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Don’t Call Me Crazy Just Because I am Homeless

By | Jul 9, 2013

80_ChineSo what if the stress of living on the streets is so intense that I’m sometimes incoherent?

So what if the terrible memories of the battlefield make me lash out at the people around me?

So what if I am so confused and disoriented that sometimes I stroll down the sidewalk like a zombie?

Am I crazy? Aren’t we all a bit crazy?

I see you driving by me when I’m standing at the freeway off-ramp. You scream at other drivers like they just murdered your mother. You look more stressed out than me, like you’ve been working 80-hour days for a month. Talk about looking like a zombie.

If you want to see crazy, just sit in a city council meeting—in any city, for that matter—while they discuss whether or not they should place a homeless shelter in a local neighborhood. The people scream at their elected officials, veins bulging out of their necks ready to explode.

“Don’t let those sex fiends rape our children!” they say. The accusations are irrational, even crazy. I’m more worried that some suburban teenager is going to beat me with a baseball bat.

Aren’t you a little crazy for being a part of a society that allows its citizens to roam the streets like animals? You belong to a nation that is one of the wealthiest in the world, yet part of your population lives like its in the poorest.

Isn’t that crazy?

You allowed your political leaders to expel people like me from mental health hospitals decades ago. The reasoning back then was that these insane asylums weren’t fit for human habitation. But is living on the streets better? Even a “crazy” person like me knows it’s not.

I think labeling hurting people like me with words with fancy words like schizophrenic, paranoia, or borderline personality disorder makes you feel sane. Important. Superior. Even so, when you go home to your stucco-wrapped house on Wisteria Lane, you drink yourself to sleep or struggle with your third marriage. But you don’t think you’re crazy.

Sure, I sometimes talk to imaginary people. They feel real to me.

I know I’m sometimes like a shy cat, afraid of my own shadow. You walk by, and I crouch like a tiger ready to pounce. I know that’s not “normal.”

At night, when I hear noises, sometimes I think it’s Viet Cong or Al-Qaeda insurgents coming to kill me. I would rather hide in the hills or on the beach, with the sounds of wind or waves to soothe my rattled nerves. I know my struggles with the past are not healthy.

Those imaginary people, fears, and noises can sometimes suffocate my sense of reality. I’d rather drink than endure the haunting ghosts swirling in my imagination.

I need help.

I need medical attention and housing. I need a human support system. I need help, even though I might spurn offers of assistance.

Maybe I’m a little crazy. But so are you.

 

 

2 Comments

  1. Posted Jul 9, 2013 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    Hi Joel;

    I'm a follower and a big fan, and I often include links or even excerpt parts of your essays (fully credited!) in my blog ** Homelesscide – "Life On The Street" **. This is a poem I wrote that echoes your sentiments here. It is included in my little book of poems =

    Talespinner Or Insanity From The Inside;
    An addict writes on love, life, loneliness, recovery and salvation

    David B. Cluster

    Inner Vision
    ********
    Don't tell me about MY reality
    *Don't try to delineate MY illusions
    YOU have not walked in my shoes
    *YOU have not lived in my skin
    —-
    Where YOU see a crazy man
    *Talking to himself on the bus
    I see a kndred soul
    *Crying out for solace to a deaf world
    —-
    YOU may have some sympathy
    *But you'll never understand
    YOU see only the facade
    *I see Insanity from the Inside
    —-
    Where You see a diamond
    *Sharp edged bright and beautiful
    I see a house of mirrors
    *Trapping me in the midst of endless reflections
    —-
    So DON"T tell me about MY reality
    *If I can't define it
    How the Hell can YOU
    *Blinded by the light of your ego
    ——–
    dbc…1/11/00

    Keep up the great work;
    Dave

  2. Joel John Roberts
    Posted Jul 13, 2013 at 5:32 am | Permalink

    Thank you, David. Really awesome piece!