Editor's note: While aNewsCafe.com's policy is to not publish pieces by anonymous authors, we are making an exception with this post because of the sensitive personal nature between the author and the subject. We have confirmed the author's identity, but have agreed to conceal it.
The author writes about a young family member who suffers from a severe mental illness, someone the author recalls as a once-happy, healthy, well-adjusted girl; a straight-A student, a "beautiful being" - an artist. Her mental condition presented itself in the young woman's late teens. Join me in welcoming this author to aNewsCafe.com as we explore a difficult subject, some of which includes details some readers might find too graphic.
I know the homeless are irritating. I get it. The drug use and the crime used to support it are beyond annoying.
But please humor me for a moment and allow me to give you a view that most don't get. Someone close to me is a paranoid schizophrenic who has lived on the streets for two years. She is afraid of everything. Since she is an adult, treatment is up to her. But she doesn't think she is ill. That's the horrible Catch-22 of mental illness: Someone mentally ill usually doesn't realize they are mentally ill, and our screwed-up laws in California won't allow them to be committed/conserved for treatment, even if all evidence says they should.
Medication would make this person normal again, but since she is an adult, she must ask for it.
How will a sick person ask for something they don't realize they need? Her life is hell. She has been locked in closets and tortured by people who are so evil that they think it's okay to do such a thing. She is repeatedly raped, and used to try to report it, but she's a paranoid schizophrenic, so who is going to believe her? How can a person be sure that what she's saying is true?
I recently located her. Finally. Here is an exact word-for-word quote for you, which came straight from her mouth during the past two weeks: "When they rape me, I just ask them to be careful not to hurt me. Then I go stand on a corner while my thighs cry, waiting for someone to help me. But nobody helps me. They just ask if I'm okay. And when I say I need help they just keep walking."
When she says, "While my thighs cry," she means, "While the semen from my rapist drips down my legs."
Her story is not unique. This happens to women on the streets all the time. And our mental health system, which could help them get into their right mind, is horribly broken. This system is supposed to work, but it does not. This person is in her early 20s. Her life could be changed by medication that she doesn't think she needs; which she cannot be forced to take. She cannot be forced to take it because she has rights.
And you might believe in the system enough to think that if she was a danger to herself or others, she could be 5150'd, put into a facility, and medicated until she returned to her normal self. I thought that, too. I took her to the hospital right here in good ol' Redding. She had decided it was time for help, but they made her wait eight hours. That is an eternity for a mentally ill person. She grew irritated and agitated and wanted to leave. I did everything in my power to prevent it. She got upset with me and starting kicking the crap out of me and tried to push me off the top floor of the parking structure. She was screaming that she would kill me and then kill herself. This was all caught on camera. Security was called. Her mother called and demanded that she be held, but this young woman is an adult, so her mother's words were just "a request".
There was NO ONE from Shasta County mental health present at the hospital. But her mother called them and asked if they could come to the hospital. They refused, but told the mother the precise words to say that would ensure the daughter could be held at least until morning for evaluation; to ask for the charge nurse, and let him or her know that the mother had spoken with Shasta County Mental Health, and someone there said the daughter had to be seen, and by law, she must be treated.
Her mother repeated those exact words and so did I, including the part where the law DEMANDED that she be held in such circumstances. We even showed the texts to the charge nurse that we'd received from the mental health professional -- and read them word for word.
Guess what happened? Nothing. They didn't hold her. Redding Police Department was called to try to force a 5150. They did not respond.
There are things that have happened to this person that I have to block from my mind because I just can't handle thinking about them. Horrible, horrible things. Again, this is not unique.
By the way, do you know that meth used to be used to treat schizophrenia? That being the case, is it any wonder that the mentally ill love to use that drug? It really does make them feel better.
Yep, tweakers suck. Yep, I hate that drug. But it's not black and white. When reality includes sleeping in the bike lane at night because it is close to the roadway and therefore makes a paranoid person feel a little safer from the regular rapes that have happened to her, when that is a person's reality, and when meth provides relief from the reality, is it hard to see why meth is a go-to drug?
Is it funny to joke about the homeless? Sure, if you're entirely heartless. I realize not many people see this side of things. Now you have no excuse. I don't know the answer, but I know it's not funny to make fun of the homeless. You have no idea what hell they live in.
p.s.: She's pregnant with the child of a rapist, and happy about it, because she believes she'll get to keep the baby, and that it will love her when nobody else does.
Funny? I don't think so.