Not everyone has the good fortune to talk with people who “live the life” in the street or at a level of extreme poverty. I’ve had that opportunity on many occasions for reasons not relevant here.
But every time I listen to such an individual talk about his everyday life, I learn something new, or am reminded how incredibly lucky I am. Yesterday it happened again. In the middle of the chat, I learned about the tremendous importance of bandaids. Bandaids! When you walk the streets in order to avoid depression deep enough to want to kill yourself, you get blisters on your feet. Especially if the shoes don’t fit well. Apart from planning your next meal, you have to plan how to find a bandaid.
Strikes me that this is something pharmacists could provide – but most probably wouldn’t want “these people” on the premises. It doesn’t take much imagination to realize how painful it could be to continue walking – with a blister. It happened to me recently, but I just went home and changed my shoes. And made myself a cup of coffee. In my air conditioned home.
He wasn’t walking in my neighbourhood either – he’d stand out here. No, he was walking in a poorer, more dangerous neighbourhood. And trying to ignore the twelve voices in his head. He can’t remember a time when he didn’t hear them – but in his childhood he says they were his “imaginary friends”.
It’s only a year since he was actually diagnosed with schizophrenia. Once upon a time he actually had a wife – but thanks to a combination of extreme depression and debilitating medications, his life fell apart.
He once had a job, despite the voices. For decades. But some medicines make people “incompetent”. Through no choice of his own, he ended up “destitute”. Sometimes it seems to me the meds are worse than the disease.