Mary K Pershall
[twenty-six minutes into the hour - twenty minutes after JM] Pershall begins.
She has an American accent of course. [she grew up in Iowa? Idaho?]
“Mrs Pershall you made a statement to the Royal Commission”.
She talks about the exposure to the mental health system in Victoria through her daughter Anna.
Sit forward a little bit! Commissioners need to hear!
She is 30 [turning 31 this year/2019] - she has a really good relationship with her family and has positive work.
Dame Phyllis [Frost] Centre is a maximum security prison.
She killed someone.
Commissioner asks about Anna’s early years - and early childhood. Signs and symptoms.
Before she went to school she was a delightful and happy child who looked like a little fairy - she was off with the fairies.
She never begged people for toys - she asked for re-runs of the Addams family.
She wanted a hand that got things for you.
She was surprised when Anna asked for this thing.
Anna hated school from the beginning. She had been so happy before school.
After school she would cry.
Partly because she preferred to imagine things in the backyard with Duplo characters and she didn’t like being told what to do in a structured environment.
They didn’t appreciate her spider fantasies - she would prattle on - the children isolated and ostracised her.
She wasn’t physically bullied the Pershalls didn’t take it seriously [there is Mary and Katie her elder sister and maybe a father].
Being shut off the group was a hard thing for Anna’s development brain.
In early high school everyone else was trying to fit in. Anna tried to be happy.
Her family wanted her to smile and be happy at home.
When she was 14  she restricted her intake of food. Mary didn’t take too much - she has beautiful skin and didn’t want acne and had always been skinny.
Anorexia was around body image - Anna had never been concerned.
Watermelon and diet Pepsi was her diet - she agreed to go to the paed in the RCH.
Her condition was compromised - her heart was on a monitor at night. It was a shock!
She was treated as an outpatient until she was 18 and received excellent care and Mary is grateful to the health system.
She was seen once a week and the doctor is still in contact. For an hour each time - she was protective of that relationship and valued it highly.
She saw a RCH counsellor. [thirty-three minutes into the hour - seven minutes after the start]
Her teens were not trouble-free. She did find a friend and she was very attached to this friend - she would do anything to keep this friend on side.
She and her friend were walking down the street. Enraged Anna so much that the friend was paying attention to someone else
She kicked a thick plate glass window and the police called twice.
Anna had been train-surfing to impress this friend.
Setting boundaries was a message to Pershall - the counsellor was a support to John and Mary - especially the train surfing incident.
Anna is putting her life at risk - she is staying up most of the night. She was 16.
The summer before she went into year 11.
You have to go to bed at 2130 or 2200 - she agreed - Mary was uneasy.
There was a roll of bedding to look like a body - Anna had run away at 2300.
She had lived with her friends dad on the other side of the river with her friend.
She returned in time to begin year 11.
Pershall talks about those couple of years at uni which were her best.
She went to a senior secondary college and made more friends who appreciated her individuality intelligence and quirky sense of humour.
She went to university to study psychology and met a devoted young man. They still love each other to this day.
She became so sick that it didn’t work out.
They had hope that when she had been in so much pain - as she matured they hope it would get easier for her.
Third year of university - she started to say that people didn’t like her at university any more and it was too hard.
“Just get your degree - I won’t nag you to do anything else,” said her father.
Expected by family and others to get a job or do her studies [postgraduate].
She just didn’t know how to be an adult. [Let her be the kid she could never be!]
Promised her they wouldn’t nag her - she was still living with the boyfriend and the mother.
And they moved into the boyfriends’ house.
She stopped living with him. He still adored her-he couldn’t do anything with her.
Intelligent girl with a good vocabulary. Our tools were words; do this; try this.
We realised she was deteroriating with acholo and drugs.
She moved back when she was 24 - the extent of her a[lcohol] and d[rug use].
She didn’t have a glass of wine at night with her family.
It was mostly synthetic cannabis and she smoked bong after bong.
She moved home after a year living that kind of life until she was 25-ish?
She had a few markers - auditory and visual hallucinations - childhood fantasies?
Mental health was always fragile.
Cannaboids were very harmful to her brain.
An activity - getting dressed up and going on the train. That was one activity she enjoyed.
She looked a lot younger than she was - a size 14 child’s dress in Kmart.
She put on lots of makeup and was very attractive and her method was to talk to random guys and start a conversation.
They would give her drugs and attention and she would live with them.
John and Mary and Katrina wouldn’t know where she was.
She would be gone for days.
Towards the end of 2013 a man gave her ice on the train.
It was a terrible period - she came back a few days later in a very fearful state.
Look what this guy has done to me - cigarette burns.
Self-injury and she really liked ice and this guy.
She rang in a distress state - he’s holding me captive. I went to a neighbour’s house.
She was 95 kilometres away.
She went back to him a few days later.
He was going to kill her? That was the Pershall worry.
They could not restrain her - she had to let go.
Katie was the sister - calling the police - trying to get help through the mental health system.
Attach the words mental health to Anna - alleviate her pain they did their best.
She was slipping away further and further - there was no way to help her.
Reached out again to Dr D - hooked in with systems.
[So I missed about ten minutes of the livestream].
There is something about a box of knives and sharp edges. It is a constant strain.
December 2014 she was using ice - she couldn’t live in the home any longer.
She was scheduled to detox - she would get the maximum amount if she went blotto - for the 3rd time.
She would hook up with people on the Internet and dating sites so people could see her - they were drug addicts.
When was he going to come back?
Scary to be afraid in your own home.
They were apprehensive of her - Katie received calls that the parents were replaced by imposters.
These evil incarnations - [is this splitting?]
She was headed off to detox and met a guy for the weekend and smoking a lot of ice.
Someone rang and accused of horrible things. They had it they were exhausted.
You can’t live with us any more - the last time she was in the Pershall house.
She was admitted to a locked psychiatric ward - she couldn’t control herself and the Pershalls couldn’t.
3 hours later - she was in the emergency ward - she was picked up naked in a service station in Footscray.
They tracked down the service station and the nice young man who had been on duty - she walked in and asked if she could use the restroom and was totally naked.
And stripped by the door and was seen by people working at the service station and people used it.
There were gangs after Anna who would take her - yet she wanted to be in the ward which she was for one week.
She was transferred later on to an involuntary ward - they had a plan to put her there after a while.
As soon as she got into the ward. She was picked up by an older man and she was taken away - they had no say and it was such a disappointment; they were horrified.
“Why weren’t we involved?" She wasn’t capable of making a decision - the guy took her for that reason - he was a security guide.
He was known through a carers’ group - hours of respite so John and Mary had time to themselves.
Then the older man and Anna had a romantic relationship.
Saturday night in the middle of winter - very angry about not being able to go home.
DIdn’t speak to Mary for a few weeks - neither did Jim.
In the emergency ward again - admitted under the Mental Health Act.
If you meet her there you will be able to see her. Mary was excited because she would see Anna again.
the SG said it’s not visiting hours? You’re not allowed here?
Mary had to go away - nothing she could do - one more disappointment.
Flash forward a few days: when she went to the psychiatric ward during visiting hours.
There was lots of coughing and microphone feedback.
There was a guy on shift and got to know Anna - secure psychiatric care - he would do anything and everything she could.
What a predicament - she couldn’t look after herself.
“I need to stay here. I need the help they are giving” the PiC - “you can’t have a bed just because you want it”.
Go to a boarding house - go to Jim’s place. Things were stolen at boarding houses and Anna felt unsafe for that reason.
the PiC that night - “Can’t you keep her?”
“If you care so much about your daughter, why don’t you take her home”?
Mary had other people to consider - Jim had to kick her out.
Briefly describe the time Anna lived at the older gentleman’s house - the man who ended up being killed.
She had an endless supply of guys she knew - they met at detox - he knew a place in the outer suburbs - older man sublet his rooms - Anna ended up there.
It was an interesting place - it was in disarray - a vibrant community around this older man.
Mary came to know the O[lder]M[an] quite well. He had a lot of very close friends who spent time in the kitchen watching SBS and yelling in various tongues and drinking lots of sweet white wine.
Mary mentions in her statement - how many times the guys called the police to stop Anna attacking them?
It was at least twice that she knows about. They called the police - they didn’t retaliate.
She’d shown - she could be strong and violent - that window when she was an anorexic teenager.
She had this powerful anger - she wanted this house when she was quite stable - she wanted the guys to clean it- she got violent when she wouldn’t.
Mary got to know the guys - this girl doesn’t need to be arrested, said one guy.
She didn’t receive any treatment - Anna herself spoke about being afraid of her violent outbursts.
She called Mary - ‘I can’t believe it Mum” - she said his name - what am I going to do? - she knew she wasn’t in control of herself.
We couldn’t get it and she couldn’t get it.
22 November 2015
Anna was pregnant - four months pregnant - she had really tried to do the right thing because she wanted the baby and to get healthy.
She tried not to drink or do drugs.
Lots of voices in her head - synthetic marijuana - they told her awful things and never went away.
Alcohol and prescription medication too - she tried not to use these substances.
She ran out of weed and cigarettes.
Katie did her prescriptions for Anna - she never used it as it was supposed to - she did take it to sleep.
Her brain just imploded.
A call from the police - expected a “dead call”.
It was a “killed someone else’ call.
That time on she has been in custody the last three and a half years as of July 2019.
She serves 17 years - 13 years non-parole.
“As it turns out that prison life is better for Anna than I hoped”.
Partly because she has structure imposed on her.
High dose of antipsychotics and Lithium and antidepressants.
She feels she is actually learning to have relationships.
No-one asks her about her drivers licence or jobs - she does prison jobs.
She can work on how to get along with other people.
The relationship we all have - she can relate to her sister as a sister rather than as a carer.
She could never have a conversation - she talks about her interests. Wait and try to bring her out.
And she is very well-liked in prison and they get help with various English assignments.
Given your experience - what changes do you see necessary? [commissioner question]
Think about children and they can actually have a mental illness - it didn’t occur at the time.
Quiet children who don’t demand attention. - when they get into crisis there is an approach where families can be listened to.
They were never listened to or consulted.
Dismissed as drama queens - exaggerating the extent of Anna’s problems.
As a family there should have been much better accomodation - crisis and longer in a secure environment.
Strange people and getting drunk.
Stabilise and rational decisions.
Anna will always need support to be an active contributing member of our society.
Other people in her position - it will cost a lot of money.
A lot of money to be in prison because of similar issues.
Pershall is excused.
Dual diagnosis of mental illness and addiction - what would improve in these scenarios?
Three years ago when they were trying to get help they found it extremely frustrating that they tried to get her in the residential centre for those with addictions; she as turned away because she had mental illness.
She found a place in a park and she was relieved. She got a few residential weeks of care.
She might not have enough Seroquel - she stuffed it into her underpants.
Against the rules - you can’t be here.
She was turned away from both places because of the thing they didn’t treat.
May the witness be excused?
Lunch break. [fifteen minutes at the top of the next hour].