"Shot in the Head”
(May 5, 2014) Paul was a shapeshifter, a skinwalker, a Navajo witch able to spot another witch no one else could see. He had powers none of us could understand.
In actuality, a toothless 48-year-old with schizophrenia, Paul needed nebulizer treatments twice a day for his bad lungs. He also suffered from anosognosia, like many mentally ill people he didn’t really believe he was mentally ill.
But why did someone else have to be in jeopardy for Paul to be given intensive care? The bottom line was that the state had a timetable and the social workers had followed it, without letting us know about it. The decision to give him more freedom seemed to be disconnected from any evaluation of his connection to reality. Unless he was a danger to himself or others, he was a free man.
He’d never been able to hold down any sort of job. And his hygiene was certainly terrible. Even with the rules at the halfway house, he sometimes arrived at family gatherings smelling so bad we had to send him to the shower.
As I drove to his apartment for the first time, I tried to imagine treating another kind of neurological disorder this way. Tell someone with a spinal cord injury that they’ve been in a wheelchair long enough. Time for you to walk! someone says, and the wheelchair is whisked away.
Or imagine telling someone who suffers from Alzheimer’s, enough of this hanging around doing nothing. You’ve been in this nursing home for six months now. We can’t look after you forever. From now on you’ll have to take care of yourself.
Excerpted from Shot in the Head: A Sister’s Memoir, A Brother’s Struggle
- About Us
- Legal Resources
- Get Help
- SUPPORT US