Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Andrea Yates: Not Guilty By Reason of Insanity

OK, I posted this on another discussion board I frequent, so I'm just going to cut/paste but add some detail to what I already wrote.

On the way home from a play date today, stuck in traffic, I heard the brief headline on the radio that Andrea Yates was found Not Guilty by reason of insanity after the jury deliberated for 3 days (the 1st jury in the original trial took only 4 hours). More specifically, she had postpartum psychosis, which is the most severe type of postpartume depression. Actually, it goes beyond PPD. PPP is scary-ass dangerous and while rare, it affects too many women and we don't really know a lot about it.

As a mother myself, I've followed her story (she drowned her 5 children in the bath tub in 2001) and I've felt the ups and downs of anger and outrage that she could do such a thing vs. feeling sorry for her and outraged that no one helped her. I can see a glimpse of what she must have endured if only because I've had severe postpartum depression as well as a predisposition to severe anxiety and depression. I've done a lot of research into PPD and anxiety and depression because of my sensitivity to it. And I realize that because of the PPP, she truly was insane. Hearing voices, loss of feelings and emotions. Little contact and therefore virtually no support from friends or family. Since they weren't around her often enough, I don't think they were able to tell that there was a huge problem, something bigger than PPD which in itself is scary and makes a mother a wreck.

Her sentence for drowning all 5 of her children:
Yates is expected to be committed to a state mental facility, where she will receive periodic
reviews to consider her health and possible release.

When I first heard about Andrea Yates and what she did, I was sickened as any mother would be. As anyone with compassion for children would be. I thought she deserved to rot in prison and whatever pain was sent her way. Her youngest child was only 6 months old and her oldest was 7 yrs old. At first that was all I could think about, those poor children.

But then I realized that something had to have snapped in her, something had to have disconnected her from the good mother she used to be. I watched a documentary about her, and I started to read everything I could about her. After her first child, she had PPD. It got worse with each pregnancy and baby. She and her husband lived in their transformed bus, and she had little contact with anyone except her husband. She didn't have continuous mental care, and the one dr who thought she might have something more serious than PPD (postpartum depression) couldn't treat her regularly or for long periods because they moved frequently.

There were other factors as well, this is just a very watered down explanation of what happened. If you know more details and would like to share, or feel like correcting anything I wrote about the circumstances (I'm not sure of all the immediate facts that came out in the new trial) please do.

So, what are your feelings about this case in particular? How do you feel about mothers using PPD or worse, Postpartum Psychosis as their defense (assuming that it's true) in harming/killing their child/ren? Feel free to disagree with me... I go between anger and pity myself & completely understand anyone who is disappointed in the verdict.

ETA: She was only tried for 3 of the deaths. Why? In case she was found innocent or not guilty, the state would have the option of a new trial with the other 2 deaths. I'm wondering if they'll follow through with that.


Kristin said...

Hey, Jessica...I'm from Feb 05 and when I saw what you said on that post I figured you'd have blogged about it--whaddya know, I was right. Anyway, I just have to say I agree with you. I'm sickened and horrified but I also believe she was truly insane at the time. I didn't have PPD myself but have dealt with depression at other times in my life and know it is a real, chemically imbalanced disease. Like diabetes or something. Anyway, just wanted to chime in!

You know me as INGI said...

Mainly I feel incredibly sorry for her. Having suffered with sever PPD myself, I know it is not something to mess around with. What I truly NEEDED was someone else to take care of me. That didn't happen and thankfully I never harmed myself or anyone else (most thoughts were of self harm). The medication I was given didn't seem to help and, you know, part of my battle with PPD was the fear of leaving the house. So I too, had little contact with people. Even the doctor. It took me 4 months to get the courage up to go see him. Clearly Andrea Yates was insane and has been in need of mental help for years. If I feel any anger, it is at the people around her for not taking care of her. Mostly I feel pity for the poor woman. Living with what she has done has got to be the worst sentence she could ever have been handed. She doesn't deserve more punishment. I'm sure she does enough of that to herself every single day. She needs the mental help I hope she will get now.

~Jessica~ said...

Hi Ingi and Kristen! Hmmm Kristen, you know me too well.

Thanks for your thoughts. It's just such a complex issue, and it's scary. Hell, regular depression and PPD is scary, I can only imagine what PPP is actually like. I posted another blog about this too, just summarizing some posts I've made.