One Mom’s story about how her well-to-do mother got put in a psych ward that looked like a locked-down prison.
Like everyone, I read the stories about Britney and I admit it felt like juicy gossip. But now I feel a pang of recognition that makes me sad. Last summer, my mother was committed to a psychiatric ward for over a month. My own mother, who is a wealthy woman, had friends in high places, and she ended up in a ward that was not fancy.
I kept asking my father: Why can’t she be in the spa-like mental health ward? People are talking about this with Britney too—I don’t know what her situation is, but I can say that people don’t realize how much paperwork there is and how hard it is to get a mentally ill person to advocate for themselves, or even just to sign papers.
My mom is a society lady, and she ended up getting stuck somewhere totally scary.
She began forming relationships with patients who were manic, psychotic, and depressed. She fought with the health care providers and found ways to not take her medicine. She accused the staff of stealing from her and was in constant motion changing clothes and checking her personal items. Sometimes we arrived to find her wearing someone else’s clothes.
She had to give the nurses a list of names of people she would allow to visit her in the ward. Our friends and family, when they came to see her, were shocked. Some later admitted that they had seen some signs of her illness. For years, she had maintained long-lasting friendships and was considered a leader in her community. One day she convinced the doctor to release her, and called my dad to pick her up. She continues to be under the care of a doctor, and we hope that her treatment will keep her out of the hospital.
So my heart goes out to Britney Spears and her family. I know how tough it is to see a loved one suffer.
The writer is a friend of Mom•Logic.