I woke up on the third morning more than a little groggy. It’s bad enough I had to sleep in a strange location, unwillingly taken from my family and friends and involuntarily detained via a certification of insanity, but the effects of my untreated sleep apnea were becoming uncomfortably noticeable.
Thursday, April 9th, was a largely uneventful day. It was originally to be the day that I was to argue my Charter Challenge before the Supreme Court here in Corner Brook, but instead I was sitting around waiting for breakfast in a secure psychiatric ward. Not quite what I’d expected for the day I’d spent months working towards, but at least it wasn’t a jail cell and I wasn’t being forcibly medicated. It was distressing to see the state of the other patients though.
I’d spent the previous day cluing up a few loose ends. Misha brought my jacket and pants for court and this gave me the time I needed to sew on a button. Had to do it in full view of the nurses station though. Can’t have stray needles floating around. I’d finished composing my counter arguments for the Charter Challenge in the hopes that I’d get to speak, but at this point I’d resigned myself to the knowledge that my hearing would be further delayed. I’d given my lawyer authority to speak on my behalf before the Court to apologize for and explain my absence. A delay has since been granted, but the final date hasn’t been determined as of the writing of this post.
My lawyer would finish filing the papers on Thursday and I’d meet with a legal aide in the evening to give them full access to my medical file prior to Friday’s Habeas Corpus hearing. This created another strange series of events that would further illustrate just how perverse the abuse of process was becoming.
Before I go further, I’m going to discuss some of the side effects of being pulled in. Aside from being unlawfully snatched from my home, slandered, and having my family and professional life completely disrupted, being detained can be surprisingly expensive. As I’ve spent the last few years living at or below the poverty line, I knew how to establish a solid budget and stretch my cash out quite well. As I was trying to develop a business idea with limited access to funds, I was stretching my finances further than I ever had before. This would come to an end when I was pulled in. What little cash on reserve for rainy days went into cab fair and trying to keep things calm for my family.
Upon emerging from detainment, I would find out two weeks later that my business assets would be frozen and I’d have to start making some quick phone calls. Things have been restored, but I still have been offered no proper explanation of how it was lawful to detain me as well as disrupt and degrade my business life.
Bill C-51’s new powers weren’t even needed for my detainment. The government simply leveled the accusation that I was delusional to expect to be able to argue before a Supreme Court Justice that they’re crooks and liars committing crimes against humanity so they had me committed for psychiatrist evaluation. They had full knowledge of my Charter Challenge and they can’t claim otherwise. The Attorney General of Newfoundland and Labrador specifically chose not to submit an argument after his attorneys were provided with my Memorandum of Argument. They chose to feign indifference and ignorance to the whole matter instead.
Another patient, Mary, was a good example of how detainment can shake the foundations of your life. She’s been forced to take a drug that’s making her gain weight and loose her teeth, along with a host of other side effects. The drug itself is known to her as Seroquel and it comes with a disturbing list of known issues. Its also been aggressively marketed for a number of off-label uses by an Australian pharmaceutical company, AstraZeneca, based on falsified reports for clinical trials that never actually took place. There are 10,000 lawsuits that have been filed against the company for the damaging side effects of this drug. Yet, here we have detainees under the Mental Health Act being forced to take it against their will.
Mary was recently detained because it had been discovered that she’d flushed her medication. She was tired of the physical and mental side effects and wanted freedom from her pill-shaped prison. They’d pulled her from her home before she could pay her rent for the month of April and brought her to the ward where I met her. Her rent for the month of April was left sitting on her television. Her landlord, disliking that she’d missed rent and perhaps thinking it would be ok to discriminate against someone detained by the State, served her with eviction papers. We discussed options for dealing with the landlord tenant issue. She’s since made plans to move to a less hostile location. I don’t know how her situation worked out, but I hope it got resolved.
Criminals are treated with more respect than wards detained by the State for reasons of mental health. Criminals are immediately offered legal representation. Patients detained under the Mental Health Act are not. Who really argues for the patients in these situations? I had the right to be advised of the reason for my detainment, but that never arrived. I expect the true reasons will emerge as hearings progress.
Criminals can also appeal their charges before a judge. The reasons for their detainment can be examined. Patients seem to lack this basic right of self-determination. Once medicated, they are under the authority of the prescribing psychiatrist. That doctor’s opinion then carries the weight of law, which is another example of how the rule of law abused in our country. A doctor can be appointed to a position of authority over another human being. They can remove that person’s right to liberty and freedom for refusing to comply with their directions. Patients can ask to be removed from their prescribed medications, but the doctors don’t actually have to listen. Especially with drugs like Seroquel, which have no standard protocols for discontinuing use. It turns the pill-shaped prison into a mental labyrinth, with the prescribing psychiatrist as the minotaur guarding the escape routes.
Seroquel is also known as Quell, which is darkly appropriate when used in politicized psychiatry or for simply sweeping societies uncomfortable mental health problems under the rug. Have a dissenter criticizing you too openly and angrily? Drag them off and have them ‘Quelled.’ I thank God for the peace of mind my personal beliefs inspire in me. They allowed me to weather the storm of detainment and double certification without much anxiety, which made the eventual release that much sweeter. As I mentioned in a previous blog, I believe spirituality is the root of the tree of wellbeing, not one of the branches or leaves, but the foundation itself. Building your mind on anything but the way you connect to reality is like building a house on sand. A good storm can undermine your foundation. Newfoundlanders especially should understand the idea of a house built on rock. Properly built, it can weather the worst that Mother Nature can deliver.
To that end, I spent most of Thursday anxiously awaiting my hearing before the Supreme Court the following day. I met with Misha and Ben during the afternoon visiting hours. Misha was exceptionally tired at this point. Like me, she wasn’t sleeping well due to the situation, but she is also 6 months pregnant so she had extra reasons to be tired. They left with Misha promising to return for the evening visiting hours. This wouldn’t happen as Misha would end up being arrested by the RCMP shortly after returning home. I wouldn’t know this until much later.
When visiting hours rolled around, another friend popped in to visit. He’d expected to meet Misha upon arrival, but this didn’t end up happening. He hadn’t heard from her since the earlier meeting. We tried calling her phone, but couldn’t get through.
As Misha disappearance was being noticed, my lawyer’s legal aide would arrive with disclosure consent forms to sign. She requested access to my medical records and provided two consent forms that I assumed granted full disclosure. I signed both, giving over full access to my file, then left her to make the needed photocopies. I took nothing from my file, nor did I ask anything be withheld. I opened my files like a book and offered the legal aide full access to everything that was available, then went back to hanging out with the visiting friend and trying to phone Misha.
This was the first time I was simply unable to reach out and contact Misha during the entire ordeal and it was the one that made me the most nervous. I had no idea where she was or what was going on. I contacted my family to see if they’d heard from her. I contacted Ben to find out if he’d seen her. He let me know that she was probably exhausted and home sleeping with the phone turned off. I hoped this was the case, but did let my roommate know I was a getting anxious about the whole issue. I’d already been taken from my home unlawfully. If a man’s home is his castle, my castle had been laid siege to and I felt as though my family now stood undefended.
I had a very rough night, unable to get more than a few hours of sleep due to the growing anxiety over what could have made Misha disappear. I wasn’t even thinking of the Court hearing in the morning, I just wanted to know what happened to her.
This concludes My Life of Certified Insanity (Day 3 – Part 1). The next installment for this day will cover Misha’s experience with the RCMP that left her cut off from any means of communication with the outside world.