On May 22, city officials decided that they were no longer going to send emergency psychiatric cases to Friends Hospital, the nation’s first mental hospital. Why? Investigation of a patient suicide revealed that there wasn’t adequate supervision in the facility, particularly its Crisis Response Center. But Godly Mathew, who’s been waging a 100-day protest since May 9, says he experienced abuse at Friends Hospital firsthand, when he was sent there in December 2004. Since he began the protest, he’s started a blog called One Hundred Day Protest, a Twitter account and a website to spread the word about his protest. PG caught up with him to ask him about his time at Friends Hospital. The interview took place at his protest site, at the intersection of the Roosevelt Boulevard and Langdon Street. [This is Part II of the interview, you can find the first part here.]
Q: What were you feelings towards your family shortly before you went to Friends Hospital for the second time?
A: At this point, it had been almost a year since the first time I had gone to Friends and things hadn’t gotten any better between me and my family. If you keep calling someone crazy for long enough, they’re going to get fed up and react. I began to cut off everyone. I felt I was giving all this love and it wasn’t being reciprocated.
Q: Why were you sent to Friends the second time?
A: I was sent to Friends Hospital the second time after a domestic incident. I had behaved pretty inappropriately and got into a fight with a relative; the police were called. My uncle and his wife showed up with the police, along with another friend of theirs (who happened to be a psychiatrist) and her husband. It was like some sort of psychiatric witch-hunt. You could sense a sort of mob mentality among them – they were all telling the police officer that I need help. When the police asked my parents if they wanted to press charges, they said “No.” The police officer told them all to leave at that point – they all left and I thought that was the end of it.
Q: What happened next ?
A: Later that night, my uncle went to Friends Hospital and got a ‘302’. I was in my bedroom that evening when two policemen came in. They said “You’re coming with us to Friends Hospital to get some treatment.” I’m thinking this has to be a mistake.
Q: How did the police treat you this time?
A: These guys were not too nice. I was trying to explain that this was a mistake but they were not interested in hearing anything. I really did not want to go to Friends Hospital. They hand cuffed me and one of the cuffs was pinching my skin but I did not say anything. I did not want them to feel that I was just being difficult.
Q: What were your parents doing?
A: Well, my mom is sitting down on the dining room floor just crying. But later I realized she was probably thinking that if I went to Friends Hospital and got treatment, that somehow it would get me to go back to college. I was pleading with my mom to say something but she was silent and did not even look at me. At the last second, my dad’s like “No, don’t take him.” to the police officer.
Q: How did the cops respond?
A: I did not know at the time, but once a ‘302’ gets authorized, the police officers do not have any discretion in the matter. They have to bring you in. They put me in the patty wagon and as they were closing the door, one of them said “Come on, let’s get this mother f* out of here.” as he slammed the door. It was completely dark inside.
Q: When you walked into Friends Hospital, for the second time, were you afraid?
A: Not so much afraid as concerned about what was going to happen to me. I gave them my belt and my keys as they requested. They patted me down for weapons. I also gave them a urine sample. My whole intention was to be compliant so they will let me out. I was extremely polite with staff. I was doing my best to relax myself so that they do not make me take any meds.
[A cop in a jeep stops at the red light and asks him how he was abused. When Godly tells him, he shakes his head disdainfully. “Oh, god!” he exclaims.]
Q: How did the staff at Friends Hospital treat you when you entered the center?
A: I had to sign a few papers but everything was adequately explained to me. That evening was pretty much ‘normal’. Only exception was when I was giving my social security number during the admission, the staff member put his arms in the air and said “Calm down, okay. Just calm down…” even though I was perfectly calm. It seemed that he was just trying to get a reaction out of me, so I did not give him the opportunity by trying to argue that I was already calm.
Q: What happened after you were admitted?
A: There were other patients at the CRC (Crisis Response Center) waiting room and I conversed with some of them. They were all there on ‘302’s so they could not leave at will either. The staff took me to have my picture taken and they gave me an ID. bracelet. Later a girl about my age was brought in who took pills because her finance canceled their engagement and I felt a very deep empathy for her. I still wonder what happened to her and if she is doing okay. Later that night, close to midnight, I was told that I will be getting a room in ‘five minutes’ but nothing materialized and I did not bother to ask about the room.
Q: How did you sleep?
A: You can’t really fall asleep easily in a mental hospital (at least the first night). You’re too anxious about what’s going to happen. I just asked for a blanket, wrapped myself in it and laid down on the floor. I knew I could not get any sleep but I wanted to be relaxed for the next morning.
Q: What happened the next day?
A: There was no breakfast or lunch. The night before, there was a pitcher of water, crackers and sandwiches on the a counter where the staff sat. Well, since the morning, the crackers, sandwiches, and plastic cups were still there but no water. I had nothing to drink the second day’s stay at the facility from 7am to approximately 1 pm. I did get a small carton of milk in the afternoon (around 1pm). People were going up to the counter where the staff sat to inquire about their status or get some info or even just water. They were just ignored and no one spoke to them. No one told us what was going on or how much longer we were going to be detained. No one got any water in the morning as far as I know except for the girl I mentioned who had to wait for like 10 minutes.
Q: What happened when you tried to talk to staff?
A: I saw patients waiting for staff for 10, 15 minutes even longer for someone to address their concerns. They were completely ignored. One of the guys in the waiting room was shivering. I went to the counter to ask for a blanket for him. I was told by a female nurse to ‘wait 5 minutes’ and to go back to the waiting room and so I did. When I went almost 20 minutes later to remind her about the blanket, she just started yelling at me and told me to go back to the waiting room. So I went back without the blanket.
Q: Were you evaluated by a doctor?
A: The evening I was admitted there was a doctor who interviewed me. He said that they are going to keep me for observation and that my family was to come in the next day so they can see how I react. The next morning I noticed the Indian doctor from the first time I was admitted.
Q: Did he recognized you?
A: He didn’t say anything, but it’s probably not too often that an Indian kid is brought to a psychiatric facility. I was hoping that he forgot since I did not follow up with the outpatient stuff.
[A man leans out of his car to yell “Liar.”]
Q: What were your feeling at that time?
A: The staff’s attitude troubled me. First of all, you’re putting people against their will in room without basic accommodations. Being deprived of your civil liberties is in itself a very stressful situation. But then when the staff is ignoring them and no one is communicating with them as to what is going on – then it becomes incredibly stressful. I told the patients that once I get out of there, I’ll make sure to complain to the the proper authorities so that this does not happen again.
Q: It was late morning by then. What happened next?
A: Well this is when the abuse occurred. Its hard to describe in just a few words. There was no water, no one is telling us anything as far as what’s going to happen. I notice the toll this is taking on the patients. Some of them are starting to breakdown emotionally. Many are pacing the hallways restlessly. I thought it was better to stay put so that I don’t seem agitated. A middle aged man was complaining how they were going to force him to take meds for schizophrenia and there was nothing he could do. Later, I remember an older man starting to cry. When I tried to reassure him, he just shook his head and left the room. I was alone in the room when I dozed off. Next thing I know I am being shaken back and forth by a female staff. She had me firmly by my shoulders and was just shaking me back and forth really hard.
She continued shaking and did not stop until I recoiled my shoulders. I noticed that the television screen across me was now showing the image of a patient restrained in a bed with only his hands free. He has his hands up in a defensive posture and there are two staff members approaching him on each sides of the bed. I looked at the image for 3 or 4 seconds before realizing that I better look away. Mean while she is yelling at me “MATHEW, HURRY UP MATHEW”, “YOU’RE GOING TO YOUR ROOM MATHEW’. “HURRY UP”. I begin to follow her and she turns around and asks “Mathew Godly, that’s your name right Mathew’?. When I tell her my name is Godly Mathew, she yells “MATHEW GODLY”, “YOUR NAME IS MATHEW GODLY, MATHEW”. “HOW COME YOU DON’T KNOW YOUR NAME, MATHEW?” She kept insisting my name was Mathew Godly. When I showed her my license she apologized and turns to the other staff and asks “Do you know who is doing this? This has got to be a conspiracy. Some one is trying to switch his name around. This has got to be a conspiracy”. There was plenty of staff present as this was going on but no one said anything.
Q: What did she do next?
A: My heart was still racing from being shaken awoke and everything else that took place. Then she took a clipboard and put it in front of me. “MATHEW SIGN THESE PAPERS MATHEW”. I took the pencil that she handed me and then “MATHEW WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH THAT PENCIL MATHEW?’ “PUT THE PENCIL DOWN MATHEW” and I put the pencil down right away. Then she handed me a pen and continued with the yelling “MATHEW SIGN RIGHT HERE MATHEW. – WHAT DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND MATHEW, SIGN RIGHT HERE, MATHEW”, etc. I signed four to six sheets of paper, including consent to treatment forms that I would not have signed ordinarily.
Q: Why didn’t you refuse?
A: Everything happened so fast and manner of shaking me while sleeping and yelling, etc. was very disorienting. It was under duress. She didn’t give me any time to read them or anything. She had the papers covered so I could not see above the signature line. Some were consent to treatment forms and I unwittingly signed them. Nothing was explained. There were other staff present including the Indian doctor right there and anyone there should have known that this was not allowed procedure but no one intervened. At the slightest hesitation on my part to sign she would pound on the clipboard and yell “RIGHT HERE MATHEW, WHAT DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND, MATHEW? SIGN RIGHT HERE'” and I signed from the fear I was subjected to. The whole thing from the shaking asleep to being tricked into signing the consent forms happened in a few short minutes. Then she sent me back to the waiting room and said that I will be going to my room in ‘five minutes’. Of course that did not happen and about 20 minutes elapsed.
Q: How were you feeling at that point?
A: My heart was pounding and I was full of fear and exhausted. I was hoping that I would get a room just so they won’t keep doing this. I was afraid that they were going to just keep me there till I fell asleep and do the shaking, etc. all over again. I probably would have gotten so scared that I would start crying or or try to run out of there so I did not want that to happen because then they can restrain you. So anticipating an other shaking scenario, I pretended to fall asleep – I stretched and yawned and closed my eyes. I stayed still in my chair for about half an hour. Only this time they did not come and shake me – someone came in and taped me on my shoulder and said that they wanted to take me to my room. “Hey Mathew Godly, that’s your name right? You told us your name was Mathew Godly, right?’. I did not respond but I kept my eyes closed as if I was asleep.
Q: Were you awake?
A: Yes, and I was fully conscious and aware of everything that was taking place. They would come in and tap me on the shoulder and say ‘Hey Mathew, you told us your name is Mathew Godly, right.” and “Mathew Godly, we just wanted to make sure we got your name right Mathew. Mathew Godly that is your name right?, Okay Mathew”. This went on for about 20 minutes or more. I was still anticipating that they would shake me so I continued to pretend that I was asleep and just braced myself mentally. I did not want to open my eyes just so they can walk away and keep me there till I really fell asleep and then shake me. I relaxed all my muscles. Then a male staff came in the room lifted me up. They lifted my hand and then dropped it to see if I was still conscious. I just let my hand drop. Then they moved me back a bit and suddenly let me go such that my head hit the wall on the way down. “Oh, he had to have felt that” one of the male staff remarked.
At that point, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that these were not legally acceptable procedures, even for a mental hospital. “I’m sorry Mathew” “That was an accident Mathew” “Are you OK, Mathew? That was an accident. Mathew Godly, that’s your name right Mathew?” “We just want to make sure we have your name right, Mathew”. I was now very, very scared and concerned for my safety. I just laid on the ground and did not move. I knew then that they could do what ever they wanted to me and get away with it. They put me back in the chair. Finally like a half hour later they placed a 911 call and requested an ambulance “We found a patient unconscious on the floor” and “about five minutes ago” neither of which was true. Meanwhile I continued to stay still thinking that the ambulance would get me out of Friends Hospital. The ambulance came and they threw me on the stretcher.
Q: What happened inside the ambulance?
A: I was totally conscious the entire time of course but I was thinking at that point that this was going to be my only chance of escaping from Friends Hospital. I just lay still because at that point I just wanted to get out of there. What I did not count on was that two of the staff from Friends would accompany me in the ambulance.
Q: What did they do at that point?
A: They opened my mouth and started putting a tube down my mouth. By then, I knew it was too late to open my eyes – there was no way I could have explained myself. Plus, I was afraid that they would take me back to Friends and I didn’t want to go back there. I was so scared, I didn’t even gag when they put the tube down my throat. Then began the second tube, this time it was inserted into my nose. They were literally thrusting the tube in. It was extremely painful but I managed to lay still and not flinch. I was in the worst pain you can imagine but my fear was greater than the pain and so I endured. They began suctioning fluids from my nose and I can hear and feel the flow through the tubes.
Then a little later, they take my pants and boxers off and inserted the third tube, into my urinary tract. That was even more painful than the tube in my nose even though they were very gentle this time. They began suctioning my stomach and by now the only way to describe it is that I am submerged in an ocean of pain and my whole body is saturated with pain. There was a point when one of the female staff from Friends commented “Aww… poor thing” and then burst into a short laughter. My only concern was that I would stay alive and remember everything that took place so that I can tell the whole world what happened.
Q: What happened when you got to the hospital?
A: I got to Frankford Hospital and I was lying on the stretcher. I was completely naked. There were a lot of people around me and I could sense the commotion around me. The stretcher was being rushed through the hallway until finally they stopped. They put something pressurized on my nose and made me inhale it and each time my body bounced on the stretcher. It was very strong and painful and eventually I opened my eyes. And then (according to my Frankford Hospital medical records) they sedated me.
Q: Was your family contacted?
A: I don’t think that my parents were ever contacted. My aunt told me months later how she found out from her brother and came to see me. When she came I was in the ICU and was in a partial coma and on the ventilator. She told me how she kept talking to me because that helps people regain consciousness and how I finally opened my eyes and tried to speak but I could not manage to say anything because my voice was gone. She gave me a pen and paper and I scribbled some notes down about what they were doing to me at Friends.
Q: What did you tell the doctors at Frankford?
A: I was in Frankford for about four days because the doctors, operating under the assumption that I had taken drugs, put charcoal in my system that ended up in my lungs and gave me pneumonia. I knew that it was not in my best interest to tell everything that happened because I doubted they were going to believe me. They told me that they are going to sent me back to Friends as soon as I recovered. I started contacting all the people I knew, to ask for their help in getting me out.
Q: How did your acquaintances react?
A: They were shocked. Most of my friends consider me to be quite eccentric but they knew me well enough that they could attest for the type of person I really am. Thankfully, almost everyone at Frankford was on my side and they believed that I didn’t belong at Friends either.
Q: What did the doctors say?
A: My medical doctor was great and so were most of my nurses. I always had a good line of communication with my doctor and felt that she would have my interests at heart. I told her about my family situation and could tell that she empathized with me. I had a separate doctor as a psychiatrist. He walked in one next day, and briefly informed me that as soon as I got better from the pneumonia, that I was going back to Friends Hospital so they can ‘finish their evaluation’. I asked if there was any other option and he said no. As he walked out of my hospital room, he says, “By the way, I also work at Friends, it’s a good hospital.” I was terrified by the prospect of going back to Friends, but I knew it was pointless to talk with the psychiatrist. I was calling all my friends and some of them started coming to see me and voiced their support.
Later a nurse bought me a medicine and told me that they were to ‘calm me down’. They were under the direction of the psychiatrist and I did not want to being involuntarily drugged so I took them against my wishes. I complained to my medial doctor about being sent back to Friends and she said that she will see what she can do about it. I felt that my medical doctor had a lot of integrity simply because of the way she responded to me during our conversations. We had a very healthy and mutually respectful dialogue. Until the fourth day, word from my nurses was still that I was going to be discharged to Friends Hospital as soon as a room became available for me at Friends. Some of my friends bought my parents and everyone began insisting that I be sent home. Finally at the last minute I was informed me that I was being discharged home. Apparently some psychiatrist had ‘revoked’ my 302. It was a miracle but one that was possible only because of the people that came to the hospital and showed their support for me.
Q: After you went home, what happened?
A: That was when I really experienced what madness was all about. I suffered from what I later recognized to be post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms. If I was still at Friends, it would have been so routine for them to diagnose to diagnose me as a ‘schizophrenic’ and forcefully drug me against my will. I also went thorough the full spectrum of many of the so called “mental illnesses’ including depression and paranoia. There were weeks when I just laid in bed. There were also days when I could not sleep at all. The times I slept I would have frequent nightmares and wake up drenched in sweat, my heart pounding erratically. I lashed out verbally at my family at even the slightest perception of a threat.
Luckily my parents and family finally backed off a good deal and let me find my own way out of it. I had a few people in my life that became really close to me and endured my acute eccentricity during those ‘dark’ periods and my recovery was due to their encouragement and consistent support that they showed me during those trying times. If it was not for their support my family would have probably sent me back to Friends.
[To be continued in “What Ever Happened to Godly Mathew? Part III]