She looks like she may be twenty-five. At first, she asks me for a bag for her socks. I hand her one and smile.
“My name is Marie,” she says.
She sees the bag of combs that my friend has. “Can I have the purple one?” she asks.
My friend hands her the purple one and Marie explodes in disorganized hallucinations. “You changed the color and the size. Why did you do that? I wanted the purple one. 250,000 soldiers are going to die for what you did.”
Her rant continues and she walks away. The other homeless people on the park bench look away.
Harry says in a low voice, “She’s real bad today. Some days she has it under control.”
Marie comes back. She beings to shout. “You are a werewolf. You should not have changed the combs. You are a vampire. The devil is going to eat you inside out.”
As she becomes more violent and disorganized in her movements, I stand up. “It’s okay. We are going now.”
She continues to shout but in an empty direction. I’m not sure she sees us.
Harry says “She’s off her meds. She gets like that. You better leave.”
So we leave.
I check my reference book to see if there is anyone I can call to help her. Nothing is listed for homeless people who are mentally disturbed. I refuse to call the police. From past experiences, I know that they will throw her in jail after a strip search at the station. They may or may not send her to a hospital.
There are so few resources for mentally ill homeless people. If she had family, or identification, or friends with money, she could get treatment.
In the car, my friend and I brainstorm possible agencies we could call to help this woman. Everyone we call says the same thing—there is nothing we can do.
At these times, it is hard not to feel bitter and frustrated at our health system. A member of my family has recently been admitted to a psychiatric hospital for care. She has a family and a trust fund to provide her with care. Marie has no one.
It is dificult to go back to my apartment with a door, a bed, a living room filled with books and a safe place for me to be.
Today has been a crushing experience.