no way in, nor out

no one ever gets cured by the medical industrial complex

credit – politifake

As I was pondering a title for this post, the visual of a whirling circle came to mind. Something like a frenzied game of ‘Ring Around the Rosy’ my five-year-old daughter would have played all day had I not stopped from sheer dizziness.

I am dizzy again now. All I can think is ‘ashes, ashes, we all fall down.’

For months I have worked closely in the community with a woman who has been in and out of prison for years longer than I have known her. Many more. She has also been in and out of the state mental hospital, when Vermont had one.

What has become ashes is my hope of truly helping her. All the reasons are beyond my control. None of which makes me feel any better. This woman has significant mental and physical health issues. She is too belligerent for crisis assistance; too claustrophobic for her cosy apartment; too distraught to see herself, though she tirelessly seeks relief.

Her team wants her to learn to self-soothing skills. This is beyond her. She wants them to keep her safe. They think she isn’t trying. All fall down.

No drug, no therapy, no amount of reason can provide the safety she seeks. So she has perfected the one form of self-help that works when all others are denied. She gets herself arrested for assault or trespass when she demands, and cannot get, the security her frightened mental state cries out for.

This smart talented woman, trapped in a body and mind riddled with dis-ease but without prospect of improvement, has given up advocating for herself. She is exhausted and dispirited. Her life on the outside is no match for what lives inside. She has decided she’s better off in jail. She has fallen down, ashes.

7 thoughts on “no way in, nor out

  1. Janelle Gilbert says:

    A society should be judged on how it treats those who are ill. Mental illness strikes one in three people in their lifetime. This correlates with the 30% of kids that experience four or more traumas in their childhood. People don’t choose to be have a brain illness resulting from trauma. We should all be shamed by how we put a Darwinian judgement on peoples worth.


    • sarahwbartlett says:

      Thanks for weighing in, Janelle. This has been painfully eye-opening on so many levels. I fervently hope in my lifetime to see some sensible changes in societal thinking and priorities. Whatever the etiology of the mental illness, services should be available to serve those in need. And they most assuredly are NOT.


  2. stormdrac says:

    My heart goes out to her, for not being able to escape her own personal chaos. My heart also goes out to you, Sarah. You are one of the most wonderful people I have ever met. I have seen you interacting with these women, I was one of them myself. You give of yourself to help them, me, us all. Your courage and strength astound me. I have seen how tied up you get in our lives and how when we hurt, you hurt. I have felt that pain and fear and anger at the system for my own sake. I cannot imagine the strength and dedication it must take to feel the same for every woman you help, as you do. My eternal gratitude goes to you for saving me. Keep strong and keep trying. “Not all those who wander are lost.” ~ J.R.R.Tolkien


    • sarahwbartlett says:

      Ooh, stormdrac – your words are a balm to my sore soul and are making me weep. You are too kind!! I DO hurt and want so much to help each woman, and to see change in the system. I do what I can – it is deeply humbling to hear in your own words that it helps. Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving such heartfelt words behind.


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