trying to psychoanalyze, massively poison, and profile all of humanity for profit.

    By the way, this has been going on for a long time. “Now clergy are being trained in ‘mental health first aid.’ They are learning that they are ‘incompetent’ to provide comfort and support to a person who has run out of hope, and they are being trained in the ‘competence’ of passing us along to professionals licensed to provide medicines. How wise is it to ask clergy for emotional guidance today? They’re being untrained in the skills of spiritual and emotional support, and they’re being retrained to throw us into the therapeutic-industrial complex.”

    It is very unwise to go to the clergy today, even with a spiritual question. And the “mental health professionals,” even the ones who claim to be Christians and Jews, are crazy people who believe a dream about the Holy Spirit is a “voice” proving psychosis, according to their medical records. Although, some pastors are decent, ethical people who understand such a dream merely means God has chosen you to help Him with something.

  4. Carlene, I suspect that you are right. People call the police with no awareness of the possible consequences. More and more are being trained as mandatory reporters. I question their training, whoever it was that reported since you made it very clear that you were not at imminent risk.

    I have had this happen also. This happened due to misinterpretation or misunderstanding. For instance, use of a metaphor taken literally, or, a fantasy or musing taken literally, literary reference (there are certainly plenty of murders in novels!), use of the word “suicide” in a sentence taken completely out of context, a note on my fridge that contained the word “suicide” with no intent whatsoever (I question the reading comprehension ability of the cop who found the note!), blog entries that were not current (can people read dates?), Facebook posts that were misconstrued, etc.

    It has to be imminent risk, according to the law, according to any mandatory reporting law as applied to suicide. I ask if it is self-importance or lack of ego on the part of the person doing the reporting, a desire to be a hero or savior, or some kind of control issue going on.

    I did call the cops on someone a while back because it wasn’t “risk.” Someone was being beaten…domestic violence. So I had to decide very quickly. I’m not a mandatory reporter but I did call. The decision was not an easy one.

    Another separate occasion a man chased a woman with his car, out on the street in late afternoon in a bad neighboorhood on a Sunday, nearly running me over in the process, then he got out and chased her on foot while she screamed desperately that she was going to call the cops while she was running from him. He was snarling something very aggressive-sounding I couldn’t understand. I was very afraid. My phone was out of battery. I listened as I tried to get from the vicinity away myself, and from what I could hear the woman did indeed run to safety, indoors somewhere nearby. I cannot see well enough to get the license plate number, nor even guess anything about the type of car. “Sedan.”

    This is not the same as “in four months.” Jeepers. Common sense.

  5. This story was so well written it brought tears to my eyes. I do hope everyone knows it’s not just Facebook that’s tracking our every move, our phones (whether on or not) are too, Alexa’s also recording, and so are the Smart TV’s in our very own living rooms.

    Yes, I’ve too had a therapist, who I had very good rapport with, from ACT call the Police to my home to do a home check after she interpreted something I had said as a suicide threat. Thank God I wasn’t home and I immediately cut off all ties to ACT and anything resembling ‘Mental Health’ care and went into hiding. Unfortunately, I know whats its like to voluntarily enter a psych ward, refuse medications thus throwing me into ‘involuntary’ status, now court ordered and forced drugs. The outcome disastrous. Although psychiatrically drug free today there is nowhere I can go and voice my ‘true’ feelings without threat of being forced drugs again. Nowhere. Even when I feel so distressed I fell like taking my own life. I guess I was brought into this world alone, and it looks like I will have to die the same way.

    Thank you for sharing your story with us. It was beautifully written.

    • Sandra I feel the same way. I am free of them but I don’t talk about it with anyone in the clinical sense. I stay away from doctors. I have a lot of friends now that I just tell, though. I can even say it in public. “I escaped my psychiatric diagnosis.” I don’t know why. I’m not afraid of saying that anymore. I don’t say it to a doc though. No way. That is the route to lockup. The express route.

      • Even real doctors are amoral, remorseless liars now. I trust them as far as I can throw a grand piano.

        Not anti-science OR medicine. I just know nearly all doctors will poison you for a few warm doughnuts. 😛

        Refusing to buy used cars from “Honest Eddy’s” lot does not make me a technophobe either.

  6. Hi Rachel777, I don’t mind giving out my address. I live in Kalamazoo, MI paying $535 for rent, market price, plus another $200 for all bills. No food stamps, no Medicaid. It is a pleasant one bedroom apt, I feel safe here, can walk anywhere I need to go although I do have a car, don’t use it much because it’s a gas hog.

    Why are you forced to live in HUD housing? Living in the city is very depressing but don’t know how I can get back to the country. I lost my 5 acre property when my house burned down shortly after fleeing the psychiatric hospital I had to put myself into (psychiatric drug withdrawals induced so much homicidality I did it for everyone’s protection) but was forced, court-ordered more drugs after begging them to treat me without using them, and going through withdrawals now for the third time while still cognitively healing from a cold turkey Klonopin withdrawal I left a stove burner on – again, thus losing my home leaving me homeless. While no one in my family was willing to house me. I’m still trying to find my place in this world, my purpose, but having great difficulty. Thank you Rachel777 for asking. Sometimes just talking about it helps ease the frustration.

    • I get less than you do. $770 a month. No way I could afford rent payments–especially since they usually demand proof that you earn $1250 a month to rent a $500 apartment. Because of poor cable wiring I pay through the nose for internet. I may be eligible for food stamps, but keep getting the run around. $16 a month doesn’t seem worth the quarterly hoop jumping. Food banks are easier and you get more.

      My parents will probably leave their homestead to me. We were pretty stressed out by having to live together in a single wide for 11 months.

      I may move out to the homestead again. If:

      1. I can get a license and car.
      2. Get an apartment fixed up in the garage.
      3. Get my parents to come to terms with the idea that I never was hopelessly insane. They don’t know I’m off my “meds” and are amazed at how well I am doing.

      My biggest need is $$$. Since I may never be able to work more than 20 hours a week from iatrogenic damage, unsexy writing projects seem my best bet. Like newsletters for software companies. That will take some time….

    • Sandra, I have an MFA in Creative Writing and precisely what I am professionally trained to do, and love to do, is to look over book-length manuscripts, and I was specifically trained in memoir, to write memoir and personal essay and teach writing. I vowed when I finished my master’s training in 2009 that if anyone wrote a “madness memoir” I would happily look it over for free. Then of course I walked out of psych and all hell broke loose in many ways. I guess some folks got used to me being a “patient.”

      I would love to look over your manuscript! I cannot believe anyone would refuse such a thing. Get in touch via my blog and we’ll figure something out. I do rough reads and closer reads both or whatever a person needs.

      • Julie, not sure where or how to find your blog. I left a message on nomorenuthouses.com (is that the right place)? I’m not very computer savy, and do have left over cognitive brain damage, that I can laugh about today, from being on psych drugs for decades. Yes, lets chat. I so greatly appreciate your offer Julie. Let me know if you received the message I left you.

        Thank you Julie

  7. Rachel777, yes I get $900, had to have a co-signer for my apartment although I can & do make my rent. It comes off the top as I don’t like being homeless. My Mother left me her house on 5 acres but lost it due to fire (you know that story) leaving me homeless. No one in my family who lives nearby would house me so I slept in my S10 truck in my garage (unattached, so it didn’t burn) in the winter. The garage had no doors so it was very cold. One night my alternator went out which meant no heat, by morning my feet were so cold I could no longer feel them, but I made it. My niece has a 5,000 sq foot home with 7 bedrooms but because I was the ‘crazy’ one in my family help wasn’t offered. I recently donated all my psychiatric researched material to a woman (2 1/2 yrs worth) and she never even emailed me to say thank you. The memoir I’ve written is apparently written so badly no one will edit it. This is why I’m becoming so discouraged with humanity lately. It seems no one cares about anything but themselves, this may be a selfish narcissistic thing to say, but I’m going to say it anyway. I’m sure they’ll say I’m feeling sorry for myself, self-pity (I’m sure this is just sadness & loneliness talking). When one has no purpose to their lives, why are we here? I was never ‘hopelessly’ insane either, and I’m not now, although I certainly was on my medications, the drugs induced every mental disorder listed in the DSM. Especially during the cold-turkey withdrawals. I’m happy your doing well, have hopes for your future, making plans.
    What state are you in?

    • Indiana. No real anti-psychiatry movement except maybe up in Fort Wayne.

      On the plus side we get a D- according to NAMI’s scale. Hence fewer offers of “deadly” help.

      Stinks to be single here–unless you enjoy being alone every evening. Gave up the dating farce long ago. (Guys just want cheap alternatives to hookers. If you’re over forty they remind you how you’ve lost all value and should be grateful to be used and tossed like a wad of toilet paper.) No thanks Bozo! 😛

      Looks like I have a serious medical condition. Had a mild form for years it seems. But everyone thought it was depression–including me. No longer crazy because of mind altering drugs I know I’m sick as a dog. Some Malabsorption Disorder. Maybe Crohns. I have the right symptoms.

    • Sandra, it’s not self-pity to feel annihilated whenever you’re CENSORED! We all need a voice in the world. Plus, the world SHOULD hear everything you have to say. If Mad people can’t speak, then our lives are the territory of every quack and sanist. So many of us have lost enough already. We must not also lose our very existences.