FIJ Quarterly - Summer 2022 Edition

The Mental Health and Medical Community That whole ordeal with the arrest and incarceration made me feel less than human. No one asked me if I was okay, if I needed support, or what was wrong. I felt like an animal in a cage. The female officer took me to the county jail the next day. However, the intake officer declared me mentally unstable based on how I answered the intake questions. I remember feeling scared, panicked, and worried about my kids. They subsequently had to transfer me to East Orange Hospital for a psychiatric evaluation. Because the psychiatric unit was at maximum capacity, I was put in a separate psych ward where I discovered I had severe iron deficiencies, which exacerbated my anxiety and depression and caused irrational behavior. As such, my suicidal thoughts, depression, and anxiety most likely were also related to my medical condition and health issues. Everyone, my husband, the police, and DYFS, were treating me like I was just crazy, but I was actually physically sick along with suffering from mental health issues. Neither the hospital nor DYFS made any efforts to contact my family while I was in the psych ward. My mother wanted to care for my kids while I was gone, but DYFS would not give the children to her or their aunts. No one in my family was allowed to take custody of my children, which was devastating. I spent two weeks in the hospital without seeing or hearing from my children. After my hospital stay, I was transferred to the county jail where I was stripped searched and had to undergo a humiliating cavity search. In jail, I refused to eat because the food was slop on a piece of bread. I felt like I was being treated less than human. I was so ashamed and depressed. I slept the entire time, until I was called to court. I sunk deeper into my depression. I was released because my husband dropped the charges. I hadn't been in jail long enough, so they didn't process my belongings, which included my purse with all my cash, keys, phone, and my bank card. Everything was lost or taken and the officer in charge sent me away in tears with a bus card.

would harass me at work all throughout the day. I tried to seek mental health assistance, but I did not have adequate health insurance to cover the cost. No services near me accepted Medicaid. All of this turmoil at home and at work caused me to become mentally exhausted. I often would have suicidal thoughts where I contemplated slitting my wrists. One day after a heated argument during dinner preparation, I locked myself in the bathroom with a knife to slit my wrists. Alarmed, my husband instructed my daughter to call the police. Fortunately, I could not go through with it because the knife was too dull. Because I knew the cops were going to come and possibly take me away from my children, I told them to eat quickly before the police came. After that conversation, I decided to run away and let them be in the care of my husband. Little did I know, he had some outstanding warrants for his arrest for unpaid traffic tickets. I walked onto some train tracks and contemplated ending my life there, but I couldn't do it because it was selfish. Why cause harm and inconvenience to the people on the train? These were my thoughts. The police then found me at the scene of my suicide attempt at the train tracks. Eventually, a black female officer forcibly subdued me, and I was taken to the local police station and locked in a brick room with a window and a heavy steel door. I heard my husband, the female officer, and another officer all laughing together. I yelled at them through the wall because I wanted to know where my children were. The officer said they were in foster care. I was so distraught that I began to scream profanities at my husband and the officers. They released my husband, but I was still being held. The chief said he wasn't allowed to let me go, because I was being charged for assault with a deadly weapon. My husband had told the police that he thought I was trying to attack him with the knife. The chief was familiar with our family because of previous domestic violence altercations. I felt like my life was over and no one cared. I couldn’t trust anyone-the police, my husband, and DYFS for taking my kids.

FIJ Quarterly | Summer 2022 | 21

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