Dignity Bag project

Dignity Bag project

Time & Location

Time is TBD
Location is TBD

About the event

Dignity Bag project

72 hour hold : 5150 is the number of the section of the Welfare and Institutions Code, which allows a person with a mental illness to be involuntarily detained for a 72-hour psychiatric hospitalization. A person on a 5150 can be held in the psychiatric hospital against their will for up to 72 hours.

14 day holds: If your doctor places you on a 14 day hold, it is because he/she believes that you continue to be either a danger to yourself, a danger to others, gravely disabled or some combination of these reasons. It is called a 14 day hold because you may continue to be hospitalized involuntarily for up to 14 more days.

I understand. They wanted to die. They didn't want to exist anymore at all. But they, somehow, made it through an attempt, a cry for help; bottom line, great suffering, unimaginable suffering, got them to this space.

I've only held the role of caregiver in this situation. But the caregivers experience this, too. You want to convince to find hope. Some pray, some cry, some scream from their own fears but what you're compelled to do is to DO SOMETHING. DO ANYTHING.

On my second night home from visiting hours, I realized tomorrow made day three. And she had been safely placed in a room with no cords, no sharp corners, no sharp objects. They were protecting her from herself... but then day four came, then day five...

But her hair was matted and oily.

Her body smelled of sitting in a hospital gown for days on end. God knows if she showered the day she ended up there... has it been SIX days since she showered?

Do something...if I were in her place what would I need: my dignity.

There's enough shame involved and stigma surrounding mental illness. Looking (and smelling) like someone who doesn't care to see her next day doesn't need the constant reminder of B.O. from sweaty meltdowns and salty cheeks from tear stains. I have to do something; I have to restore her dignity so the nurses and doctors caring for her (some even annoyed by her) see a trace of my beautiful baby girl - a trace of her essence, her life spirit.

So, as much as a distraction for me, I enter the pharmacy section of travel sized items. “Nothing sharp, Julie.” Here's a tiny, rounded hair brush, an ounce of deodorant, dry shampoo, fragrance free face wipes.... Fresh underwear. “Did she even shower the day she wanted to die?” I shudder. Underwear. Fresh underwear. Non-slip socks. A lip balm and a little lotion - to massage her feet and shoulders (dopamine rush).

I walk up to security desk for the fifth time in half as many days for them to inspect my items. “No sharp items, you're good to go, ma'am.”

“Thank you, sirs. This is my daughter's dignity bag.” I'd return two more times with my dignity bag pass from security, secondarily checked by on duty nurse.

“No sharp objects. No cords. You're good.” Then I brushed and braided my daughter's hair.

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If you would like to contribute any of the items on our Dignity Bag Wish List, please click the link to follow: Wish List

**In addition to these individual items or similar ones (if you prefer to purchase from DollarTree, 99cent store, perhaps), I need scrap fabric donations and/or volunteers to sew. The bags will be approximately 6 to 8 inch square, self-closing bags.

If you'd like to contribute funds for volunteers to secure these items in bulk, please contribute here: PayPal, Venmo accepted (donation receipts will be provided in accordance with the law for 2019)

If you'd like to host a dignity bag stuffing party, please contact me here: hello@holdmybeerfoundation.org or julie@justaskjulie.me

If you have a specific Emergency Room location within Southern California that you believe these items are needed, please let me know and we'll take the first dozen there first.

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Screw the stigma. Screw the shame.

Let's help them find a reason to get beyond their 72 hour/14 day holds.

Let's lend some dignity and hope to the hopeless. The result of our efforts may lead to so much more. Thank you.

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