Dear Madame Governor
Updated: Jun 21
I wrote this when I was hospitalized in a terrible center in Downtown Detroit. I was astounded at how terrible to the services were, and how it was about 95% people who were on Medicaid and Black. This was when I decided to fight back. To make a difference in the field of mental health. To make my voice be heard. I don’t really have a way to get this letter to the Governor, but I hope that one day it does, and we can start to make change.
I am writing to you in desperation for your help in the mental health field. I know you are a supporter, as you increased the budget this past year, but I’m not sure you really fully know what is happening right here in your state in this regard.
My name is Elizabeth Orvis. I have a bachelor’s degree in Special Education-Cognitively Impaired, a Master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis, and spent three years as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. I also have severe Bipolar 1 and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I have spent most of my adult life in and out of hospitals and a long-term facility, unable to work, on SSDI and Medicare. I tell you all this because it is important to know that mental illness can happen to anybody. I had so much potential growing up- in all AP classes, going into college with 22 credits, a swimmer, a singer and dancer, president of the vocal music department, captain of the swim team, 10-year volunteer at Muscular Dystrophy Camp – but my disease ripped that all away from me. And it happens to a lot more people than you would realize.
What I want you to know, though, is that in Michigan, and probably other places, you get much better treatment if you have more money. When I was working and lived in Washtenaw County, I went to the best hospitals in the state (at least in my experience). They had menus where you chose all your own food. They had fresh fruits and vegetables.
Activities all day long teaching you coping skills and helping the time pass. At the lower income hospitals or centers, everybody eats the same cafeteria food and you’re lucky to get a fruit or vegetable – canned. The groups are sporadic at best and there’s almost nothing to support you on the weekends. The staff is tired and underpaid, so they’re cranky if you ask for anything. I was scared to take showers because I knew I would have to ask for soap and towels! The psychiatrist sees us for several minutes at most on zoom and put me on totally different meds and doses – wouldn’t even listen to my list of prescriptions coming in or work with my long-time psychiatrist who knows me incredibly well.
I could go on forever. I highly recommend you take a day and visit a few places in different counties. You will be able to see the differences immediately. It’s not fair. The more severe your illness, the less you can work and make an income, and the more everything costs. The residential treatment program I went to was $125/day, and that was with a scholarship. The Ketamine treatments that have been recommended to me are $500/day and they don’t accept insurance. It is a rich person’s disease. Things need to change.
\Everyone, across the state, should have access to good treatment. I’m willing to help and I know there are many people like me. I’m ready to use my voice. Please help. If not for me, then for the people in your life who are like me like me.