I recall the many times as an inpatient psychiatric social worker when I couldn't think of anything to say to families besides "My hands are tied. There's nothing further I can do. The doctor is ordering the discharge, not me. I know you're angry." Some of them lashed out angrily at me. I didn't take it personally. I knew they were at a point beyond frustration. Others told me they understood it wasn't my fault that their ill loved ones were getting discharged prematurely again.
This network of new friends also includes Mary Barksdale and Robert "Joe" Bruce. Mary's son Farron killed two police officers in Alabama while delusional, unaware of this, and unmedicated. Robert's son William killed his mother, Amy in Maine while delusional, unaware of this, and unmedicated. These and countless other stories inspire me to join their fight. They remind me to stand courageously when I authorize involuntary transfers to hospitals for patients whom I know will be discharged prematurely. In fact, when I think about my patients with psychosis and anosognosia who didn't want help during my inpatient years, I cannot identify one patient who was discharged at the appropriate time.
To learn about the Bruce family, please click on the following link:
Joe Bruce's story
To learn about the Barksdale family, please click on the following link: