A tale about the inside: violent human rights violations from a typical stay in an American psych ward

Editor’s note (Monica Cassani): oddly enough, I too had a brief stay in Ridgeview 15 years ago in which much the same abuse played out. I also entered voluntarily and 5 hours later I asked to leave and they wouldn’t let me go at which point it became a forced incarceration, just like it did for Chris. I too talked about being a professional and they denied me my real life experience while mocking me. I was not placed in solitary confinement during that stay but have had that happen to me in the past as well. Solitary confinement is cruel and unusual punishment for criminals…and it is for those with psych labels too. Sadly, these sorts of heinous and traumatic abuses are the norm. People don’t know that this sort of stuff goes down all over the United States every day of the year in every city.

Thank you Chris Cole for bravely sharing your story.

By Chris Cole

To Whom It May Concern:

I was a voluntary admit for an acute grief response and PTSD flashback—and was refused treatment by hospital staff—because the entire hospital administration wouldn’t acknowledge my PTSD, in favor of a clinical bias toward bipolar disorder. Every time I talked, they told me I was “hyper verbal,” even when I took five breaths between words. They kept me against my will for five whole days. Case manager Brooke even told me not to meditate, which is very helpful for my long-time stabilized bipolar management.

Medical technician Greg, on the evening of December 29th, ordered forced psychiatric meds in solitary confinement, because I asked to leave my bed for water. This was after he told me I couldn’t leave my bed to urinate. He also gave me a towel and suggested I masturbate.

Once in solitary confinement, without giving me water, medical technician JerMichael told me that “once a medical technician orders meds, the nurses have to administer meds,” which is factually incorrect—only nurses have power to administer medication, not medical techs. Later, when I told JerMichael I had two kids, he said, “Quit lying to me man. You can’t hustle a hustler.”

He was an undercover cop in New Orleans—obviously not a good one. Clinically, this is called “crazymaking,” or also, gaslighting, whereby an abuser attempts to convince a victim that they are experiencing an altered version of reality.

Once the nurses arrived, I was extremely uncomfortable and dysregulated, which is called “traumatized,” so the nurses were oblivious to what Greg and JerMichael had orchestrated.

Additionally, my case manager Brooke didn’t believe I was an interning psychotherapist all the way up until discharge, saying I was having “grandiose delusions” the very day I was discharged—January 2.

I was a voluntary admit and she authorized—along with my psychiatrist and nursing staff—holding me without case management for five days, having never looking at my chart or meeting with me to check her inaccurate and racist “countertransference.” She even kicked me out of group for pointing out the racist comment by one of the white patients, who said about a Black nurse named Ms. Bunmi, “I’m going to rip her black hair out.”

Dr. Mahaveer Vakharia even accused me of having “grandiose thought delusions” for simply telling him I was a vajrayana yogi (I am a long time student at Naropa University). He even said this in front of his nurse practitioner on my last day there.

This was in violation of all Georgia State and Federal Statutes protecting patients under the Disability Act. There are patients being violently abused right now in this facility.

I honestly cannot believe this place is still in business. They should have a class-action lawsuit filed against them. I’m considering filing a police report, but I’m concerned of being retraumatized.

Sincerely,
Chris Cole
Author of “The Body of Chris: A Memoir of Obsession, Addiction, and Madness

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Chris Cole hosts the Waking Up Bipolar podcast and is the author of The Body of Chris: A Memoir of Obsession, Addiction, and Madness. He offers life coaching for any number of mental health conditions, specializing in bipolar disorder and spiritual emergence. Learn more about Chris at colecoaching.com.

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