Stop Bashing Trump, Arguing About Guns & Stick To Focusing On Serious Mental Illnesses Distraught Mother Writes

(8-27-19) Dear Mr. Earley,

I am a mother of an almost 18 year-old with a severe mental illness. I read your book and have followed your blog posts for a while now.

It seems that the last few blog posts have been full of disrespect and disdain for our president and anyone who does not see gun control as an answer to a complex problem.

When my daughter, Raven, is psychotic and has homicidal obsessions she is not thinking clearly and will not abide by any law that is on the books. Other times when she is manic, her view is that of being above the law.

It is the job of a gun owner to lock up guns. That’s being a responsible person. Or choose, as we have, to not have guns at all.

If your gun control message is aimed at the mass murderers who are evil and not at serious mental illness (SMI), then that argument should be separate from the disaster that is our mental health care system.

As a fearful mother, I want the focus – your focus — to remain on the much needed services for the most vulnerable population. PLEASE use your platform to be my voice and leave the anti-Trump and gun issues for a separate topic.

Let me explain why I feel so passionately about this by telling you about my daughter and what my husband and I have been through trying to help her.

Child of Parents in Demonic Cult

Raven spent her first four years living with biological parents who were part of a demonic cult and believed it was okay for her to watch Freddie Kruger for her bed time entertainment.

She spent her fourth birthday in a psychiatric hospital before moving into my therapeutic foster home. I worked with the school, therapist and doctors doing everything I could to change her troubling behaviors. When the biological parents’ rights were terminated I adopted her. After I got married, my husband adopted her. We home-schooled her and surrounded her in any and everything wholesome, including our church family.

At the age of 12, I discovered a trusted neighbors son was molesting her. That event and loss threw us into a year-long downward spiral. Eight acute psychiatric hospitalizations in nine months. She became so delusional and believed so many other sexual events had occurred that the DA’s office had to drop the criminal charges against this man.

When she didn’t get better,  we had to send her to a residential treatment center (RTC.) Well, in Texas, we had to give up guardianship to Texas Child Protection Services (CPS) in order for Medicaid to cover the cost of her treatment. But we did not abandon her to the system.

I chose the first RTC before getting CPS involved. After a year of intense therapy and family involvement, it was determined that her behaviors were so severe that she needed more intensive, long term care. She ate things, such as batteries, trinkets, ear buds, and also was caught drinking finger nail polish. She began engaging in other self harm that resulted in internal bleeding. The state exhausted its search for a long-term bed in Texas hospitals without luck. The staff recommended that our daughter be transferred out-of-state under a compact to a hospital that could provide her with more intensive and long-term care. A hospital in Florida was chosen and agreed to accept her. CPS fought against this. We were forced to hire an attorney. I have nothing nice to say about how CPS workers in Harris County (Houston area) treated us. The state completely ignored what the professionals and medical team, who had been treating Raven, recommended.

During all this, my then 13 year-old daughter was transferred to a deplorable RTC, which housed teens who were in trouble with the law. I was unwelcome there. It was a creepy place – a prison type environment.

Raven only lasted  16 days before she tried to strangle herself.

Raven spent the next 72 hours in the Juvenile Detention Center, even though she was cleared to leave. I had no legal rights to bring my child home and CPS had no place to house her. For the next  few days I waited in anticipation as to what CPS would do.

Would Raven have to stay in Texas and face charges or find the much needed psychiatric care in Florida?

Finally, I was relieved to learn that CPS would be picking her up at 5:00 am and Raven would be going to Florida. All charges were being dropped.

Raven spent 7 months in a nice hospital in Florida. 

When she returned home, we asked our lawyers to terminate the CPS guardianship because we were worried she would once again be mistreated by the system. We would try to live without having the government pay for her medical coverage. For two years, she did marginally better but still showed signs of being seriously ill. She would make hit lists of persons who she wanted to kill, but most of all, she became extremely passive aggressive. She was admitted to psychiatric hospitals on an average of one admission every three months.  Part of the trouble was with her medications. Her doctors tried to adjust them without any long term success.  At one point, she ran away from home while delusional and made contact with her biological father. She began being drawn into a Satanic world. We were able to pull her back but then two horrible incidents happened.

The first was when she became violent. We had to call the police because she had armed herself with a piece of pipe and had used it to smash the side of my car after throwing various items at me. She was hospitalized again.

The next terrifying experience happened when my husband and our dogs were at our cabin. She started it on fire with them inside. Luckily we were able to extinguish the flames before anyone was hurt.  I will never forget seeing her after the police picked her up outside our cabin. Raven was entertaining herself with peanut butter and a spoon. When I arrived, we hugged, it became clear she was behaving and talking like a 5-year-old. She asked me if she could show me her neat trick. She raised the spoon and put it on her nose, and laughed because it wouldn’t fall off because it had peanut butter on it. She was giggly and childlike about her new trick. I asked her if that was appropriate, after what had just happened. She wiggled her body oddly and admitted that it wasn’t appropriate. She began to cry but it was an emotionless cry. Very quickly she was back to giggling like a child.  She was admitted to a hospital and when I visited her, she told me the nurse had put poison in her graham crackers.

During the visit, she told me that she wanted to get better. Raven hugged on me throughout my visit and wanted to be assured that we still loved her. Holding her, I wondered: What will we do when she turns 18?

Back to Guns, Trump, and Politics

Those of us with seriously mentally ill children need to be inclusive to all political ideologies. When it becomes political it becomes divisive. When a mother like me is in constant conflict and stress, the last thing I want see is political digs aimed at the president. All I have to do is turn on my TV for that! I turn to blogs such as your’s and support groups for support, advice and education not for political comments. With that being said, I understand, there is a time that politics and SMI will cross and I get that. But when someone writes a  powerful article and then slips in some gun solution (or trashes the President), I won’t post it or send, because it no longer speaks for me or for Raven!

You can’t control what people post on your Facebook Page and I am all about free speech. But people like me have the freedom to stop following you too. When that happens, you no longer have an inclusive group.

This is why I get turned off when people post anti-Trump and gun rants rather than discuss SMI. For example, it would be like following a FB advocate on the NRA and having powerful posts that include digs and comments slamming Planned Parenthood. Not all NRA members want to hear the pro- lifers opinion about planned parenthood.

I am happy your son is doing well. But the higher functioning individuals with a mental illness seem to get all the public attention. I assume this is because they are easier to talk about and to hear about. There are not very many that focus on the severely mentally ill people. I know two moms that left a support group within the last few weeks for this very issue.

Opportunity for Reforms

Recently, I joined the National Shattering the Silence Coalition. We want to build this group into a larger national advocacy group to focus exclusively on the smaller population of those who suffer from SMI. I am joining them for a few days in D.C. for National Hill Day.

For Raven and others like her, we must speak out. I think if you could get the Presidents ear, you might be surprised by how much of his chatter is based on his lack of knowledge. I have sent letters to many Texas politicians and the nicest response came from his office. Keep in mind he listened to Kim Kardashian about prison reform – maybe this is an opportunity to bring about needed change… just a thought.

Until then, I will continue fighting for Raven and for better mental health care for her and others with SMI.


Channin Henry Williams

About the author:

Pete Earley is the bestselling author of such books as The Hot House and Crazy. When he is not spending time with his family, he tours the globe advocating for mental health reform.

Learn more about Pete.