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SOME READER RESPONSE TO
THE ANDREA YATES COLUMN

I had 6 children after my 6th child I suffered post partum depression, & thought many times I was to take my own life & that of my children.. I fought tooth & nail with prayer to overcome these terrible feelings with God's Help I made it through'.. I am sorry I think Mrs. Yates knew what she was doing & planned it out.. She deserved what she got, my only regret is that Mr. Yates isn't in prison too. He did nothing to help her.


Thank you. I too understand what you are saying. thank you for your bravery. You will lose friends but you will gain strong ones.


I CAN UNDERSTAND WHERE YOUR COMING FROM. BUT YOU WERE FORTUNATE ENOUGH TO KNOW YOU NEEDED HELP. I WAS ALSO ONE OF THOSE FORTUNATE ONES TOO. BUT I CAN NOT SAY THAT THESE PEOPLE SHOULD BE FREE AND THE TAXPAYER HAVE TO PAY FOR THEIR TREATMENTS FOR SANITY.

LIKE IT WAS SAID SHE WAS TOO FAR GONE. AND I JUST FEEL WHY SHOULD WE HAVE TO TAKE THE BRUNT OF HER TREATMENT FOR MERCY KILLINGS. WE HAVE TO STOP THIS WANTING TO GIVE HELP TO EVERY ONE. PRETTY SOON WE WILL BE HELPING EVERYONE AND THE JAILS EMPTY. I AM VERY STRONG FOR THE DEATH PENALTY AND IF I EVER SHOULD FLIP OUT AND COMMIT SUCH A TERRIBLE CRIME THEN I SHOULD PAY MY PENALTY WHETHER IT BE LIVE TIME JAIL OR DEATH PENALTY. WE ARE OVER POPULATED IN THIS WORLD AND PROOF IS THAT ALMOST HALF OF IT IS DUE TO DRUGS, AND ALCOHOL. WHICH CAUSE PEOPLE TO MURDER OTHERS AND THEN CRY THEY DIDN'T KNOW WHAT THEY WERE DOING. BUT LEARNING TO SAY NO I WILL NOT DO WRONG IS HARD BUT A VERY GOOD LESSON TO LEARN. WE LEARN FROM THE DAY WE ARE BORN TILL THE DAY WE DIE. IT IS UP TO US TO COMPREHEND ALL THIS INFORMATION TO LEAD A GOOD LIFE. I AM GLAD I FOUND MYSELF FAST AND I AM GLAD YOU FOUND YOURSELF FAST. GOD BLESS YOU AND I HOPE YOU SEE WHAT I MEAN.


Gutsy column, Frank. Congratulations on a superlative essay.


I am a bi-polar person, namely clinically depressed, and have been in treatment for about ten years, medications as well as talk therapy. I agree, that mental illness is just that, an illness that can and should be treated. However, if we were to listen to every one who kills or does some other dispicable act and then cries "My hallucinations made me do it", we would never be able to punish anyone, because all of them would say they were crazy. Enough of them already try. Besides, she had thought about this deed by her own admission for some time. I agree, that her doctor should not have taken her off medication, but she should have called to her doctor for help again and again until she got some relief. Especially since she had been to a doctor and aparently had been helped, she should have known where and how to plead for help again before doing such a thing. I think that life in prison was the only lienency that she deserved. She showed no remorse to my knowledge, and did not even seem to miss her children. What would you do with her, say "you better take your medicine next time", and then let her go to have more children possibly?

:Our society is trying to blame everything we do on genes or heredity or mental illness or some other factor that we " have no control over" in other words, no one wants to take responsibility for their own action any more. I think it is time to make people take resonsibility for their actions.

I lived with an "alcoholic" for twelve years, and after I left him, he got drunk and stopped in a couple of days by himself. Why? One reason is because he knows that if he doesn't, he will end up in a hospital where he is not allowed to smoke either, the other is that he stayed sober long enough to decide that he likes himself better sober, and appreciates everyone else who likes him sober.

The realization of this incident shows me that laying back saying "I'm an alcoholic, I can't help myself" is a cop out, a way to keep on drinking without feeling guilty. If he can stop by himselfnow, he could have when he was younger too. The key was that he did not want to. Signed "TIRED OF EXCUSES AND EXCUSERS" IN WIS


Amen. Thank you for speaking out! I thought i was the only person who felt for this woman. I have been severely depressed but no to this degree, but I have some inkling as to the voices. Luckily I had medication and therapy that got me through.


I have never personally experienced those torments but was at one time manic-depressive now known as bipolar. Lithium cured the problem. However, my kid brother is a paranoid schizophrenic and once walked into a Toronto police station with a loaded gun in his hand threatening to blow up the place. If he had been in Texas he would be my LATE brother. Frankly I don't understand America's unthinking blood lust. I suppose we will have to go the through massive slaughter visited on Europe and particularly Russia before we begin to understand why Europe has abolished the death penalty and is far more humane than we are.


It was brave of you to tell your own story--I agreed with you even before knowing about the hell you had been in. I have read some message boards on AOL and there are few people who seem to share the same opinion, I'm afraid. Some suggest she be drowned, even. Sometimes, I just do not understand the lack of understanding on the part of juries.

Last Saturday, out by the Pacific Ocean, the public held a memorial service for little Danielle Van Dam whose body was found about three miles from our home. I can't imagine that a move to change the location of Westerfield's trial will go anywhere--such a move has not been requested, at least not yet, by either prosecutor or defense. Given the nationwide publicity about the neighbor and given that the judge at the preliminary hearing said Westerfield is guilty--apparently such a statement in some way shape or form must come from the judge--well, given that, moving the trial would be costly and most likely useless.

I TRY not to believe in capital punishment but the least that should happen is that this man be incarcerated for the rest of his life, should a jury find him guilty. Some years ago, a California Highway Patrolman lured a young woman whose uncle I taught with and who also had been on a student trip to Europe with me--lured her off a freeway ramp, killed her. (I know that was a convoluted sentence I just wrote) He is serving a life sentence and my son, who had been on a prison tour through CA through a course he took, saw Craig Peyer, the former officer. Just wandering through some hall. I said, "David, if I had been there, I probably would have whacked him one for good measure."


Your point of view is legitimate, and valid. And while one must appreciate the personal experience that provides you with knowledge about the mental health aspect of the case, one must remember that this case was heard by and the verdict decided by a jury of Mrs. Yates peers. Each of those individuals had some knowledge and experience with mental illness, and they heard the experts for both sides give the best explanations they could muster for the behavior. They didn't just fall off the turnip truck. They not only heard testimony, they also were in position to see body language, glances, facial expressions, and many nonverbal clues that are part and parcel of the human experience and assist in discovering truth.

It may be that there was a better decision available, but until proven, I will rely upon the judgment rendered by those who were there.


A very moving and thought-inspiring piece, Frank. Fortunately, I never experienced the psychosis scourge, but I had a few forgettable years of clinical depression. One of the obstacles to justice for genuinely sick people is the plethora of schmucks in both law and mental health care who will testify to anything for a buck. Ditto the "buyables" in every facet of "expert testimony." O tempora, o mores....oh, SHIT! Anyway, you said it well and made sense. WRITE ON!


Wow. Bravissimo! What a tragic figure she is, and what a sorry sad outcome. Your column can make a difference. I hope it does.


I'm sure you will get many comments on this most recent column of yours. I can only say that you are a very courageous man and lucky to be well enough to tell it like it was!

My grandson Gary covered the trial for CNN and he was profoundly touched by all the facts that he heard at the trial.

Could religion have played a part in Mr. Yates thinking that they should have as many children as God would send them? Did he not have the final say on that particular issue? We were taught to believe that God gave us a brain, and we were to make the right choices in life.


I can certainly see where "demons" can take over thinking in a person's life. I haven't experienced myself but it has been in our family, called mental illness, bipolar, schizophrenia and paranoia. I thank you for your courage to bring it up in such a public way. Mental illness is a disease that is very prevalent in America, maybe the world. When a society is depressed as ours is, and when we feel our government is way out of control, not serving the people...not considering the people as important in decision making....citizen suffer. Prescription drugs, illegal drugs, over the counter drugs, and kids using products to get high that are supposed to be used for something else or not at all...leads me to say that I shudder to think what this next generation raised on games with so much violence and movies with so much violence....what decisions will they be able to make to handle the stresses of their lives? Parents have to parent their children, and adults that can't cope need help. What do you think?


BRAVO!!! I was released 33 years ago. That was a sad verdict.


Thank you for sharing. That was a brave thing to do. I both admire and respect you for such courage. God blessed you, for your outcome was much happier than Andrea Yates' . I suspect her husband contributed greatly to her illness. He was told she was not to have more children and proceeded to sire number five while barely able to support the ones they had. Now I understand he plans to sue (read that: line his pockets from her misfortune). Let's hope he doesn't succeed. Perhaps Andrea will be getting regular care and medication during her imprisonment that will enable her to complete her life in a healthier frame of mind. Let's pray it will be so.


I just want to commend you for the tremendous courage it took for you to tell your story. It is my hope and prayer that it will enlighten people as much as it did for me. It is not that I didn't know about mental illness, but to come from someone who has had this happen to them and to come out on the other side makes all the difference in the world. This must be have been an absolute horror to have gone through.

I admitted myself to the "best" mental hospital in this area a few years back and what I found appalled me. I don't know what your experience was with this, but the only thing I received was group therapy. Of course this was helpful, but they had all of us so spaced out that for days we were all in a fog. Then they complained we were not cooperating, because we couldn't even wake up. I am telling you all this, because you have had experience, and people who have not, do not understand. Maybe you had a good experience with the inside of a mental hospital, but I did not. Of course, some of it was helpful, because I wanted to be helped........There were some real horror stories in there.

I really just wanted to encourage you about this letter, because I have no idea what kind of response you may get, but from me it is a right on.......and to really again commend you and thank you on behalf of a lot of people in need of understanding.


Great column! I haven't seen one I didn't like yet. I was particularly impressed by theone about Andrea Yates. Took a lot of nerve and some discomfort, I'd guess. But I think it was certainly a good thing to do.

Loretta in Texas


Thanks for the comments and article. Nothing said about depression with it's disruptive behavior, probably linked to causes of psychosis. I couldn't work for a year or so when I was 35, am one of millions on antidepressant long term.

Saw the film "A Beautiful Mind" recently. One review said the story was manipulated to fit a neat film frame, and it seemed a bit too contrived to me, but the message and actions pointed to a "There but for the grace of God go I". scenario that raised viewers' understanding of mental illness and hopefully support and acceptance of those with the problem.

Glad you and I are able to live our lives somewhat reasonably now.


I'm riveted by your column as I was devastated by the Yates decision. Thanks for having the courage to write it and share as you did.


I've exchanged a couple of e-mails with you in the past and was pleased that you took time from a busy schedule to reply. I could not let this weeks article go by without comment. I congratulate you on a timely well written article. I complement you on your willingness to share your own problem ( That took good old fashioned guts).
I think too many times mental illness is closeted away in hopes that no one will know about it.
My father suffered mental illness, back in the thirties, and the caregivers did not have the knowledge and expertise they have today. If they had perhaps he would not have spent the last several years of his life institutionalized, and I would have had him when I was going through those teen years when I needed that influence.

Please keep up your efforts and may the people of our world recognize the need for care and treatment.


Obviously my own projection, but it now makes more sense to me why you emphasize humor in your column for older adults. I appreciate your courage in writing about who you really were/are. Courage because throwing the truth out there for all the world to see can be an iffy thing.


What a courageous and honest commentary on Andrea Yates!! I feel truly privileged to know you. I was blessed that my postpartum depression didn't take me out. They were ready to commit me to Payne Whitney for a 6 month period, and I said I wouldn't go because I wouldn't see my daughter take her first steps or hear her first words. The MD said "You'll be dead within in a year." Well, my daughter turned 40 today and I didn't go into that hospital, but I will never forget the hell I went through during that depression and totally agree with you that this law has to be revisited and revised.


I get the strangest feeling watching Russell Yates. Like - another seven years there'll be another five kids - oh dear, gives me goose bumps. Please, please, let Andrea get the best help possible. The children are safe, they're home. Thank you Frank for sharing your views, I am glad we think the same, my daughter does too, my Frank would have done. There are so few of us!! I dread getting into conversation with most people, almost all people, I feel like I'm from a different planet.

I get tired of flags waving in my face, in the rain, through the night, a piece of rag doing what, what for ? Oh well. Tomorrow, Im going on a jolly trolley ride and boarding a boat for a couple of hours.


I read you thoughtful and painful piece on psychosis, and am grateful you shared your experience with so many people. I have watched the Andrea Yates case from the UK in dismay. I can only feel compassion for another human being so obviously in torment. From the details that have been reported here, I feel sure there are sufficient grounds for appeal. I only hope she has access to appropriate psychiatric care in prison.


I commend you for your courage in baring your soul about so personal a thing. Your words about your own experience mean so much especially to those who are still suffering. I will put this one on the Insights page in the April issue. Thanks so much for being part of Vintage Journal. I appreciate you so very much.


Well said...you certainly helped me to understand this a little more. Thank you for sharing


Congratulation, Frank, on speaking out publicly re your bout with mental illness. That is courageous and it is what is needed to remove the stigma and misunderstanding surrounding this kind of illness. I think the verdict on andrea yates was criminal and I was so glad to read what you had to say on the subject.


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