Welcome to DU! The truly grassroots left-of-center political community where regular people, not algorithms, drive the discussions and set the standards. Join the community: Create a free account Support DU (and get rid of ads!): Become a Star Member All Forums Issue Forums Culture Forums Alliance Forums Region Forums Support Forums Help & Search

Jesus Malverde

(10,274 posts)
Sat Jan 31, 2015, 09:14 PM Jan 2015

She fought against making it easier to commit the mentally ill -- then found herself committed!

Last edited Sat Jan 31, 2015, 09:44 PM - Edit history (1)

The morning of the recommitment hearing, Alison Hymes sat in a small waiting area of a Virginia mental hospital in a navy blue sweatsuit, clutching a green composition book to her chest.

She’d scribbled down a list of arguments in favor of releasing her from Western State Hospital in Staunton, Va. They included: “Been here too long” and “Becoming institutionalized.”

“I don’t think they will listen to them,” she said.

Hymes had said similar things at the six other recommitment hearings she’d had over the previous 17 months, after a judge ruled that she was a danger to herself and involuntarily hospitalized her for the second time in three years. Her bipolar disorder had landed her in institutions multiple times over three decades, but never for this long.

The day before the hearing last May, she posted on Facebook: “Afraid I will be committed for two more months.”

Hymes was no ordinary patient. Before landing at Western, she spent years urging others with mental illness and their families not to let doctors, judges and social workers make decisions for them. She was part of a state task force charged with reforming civil commitment laws at the time of the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre, serving alongside doctors, academics, and law enforcement officials.


She fought against making it easier to commit the mentally ill -- then found herself committed! (Original Post) Jesus Malverde Jan 2015 OP
kick Liberal_in_LA Jan 2015 #1
I was confused by the wording of the title. Kaleva Jan 2015 #2
Thanks and updated...nt Jesus Malverde Jan 2015 #5
That's a Sad. :( libdem4life Jan 2015 #3
Powerful story. Amazingly strong woman. It could be any one of us with a brain illness. Mnemosyne Jan 2015 #4
This is a familiar story gwheezie Jan 2015 #6
Isn't Virginia a no-Medicaid state? daredtowork Feb 2015 #7
Someone send in Tom Sullivan daredtowork Feb 2015 #8


(35,814 posts)
2. I was confused by the wording of the title.
Sat Jan 31, 2015, 09:39 PM
Jan 2015

I thought it meant that she fought to make it easier to commit the mentally ill. Just a suggestion but maybe adding a word would make things clear. Such as:

She fought against making it easier to commit the mentally ill -- then found herself committed!


(21,363 posts)
4. Powerful story. Amazingly strong woman. It could be any one of us with a brain illness.
Sat Jan 31, 2015, 09:40 PM
Jan 2015

Just read the first three comments, such compassion in this country...


(3,580 posts)
6. This is a familiar story
Sat Jan 31, 2015, 09:59 PM
Jan 2015

Outpatient services in Virginia are pathetic. We are very low on the list of states for spending the mentally ill. The group homes many times are hellholes and could make you crazy.
After Cho and we decided in Virginia it was easier to blame the mentally ill rather than deal with our gun issue there was supposed to be outpatient commitments. Rarely see that happen. Not enough case managers. I've worked on several states and Virginia does not have the kinds of therapuetic outpatient services that young adults with mental illness require to live to their highest potential.
After deeds rather than building more beds we now have to take people from anywhere in Virginia. That means we may get a patient that lives 4 hours from the hospital they land in. We uproot them and wind up sending them to the shelter here. Some of them never get "home".
We admit people who belong in jail and take up a bed that a mentally ill person needs because the police will tell someone being a pain in the ass they can go to jail or the hospital. The reverse is also true. If a mentally ill person is disorderly or trespassing in the community if there are no psych beds they wind up in jail.
The reaction to cho and deeds did not make it better for the mentally ill it just made it easier for the rest of us to stash them away.


(3,732 posts)
7. Isn't Virginia a no-Medicaid state?
Sun Feb 1, 2015, 01:15 AM
Feb 2015

Several things in that story told me that Alison could have other physical problems that were undiagnosed/untreated. Also it seemed like she was caught in a vicious cycle of medication and medical problems leading to behavior (lethargy) that led to the "diagnosis" of Alison not being able to take care of herself which led to her being put in a situation that was stressful/untenable for her (locked up) which just made things worse. And now she's been down this rabbit hole for years.

I feel a deep twinge of sympathy - it's hard enough to get doctors to poor people in California, where there is Medi-Cal. Currently suffering sleep disorders from too low blood pressure plus medication plus neurologic medication known to put people to sleep during the day plus inability to use cpap machine because I'm suddenly dropping off to sleep at odd times and odd places. This was kicked down the curb by my primary doctor 6 weeks ago because she was overbooked. I just saw her yesterday, and she was overbooked again, so once again we didn't get to this issue - even though she was holding multiple letters from my neurologist, pulmonologist, and 2 ER visits that more or less should have screamed GET TO IT! I've repeatedly asked for closer drug monitoring as well, and I've been denied it because nothing I'm taking is officially on the DEA's controlled substance list. After aborted appointment I attempted to make another appointment, but I couldn't because my doctor is booked through March.

Does this count as medical neglect/abuse yet?

I was feeling great in the summer. I was thrown off kilter by being dropped by Medi-Cal, and I needed more specific attention to undo the damage that caused and get the meds I was on re-balanced. Instead, I have been continually dragged through this state of lethargy and sleep irregularity - and yes it feels psychologically depressing, too. If I'm diagnosed with bipolar now, I'm going to march into a court of law and swear before a judge on a stack of Bibles that the medical system inflicted it on me.

Well this is probably TMI once again, but sometimes I feel I really can shed some light on these posts that most people would get. And one thing I'd like to point out here is that even in the bohemian utopia that is California the medical system is perfectly capable of INDUCING the symptoms originally attributed to Allison before she was institutionalized. I've been fighting this off for 5 months now while waiting for my case to reach *red alert* status in my obviously over-committed doctor's mind.

Latest Discussions»General Discussion»She fought against making...