Wallowing In The Mess Age

Things used to be much simpler before the economic bubble burst, and we developed this homeless problem we’ve got today. I continually find myself amused by stories arising from this situation, like the following one from the Detroit Free Press, Man helps the mentally ill in Grand Rapids.

The people Clyde Sims helps on the streets of Grand Rapids often are homeless, addicted to drugs and sometimes did time in jail. But there’s one thing they don’t want to accept: their mental illness.

Hello!? X is homeless, on illicit drugs, and a jailbird, right? Let’s just give X a 4rd problem. Call X “mentally ill” and put X on prescription drugs. Excuse my math, but I don’t see the improvement.

“They say, ‘Call me anything but crazy,'” Sims said.

I expect some of them have been called many things, some things much worse than ‘crazy’.

It’s his job to change their minds and get them help.

Is this a change for the better, or a change for the worse? And is this “help” we are going for “help”, or just harm mascerading as “help”? Oh, I know…too many questions…

Sims, 63, is a peer support specialist for Street Reach, a Cherry Street Health Services program that seeks out people with mental illness and substance abuse and gets them treatment.

You want to know why we’ve got the “mental illness” problem we’ve got today? Well, if somebody has to seek people out, and seek to change their minds, to convince them that they have a “mental illness”, why do you think we’ve got the “mental illness” problem we’ve got today? Oh, yeah, and on top of the homeless problem?

Sims has hung out under bridges and set up with coffee on the streets of Heartside. He has convinced people to get assessed by Street Reach clinicians and meet with psychiatrists. He has helped them find places to live.

If “mental illness” means a roof over one’s head, and three square meals, for a homeless person. Yeah, sure, that might work…

“When you’ve hurt a lot of people, you want to help a lot of people,” he said. “I want to get them thinking, ‘Maybe I’m not homeless because I’m bad. Maybe I’m bipolar. Maybe I need to get off these drugs.’

Or maybe I’m homeless because I don’t have a house. That one works, too, you know…Maybe I’m abusing drugs or whatnot because I don’t have a job, and I don’t have a house, or an apartment for that matter. Maybe I don’t have a job because the economy is in shambles, and a lot of people don’t have jobs. Maybe the economy is in shambles because some rich bastards are busy screwing over the vast majority of essientially poorer people for the sake of the moolah they rake in doing so.

It’s kind of a big rat eats littler rats world out there, isn’t it?

“God has taken my mess,” he said, “and made it my message.”

If contagious “mental illness” were my message, I’d think about holding my tongue. This is where the message ascends to new, and never before seen, heights of absurdity. We have an epidemic of psychiatric disability in this country, and these self-proclaimed experts in the field would have us escalate that crisis. You can’t sell psychiatric drugs without, at the same time, selling “mental illness”. Of course, they don’t see themselves as increasing the numbers of “mentally ill” in this country. Instead they see it as a matter of finding those “mentally ill” who were there all along. I’ve got news for them. The numbers don’t work. They weren’t there all along.