Documentary tells tale of heartbreak and humanity: Mental illness left brilliant artist on street...

Elizabeth Wiltsee was brilliant, an artistic woman who wrote novels and plays, who attended Stanford, studied Chinese and translated Homer from the original Greek for fun. Full Story
Watsonville resident

AOL

#1 Nov 12, 2010
I knew Elizabeth...sweet woman...almost always smiling and reading - usually behind a big stack of books at the library. But she was tough, too, and that smile could disappear quickly if someone gave her a bad time.

There's a quiet study room dedicated to her at the new library, funded in part by her family with funds discovered after her death in Elizabeth's IRA account which contained thousands of dollars. They figured the library was a shelter for her, and the quiet room would be a shelter for others. They gave the balance of Elizabeth's IRA account to Loaves and Fishes and I think a local church for feeding her body and soul.
Glover

Alameda, CA

#2 Nov 12, 2010
Why did her family not help her when she needed it?

And help from the government has been long gone as well.

There are too many sad stories...it's heartbreaking.
SupportMentallyI ll

Santa Cruz, CA

#3 Nov 12, 2010
Thank you for bringing attention to this story. As I have a family member who is mentally disabled as well, I see the suffering first hand in this area by those that have such an illness. Santa Cruz county is highly prejudiced against the mentally ill and not much exist here to help. Her story will not be the last of a mentally ill person dying alone, without help or support of their community. Often the mentally ill are brilliant people, as is my brothr. The sad fact is, with rampant discrimination in our local societ, they are overlooked and not appreciated.
Westside

Santa Cruz, CA

#4 Nov 12, 2010
Glover wrote:
Why did her family not help her when she needed it?
And help from the government has been long gone as well.
There are too many sad stories...it's heartbreaking.
I am sure her family tried to help her. You obviously have never dealt with mental illness. There is only so much you can do for a person who is mentally ill. You can't lock a mentally ill person up and force them to take large doses of medication. This use to be standard practice and it was just as sad as letting our mentally ill friends and family roam the streets as they desire. There is no miracle answer to help them. You do the best you can to keep them safe and happy on their terms once you realize the meds and a warm roof over their head won't make it all better. I have several family members who are mentally ill and there are many ups and downs with them. One of them occasionally goes homeless around Santa Cruz and by the grace of god he has been ok the last six years and living a pretty normal life. Everyone knows he could go back t the streets at any time though. We enjoy him while we have the chance. My mother and sister live their lives as tortured souls in their mentally ill minds. They take their meds and have good and bad days, but will never live normal lives. Trust me when I say...I am sure her family tried. May god bless her family for the donations they made to the services that kept their loved one happy while on the streets.
Whatever

San Jose, CA

#5 Nov 12, 2010
Interesting story about mental illness from discover magazine:

Discover has a fascinating article on the scientific detectives working to uncover the causes of schizophrenia, trying to unravel genetic sequences from hundreds of people with schizophrenia, twin studies, a mysterious birth-month effect, and retroviruses that we seem to be born with:

Through this research, a rough account is emerging of how HERV-W could trigger diseases like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and MS. Although the body works hard to keep its ERVs under tight control, infections around the time of birth destabilize this tense standoff. Scribbled onto the marker board in Yolken's office is a list of infections that are now known to awaken HERV-W--including herpes, toxoplasma, cytomegalovirus, and a dozen others. The HERV-W viruses that pour into the newborn's blood and brain fluid during these infections contain proteins that may enrage the infant immune system. White blood cells vomit forth inflammatory molecules called cytokines, attracting more immune cells like riot police to a prison break. The scene turns toxic.

In one experiment, Perron isolated HERV-W virus from people with MS and injected it into mice. The mice became clumsy, then paralyzed, then died of brain hemorrhages. But if Perron depleted the mice of immune cells known as T cells, the animals survived their encounter with HERV-W. It was an extreme experiment, but to Perron it made an important point. Whether people develop MS or schizophrenia may depend on how their immune system responds to HERV-W, he says. In MS the immune system directly attacks and kills brain cells, causing paralysis. In schizophrenia it may be that inflammation damages neurons indirectly by overstimulating them. "The neuron is discharging neurotransmitters, being excited by these inflammatory signals," Perron says. "This is when you develop hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, and hyper-suicidal tendencies."

The first, pivotal infection by toxoplasmosis or influenza (and subsequent flaring up of HERV-W) might happen shortly before or after birth. That would explain the birth-month effect: Flu infections happen more often in winter. The initial infection could then set off a lifelong pattern in which later infections reawaken HERV-W, causing more inflammation and eventually symptoms. This process explains why schizophrenics gradually lose brain tissue. It explains why the disease waxes and wanes like a chronic infection. And it could explain why some schizophrenics suffer their first psychosis after a mysterious, monolike illness.

The Insanity Virus (via Beyond the Beyond)
Do not blame family

Menlo Park, CA

#6 Nov 12, 2010
Elizabeth's family made constant attempts to help her, they live in Massachusetts so the distance and lack of a regular address for Elizabeth was a huge problem. Also, you can't force someone to accept your help, and Elizabeth seemed to have problems being close to people. Even when shelter was available somewhere, she usually preferred sleeping in a doorway of St. Patricks's, or in a dugout in the baseball field at Ramsay Park.

One sad thought is that she might have finally been attempting to return home when she died in Pacheco Pass, heading east.
Mom

Santa Cruz, CA

#7 Nov 12, 2010
WhateverInteresting story about mental illness from discover magazine:
Discover has a fascinating article on the scientific detectives working to uncover the causes of schizophrenia, trying to unravel genetic sequences from hundreds of people with schizophrenia, twin studies, a mysterious birth-month effect, and retroviruses that we seem to be born with:
Through this research, a rough account is emerging of how HERV-W could trigger diseases like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and MS. Although the body works hard to keep its ERVs under tight control, infections around the time of birth destabilize this tense standoff. Scribbled onto the marker board in Yolken's office is a list of infections that are now known to awaken HERV-W--including herpes, toxoplasma, cytomegalovirus, and a dozen others. The HERV-W viruses that pour into the newborn's blood and brain fluid during these infections contain proteins that may enrage the infant immune system. White blood cells vomit forth inflammatory molecules called cytokines, attracting more immune cells like riot police to a prison break. The scene turns toxic.
In one experiment, Perron isolated HERV-W virus from people with MS and injected it into mice. The mice became clumsy, then paralyzed, then died of brain hemorrhages. But if Perron depleted the mice of immune cells known as T cells, the animals survived their encounter with HERV-W. It was an extreme experiment, but to Perron it made an important point. Whether people develop MS or schizophrenia may depend on how their immune system responds to HERV-W, he says. In MS the immune system directly attacks and kills brain cells, causing paralysis. In schizophrenia it may be that inflammation damages neurons indirectly by overstimulating them. "The neuron is discharging neurotransmitters, being excited by these inflammatory signals," Perron says. "This is when you develop hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, and hyper-suicidal tendencies."
The first, pivotal infection by toxoplasmosis or influenza (and subsequent flaring up of HERV-W) might happen shortly before or after birth. That would explain the birth-month effect: Flu infections happen more often in winter. The initial infection could then set off a lifelong pattern in which later infections reawaken HERV-W, causing more inflammation and eventually symptoms. This process explains why schizophrenics gradually lose brain tissue. It explains why the disease waxes and wanes like a chronic infection. And it could explain why some schizophrenics suffer their first psychosis after a mysterious, monolike illness.
The Insanity Virus (via Beyond the Beyond)

This is just an opinion. Medical fact is schizophrenia is caused by male sperm in men over 35 that is of a weakened DNA structure by use of tobacco and or alcohol. It has nothing to do with infection. Nothing to do with the birth mother in any respect. Having studied this illness for many years in a PHD graduate program, I prefer medical fact to just opinions. Birth Month is a joke. Indeed. Every one of the 3000 subjects I studied with this disease had no infections at all, none of the above.
Whatever

San Jose, CA

#8 Nov 12, 2010
Mom wrote:
This is just an opinion. Medical fact is schizophrenia is caused by male sperm in men over 35 that is of a weakened DNA structure by use of tobacco and or alcohol. It has nothing to do with infection. Nothing to do with the birth mother in any respect. Having studied this illness for many years in a PHD graduate program, I prefer medical fact to just opinions. Birth Month is a joke. Indeed. Every one of the 3000 subjects I studied with this disease had no infections at all, none of the above.
Nice Troll, why don't you and Elaine Charkowski go hop into your Suburu and go to your Wiccan meeting. There you can compare flannel shirts and talk about your love of fried twinkies and your hatred of attractive women who don't go 'your way' whom you'd never have a shot at anyway.
More Charkowski crap

AOL

#9 Nov 12, 2010
Whatever wrote:
<quoted text>
Nice Troll, why don't you and Elaine Charkowski go hop into your Suburu and go to your Wiccan meeting. There you can compare flannel shirts and talk about your love of fried twinkies and your hatred of attractive women who don't go 'your way' whom you'd never have a shot at anyway.
Thank you!!! That post sounded so much like another spewing from the castrating sheer- brandishing Charkowski. I imagine her guy (if she's hetero) must sleep with one eye open, and with running shoes laced tight. It's amazing how little she knows about this issue (like most ignoramus commentators). I actually knew Elizabeth Wiltsee, but fools like this are willing to exploit Elizabeth for personal agendas. Hey Charkowski, if that was you...feel proud that you're the most recent sack of crap to exploit her.
Glover

Palo Alto, CA

#10 Nov 13, 2010
Westside wrote:
<quoted text> I am sure her family tried to help her. You obviously have never dealt with mental illness. There is only so much you can do for a person who is mentally ill. You can't lock a mentally ill person up and force them to take large doses of medication. This use to be standard practice and it was just as sad as letting our mentally ill friends and family roam the streets as they desire. There is no miracle answer to help them. You do the best you can to keep them safe and happy on their terms once you realize the meds and a warm roof over their head won't make it all better. I have several family members who are mentally ill and there are many ups and downs with them. One of them occasionally goes homeless around Santa Cruz and by the grace of god he has been ok the last six years and living a pretty normal life. Everyone knows he could go back t the streets at any time though. We enjoy him while we have the chance. My mother and sister live their lives as tortured souls in their mentally ill minds. They take their meds and have good and bad days, but will never live normal lives. Trust me when I say...I am sure her family tried. May god bless her family for the donations they made to the services that kept their loved one happy while on the streets.
Iím sorry to hear about your situation and the pain your family members have to go through, and I certainly didnít mean to offend anyone. Every story is different, I guess, and I know there are many loving, compassionate people out trying to help their loved ones.

I know itís impossible to tell from my short post, but actually, I myself have a mental illness, and was reacting through my own experience.

I have been abandoned by all functioning family members except one, whom is in poor health, and itís a toss-up on who takes care of whom on some days in the past.

First I must say, I am under a doctorís care and take my meds as prescribed. I donít take any illegal drugs and never abuse my prescription drugs, and I donít drink. I do my best to take care of myself. No violent tendencies, nor hallucinations, personality disorders, or anything like that. I just happen to have a problem in my brain chemistry that has recently rendered me incapable of living a normal day to day life.

My condition comes and goes, but recently flared-up the worst ever. Because of this, I have lost my career, also in the creative arts, and cannot work. No bit of my talents, intelligence or work experience seem to be of help to me now.

Soon the money will be gone, as likely will my home, insurance, etc.

I had never asked family for help before, but did because Iím almost desperate, and basically, they just donít care or canít be inconvenienced.

My family members ignore, refuse to help, or say they canít because of busy lives or tight budget, when I know they take several vacations a year with trips to beautiful countries around the world or callously flaunt their iPads, TIVO, whatever, in front of me.

Fair-weathered friends have judged and abandoned me, and it appears that soon I will be alone.

Iíve found out how hard Disability and MediCal is to get lately.

Iím too frightened to go to homeless shelters, because I am a woman and not fit for the streets, and Section 8 or low income places (if I could ever get to the top of the waiting list) are littered with druggies and dangerous gang members.

Iíd love to get back up on my feet, but when seeing what appears to be my impending future, itís hard to have hope and break out of the depression that now accompanies my main condition, which is making me worse.

Where are those people that do everything they can to help their loved ones, like some others have been blessed to have in their life?(And I'm happy that some do!)

I canít find them, and would love to have them in my life.
ram

Santa Clara, CA

#11 Jul 4, 2012
Glover;

r u there ? just read your post now and wanted to know how the last 2 yrs happened to be for you ?
Buzz

San Francisco, CA

#12 Jul 4, 2012
Thank you for this post! It really puts the problem in perspective.
Not DBS

San Francisco, CA

#13 Jul 4, 2012
YES! Thank You!!
DBS

San Francisco, CA

#14 Jul 9, 2012
Buzz wrote:
Thank you for this post! It really puts the problem in perspective.
You wanna talk about this through messenger?

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