Police Brutality Opposed to Paramedic Wisdom
Something happened a few days ago in my building. I ranted on Twitter about it, but the occurrence is definitely worthy of a post.
Before I begin, I strongly suggest you read something I wrote back in 1997. In fact, I will go almost as far as to demand you to read it. Trust me. It will only add even more credence to this issue.
There are a lot of crazy screamers and fighters on my floor, but I never knew that to be the case when I first moved in. Things were very quiet. As time moved on, I met some of these people, and wow. I won’t even bother to get into all of it. Well, mental illness (that of course I can accept–until someone lies or switches their stories) a lot of drugs, and even legal charges. I’ve actually heard homicidal death threats from these people.
And then a few days ago, R. The above folks should all have the cops after them. Not R.
When I first met R. he was so shy, quiet, awkward. He could barely speak to me in full sentences. But Wonder Cane started our bond. He asked what it was for and I told him it was for my epilepsy. Then I launched into my gentle, but honest talk about my other diagnoses. This is my type of busting the stigma, and has always had overwhelming results. People just pour out things–some things that they have never, ever told a soul!
R. told me he was Bipolar too. So we had a very tiny talk about that but he opened up. That was the most important thing.
He’s definitely Bipolar I! WHOO! He went off his meds and holy guacamole! Yelling, screaming, he burned a cross on his door and left a candle burning in our hallway. That was before. This time?
Lately, the screaming by the other folks is still continuing. When I heard more screaming, I thought it was the same people. Shit #1. If I knew it was R., maybe I could have gotten to him to help (reason following with Shit #2.)
I was trying to sleep through all the noise everyone tends to make and then I heard the same repeated scream. Over and over. And it wasn’t (or didn’t sound) like the other folks. Then I heard more of what “someone” was screaming from the top of their lungs. R.!!!
I opened my door in my jammies to see a huge policeman and heard even louder, louder, louder screams. R.!!! I started walking toward his unit. One woman at the end of the hall screamed, “Don’t go in there!!!” I told her I knew him and it was okay. Convincing “Big Egocentric Police-Superman” was a helluva lot harder. And futile. Shit #2.
I couldn’t see what was going on inside but I knew they were holding him down. What I didn’t know was, did he need to be held down? That type of behaviour, restraining someone who is mentally ill and in crisis only exacerbates the entire situation. Not to mention the harm it does to that person.
Of course I wasn’t allowed entrance, no matter how much I tried to explain how I could possibly help. I’m sure it was for “my protection” but if they were already pinning him to the floor? Gee, why would I need to be protected.
I didn’t know if I could do it for sure, but I felt I could gently, yet with a suitable degree of vocal tone, get him to recognize me. I could keep repeating his name, my name, do you recognize me etc.
After that, if such was established, I might have had a chance to calm him down somewhat, and speak in a certain sort of “logic” based upon all of his delusional thoughts that he was screaming about (it was obvious to me he had gone off his meds again.) Perhaps I could have reassured him that everything in his mind was fine or whatever…who knows what I would have said.
However, the connection was the utmost thing. I would have even asked him if he wanted me to go to hospital with him if he was scared–because that is what we needed to do–go to hospital. Hell, I could have made his head go “DING!” if he knew it was me and I said, “R., You’ve gone off your meds again. We need to take care of this even though I know it hurts so much. But I’ll come with you if you want.”
And after all of this, albeit Police Officers needing to “protect” people, they still have no goddamn clue how to deal with people who are mentally ill in crisis. The paramedics are the best. Even if there were paramedics on the scene who wouldn’t let me in, they at least would have listened to me. I could have told them important information like his meds, his history… The police didn’t even let me get a few words out!
If someone who is mentally ill and in crisis, it really can help to see someone that they know. Someone they know that cares about them. I’m not saying always, but in a lot of cases it is true.
I’ll talk to R. when he gets home. I’ll be blunt, honest but with LOTS of care and love.