Connie: Her brain got hijacked

“She didn’t cause this.”

During college, Connie’s daughter, Naomi, became “super-political” and intensely active in the presidential campaign. Initially dismissing her daughter’s behavior as a cause for concern, Connie soon experienced an abrupt awakening about the severity of her daughter’s symptoms. On a visit to Naomi at college, her ex-husband and Naomi’s father, Jack, discovered cuts on Naomi’s neck. Jack wanted to take Naomi to his home, but Connie insisted that he take Naomi to the hospital for evaluation.

This is not she’s getting blue or she’s lonely or she’s missing her best friends, because they’ve moved away. It was pretty difficult. They put a hold on her at [the hospital] and she hated it there. They wouldn’t release her from the hold until she found a psychiatrist and a therapist. She moved in with my husband and me. I took off from work. I didn’t go to work for two months. I went with her to every appointment. She would sit in the bathtub for hours, just bawling and bawling, like wailing. This is not just feeling blue. This is not seasonal-affective disorder.

Connie and her husband, Dan, started going to NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) support groups and attended the 12-week Family to Family class, which offers education and the support for family members who have a relative living with a mental illness.

Note: NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) is a mental health advocacy organization at national and state levels that offers a multitude of informational material, classes, and support groups.

Naomi, now age 28, has two older siblings, a brother and sister. Both Connie and her ex-husband have remarried. This means Naomi has four parents actively involved in providing support as she navigates living with a mental illness and seeks help from the healthcare system and social services.

Naomi refused medications, returned to college, and soon experienced an “off the charts” manic episode. She stacked the furniture from her apartment in the college campus central courtyard to create an artistic piece. When her manic behavior continued, the college administration banned her from campus. After moving in with Connie and Dan, her bizarre behavior continued.

She would disappear for days at a time. We wouldn’t know what was going on with her. She started getting arrested by the police and then calling for us to bail her out. The police took her to the county hospital, which held her for three days. They started to say, this is not just depression. This could be mania. Of course, she’s 22 at the time and so we don’t get any information. We can inform them but they can’t tell us anything. My husband and I go from being afraid for her when she’s depressed to being afraid of her.

More of the Story: Help for Naomi