My friend Madame DeBarge told me that Rusty Yates remarried yesterday. Who is Rusty Yates? Why, he is the man who encouraged his wife, Andrea Yates, to do things that put her at risk of becoming psychotic. He’s the one who stood by and watched his wife become progressively more ill, and who did nothing to help her. Eventually, Andrea drowned their five children. I couldn’t find a link to a story announcing Rusty’s happy event, so I’ll just link to this story about Rusty moving on. Just in time, too, Rusty. Andrea’s retrial starts tomorrow! But Rusty’s a stand-up guy:
Yates continues to stand by his ex-wife, who has pleaded innocent by reason of insanity.
Excuse me (sniff). I think I have something in my eye. (cries quietly) Oh Rusty, you are an honorable man! What a way to help Andrea!
Let’s review what happened, shall we?
Andrea, Rusty, and their 4 oldest children lived on a bus. Conditions were obviously stressful, and to make matters worse, Andrea came under the influence of Michael Woroniecki, the minister who sold them the bus. What kind of influence was Woroniecki?
He preached, “the role of women is derived from the sin of Eve and that bad mothers who are going to hell create bad children who will go to hell.” Andrea was so totally captivated by Woroniecki that Rusty and Andrea’s family grew concerned.
The stress built and built. Andrea attempted suicide, was hospitalized and released with medications. She didn’t take the meds. If you’ve never been on antidepressants and/or antipsychotics, you have no right to judge her decision. These drugs can cause extreme illness, so it’s understandable when patients stop taking them. This reaction, stopping medication, is why it’s so important for other people to be involved in caring for a person with mental illness. Maybe Rusty couldn’t figure out that Andrea wasn’t taking her medication. Well, it turns out that the symptoms were obvious:
… she began to self mutilate and refused to feed her children because she felt they were eating too much. She thought there were video cameras in the ceilings and said that the characters on television were talking to her and the children. She told Rusty about the hallucinations, yet neither of them informed Andrea’s psychiatrist, Dr. Starbranch. On July 20, Andrea put a knife to her neck and begged her husband to let her die.
Andrea was a little too sick to tell her doctor about these problems. Rusty, presumably was not suffering a terrible illness, yet he did nothing until a knife was at her throat. Andrea was hospitalized, and responded very well to medication. Not all patients do respond to meds, so this was wonderful news. She was presribed Haldol, an antipsychotic. It stopped Andrea’s extreme symptoms, like hallucinations. However, the psyciatrist warned Rusty and Andrea that pregnancy would be very dangerous. Getting pregnant could cause more episodes of psychosis for Andrea.
Life seemed to be going well for the Yates. They moved out of the bus and into a house, and Andrea was taking her medication. Andrea resumed old activities, and seemed to be managing motherhood and her life well.
In March of 2000, Andrea, on Rusty’s urging, became pregnant and stopped taking the Haldol.
How could Rusty do this? Why would he knowingly encourage his wife to do something so incredibly dangerous? He wanted a child? They already had four kids. They could have adopted. But in spite of the doctor’s warning, and in spite of the couple’s experience, he wanted her to get pregnant again.
After her daughter was born, Andrea’s father died, and she began to crash. She wouldn’t feed the baby, she wouldn’t drink anything, and she mutilated herself, and “frantically read the bible”.
By the end of March Andrea returned to a different hospital. Her psychiatrist, Dr. Mohammed Saeed, treated her briefly with Haldol but discontinued it, saying that she did not did not seem psychotic. Andrea was released only to return again in May. She was released in 10 days and in her last follow-up visit with Saeed, she was told to think positive thoughts and to see a psychologist.
Think positive thoughts? Dr. Saeed seems to have the same mindset as Rusty Yates: Even if you’re dangerously ill, don’t bother me. She didn’t “seem” psychotic? That’s a statement worthy of a layperson, who doesn’t know what they’re talking about. Dr. Saeed is a psychiatrist, a medical doctor trained in the specialty of mental illness. A woman with a serious psychiatric history that includes suicide attempts and psychosis is just not released without medication and told to think positive thoughts! Would he deprive a diabetic of insulin and tell them to just “visualize low blood sugar”?
Two days after being released, Andrea drowned her five children. Immediately after being taken into custody, she explained that she was a bad mother and was condemning her children to hell. She was corrupting her children through her own vile flaws, so she had to do the only thing she could to save them from hell.
Andrea Yates was obviously and profoundly ill long before she killed her children. The two people who could have prevented this from happening were her husband and her psychiatrist. Andrea did not kill her children in cold blood; she killed her kids as a last-ditch effort to save them. Don’t discount what she believed because it doesn’t make sense. Her logic was rooted in her psychosis. She lost the ability to think clearly and to make reasonable choices. She was severly mentally ill and she was not getting any help for her illness. Andrea desperately needed help. Her children desperately needed help. Those kids had a psychotic mother and a father who didn’t give a rat’s ass about his family. They were in trouble long before the day they died.
Tomorrow, Andrea will be on trial for murder for the second time. The one person who could not be responsible for her actions is being held responsible. Rusty Yates is free to do whatever he wants. Dr. Saeed is free to live his life. Andrea has to live with the fact that she killed all of her children. I can’t imagine the pain she suffers. All of this could have been avoided. Happy honeymoon, Rusty!