She had to leave by 8:30 to help her daughter Sarah in Center City who will graduate from Philadelphia University, where she's a fashion major. Unfortunately, Sarah's apartment has - eek! - mice.
Nancy has been extremely generous to New Directions. The County helps us publish our annual Compass mag and pays for our Internet bill and our two Verizon phone bills.
However, the budget has been slashed by 20 percent under the Republican governor, Tom Corbett. She asked our group for help in asking the Governor to increase funding for mental health. The Pennsylvania house and senate are debating this right now.
For me, the most important thing Nancy said was that on April 1, the OpenAccess system of care would be implemented at Creekwood Mental Health Center in Willow Grove.
Right before she came to our meeting, she called Rich Fullam who verified it would finally begin.
This means that specific times - blocks of hours - would be set aside for people in need to get an intake appointment and a doctor's appointment.
I asked her, Is this b/c of us? I've written newspaper editorials about this. She said Yes.
Can that be true?
The County has also implemented a no. of impressive new programs to help 'people in recovery,' as mentally ill people are now called.
One of our family members, a physician I'll call Dr. James, spoke up about the treatment his son, "Henry" received after being involuntarily committed to MCES - Building 50 - on the grounds of Norristown State Hospital.
He began by saying the place is absolutely filthy.
Next he made the shocking statement that when he and 13 other people were in the waiting room, a psychiatrist came out and interviewed a psychotic man, in front of everyone!
In his psychosis, the man insisted on privacy and would not cooperate.
Dr. J also described the horrible treatment his son got for the five days he was there. They would not medicate him for his bipolar psychosis!
Why, then, was he there? What is the purpose of being hospitalized if you don't get better.
Dr. J also eloquently described the "lawless" condition inside the hospital where no one is safe from the other patients. Belongings "fly out of their rooms."
When I was 302d in 1984, conditions were just as bad. I was totally out of my mind - psychotic - and put in 4-point restraints, which I believe they've stopped using. I had no idea what was going on. I've written about this in my book, Yes I Can.
After the nurse untied me, she never explained to me what was going on with me. I had no idea and I wandered the corridors aimlessly.
Wouldn't you think that in this so-called healing place - it is a hospital, after all - someone would've taken me aside and helped me understand what I was going through. They'd shot me up with Haldol, so my mind was quickly coming back to me.
Nancy also asked our help in advocating for more financial support from our PA legislators who are currently wrangling about the budget now. The budget for mental health has already been slashed 20 percent. Send emails to all your legislators. The governor's contact info is in the lower right of his website.
Maureen Feeney Burns, guest speaker at New Directions.
Maureen had numerous hospitalizations, but remarkably, she climbed out of the dark world of substance abuse and mental illness, and is now Coordinator of the Peer Specialist Program of Montgomery County.
Her talk was an inspiration to all who have gone through these twin horrors.
What's a peer specialist? It's a trained lay person who "is a peer walking with peers in recovery." Read more.
Montgomery County has long been in the forefront of the Recovery Movement, which aims to give mentally ill people a purpose to live for, something to look forward to when they wake up in the morning.
This may encompass getting a job, or volunteer work, and mingling with the community at large.
It also means slowly discharging people from Norristown State Hospital (NSH), where thousands of people once lived - and died. Now, said Nancy Wieman, the hospital has only 52 beds.
Here are some photos of NSH, then and now. There is a certain fascination many people feel about state mental hospitals. I am certainly one of them.
Look, they even had postcards of the hospital, which was beautifully designed.
Suitcases found in basement of Bldg 17.
Van Gogh's painting of the St. Remy asylum where he spent the last days of his life. He was hospitalized there for an entire year. Writes one of his biographers:
He "had fits of despair and hallucination during which he could not work, and in between them, long clear months in which he could and did, punctuated by extreme visionary ecstasy."I had a fit of despair when I looked in the mirror this morning, so I called my favorite hairdresser Amy of Pink Hair Salon and made an appt. in the afternoon.
When I took a pic of Amy, the camera screen turned black: Out of batteries. Darn!