By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Whether her symptoms were related to the accident, as her brother believes, or whether Elizabeth was experiencing the first tremors of bipolar disorder -- which typically "presents" in late adolescence or early adulthood -- in the spring of '91 Elizabeth began suffering from persistent headaches and coming home from school depressed. "She'd say that she'd been in class, that it was 10 minutes after class had begun, and before she knew it, it was the end of the class and she had no recollection of what had happened between the beginning and the end," Kathy recalls. She told her mother that marijuana helped her headaches, but she was having other substance-abuse problems, too: Occasionally Kathy would come home to find her daughter passed out, drunk.
Kathy took her daughter's complaints seriously, but she had a hard time finding anyone in the medical community who would do the same. One neuropsychologist, assuming Elizabeth's problems stemmed from the accident, diagnosed her with "post-traumatic adjustment reaction with mixed depression and anxiety and self-defeating personality traits" (a diagnosis a psychiatrist who later evaluated Elizabeth, Dr. Ari Kalechstein, would call "puzzling." "[T]he extant literature on diagnostic syndromes does not include a disorder called 'post-traumatic adjustment reaction,'" he wrote in court documents). A second concluded that her memory loss and troubles at school had all been because she'd smoked pot.
The Fabers had raised their children in a deeply religious environment. Mark spent his 20s in the service of Campus Crusade for Christ; Jonathan claims that the family "went to church five times a week." There were members of their church who insisted that Elizabeth's problems were moral, not physiological. But the Fabers were neither dogmatic nor superstitious enough to pin Elizabeth's troubles on a spiritual crisis. Kathy kept looking for answers, and finally found a neurologist who sent Elizabeth home with a prescription for Elavil, an anti-depressant also used to treat migraine headaches. But Elavil did nothing but make Elizabeth "numb and slow," Kathy says, and while she managed to get into college, her headaches, memory lapses and increasingly mercurial behavior caused her to drop out within the year. Eventually, she followed her brother to Los Angeles.
And at first, Jonathan was happy to have her. He got Elizabeth a job at Harmony Films, a production house where he was working as a runner. "I thought the two of us would take this town by storm," he says. "I saw us in Peoplemagazine, a brother-and-sister creative team." Instead, he saw his sister "pretty much go insane before my eyes."
One night, Jonathan, Rachelle and Elizabeth were taking turns inhaling nitrous oxide from balloons, an activity that usually results in an exhilarating head-buzz lasting a few minutes. Most people are satisfied after one or two hits, but Elizabeth couldn't stop. Jonathan estimates that his sister did 100 balloons before he physically dragged her away from the tanks. She went off to take a nap, and when she woke up, she was lost in delusions.
"She said she saw demons and angels flying around the room, and she had a look in her eye like there were definitely some extra chemicals coursing through her body," Jonathan says. "She was screaming, the worst-sounding screams I'd ever heard, and crying as if the whole weight and sorrow of the world was on her shoulders. We said, 'What's wrong Lynn?' And she said, 'You have to believe, you have to believe, you have to believe' and went on a tear about the end of the world, that the end of the world was the next day."
Jonathan almost hoped she was right. "Anything would be better," he said, "than having my little sister go crazy."
The next morning, in the offices of Harmony Films, Elizabeth tried to organize a prayer meeting to prepare for Armageddon. "The head of operations was like, 'Jonathan, you've got to get her out of here -- we've got clients for Budweiser coming in!' Then he asked me what drugs she was on. I said, 'I wish it were that simple.'"
Jonathan ultimately took his sister to the emergency room at County/USC, where she was placed on a 72-hour involuntary hold. Elizabeth had been dropped from her parents' health insurance, but Kathy quickly had her reinstated, and transferred to Ingleside Hospital, where she was injected with Haldol, a neuroleptic sedative, and diagnosed with "organic delusional disorder, nitrous-oxide and marijuana abuse."
Elizabeth was held for eight days at Ingleside. "Not long enough," says Kathy. When Mark came to visit, "Lynn was 'cycling,'" he says. "She'd be animated and paranoid and frustrated, yelling at me about how important it was that I call her Elizabeth, calling herself 'Queen Elizabeth,' telling me that she was pregnant and that Jesus was the baby. And then she would shut down completely, just kind of be there and stare." Mark was shocked at his daughter's condition, but even more shocked to learn that the psychiatrist's plan was to discharge her to her father's care. "He knew that I lived in Maryland and Lynn lived in Los Angeles," Mark says. "But he didn't seem to understand what that meant." Another psychiatrist Jonathan consulted at the time predicted that Elizabeth "would continue to be a challenge to the mental-health community," a forecast Kathy calls "prophetic."
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