These Diary Pages From a Woman's Last Days Are Upsetting, Yet Important

by Kristine Cannon
Mar 31, 2017 at 11:00 a.m. ET

Linda Bishop was a well-educated mother from New Hampshire. She suffered from severe bipolar disorder with psychosis. She was homeless. She lived in an abandoned farmhouse for four months and lived off rainwater and apples through one of the coldest winters. And she documented it all in a diary so poignant, captivating and, yes, disturbing, it was turned into a documentary: God Knows Where I Am.

God Knows Where I Am is a study of “systemic failure and also a testament to the artistic and independent spirit of Linda Bishop,” according to the film’s description. It asks the question: If one’s mind is not free, how can one truly exercise free will? It questions societal norms for dealing with the homeless and mentally ill.

The following pages were scanned from Bishop’s diary. Paired along with comments from Bishop’s sister Joan Bishop, you too might just be compelled enough to watch the documentary, which features Footloose actress Lori Singer reading Linda Bishop's words aloud.

Directed by filmmakers and brothers Todd Wider and Jedd Wider, God Knows Where I Am hits theaters in NYC today, March 31, at the Lincoln Plaza. It’ll then release April 7 in LA, followed by a national rollout.

1 /7: 'No one helped me'

1/7 :'No one helped me'

"When reading Linda's journal, I am reminded of her intelligence, sense of humor and insight. At the same time, it is incredibly painful to know how she suffered so needlessly. It is wrenching to hear how lonely she was and how much physical pain she experienced. Her words make me think of all that went wrong with the system and how, if things had been different, she might be here now."

2 /7: 'Have 3 apples saved...'

2/7 :'Have 3 apples saved...'

"The sickness in her mind is what caused her death. Our attitude towards mental illness, the homeless and others who are marginalized in society cause suffering and death that can be prevented."

3 /7: 'The Domestic Violence Center is not the answer...'

3/7 :'The Domestic Violence Center is not the answer...'

"There are several critical junctures throughout the system where, had something different occurred, the result would be entirely different. No one group or entity is to blame. The failures of the system as a whole contributed to her death."

4 /7: 'I love my husband so much...'

4/7 :'I love my husband so much...'

These failures happened at all levels of the process: the courts, the mental health system, and the hospital. At each stage, there were individuals who attempted to do their best, but a more coordinated approach is necessary to make the system effective."

5 /7: '13th day without food'

5/7 :'13th day without food'

"This film is important for everyone to see and understand. Tens of thousands of individuals battling mental illness not only fight the illness but the stigma of mental illness along with the failing, fractured system. This is unacceptable in today's world where mental illness can be treated successfully."

6 /7: 'Too weak, too much pain'

6/7 :'Too weak, too much pain'

"Laws need to change, procedures need to be revised, policies need to be reexamined in light of what we know about the illness, society needs to be educated and our attitudes towards those with the illness need to be enlightened."

7/7 :'Epiphany'

"Hopefully Linda's story will bring this important social issue to the forefront so that a discussion can begin at all levels to prevent such future horrific deaths."