HBO’s Mommy Dead and Dearest documentary is one of those unbelievable tales of terror that’s unfortunately true. It’s about Gypsy Rose, who is a frail girl in a wheelchair with a learning disability, and no hair from Leukaemia. And one day her mom and sole caregiver, Dee Dee, is found viciously murdered.
Gypsy goes missing. Her Facebook status says “That Bitch is dead!” and people start asking if her Facebook is hacked or if she is safe…..
Later, Gypsy is found walking unhindered, with hair and speaking full sentences. Her laundry list of lifelong ailments have inexplicably disappeared since her Mother’s death.
This was my first time hearing about Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy. It’s a mental health problem where a caregiver induces/fabricates mental or physical health problems hoping to gain attention or sympathy from others. It’s an extreme form of child abuse.
This documentary was scarier than a horror film for me. You’ll keep wondering, as I did, how did Dee Dee trick the doctors into a mountain of pills and multiple surgeries? Including a feeding tube that she didn’t need? It’s all very shocking and will make me second guess all doctors’ diagnosis (she had 20+ procedures she never needed – including eye and stomach surgery)
It turns out that Dee Dee lied about Gypsy’s age, her mental and physical health for years to exploit charities such as Habitat for Humanity (for a house), Disney (for trips) and fundraisers for cash and press. Her own had family had disowned her for poisoning a family member (with plant poison), and starving her own mother to death.
When Dee Dee died, her family insists that she had bipolar disorder, multiple personalities, and Munchausen by proxy. But she was never formally diagnosed.
In the crosshairs of Dee Dee’s life, was her daughter Gypsy, whom the system failed to protect and enabled decades of abuse. Which begs the question: how do you report someone with signs of mental illness to prevent escalation and get them help- but not in trouble?
After years of overbearing care, unnecessary surgeries and getting a feeding tube replaced every six months (with no anesthesia) Gypsy couldn’t take the abuse. All her attempts to escape were foiled and met with increased abuse.
I don’t want to ruin the documentary, but as you already know the end, Gypsy, who had mental health issues of her own due to the amount of abuse she incurred, eventually took the life of her abusive mother without conscience.
Gypsy is currently serving ten years, and will be 32 when she’s eligible for parole in 2024. The courts factored in the abuse to eliminate the death penalty or life in prison as the primary option. She says her prison life is still preferable to living with her abusive mother, and that she feels free now.
This is a heartbreaking example of what can happen when mental health goes unnoticed, undiagnosed, and unreported. It makes me want to listen to all of my friends and ask more questions because you never really know what’s going on with people until you ask.
In this case, maybe asking wouldn’t have helped, but sometimes, maybe being a bit nosy to the point of being annoying can actually be a good thing.
This documentary will leave a lasting impression on you and it’s a must watch in my opinion.
If you or a loved one you know battles with any Mental Health Issues, please do get the help you need. If you need to talk to someone now, you can talk to one of the many fantastic therapists at Better Help by CLICKING HERE.
This post was created with the help of Grammarly.
Photo Credit: Greene County Sheriff’s Office