Help Family of 4 Recover From Dad's Hospitalization

For: Elizabeth and Ricardo Brico
Seattle, WA
Organizer: Elizabeth Sparenberg-Brico
Help Family of 4 Recover From Dad's Hospitalization (Elizabeth and Ricardo Brico)
of $1,500 goal
100% Complete
Raised by 32 donors

The Story

On Christmas Eve 2017, after a month of anxiously caring for my husband and our two toddlers, I finally convinced my husband to enter the local hospital for a psychiatric evaluation. For the past month, my husband of four years had been devolving deeper and deeper into a psychosis that left him believing he could hear people threatening to shoot him dead through the window. On Christmas Eve, after his evaluation, he was involuntary hospitalized and became a temporary ward of the state. He remained in a psychiatric unit for over two weeks. When he was released, he was provided with some medication but no comprehensive follow up care. Within weeks, he was back in full-blown psychosis, this time requiring multiple calls to emergency services and two ambulance rides to get him safely in the hospital. He spent 14 days at Fairfax Psychiatric Hospital. All this to say, my husband has spent more than 28 of the past 60 days in a hospital--and all 60 of those days severely impaired by psychosis. Before these events, he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. We are still awaiting an updated diagnosis, but there has been talk of schizophrenia, bipolar affective disorder, or schizoid personality disorder in addition to PTSD. My husband is an incredibly loving father, but his acute psychosis made him completely unable to care for himself, much less his family. 

Anyone who knows me knows this is not the first fundraiser I have done, but this is the first time I have a solid understanding as to why my husband has repeatedly stopped and started employment--many of his reasons for quitting or being let go from jobs have been based on paranoid ideas about people disliking him, which annoyed me at the time, but which I now understand were symptoms of his untreated mental illness. The stress, shock, and fatigue of the past two months has also kept me from taking on the amount of work I need to keep my family afloat. I currently have something like $100 to my name, with some publications owing me money (but not enough to cover our current expenses). My husband has $0. We have not yet paid the rent for February.

Though my relationship with my in-laws is shaky at best, and I detested living in the state of Florida, there have been many times during our relationship when my mental illness (PTSD) took precedence. This time it is Rick's turn. So that he--and our young daughters, who witnessed parts of my husband's non-violent but emotionally disturbing psychosis--may access the familial support necessary to heal, and also so that we can  save money in order to build independent lives (something we haven't been able to do in costly as hell Seattle), we will be moving to Florida for a year. There, my in-laws have offered us a beautiful three bedroom home they own for half the cost of our current two bedroom slumpartment. It's not an ideal location, but it will allows us to gain the emotional and financial stability to decide what to do next. 

Before we can leave, however, we need to avoid eviction. As you may know, having an eviction on our record adds a major barrier to renting in the future. We also have medical expenses, such as the ambulance rides, which are not all covered by insurance. Finally, we need to raise the money to get to Florida.

I make a decent enough income as a freelance writer, but I'm still pretty new. On average, I have to write (and receive prompt payment) 4-6 articles per month just to cover rent costs. Unfortunately, the extreme stress of my husband's situation has led me to take on much less work than normal, meaning I am quite low on funds. If you don't understand how this experience could have prevented me from pitching for work, I'll just leave you with this: I cannot express how deeply troubling it is to look in the face of the man whom you have loved and lived with for the past five years and see a terrified, listless stranger in place of your husband. I'm owed work on two assignments I have published in this time period, and have two more due next week. I can't cover the costs on my own right now.

Now that he's home and recouping, I am first finishing my current assignments, and then plan to return to full-time freelancing.

My husband says he wants to take on two jobs in the kitchen--where he has the most experience--to try to gather our rent, utilities, and travel expenses quickly. Last time he was released from the hospital, he jumped right back into working...and ended up back in the hospital. I am concerned that taking on this level of stress will cause him yet another major setback. I know his intentions are good, but his plan leaves me concerned for his well being, and that of our children, who adore their father and have missed him very  much during his time in the hospitals.

I am hosting this fundraiser hoping you'll understand that we have two toddlers and have lost my husband's income for a full two months due to his mental illness. Now that we have a better understand of my husband's mental health needs, we're all hoping we can finally get him on a path to recovery and functionality in a way we've never been able to do before due to incorrect or incomplete diagnoses.

Any amount helps. Please consider donating. Please share this fundraiser. Please send any resources you have that may help a family coming to terms with a new understanding that a central figure may have schizophrenia. If you have well paying work for a skilled freelance writer (view my credentials and portfolio at; they include Politico Magazine, Vice, Vox, Talk Poverty, Ozy, and HealthyPlace) please send it my way. All of this will help immensely. 

Thank you for reading.

Fundraiser Updates

Posted on March 6, 2018

Posted on March 6, 2018

We did it! YOU did it. THANK YOU to everyone who helped raise the full amount. I'm sitting in Seattle right now thanks to you, and will be surrendering the apartment shortly, after paying off the past-due rent and clearing out my things. Now I get to salvage items I'd left behind but wanted to keep. Now I'll be able to give away perfectly good things that I can't bring with me--in less than an hour someone is coming by to pick up my stand mixer. I'm a little sad; being back in Seattle reminds me how much I love it, and how much independence I am giving up by living in Florida, but I have to remind myself that it's temporary. And there are benefits to a slower pace, like more time and space for writing and healing. Barring the apocalypse, the PNW will be here. I can return, hopefully in a better financial, emotional, and familial place. But for now, thank you for your help.

Posted on March 2, 2018

Posted on March 2, 2018

I'm really excited because at $1,135 total, combined with money I'll be receiving shortly for my work at HealthyPlace, we have enough to pay off February's rent, and if we surrender the apartment in the next few days, because of the condition of the building, we will only owe those days. We won't be able to be evicted! Having low/unconventional income and bad credit has already caused problems with housing--those are basically the reason we were living in the roach+rodent infested, falling-apart-building that we were living in. I can only imagine how much more impossible finding housing would become with an eviction on our record. It would disqualify us from so many programs, and keep us dependent on our families for housing, or co-signership. Your help is allowing my family to have a chance at being independent--which is so important for our recovery, mental health, and living in general.

I lowered the fundraiser goal from $2000 to $1500 because my in-laws covered the cost of travel. I'm still waiting to hear official word, but my husband may be looking at an inpatient hospital stay of several months. This is a distressing prospect, but if it's what he needs then he has to do it. Getting better is more important than anything else. Unfortunately, however, if that happens, he won't be able to get to our apartment before surrendering it, which means he won't be able to get any of his things. If we are able to raise the full amount, I'm hoping to be able to either fly back for a couple days to pick up some of my husband's things and clear out the rest of the apartment, or to stay here but pay for someone else to do those things. I left in such a rush because that's when my in-laws were able to help get my toddlers and I out here, but that means I was too hurried and depressed to get as much done before leaving as is needed. If you're able to help raise the last bit with a donation or a share, you'll be helping wrap up the moving-related part of this chaotic experience. After that, what's left will be hoping+helping my husband gets healthy.

If we are not able to raise the full amount, we have still raised enough to overcome the biggest hurdle. That's huge, and I can't say thank you enough.

Posted on February 25, 2018

Posted on February 25, 2018

When I have a little more free time (probably in the night) I will send individual thank yous out, but I wanted to quickly write up an update; my daughters and I are with my husband's family so we were able to make it out here. My husband is still in the hospital, and his brother is waiting for him to help him get out here when he's ready, but we're concerned because it's been several days since we heard from him, and the new hospital he's been transferred to won't return our calls or give us any information about his status. I understand privacy laws, but I also have a memory and know my husband *always* signed disclosure consents for me. If he's not doing that now, it's a symptom of the mental illness that has caused him to be involuntarily hospitalized. It doesn't make sense for the state to say he's incompetent to care for himself, but then not update a single member of his family about his condition. 

We have over half of the funds needed to pay the rent and not have an eviction on our record, and that is because of you--our donors. THANK YOU. It is an immense relief to know that there are people still willing to help us. We still need to raise or earn about $500 so if you're able to help in any way--through donating or sharing, that would be much appreciated. I think between your help and money I should have coming in from working, we'll be able to do it. I've received a few small paychecks, but those have mostly gone to diapers and unavoidable necessities like that (and, I'll be honest, a few toys for my girls...we weren't able to bring many from home). 

Anyway, we are safe and sound for now--my husband is being taken care of by professionals. My kids and I are safely in a home that we are not at risk of losing. A little sad to leave my hometown and (almost) all of me and my kids' things, but grateful to be safe, and grateful for your help in ensuring that our future is not even harder than it has to be. Things could be much, much worse.

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