Elliotts Story : A Living Nightmare Of First Psychosis

It’s so hard for me to wrap my mind around the events of the past few weeks and perhaps that is why I struggle to find the words to yet again tell this story. But it’s a story that needs to be told, the kind of story that opens your eyes and perhaps prepares a better way of doing things in the future that will prevent this sort of tragedy from ever befalling a family again.

First, I need to tell you about my son, Elliott. At the time this story starts he was 21 and recently engaged. He and his fiancé had recently adopted a dog from the humane society and he was excited about their future together. Elliott was a fun loving, always moving, bundle of positive energy. His smile was contagious and his heart enormous. He donated and partook in many different humanitarian charities and his compassion for people and animals was unparalleled. At 21 years of age I have never heard my son say a curse word, his respect was inspiring. He enjoyed caring for various plants in his grandmas backyard in particularly papaya and avocado trees I had started for him. He also had coconut trees and many varieties of palms he had started on his own. He was a happy, nature loving, young man with a kind heart and a bright future who loved fishing and his family.

But then things started to change…

Little things that may go unnoticed at first…he stopped brushing his teeth. This was strange because his teeth were his pride and joy. He withdrew emotionally, getting him on the phone or to return a message was impossible. He stopped watering his plants or even tending them. The guy who couldn’t stand to stay home now didn’t want to leave the house.

And then it just got worse…

Elliott began to hear the radio and television talking to him. He believed the flashing red dot on the DVR was a sign the government was recording him. He became convinced that Jesus Christ had returned, that the rapture had taken place and that the government was going to start “purging” citizens. His girlfriend and sister actually drove him to a church to prove to him that the government wasn’t there with buses as he believed and that the congregations were safe. He became obsessed with his salvation and believed he was unredeemable that all hope for him was gone. He had missed the rapture. Everything became a sign, pictures on the covers of books, words or images all held hidden meanings to his mind that began to rob him of sleep. He would pace back and forth with his racing thoughts trying to piece together the plot he was now convinced had been hatched to kill him personally. He wanted to clean out the refrigerator to hide in it for protection from what he referred to as the purge. He told his girlfriend he needed to get a gun to protect the family.

And then he became increasingly agitated and started to hurt himself by punching himself in the chest with a lighter so his girlfriend called 911 and reported him as hurting himself. She expressed her and the families fears that he may hurt himself or accidentally hurt someone else. They needed help that they hoped the police would provide. The police came and assessed that Elliott needed to be Baker Acted so he was removed from the home. This was Elliott’s worse nightmare come to fruition, the government had succeeded in getting him. His last words as he left the house was in the form of a question “Why did you do this? Now they are going to kill me?”

Our family did the right thing. Everything should get better now….right? We couldn’t have been more wrong.

Elliott was taken to a Medical Center on a Baker Act. He was admitted early Wednesday morning well before dawn. He had to be sedated to be moved from the ER to the mental health ward. On Thursday family went to visit him but no doctor had evaluated him at that time. I held an hour long phone conversation with him trying to assure him he had not committed the unforgivable sin. He expressed an extreme nervousness as to why the nurses needed to take his blood pressure so often and I told him they needed to make sure he was ok. He was set to be released on Friday at 2pm if the morning doctor said he was well enough to leave. We still had no idea why he was seeing or hearing things that weren’t there or why he had this plot about the purge.

He never got to see the doctor in the morning, instead I got a phone call from the local jail my son had been arrested and charged with a felony. The hospital had placed my son in a room with another man and in the middle of the night my son hurt the man. Why a hospital would place a man in the middle of a psychosis in the room with another patient I am not sure, especially when he had been admitted for being a danger to himself and others. Elliott was seeing and hearing things that weren’t there, and Elliott has no real recollection of what happened. He admits to blacking out and seeing bits and pieces of what happened.

The police then take Elliott to jail, question him and imprison him. Elliott had received no anti-psychotic drugs of any kinds at this point. He is still in the middle of a full blown psychosis that centers around the government killing him. On Friday night in that jail cell my son tried to kill himself twice. On Saturday he had a bond hearing and the family was able to bail him out but Elliott had to be remanded to a mental health facility to be evaluated for his suicide attempts. On his intake I was able to talk to him. He said “ Mom did you hear what happened?” I replied “ Yes honey I did.” Thinking he is talking about trying to hang himself. He goes on “ Michelle called the police on me I was hurting myself mom”. He had lost two or three days of his life. My hour long phone call on Thursday was gone. This hospitalization did allow him to be started on anti-psychotic drugs but the paranoia and suicide attempts continued. The new hospital made me his proxy on a Monday of that week. His paranoia prompted him to call me screaming about how they were evil and they didn’t care about him they had me fooled he said as he dropped the phone and ran down the hallway I could hear him screaming they are doing experiments on him. A nurse picks up the phone and asks if they could sedate him and I agreed.

The next day he took a colored pencil, placed it against a block wall and tried to ram it through his temple as he smashed his head into it. It has been this sickening feeling of a race between him killing himself and his medicine finally working. He was trapped in a nightmare in his mind by people who were trying to poison him through the water, keep him over medicated, and do experiments on him. He was still hearing voices and seeing hallucinations. Then I got another phone call, the police came into to the new hospital and removed him back to the jail almost one week later on a new charge. Anti-psychotic drugs can take weeks to work, all this while my son is confused and still completely delusional and extremely suicidal.

I made frantic phone calls in the middle of the night to anyone that would listen trying to get ahead of his arrival at the jail. I am a mother pleading for the safety of her son from 1100 miles away. I talked to the people in booking and was given the number for the medical ward of the jail. I explained that only hours early he had stabbed himself in the head with a pencil. He was highly suicidal and was on active suicide watch at the prior facility. They assured me he would be safe. His bond was set the following day at $100,000 and I have not heard from my son. He gets no visitors, no mail and no phone calls. It’s been a week. I call everyday and ask if he is safe. They will tell me nothing more. He has been in paper clothes sleeping on a mat for a week. He does receive medication and gets to see a doctor.

We did everything right and my son is suffering. Our family is suffering. This is the hardest thing I have ever gone through and it’s NOTHING compared to what he must be enduring.

I’ve spent many hours in prayer. I’ve called NAMI and gotten resources through them. I’ve read article after article on paranoid schizophrenia and I’ve learned that Elliott’s story is not unique. Most first time diagnosis comes after some run in with the law or after the person hurts themselves or others. In Elliott’s situation it could have been worse, he could have killed the roommate. We could have waited to call and he could have hurt himself or his family. Or any of his dozen or more suicide attempts in treatment or jail could have been successful. The sad thing is we did everything right to get him help and to prevent a problem and it wasn’t good enough. The system is broke, people are getting hurt when it is absolutely avoidable.

At the end of June we had all attended a family reunion in Kentucky to celebrate the 4th of July. We had crept across the road to look for crawfish, arrowheads, and minnows in a little stream. My son sat down on a rock next to his girlfriend and told me he had heard the audible voice of God. Being involved in Ministry I thought this had been a supernatural spiritual experience, but unfortunately I know now that it was probably the first voice to show up for my son.

My son is still in jail and we have had no contact with him. He needs to hear his family loves him but we have been denied that. It is December 22 and Christmas is only three days away. He spent his 22nd birthday (December 9th) in a mental health facility this year on suicide watch. Mental illness is no respecter of persons. I have an uncle and a cousin who both are paranoid schizophrenics. There have been Nobel Peace Prize winners with it, there have been black and white, rich and poor paranoid schizophrenics. They say with proper medication and a good therapist he can live a normal life. I am beyond thankful my son is alive and that we have hope. I am dedicating my life to telling this story to anyone who will listen to me until the system changes. It is unacceptable that a very vulnerable part of our society is absolutely unprotected.

My sons name is Elliott. I am Elliott’s mom. I am and always will be proud of my son he is the bravest person I have ever met.

My name is Tamara my phone number is 1-304-684-9550 please feel free to contact me if you know of any information or resources we should be looking into this story is a plea for help and solidarity.

UPDATE: January 29, 2018

Elliott is still incarcerated. We have had only three family visits with him, each lasting an hour. His visitations are often revoked, sometimes at the last minute even.  He has been in and out of the medical and the behavioral unit for this entire month swinging between stability and suicidal thoughts and actions. I can only call the jail each day and ask if he is alive, via guards, i am not allowed to speak to my son. That is the only information I am given and where he is housed. We did start a gofund me account in order to  raise the 10,000 bail we need to get him moved from jail into an actual in patient treatment center until he stands trial which a date has yet to be set. If we are unable to remove him from jail, he will continue to live in 23-24 hour isolation which is not helping his illness at all. If you can help PLEASE CONSIDER DONATING ANY AMOUNT. ALL ARE APPRECIATED BE IT $5-$10 WE ARE FOREVER GRATEFUL! THANK YOU AND GOD BLESS!

Update: February 12th 2018

Through the GoFund Me and the church and family pulling together we raised enough to bail him out. He was remanded to a mental health facility until February 17th when he was able to come home. He finally received proper treatment and started on an Invega monthly shot along with respidone and that seemed to be working well for him. He was officially diagnosed as Schizophrenic.

UPDATE : March 5th

Elliott was rearrested on an additional charge “Attempted Murder With A Weapon” a comb found at the scene of the original crime. He is currently being held without bond at The St. Lucie County Jail in Fort Pierce Florida. This can carry a sentence of LIFE IN PRISON! ALL BECAUSE WE SENT HIM TO THE HOSPITAL WITH POLICE TO GET HELP! And we haven’t heard from him since.

 

Elliott and I in Kingwood
1959228_10203594993344844_1814187514_n
Elliott Graduating Kindergarten and High School

 

Elliott & Jacob
Elliott out on a date with Michelle shortly before his episode
Elliott with me as a baby

63 thoughts on “Elliotts Story : A Living Nightmare Of First Psychosis

  1. Tamara, I know a little bit about mental illness because of how closely it has affected my family for at least 4 generations of depression and issues similar to what your son is experiencing. Do you mind if I reblog this? I have several followers who are Christians in the area of psychology and mental illness. I will contact you with any other information I gather. I am praying for you and Elliott.

    1. Please do. In my ministry I am now going to address the need for the Evangelical community to embrace the needs of the mentally ill as well as provide support for their families. I would appreciate it Mathew.

    2. Do they have Mental Health Court in that State? Is there a Local NAMI? Or a Peer support consumer agency, How about a Mental Health advocate or advocacy organization? Can Social Security Disability Help are there any avenues with that agency? The local Mental/Disability organizations? Check with Mary Ellen Copeland The Wellness recovery Action Plan (WRAP) How supportive is your State Mental Health Board? There are many out there who can direct you to some adequate support and aid just have to connect. I worked as an Executive Director of a Consumer Mental Health Recovery Agency. I know there are trained, knowledgeable individuals that will take an interest keep on it If you need to talk with someone please send me a reply but don’t give up searching and asking.

  2. Reblogged this on Matthew Winters (Comeback Pastor) and commented:
    Mental illness is often an avoided topic in the Christian community because people do not understand. I am sharing this on behalf of a godly blogger who is walking through this with her son. Please read this and contact her with any personal experience that you may have in this area. Her contact info is at the end of the post. Thank you in advance for encouraging this sister in Christ.

  3. Tamara i feel your pain and i pray to our heavenly father for peace n healing. My heart goes out to you and yours. Things will go back into alignment w/ rest and proper medications. I have seen these situations in the past,… level off with balance restored. Please rest assured in spite of all thats unfolded, that God is able! Shalom my dear. sincerely, tony. Jesus loves You*

  4. Tamera,I love you and you are not alone. I am so sorry you are dealing with this,it is one of the most most frustrating, most painful things a mom can ever go through. It is not your fault, either. I have to say that, because often when our kids hurt, we hurt, and we falsely blame ourselves.

    I too have a bright, beautiful boy and practically over night it all changed. One moment he was graduating with scholarships and the next he was hearing voices and fearing the government was spying on him. My life became nothing but prayer and trips to the hospital,to psych wards,to jail, that never ending fear of suicide always running in the background. I will lift you up in prayer,I will ask the Lord to give you His strength and His comfort because you are carrying a heavy load.

    We are somewhat stable now. It’s been ten years since it first hit. He still refuses medication,but he is learning how to cope with his illness much better. There can be hope at the end of the tunnel. Things can get better, but it is a rough road. I do the only thing I can which it to keep placing him in the Lord’s hands and speaking life over him.

    1. Thank you so much. It has become a day by day walk and for a few days an hour by hour walk clinging to the Lord. This experience has changed everything, but I do believe that as you said it will eventually get better. His legal issues can be resolved but I couldn’t resolve his death. I thank you sooooo much for your kind words. This is like this thing so many people go through but unless you experience it you wouldn’t know it exists. So many families are dealing with this but it’s only really talked about in inner circles of those afflicted. This experience opened my eyes to a whole world of suffering I was oblivious too.

      As a Christian I can never close my eyes to it. The Lord has protected my son and my faith is all that’s kept me sane.

      I was also told by an Evangelical that if my son had been baptized (he has been) this would never have happened and that he needed an exorcist not manmade medications which shows God brought this to my attention for a reason. Evangelicals need to be educated to address this with empathy and understanding not ignorance.

      This journey has just begun for me. Your ten year mark lets me know it’s doable. Thank you for the encouragement and the understanding. So sooooo much.

  5. It takes a lot of guts to speak out and share stuff like that Tamara. Thank you for sharing and being vulnerable. I know it sounds all cliché but I believe Psalm 34:18 is true. I will be praying for you and your son.

      1. Thank you. The gift of salvation, the eternal hope and strength that only Christ can give…gifts that are priceless, eternal, always available…this is what Christmas symbolizes to me. He is always faithful. ❤️

  6. Tamara – I’m so sorry to read this. I had been wondering why you had not been posting. I have had my own mental health struggles and I know how devastating this must be for you and your family. I am praying for you and your son. If there is anything else we can do then please ask – Stephen ❤️🙏🏻

    1. Thank you guys. I have been taking this one day at a time and at times one minute at a time. God is my comfort, my ever present friend in my time of need, and he is holding onto Elliott. Just keep him in your prayers please…he is alive today only because of God keeping him from leaping into eternity via suicide. Thank you for your prayers and support.

  7. Have you contacted his lawyer? That is where you need to start. Unfortunately I am speaking from experience. You may need to become a legal guardian for him. A psychological exam can prove he isn’t in his right mind. That also will help prove he isn’t responsible for his actions during his hospitalization. Jail is no place for a person during a mental breakdown. Unfortunately that is where many people do end up though. Our system is very flawed.

    1. I have spoken with his lawyer. He is receiving his medication and does have a psychiatrist that treats him in the jail – from what I understand this is a blessing. Some states and counties in the US do not provide these basic things. My heart has become so broken for the mentally ill. They are so vulnerable and not taken care of in this country. I just got done reading this article:

      http://interactive.orlandosentinel.com/mental-illness/mental-illness-jail.html

      My son is one of countless people suffering in silence all across the US. We need to do better, this is cruelty.

  8. I knew Elliot yeara ago. He was a fun, sweet kid just like you mentioned. I had a very similar situation happen to me about 2 years ago. My older brother was this great amazing guy growing up. Was a wonderful husband and father. Everyone loved to be around him. He suddenly became withdrawn and wouldn’t leave his house. He ended up losing his job, his wife left him and took his daughter with her. He moved in with his father and just somewhere along the line hit rock bottom, and fast. Losing his job was only the first sign of his mental illness. He “accidentally” shot himself with a gun in the chest. Survived that and then only months later he had to be committed for flipping out and going off the deep end. He started hearing God talking to him through commercials and songs and was ready to kill anyone who didn’t believe in God or believed in anything other than what he believed at the time. He was never highly religious, but now he suddenly was. He “needed” a gun to protect himself because he was convinced everyone was out to get him. He paced constantly and talked a million words a minute trying to get thoughts out. If his items weren’t attached to a lanyard around his neck he’d lose them even after just having set them on the table. He didn’t need sleep and felt he was indestructible. He ended up pretty much believing he was God. It was terrifying. He took off with a gun in my car and my mom and I decided to call and get him committed because we didn’t want him to injure himself or others and when we had to testify against him at the police station the look of betrayal against us in his eyes was HEARTBREAKING. But I love him, and it had to be done. Because i’d rather visit him in a hospital than at a tombstone. He went from telling us in the beginning that something was wrong and he needed help to in the end not thinking he was ill or anything was wrong. He was committed and medicated at the hospital. He was finally diagnosed with PTSD and Bipolar type 2 disorder which set him in a manic phase which is why he was so all over the place. He served in this Marines for 6 years. & When you hear Bipolar you think of someone having outbursts and lots of anger. He had never been either of those. He didn’t like to argue, never had. Was always more of a peacekeeper. No one could understand what all of us were going through. When I would explain to someone that he wasn’t usually like that, I got the looks that said “or you just didn’t notice because he’s family and you’re making excuses for him”. No it was living with a completely different person and until you’ve been through it you’ll never understand the heartache and pain. He takes his medication and is doing much better now. Has another daughter, has a great job. There is hope. It is so extremely hard to get someone who’s mentally ill help, because it seems no one cares until they hurt themselves or someone else and we shouldn’t have to wait until it comes to that point. I do understand what you’re going through. And i’m praying for Elliot, you and your family. God is strength.

    1. The sad thing is that you are right. They have to hurt themselves or others to get help…and then what help they do get isn’t that great. The mentally ill in America need more support and understanding from the community and you are correct when you say unless you have been through it you just don’t understand it fully. Suicide is a huge part of mental illness. Schizophrenics are 8 times as likely to kill themselves. Thank you for sharing your story. My thoughts and prayers are with you and glad to hear your brother is doing well. That’s awesome!

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