Friday, December 9, 2022

Comments by Selena Bertino

Showing 43 of 43 comments.

  • “and rules are non uniformly judged as to which things are dangerous and which are not.”
    Boy, that is so true madmom! I’ve been trying to explain for years now to attorneys, supervisors, staff and all sorts of people that my son just can’t ‘get it right’ because the rules are different for each staff member. Reid’s attorneys all have told him that he needs to follow the rules and his treatment plan and one attorney even told him ‘when they say jump, you jump’. Well, what do you do when you get punished for ‘jumping’ by one staff when another staff member just told you to ‘jump’? This happens every single day at Western State Hospital.
    I can’t imagine what you must have went through having to deal with so many institutions!

  • This really is absolutely nothing new. Not at all. Patients that are really prisoners; it’s rampant. God this makes me so mad! Where is all this in the media? Carol Foster, I am so sorry you have to go through this.
    Another hospital that does this? Western State Hospital, one of the most violent, dysfunctional places on earth, and my son, Reid Bertino is trapped there.
    I am searched and wanded before I can visit my son. Yes, I am allowed to bring him food, as long as it doesn’t vary a bit from what was approved…even the amount. And only if staff has deemed that Reid has behaved himself, otherwise, I can’t take in the food.
    Laundry? They won’t even let me touch my son, let alone his laundry, except for the five second contact rule…I’m allowed to give him one, very fast hug while under the intense scrutiny of guards.
    The actual visiting hours are absurd and very limited. The ward phones are broken most of the time and there is no way to get calls in or out. No internet, cell phones or computers allowed. One cup of coffee a day if you haven’t made any staff mad. Just try to talk privately to anyone…doesn’t happen.
    ‘Therapy’ that is actually redundant, grindingly boring ‘education’ that involves learning six grade level skills that no six grader would ever need.
    Healthy behaviors are punished and patients are told they are showing ‘symptoms’ when they speak up for themselves. And any patient that is dumb enough to admit he’s feeling depressed? They get drugged into total numbness.
    I could go on and on. Human beings do not deserve to be treated this way.

  • 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.

  • 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, 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.

  • Hi Elizabeth,
    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:
    Thank you!

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • My son (who is incarcerated for up to life in a psychiatric hospital) told me after I read this article to him…’When you treat people like damaged children, they will tend to act like damaged children because they are brainwashed into believing they are indeed damaged and less than human. When you treat people with respect and act like you really care rather than acting like a cop and a punisher, then people will tend to behave like adults who understand they deserve to be respected.’

  • 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 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’.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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 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.

  • 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’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]

  • 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].

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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).

  • 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.

  • 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’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.