Their Voices Will Not Be Silenced

November 29, 2019-

I read, a few days ago, about a homeless man in the Phoenix area, who had committed a heinous crime, whilst suffering psychiatric illness.  The story stated that this man had been passed through the Arizona mental health system, for over a  decade.  He had enough of an understanding of his own condition to ask for a shower and a follow-up appointment with one of the original counselors who had first met with him, when he was brought into a facility, by the police.  These requests were denied, according to the newspaper account, and he was back on the street, largely against his wishes.

In Maricopa County, there are at least a dozen agencies, which purport to address mental health issues.  I once worked, briefly, for the agency that, also briefly, worked with the man in question.  I was not successful in my endeavours with that agency, partly because of my also serving as Penny’s caretaker and partly because the ego feathers of the agency branch’s leadership were ruffled by my personality and manner of talking with my clients.  The agency, in the case cited above, was one of several which dealt with that man, and somehow they all dropped the ball, not knowing of each others’ presence in his life.  He remains a person whose only security comes when he is incarcerated.

I mention this, because in dealing with the mentally ill, each of us finds self in  a bind, of sorts.  When someone dear to me faced a severe mental illness, many years ago, I chose to address the matter head-on, but not address it alone.  There was a team of professionals, who helped solve many of the problems and it was left to me and others close to this person, to resolve  the rest.  We were, however, not left alone and the person has gone on to lead a masterful life.

I have had a few people present their issues to me, over the years, both in Phoenix and here in Prescott.  Two of these people stayed with my family and me, during the last two years of Penny’s life.  We were able to help one of them orient his life, but the other was a work in progress, when I moved to Prescott.  At that time, my own grief was still raw and I was the one who needed compassion.

Time passed, I was able to help one homeless man get situated and centered, albeit with some difficulty.  Once he trusted in the agencies with whom I put him in contact, things went better.  The second person I tried to help, at the behest of a mutual friend, turned out to be someone who had already tried all the resources I recommended, and was irritated by my personality and foibles, to the point where we are no longer in contact.

The beat goes on, and I am open to those who have difficulties, who don’t know to whom else to turn.  I will maintain, to anyone who is suffering mental or emotional health difficulties, to not rely on social media for resolution, nor to rely on any one person for same.  I am a loving soul, but I am also far from perfect and the last thing I want is for my own lifestyle, activity level or personal mental state (mild Asperger’s/autism) to waylay the progress of a person whose viewpoint, regarding  that progress, is at variance with how I see things.  I had a brief online conversation, this evening, with such a person. Besides, each of us is marvelous complex.

That individual is right about something, though.  Mental illness is anything but a laughing matter.  You will not find me including someone else’s affliction as a punchline, in my repertoire of jokes.  He’s also right about people paying attention to his problems.  That attention, first and foremost, needs to start with family and one, committed team of professionals, of the individual’s choosing, in consultation with family.  Random people, no matter how compassionate they are, can’t direct a suffering soul towards the light, in the way that family can.

The voices of the suffering will not be silenced and they will not “go quietly into that good night.”

2 thoughts on “Their Voices Will Not Be Silenced

  1. Hi Traveler, Good Saturday ,,, Christmas is now 25 days away ! UGH

    A long time ago, my husband was diagnosed Bi-Polar II Rapid Cycling. In the beginning, it was very difficult. One, finding the right doctor and two finding the right medication. Over the first year, all the medication he was given stripped away an entire side of his brain, leaving me with half the man who came out the other end. i documented very piece of data that took place, over the past fifteen years. Mental health professionals here in Montreal, are few and far between. Needless to say, I have a Master File on Bi-Polar disorder.

    Many of our young people, in our rooms, suffer from one problem or another. In the past, I took all the data I had amassed and tried to help where I could, like you said, family can do what an individual cannot. Where I could be of service I was, and where I could not, I wasn’t. At one point, attempting to help my kids in the rooms, I had to get their parents involved as well.

    Because I have learned that those who suffer from mental health issues, in our rooms, do so alone. So having a “Second set of Eyes” on them is paramount. For my husband, I was that second set of eyes.

    When I attempted to get families involved with the care of their sons, every single one of them failed, telling me that they could not be bothered in helping their kids get better, because they had lives to live and that they just could not waste time helping someone other than themselves. It was too much to handle alone, the need was too great for just one person, and like I said, mental health assistance is slim on the ground here.

    For a few years now, I have a couple of friends whom I have tried to help. They are now married, but are in such a deep hole, that I have failed to make any upward progress in helping them. Their family is involved, albeit from a safe distance. Social services are involved along with the local mental hospital called the Douglas. The cycle is always the same. I get a call or a text, when light shines upon them. But when I engage, nothing I say does any it of good, and silence falls. for months at a time. It also does not help that they are sunk in addiction as well as mental health issues. There is only so much I can do myself. And according to Jordan … We cannot help someone who does not want to be helped.

    Mental health is such an issue here, and so many people are going without. Not enough doctors, and medication is not cheap, if you can find a reputable doctor who will prescribe it. The kicker there is this: Follow up is non existent. Doctors will do an intake or a first appointment, then fail to commit to long term observation, so long term mental health care does not exist, except for the very lucky.

    The Police here, cannot be trusted, they continually fail everyone, but most especially the mentally challenged and homeless populations, also including our Native and Inuit populations. The police won’t take someone in need where they need to go, what they do is just put them in the car, and drive them to another section of the city, so residents won’t see them in their particular neighborhoods. So they dump them on some one else’s so called door step.

    Homeless shelters are doing multiple duty in caring for those in need and trying to help the mentally challenged within their shelters. I see this every Sunday morning at the Old Brewery Mission where I work on Sunday mornings.

    There are not enough “Second Sets Of Eyes,” for everyone who needs them.

    I cannot help everyone who needs it, and it might seem selfish, but I know where my strengths are, and what my weaknesses are too. I do what I can, but I have to draw a line with people who don’t seem to want to listen to anything I say to them. If people don’t want help, then I cannot help them get them where they need to go, or help them with what I can, on any given day.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Like you, Jeremy. I can’t help everyone who needs it, nor can I be at anyone’s beck and call-other than my son & daughter-in-law, my mother or my siblings, and then within reason. So, we each do what we can, for those who would just like SOMEONE to show caring and respect.


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