“Good Fences” Make Uncaring Neighbors
On your own with mental illness is an enormous challenge
Elyssa D. Durant, Ed.M.
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What must my neighbors think? I am up all night and I sleep all day. I can only write with one pen and I often leave my keys in the door. I am noisy and loud and to make matters worse, I'm from New York. I listen to one song on the radio over and over again.
I take everything I own with me when I leave, and carry it back in when I get home. I am constantly tripping my own feet, and probably offend them with my politics. I am not afraid to say that President Bush looks like the Outbreak Monkey.
So my neighbors may not like me, but they don't know me. And they don't care. After being assaulted in my own home several years ago, I noticed my neighbor witnessing the event through his bedroom window. When questioned by the police regarding his failure to act, he simply told them, "Well, as far as I'm concerned, good fences make good neighbors." Well, fuck him!
Do you know how scary it is to be alone in a strange city? Afraid to leave and afraid to go home? To live in your car because it was the better option? To come home one day and find everything and I mean everything you own was gone? Your birth certificate, your social security card, your grandmother's jewelry. Where would you start? Would you know what to do? Would you ever go back? Would you ever feel safe again in your own home? Anywhere? Whom would you trust? Whom could you trust? You could trust me. Because this is who I am.
They don't know that I spend my free time volunteering at the homeless shelter or by myself. They don't know that I spent most of my twenties in constant fear and physical pain. They don't know how it feels to live with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I became a prisoner of my own making. I live in fear. Fear of fire, fear of chemicals, fear of the dark. Fear of spending the rest of my life with this damn disease.
I need a map to find my keys, and once I do, I have lost my phone. I like my car. I can see everything coming towards me, and I can always get away. I like to write in my car. With one pen, and one song playing over and over again on the radio. So as I accept the reality that I may never own property or have a place to call home, I can say with certainty that of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most!
You may not care how much I know, but you don’t know how much I care.
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