Redefining Disability: Decisions

What is your opinion about forced treatment, and who should decide when a person is or is not capable of making sound decisions about treatment?

Hello friends

How are you this August morning? Where did the summer go? I see it this way, writing supplies are much cheaper in the fall. Time for a new moleskin? 🙂

Today’s topic is an uncomfortable and touchy subject for me. My sister is a woman who has schizophrenia. There. I said it. The family secret is out. She and I have had our moments of breakdown and chaos. Recalling those moments still send chills down my spine and cause my chest to seize.

She has been an inpatient at a mental facility a few times when she was in her early twenties. I don’t know too much more than that. She never wanted me to take her to the Emergency Room when she needed to check in.  The questions still circle like buzzards–how much of the time was she given the choice in her care? What guidelines were used to determine sanity, social acceptability?

Thanks to my medication, I am doing much better. Before I saw a regular doctor, I wouldn’t see the same doctor twice over at the free clinic. Once when my anxiety was unmanageable, I freaked out in a doctor’s office. Unable to sit in the room for more than a few minutes before I felt like I would be physically sick. I went by myself as I had no support system. They gave me a prescription for Xanax and pointed to the exit. I was deemed sane enough to be on the streets. Was I capable of making good decisions in such a state? I don’t think so. I was too afraid.

There have been times I have been “out of my head” just to wake up with skin raw and bloody. No one there to make sound decisions about my safety. I only tell this because I want to stress how important it is to look after each other–not out of duty, guilt or responsibility. Don’t even want to think about what could have happened to either me or my sister.

Didn’t exactly answer the prompt, but the topic is still the same. Decisions. Responsibility. Safety.

I want to challenge you. Look around, find those in need of help. Forget about forced treatment right now. Gestures big or small can mean the world to those who are just like you.

I want to share a poem I found on Dispoetry, a site where people who have disabilities can express themselves and inspire the world:

I’m just getting to love

This world for what it is, a flawed place

With its subway platforms overlooking the third rail,

Its hay lofts, open sewers  and loading docks,

And all the strangers who’ve looked out for me,

Letting me take their arms to walk with them.

— Daniel Simpson


Every Monday I answer a question about my disability from Redefining Disability, a creation of Rose b. Fischer. I do this in order to continue my healing process as well as  to do my part in facilitating  an open dialogue about disabilities. Thank you for listening. If you want to share your story, please join us!

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