Letter to the Editor: A Personal Story on a Lack of Mental Health Support


My name is Jessica. I would like to take a few minutes to share my story to talk about why mental health is so important and what the lack of helping someone or ignoring someone's cry for help could do. 

On May 2, 2020, my boyfriend at the time was going through a really hard time. He has schizophrenia. He was on Department of Corrections supervision, had a court-appointed counselor and was staying in a Aberdeen motel. I had gone to spend some time with him before work and his counselor had showed up while I was there. We were all in the middle of talking when he asked his counselor for help because he was not feeling well mentally at all. He was seeing and hearing things that were not there. It was a scary situation for him. I remember very clear that his counselor told him, “There is nothing that I can do for you."  

Then, he paid for a few more days at the motel. That obviously was not going to help the fact that he was not feeling very well. I could only do so much because we were not married and I really did not have any say. I was worried about him so I stayed to try and help him. Fast forward two days later and my life flashed before my very own eyes among others. 

I had a few minutes until I had to get up and get ready for work, but instead that did not happen. I instead woke up to being blindsided by the man I loved with a 2-foot stick in his hand that had notches in it, hitting me in the back of my head. I had thought a picture had fallen off the wall so I put my hands behind my head to protect it while I was crying for help and screaming that it hurt. 

Five more times that I remember with that stinging in the back of my head and the door flinging open I had realized what actually happened. I was attacked. I thankfully had enough adrenaline to save myself so I called 911. The officer showed up and told me that it was OK to let him in and that they had gotten my boyfriend. I explained with tears rolling down my face what had happened. The officer clearly saw that my hand was the size of a baseball and the puddle of blood that came from my head on the sheets. He called for aid while wrapping my head up and trying to keep me calm. I called my parents screaming and crying for help. I tossed my phone to the officer and he told them what had happened and that they might want to come to the hospital. So they did.

I ended up with 18 staples in the back of my head and both of my hands bruised up. I had to get my right hand in a cast. It turns out I had to get emergency surgery on my hand or I would have lost all range of motion. The doctor had told me that it was the worst he had seen. I was bombarded with all sorts of people trying to get what happened out of me while I was telling them to talk to my parents and that I had enough. I got out of the hospital a couple hours later and had to go back to the motel where it all started to get my belongings quickly. The lady who worked the front desk had showed up in the motel room to ask me what I should do with his belongings. I told her to back off of me because she would not even help me while I was crying for help. She asked me to take it with me and I said absolutely not. The man I had so much love for ended up in prison. I was forced to press charges because his plea for help was ignored. Is this an excuse for him? Absolutely not, but it is not the justice we both deserve. 

I wanted that man to get mental help. He is not a monster. He is a human who cried for help and did not get it. What makes this situation harder to cope with is the fact that I look around and notice the lack of help for people with mental illness. The lack of help for people who cry for it and do not receive it. 

Do I believe that he should have gotten in some trouble? Absolutely. I am sitting here almost three years later able to share my story with the world because I am a survivor and not a victim.

I do not want people to feel sorry for me. I want people to feel empowered to help others. It takes seconds to be kind. It takes seconds to help someone in need, but it also takes seconds for someone to snap. I wake up in the middle of the night from nightmares. I get nervous being around tons of people, I live every day thinking about what could have been if he had just gotten the help. 

I hope when you read this story, it changes your outlook on life. That child that brought a weapon to school, or that homeless person flailing their arms or yelling at whoever is listening is not all just a horrible person. They are a person asking for help in their own way. I appreciate you taking your time to read this! Thank you.


Jessica Lien