It’s taken me a long time to decide to finally write this. There are a lot of stories about people who have mental issues being homeless, living on the street, and needing better accommodations. There are also a lot of articles that talk about the need to help those who are having these difficulties.

MILF sunset

darkday via Compfight

I’m not going to disagree with any of that because it wouldn’t be fair. However, I am going to disagree with one premise, that being that its up to all of us to try to help these people. I have a story to tell that might put a better light on some of this.

There’s a friend of mine who I’ve known for over 10 years by now. Unfortunately, a few years ago she started to decline for reasons that, at this point, I’m the only person who knows because even she doesn’t know what triggered it. She digressed to the point where she almost died, but at the last minute part of her brain rewired itself to the extent that she couldn’t remember what put her into a drastic downward plunge, and her body decided to let her live.

The problem is that the mental damage has been done. She’s nowhere close to the person that I knew before the breakdown came. There’s always this thing about making sure that folks who are having mental health issues take their medication, and she seems to go back and forth on that, or so I hear now. She’s been thrown out of multiple shelters, done a few other dangerous things, and has spent time in jail for all sorts of things.

I’m not going to deny that she has a hard life right now. What I am going to say is that sometimes another person’s hard life can drag you in and make your life miserable and dangerous. Let me explain one thing that happened.

I may have been the last person who hadn’t totally given up on her when she called me one day from a borrowed cell phone and asked if we could meet for lunch. At that time she told me she was taking me out to lunch and I was a little shocked. Almost every other conversation we’ve had for almost 2 years involves her asking me for money, so in my mind this was an interesting change of events. We set things up so that I would pick her up where she happened to be living at the time; I say it that way because I doubt she’s still there.

I may have lived in my home area of central New York for over 45 years, but I’m not going to say that I’m knowledgeable about every inch of it. It turned out the area I had to pick her up in was not a decent neighborhood, and even though my car was older it still looked pretty good and was expensive when I bought it. So I wasn’t necessarily comfortable having my car parked on that street.

The next problem was going up to the door of the house, which was pretty decrepit and really needed some work and a paint job. Before I knocked on the door I smelled all sorts of things, which included a lot of cigarette smoke, and I heard multiple voices coming from within. Being either brave or stupid I still knocked on the door. When the door opened there she was looking sickly and tired and I started to question my own judgement. I also noticed there were a couple of guys in there, and from what I could see there wasn’t any real furniture in the room as everybody was sitting on something that was on the floor.

She told me she was taking me to lunch, but wouldn’t tell me where. The next thing I know, she’s telling everybody else in the room that I’m taking everybody to lunch. That threw me off because I had thought it was only going to be me and her. I excused myself to go out to the car because I had to clean out the back seat to accommodate more people. For a brief moment I thought about getting in the car and just driving home, and in retrospect I wish I had.


Amber Kost via Compfight

I decided to sit in the car and wait for them to come out. She came out first, and got in the front passenger seat. She started to tell me a lot of the things that had happened to her, and it was a long list of confessions of a life I would have never imagined for any of my friends, but it is what it is. Theft, jail, living on the streets… the list goes on, all told matter-of-factly, which was the face I hoped I was showing as I listened to it.

Within a few minutes three men came out of the house, which I wasn’t expecting, and I started to have a feeling that I was setting myself up for something bad to occur. I didn’t know any of these guys, and she was turning out not to be someone I really knew anymore, and I started worrying about having three male strangers sitting behind me in my car, maybe thinking I was rich and that I had money, and having no idea where we were going because she still wouldn’t tell me. Still, I decided to act like there was nothing wrong, but I had the Spidey senses ready because part of me said that none of them looked as though they would be able to take me down easily without a major fight. That I had to think that way, even though it would have been 3 on 1, was scary.

When all is said and done, she ended up getting me, road by road and turn by turn, to a free lunch cafeteria in an old church that’s now a mission of some sort. I knew early on that this was not a place that was meant for me nor a place I should be, so after a few minutes I asked her to walk across the street with me so I could buy her a good cup of coffee.

Then I asked her to walk with me for a bit, and we ended up at a pizza place that I hadn’t ever noticed before, had a couple of slices and some fairly serious conversation. I knew as I was talking that she was incapable of fully understanding what I was telling her, so once we finished our pizza I told her I had to go. As we walked out the door she did something that shocked and disgusted me, and I knew I was probably seeing her for the last time ever. I haven’t seen or spoken to her since.

Even though things turned out okay, I was upset for putting myself into a potentially dangerous situation on her behalf. This was the third time I’d done that, and was the last time. One would think that I’d have learned my lesson after the second time, when I had the opportunity to talk to a mental health counselor and explain my position and she told me it was best if I stayed away and didn’t even try to help because she was probably beyond reach. I had mentioned how over the past few years I had tried counseling her and she hadn’t been able to accept or act on any of it, and she told me this was proved that her clinical thinking process was off and there was nothing I was ever going to be able to do for her.

Sometimes we have to think of ourselves, our own peace of mind and our safety when it comes to things like mental health, addiction and dealing with other people. It’s nice thing that we want to try to help, but after this, my first real experience with anyone who has ever been this way, I came to realize that it takes specially trained people instead of good intentions to try to help folks get healthy, and hopefully be able to find a way to take care of themselves and contribute to society once more.

I felt guilty for the longest time, but after that last encounter I realized that everything everyone had been telling me was absolutely correct, and that I had nothing to feel guilty about. Sometimes we have to think of our own safety and peace of mind.

This is my story. If anyone has had the same type of experience, or even a better experience that worked out okay, I’d love to hear it.

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