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Mental Illness and Homeless People December 16, 2009

Posted by Crazy Mermaid in Mental Hospital, mental illness, Psych Ward.
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Walking the streets of Seattle this afternoon as my husband and I shopped for Christmas gifts, I scanned the face of every homeless person we passed, trying hard to remember the faces of the homeless people I shared three weeks of my life with while I was hospitalized at a mental hospital over a year ago.

Did any of the faces look remotely familiar? Would I recognize anyone if I saw them? Are they still alive? In Jail? Dead? Whatever happened to them?  I would love to have run into any one of them today, to  ask how they’re doing, and  if there’s anything I can do to make their life more comfortable.  What would they say?

Edie, the little cherub looking woman who looked much younger than her 52 years- where is she now? Is she warm and safe? Is her schizophrenia under control with medication?  Did her boyfriend, who visited her in the hospital, marry her like he said he would after her illness was under control? What color was her bride’s dress?

How about Michael, the strapping young bipolar man who taught me that each tear tatoo around someon’e eye symbolizes the life of someone he took.  Micheal had,  in other words, murdered three people. And he so badly wanted to kill his older sister when he was released, which was going to be very, very soon.  Did he kill her? Does he now have 4 tear tatoos?

What of Tonya, the twenty-something depressed Samoan woman?  Each day she was there, she told all of us in group therapy how badly she wanted to kill herself. Even on the day she was released from the mental hospital. Did she succeed in killing herself? I put the odds of her success, if you can call it that, at around 85%. Is she buried somewhere in an unmarked grave? Or is she one of the many people who step out onto the train tracks, not having the guts to actually swallow the pill or pull the trigger themselves? Is she still alive somewhere? I very much doubt it.

Does Terry, one of the most colorful personalities, still think she was from Saturn? Does she continue to speak gobbledygook to people, claiming that it’s the language of her planet?  Is her bipolar disorder and schizoaffetive disorder under control?  How many times has she returned to the mental hospital? It had been 3 times in her 30-something life when I left. Is it now 4?

If it wasn’t for the terrific support system of my friends and family, as well as the wonderful care I continue to receive from my psychiatrist and my mental health counselor, I would be out there on the streets with them.  I was one of the lucky ones.

Where are they now?

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Comments»

1. J - December 17, 2009

I’ve asked similar ?- where are they now? well-written. powerful.

2. Lynn - December 17, 2009

I often wonder the same thing. Living near Wash. DC so many are in the streets. It breaks my heart that we so carelessly deal with people mentally ill as if they were not as real as “normal” people.


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