(An open letter to my representatives, and others who want to know)
April 8, 2013
(update January 2017-My son has just been diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder, aka Asperger’s Syndrome, or high functioning Autism, he was born with this.)
To Whom It May Concern:
As a concerned citizen I am writing about two points I’d like to make; the first being about consequences of ‘pot’ usage and my take on the matter, and two, the effects of it on mental illness and how a parent must sit by and watch an adult MENTALLY ILL child be taken away by drugs and his mental illness with no legal leg to stand on to do anything about it!
Last year, my then 21 year old son, gave me a laced brownie. He did tell me it was an ‘adult brownie’. But, my 13 year old was sitting right beside me and I thought he was teasing her (i.e. refusing to share). I took a bite of this ‘brownie’ and it tasted really bad to say the least. I took one more small bite to be polite and then told him it didn’t taste good and that I didn’t want more. I gave back what he’d given me and asked him what he put in it. He finally told me it must have been “bad butter”. As it turns out, he had put in a full ‘cube’ of ‘honey butter’. It was his first experiment with it. He did not have instruction on how to use it, so he put in the full cube. What I got was a full dosage of concentrated THC (backed up by a drug test the next morning which verified that only THC was in my system). I do not use drugs (except prescribed by drs.), and I never have. I have no built up tolerance for them. I went on my first/last/only bad trip. Symptoms included losing my sight temporarily, feeling as if I was physically on one massive roller coaster, many, many, many black outs, and emotions to the extremes which lead to crying, screaming, laughing. My husband held me for four hours while I went through this. There were times when I asked if he was still there because I could not feel him, or hear him. I literally thought I was dying. When the ambulance was called and the folks arrived, they told me what it was. I could not believe it, I was sure I’d had a stroke, or maybe had gotten some fast acting Alzheimer’s. This experience guaranteed that I will for the rest of my life, vote no for legalizing pot. I will vote yes for statues that regulate it, and for guidelines and consequences for abuses of it, and for abusive behavior that is connected to it if it is legalized.
Point #1: Concluded.
My next point is about mental health and societies’ lack of laws and protections for those who are mentally ill, and their caregivers. My son has a serious mental illness. If you heard about the lockdown at South Umpqua Schools on February 20th, 2013—that was MY son! He is now 22 years old, and bi polar with psychosis. He has a myriad of other diagnosis’s which hamper his ability to ‘maintain’ as society expects him to do. And what I have learned recently is that his medications NEVER 100% get rid of his psychosis.
Keeping this in mind, I have watched helplessly while perpetrators pushed dope on him, and then once he was good and addicted had him steal for them. (This was verified by an apartment manager in Roseburg who saw the predators choose him over and over again to do their dirty work, and he who wants to fit in so badly did as asked!) This whole situation has ruined our relationship. While I really don’t mind not being his payee anymore, they talked him into getting rid of me as a payee so he could use more of his SSI money on drugs. With a new payee he was given $60.00 per week, which he spent almost entirely on drugs. The month of February this year, a week after his food stamp allotment was issued he called me and said he was out of food. One WEEK! He’s trading the usage of his food stamps for DRUGS!
I confronted one of his drug dealers. They actually had the gall to threaten me with law enforcement!
I have been helplessly watching my son go from bad to worse in terms of his disease, and his hygiene and just plain health. His psychosis has gotten worse and worse, probably because he was selling his anti-psychotic to get more drugs. He quit showering and brushing his teeth. He smelled so bad that when he got into our vehicle my husband literally gagged. And if you think that’s bad, his apartment was even worse! His apartment manager said that he had his cat living on Doritos.
I LOVE my son!!!!!! I cannot say that strongly enough. I am there for him, but in his addictions he did nothing but push me away. He would not listen; he would not let me help. He refused even to wash his clothes, or give them to me to let me wash them. I told Social Security and his doctor that if I had a legal leg to stand on, I’d sign him into a hospital for treatment. I was offered no help, no recommendations. The police did not believe that our son gave me a laced brownie, they refused to file a report on the matter. So, after the laced brownie incident, my stance became one of ‘you are on your own’—tough love. I’ve been praying that he’d hit his bottom and give it all up. But, there is one problem with this tactic. He is mentally ill, and it probably will not work just for that very reason.
I’m sorry he’s turned out to be such a burden on the system. Had I known at the time, that this terrible disease ran in my ex husband’s family I would have NEVER had children. But, I did, and he came and from his point of view, he leads a life of tortured existence. In his mind he has been abandoned, which is true….some family members have. But, neither his mother, nor his adoptive father has abandoned him.
My son is currently incarcerated, and even further “out of it”. I’m not being notified of anything. I find out what is going on from the newspapers. And yet, no one can advocate better for that kid than I can. Not because I know the law, but because I know and love him. Now, I am treated as an outsider…and I’m banging at the door.
This 22 year old man (22 on paper, I might point out), does not have the ability to make good decisions for himself. He cannot drive a car yet. He has yet to fully take care of himself. He was put into an apartment only because he refused to get along with the family. We even went so far as to buy a RV and put it in our backyard for him. Our only rule was no drugs, and he could not abide by that. When a person is on SSI because of mental issues, and they are showing signs of poor judgment, and refuse to take care of their health, their hygiene, and their finances properly someone should be able to step in and take charge for their own good, and for the good of society. Mother would have if the system would have let her. She feels it is her duty. Now, because of the laced brownie incident, he is no longer allowed to live in this home. I have a 14 year old daughter whom he encouraged to ‘lick the bowl’ after making the brownie mix. Had I had the legal power, I might have been able to stop this all from happening.
Had I had the legal power he’d been institutionalised long before he made the threats that caused the lockdown at South Umpqua Schools. A hospital visit was LONG over due for him.
I don’t want to take away his rights, but I do want to make sure that the mentally ill are cared for in a compassionate way that absolutely protects society in general, and their family members. We need more programs and legislation to assist us in caretaking.
Thank you so much for your time. If ever you feel I can help by speaking to folks in Salem, or elsewhere, please let me know. I’d be happy to share my experiences in order to help make the world a safer place for everyone.
Sincerely, Peggy A. Rowe-Snyder
Please note: Douglas County Mental Health eventually turned this kid away because even they could not get through to him!
His legal name: Wesley William Snyder. He was adopted at 19 yrs. of age, by my current husband. His biological father is one of the family members that has abandoned him. That man does NOT believe there is such a thing as ‘mental illness’.
So far I have recieved return messages from:
1. The office of Bruce Hanna
2. The office of Tim Freeman