I received a response from both Knott’s Berry Farm and the maker of the virtual reality game they are showcasing this Halloween.
Knott’s Berry Farm is an amusement park in Orange County, California. I’ve been there several times, as a child and as an adult with my kids, including Tim. Every October they turn the park into Knott’s Scary Farm, decked out in all the finest in Halloween regalia.
This year, they announced a new virtual reality experience they have titled FearVR: 5150. From their own website, here’s the description:
Enter the Meadowbrook Institute and witness the abnormal case of a terrifyingly unusual patient named Katie…Disturbingly vivid sights and sounds invade all of your senses. Encounter the darkness that has taken over the medical staff during your fully immersive hospital stay.
My daughter is 19 now and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder with psychotic features at the age of 16 and then later borderline personality disorder. She’s tried to die by suicide twice and has been hospitalized 7 times for self harm.
Just over two years ago I was gloriously naive. Before the police knocked on my door the morning of May 31st, 2014, there was a lot I didn’t know.
I didn’t know my daughter had a serious mental illness. Morgan had always been a quirky child. Extremely intelligent and intensely creative, people often said that she “marched to the beat of her own drum.” Although (in retrospect) there were a few red flags over the years, we were continuously reassured by her doctors and educators that Morgan was well “within the range of normal.”
There is some sentiment among advocates for persons with serious mental illnesses like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder that movements like Mental Health Awareness Month and fighting stigma is a waste of resources because it doesn’t help get treatment and resources to the most severely mentally ill. I disagree. I think awareness and stigma fighting are an important component in getting those people the services they desperately need. I have four reasons why.
Last year I wrote a post about attending Healthe Voices 2015 in Jersey City. It was an amazing new event hosted by Janssen Pharmaceutical and Everyday Health that brought together 60 online advocates across many different conditions to help us strengthen our advocacy work.
This year, I was honored to be asked to be on the Advisory Panel to help create Healthe Voices 2016. I, along with seven other amazing health advocates, worked with Janssen to put together the program for this year’s conference. On April 15, 2016, nearly 100 online advocates came together in my hometown of Chicago.
On this ninth anniversary of the tragic loss of 33 lives at Virginia Tech, please also remember:
Seung-Hui Cho Was diagnosed with mental illness before the age of 18.
Seung-Hui Cho’s family tried to keep him in treatment after age 18, but were unable to even know if he was in treatment because of HIPAA law.
Seung-Hui Cho sought treatment on his own while a student at Virginia Tech.
Seung-Hui Cho’s Doctor tried to have him committed as an inpatient but was denied by a Virginia judge.
Call and write your congressperson. Implore them to co-sponsor HR 2646.
This Friday I will be at Healthe Voices 2016 in beautiful downtown Chicago! Healthe Voices is a weekend conference that brings patient and caregiver advocates for many different conditions together to learn how to improve our advocacy. I attended the inaugural conference last year in New York and it was amazing to meet different advocates and learn from them and from experts in many different topics.
This year I’m honored to be on the advisory counsel, helping Janssen and Everyday Health create this amazing event. I will be tweeting throughout the weekend, live from the conference, so if you’re on Twitter, follow me here and learn along with me!
Note: While I am compensated by Janssen for my work on the conference, all my opinions and posts are my own and are not influenced by their sponsorship.
I painted this stencil over the top of Tim’s closet when he was eleven years old. That was the year everything changed. Tim was officially diagnosed with schizophrenia. He attempted suicide. He had two inpatient hospitalizations. Tim has always loved Superman, and Tom has always loved REM, so this stencil was the perfect expression of what Tim loved, sung by a band his dad loved, and the sentiment I hoped he would remember.
Today, Tim and I are painting it over.
From the Washington Post article, on the incident this week of shots fired near the Capital:
Authorities identified the wounded suspect as Larry Russell Dawson, a minister from Tennessee. The 66-year-old Dawson previously was arrested in October in the District after he allegedly disrupted Congress by shouting that he was a “prophet of God.”
Yet, they won’t pass HR2646 out of committee, a bill that would have helped ensure this man was in treatment.
I…..I just can’t understand.
How many more people have to die? How many more prisons will we have to build to hold those that should be treated instead? When will politicians care?
They didn’t care after Tucson.
Or Virginia Tech.
They didn’t even care when one of their own was stabbed by his own child, hours after being refused a bed.