Handcuffed Mom


My girls

Fall, 2008

It seems long ago and far away

That I was handcuffed on a beautiful day

The sun shone as the officers stopped by

And because I was manic, I didn’t cry

“You’re so compliant!” one cop said with surprise

When I said bye to my girls, I had such brave, dry eyes

“5150” was sputtered in front of me

I couldn’t care less about terminology

To this day, I can’t believe it

Why a lactating mother of two would be such a threat

I needed treatment, but I complied; I was willing to leave 

My children for the hospital, near the street where I conceived

I didn’t need handcuffs – I had to laugh a bit 

I wasn’t armed with a gun…what a bunch of bullshit!

I hope no other mother who’s manic and admits it

Doesn’t go through the humiliation of being treated like a convict



I’m the first to admit that I’m not a poet by any means, but these lines came to me today.  

In fall of 2008, I had a bipolar manic episode.  My distraught husband contacted the 911 dispatch for a 5150 evaluation.  A whopping four police officers came to our house to assess me for treatment at our local hospital’s behavioral health unit.

I agreed to be brought to the hospital, yet I was still handcuffed.  It was so strange.  I didn’t resist as I didn’t want to make a scene with my baby and toddler in the house.  

Ideally instead of four officers, a trained mental health team could have come to help me and my husband.  Nowadays I’ve been reading about the emergence of crisis workers educated in mental illness emergencies, complete with home visits, and I’m so glad that progress is being made.  I only wish I could have been a beneficiary of such a program.