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Homelessness is not always in one’s control

BY ELLIOT SCHUBERT, Ph.D.

At a recent Bird Rock Community Council meeting, residents discussed the issue of the homeless “who rummage through trash cans looking for recyclables” and “sometimes sleep on the roof of a Bird Rock office building.”

The residents were advised to call the police when such violations of the law occur.

It is well known that a large number of the homeless suffer from mental illness.

They are incapable of holding down a job, thus struggle just to survive. Do we owe it to them to make available medical care for a condition they did not choose to have? Are we our brother’s keepers?

In 1975, 34 years ago, I was diagnosed as being bipolar, i.e., suffering from manic depression.

Now, at age 86, I am fortunate to be able to afford, with the help of Medicare and personal supplemental insurance, ongoing psychotherapy along with medication appropriate to treat my disorder.

Also I receive constant support from my wife of 64 years and my four children.

What about those who do not have the financial means?

What about those who do not have a family to turn to?

Is any one of our lives more important to us than theirs is to them?

The depressive phase of manic depression is so totally disabling that it is impossible to describe. Without the care and the family support I get, I would no longer be sane, most probably would not be alive.

It is nice to think that we could be concerned less with trash cans and more with the lives of fellow human beings who suffer with a disease not of their making.

“There but for the grace of God go I.”

Elliot Schubert is a San Diego resident.