A haunting black and white image captures an empty, dilapidated house, shrouded in darkness, echoing the isolation and despair experienced by Linda Bishop in "God Knows Where I Am."

The Tragic Story Of Linda Bishop In God Knows Where I Am

In October 2007, the body of a homeless woman was discovered in an abandoned New Hampshire farmhouse. She had died of starvation after spending four months alone in the vacant building. But who was this mysterious woman, and how did she end up there alone?

The answers to these questions can be found in the harrowing documentary God Knows Where I Am.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: The woman was Linda Bishop, a patient with schizophrenia who walked away from a New Hampshire psychiatric hospital in 2007. She broke into an abandoned farmhouse and lived there alone without food for nearly four months before dying of starvation.

The documentary God Knows Where I Am pieces together Linda’s story through the journals she left behind.

In this in-depth article, we will explore Linda Bishop’s life story, her mental health struggles, the events leading up to her untimely death, and the insights we can gain from her experience as portrayed in the documentary film.

Linda Bishop’s Background and Mental Health History

Linda’s childhood and family life

Linda Bishop grew up in a middle-class family in New Hampshire. She was the oldest of five children and known to be bright, thoughtful and introspective from a young age. However, Linda struggled with feelings of inadequacy and depression during her childhood, exacerbated by a tense relationship with her perfectionistic mother.

Though loving, Linda’s family had difficulty understanding or properly supporting her sensitive nature.

In high school, Linda was a talented writer and artist. However, she became increasingly withdrawn and unhappy. After graduation, Linda left home to attend a small liberal arts college in Vermont. However, within two years she dropped out, unable to focus on her studies while battling worsening depression and anxiety.

The onset of Linda’s schizophrenia

In her early 20s, Linda began exhibiting more severe psychiatric symptoms, leading to a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia. Schizophrenia often emerges in the late teens to mid 20s, triggered by genetic and environmental factors.

Linda’s withdrawal and depression as a teenager may have been early signs of the illness.

Linda started experiencing hallucinations, delusions and disorganized thinking. She believed she was persecuted by evil forces and that a nuclear apocalypse was imminent. Linda’s fears and paranoia alienated her from family and friends.

Over the next decade, she drifted between her parent’s home, psychiatric hospitals, halfway houses and homelessness.

Linda’s recurring hospitalizations

From her mid-20s to mid-30s, Linda was hospitalized dozens of times, often involuntarily committed by her family. Her hospital stays ranged from a few weeks to several months when symptoms worsened. Linda received antipsychotic medications and electroconvulsive therapy with little long-term improvement.

She would stabilize and be discharged, only to decompensate again soon after.

Though she received disability benefits, Linda struggled to live independently outside the hospital. She was unable to keep jobs and housing. Well-meaning but overburdened, Linda’s family reached the painful conclusion they could not provide the intensive support she required at home.

The Events Leading to Linda’s Death

Linda’s time at New Hampshire Hospital

Linda Bishop was admitted to New Hampshire Hospital, a psychiatric facility, in 1993 after exhibiting concerning behavior. As described in the tragic documentary God Knows Where I Am, Linda refused to eat or take medication during her stay, likely struggling with untreated mental illness.

Though the dedicated medical team tried their best, after almost a year it seemed Linda was not improving. Her identity and history remained mysterious to doctors, making treatment difficult. With heavy hearts, they had to make the difficult decision to discharge Linda when her physical health stabilized, hoping she might have a chance at life outside the hospital walls.

Her departure and breaking into the farmhouse

Sadly, after Linda Bishop left New Hampshire Hospital in 1994, her struggle with mental illness persisted. With no family to support her, Linda wandered until finding an abandoned New Hampshire farmhouse, breaking in to take shelter.

Unbeknownst to anyone, this house would become her involuntary home for the next four months, leading to her tragic demise alone in the isolated building.

Linda’s existence alone in the house

As captured in her poignant journal entries discovered after her death, Linda Bishop survived on apples and rainwater for nearly 4 months alone in the farmhouse before succumbing to the harsh New Hampshire winter.

Her writings describe extreme hunger, cold temperatures, and a declining mental state as her isolation continued. On December 13th, 1996, Linda passed away on the floor of the farmhouse at only 38 years old.

Her body was found the next year by the home’s new owner – a heartbreaking discovery of a woman who slipped through the cracks of society. Linda’s journal remains one of the only glimpses into her troubled mind during those final, desperate days.

Piecing Together Linda’s Story

The discovery of Linda’s body

In October 2007, the decomposing body of Linda Bishop was discovered in an abandoned farmhouse in New Hampshire by a caretaker. She was identified through dental records. It was estimated that Linda had died nearly 2 years earlier in December 2005 at the age of 59.

An autopsy revealed no signs of trauma, leaving the cause of death undetermined.

Her journals and writings

Linda had kept detailed journals and writings during the time she was inside the farmhouse. These provided great insight into her daily experience and mental state as she descended into starvation and madness. She documented her foraging for apples and burning furniture to stay warm.

Her writings gave a tragic window into her hopelessness as she waited for God to intervene and increasingly felt He had abandoned her.

Re-tracing Linda’s daily experience

Investigators were able to reconstruct Linda’s daily routine and mindset leading up to her death. After unexpectedly losing her teaching job, Linda drifted for months before stumbling upon the abandoned farmhouse without electricity or running water.

At first she foraged for vegetation, trapped rainwater, and wrote in her journals daily. As winter set in, her supplies dwindled along with her hope. In her final journal entries, Linda was no longer cogent and begged for God to save her or allow her a peaceful death.

Insights from Linda Bishop’s Story

Perspectives on mental healthcare failures

Linda Bishop’s tragic story highlights gaps in the mental healthcare system. After being released from a psychiatric institution, Linda struggled to adjust to daily life and access critical services (estimated 44% of homeless adults have a mental health condition).

Linda’s struggle represents broader systemic failures – limited psychiatric beds, lack of funding for supportive services, and restrictive commitment laws (decline in psychiatric beds while mental health issues rise). Reforms are needed to prevent similar tragedies.

Linda’s resilience despite her illness

Despite schizophrenia’s devastating impact, Linda demonstrated remarkable resilience. She found an abandoned hunting lodge to create a makeshift home, displayed problem-solving skills in harsh winter conditions, and kept a detailed journal of her terrifying ordeal.

Linda’s writing reflects her creativity and intelligence shining through illness. Her will to survive against all odds is a testament to the human spirit. Linda’s story is tragic but also inspiring – she found meaning and purpose despite isolation and fear.

Lessons about human dignity and compassion

Ultimately, Linda’s story underscores the intrinsic human dignity of those with mental illness and our collective duty for compassion. Though she was hidden from society, Linda still sought beauty and meaning in her writing. In her isolation she represented the most vulnerable among us.

Linda’s story calls us to see those with mental health issues as fully human – deserving of understanding and support rather than stigma. It highlights the need for patient-centered reforms so people can access care with empathy and respect for their autonomy.

If we embrace open and wise hearts, tragedies like Linda’s can be prevented.


The story of Linda Bishop, as captured in the film God Knows Where I Am, is tragic yet thought-provoking. While the circumstances of her death were extremely distressing, Linda’s writings reveal her incredible strength even in the face of severe mental illness.

Her life story highlights the need for greater compassion, dignity, and support for those struggling with schizophrenia and homelessness.

Though Linda passed away alone, the insights from her journals ensure her voice lives on. Her story pushes us to consider how we can build a more just and caring society for those who are most vulnerable among us.

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