My 7 Years of Detention Hell

Ricky Chafin Jr.
16
1646

Back in 2013, I had a spiritual awakening of sorts. Being an atheist at that time made it an odd experience. My mind was a bit flustered, but by no means was I a threat to myself or others. Even so, my mother grew concerned at my newfound beliefs and asked me to get an evaluation. I went voluntarily and I was questioned by the attending physician. To be clear, I knew nothing about the Bible or religion at all at this time. I said I was God’s child, and then he asked if I was saying I was Jesus. I shrugged and said, “I guess?” He then proceeded to drug me, and I then woke up in a psych ward. How I found myself in this situation even though I didn’t express suicidal or homicidal tendencies still confuses me to this day.

I was then sent to a CSU (an involuntary psych hold) in Rome, Georgia,  where I was then medicated for Bipolar Disorder Type 1. They gave me Latuda and lithium. I was there for six days, and the meds made me progressively worse than I was before. My delusions began to grow, as did insomnia and hostility. I left against medical advice and, after one day of being out, I was arrested for aggravated assault and armed robbery.

That morning, on June 1, 2013, I awoke and took my prescribed meds. Unfortunately, I took more than I was supposed to, and as a result, I ended up stripping down to my boxers and arming myself with a knife because I was under the impression the world was coming to an end and I was the Grim Reaper. I remember being terrified and had little control of my actions but still retained somewhat of rational thought. I ended up running out of cigarettes and needed a ride to the store. So I walked down the street and approached my neighbor, whom I’d never met before, and unsheathed the hunting knife from my boxer’s waistband. I was terrified, but I couldn’t stop. I approached from behind and I stated, “It’s either your truck or your life.” He turned around, saw me, and agreed to give me his truck. Seeing he wasn’t a threat, I sheathed my blade and asked for a ride to the store instead. He said the keys were inside. I then asked him to go get them. He then retreated into his home, locked the door, loaded a gun, and called the police.

Oblivious to my actions, I then proceeded to play basketball in this man’s driveway. Eventually, he came back out and handed me a dip pouch and we spoke. I can’t remember about what, but a little time passed before police arrived, guns drawn, and aimed them at me. I complied with their commands, thankfully, and was detained.

I was then escorted to Forsyth County Jail and thrown naked into the “turtle suit room,” a very, very cold room with no blankets available and where your only clothes are a green, padded sleeveless gown they make you wear. I’m sure that that room violates the 8th Amendment to the Constitution to the fullest extent. I then spent the next seven months freaking out because I was facing such hefty charges, despite that I’d never had a history of violence or crime. My lawyer suggested the “not guilty by reason of insanity” (NGRI) plea. I didn’t know what it was in-depth, but all I heard that day was that I could go home. On my hearing date, I was found NGRI within 10 minutes and was sentenced to a 30-day evaluation at a psychiatric facility. If I were found not to be a danger to myself or others, I could return home. I cannot express enough the relief I felt at that moment. The crisis had been averted, and my life could return to normal… oh, how far from the truth that idea was. This was simply the beginning of a long journey through hell.

I arrived at Georgia Regional Atlanta Hospital on February 16, 2014. After 30 days, I was evaluated and was found not to be dangerous in the slightest, but they determined I might have a cannabis-dependency issue. They were recommending to the court that I attend in-patient rehab. I was to remain in their custody until my departure for the rehab facility. When I told my family, they thought I was joking. I may have smoked weed, but I wasn’t a heavy user, and I was anti-every other drugs. I didn’t even take Advil because I hated pills so much.  But being in this situation, a choice is something I didn’t have. By this point, I was medicated heavily and turned into a half-functioning potato.

I then spent eight months waiting for a bed to open in a rehab facility. It wasn’t pleasant in the slightest, that I can assure you. When I arrived at the rehab, they didn’t have me in their system, I had no form of ID, and they had no idea who I was. I convinced the receptionist to do whatever was necessary to intake me into their program. I talked to a counselor and they relayed that as far as they could tell, I wasn’t an addict. I explained that it didn’t matter; this was something I had to do regardless—and my alternative wasn’t an option worth choosing. They then took me in and I spent two months there without issue, receiving substance-abuse treatment I didn’t need.

One night, I felt as if I had almost died in my sleep. I then had blood work done and it turned out that the Depakote I’d been taking had almost shut down my liver, so I had to come off it immediately. There was a weird transition coming off it. I regained my emotions, which I hadn’t felt in over a year. Trying to regulate them wasn’t easy, though. Their response was to send me to another CSU and put me back on Depakote. I spent a week there and then, a day after returning to a halfway house, I was again returned to Georgia Regional Hospital in Atlanta. I hadn’t harmed anyone or myself, yet somehow I found myself back in the same hell I thought I had escaped.

I was then medicated with Haldol. This drug turned me into a monster. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t sit still. I couldn’t focus. My joints were locking up, tremors were a constant, and I drooled on myself. I expressed my concerns to my treating psychiatrist. He said I didn’t have affordable alternatives and that he “didn’t want to set me up for failure.” I endured this torture for two-and-a-half months. I begged for help, but with no response. I then tried to threaten harm upon others to get a shot so I could sleep. It didn’t work. I tried everything, but all they did was laugh at my attempts. I had had enough and ended up knocking out a Plexiglass window to instigate a code yellow (psychiatric emergency). I then sat down and awaited the arrival of the forensic staff technicians.

They got there, I willingly let them give me a shot, and I went to sleep for the first time in a long time. My doctor then returned from vacation and actually increased my Haldol dosage. This torment continued until I was transferred to their hospital campus in Savannah. Before my departure, I completely lost faith in medication and psychiatrists. I had expressed my concerns about Depakote and why they were still giving it to me. I then asked to see lab results of a healthy liver compared to my liver. I was told such a test would be non-therapeutic and was therefore denied a right that was clearly mine. I then refused to take their drugs, and that was when I was forcefully medicated via injection.

Once in Savannah, I immediately refused Haldol and requested an alternative. During my stay there, I acquired a campus job as a groundskeeper via a staffing company. I ran gas-powered hedge trimmers, chainsaws, leaf blowers, and the like. That really confused me, because why would they allow me to handle those dangerous tools but not consider me “sane” enough to release me? I also was trying to get off the meds. A doctor there agreed, and we proceeded to taper off the drugs. Turned out I was fine and didn’t require pharmaceutical intervention. Unfortunately, she got a job at the VA and was replaced.

The new doctor put me back on Haldol.

As I said, I’d expressed to my previous physicians my concerns about psychotropic meds and how they were affecting me. Fast forward to June 2019, when I filed a grievance telling them that it was a violation of my rights for them to medicate me without cause, and it was also against my religion to take such drugs. I expressed that the root of the word pharmaceuticals is pharmacy, and that word is derived from a Greek term, pharmakeia, which means witchcraft, sorcery, spells, or poison. Which I wasn’t interested in partaking in. They were also forcefully medicating me under threat of rehospitalization if I didn’t comply. I even got the advocacy office involved. They agreed I was right, but they couldn’t force Georgia Regional to stop violating my human rights. I even recorded my nurse practitioner having a conversation with me, which you can listen to in this YouTube video.

After seven years in the system, I felt I had no option but to seek refuge in another environment until this situation could be legally resolved. So in October 2020, I went AWOL from a forensic (semi-independent living) apartment program after my lawyer failed to do his job to free me from forced psychiatry. This meant going cold turkey off of all the prescription drugs I was on for my diagnosis of Schizoaffective Disorder, Bipolar Type: Risperidol Consta 50mg twice daily, Wellbutrin 400mg, Tegretol 400mg twice daily, and Klonopin 1mg twice daily. The withdrawals were absolutely dreadful, but I have finally seen what they didn’t want me to.

Today, I have zero symptoms of mental illness. I eat, sleep, and carry on with my life as if I were never diagnosed. I want to resolve my AWOL situation legally. Technically, I was under conditional release when I sought refuge. After this is resolved, I plan to continue learning computer code and refine my music. I am hoping to share what I’ve learned from this experience through melodic parables.

 

 

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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.

16 COMMENTS

    • Yea, when i got out i did a lot of research, and discovered what they didnt want me to. I knew they were hiding something. When i brought it to their attention, they said i was indeed right, but there was nothing i could do to stop them. I begged to differ. Challenge accepted 🙂

  1. Your story like many is depressing. But then, I guess I could take a drug for that.

    The chemicals they use on people should be illegal. You definitely needed reigning in but I think putting climbing gear on you and making you climb a mountain might have done much more good.

    But most shrinks do not climb mountains.

    Perhaps make a bucket list of things you would like to do. Think about what you like. If you like plants, garden. Go skydiving once.

    DO STUFF that is outside of your comfort zone and find a community of people that help you feel good.

    Make your focus to stay out of trouble. exercise and fresh air combined with some joys.

  2. That was a thrill! You are a compelling writer of jeopardy. What happened to you was like something one might have read of old science fiction novels. I too have been on Haldol. Actually I seem to recall begging for mine, to stop the voices. Rispiradol made me cling on to the inside of my body, as if I had been shrunk to an atom and catapulted to guest status inside my body, like the infantesimally tiny corona virus particle clings onto a set up of lungs and intestines.

    Your ordeal was bleak indeed. I cannot let the moment pass without saying something prompted by your article but not by your own personal story. It is not about you, okay, but derived from a topic you raised. And I sincerely thank you for drawing my attention to it.

    I am not going to applaud the recent vogue of excusing an act of violence just because someone was schizophrenic or whatever, whatever, and had a justifiable reason for feeling miffed. I understand that there is diminished responsibility and that this is a vital and important legal tenet. And quite how it is going to be supported without some kind of diagnosis I know not. I suppose one could say that trauma is enough reason to say someone has diminished responsibility. But with the whole world regarding itself as traumatized, from one thing or another, maybe the whole world should have a plea of diminished responsibility. But then in my district the whole world is already going around with a cutlery drawer in its underwear to brandish at whomever. And it simply has to stop!
    It has to stop being like this, for the sake of everyone and everyones children. Please do not misread this, since I am ill today myself and barely know what I am writing, but it seems to me that if ya’ll wants a world of peace and love and harmony, knives cannot be applauded as being “understandable”.

    I appreciate that this poor fellow in this article had no idea of which day of the week it was and so he deserved all the caring and gentleness that the world could embrace him with. Nevertheless, what is a shop keeper supposed to do but regard a knife weilder as nuts? Suppose the shop keeper was also schizophrenic, a schizophrenic who had recovered from his decades on pills and was now happily married with a two year old baby upstairs waiting on a bed time story. I only say all this because my grandfather was such a famous lawyer he made it to the very highest eschelon of the judiciary and apparently, according to my schizophrenic voices, he likes to use my mind. Often when I am actually wanting to…hang on…I am waiting for him to put a word in my mind….read.

    You see there is the romanticized myth of the lunatic patient, which is not unlike the myth of the noble savage. Not all humans are good. Not all humans are bad. Most are a wonderfully confusing anarchic mess of the two. My worry about pro-psychiatric survivor sites is the tendency to pity. Or villanize. With nothing sensible inbetween.

    An illness is most worthy of pity, and especially iatrogenic illness. But just as in an emergency room, a brain damaged motor cycle crash victim can deliriously knock a nurses teeth out, the pitiful illness does not make the knocked out teeth anything to treat flippantly. Our own trauma inevitably crashes into the lives of other people who feel trauma. In a world where everyone is ill with trauma, there will be no end to trauma if people do not take a position against “violence from anyone”. And that may even include each person taking a stance against their own reckless thirst to enact violence. It is all good and well describing our injuries but when our injuries injure the innocent our injuries become a bit of a problem. And to blithly say there is no problem with things like the exponential rise in knife crime, because its all just down trauma or systemic inequality is to make everyone on planet Earth have diminished responsibilty and therefore carte blanch to treat any stranger like their own personal stress ball.

    You could argue that giving everyone everything they need will solve the riddle of their impulse to be violent. A person with all their needs pandered to will become an oasis of tranquility, with the pool, the yacht, the beach bar, the private jet, the invincible income, the ideal spouse, the perfect mom and dad, the radient choir, the pristine bodily health, the attractive body, the sexy body, the certain ineffable something that makes them seem the boss, the best of the best. Forever and e v e r.

    I would call that hell. I do not want all my needs “met”. My best need is my need of “longing”. The moment I get the longed for person, or prize, or thing, my desire shrivels. Desire puts a gleam in my eye.

    Where was I, I wandered. Well I just want to say that it seems in any tribe there does have to be some cushion in place to catch the falling schizophrenic person who is albeit temporarily lost on flagrant psychotic windmilling with a cutlass. There has to be a comfortable place for that person to calm down in. The thing about being in a rage is you never ever want to calm down. So nothing calming flung at you is ever going to stand up to closer inspection. And I do vehemently oppose any form of psychiatric coshing, even on the serene.

  3. Psychiatric drugs can drive someone mad enough to Kill themselves or someone else. Psychiatric Drugs can also suppress normal social caution, which can result in a person behaving in a way they would never normally behave in. These phenomenon are factual.

    • I know. You are so correct to say this Fiachra. It is the main thrust of MIA I suppose and is one I fully endorse. Pdychiatric meds do make people do dispicable acts of btutality. But then so does a broken heart, or just feeling abandoned. If someone felt agrieved just because they do not like their neighbour and they behaved cruelly towards them “some” response would have to occur. Psychiatric meds are the last thing anyone should do. I want the world rid of them. It is a bad treatment. Thalidomide is a bad treatment. But clearly “something” has to be done to curb the behaviour of a man who killed thirteen women because God told him to. There are many more people bumped off by psych meds than crazy folks who dont like any neighbour to be even slightly different. Clearly “that” has to stop. The two kinds of harming of people, the millions of innocent people put on dangerous meds, and the violent assaulters of innocent neighbours HAS TO STOP. One could say that all assaults are only a product of pill popping. Then why do the vast majority of people on meds not commit heinous crimes? Presumably most folks want to stroll down town without fear of violence. If the badly behaved are exonerated from being violent and abusive and even sexually abusive just because they say they feel traumatized or just because they say they have tricky side effects from a sleep potion, then maybe society will give sex abusers a get out clause, and such soft soaping of the violent will spawn yet more violence. Now, you may not like to have the “lets get rid of psychiatric everything” banner obscured by the “what does society need to do about nutty child abusers” banner. You may fear that in trying to focus on both these hard questions it may dilute the ferocity of campaigning or slow it down with unnecessesary legal meticulousness but BOTH these questions are equally concerned with the innocent and I prefer not to see one lot of innocents conveniently brushed aside in a rush to rescue another lot of innocents. It need not be like Sophie’s choice.

    • I wholeheartedly agree. I was a very weird experience. Like i was screaming at myself in my consciousness to stop what i was doing, i was terrified, but my body refused to obey. Im just happy that i retained a fraction of my sanity when the event took place. Or i would’ve hurt that random stranger, or would’ve been shot dead by the cops.

  4. For those who have taken the time to read this brilliant young man’s story, I hope you will also take the time to listen to the video recorded conversation he also has posted as it demonstrates his passion.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GRD0pBn43nQ

    Ricky, thank you for sharing your journey and I’m glad that you found MIA. I am so impressed with how you became such a strong advocate for yourself and I hope that you will continue on as an advocate for others. We need people like you.

    Best wishes, Maria

    • I appreciate it Maria. Its just unreal what they do to people, and how these drugs are even allowed to be used without biomarkers providing evidence that their usage is even validated. My story is much worse than this short story has told. I was told to summarize it, so I did. I believe i endured what i did in order to help people, and to help restructure this system that it clearly corrupted and broken.

    • I also need legal representation to resolve the legalities of this situation. They stole all my savings twice, so i lack the funds. I just hope this publicity will actually attract a lawyer to heed my pleas for assistance. I have a lot of videos, other than the one here, to support my argument of unlawful confinement, medical malpractice, gross negligence, its just a long list of illegal things these people have done to me and countless others. They always applauded me for my intelligence, but acted as if I lacked the ability to rationalize what was going on. When i tried to argue against them, they’d just brush it off as if what i said held no grounds of logic and reasoning. Fortunately for me I’m a complete idiot, and don’t know when to give up even when the adversity seems daunting.

      • Hi Ricky,

        You did an amazing job summarizing your story and I have no doubt that you endured a lot. It is only by going through these nightmares that you are able to truly understand and have compassion for others labeled “mentally ill”.

        As I am sure you have experienced, finding good legal representation for situations involving forced treatment is extremely difficult.

        Are you familiar with the CCHR (Citizens Commission on Human Rights)?

        They are an international nonprofit organization founded by the Church of Scientology and Dr. Thomas Szasz. CCHR Florida has been making an effort to educate Florida attorneys on ways to help individuals under forced treatment (Florida’s Baker Act) by hosting educational symposiums.

        I don’t think CCHR has a chapter in Georgia but perhaps one of the attorneys who has attended a Baker Act symposiums in Florida has a contact in Georgia. Here is a link to a Florida attorney who is probably involved:

        https://bakeractattorneys.com/?gclid=Cj0KCQjw1a6EBhC0ARIsAOiTkrEzyYCgrj2ZweN108pEEXZnAhwxftIHQknp-oXi7l5wqQUvhAWCoUoaArc7EALw_wcB

        Were you billed for psychiatric services while under forced treatment?

        In the past I have been billed for forced psychiatric treatment that my insurance did not cover and filed a complaint with the facility that it was an illegal blind contract and they did drop the bill.

        I have also filed complaints with the Office of Attorney General claiming forced consumerism.

        Here is part of a complaint I filed advocating for an individual in New York under forced treatment:

        For more than five year, XXXXX has been prescribed the controlled substance Ativan for anxiety. Ativan is a hypnotic drug. Instructions from the manufacturer of Ativan warn against prescribing their product for more than 2-4 weeks and acknowledge they haven’t ever studied the effectiveness of using Ativan long-term. The manufacturer of this drug also admits their product is defective and can cause paradoxical reactions including but not limited to: anxiety, excitation, agitation, hostility, aggression, rage, sleep disturbances/insomnia and hallucinations. Instructions for use state patients should stop consuming this product if they experience adverse side effects. This product is designed to have a high risk for dependency and the consumer will need to purchase more quantities of this product to try and maintain its effectiveness. When discontinued, Ativan also produces a wide range of unpredictable physical and emotional withdrawal symptoms. Like all pharmaceutical products, if a consumer can no longer use Ativan because it is ineffective or defective, the manufacturer and the retailer who sold their product, are not obligated to refund money back to the consumer or their insurance company. Pharmaceutical companies and retail stores profit off of these high risk, defective psychiatric products.

  5. Ricky; thanks for sharing this. One of my missions as a new clinician (who is barely practicing, because I’m so disgusted with the field, and I’d rather not compromise what I know about coercive therapy and psych drugs in order to work in the field), and someone who also had a spiritual awakening, I am deeply sorry you had to go through this.

    Slowly awareness of this problem is becoming better known (although not in the mainstream), and I hope that one day no one will ever be diagnosed with a (so-called) mental health problem when they are having a spiritual awakening, and that there will be resources beyond the Internet (eg physical spaces) where people can stay for a while if they open up too quickly.

    I wish you all the best~

  6. Ricky,

    Very interesting.

    I don’t mean to nitpick, but it’s not clear to me that ‘pharmakeia’ and related words don’t include ‘drugs’, whether for poison or healing, and could be involved in the etymology. There’s also a history or ‘traditional’ view in some cultures, whether ‘legitimate’ or not, or valuable or debunked ‘magic’, that what would be considered a poison in larger doses, would in small doses be used for healing. I’m familiar with some of the corruption of this idea, like the ingestion of arsenic or gold for ‘healing’, and certainly the historical and current mental-management systems/individuals have been and are full of ostensible justifications for ‘treatments’ of the most heinous sort. Some reference may clear this up for me, especially one that isn’t from a strictly Christian website. Christianity has a long history of negating and framing as evil/heresy, things such as magical arts, sorcery, ‘paganism’, polytheism, etc. I get a mix of details from dictionary sites.

    Having said that, I relate to a great deal of your experiences and situation, and I am certainly impressed with your perseverance and attention to detail. Best of luck.

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