December 02, 2023
Letters to the Editor

Community failed Wheaton man, family

My 20-year-old son has been struggling with his mental health for over a year.

He becomes confused and disoriented, and because of HIPAA laws, as his parents, we are unable to hospitalize him or force him to take his medication without his consent.

Each time, we have convinced him to get assessed when he’s actively psychotic, the hospital speaks with him privately and refuses to admit him. My son is Dillon Durrett of Wheaton, Illinois.

My husband and I have also been struggling to maintain. We struggle financially as we pay out of pocket for my child’s psych bills, and we struggle emotionally, all while I work 50-hour weeks and my husband works two full-time jobs as we continue to care for an ill person who at 19 through 20 years old can’t quite accept that his brain isn’t working right.

As homeowners and taxpayers in Wheaton, we had hoped that we were accepted as part of this community, yet where is our community support? The hospitals failed our child, and our neighbors have certainly forsaken our family.

With minuscule exceptions from Wheaton at large, who has recognized us as a family in need and approached us with words of encouragement, prayer, help or kindness? Our “community” has ignored our challenges and instead spreads fear and misinformation, adding to the already heavy burdens we have been carrying.

Because of these community failings and denial of necessary higher levels of care, my child has self-medicated his psychosis and depression with marijuana given to him freely by the young (and no doubt well-meaning) people in Wheaton who are suffering from an epic drug crisis/culture that no one ever mentions and the “community” continually fails to address.

However, even in times of grief and crisis, my family’s faith stands strong. My child will get the help he needs because my husband and I are forever diligent and will never stop working to get him proper care. And while we are currently bowed, we will not be broken as our God and our faith is almighty.

This too shall pass. Satan lives in fear, lies and filth while we continue to walk in faith, light and love. My son will stabilize and grow from his adversity despite our lack of community support – this “community” be damned.


Mrs. and Dr. Sunni Ali Howard