Saturday, March 28, 2015

notes on bad dream

I awoke from a nap with struggle because I couldn't get past the bad dream.

I was unable to move because my mother had given me a drug and then convinced a nursing home I needed to live there. She kept visiting to drug me, to keep me paralyzed.

It was a bit like my experience about a month ago when I could not move my body sometimes.

Monday, March 16, 2015


His father's sister had had manic depression. She killed herself in her forties.  When Joe first showed signs of mental illness, in his early twenties, his parents were not surprised. They had long dreaded the idea that one of their sons might also be manic depressive.

Manic depression is actually a highly treatable biochemical imbalance. Lithium, a natural substance, usually manages it, although modern psychiatry pushes lots of drugs on manic depressives.  What happens too often is manic depressives go off their meds, typically complaining that the drugs numb their feelings, stifle their creativity and degrade their quality of life. They feel just fine, when stabilized on drugs. They convince themselves they are no longer sick. And, for awhile, they do okay.  Gradually they become symptomatic but they don't see themselves clearly so they don't get back on their meds.

Loved ones might see  their loved one with manic depression is slipping but once they are adults, it is hard in most states to force a manic depressive to get treatment. Sadly, society lets people fall very far before forcing treatment on them.

Joe did not believe that the psychotic experiences he had were not real.  Joe did not believe he had a mental illness. Joe thought he was just fine and he was unaware that his sometimes frightened Jeanne, while she was still his girlfriend, and sometimes hurt her. He did not see his insistence on controlling everything about her life as part of his illness. He saw his obsessive wish to control everything she did as love.

Like many manic depressives, Joe resisted taking medication for his illness. He was sure he could beat it on his own, tough through the rough spots

It is one thing to tough through some rough patches but if someone sides into psychosis, and then stays there for weeks, even months, a person cannot beat it on their own. But they are psychotic, unable to make reasoned choices for themselves.

Joe's parents, Lana and Dave, had ridden the waves of their beloved first son's illness for ten years. Encouraging his art, even though his artwork could appear to be made in the grip of psychosis. They encouraged his computer work. Finally, they brought him into their business and home, for he had moved around the country in various manic and/or psychotic episodes.  They hoped that having a stable home life, a stable job and being back in his hometown filled with many old friends that Joe was in an optimal setting to be well.

conversation with parents and lawyer to hear the tell . . .  

And he was well for a long time. Early last year, he fell in love. Deeply infatuated. The young woman was in love with Joe. They happily dated for about six months. Shortly after these past holidays, she broke up with him, no longer able to deal with his wild mood swings, his sometimes rough demeanor when he was symptomatic.

Joe became suicidal. And this was not his first suicidal episode.  He had made many attempts before. He called the ex-girlfriend over and over, sometimes lovingly, more often in anger, railing at her for ruining his life, tricking him into loving her and then dumping him. He was especially angry that she had waited until after the holidays to break up, as if that made any real difference. She changed her phone number to stop his calls.

Then Joe tried to kill himself. He was hospitalized after that, of course.  Jeanne, his ex-girlfriend, responded to his pleading that she visit him. Then Joe interpreted her visit as a sign she had not given up on him.

Joe had been psychotic for months, although he was not really aware of it. Jeanne was. She had tried whatever she could think of, sought help from his parents but in the end, she didn't want a psychotic boyfriend.

On Valentine's Day, while Jeanne was in Mexico on vacation, unbeknownst to Joe, he left a note on her apartment door that said "Now that you are single, we should fuck."

Jeanne returned from Mexico a few days after Valentine's Day, found the note and as soon as she got into her apartment, she called a girlfriend to tell her about the creepy note, also voicing her suspicion that Joe had left the note. Then she went to bed at 9:30, tired from her long day.

At 11:30 p.m. she awoke because Joe was sitting on her bed trying to awaken her. He was naked and held a serrated knife from her kitchen.

Frightened, she asked "Are you going to kill me?"

"Not if you do what I say," he said.

Then he raped her, holding the knife to her neck the whole time.

It was a vicious, violent, first degree sexual assault yet in Joe's mind, he was making love to the love of his life.  The knife, the illegal entry into her apartment, the rape all appeared to be normal to Joe. He was in love. this was the love of his life. They were making love.

Jeanne, frightened and thinking of ways to escape Joe, asked to use the toilet. He let her but stood guard over her. Then he ordered her to get dressed.

She became afraid that Joe was planning to kidnap her. Later, when the polite had caught Joe, they found one roll of unwrapped duck tape in Jeanne's apartment and many rolls of ducktape in the trunk of his car. It did appear that he had intended to kidnap her.

In his psychotic thinking, he was not doing anything wrong. He knew they were in love. They had had sex before. And since she broke up with him, it made sense to Joe, in his psychotic state, to force her to spend time with him until she realized she still loved him.

Jeanne knew Joe well and she was thinking clearly. When he ordered her to get dressed, which suggested to her that he was going to take her out into the late night, she decided to escape if she could.

She had a closet off her bedroom that had another door that opened to the entry hallway of her apartment. Telling Joe she was stepping into the closet to get some clothes, she did grab some clothes and then ran out the other door, one Joe was unaware of. She was outside the apartment and pounding on a neighbor's door, crying out for help as she pulled on clothing. Joe ran after her, slashed her left hand with the knife just as the neighbor opened his door and let Jeanne in. Together, Jeanne and the neighbor called the police.

At first, Joe fled.  He wasn't completely out of touch with reality. On some level, he knew he had violated some social norms but he didn't really think he had raped her. He loved her. She loved him. They had made love. There was no rape. And he attached no importance to the fact that he had raped her with a knife at her throat.

Still, he fled. He left her place in St. Paul around 1 a.m. and by 3 a.m. he was in a motel in Northwoods, IA, just across the Minnesota border. He was flying mentally, panicked on one level but happy because he and Jeanne were back together. As he had driven, clearly speeding quite a lot to get to Iowa so quickly, he convinced himself that Jeanne would love him again. So he called her from that Northwoods motel and asked her if she phoned the police.

Jeanne was in a hospital, surrounded by police. The police advised her to tell Joe she had not called the police and ask him to come back to her.

Joe's heart leapt with joy.  Things were turning out just as he knew they would. After making love with him, Jeanne had realized they belonged together.  Joe was happy.

Joe jumped in his car and, once again, tore up the interstate over 100 miles per hour to get back to his true love.

Once he reached the Twin Cities suburbs, suburban police departments were watching for him. Joe sped up, going 120 miles an hour. He shook off one suburban police department but the next suburb had been alerted. The cops in that next suburb put out stop sticks on the interstate, at 3 or 4 a.m., to blow holes in Joe's tires. One tire completely detached from the car, the car landed in a ditch with Joe unharmed. When he got out, he was ready to keep running but he was surrounded.

She had tricked him! She had lied! She had told him she did not call the police and asked him to come back to her.

Joe barely noticed the police. He was completely absorbed, even still, with thoughts of Jeanne, ruminating about the good times they had shared, reinforcing for himself that she was his one true love. He decided in the back of the first squad car that he would forgive her. He convinced himself they would work through this, she would not press rape charges and they would live happily ever after.

On Jeanne's advice, the police had contacted Joe's parents.  Joe's parents sought the advice of a lawyer. They also told the police about Joe's history of mental illness. Instead of putting Joe in a jail that night, they put him in a hospital.

When his parents were able to talk to him the next day, they saw that Joe had no awareness of the serious trouble he was in. His parents are influential, very prosperous people.  They had helped him avoid the consequences of past episodes with their influence and good connections. When he met with his parents, it was clear Joe thought he'd spend a few days in the hospital, be released and somehow, his dad would make everyone understand that he had not raped Jeanne, that he loved her, that they were soul mates.

Lana and Dave had talked to a criminal defense lawyer before meeting with their son at the hospital.  They could not bring themselves, not yet, to tell Joe that life as he knew it was over.

Even if a good, and very expensive, criminal defense lawyer convinced a judge that Joe was psychotic when he raped Jeanne at knifepoint, Minnesota law does not allow someone to escape legal responsibility for crimes they committed while mentally ill. The current state of law on this subject in Minnesota is that a judge can send an accused defendant to the state mental hospital. The state mental hospital can stabilize him. Once he is stabilized, and the state mental hospital could force drugs on him to stabilize him, once stable, Joe will be brought to trial and held responsible for his actions.  Minnesota has some mandatory sentencing guidelines. A minimum sentence for aggravated sexual assault is 12 to 14 years with no parole and the sentence can be much, much longer. Like forty years.

Joe has since been charged with kidnapping, fleeing arrest, burglary, aggravated first degree sexual assault and reckless driving. Some of the charges will be dropped but his dad, who has always seen himself as Mr. Important, Mr. Influential, won't be able to pull Joe out of this fire.

For Lana and Dave, life as they know it has permanently changed. Their oldest son's life, for, most likely, about twenty years will be spent in Stillwater prison.  As they scramble to come up with the fat retainer criminal defense lawyers insist on, they scrubbed Joe from their business' website, shut down his Facebook and Twitter accounts.  Life has to go on.

I am surprised they left his artwork website up. His artwork looks like it was created by someone with serious mental health challenges.  Perhaps they are unaware that website is up. Or perhaps Joe won't give them the password needed to shut down the website.  It's odd how websites can go on even when the person who created them stopped paying for them. Once on the internet, things can be hard to erase.

Jeanne is struggling as she deals with the ugly, violent rape, the fact that someone she once trusted entered her home without permission. She is not inclined, and Lana and Dave had the arrogance to ask her this, to not press charges. The idea of Joe back on the streets frightens her. She is sure he meant to kidnap her.

Many lives have been greatly altered. It might not be easy to feel empathy for Joe.  What he did was wrong and he appears to have been aware, on some level, that he was doing something wrong because when he called her from IA he said he was headed to the Gulf of Mexico. And he asked if she had phoned the police.

As they do what they can to support their son, Lana and Dave have also done what they can to protect their livelihoods and business image by scrubbing Joe off their website.

No one is happy.

Lana and Dave's life will go on, with a hole, most likely, in each of their hearts for Joe. Jeanne will heal from the rape, get good help to get over her fear. She'll probably move, even though Joe is very unlikely to be free for a long, long time.

And Joe? He's going to spend a lot of time in a locked psychiatric ward. When he is stabilized, he will spend a long, long time in Minnesota's Stillwater State Prison.

Heartache all around.  Society needs to protect potential victims from Joe's psychosis but it seems to me that we should spend a lot more money than we do providing care for the mentally ill. I'd like to see laws changed that make it difficult to force people like Joe to take their meds so they can remain stable and lead productive lives.  Joe is violent and clearly a threat to others but this seems like a Great, and needless, American Tragedy.