Fortunate to have mental health

The news is filled with people doing not “normal” things everyday. Fortunately, I had never really borne witness to how someone can go from the relatively normal but a bit odd to bonkers in the blink of an eye. Until now.

A few days ago, my wife and I again decided to take advantage of a balmy night and head for the beach to enjoy a sunset picnic. A lovely evening ensued and after a little walk we headed home.

On our way we noticed a police car U-turn, as if possessed, and race into our apparent complex. We drove on and took another entrance, where, to our horror a policemen stood on our road with a shotgun in his hands. Down the road stood another three police cars.

We were about to go for a little drive, when we realized he was returning the gun to the trunk of his car, so we asked if it was OK to head home.

Given the all clear we drove into the complex. There, lit by the high beam of two cop cars, we saw  our neighbor looking stunned, cuffed and sprawled on the ground with a few officers ensuring he didn’t move.

Now this is a guy that I have seen most days. He was always polite to us and at one stage even asked us if his TV was too loud in the evenings. He would often sit out on the lawn in his camping chair and read a book. When I gave him our old books, his eyes lit up like a christmas tree and he wanted to pay me for them.

Yes, he clearly wasn’t the brightest bulb in the box, and there had been stories about him having a rant with another neighbor, but I just assumed that sometimes people clash. No harm done.

On that night, by all accounts, this generally mild mannered man, suddenly flipped. Threw furniture from his yard, made racist slurs, then grabbed a knife and threatened to kill people. I guess it was at this stage that the police were called and we later happened on the resulting scene.

The next day one of the neighbors was canvassing for letters to the HOA to have him thrown out of the complex and I found myself torn. On the one hand, we have a baby girl on the way and I would not want my wife and daughter to be confronted by someone that could turn into a nutter at anytime. On the other hand I realize that this man needs help and stability…. a lot of help.

Sadly with a health system that is so expensive it is unlikely that he will ever be able to afford to get the support he needs. So, he will end up back with his parents, with whom he apparently argues regularly. What happens when his parents can’t cope anymore? This won’t go away…

It is one of those things we often take for granted, but I thank my lucky stars for my own mental health so well as the plethora of supportive friends and family that have allowed me to arrive at this juncture of my life unscathed of the numerous mental afflictions that could have befallen me. I hope and pray that my soon to be daughter will be able to say the same when she is my age!


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