Reflecting on 2009 ~ Onward to 2010~
I went looking for a jail/prison to include in my Christmas Village which was started for me by my mom’s death and the passing on of pieces. What village wouldn’t be complete without magical lighted replicas of what has come to be our normal lives? So, in my search, I wondered if I couldn’t find a jail/prison (not a huge market for these in the magical villages…) if perhaps a bank could be modified. No such piece was found…what was found was a St. Joseph Chapel, with a lovely welcoming door and soft alluring lights within and, of course, a steeple with a simple cross to state the mission. O.K. I get it…it’s where we began and made our promises to God and to each other. A Chapel is friendlier than a prison in the lights of life, more pleasant to look at with meanings beyond the darkness and the hard, harsh realities of every day. A new piece is added and the beauty of the village is enhanced…another year…more reality but for a moment the lights and the love strengthen us all…onward beyond the lighted village to the world. Oh yeah…I added a lighthouse too…it just seemed right.
One of the books I am reading is Dr. Peter Breggin’s newest book entitled “Wow, I’m an American!” in which Dr. Breggin (Harvard-trained psychiatrist and best-selling author and such a inspirational voice in our world) gives us a new approach to the lives of our Founders and the principles of freedom, responsibility, gratitude and love that they embraced. It is not a long or heavy book but still, I seem to be taking the longest time with it. I don’t know a lot about America’s history, this book is helping me. I feel like I’m savoring every word, committing it to memory and pondering. It’s hard for me because I feel like the America I’m living in has been so harsh in punishing us for the responsible lives we were living the day of our tragedy. David and I were doing everything most would think is humanly responsible regarding our overall healthcare and for that responsibility, we are being punished greatly and severely. This is not the America I thought I lived in but is what we are experiencing. I asked Dylan (our son) who is a very bright teenager and he loves history, how he could know so much about history and retain it all. He looked at me with bewilderment and said that he could not imagine knowing so little about history. He does answer all my questions for which I am grateful. The future belongs to such as these if we can help them through the trauma and keep their hearts and minds focused on love and light in this life.
January 20, 2010, will mark the 4 year anniversary of a very horrific day for this family and many others. The things we couldn’t understand on that day have become clearer in time. What we suspected was that doctor-prescribed-psych drugs were the cause of psychotic behavior resulting in the killings of our most precious Tessara and Samantha. What didn’t make sense was the lack of people pursuing the truth of why David would do something so out of character. This lack of pursuit by our society continues to this day. Still, much has come to light regarding the reasons why so few here in America would make a stand and why people, like David, remain wrongly imprisoned. Our American Systems are designed to evaluate cause and not only the events.
A situation in Canada has been brought to our attention and we would like to share it will you. A man named David Carmichael had a similar tragedy in 2004. In a psychotic state due to Paxil, he killed his 11-year old son. He was arrested, stood trial and was found “Not criminally responsible” on account of a mental disorder diagnosed as “major depression” with “Psychotic episodes.” He spent 5 years in the mental hospital and is now home with his wife and daughter rebuilding their lives. He received an absolute discharge from even the mental health care system in December of this year. His story and all the good he is currently involved in can be read at www.DavidCarmichael.com. He went to the mental home full of despair. His trial did not focus on the medication reactions he had experienced. The mental health professionals at the mental home were the agents that helped show David in his despair that his medication was responsible for the psychosis. With this information, David was able to heal and devise a treatment program that helped him resume his life even with the sadness of the side effects that hurt his family so very much. Paxil (versus Prozac for us) was the SSRI that dealt the deadly blow to David Carmichael’s free will and responsible behavior.
The David Crespi situation took, from minute one, a very different path. Not much apparent action was taken by the State of North Carolina to provide care for David in a mental home even with the support of family and friends and lack of understanding of what had happened. Punishment, extreme punishment in the form of the death penalty, was sought from the beginning. The Criminal justice system did not ask for testimony from David’s psychiatrist and he was allowed to leave town without a word to us. David, in a completely drugged state, accepted a plea, encouraged by his lawyers, and was sentenced to 2 life sentences running back to back. The Department of Correction web site notes that his second sentence begins 1/2/9999 that is after his first sentence ends in death.
So, this is where we are after 4 years of the saddest tragedy to rock our world. David is in prison and so many, so content that this didn’t happen to them, have been able to go on with their lives. Prison is not the appropriate place for a man “not criminally responsible” and who was previously under the spell binding power of psych drugs. David is being punished every day of his life for doing what was considered responsible up until the moment the dangerous side effects took over. He was working as an auditor for Wachovia with a considerable amount of stress with all the issues surrounding Wachovia at the time of the tragedy. David went to the doctor due to a lack of being able to rest well. As is the current common practice, medication was prescribed without any note or monitoring of side effects. This medication led to more sleeplessness, then anxiety (a side effect of the sleeping medication) and then depression (another side effect of sleep aids and anxiety medication). One thing led to another, mental health care professionals were consulted and involved, and after 7 days of Prozac, psychosis took over. Free will was impaired and irrational, dangerous thinking resulted in the worst of horrors for all including and especially, David. What else could have we done to help ourselves? Some would add that David could have been honest with deep dark thoughts but the media has built that up and into something it never was. David was told in therapy that these thoughts were part of depression. Darkness and light intermingle without clear distinction.
So David is guilty of being a responsible person and seeking help and for that responsibility and while we are experiencing the greatest losses, the State of North Carolina, specifically Mecklenburg County, was allowed to ask for his death. More layers of tragedy and not one step closer to reconciliation or restoration. And we, as his society, allowed this to happen. I don’t understand this but every day live with the consequences. When is the truth going to mean something right here in Mecklenburg? When are people going to wake up to the fact that this could have happened to them and do something about it?
Lately, I have been reading a lot about justice…criminal, biblical, social and restorative. All lead me to understand about how peace will not be restored without justice being pursued. The time has long come for the wrongs to be made right. Indifference abounds. Many good people do nothing to help. The world appears darker instead of lighter. We didn’t pick this road but we are walking it. We are doing the best we can with the energy given. God is very real. I am convinced even more every day that judgment truly is up to God and we may be living in prison but God will reveal the light of truth in the proper time for all. I love the scripture found in Micah 6:8 of the Bible “You have been told, O Man, what is good, and what the Lord requires of you: Only to do the right (“to do justice” and “to act justly” in other translations) and love goodness (“mercy” and “kindness”), and to walk humbly with your God.”
So where are you as we reflect on 2009 and embrace 2010? Do you see as God sees? Or are you holding on to what you want to believe about a man that many of you know couldn’t have possibly done the horrific act without some external catalyst? Is Society really this indifferent and unreasonable? What can we learn from Canada and David Carmichael and the reasonable outcome he and his family have experienced in spite of the horror of losing their son and the life they knew?
Every prison in North Carolina is different and David has been transferred to more than a few camps this year perhaps because he still speaks up for what is right. The transfers are done without warning and without knowing where you are going. Family members need to try to keep up once the move is made and then we look for a blessing…anything helps in trying to find the balance. He started the year at Lanesboro close security Prison in Polkton. He had been transferred there in the fall of 2008 when he was experiencing the mania from psych drug withdrawal. This transfer wasn’t to help him as some would like to think. It was to create an imbalance for all of us just because the system has this power. Then in June of 2009, David was transferred to Windsor (Bertie Prison) about 5 hours from our home towards the Outer Banks. Bertie prison is very dangerous and it was not a good living situation but the path and a blessing usually get revealed. Bertie offered our first visit as a family of 5 (other facilities only allow up to 3 visitors plus the prisoner). They had vending machines where we could purchase junk food, coffee and sodas during the visit. This was the only 2 hours in these 4 years that this family has been together and able to share a meal. We are grateful for those 2 glorious hours and allowed them to carry us into the next visit at that facility which was for 1 hour for the 5 of us with David in protective segregation behind glass because a situation had caused a threat to David’s safety. That was when the 4 of us took in the sights of the Outer Banks. Saw a few lighthouses and the wild horses at Corolla. Cape Hatteras is considered “America’s Lighthouse.”
Soon after that visit, David was transferred to Pasquotank (The Tank) Prison in Elizabeth City which was about 6 hours away. Since this prison only allowed up to 3 visitors, the boys and I spent a day travelling, visited early one morning and then drove back that day. It was a long 2 days but we maintain to keep this family together and in communion. The blessings of the “Tank” included the granting of medium custody status and an opportunity to participate in Catholic services each week. Catholic services are not provided at most of the other camps David has been housed at. In October, David was then moved to a medium security facility in Polkton about an hour from our house. At this facility, Brown Creek Prison, David is housed in a bunk house with 27 other guys. The security isn’t as tight as close security single cell units but he likes the opportunity to get outside a bit more. Medium security is better in some ways and more dangerous in others.
Mentally, David is doing fine now that the medication has flushed out of his system. He is able to supplement his diet with only fish oil tablets. He never needed psych medication. David does not have Bipolar Disorder as we were led, by the defense process, to suspect. When I challenged the diagnosis, it became evident that those conclusions are made with very little objective evaluation. There is no medical test to prove disease. The medication propelled the psychosis…not an underlying, undiagnosed, condition prior to the tragedy. We now know that the medication, for us, produced the biggest problems we experienced in every episode of work anxiety experienced from 1994 on to the tragedy of 2006. What started out each time as an inability to sleep well due to mental unrest, resulted in the most prevalent current treatment by medical doctors and mental healthcare professionals of prescribing and encouraging medication. Please know that these medications can be very dangerous. They should be a highly monitored last resort and not the first response. Just think about who is making money every time a prescription gets written and people begin the long process of adjusting to and being maintained on these psych drugs. Is this the best way to deal with maintaining your overall health defined as being sound in body, mind and spirit? We no longer buy into that “quick fix” of medication prescribed by many.
The kids are actually doing better than can be expected. Jessica is 21 and is in her last year in College majoring in Educational Studies…loves it and is looking forward to graduating and working. She has a serious boyfriend that brings her joy. Dylan at 17 is finishing up his high school requirements as a home schooled student. He is enjoying the freedom and healing from trauma issues that home schooling offers but is looking forward to college in the fall. 13 year old Joshua is recovering from having his tonsils/adenoids removed this year right before Halloween. He wasn’t able to breathe well and the removal of those huge adenoids has helped. He is really enjoying his 8th grade year in Middle School and seems to have adjusted with great depth to our new life.
Jessica and I have been working on our overall health with a naturopathic physician. Some tests were done and it was determined that she and I are gluten intolerant. Taking Wheat, Rye and Barley out of our diets has been a huge adjustment but with very helpful results. Jessica, especially, feels so much better. This is a huge consideration where the conventional doctors choose to recommend the pysch drugs with all the side effects before considering a dietary change. Again, following the money…who benefits when we change our diet…only us…the consumer…food for thought.
We know that God has a plan for our lives and are all abundantly aware that we are experiencing some of the harsh realities of life on earth. Heaven is very real and our heavenly lights, Samantha and Tessara, are never far away. We acquired a new puppy this year and just received the DNA results that show Bailey as a Siberian Husky mixed breed. She has white fur and brown eyes. She came to us via a drop off at Belmont Abbey. She is much loved by all but especially Hunter the Beagle and Dude the long haired cat.
The kids and I visited California during the summer managing to visit all the grandparents and spending a few days in Disneyland. I drove a rented Ford Flex about 1500 miles from Northern to Southern and then back up to Northern California. We do love California with all its sights and attractions. Our roots run deep there and we took some magical moments back to North Carolina.
One of my missions is to help abolish the death penalty. Some of my favorite organizations are:
PFADP – People of Faith Against the Death Penalty – love their mission and work in North Carolina.
MVFHR – Murder Victims Families for Human Rights – worked on a report with them to present stories including ours of when mental illness crosses with the death penalty. This report was published in 2009 and is called “Double Tragedies.”
MVFR – Murder Victims Families for Reconciliation – participated in a healing retreat weekend with other victims. It was amazing to be with others who have chosen not to ask for death even with the pain.
CrespiFamilyHope.com (not an official organization but has evolved into a cause) will be working on continuing to bring truth to light regarding the side effects of psych drugs and who truly should step forward and be responsible. And, we will continue to work for a better situation for all those who are wrongly imprisoned without truth and adequate care for the tragedies and trauma suffered. I was able to again this year attend the annual conference held in New York of Dr. Breggin’s organization, the International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology (ICSPP). What a great, refreshing time of interaction with honorable people who understand the self serving interests of the drug companies, FDA and the Media and the resulting impact on unsuspecting doctors (they aren’t all unsuspecting) and patients.
I encourage you to read Dr. Breggin’s 2008 publication “Medication Madness” as it conveys the truth of what we have experienced. Thank you for your prayers but action is needed as well. I will try to post helpful information and possible actions on the web site. I am attending a one day social media conference in January and hope to be up on Facebook and LinkedIn soon. I will post links on www.CrespiFamilyHope.com.
So that is where we are as we begin 2010. We see God in the most amazing places. I feel God in the honor of praying and corresponding specifically with several prisoners. The world has changed for me. Earth is harder and harsher than I ever knew before but heaven is real as well. I have not needed to work outside of the home or beyond the cause, yet. I trust that God will continue to reveal the path each day that takes us from fear to love. With great hope and solidarity for the imprisoned,
Praying for strength for all of us for the journey ahead in 2010…
Kim and David Crespi, Jessica, Dylan, Joshua and remembering always…Tessara and Samantha
P.O. Box 77844, Charlotte, NC 28271
David Crespi #0938007, Brown Creek Prison, P.O. Box 310, Polkton, NC 28135