Being in the Forensic system is often an immersion in powerlessness. For many Forensic clients there is no choice in where you live, the food you eat or even who sleeps beside you. You are told when to awaken, when the lights will go out and when you may eat. Much of what you experience is dictated by others.

There is no cure for this state. You can`t think, talk or buy your way out of your situation. You can`t call on family and friends or politicians and priests to deliver you to autonomy. At times escape seems to be a huge secret. It`s like someone has just snapped your photo as you stagger about trying to cling to the life you had before the flash went off.


If you are going to help me as a team, include me as a member if I am able and willing. You work in teams but I feel I am not a member of that team. If I am not a member of my treatment team I feel I am not a part of my treatment. If I don’t feel I am part of my treatment it seems as though things are done to me rather than for me. This is disempowerment; to have things done to you without voice.


I have questions and fears about my diagnosis just like society. Share with me what you know about people who I have common symptoms with but also share with society the things you know about me as a person. If society knew more of our individual humanity it would help to reduce the stigma which is a major barrier to recovery. Please remember that how you diagnose me will have an impact on how I am treated. Not only the treatment that is meant to help me, but also the treatment society imparts on me. Please attach to me words that will help my family, peers and society recognize me as I was and hopefully can be.

You or Someone You Love

I may not have fashion sense or much sense at all. I may not have your
intellect or possess much of what you find important but I can recognize
a good person. You or someone you love could easily be where I find
myself. Whatever the differences between us, we can share in the fact
that mental illness is indiscriminate. I may get healthy again and be
where you are or you or someone you love could join me wherever it is
you find me. It may be a chromosome but at this point in time we are
equally vulnerable. If you view this illness as a result of cause and
effect or where I have been a product of my environment please know that
it was not all of my own design. I did not choose where I was born, when
I grew up and there are a multitude of events I had little control over.
There may be reasons not to like someone but your opinion shouldn’t be
one. There may be many reasons I am unwell, please don’t be another.


I think that if Health Care Providers learn to separate me from my
illness the majority of your treatment of me will be therapeutic to my
rehabilitation. If you see me as a person and recognize our common
humanity there should be little reason for lessons or tests about how
to treat me. Hopefully you will treat me as you do most people in your


There will often be people who misunderstand and therefore mistreat me.
Often this will be as a result of the stigma that accompanies my
diagnosis. If you do not separate me from those ideas and thoughts, you
will be nothing more than a stranger in my treatment. If you can’t
separate me from my illness I can’t separate you from the rest.

What You Say and Do

Trust in the fact that although I may be symptomatic I can see, hear
and feel. What you do or say, or do not, impacts me in the same way it
would if I was well. Even if I see, think, hear or feel things I
shouldn’t, you can have an impact on my reality. I may not want to
talk but that does not mean you can’t speak to me.  I see, hear and
feel what you say and do.