My Mom's Serious Mental Illness

My mother is a part of the approximately 4 percent of the U.S. population that has a serious mental illness. Like many in this group, my mother has never received or accepted adequate treatment. I say "accepted" because my mother doesn't believe that she has a mental illness, despite a diagnosis of Schizoaffective Disorder  and past interventions from family members, friends and religious clergy. Like many in this situation, my mother has experienced joblessness, poverty, homelessness and deteriorating physical AND mental health. In the last three years, in particular, her health has significantly deteriorated, largely due to lack of self-care from living mostly in a car.

My family and I have spent years trying to get my mother help. We've pursued legal, medical and government avenues. Unfortunately, the mental healthcare system, as it is currently setup, isn't very responsive or supportive. The limited healthcare services that exist currently are essentially geared towards people who voluntarily agree to seek and adhere to treatment. For those like my mother who refuse treatment (Why would they seek out treatment when they don't believe they are ill?), the system is woefully inadequate. Along with homelessness, many of the untreated needlessly end up in prison for committing crimes, become victims of crimes and/or commit suicide (Consequences of Non-Treatment ). In my mother's case,  she is lucky to still be alive. But in the last few years, she has developed cataracts, congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. These conditions are  additions to her already having high blood pressure and diabetes. Hospitalizations have become pretty regular occurrences, needless to say.
Due to my mother needing and deserving more attention and care, I've decided to take some time off from teaching to advocate for her and support her where I can. Living with her somewhere isn't out of the question, but first, I need more assistance from the government. If I take her in, then they'd be inclined to do even less. (Apparently, the govt. hasn't heard of what a family/government partnership is.) Any money raised will go towards my mom's needs. She has limited income, minimal clothing and is currently staying at a motel. If she's not taking a shuttle or able to find a ride, she will take a taxi to the store, to go eat and to doctor appointments. She has some debt that will need to be paid off to improve her credit and chances for finding a rental. If we were to move in together somewhere, she would need a bed and other furnishings. The motel alone takes up more than half her monthly income. 

Any amount donated is appreciated, along with prayers and positive thoughts. And please feel free to view the links above and below for more information about and resources for the untreated. For updates and more information, please read and follow my blog.

My Blog: Benevolent Neglect 
 Schizophrenic. Killer. My Cousin.
National Alliance on Mental Illness: Stats/By the Numbers
Video: Pete Earley on the Lack of Care for the Mentally Ill 


Mike Gaeta
Fresno, CA

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