Bipolar man requires hospitalization: Grandmother

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Sunday January 30, 2011

Toronto Sun

What upsets Nora Carey the most is not when her beloved grandson screams at her or calls her a “bitch”.

It’s when he threatens to kill her — or himself — that she is reduced to tears.

Justin Bailey, 19, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in December.

In his case, it’s genetic — his mother was bipolar, as was his father. It’s why Justin went to live with Carey, 64, and her husband, Bryan, 63, in the basement of their Oshawa home 10 years ago.

Now, Justin’s manic fits of rage are more frequent, as are the debilitating lows of depression.

He’s also become delusional: He’s hearing voices, is certain both his bank and friends are stealing from him, and thinks he’s owed $1 million from a lottery ticket he was given for Christmas in 2008.

Nobody is stealing from him, said Carey. And he didn’t win anything, either.

During one bout of mania, he threatened to kill his grandmother, then himself. Carey called the police, and a form was issued to put Justin in hospital for a 72-hour assessment.

But because he hadn’t physically assaulted anyone, he was discharged.

His family doctor had already written a note to hospital staff: “The buck keeps getting passed,” he wrote. “(Justin) needs hospitalization for stabilization.”

Carey is now desperate. For the first time ever, she fears her grandson, who is 5-foot-8, slim, and “very strong.”

“When he came out with scared me,” Carey said. “I’m here alone with him most of the time, and that’s abnormal behaviour for him.”

As of three weeks ago, Justin wasn’t on any medication to control his condition.

“I don’t know how the hospital can’t see this,” she said. “They just take him in and let him go ... Violence should not be the main criteria.”

Phil Upshall, of the Mood Disorders Society of Canada, said people such as Justin are left to fall through the cracks due to poor government support for mental-illness, and the fact that Justin has freedoms as an adult to leave a hospital if he wants to — at least for now.

“The revolving door is definitely there, if you can even find the door,” said Upshall. “Our (Ontario) minister of health has determined that other health matters are more important than mental-health matters.”

Upshall said Ontario has since the 1970s been diverting money from mental-health matters to other areas of the health-care system, leaving a shortfall of psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses and hospital beds.

“Only one in five (people) in Canada can get access to psychiatric care,” said Upshall, “and when they do, only one out of those five really get the help they need.”

According to the MDSC, a bipolar-disorder sufferer will spend an average of eight years seeking help before they actually get their illness under control. He or she will also see an average of four doctors before being correctly diagnosed.

Supporting families of the mentally ill


Last Updated: January 30, 2011 6:12pm

On Karen Liberman’s nightstand is a framed quote by Winston Churchill: “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”

This quote helped spur Liberman on years ago during her battle with manic depression, just as it may have done for Churchill, himself, who also suffered from depression. He called it his “black dog.”

Liberman is now executive director of the Mood Disorders Association of Ontario, a 25-year-old organization giving emotional and educational support to families of people with mental illness.

Churchill’s never-give-up message is the one Liberman wants to pass on to Nora and Bryan Carey, grandparents to 19-year-old Justin Bailey. Their grandson was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in December, and is prone to manic bouts of both savage rage and debilitating depression.

“These are the day-to-day struggles of thousands of families like this one,” said Liberman.

“We share in the frustration of this revolving-door craziness,” said Liberman, adding that families and caregivers of the mentally ill often experience confusion, anger, hopelessness and even guilt.

“Everybody at the MDAO, we are all people with lived experiences with these illnesses,” she said.

The MDAO’s Families Only group gives families the chance to share
emotional pain experienced while dealing with a loved one who’s mentally ill.

“They come to this group to be with other people who have been (in the same position),” said Liberman. “You can never underestimate what it means for these people to meet other people who get it, who understand what they’re going through.”

The Strengthening Families Together program teaches families how to navigate through Ontario’s confusing mental-health system, how to talk to health-care providers, and how to understand the complexities of the mental illnesses their loved ones are going through.

“In society we tend to look only at the person suffering,” she said. “But what about the families? They are being rendered sick. It’s traumatic for people.”

The MDAO helps around 12,000 families.