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One Family’s Insane Journey through the Virginia Mental Health System
By Woody Hawthorne

ISBN: 978-1-84747-739-2
Published: 2008
Pages: 126
Key Themes: ADHD, bi-polar disorder, mental health system, autobiography,



Diagnosed with severe ADHD and bipolar disorder, Billy Hawthorne faced a steep uphill battle to control his mental illness and beat his debilitating addictions to alcohol and DXM products, the active ingredient in cough syrups such as Robotussin and Corocidin. Today Billy is managing his mental illness and his addictions and is ready to move on with his life, but not before relentlessly battling a crazy mental health and criminal justice system in Virginia whose plethora of contradicting rules and criteria many times came close to leaving him for dead.

Relive Billy’s 5 year battle through repeated struggles and his ultimate triumph firsthand through the eyes of his father, Woody. It is both Woody and Billy s hope that, through reading this book, other families may be able to avoid much of the pain and craziness that kept Billy from getting better sooner.

About the Author

Woody Hawthorne was born in August 1957 in Schenectady, NY USA. He graduated from the College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA in 1979 and has worked primarily as an Electromagnetic Compatibility engineer in the aerospace industry for the past 29 years. He and wife Janice now live with son Billy in Merritt Island, VA. Woody enjoys playing his guitar, baseball and his favorite pastime sailing.

Book Extract

Since he had also gotten drunk another time that week, I called his probation officer. All he was doing was leaving each day and getting drunk- he again needed to be off the streets. When I called on 26 January 2006, his probation officer was Elizabeth B. When I finally reached her, she was in a foul mood. She made it clear earlier that she didn’t like to talk to parents and clearly felt that Janice and I were just “enabling” him to misbehave. When I reached her, I told her he again drank this week and begged her to violate him so he could get off the streets. Another day like this and we could easily wake up to a dead Billy. Then she told me “You know what? Maybe it would be better for everyone if the next time he attempted to commit suicide you should just not call the police and let him die. And know that would be hard for you and your wife to do, but maybe it would be for the best.”

I hung up on her. That was unbelievable. She must have felt pretty confident there were no consequences for saying anything she felt like for her to say that. No it would not be better if we just “let him die”. It would be better to fight like hell to get him better than to waste a human being and let him die because he was a burden to the system. Again, if Billy died, it wouldn’t bother her a bit, in fact I am sure she has forgotten all about who Billy Hawthorne is now that he is not on her caseload. Janice and I, on the other hand, would NEVER get over him passing away. I think I did what any parent would have done and would continue to do- fight like hell to save their son.


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