Mental Health Friday #19

Mental Health Friday #19

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The cop came back into the living room where I was sitting, nursing my two and a half month old daughter. “The boy didn’t make it,” he said. “Ma’am, I need you to come with me.” I handed my baby girl over to her dad as I got up from the couch to obey the officer.

His words drifted through my foggy mind as I told myself, this is all just a bad nightmare— I will wake up soon. With no socks or shoes on my feet, I silently followed the officer out of my house not knowing that would be the last time I would ever exit that front door. Yet, I felt an unusual calm and peace enter my heart as I sensed that this was “my path” or “my destiny.”
Little did I realize my journey would lead me into years of torment and pain when the truth finally came crashing through my delusional head….
*****

I once had a previous life where I attended college full-time, studying business management. I held on tight to a 3.9gpa as I managed to make mostly straight A’s in my classes. I was officially divorced from the abusive “sperm-donor” of my happy little boy who seemed content without a man in the house. I smoked marijuana on a regular basis to help me with my terrible mood swings as well as to help me focus on my homework (which I started to find hard to concentrate on while sober).

Then a few years later, during my senior year of college, I became pregnant again with my daughter. I was excited and filled with joy at the opportunity to raise two children as a single parent. My daughter’s father was a good man that kids naturally seemed to flock to. My son adored him and in spite of our cultural differences, he accepted me and my son as family.

He helped me when he could; however, with his mother being in her late 70’s, he lived with her in an apartment across town to take care of her. As a result, we never officially “lived together” and this arrangement worked perfectly with my increasingly introverted self.

Then came the day that I started speaking in tongues (and no, I wasn’t at some radical church at the time). I was home alone with my two children. I also had an “internal interpreter” who could understand just what I was saying. I went to the bathroom to use the facilities and then I started to shout out a name. I heard my son saying “What?”
This happened about three times until my son opened the bathroom door and said, “What?” again.
“In the name of Jesus you shall flee!” I shouted at him from the toilet in English.
My son replied: “Goodbye.” Then he shut the bathroom door.

Once I got done in the bathroom, I went to check on my son. He was in his room holding a little ball. He told me,
“Mama, I tried to hit that boy with the ball, but he flew out the window.”
I knew then that a demon was trying to attack my son. Yet, I had a sense of knowing that this moth that was flying around in his room was actually that demon which transformed and it would be dead soon.

The very next morning, as I was nursing my daughter on the couch, my son came out of his room with the dead moth in his hand. So I “knew” the demon was gone… This initial experience along with my son’s statement and behavior started my trip into what most would call a very delusional and psychotic journey.
The command hallucinations held me like a puppet on strings for about a week doing various things to rid the demon from my son as I thought the voice in my head was God telling me what to do. For example, I started fasting and eating nothing, just drinking water.

To make a long story short: After about a week of doing various “rituals” and crying and weeping in tongues, I told my son to go take a bath. It was late at night … for by now, time and structured sleeping schedules were non-existent.
As he was in the bathtub, I went to check on him and felt “God” telling me the only real way to get rid the demon forever was to “wash it out.” So believing that I was doing something to help save my child, I pushed him under the water and held him there for a while to let the demon come out.

A couple of days later, I was formally charged with second degree murder for the death of my son. My mind didn’t believe he was dead. I thought it was all a hoax and that my son had gone off to study and become a medicine man with his sister’s tribe.
When they moved me to the county jail, things really went from bad to worse. I could hardly speak in English; I wouldn’t keep any clothes on; I’d throw any medicine offered to me on the floor; I also did the same thing with most of the food; I would urinate on myself and put the urine in my hair because the voices said it would make it shiny (or something like that).

They moved me to the suicide cell after I had put my head under the sink to wash my hair and my cell mate thought I was trying to drown myself. Once I got to the suicide cell, they literally gave me a bucket for a toilet. After a couple of days passed and no one came to clean my bucket, I poured it all out on the cement floor and danced butt-naked in the urine and feces chanting in different languages. Yes, I was quite far gone….

After six weeks, I finally was given a ride to the state’s only forensic mental hospital. I recall seeing the red brick buildings for the first time with the sign saying they were built prior to 1920. I felt afraid and totally alone. I got dropped off and in my initial intake interview, I kept repeating, “I’m a lover, not a fighter.”
Once on the ward, I was handed pills again. So I did what I’d been doing and tossed them. Next thing I know, about four security guards and a RN came and tackled me down to the bed, pulled my pants down and I was given a good shot of Haldol which finally gave me some much needed sleep….
*****

After being given the diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia, (plus a handful of medications), I regained some sanity and stability and went back to the county jail for almost a year. I was given the Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity (NGRI) verdict; consequently, I went back to the same forensic mental institution to “do my time.”
I got to start coming out in the community in a very gradual process. It began with small four hour passes into town with my family once a month. Then it turned into eight hour passes. Then day passes, then I was allowed to stay overnight with my family. After that came time spent in residential care facilities for the mentally ill where I could spend two nights; however, I had to pay for the costs due to inadequate funding from the government.

Finally, after twelve years in that institution, I received my conditional release to a residential care facility. I had to attend a mental health center most days of the week. I changed my residence though to a different facility a year later. The mental health center here has a housing program and treats their clients with much more respect.
I have worked through the housing program and now reside in my own apartment. I manage all my medications; I budget and take care of all my money on my own; I cook and clean everything; I currently am working on writing my autobiography about my journey; and I also maintain my own website/blog at www.rebirthofsanity.com

I am still not 100% free from my status as an NGRI. My Judge has stated he will not give me any more privileges until my daughter turns eighteen. A couple examples of my conditions are:
1. Random drug screening.
2. Confinement to just the county I live in, unless escorted by family or the mental health center to some other county.
3. Compliance with the taking of all prescribed medications as shown by blood tests.

I consider myself to be blessed and am very thankful to be able to say I have recovered from a very dark psychotic state. I wish that my story will bring some hope to those who still battle with their symptoms as well as some reassurance that you are not alone. Much love, LaVancia Phoenix

 


Today’s guest post is by Lavancia who blogs at Rebirth of sanity Thank you very much for sharing your story with us. 

If you’d love to contribute and share your story on Mental health Friday, I’d love to have you. You can contact me on My email address is: mykahani@yahoo.com. Image credit: HealthyPlace.com

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36 thoughts on “Mental Health Friday #19

      1. It was very brave of you to share this story and I salute you for your recovery and new independence. I hope 2016 brings joy for you. Psychosis is a frightening condition which I have never fully experienced, although when I had two psychiatric relapses in 2009 I felt as if a demon was possessing my brain and forcing me to kill myself. Every time I left the house I was frightened I was going to deliberately crash my car, I felt so out of control. Luckily getting back on the right dose of anti-psychotics and being looked after by friends sorted these episodes out. And there was an upside, the relapses were triggered by my attacking myself with a carving knife, I was so frightened by the symptoms I have never self-harmed since then. http://bit.ly/1ER5cLY

        Liked by 1 person

      1. This is my first invite to share on another’s blog and I feel honored and grateful for the opportunity. I spent like three days working on it so I could get it under the maximum amount of words; yet, could open other’s hearts and eyes to the truth. Thanks again! – LaVancia

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Wow what a story. Thanks for sharing this is was quite brave to share that and as a reader it’s interesting to get an internal look into one of these stories that you would typically only see on the news. It gives a little bit more understanding to a mental disease that is extremely stigmatized and quite often looked at as “hopeless cases.” It’s nice to see some of your personality shining through along with learning about the darkness of this disease. I pray for your full recovery and happiness.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for reading, as well as your prayer. I noticed you started to follow my blog and I really appreciate that as well. Yes, that first year or so I was definitely given the “hopeless case” status. Yet, I had many praying for me and I eventually felt motivated to write because I didn’t want my son to die without any reason. I feel he would have wanted me to recover and get better. My story therefore, isn’t just about me…it is for all the women who have committed similar crimes. Thanks for reading. LaVancia

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your wish. I still deal with a tad bit of paranoia every now and then. For example, if someone appears in my perspective to be rude towards me (like a taxi driver that has picked me up several times and I say hello and they say nothing but, where are you going) I think they must somehow know about my crime and are being passive aggressive towards me. But then, when I see the same person act the same way towards another, I start to think perhaps I am wrong and it is just their personality…

      But generally speaking, I don’t experience symptoms at all; yet, I do take 24 pills in the morning and like another 15 at night so I am blessed in that time has finally found the right combination of medications for me to be back to “normal.” Thanks again and Happy New Year!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Happy new years to you too, it was really nice of you and try focusing on the very good things in life including yourself and I pray that you get better and better. Good luck for everything. May you have all the joy in life ❤

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your deep empathy and prayers. I attend a special group therapy twice a week for 3 hours each morning. There are eight of us and one counselor. I really enjoy this group because not only have I shared my story with everyone there, I get the opportunity to share my experiences with others and what seemed to help me on my path of recovery. We have been meeting with pretty much the same people over a year and I can even see some of the positive changes in other’s as they grow on their journey. Thanks again for reading! – LaVancia

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  2. Thank you so much for sharing a part of your life. I know there are others, besides myself, that do not understand all the things that mental illness can cause and there should be more awareness and support regarding it. God Bless you and I pray that you will continue on the road to recovery. Just your sharing your heartbreaking story has opened the eyes of many and brought more awareness to this disease.God bless you and your family.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Luckyjc007-

      Thanks so much for taking time out on this New Years holiday to read my story. This is the first time I’ve been offered a chance to share with others via another blog. I am hoping that people will not only find it “heartbreaking”, but educational as well. I invite anyone who wishes to know more to come visit my website at http://www.rebithofsanity.com. May my son rest in peace knowing that I am attempting to turn his death around by showing others that recovery is possible no matter what the challenge. As long as a person is motivated to not stay stuck with that “mentally ill” label and blame everything on their “illness,” there is more hope for that individual to lead a normal life again.

      Thanks again! -LaVancia

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, I had to take a few minutes to process this account and kept saying “this is not a movie.” There are so many things that I want to ask and say but at the same time I feel I should not. Instead, I ask God to intervene in the matter.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It isn’t a movie at all; I wish that it had never happened of course; however, I don’t believe God would have put me on this journey if He didn’t think I could handle it. I have a really good blog posted on my website called “From Grief to God”…the whole experience has obviously changed my life; however, it does have some positive things that resulted from it. I now have turned my heart back to God, instead of being so angry and asking why me? what did I do that was so wrong?

      I was trying so hard; however, i wasn’t no where near God as I once led my past life of drug use and was no where close to being religious or spiritual. I now have my Bible with me and I feel a peace in my heart as I have now re-united it with my Higher Power or God or Great Spirit or whatever it is you choose to define as that being which created you and has a purpose for you.

      Thank you for your comment and consideration. I do hope you get a chance to read some more of my journey at my website, http://www.rebirthofsanity.com . Thanks again! -LaVancia

      Like

      1. Thanks for reading more…I am working on a book about my life and my crime and mental illness. I intend to call it “The Rebirth of Sanity” and already have a publisher. I keep all my followers in tune as I slowly create this book. Thanks again for your compliment! – LaVancia

        Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s very important that we have a complete balance in our lives working on our heart, soul, mind and body.

    1. Heart -“Truly in the body there is a morsel of flesh which, if it be sound, all the body is sound and which, if it be diseased, all of it is diseased. Truly it is the heart. al-Bukhaaree”.

    2.Soul – “He has succeeded who purifies the soul, and he has failed who corrupts the soul.” #Quran 91:9

    3.Mind – اقْرَأْ بِاسْمِ رَبِّكَ الَّذِي خَلَقَ “Read in the name of your Lord Who created.” Quran 96:1

    4. Body – Eating healthy, training Martial Arts, strengthening body working out, etc. -“strong believer is better than a weak believer” Prophet Muhammad Saheeh Muslim

    So let’s try to keep a good balance in our lives focusing on all of these elements insha Allah

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your thoughtful insight. I do believe in maintaining that healthy balance. If the mind is lost, one slowly begins to lose everything else (heart, soul, body)…thank you again for reading my story. As I have said before, I’m not looking for pity or a hand-out. I am looking to increase the awareness of this mental illness as well as increasing the fact that recovery is possible. God Bless! -LaVancia

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow, LaVancia…I don’t know what to say, just that it seems truly scary reading this, you feeling you were saving your son from “demon” and all, it’s beyond sad. I knew schizophrenia could be bad, I didn’t know it could really feel so bad, like speaking tongues and all the behavior in prison you described… It seems surreal, yet I know it’s true. I’m happy you’re gaining your life back and I hope that after your daughter turns eighteen, you’ll be able to move another step on your journey!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading my friend…I truly was living in a “split” mind. I either saw everything as really positive and good and coming from God, or I saw everything coming from the opposite side, evil and from the Devil.

      The speaking in tongues while psychotic is called glossolalia. It is different from doing it in a Pentecostal church. It happens when you are not in a church setting and you really have no control over it. I even went to a couple of friends houses and spoke in tongues; I also went to a store and spoke in tongues. I recall the cashier saying, “What a beautiful language!” and I told her it was the language of my daughter’s tribe; however, when I spoke it around my daughter’s dad, he told me it wasn’t their language and that I was possessed by a demon…which really angered me for I felt and believed I was possessed with the Holy Spirit, such as I had seen in people when I went to a Pentecostal church as a child.

      Yeah, the whole story is truly creepy; however, it is the truth and that is what I want others to hear so they can come to their own conclusions as to what it all means. You can take the religious side and think I was possessed by a demon, or you can take the psychiatric side and say there was a chemical imbalance in my brain that created all the delusions and experiences. Or perhaps it is a bit of both. I leave that conclusion to the reader. Hope you are well and yes, it won’t be too much longer before my baby is eighteen! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Cathy for posting my story in your blog. I haven’t looked at this page in a while, so pardon my late response. After 17 years in the system, I no longer feel any anger towards God, nor any anger towards myself. Like you said, it is really the system that needs a good tune-up. This includes educating our teenagers about mental illness and being open and accepting towards those that have it instead of feeling fear, anger, or apathetic pity.

      I guess I share my story for two reasons: to educate others about how badly schizophrenia can change a person and to educate others about how badly the system is lagging behind other countries in the world when it comes to addressing mental health issues…

      There’s a lot more to it than just the criminalization, there’s lack of supportive housing or outright homelessness, there’s inadequate rehabilitation, there’s not enough advocates to speak on behalf of someone going through an active stage in their illness, and there’s stigma to fight, like every time a large white van pulls up in front of a local store and I go inside, people will grab their children’s hands or act disgusted as they wait in line for a person from the white van to count out their 89 cents to buy a pop…

      Liked by 1 person

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