In Memory of Sharron Saksa McLaughlin

II Corinthians 5:17
Therefore,
if anyone is in Christ,
he is a new creation;
the old has gone,
the new has come!

The Bell of Hope....

My sweet little sister fought many battles in her 27 short years.  It is no secret that she had addictions, but they had an underlying cause.   Did you know 50% of people with a diagnosed mental illness suffer from substance abuse compared to 6% of the general population who do not have a mental illness?  Sharron suffered from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Schizoaffective disorder.   Sharron started at an early age experimenting with drugs and alcohol and she attempted suicide several times with no luck.  We found this to be her way of making the obsessive feelings and voices go away and  cries for help that went unheard by the head psychiatrist, who will be known here as Dr. C, at the local mental health center.  

 There is a stigmatism that goes along with people who are known to have a mental illness, most people just see them as crazy and deal with them in a manner that helps them enough to get by but not live a normal life, and they are just pushed aside and not thought of as real people in most cases.   I have a 5 page letter that Sharron wrote to Dr. C that went over looked and pushed aside when all she wanted was Dr. C to listen to her and help her. Because he did not she ended up slitting her wrist outside the local ER as a scream for help.   When Sharron went into the ER, I was called and upon my arrival I witnessed her being treated in a manner no one deserves.  I was told by a nurse that they treat all attempted suicide patients like this because they are trained to save lives and don't have respect for those who want to take their own.  I later wrote a letter to the VP of patient care explaining to her that this treatment is the worst thing the nurses could do.  If someone comes in, as in Sharron's case, they are wanting help, not to be further ignored if a person feels this is their only option then maybe they should take the time to help them turn their life around..  I explained the staff never even treated her wounds, didn't even offer her a bandage.  She responded with an apology and agreed treatment should be better than this.  

 Dr. C sent her to Hill Crest Behavioral Health Services for a weekend, where they did not even know she was a patient until the 3rd day!  He never even came to see her there.   She  had a stay at another facility where when Dr. C was called and asked to come to her he refused and the staff was told Sharron was not a patient of his because she was never seen at his regular office and only seen at the MHC.  Now I ask you how a doctor is allowed to write you prescriptions at one building then can walk out of that office and not be available to you as your doctor, this seems unethical to me.

 In the visits I made to the MHC with her the main thing I heard said was the patients did not feel they were heard by Dr. C, that he just lined them up, spent 5 minutes with them handed them a prescription and never gave them another thought. 

During the early days of mental health treatment, asylums often restrained persons with mental illnesses with iron shackles around their ankles and wrists. With better understanding and treatments, this cruel practice eventually stopped.  But as you have read we still have a long way to go.  In the early 1950s, NMHA issued a call to asylums across the country for their discarded chains and shackles. On April 13, 1953, at the McShane Bell Foundry in Baltimore, MD, the NMHA melted down these inhumane bindings and recast them into a sign of hope: the Mental Health Bell.

            

"Cast from shackles which bound them, this bell shall ring out hope for the mentally ill and victory over mental illness."