Thursday, July 27, 2006

Collection of More Thoughts on Andrea Yates From Another Mother

Some of you may have seen this already; I'm just putting thoughts I've had about Andrea Yates here in one spot. I'm still open to discussion, even opposing views. By no means am I making excuses for her, but rather, I can see both sides of this. Not enough people are aware of what mental illnesses can actually do to someone. Many, many people still have a stigma attached to a mental illness. Many people think mental illness is an excuse and not legitimate. You'd be surprised how many people still think psychiatry and psychology are full of shit and worthless.

This was a response post I made on the BBC.

I firmly believe that she had severe PPP. I firmly believe that she had no real control over what she was doing, and in the state she was in, even if she knew right from wrong, she had no feelings or conscience about it at the time. She had hallucinations and heard voices. She was depressed. She literally was chemically imbalanced. She was numb from any emotion. She had sporadic health care and was, for all intents, isolated from any kind of support system. With each child, it got worse and worse and she had no help raising them, she got no breaks, she had only
sporadic check-ins with a dr.

Do I think she should be blameless? No. I think she should definitely be punished for what she did, but in all honesty she was not in her right mind. She had a true psychotic break. I'm more outraged at her dr's and her husband, especially her husband who kept her pregnant when she
didn't want more children. Her husband, who didn't make sure she got treatment or even just someone to talk to. He KNEW there was a problem. She WANTED help and he didn't think it was bad enough, just baby blues. She was a voice that wasn't being heard.

Now that she's getting treatment, she's going to have to live with the horror of what her sickness drove her to do. She's going to live in her own personal Hell for eternity. She's going to feel the guilt and remorse that comes with treatment. She can never escape this.

As horrified and disgusted as I am with her, I find more fault with her husband and I feel pity for her. Severe PPD opened my eyes and gave me a small glimpse of the world she lived in.

Here's another response I made:

Chances are high that she will never leave the mental facility. When there's a verdict of someone being guilty by reason of insanity, they usually spend more time in the facility than they would in prison. And it's not pleasant for them in a mental facility. It's not like she's going to a
resort. She's not looking for a Free Pass to having killed her children. She's very remorseful, as a matter of fact, and when she's lucid the knowledge of what she did drives her back into insanity and psychosis. She heard Satan telling her that if she did not kill her children, then they would die and be condembed to Hell for all eternity. In her sick mind, she was saving them.

No, I'm not making excuses for her. There is no excuse anywhere that's acceptable for killing our own children. But she was NOT in her right mind. She wasn't being malicious or hateful. She was and is mentally ill which makes her not responsible from a legal standpoint.

Remember, the jury didn't find her "innocent." They found her "not guilty." There's a difference.

And another:

What she had/has is Postpartum Psychosis (PPP), which is much more severe than even the worst PPD imaginable. She didn't just create this defense out of thin air. Her life was researched, and she was examined to find out what could have possibly motivated her to do such a horrible thing. She was diagnosed by trustworthy doctors, it wasn't some hickish self-diagnosis. Her
defense attorney didn't just come up with it either. She didn't come up with PPP to "try to get out of being punished." If she didn't want or expect to be punished, she would never have called 911. She was hearing voices. She thought Satan was talking to her, telling her how if she didn't kill her
children they would go to Hell. That the entire world would be subjected to Hell on Earth. Someone who is lost in a world of Psychosis can't tell what's real and what's not. Why have an insanity defense at all, if not for cases like this? In order to do what she did, you'd have to be completely insane. You don't take the lives of your own children on a whim.

It's because of cases like this that are exactly why licensed mental health professionals are the ones to examine defendants and other mentally ill patients. That's also why there's a jury system that's presented with all of the relevant information to make an as-unbiased-as-possible verdict. That's why these cases are judged with a jury on an individual basis. Just as no 2 pregnancies are alike, just as no 2 cases of cancer are alike, no 2 cases of mental illness/PPD/PPP are alike. Random generalizations don't help anyone. Hopefully this case will spur people to educate themselves about mental illnesses. I saw an argument this morning that "if she were truly insane she would have killed herself" to which I think "how many serial killers that are found to be bi-polar or psychotic or schizophrenic actually kill themselves?" Andrea's psychosis meant she was not in a reality where she could reason logically or realistically. Her memory would have been affected and warped. Questioning why she did one thing and not another is irrelevant because that's part of her severe psychosis.

And no, she wouldn't necessarily "be better by now." For some people, the PPP may simply trigger what was inside of them to begin with. For others, with proper treatment and NO HARM coming to them or their children during the worst of it, they can get better. I know someone who had PPP, and she came very close to a similar situation as Andrea Yates (as she admitted to me, and I'll keep her name confidential). Her mother is bi-polar, so she's probably always had the potential to have a severe mental breakdown if triggered. Thankfully, she and her children are safe. But in all honesty, she "could still" easily be triggered into a breakdown by anything and she wouldn't realize it was happening.

People who truly suffer from psychosis have little or no realization that they've completely snapped and suffered a breakdown. Reality plays no role in their lives. The reason she waited for her husband to be gone was because she knew he would stop her from doing what she thought, due to her psychosis, was the right thing to "save" her children's immortal souls from the eternal damnation of Hell. That's not necessarily a sign of calculated premedication. She struggled with actually carrying it out for a long time before she finally did it.

Many of you know that I had severe PPD after my Feb 05 Baby's pregnancy. I have a predisposition for depression and anxiety, as well as OCD tendencies. I started out a year ago being treated for PPD, but am now being treated for "the rest of it." Probably for the rest of my life. I was in a very dark, traumatic, emotional place which was made more clear to me after I started medication. Imagine hearing your own psychiatrist tell you "It's good you came to me when you did. You're very lucky that you didn't harm your children or yourself." I guess that's why I have some compassion for Andrea Yates even while I'm thoroughly horrified and disgusted by what she did.

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