2011 letter reflects a mother’s anguish – and fear

This is excerpted from an August 2011 letter Jennifer Sorensen wrote to Gov. Chris Gregoire.

. . . My daughter has a diagnosis of Schizophrenia, Paranoid Type. She goes through life miserable and angry. She threatens strangers in public and destroys property. She is completely delusional and unable to care for herself.

She has lost the ability to protect herself as she is confused and disoriented and very delusional 90 percent of the time. She could just as easily be a victim of violence as a perpetrator of violence.

Last night when she was destroying the walls, pictures and mirrors in our home (with her bare foot and her guitar), I called the Crisis Line. They said that they could do absolutely nothing unless she was saying, specifically, that she was planning to harm herself or someone else.

The fact that the family was out in the front yard afraid for our safety and hers meant nothing. She has to say those exact words for them to react. This has been our experience time and time again. . . .

We need new laws that allow mental health care professionals, and families, to have some say about the treatment of people with a long history of psychotic mental illness when the care needs to be involuntary. . . .

My daughter is back in county jail for the second time this week. She is 19 years old. Jail is not the place for her! It will not help her! She will not get better there! If something doesn’t change, there will be a tragedy in her future. This is my prediction, and this seems to mean nothing to anyone but me. . . .

In this state we are not given the resources to care for our mentally ill loved ones when they are violent. We have all let her down. It is a tragedy.