It is hard to imagine what a homeless person that suffers through a day with mental illness goes through. Let me try to paint the picture for you…
I met this woman who told me that everyone calls her “Sidewalk Momma” in Memphis, Tennessee on Sunday (3/29/2015). She seemed as if she were in a very big hurry, but had trouble telling me why she could not talk for other than to suggest that she owns the Commercial Appeal newspaper and Action News 5 and that she was working on a big story. In a frantic voice she told me that she has a dog (seen sticking its head out of the stroller to the right) that was of a Royal Navy bloodline. She stated, “Another woman killed its siblings.”
I don’t know what a dog from a “Royal Navy bloodline” means, but she would walk from her stroller to me and then back to the stroller and then back towards me while talking over and over again. It was as if she was confused on what to do, where to go and how to get there. The problem is, I don’t know where “there” is, nor did she.
I listened as she talked intently about the dog and she closed every other sentence with, “I’m not crazy.” Before walking away to continue her journey down Summer Avenue she said, “Tell my news crews to meet me here and tell them to hurry.” I told her not to worry, we would tell them. She then apologized for not wearing make-up today. I smiled and said, “Don’t worry about that, you have a lot to get done today.” She said, “Oh good, you understand. Thank you.”
I never argue with someone who suffers from a mental illness. Instead, I listen and move along with their story. However, I don’t indulge in details, I let them elaborate for me. I simply listen with a constant “uh-huh.” I don’t want to belittle someone’s reality, or at least how they see reality.
I cannot imagine her day to day rush through life with her mind imagining huge things she has to get done racing from one location to the other only to be alone without a news crew by her side. The frustration she must feel on a regular basis has to be the most aggravating and overwhelming feeling ever.
I say with sincerity, imagine believing you own a TV station and a newspaper, but always being alone - - never having a close on the story you think you are working on.
On second thought… It is too hard for the average person to imagine what I just described.