Mental illness does not care who you are – it can invade your life.
After spending 20 years working in a state mental facility I have had the opportunity to serve many diverse individuals. Not once in those 20 years has one homeless mentally ill person come in and said said that when they were younger they had the goal in their life to " grow up live on the streets, be hungry broke and mental".
Yes I know there are people that play the system to get that "crazy check" and nothing truly be wrong with them other than being to lazy to get a job. Yes they have said "I am not going to work, I want a check" I have thought about the homeless alot since the floods in Nashville Tennessee because down town does have a lot of homeless people. I read a post on facebook recently about someone had seen a homeless person that ask for money or something to eat. They were fuming because they entered their space and ask them.
I understood her point that if you hand someone money they could go buy a bottle of Mogen David aka MD 20/20 for $2.99. Let me ask you a question. If you lived on the street would you want to be sober? I would be scared to death. Inside that bottle is a tad of courage or even sleep.
A lot of the mentally ill are homeless because they have burnt all their bridges so to speak. They have made wrong choices. Their mental illness prevents them from being able to hold down a job. Most of them have had numerous of jobs not just one or two. The education level that mental ill clients have will stun you. Harvard grads Doctors, nurses, teachers (not that they surprise me with todays kids) lawyers, stay at home mom's, people who have gotten a divorce and lost all they had, people who have lost a child, When was the last time you wanted to run out of money?
There is a man I will call John who comes in around December each year. He has been homeless since he was around the age of 30. He lives in a small town where everyone knows each other and each time he and his mother would get into an argument the law was called. Most of the time the argument was over him taking his medication. He once told me that he hated leaving the hospital because he felt good and once he left he could not get a job so he would not be able to pay for the $1200.00 worth of medication he was taking while he was there. At the time of discharge his mother no longer wanted him in her home. I could understand with all the things they had been through. He said he had nowhere to go but the streets. He could sleep in the shelter if there was a bed available but most of the time they ran out of beds. Can you even imagine for one second knowing that when it got dark outside that you had to find a place to sleep that was safe?
Your mental illness is now without medication and most of them hear voices and are paranoid. Add all that together with having to go to bed at night hungry, sick and under a tree or a bench. If this was me …I can totally understand why they drink and do drugs, so they do not have to think and really know where they are. Can you remember the last time you were running low on money in between pay checks and you had to really pinch pennies or go with out. Maybe you even struggled to see which bill you should pay and which one would have to wait. Imagine that next check not showing up that you were expecting. What would that do to your life? I am not promoting drinking, drugs homelessness.
Not all the ones that are out there want to be there. I have never talked to a person who was brought into the hospital that said I don't mind being hungry every night, and not able to take a bathe, and like sleeping under the stars and in the unpredictable elements. I have even been told how they will go things out on the streets to get caught an arrested to be warm, fed, and a place to sleep. It makes you stop and think… my life is not that bad after all.
All of us need some help at some time. The staff and volunteers at the Rescue Missions truly care about the persons they serve, and are more than willing to assist. Though we often see people going through tough times, we know through God’s grace and some assistance, life will get better. Nashville Rescue Mission exists to serve people who need a hand up out of difficult circumstances, whether that means a hot meal, a warm place to sleep for the night or help recovering from an addiction. Most of all, it means we are here to share the love of Christ.
Angela Brooks is a leading distributor of Young Living Essential Oils. Dedicated to natural health solutions, Brooks provides people with healing alternatives without harsh side effects. Additionally, Brooks is a mental health nurse committed to bringing mental happiness to the nursing profession by motivating and supporting nurses around the country.
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