In need of medication

She panhandles on my way to work and has for years.  She’s not always there, leading me to believe that she’s not always homeless.  Or, that she’s getting some kind of relief and doesn’t always need money. 

She is an attractive woman.  Her hair is usually neat and clean and tied in a kerchief and usually, her nails look nice.  This says that she has a place to clean up and maybe someone looking after her part time.

But, she is so obviously in need of mental health assistance.  And, like so many others in our country, for one reason or another, she’s not getting it. 

At one time, she would have been rescued over and over in the optimistic hope that one day, with the right help and medication, she’d be able to take care of herself.  But, under today’s mental healthcare budget, most of the mentally ill get one or maybe two chances and if they can’t find a way to be self sufficient within those opportunities, and if there’s nobody to advocate for them, they get left behind.  And, so many of them end up on the streets.

Talking to themselves.  And, I don’t mean “I need to remember to pick up milk on the way home” talking to themselves.  More like debating; asking questions and answering them; discussing their important subjects.  She’ll walk up to the car and take money, but I can tell she has a real hard time separating herself from what is happening in her mind enough to say Thanks.  But, she always manages to get out a Thank you before the conversation with the unseen person begins again. 

It tears at my heart.  But, it has helped me to realize that there is only so much I can help as an individual.  I can continue to hand help through the car window and I can vote for people that feel like I do when it comes to what we spend our tax dollars on.  But, I can’t get her off the street.  I can’t take her in and change her life. 

And, I’m not sure I’m put here to actually change people’s lives anymore.  Remember those big conversations in college where we were going to change the world with the power of our convictions?  It didn’t work out that way for me.  So, I’ve found my little ways to help and I practice them with a wild abandon. 

(And, to the naysayers that complain that she buys cigarettes or booze, if I was in her place, I’d likely be smoking two at a time, alternating inhales with swigs of rotgut, just to ease the pain and get it over with quicker.  And, it is not my place to judge how those I choose to help decide to be helped.  It is only my place to help.  In case they need food.)

Rob is home this morning, getting to observe our normal morning routine.  He is taking the dog back to the vet.  She’s gotten better, but not better enough and seems not to be getting better than that, so it’s time for our regular doctor to give it a chance.

Still no word on the job.  Waiting.  Waiting.  Waiting.  The thing I probably do worst is waiting.

Be well.  Have a great Thursday.  Lane


Coloradolady said...

I run into that statement a lot with people..."I'm not going to give them money because of what they will buy with it....." it drives me insane, and I try to tell them the same thing, it is not YOUR place to judge. I tell them, if they feel "GOD" has told you to give, you should give and let him worry about the rest. I just shake my head at the Hippocratic behavior of so many I know. Sad.

You have a good heart Lane, and do make a difference by doing what is right in the world we live in which is so wrong for so many. Keep doing what you know is right....you are one of the few who gets it!

Elizabeth said...

There's such a stigma about mental illness. You can't see it on an x-ray and it doesn't hurt like a cut or scrape. So, it must just be all in your head, right? (I love a good play on words.) It is different for every person. It takes months and years of fine tuning to get the right treatment. And it is sad that so many people don't get the treatment they need.

Lane, you are a good man. I like the way you see the world. And you inspire me to do a little more than I already am. Thanks for sharing today.

Oh, and I hope that things go well with Mable at the vet and he can figure out what is wrong with her.

xo -E

Kate said...

oh my dear - you are wrong about not changing the world. We all change the world every day - you have raised a kind, compassionate daughter - you have helped many understand what a gay-parented family is like, and that it's just not so darned different from a straight-parented family. Both of those are big - and they have changed all the people who interact with them. You have given some kids a warm blanket to snuggle in. And you help this woman get through the day. For her, that is huge... you give a lot, friend.

Samantha said...

Thank you for sharing. I see the world the same way you do. I agree that even the little we can do is a great help to those who need it and it does change things a little at a time.

So many people have completely given up, thinking that the little bit they can try to help others doesn't do any good so why even try? Even I have fallen victim to that thinking when money has been so tight it was all I could do to dig around in the cup holder and give the homeless guy the change I could scrounge up. He was grateful, which told me that what I could do wasn't useless to him.

Alison said...

There was an interesting article in the Portland Mercury about panhandling; the person who wrote the article interviewed 50 people last month and, among other things, found out that the most common thing that they spent money on was, indeed, food.

Link to article:

Kath said...

Here in England a massive percentage of people living rough have mental health issues. The highest number of rough sleepers is in Westminster, London, followed by, surprisingly, the coastal county of Cornwall.

Linda said...

What a sad situation. I have a son living in Portland, Oregon. When we visited him last year, we noticed nearly every family at his church took a huge plastic garbage bag home. When I asked about, he told me those held the laundry of homeless families. Each family took a bag and brought everything back clean and folded. They did this every week. These families were living in shelters, and not truly out on the streets. (Although they were without a permanent home.) They also volunteered to drive them around to interviews, doctor appointments, etc. They took van loads of food to the shelter, which is supported by many different denominations. It made me think about just how little I have done to help out. (My husband keeps money in his car just for handing out.) Your post made me think about my attitude. Thank you!