Chapter 5 in a series on mental illness.
Six days ago my brother was released early from LA County jail where he had been incarcerated since violating my restraining order last fall.
He is now homeless again, has enough money to stay in cheap hotels for a while, but is refusing to see a doctor or get meds or help of any kind, has only the clothes on his back and a pair of sandals, no supervision or treatment, and no friends willing to house him any more.
He was released on his own, without meds, without any requirement that he receive treatment, and without any form of housing or structure for his life. He was manic and is very quickly degenerating each day.
The system basically is saying to my brother: “Screw you. And screw all of your relatives and friends. Your mental illness is going to resurface as your meds wear off, you will become an incoherent dazed obnoxious homeless person making life miserable for yourself and anyone you come in contact with.”
The U.S. system is a failure here as it is in so many other areas of health care. Libertarian fundamentalists must love this. After all, it is up to each person to fend for themselves.
[Note: Elsewhere see video interview with my brother on September 1, 2009.]
[Note: Elsewhere see excerpt’s of my brother’s writing about his own mental illness .]
I just got a call from one of his old friends in Santa Barbara. My brother is going up there on a train, unannounced, thinking his old friend will help him. He won’t, he can’t, and he should not have to. Friends and family of the mentally ill do not have the resources, skill, or time to treat a mentally ill person. And in most cases, they don’t have the money. My brother’s friend said he will meet my brother at the train station and ask him to get back on the train. My brother’s friend will tell Tony the same thing I have told him by phone and email the past several days, i.e., to see a psychiatrist, get back on meds, and find a structured living situation. We are willing to help you find that but we will not house you ourselves. That has not worked in the past and takes too much out of our lives. The U.S. system should provide that structure and care and obtain information and background from relatives. The system does not work that way. Worse, in the case where the mentally ill person is incarcerated, a travesty of common sense and human rights to begin with, the system compounds the problem by giving the mentally ill person rights to prevent his relatives from talking to his doctors.
So, society, here comes my brother again. Be on the look out.
In January I had made a comment in these pages that I was going to provide information to his doctors in jail since one of them had indicated they might be able to pursue a conservatorship for Tony. That never happened. I did not send them any new information and I have no knowledge that they pursued a conservatorship. They never contacted me about doing so. I have my own life to live, was burned out trying to help my brother, and all previous efforts had failed. The initial efforts toward that end were stymied last fall when Los Angeles Mental Health Court judge Melissa Widdifield threw the case out of court and put my brother back on the street. Conversations I had subsequently with social workers indicated that the process of obtaining a conservatorship was arduous, as well it should be, and would have to be renewed annually. Even though I was burned out on trying to help my brother, that is just making an excuse. I am now regretting I did not follow through on that effort, however futile it may have been. Looks like I may have another chance pretty soon, after my poor brother becomes incarcerated yet again.
Update of ~March 24, 2010:
My brother is degenerating rapidly. His friend in Santa Barbara spent a couple hours with him but would not house him and told him he should go back to LA and get help from a doctor. The next night, my brother was homeless and could not find, or was not competent enough to find, a hotel. He told me that by phone this morning.
Since his release last week his state of mind has gone from having some insight into his situation to one of delirium, as evidenced by a string of phone calls and emails he made each day. At first, he was overtly apologetic about the
“outrageous and sometimes very offensive nature
of some of my past e-mails, as well as the sometimes
insane personal behavior”.
He BCC’d his friends:
“so as not to give any body’s e-mail address out to
persons they may not know or wish to share that
He asked old friends to email him if they wished to renew contact.
But within a couple days he was sending very derogatory emails to some old friends, then, a few hours later, calling them or emailing them again with apologies.
He also called me this morning and was in tears asking if our Mom was still alive. She is 92 and lives in as assisted living home. My brother had made threatening remarks about the care givers there so that home is now off limits to him via a restraining order. I arranged to make a three-way call so he could speak with our mother.
The call was a monologue controlled by him. First, our mother has dementia. Second, my brother tends to have conversations more with himself than others. So on both counts, not a lot of communication was going on. I called him afterwards and tried to three-way call with a worker from the LA County Mental Health hotline. We got voice mail so we left an 800 number for him to call.
I called him later and gave him the number again. He seemed to accept it. At this point I doubt he will get help on his own. I predict he will become delusional and get into trouble with the law. What can I do? What can any of us do?
This morning I succeeded at hooking my brother up with the LA County Mental Health Department Help Line. Tony had called me from a hotel near downtown Los Angeles. He sounded less manic but still manic. I convinced Tony to let me call the Help Line and hook him in to the call via 3-way calling. Elsie, the councilor who answered the call, has been working in this field for thirty years. She was very patient with Tony as he went into myriad details on a number of topics about his life and recent events. Elsie listened patiently, as did I, although at one point I suggested to Tony that Elsie needs to help other people so let’s get to the point. She gave Tony the address of a center at Maple and 5th, close to where he was, where he could see a doctor and get meds and possibly housing. Tony said he wanted an appointment because he did not have time to wait for hours for his meds. Elsie pointed out to him that the center is busy and that other people also need help and, if he does not get his meds, he is going to end up back on a 5150 hold, which is not something he wants. We must have been on the phone for at least a half hour with my brother. Bottom line was that Elsie gave him the address of a facility where he can see a doctor and get meds and Tony said he would go there to “make an appointment”.
After the call Elsie called me back and agreed that Tony seem paranoid and manic and that it would be a mistake for me to attempt to house my brother, something that has not worked in the past.
If past history is any indication, Tony will either not get meds or go off of them at some point. And he is unlikely to accept an offer of housing if it means any kind of supervision or structuring of his daily activities.
But at least we made one step towards hope.
Now it is wait and see.
Tony called me this morning at 7:30AM while in line at the help center at Maple and 5th. I suggested he ask the Doctor for meds and a place to stay. I reminded him that the most effective medicine in the past had been risperidone. I was not sure Tony was processing what I was saying. He was moderately manic but we were able to converse. I then called the Mental Health Help Line who told me that what would happen is that Tony would go through an intake process.
Later Tony called me and said he had gone through the intake process. But he said he had to go back in four days for his meds. So I think he was not given any meds. I told him four days may be too long to wait. He had a new phone, replacing the old phone he had lost.
He said he was going to find an internet cafe to “play on the internet”. I am a professional software developer who makes a good living working on the internet. My brother’s illness has reduced him to a person treated as a criminal, often homeless, who is alone in the jungle and has to go to some internet cafe to find some joy. I find it heart wrenching that I myself cannot help him and that he is being forced to act as his own case manager.
Editorial Remark: I have nothing but disrespect for the Republicans who have thwarted good cost effective health care in this country in general and correct care for the mentally ill in particular. I have nothing but disrespect for the oligarchy in this country that allocates the benefits of our society to itself. Yes I am getting up on my soap box here because I hope that even one reader of these words who blames government for everything and thinks our system is fundamentally so good might wake up. The only hope for my bother is the limited help he is getting from the government. We should all be working to allocate more funds to those wonderful workers in our government funded programs that help the mentally ill.
This morning my brother showed up at an old friend’s house unannounced. That friend was threatened by my brother a few years ago when my brother was fully delusional and had not been in contact with him since then. The friend did not answer the door and did not give any indication he was home. My brother fell asleep on the friend’s front porch. The friend called another friend who called me, since I tend to act as a clearing house on Tony’s activities for various of his old friends.
We then jointly called the LA County Mental Health Help Line. They wanted to dispatch a PET team (Psychiatric Evaluation Team) to assess the my brother’s state of mind and possibly take him in on a 5150. But the PET team was busy. By the time they could get there, my brother had left. His friend said my brother made an attempt before leaving to pry open a window but failed to do so.
Later in the day, my brother sent me an email to which I replied:
Date: Sat, 27 Mar 2010 17:34:39 -0700
Subject: Re: Health Care Problem.
On 03/27/2010 04:42 PM, Tony wrote:
> Hey Bro,
> I’m doing my best to get back on “meds”,
> but they make you jump through hoops
> dun they. I have an appointment for 3/30
> at 1:30 with LACMH to talk to a Sighcriattrist,
> at Maple and 5th. Mobhy he can get me hooked
> up with the psychmeds I need to sleep.
> No sleep again last night. I’m walking the
> street for funny. It’s a matter of opinion.
I called LACMH Help Line (800-854-7771). They said that the 5th and Maple place you went to does not give meds out on the first visit.
You can get meds immediately from an ER that has a psych doctor on duty, such as County USC or Harbor UCLA.
Go to one of those and get meds there.
I am willing to drive you to one of those if you want.
I would recommend that you call Matt Wells at Harbor UCLA. His number is [number not shown here]. He wanted to help you last year.
I heard from [your friends] about your attempt to get into [one friend’s] place this morning. [That friend] just simply does not want to see you again since that time you woke him and threatened him.
You will need to find housing on your own and get meds and become stable for many months first, then try to work at having a normal relationship with [him] or other of your friends who simply do not want to see you when you are off your meds and a manic and raving as you have been in recent days. That includes me.
The good news is: my brother does seem to be aware he needs meds.
Some bad news, which caught me by surprise, is that the LA County Mental Health clinic where he did go on Friday did not provide him with any meds.
In LA County there are several agencies not all of which communicate with one another and even within one agency, different units do not share data or communicate.
So in those, what are for my brother, rare moments where he agrees to cooperate, it is all the more frustrating to find that the most crucial care was not provided in a timely manner.
During the past two days my brother has tried to visit different old friends of his but was turned away, since they see he is manic. In some cases he shows up at late hours. In one case, he was crying when the friend asked him to leave. His friends want to help bit have learned from experience that when he is manic and delusional there is nothing they can do and they no longer can support him or humor him when he is like that. He must get help and he is going to have to do it on his own.
Good news. Much to my surprise, my brother just called me and asked me to go with him to an appointment he has with a social worker tomorrow afternoon. He told me that would be a good idea since I am the most familiar with his case. This is the most forthcoming and rational my brother has been with me in the 12 days since his release from jail. It is a hopeful sign, however slim, that he is going to accept treatment. I will go to the appointment and be able to provide information to the social worker. I hope my brother will actually show up and not get into trouble between now and then.
News not so good today.
The short version: I give up.
The long version:
It didn’t work out how I had hoped. I did go with my brother to the LA County Downtown Mental Health Center. I picked him up in my car on Wilshire in front of the Wiltern Theater and drove on Wilshire to downtown. My brother was in less bad shape than I’ve seen him in the past. He was relatively clean and was wearing shoes. His pants were somewhat dirty but overall he looked like a fairly clean homeless person. He was fairly manic but not raving. He told me that he has reinstated his disability income so that means he will have enough to get by assuming he can stay stable. That was the one piece of good news today.
We got to the Downtown Mental Health Center on time but when it came time to do intake, my brother would not agree to sign the intake form. And he wanted meds but would have to still make an appointment to see a psychiatrist, which seemed to agitate him.
Also, I don’t think he wants anti-psychotic meds but, rather, something to help him sleep. He advised me that he had still been “cheeking” his Depakote but taking Seroquel. He seemed to believe that Seroquel is to help him sleep. In fact, Seroquel is for treating his disorder.
As he is wont to do he had to be controlling the situation. He didn’t want to speak to a woman councilor, so she said she would just do the intake but then transfer him to a male councilor. He asked her if she was drinking and said he smelled Bourbon. I was right there and detected no such odor. He said he was told he would be given meds today and didn’t like that he would have to get yet another appointment with a psychiatrist to get meds at a future meeting. When he wouldn’t sign the form there was nothing the councilor could do since it is necessary that the person receiving care sign papers to agree in writing that if they are harming someone or abusing a minor then they can be reported to the police. The councilor could not help Tony since Tony refused to sign the form, so the appointment ended with nothing accomplished.
I had gone there naively thinking he would talk with a councilor and get setup to see a doctor regularly and obtain other advice. I had some documentation of his history with me that I was planning to give to the social worker or doctor. What was I thinking? Really, nothing happened. I was wasting my time.
We left the center having achieved nothing. I made an video interview of Tony but then accidentally deleted it. I drove him to the L.A. Mission and made another video there which I will eventually edit and publish here.
He said he would ask his “driver” to take him to County ER to get meds, by which he meant Seroquel. He has hired some black guy he met in the neighborhood to drive him around. That means he is burning through his money fast and who knows what kind of guy the driver is. The driver’s name is “D”. I spoke with him by phone briefly a couple of times and he seems pretty together. Somehow my brother is establishing relationships with some new friends, so to speak.
The driver came by and picked Tony up nearby in front of the L.A. Mission. I didn’t get a good view of him and was not particularly in the mood to establish a relationship with him myself in any case. They drove off.
Later in the day I got a call from Tony. He was more on the raving maniac side, asking me for the rest of his money. Should I give the rest of the money I was holding for him back all at once? What do you think? I considered making it conditional on him having an address where I can send the money. Instead, I told him I would transfer it on Friday. But I suspect he will spend it all in short order. I am tired of giving my brother an excuse to resent me. I feel like shutting the door on my brother until such time as he actually does obtain the help he needs.
I think what I am going to do is send the remaining money to him at an address he gives me. In other words, get an address, you’ll get the rest of your money.
Otherwise, I am exhausted and fed up with trying to help my brother. I am behind on my work and have my own problems in life to deal with.
I give up. For now least.
He is back on the street and his destiny will be determined there.
My brother was arrested today, early in the morning at 1:30 AM.
I don’t yet know the details. Here is the body of the email I sent to his various friends, who are also my friends.
I had not heard from Tony for nearly 24 hours.
I just checked the LA County Sheriffs Web site.
He was arrested this morning at 1:45 AM.
My heart bleeds for my brother.
This concludes this chapter of my brother’s saga. When I find the time and energy, I will write a more succinct summary of all that has transpired. I will visit my brother in jail and urge him to continue his writing about his life and ask that he share that with everyone so that more people can understand what people such as my brother endure. With awareness might come some efforts to improve how we as a society deal with this malady to help the afflicted and, in doing so, also support their loved ones.
Not so fast.
Yesterday I found out that my brother had been released from jail again after only two days. He called me saying he had “only” violated his probation so they let him go. In his call, yesterday, he said he wanted the last half of his savings and was very agitated. I told him I would deposit his money the following day (today) into his bank and that he could go there to get it. I had decided I didn’t want money to be an excuse for him to harangue me going forward. And, after all, it is his money.
Flash forward to early this morning. At 6 AM this morning I got a call from Tony. He was at Norms restaurant on Lincoln about a mile from where I live. He said he did not have enough money to pay for his meal. That meant that he has already spent the first half of his savings I had transferred back to him 14 days ago. That amount of money should have enabled him to get by for three months given the resources available to him in this town. Now, 14 days later, it was gone and he wanted the other half of his savings immediately.
The short story of this morning:
I went to Norms and gave Tony enough of his money to get by on for several days, with an agreement in writing, that we both signed, that he will go back to the Downtown Mental Health Center, sign the intake agreement that he had refused to sign last Tuesday, and make an appointment to see a doctor. He also agreed (and signed the agreement) that he will stop using my address, get a PO Box or other address by Monday, and that I will send him the rest of his money to that address.
I don’t believe he will be able to carry through on this, but at least I now have it in writing and if he does not follow through I can remind him about our agreement and use that as leverage to not take his calls or give him any further help until and unless he keeps his side of the bargain.
The unabridged story of this morning:
After he called me, saying he had no money to pay for his Norm’s breakfast tab, I called 911 and dispatched S.M. Police to Norms. I thought about just leaving it at that but then decided it was better to be involved with the situation, since in any case they would probably not take Tony in since he was relatively high functioning this morning. I called one friend to see if he might want to go to Norms with me but my friend’s cell phone did not pick up or his phone was malfunctioning as cell phones are wont to do. I would have been imposing on my friend anyway, so it was just as well he didn’t pick up. I went to Norm’s myself and interacted with both the police and Tony. The police said he was not acting in a way that was threatening to himself or others so they would not 5150 him. But if he didn’t pay his bill they could arrest him for defrauding Norms. They interviewed him out on the sidewalk and were very professional. They let me talk with him for a few minutes. It was coming down to me having to decide to help him pay his bill or let him be arrested. It was as if the decision to have him arrested was for me to decide. After Tony started rambling on about going to rent a room from one of his friends and making other unrealistic statements, I told him I was sorry but I was not going to pay his bill. I walked away.
I then noticed that the cops talked with him briefly then let him go back into the restaurant. They themselves left the premises.
I went into Norms to talk with Tony. I figured this was going to be the last time I was going to see him for a long time and I did not feel right about just leaving. I saw Tony looking out the window to see if the police had left. I approached him and said I wanted to talk with him. Tony told me that he could not leave without paying his bill or he would be arrested.
I had still not decided what to do.
We took a table in the corner seat with a view of Lincoln and the morning light coming in through big windows. I didn’t know quite what to do. On the one hand I am weary of his money being an excuse for him to contact me. On the other hand, I still retain a faint hope that he will have some insight to his condition.
I wanted to call the LA County Mental Health Helpline but could not remember the 800 number and it was not in my cell phone. So I told Tony to wait there and went home to get the 800 number. I called the Helpline from home because I felt I needed some help deciding what to do. But, after a few minutes talking with the Helpline person, I concluded there was nothing they could do to help me or anything they could say that I didn’t already know. They were asking the usual questions about whether they should send out a PET team. But the PET team would not find that Tony was a threat to himself or others at this very moment since, in fact, his behavior was quasi-normal. I tried to ask what they thought I should do about the money I was holding for him but that was not a topic they could advise me about. I realized there was no point.
I went back to Norms. I called the Helpline 800 number again and handed the phone to Tony. He went on and on with the patient Helpline worker talking about myriad details of his history, asking her what her qualifications were, wondering if she knew what an MDO was, going over the various levels of certification that social workers have and asking what her’s were, explaining that he did not want to sign a form that gave social workers rights to 5150 him, etc., etc., ad nauseum. He was not going to be getting advice or accepting it from that phone call. This went on for a good fifteen minutes. I asked him to give me my phone back.
A tiny bit of progess then happened.
At this point I was not sure yet what I was going to do. I knew I was tired and do not want Tony bothering me anymore. Tony had suggested I only give him a part of what remains of his money that I had kept for him while he was last in jail. I said I’d give him that now if he agreed to go sign the intake form at the Downtown Mental Health Center, stop using my address, and get an address where I would send the rest of his money to him. He agreed to that in writing.
The money is not an enormous amount but it would cover housing and food for a couple of months or more. The problem will be that he is not stable enough to locate and maintain that housing on his own. So the hope will be that he actually does go to the Mental Health Center and obtain some form of housing with their assistance.
Overall, I have to say, it was good to be sitting there at Norms with my old little brother having some kind of conversation. Tony seems almost on the verge of being able to hold it together. Yet two nights ago he had been arrested. He didn’t want to tell me the details and was evasive. But it came out in bits that he was with his new “driver” “friend” somewhere in South Central. Evidently he was staying with that person at some house there along with that person’s girl friend and I don’t know who else and really don’t want to know. He indicated he had threatened them in some way and they had called the police on him. I did not push for details but what happened was something along those lines. For, you see, no matter who Tony comes in contact with, part of him becomes paranoid about those persons or persons they know or sometimes a complete stranger who is passing by. My brother then sometimes makes threatening remarks to those people and gets into trouble.
Since his release 14 days ago, he seems to cycle about every 24 to 48 hours, having a manic phase where he becomes belligerent and verbally threatening to strangers or even friends by email or phone or in person.
He has sometimes stated that he was taking Seroquel before his release 14 days ago. Other times he insists he has been off meds entirely for 18 months or some other period of time. I have no idea what the truth is. But he is manic, has no realistic grasp of his overall situation, and per phone calls he has had with friends, has probably been drinking (even though he says he hasn’t) and/or taking some other form of drug that causes his speech to slur in those phone calls. He’s a mess. He needs help. I find it impossible to provide that help, and the system is incompetent to require him to receive help.
I do not know if I was doing the right thing by giving Tony any of his money. I was doing it more for myself to be rid of that excuse for him to contact me. And I am glad he agreed, in writing, to get an address before I hand him the rest of the money.
Frankly, I predict he will not go to the center and sign the form and not get an address. But that’s the rules. If he follows them, I’ll send him the rest of his money. If he does not follow the rules, I will not take his phone calls.
I handed him my Flip video camera so he could make some video as we drove first to my bank and then to his bank branch in Venice. I later realized he wanted to go there since he gets massages from George at Venice Beach.
I left him at his bank and drove home.
Before I left I told him that I didn’t think he was going to make it but that I hoped he would and that I have done all I can do for him.
I’m done helping Tony for now. It seems to be an impossible task.
The next night Tony called asking me to come and get him. I told him I was not willing to do that. He also called our other brother who told him the same thing. It does not work. I tried that when I let him stay at my apartment in 2002, at my house in 2007. He was also not able to maintain stable behavior when he had an apartment in Korea town in late 2007. Ditto when he got stable again and lived with roommates for a few months in mid 2008 until he went bonkers, accused one of them of poisoning his food, began vandalizing things, and they kicked him out.
I realize the boundary I am drawing is a tough one, but I cannot help my brother by housing him and, frankly, when is is off his meds and manic, I don’t even like the guy anymore and do not want to live with him. I am only willing to help to the extent the system will help him or he helps himself. The system has proven itself incapable of requiring him to receive treatment, so he is on his own.
I didn’t hear from him for about three days until he called and said he had made an appointment in nine days to see a doctor but needed more money. He still did not have an address and was still manic. The money I gave him should have lasted at least a week and it was gone in three days. He said he would send me an email but has not done so.
This morning he called asking for money. His bank account is overdrawn. That means that in three weeks he has gone through money that could have lasted a couple of months or more were he to get the kind of housing he can afford on his disablity income.
So far Tony has not done what he agreed to do. He says he went back to the center and filled out the form but I have no way to be sure he did that. The other part of the agreement was that he obtain an address. Yesterday I sent my brother two emails and BCC’d several of his friends who are taking the same position I have taken. Here is the body of those emails:
Date: Wed, 07 Apr 2010 14:47:17 -0700
Subject: Call from Tony to Dennis
For the record, you called me today, April 7 at 1:56 PM.
I am BCCing all of your friends who have been concerned for
you or been affected by your recent activity, including L.
You said your are down to $300 and been staying at hotels, most
recently the Royal Pagaoda in Chinatown.
You called from a FAX machine, which seems to be a trick
you use now. When I call back I get a FAX tone.
I told you I would deposit money tomorrow.
That was stupid since it goes against the deal we signed.
So, no, I won’t do that. You have to get an address, per the
agreement you signed.
I’ll do a three way call with LA County Mental Health Helpline to
get advice on how to get you an address.
So call me back, any time, and we will do that three-way call.
The second email sent later in the day was:
Date: Wed, 07 Apr 2010 20:15:24 -0700
Subject: Rules for Tony
Since you are off your meds and behaving manically, I don’t
know how much of this will get through to you, but I’ll try.
First, I love my brother Tony when he is stable and takes his
meds. I do not love the person my brother Tony becomes, a
paranoid vulgar bully.
But even the bully Tony I am will to help, since there is
some of my real brother inside there somewhere.
But there are rules. I think any of your friends would
say the same thing to you. I am sure L. would, since
we have spoken and agree there has to be these rules.
One rule is that you accept living for however long
it takes in a place where there is some supervision and
that you can afford on your SSDI income.
If you do not do that, experience has shown that you will
fall apart again, increase your bullying and vandalism
and end up back in jail. The experiences in Eagle Rock,
at 5TH Street, in Korea town, and on Corning Street all
Another rule is that you obtain an address before I
give you all of your money. You have spent or lost
$6000 in three weeks since being released.
We suspect that your driver “D” may be taking advantage
or you, or that you are gambling, or that you simply
lose your money and don’t remember where.
Obviously that means you only have a couple weeks
left before you run out.
After that you will be homeless.
So when you call me, I will take your call only if you
agree to talk to the LACMH Help Line and get their advice
on how to find housing.
Otherwise, when you run out, you will be coming to me
asking for more. I cannot support you Tony. It is all
I can do to support mom at this time.
Also, just like for Steve, another rule is that you
maintain your housing for a period of 12 months in
order for me to accept you back into my life on any
kind of normal basis. You have proven unable to do that
in the past seven years.
I realize you want to live without taking meds. That
has not proven possible, outside of jail for any extended
period, in seven years. So if you don’t get back on meds,
you will be on your own. We all give up, Tony.
Hence, the final rule is that you get back on meds under
the supervision of a doctor. Seroquel or whatever works,
but you simply do not function well enough to stay out
of jail unless you take meds.
Also, I know you want to start a Web site and write.
That will only happen if you start thinking straight
and there will be time for that after you accept these
rules and get stable.
I doubt that you will accept these rules, since you
are off your meds. But I hope you will.
To repeat, the rules are these:
(1) you accept living for however long it takes in a place
where there is some supervision and that you can afford on
your SSDI income.
(2) you obtain an address before I give you all of your money.
(3) you maintain your housing for a period of 12 months in
order for me to accept you back into my life on any kind
of normal basis.
(4) you get back on meds under the supervision of a doctor
If you cannot see that these actions are necessary, you are lost
Tony. Ask your other friends if they agree. Let’s take a vote.
Finally, this morning I had the following email exchanges with one of his oldest and best friends…
o o o
i couldn’t have said it any more clearly and succinctly. tony has a big
fear that his friends will listen to what you have to say, and, will
somehow circle the wagons w/o him at the center. for example,
i would have never given him any money if i had talked to you first.
you are a big threat to his being able to manipulate any of us. i am
thankful for all that you have done for tony, i just wish you had
more to show for your efforts…don’t we all.
o o o
thanks for your support L.
Tony called me collect this morning at 8:30 as I was
getting going but I refused the call, since I wanted
to check a couple of things first.
I have access to his bank info via telephone so I
called and found out his account is overdrawn. So
the $1000 I gave him Saturday is gone and when I told
me yesterday that he had $300 left, either he was
lying, was delusional, or got ripped off.
If he calls me again today I will do as I said
in the email. Otherwise I will tell him to go
to the mission or sleep in the street. He can
sleep at the Mission for free.
Once he gets help and follows the rules I will
supply money directly to his housing.
There is no way in hell I am going to put more
of that money into his bank account.
I’ll also offer to pay a cheap hotel directly and hand
him some food money to get by for a couple weeks while
he arranges other housing.
o o o
all of this sounds good. if and when he gets more stable,
you might start thinking about a dialogue with him about
a conservatorship. also, scaling back your expectations of
him might take some pressure off both of you. the fact
that he hasn’t been able to hold a job, and, may never
be able to work, might help him to see your point of view
more clearly. he needs to know EXACTLY how you are
willing to help, and on what terms. when he is stable,
housed, and, medicated effectively, you will be able to
figure out if he can be employable, and, perhaps his
awareness of his inability to work will give you more
leverage. if he becomes willing and able to work, having
him contribute in a small way to helping him support
your mom could be beneficial to him….etc
i really am thankful for all you have done.
o o o
thanks again L.
Tony just called my from a pay phone but when I started to
tell him the rules, he started to talk over me. I will only
talk with him if he will listen and I will stick to the rules
I outlined (and the offer to pay directly for a cheap hotel
and food money for a couple of weeks).
Thursday April 8, 12:06 PM:
Tony called me collect from a pay phone to say he wanted another thousand dollars cash if his money.
I began to remind him about our agreement and to inform him what the rules are. He would not listen and talked over me and said he would go to the police to levy charges against me. I hung up the phone.
Thursday April 8, 3:50 PM:
Tony called asking for his money. I told him I would pay for a place to stay after he found it. He hung up on me.
A few minutes later he came to my place. He was yelling at me, calling me a “cunt”. I called 911. I have a restraining order so Tony was in violation of that and could be arrested and taken into custody where yet another effort could be made to treat his condition. Tony had left immediately so even though the police arrived within a few minutes, he was gone by the time they were on the scene. The SMPD officiers looked around the house for him and took down my summary of recent events to add to their report. During the interview, one officer suggested, effectively, that I just give him the rest of his money as a way to no longer give him an excuse to contact me. I pointed out to the officer that such reasoning is based on an assumption that my brother is rational. I.e., that if you do this then such and such will follow because that is how rational people act. In my brother’s case, rationality is not present. Of course, the same can be said of my attempt to define “rules” for my brother to follow. There is an assumption that he will be rational enough to follow the rules. After today’s incident, I am more than ever tired of the situation and tired of trying to help. Giving him his money would surely remove that excuse for him to come to my place.
I am going to the bank now to extract all of his money in cash. If he shows up again, I am going to give it to him and tell him to go away and not come back.
Thursday April 8, 7 PM:
I went to the bank and extracted the entirety of my brother’s money, $1500 in cash and $3000 in the form of a cashiers check made out to him. He has spent or lost a total of $6500 in less than three weeks so there is no reason to believe that this additional money will last more than two weeks. But I have had it. If he shows up again I am going to give him all of that money and ask him to leave. I will call the police and tell them what happened and to be on the look out for my brother.
A few minutes ago, an old friend of his, S., called me. After Tony left my place he showed up at S.’s house asking for his old hard drive (a computer disk on which Tony has some of his old writing). Tony also told S he has no money so S. handed him $5, enough to cover bus fare back to Downtown Los Angeles, where Tony said he was headed. Tony told S. that he was going to burn my house down. I don’t think Tony will do that, but I’m not taking chances. I am letting friends know that Tony is a threat and to be careful until he is under wraps. S. said that he kept Tony on his porch and did not allow him inside. He said that Tony was talking to himself and raving on about this and that. Then Tony left. No one knows where he is.
Friday April 9, 2:30 AM:
At around midnight Tony showed up at his old girl friend’s house in Echo Park. She and her husband would not let him in and called the police. Tony went around to the back of their house and started to sleep on their rear balcony. Then he did some push ups. Then he went down to their basement and entered their basement office. The LAPD arrived but would not arrest him since he was determined to pose no threat to himself or others and was an old friend of the family, so to speak. They took him in their car and released him a few blocks away, with no money, in the middle of the night, telling him to not return or he would be arrested.
I witnessed this by phone and spoke with the officers, urging them to arrest him on any charge, such as trespassing, so that he could be taken in and evaluated and receive treatment. I even called SMPD and tried to get them to go out and arrest him based on the earlier incident at my place. None of this had any effect. My heart goes out to my brother.
His ex and I agreed to call each other in the morning and strategize as to how to handle this when he shows up again.
Friday April 9, 9 AM:
My brother showed up at my place at 6AM.
I think he had walked 12 miles barefoot from Echo Park or maybe the LAPD brought him here. Maybe I will tell the full story another time maybe I won’t because right now I am just sad.
He was dirty and was in tears so I let him take a bath and sleep on my floor while I called the police who then came and arrested him for having violated my restraining order. Somewhere in my brothers mind he wants help but he won’t ask for it. Maybe this was his way to ask for help. I don’t know and I didn’t know what else to do.
Part of me knows that he just wanted a place to sleep and a friend, something he has had so little of for years now. He just wanted to be my brother and deep inside I so much just want to be his brother like we were so long ago. But that ignores the problem. He refuses to take meds or to get treatment and accept help from professionals. He is manic, has a repeated pattern of showing no ability to survive on his own, deteriorates once he is left on his own has a pattern of degrading to the point that he harasses people and vandalizes objects. I am a problem solver and never give up, but this time did. I can’t solve this problem. It seems hopeless. It hurts.
Today, May 4, 2010, is my brother’s birthday. He is 53 years old. He is in jail because he is mentally ill.
A process for placing my brother under a conservatorship has begun. Dr. Eide, director of the LA County Jail Mental Health Clinical Program, and social worker Esmeralda Hernandez who is handling my brother’s case, are going to submit an application to the California State Public Guardian. I have provided them with documentation of Tony’s history, details of past cases, and a summary of all of the events in his life of the past few years.
I am not optimistic that the conservatorship will go through. Tony will fight it. I can’t blame him. But he is not able to make the right decisions for his own life, so I hope this conservatorship will succeed.
According to the LA County Sheriff’s Web site, there are two cases pending against my brother: the restraining order violation described above and a more serious felony vandalism case. I do not know any details about the vandalism case.
And I don’t know if the process of obtaining the conservatorship will be somehow in conflict with the criminal case against him.
Each morning, each day, once or twice, my brother crosses my mind and I feel a sense of loss and I grieve a little. Each day. In time, I will go for days without thinking about him, as he sits in jail, as the system turns him into a “criminal”.
This closes out this chapter of Tony’s history, as we wait for the courts to rule on the conservatorship and the criminal cases.