If you have ever been touched by mental illness, either personally or via a loved one, then you know the devastation it can cause. Mental illness is a cruel disease; one that ruins lives and destroys relationships. In severe cases it can render the victim unable to function normally, stripping them of dignity and robbing them of the life they deserve. In the case of the Capitol shooting victim, Miriam Carey, delusions led to paranoia, then death.
If you’ve never spoken to someone who is mentally ill, please imagine what it’s like: you call your friend on the phone to find out how she’s doing. You know she’s been struggling with mental issues but you had no idea how severe they were. “Hi!” you say enthusiastically. “How are you?” Your friend replies “creamed corn.” You pause. Again you ask “I called to see how you were. How are you doing today?” Again, your friend replies “creamed corn.” As you try to engage her in normal conversation, she repeats “creamed corn creamed corn creamed corn creamed corn” over and over until you tell her you’re going to hang up. You place the phone back into the receiver with tears in your eyes.
The phone rings again. You pick it up. Your friend has called you back, but this time her tone has changed. She says “Hi, it’s Jane, I’m calling because I want to know how you are today, and I want to know exactly why your father was at a party with the president and 100 FBI agents in Washington last night. They were making plans to come into my house and smear ointment on my light bulbs; and they also placed microphones in all of the flower pots and sent an imposter version of your father to my house to spy on me.”
“No,” you say slowly. “My father wasn’t at any party last ni…,” you begin to say. “DON’T LIE!” your friend screams. “DON’T YOU LIE TO ME! Your. Father, WAS. In Washington. Last. Night.” You hear the phone slam down on its cradle and you put your head in your hands and sob.
This is a girl you’ve loved your whole life, and now her brain is being destroyed by schizophrenia, a disease that causes paranoid delusions and tremendous anxiety. There’s no arguing with her; there’s no rationalizing with her. Her disease has stolen her ability to think rationally.
If you can put yourself in these shoes for a moment, you can begin to understand the horror of what happened to Capitol shooting victim Miriam Carey. Her family says she, too, was severely delusional and had been hospitalized numerous times because of her condition.
Before she was killed, Carey believed that President Obama was secretly recording her and would soon create a reality show about her life. She also believed he was communicating with her directly. Her delusions were brought on by postpartum depression, her family says. Postpartum depression, if left untreated, can progress to a more severe condition called postpartum psychosis. When that progression happens, many of the same symptoms of schizophrenia can occur. In either case, delusions cause extreme terror within the victim.
Miriam Carey was undoubtedly terrified when she backed her car into two barricades and allegedly hit several police officers. She was scared and she was unarmed. Nonetheless, police were incapable of subduing her and making an arrest, and instead, chose to shoot and kill her.
If you’ve ever known anyone with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, postpartum psychosis or any other disease which causes delusions, the story of Miriam Carey will shatter your heart.
What happened to Capitol shooting victim Mariam Carey was wrong. She suffered delusions but she should not have had to suffer with the loss of her life. Her death is a grim reminder to all of us of a police state gone too far and a lack of understanding and concern about mental illness. Miriam Carey could be our sister, our mother, our best friend or even us. Mentally ill people don’t deserve to be gunned down in cold blood. They are sick. They need help, caring, compassion and love. Instead, one very ill woman became the victim of trigger-happy police. It is wrong. It is unjust. It is grossly unfair and it should never have happened.
By: Rebecca Savastio