Carolyn Stuber: My son is a ‘Ryan’
September 1, 2010
I would like to thank you of the article about Ryan. I felt it was an honest and non-judgmental peek into what it is like to be a person of the streets with mental issues. I have met Ryan. My son is a “Ryan.”
My son was a normal kid with a great sense of humor and an over-achiever in school. Trouble started in the 9th grade when my son started to experiment with alcohol. This led to pot smoking and then on to street drugs. After years of desperately trying to get my son into treatment, I finally convinced him to sign in for hospitalization. He was diagnosed with bi-polar and schizo-affected disorder. After medication, my son actually returned to college and graduated with honors.
Unfortunately, this is not the happy ending our family had hoped for. My son went on to a successful career as a banker. However,four years ago, it all started to unravel. He went off his medications, as many people do with psychiatric disorders.
Currently he is living in subsidized housing and under psychiatric care run by the state of Arizona. He spends most of his day roaming the streets looking for conversation. He hears voices continually, despite medication. He is harmless.
Our current mental health system has gaping holes as far as effective management of people with mental disorders is concerned. There is also the aspect of giving the mentally ill personal freedom and decision making. The courts are very reluctant to take this freedom away unless there is proof that the individual is harmful to himself or others. More education for the general public is necessary before this population can be assimilated into society. Your story of Ryan puts a personal face on the problem.