God Knows Where I Am

How a schizophrenic woman in New Hampshire starved to death one winter, in plain sight.

On May 3, 2008, the body of Linda Bishop was found in a Concord, N.H., farmhouse, and Jedd and Todd Wider’s documentary God Knows Where I Am uses the compulsive diarist’s notebooks and interviews with family and others to trace how Bishop went from a dedicated mother to a diagnosed-but-untreated schizophrenic who began squatting in the farmhouse in October of the year before. It was the start of one of the harsher Concord winters on record.

The house was uninsulated but not isolated — it’s pointed out that a neighbor’s TV was visible through the window — and Bishop died of starvation by mid-January, the culmination of years of homelessness alternating with institutionalization. We’re introduced to the psychiatric term “rotting with their rights on,” referring to clinically ill patients who are legally allowed to refuse treatment; the phrase ties in with the movie’s recurring images of shrinking piles of apples on the house’s floor, representing the roughly 300 apples Bishop hoped would keep her alive until the imaginary “Steve” rescued her. Unlike the thematically similar Off the Rails — also an indictment of a system that fails to help those who need it the most, but which at least ends with some hope — God Knows Where I Am is as bleak as a New England winter.

God Knows Where I Am
Not rated.
Opens Friday at the Roxie Theater.

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