If you don't go in crazy you'll come out crazy...
First I want to say; a lot actually:
1.) I tend to infuse most of my ramblings with humor. I smile and sometimes laugh when it's most inappropriate. I knew a woman I actually really admired and liked quite a bit who was a female forensic patient (there were only four of us at AMHI) and she had killed her mother. Well the four of us were in a group together and I nervously laughed when responding to her. More than highly inappropriate. But, it's the only way I know how to get through some of this. Sometimes I almost feel in awe of my own life.
2.) There's a huge misconception that a lot of people are found NCR/NGRI (Not Guilty By Reason of Insanity was changed in Maine and many other states to Not Criminally Responsible after John Hinckley shot Ronald Reagan). In fact, just roughly 1% of court cases invlove the insanity defense. Of those, only around 1 in 4 are successful.( Insanity Defense PBS) Hence the reason there were only four females and another example it garner's an excess of media attention when someone does plead an insanity defense. That being said, there are many more men than women who are forensic patients. I have a few private social media accounts that read like the who's who of the 1/4 of 1%.
3.) The general public tend to regard Anything they read or hear about in the news as gospel. Never contemplating for a moment -A. The person doing the reporting is giving a rundown of all the data they have gathered -B. They're reporting on information being fed to them by people who are sometimes themselves misinformed and -C. Journalists have an opinion and their reports are often reflected in that.
I myself used to believe for the most part anything I saw on the news or read in the paper. That is until I started reading about myself and realized at least 25% of what was being reported was untrue. Intentional or not, it was just incorrect. Names, dates, times, series of events; you name it. Also, the way things were reported I noticed wasn't always the way things were actually happening. A story being woven to keep your attention. I knew those moments forward, I would always question and want to know the truth. No more listening to rumors or conjecture.
4.) While I cannot speak for every forensic patient, the majority, let's say 85% were more appalled by what we had done than anyone in the general public could ever be. Those who are judging us the harshest, will most likely never experience what it's like to lose the one thing you count on the most to guide you. As a result, you did something that may have cost someone their life. Perhaps someone near and dear to you. What a horrific, mixed bag of emotional turmoil I cannot even begin to explain and wouldn't wish upon anyone. So while I may smile or joke, and go about my daily business; I've had awful things said to me and I just do and say nothing. I also lie awake at night, stay extra long in the shower, take unexpected trips to the cemetary or just drive without a destination. The entire time grieving, crying, mourning on my own; alone. It's my burden to bear.
5.) We had a running joke at AMHI (Augusta Mental Health Institute now Riverview Psychiatric Center) that If you Didn't Go In Crazy You Would Come Out Crazy . This was because when you were remanded to the Commissioner if you were found NCR they stamped "Indefinitely" on your paperwork. For the entire time I was there, they didn't have a female forensic unit. So we were just placed throughout the hospital with the acutely psychotic patients. The average stay for a civil patient at AMHI was 3 weeks. I don't know what the average stay for a forensic patient was. I knew one gentleman 'John' who had been there almost 17 years for stealing a six pack of beer with a pen knife. (He was very quiet and mildy MR) Another popular saying was The Squeaky Wheel Gets the Grease.
I guess sometime during my second year, myself and a few other patients started a "Forensic Group" to help explain what their rights were. So everyone started to be at least a little squeaky; including John.
-Natachia Barlow Ramsey
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