In May one evening while watching TV, we heard a quiet knock at our door. My husband answered the door, and in the hall was a young lady who said she was lost. I wanted to turn a blind eye and send her on her way. However, that was not to be. The side of me that aligns with spirit, overthrew my human side that heads to the side of fear and uncertainty first and logic second. After speaking with the girl while my husband tried to find out where she belonged in our building, I discovered that she was lost on many levels. Beneath the confusion was, a bright young lady whose future was yet to be written.
Our society has done a disservice to those who experience bouts of uncertainty. We label people as having mental health issues, but don’t offer any advice on how to help those who feel lost in that dark realm. While it is talked about more now than years gone by, we still have this fear around it. Both in being labelled with the disease and with coming into contact with people who are dealing with it.
I sat with this girl and struggled with my internal thoughts as to how I could help her. I wanted to help; I wanted to have the answer to exactly what one does when someone is asking for help. I kept telling her she was safe, that was all I could muster while thoughts of “what if we don’t find her home” floated through. The truth was, she had been taken to the hospital earlier in the day by the police, who incidentally still had her belongs – which meant her keys to access her home. The hospital after doing their assessment sent her home by taxi. Yes, you read that correctly, they ordered and paid (I assume as she did not have her belongings) for the taxi to deliver her to the address she supplied. This was not the first time I had heard of this happening, and while I understand that our hospitals are overflowing this girl was still in a state of confusion and should not have been left to her own devices.
I have said for years that we have a large mental health problem in our country, and I am sure it is not just our country, others face the same problem. It has been shoved under the rug for so long, with those in power pointing fingers to the next person saying responsibility lies with them to fix or heal the issue. Not just with mental health, but other problems as well, such as, housing, health, jobs, environment, transportation, and the list goes on. At a more personal level, most of us look the other way, believing that we cannot help or make a difference. The reality is we don’t know how to help or what we can do that will make a difference. We have not been educated, and rather than reach out, we turn away, until it happens to us or affects us in some capacity, that is.
I would like to think that we, made a difference the other night. That by offering her a place to sit, something to drink, and help to get her into her apartment, she had a better moment than the ones that lead up to her situation. That the words of comfort and wisdom I offered would leave an imprint on her mind and she would know she was worthy.
Even if I felt my sacred space infringed upon, I am glad we opened our hearts and our home. I wish there were advertisements plastered everywhere about how to help those in distress, outnumbering those beseeching us to buy products. Sadly, there are not. Thanks to a major player, we do get one day a year to “talk”, but that is not enough.
Interesting how the universe works, the next night we watched a program on TV which featured a young man who after surviving, barely, a serious auto accident, has made it his mission to travel the country speaking to at-risk youth. He has a rock band and speaks to youth at their level; he too contemplated suicide during and after recovery, he wondered why he was here. I would say he figured it out. It filled me with so much hope and joy, that I could feel his love and compassion through the screen. He makes an impact on the youth he speaks with and does turn lives around.
I don’t know where our world is heading; each year seems to bring about issues that, while around when I was growing up, have grown as well and are no longer contained to small numbers, but are now threatening to overpower our population. I do know that somehow each of us needs to step up to the plate and do what we can. How that looks, I don’t honestly have the answer. Perhaps, it looks exactly like the other night when we answered our door. Perhaps it is that simple.
I found this poem, written in the 1970s by James Patrick Kinney called “The Cold Within” while surfing the net. It hit home; perhaps we have not arrived at the state of “we are one.” I would like to think we have made great strides to achieving this end, but realize we have more work to be done.
“Six humans trapped by happenstance,
In black and bitter cold.
Each one possessed a stick of wood,
Or so the story’s told.
Their dying fire in need of logs,
The first woman held hers back.
For on the faces around the fire,
She noticed one was black.
The next man looking ‘cross the way,
Saw one not of his church,
And couldn’t bring himself to give,
The fire his stick of birch.
The third one sat in tattered clothes;
He gave his coat a hitch.
Why should his log be put to use,
To warm the idle rich?
The rich man just sat back and thought,
Of the wealth he had in store,
And how to keep what he had earned,
From the lazy, shiftless poor.
The black man’s face bespoke revenge,
As the fire passed from his sight,
For all he saw in his stick of wood,
Was a chance to spite the white.
And the last man of this forlorn group,
Did naught, except for gain.
Giving only to those who gave,
Was how he played the game.
The logs held tight in death’s still hands
Was proof of human sin.
They didn’t die from the cold without
They died from the cold within.”
Copyright (c) 2017 by Marlene Cobb. All rights reserved. You may quote, copy, translate and link to this article, in its entirety, on free, non-donation based websites only, as long as you include the author name and a working link to www.merrlina.com . All other uses are strictly prohibited.