My upcoming day in court

Tomorrow, I have a court date.   I am not in trouble, but I am bringing a petition to have relief from a firearms prohibition.

Why do I have this prohibition? because I sought treatment for an illness.   The events that lead me to seek treatment at Doctor’s Behavioral Health  Center in Modesto, CA resulted in putting me under a 5150 hold — in short  someone determined that I was a danger to myself or others.

 

Under the Welfare and Institutions Code section 8103, after being placed in such a hold, I cannot so much as hold a firearm for five years.  However I do have the right under the same Code to petition to have relief from this prohibition.   While I can understand some cases where such a prohibition may be desired, it rankles when it is applied to me.    While I do not own any firearms, it is not within the realm of possibility that I may want to use one before the year 2020.   I passed the Wyoming Hunter’s Safety Course, being the only person in the class who scored 100% on the written test. I think Elk is one of the most delicious animals, and I cannot purchase elk steak at the S-Mart.  Deer Jerky is also very yummy.

 

When I was being discharged from DBHC, it was a flurry of forms, and a peevish nurse that was upset that I was taking the time to read what was put in front of me before signing — and refusing to sign if there was false statement on the form.   One of these forms was informing me of the prohibition I was now under, and having to surrender immediately any firearms I owned and had two boxes to check to either request a hearing for relief, or to waive my right to a hearing.

 

The box to waive my right to a hearing was helpfully pre-checked for me.

 

I modified the form,  but fearing that my modifications would be unclear — I copied the near-illegible url at the top of the form — it turns out incorrectly, but google is pretty smart and I found the form to petition to print out at home and mail to the Superior Court.   A copy of the original form somehow did not make it into the pile of papers and forms I was given at the end of my discharge.   So I printed out a new form, and wrote the following cover letter:

 

To whom it may concern:

Please find enclosed a request for hearing for relief from firearms prohibition. I was presented a form to sign during my August 28, 2014 discharge from Doctor’s Behavioral Health Center, 1501 Claus Road, Modesto, CA, that was filled out when presented stating I did not wish a hearing. I modified the form to request a hearing.

In my copies of discharge documents, a copy of this form was absent. Therefore, I am sending this form in the belief that the form I was presented during my discharge may be difficult to interpret, or not submitted at all. I apologize if this results in any duplicate paperwork or scheduling for the same case.

Sincerely,

L. Christopher Bird

 

That was sent September 1, 2014, and tomorrow, October 10th, I have my day in court.   But I would be lying if I said that it grates at me, that what is considered an fundamental right in the United States is contingent upon the health care options available to me for the treatment of mental illness.

 

My treatment at DBHC from the outset was more appropriate to a prisoner than a patient, and this is just a continuation of that.  Understand, I committed no crime , but because I was exhibiting the symptoms of an illness, I was subjected to a pat-down, the confiscation of my property, and   the removal of constitutionally guaranteed rights.

 

The good news, is that I think the law is on my side.  To wit:

 

 (6) The people shall bear the burden of showing by a preponderance
of the evidence that the person would not be likely to use firearms
in a safe and lawful manner.
   (7) If the court finds at the hearing set forth in paragraph (5)
that the people have not met their burden as set forth in paragraph
(6), the court shall order that the person shall not be subject to
the five-year prohibition in this section on the ownership, control,
receipt, possession, or purchase of firearms, and that person shall
comply with the procedure described in Chapter 2 (commencing with
Section 33850) of Division 11 of Title 4 of Part 6 of the Penal Code
for the return of any firearms. A copy of the order shall be
submitted to the Department of Justice. Upon receipt of the order,
the Department of Justice shall delete any reference to the
prohibition against firearms from the person's state mental health
firearms prohibition system information.
   (8) Where the district attorney declines or fails to go forward in
the hearing, the court shall order that the person shall not be
subject to the five-year prohibition required by this subdivision on
the ownership, control, receipt, possession, or purchase of firearms.
A copy of the order shall be submitted to the Department of Justice.
Upon receipt of the order, the Department of Justice shall, within
15 days, delete any reference to the prohibition against firearms
from the person's state mental health firearms prohibition system
information, and that person shall comply with the procedure
described in Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 33850) of Division 11
of Title 4 of Part 6 of the Penal Code for the return of any
firearms.

TL;DR: The State has to make the case for the prohibition, and if the D.A. does not show up, I win by default.

Even so, I am nervous as all get out.

 

An unsuccessful approach to ableism

While internet interactions may seem the most benign, they can also be the most public.  When  an online community has a policy against discrimination, yet gives ableism a pass, I think that policy is either flawed, or the moderation is.   Especially when the person stating that they are the object of discrimination is the one that is disciplined for “persistence”.   That is, the continued defense against fallacious, discriminatory assertions of instead of accepting the futility of changing a bigot’s mind.

The group in question is called Jedi church (the original)  the thread in question has already been altered, though by the participants or the moderators I do not know.

In my introduction in this blog  I relate the story of two decades past about an individual who said that they wish they were bipolar so that they “would not have to work.”  An interaction in this group was eerily similar.   A man by the name of Dave Jenson said the following:

As long as people can have an excuse for their behavior, as long as people can make a living by simply being mentally ill, as long as a living can be made helping the mentally ill. And as I had noticed that when mental illness drop in numbers, new illnesses are invented and old illnesses take longer than before to gain a handle on. As long as this persists their will always be mental illness, real or imagined.

 

Thinking that I might be perhaps misreading the situation, I asked that if the three points I was inferring from this statement was true, the three points being:

 

  • People wrongly use mental illness as an excuse for what Dave Jenson considers bad behavior.
  • People use claims of mental illness in order to receive income.
  • The Mental Health Profession is takes advantage of the first two points to justify a wage for those that work in the profession.

Instead of clarifying or correcting, Dave Jenson used further fallacious arguments and untrue statements of fact to support these initial claims, about how much money that Disability insurance is paid fraudulently so that fakers can “earn a living” and I used congressional testimony that his claimed number was over 51% or DI payments, which in turn makes it seem to me that Dave Jenson was inferring that if someone receives DI one is more likely than not to be a fraud.

Other assertions in this thread alone were:

From Talon Trevor MacDonald:

Emotion is natural, and necessary for most. Some get lost in Emotion, and cannot contain or control it. This is generally due to Mental Illness, but also in a few cases, It is on purpose.

This infers to me an assertion that lack of emotional control is generally only represented by 4.1 percent of the population in the United States (the percentage of Adults in the USA with Serious Mental Illness according to NIMH)

and Bae Ryder, a moderator had this gem:

There are only two reasons why a professional will use the DSM: 1- insurance purposes and 2: for personal information. The DSM is defective in more ways than one. I would not use that creditable source because no professional would. Just a suggestion.

You know, instead of using a diagnostic manual to CORRECTLY DIAGNOSE AN ILLNESS.

What makes it rich was from a post immediately following the above again from Bae Ryder:

With a topic like Mental Health, unless you are a professional sitting inside your office, don’t try to give someone advice on Facebook about it. It is dangerous and unethical not to mention, it can kill. Do everyone a favor and just don’t go there. The government is not a good source of information and neither is someone that does not have at least a masters in mental health or websites that have agendas.

This seems to imply that a person LIVING with mental illness is unqualified to speak on the matter due to a lack of formal schooling.  Which is rich coming from a person that just said that the DSM which is written by such is not fit to be used by the same professionals  to diagnose.

 


 

The silencing of those that advocate against the stigmatization of the mentally ill,  including those that self-advocate like myself, is itself a further stigmatization.   In the above groups  it was explained to me by two moderators (one of which I consider a friend) (again after I made no move to or expressed an interest in rejoining) in extended conversations about my banning, that the owner of the group “Paladin Carl” values harmony, and it was me voicing my objection to discrimination in a manner he finds unbecoming more onerous than the discrimination itself.  My friend Alethea Jolene Thompson, also a moderator  there, explained to me that it was my tenacity of trying to “win” that was unwelcome.

Rather than explain in detail my objections to these views, I recommend the following reading http://www.derailingfordummies.com/

 

Those named in this post are more than welcome to make their case in the comments, I give you my word, that I will not censor or silence, as I have been in the named facebook post.

For further reading on my thoughts of applied Jedi Philosophy see:  http://jedipath.org or my associated facebook page https://www.facebook.com/JediPath

 

 

The DBHC Journal: Excerpt.

While committed at Doctor’s Behavioral Health Center in Modesto, CA as a survival mechanism I kept a handwritten journal which during my 2 and half day stay there ended up being 42 handwritten pages.  I shared the excerpt below on my Facebook wall shortly after I got home, my plan was to transcribe it in its entirety.   I put that project on hold when I decided to use a public-facing blog (and here you are, reading it!)   Once I finish with the “archival material”  my plan is to start posting sections from this journal.

 

This was during intake, after my clothes had been returned to me after my medical clearance at the ER — I was feeling desperate for help at this point, and quite angry I has not getting any — this is several hours into my experience there:


I decided to wander the halls to ask the first employees I could find to ask if mental health was exempt from the Oath of Hippocrates. The pseudocops who found me never heard of the Hippocratic Oath, one claiming, “I just got here.”

I informed them that the first tenet is, “Do no harm.” and asked why for the first five hours I have been subjected to things DETRIMENTAL to my mental health. I asked to see a clinician, and was sent back to my featureless room with no stimulus.

Just-Got-Here popped his balding head in the doorway a few moments later to inform me that a nurse will be transferring me to a unit “soon” and I will be helped there.

Among my skills, and past professions is computer programmer. I know the value “soon” is never a small amount of time, but rather, a value starting from 3 times longer than you expect, and as long as “never”.

 


 

As commentary on the above, the first “help” I got on the unit came 22 hours after I first arrived, with my first one on one meeting with my clinician.

“I am ill, I am here for treatment.” “Great, hands on the wall, feet on the yellow line.”

imagesterryfrisk
This was the first account I wrote in detail of my experience at Doctor’s Behavioral Health Center in Modesto, CA.  From August 28th.   I will let it speak for itself. 

L. Christopher Bird
August 28

A more detailed update, taken from my handwritten journal will be forthcoming, but in the meantime, now that I am home for the night, and can type on a full-size keyboard instead of on my phone.In brief, the intake process was damaging to me, it has introduced trauma that will take time to recover from, on top of the issues presented by my illness. In short, the first part of seeking treatment for my illness, was an injury.

The first staff I interfaced with after the receptionist was a security guard. The first procedure I was subjected to, was a feet on the yellow line, hands on the wall pat-down, described by the guards as “for our safety”. At this pat down, my wallet and cell-phone were confiscated.

I was then, a mere hours after contemplating, researching, and taken initial steps towards suicide, deposited in a featureless room, with no stimulus. I spent hours in this room, unattended. A couple hours before being sent to the ER and many more hours, after being medically cleared, and driven back in an ambulance, with the my requests to do so in my own clothes. At the ER I was put in a gown to be examined, and my clothes were kept from me for and after my return despite assurances they would be given back to me.

Kept in a featureless room for hours, with uniformed security guards in the hall, nearly all my autonomy taken from me, I exercised what I could. I took off, and folded neatly, the hospital gown I was issued, and sat in that featureless room in my underwear and socks — the only clothing I walked in with that I still possessed. Once I had done so, my shirt and pants were produced and brought to me.

While in that room, on more than one occasion I was weeping openly, with body racking sobs at my situation. At one point, I saw a security guard peer in the window in the door, snarl, and look away, disgusted, while I continued to weep, cold, alone, and unattended for hours.

There is much more, 45 pages of handwritten notes detailing them, but it will have to wait. Of my experiences, this was the most traumatic, but not the last of the continued humiliations, degradations, and dehumanizing practices I was exposed to, because I was an ill person seeking treatment.

More to come, true believers, but I need some rest.

Facebook Posts leading to the August 2014 crisis

I am copying some Facebook posts which will put the posts following some context.   In the previous post, I wrote about my medicine respite, and like any untreated illness, the situation was untenable.   These posts were leading up to me being hospitalized under a 5150 stay at Doctor’s Behavioral Health Center in Modesto, CA.

 


 

L. Christopher Bird
August 26 near Modesto, CA

I need someone to come get me and take me somewhere — anywhere. I do not want to be here, and I have no means to leave.Things are becoming untenable in my current situation.


L. Christopher Bird
August 26 near Modesto, CA

I am seriously considering ending my relationship, but also among what I am considering is just ending …. everything.

L. Christopher Bird
August 26

The last two posts were a classic, but sincere cry for help. Though I was triggered into contemplating suicide, I still have not allowed myself to indulge in my emotions, but have been working the problem, and putting in place a possible solution.After googling fatal doses for medication I have on hand, and ascertaining I probably had enough, I contemplated a bit and decided to see what other options there were I could seek help, and what the process was.

Julian Girouard Jr. is on his way to get me and take me to where I was directed to go. I suspect that soon I will be out of contact until Friday at the earliest (remember that it is better to seek help for suicidal intentions before Wednesday rolls around. ).

I feel angry towards some people that I love, but it is all tangled up as to what is justified, and what is delusion and pathology. I literally have to get my head straight to even contemplate repairing my relationships.


Julian Girouard Jr. posted to  L. Christopher Bird
August 27
A brief update:Last night (Tuesday, August 27, 2014, for you conventional-time keeping folks), I drove Christopher, per his request, to check himself in for a psychological evaluation. I went to visit him tonight, and long story short (although still longer than visiting hours), in spite of the many outrageous things he is enduring to get it, he is receiving treatment. I would not do justice to his story by trying to recount it here myself, and expect that you will hear it in his own words soon.

Right now, he is essentially cut off from the world except for visiting hours and limited access to a Neanderthal-style telephone. He has no access to the internet, his personal phone or to any contact information for his friends and loved ones. If you would like me to pass along your phone number to him, please send me a private message. Please bear in mind that I cannot guarantee that I will be able to get it to him, or that he will be able to call you once he has it. I cannot see any therapeutic value in the isolation and loneliness that has been suddenly thrust upon my dearest friend.

-Julian

— with L. Christopher Bird.


L. Christopher Bird
August 28

I have been discharged, and have a treatment plan in place. The path to get here was horrific. Although that sounds like hyperbole, it is not. Details to come later from about 45 pages of handwritten journaling of my experience.

As a preview, the booking process for my overnight stay in jail in Casper, Wyoming for a failure to appear over the matter of a traffic ticket (the failure to appear was in part due to a depressive episode) was MUCH more pleasant and less traumatizing and less dehumanizing than the intake process at Doctors Behavioral Health Center in Modesto, California.

Up Next:  Accounts of my hospitalization