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Selah R, M.S. LPC
Selah R, M.S. LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 582
Experience:  Licensed Professional Counselor; over 13+ yrs exp working with adults, teens, & families/couples.
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God brought a special homeless woman across my path. Her name

Customer Question

God brought a special homeless woman across my path. Her name isXXXXX first noticed her, she was sitting on the pavement near a curb in a parking lot, facing south. Debbie had a thick parka type jacket zipped up to her neck, in 95 degree weather. She has a full pack pack sitting close beside her, stuffed to near double its size. As I have learned over the last 6 weeks, is that Debbie seems to live life everyday within aXXXXX The place I just described, then NORTH 25 feet to a 8 foot bench near a covered bus stop when it gets dark. It is a 6 lane east west road, well lighted and is, of course, safer than the dark curb area she sits ALL DAY LONG, by herself. DEBBIE JUST SITS THERE QUIET STARING OUT.

At night she DOES NOT LAY DOWN, but just leans against her full backpack. I assume BECAUSE THE POLICE WILL NOT ALLOW HER TO LAY DOWN. I go out 3-4 night between 2AM and 5PM often, and she is always sleeping there, THEN BACK TO THE CURB & PARKING LOT, for the long day. THIS DAILY ROUTINE SEEMS TO HAPPEN EVER DAY, I assume for YEARS AND YEARS. DEBBIE IS PROBABLY 40 TO 47 years old, white, skin hardened by the sun, hair is stringy in front and sides, matted in the back.

I stopped by and gave her a twenty the first time, which she took with a gentle hand. The next day I gave her a $5 bill which she took hesitently as I said Hi, do you need anything? ole,... pause short... nooooo shaking her head and looking away, this way and the other.
I parked my car by her about day 6, got out and squatted down near her. WHAT IS YOU NAME? Debbie, she said. My name isXXXXX said. Just a short exchange.

The next day CAME THE BIGGEST SURPRISE & INSIGHT TO DEBBIE'S LIFE. I had $60, three twenties folded. I tried TO GIVE THE MONEY TO DEBBIE, saying please take this for emergencies. OLE..... NO... I'm OK. No.... DEBBIE, a homeless person TURNING AWAY MONEY??????? What it DID TELL ME, was that Debbie was not a druggie or alcoholic, OR SHE WOULD HAVE TAKEN THE MONEY. I REALLY WANTED HER TO HAVE IT FOR EMERGENCIES!

DAY 14: Debbie was starting to trust me and getting to feel comfortable around me. I stopped with the twenties and only gave $5 dollars, and asking Debbie if she needed anything.

DAY 21: I asked Debbie, if she needed anything, she said, "uhm, how about some cold water", WOW I WAS THRILLED. I go up to the RACETRAC gas station to get Dr. Pepper Icees every day, or more. I said, I get you a bottled water. I asked the size or what kind? Debbie, immediately said, DASANI, yea... D A SANI un hun. It was an extremely hot day and upon driving away she had opened it and was drinking it.

IMPORTANT NOTES ******** IMPORTANT NOTES ******** ON DEBBIE'S MENTAL STATE

Debbie, will stand up when I drive by or stop. She will be the first to say, "Is everything OK" , "where have you been"
LOOKING me in the face some but MOST kind of jumpy here & there.
IF I GIVE HER WATER, A BILL, 4 QUARTERS, Debbie is "UNCERTAIN" where to put it. She will put it down on the pavement, move it 5 inch, leave it for an instance, move it a little, USUALLY 4 to 5 times, then she usually leaves it at the last spot for a while.
DEBBIE DOES THIS EVERY TIME with only a very few exceptions.
She does not have a grocery cart, does not seem to have any friends, maybe one, not sure.
She will walk over to the Grocery store machines for a soda, I don't know if Debbie ever goes into the grocery store, maybe to go to the bath room, which I have know knowledge of her outside "HER SMALL CIRCLE".
Debbie remembers my name, but does not call me by it, Dennis - and my wife's name Tammy, who is with me maybe 1 out of 8 times.
She always tells me to be "safe" as I start to leave, several times. She will say, I heard there was a concert at Tropicana field, are you/you should go.

IMPORTANT NOTES ******** IMPORTANT NOTES ********

Recently about 5-6 weeks of almost daily contact, Debbie seems to expect to see me and converses on a frequent and only slightly hesitant voice and body movement. Last Sunday, a stormy day, I went by late about 6 PM, and figured that she had not eaten anything. SO I ASKED, DEBBIE, HAVE YOU HAD ANYTHING TO EAT TODAY? Uh, noooo. Can I get you something? A hamburger from Mc Donald's. Which I got her once. THEN YESTERDAY, I ASKED the same thing and she again said a burger, and I SAID HOW ABOUT SOME FRIES? She said, Yes that is OK, yes ok.

SURPRISE.... SURPRISE..... Debbie asked me if I had any quarters? I think, yes here are some. I GAVE HER 4 quarters. Debbie held out a dollar bill, wet from the rain that day too, I SAID, "no Debbie, you keep it, (Like I have done to Debbie money by just laying it on the ground, which she, sort of, had to take) DEBBIE DROPPED THE FOLDED DOLLAR INTO MY CAR DRIVERS SIDE OPEN WINDOW. I have kept the dollar as a memento of this "SPECIAL LADY".
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Selah R, M.S. LPC replied 3 years ago.
You should read "The Soloist" by XXXXX XXXXX and "Same Kind of Different as Me" by Ron Hall. Both of these authors have similar experiences of befriending a homeless person, trying to get to know them better, and trying to improve their lives.

Many adults who live on the streets have severe mental illnesses, and many have been through enough treatment, hospitals, and half-way homes to know that sometimes the street is their safest place. Many learn areas that become their homes, and people who become their friends. They can be leery of strangers, as they may have been abused, assaulted, robbed, or arrested/hospitalized by strangers in the past. They may also have delusions and hallucinations as part of their mental illness that makes trusting people very difficult. They may be afraid to take too much money or gifts for fear of being robbed or fear that you'll want something in return (like sex).

Take your time getting to know her and just share space with her. Try not to fix her or rescue her. Many of the homeless adults I've worked with do know where their relatives last lived, and you can often track them down. Sometimes they want to hear from their homeless relative, other times they've long since given up any relationship and do not want a new one. So if you hunt for relatives, protect her privacy and location information until she says she is okay with talking to them or okay with them knowing where she is.

Sometimes you can help them connect with homeless services they didn't know about, and sometimes they are even willing to try medications once they've been told how much they've changed from the medications they may have been on 20 years ago. But some of them like their lives, they know how to function in their worlds, and aren't wanting to enter "normal" housed lives. They may have made a mental peace with their mental illness symptoms, and getting their hopes up can be a dangerous thing.

Call 211 in your area to find out what services are available for the homeless in her area (shelters, soup kitchens, places that offer health care, places that offer mailboxes to they can apply for disability or food stamps, etc.). Then ask her if she wants your help, ask her if she knows about this soup kitchen or that shower place or this safe place for others who are homeless. Chances are she knows about some of them already.

The best thing you can do for her is let her know you have enjoyed meeting her, that she's a special person, that she matters to you, and that when you move you'll never forget her. Sometimes the fear of being forgotten by the world is more painful than living homeless.

Sincerely,
Selah
Selah R, M.S. LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 582
Experience: Licensed Professional Counselor; over 13+ yrs exp working with adults, teens, & families/couples.
Selah R, M.S. LPC and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

SELAH,

What an insite. I will approach as you suggest, either way, Debbie wins.

Dennis

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
FOR SELAH ONLY - FOR SELAH ONLY - FOR SELAH ONLY - FOR SELAH ONLY - FOR SELAH ONLY - FOR SELAH ONLY - FOR SELAH ONLY - !!!!

SELAH
, isn't that the word used in the KJV for a pause in the music of a Psalm?

I have been following your insightful advice, you must have a lot of direct experience in this. Debbie, seems much more intelligent than I had originally assumed. She is definitely scysphrenic, but is showing the ability to communicate with me more directly, though that is still "around the bush" so to speak. She often does not get to the point, for example, tonight, I offered her a Checkers Chilly Cheese Dog, she immediately refused, "ole no, I'm alright, muttered something like I already ate" she asked for change the most regular request, there is a pop/water machine beside the grocery store about 250 feet across the parking lot, from where she sits. I, at first, could only find about 45 cents, but had a dollar which she took this time, and asked her if she had enough change to make a dollar, she seemed like she could. then I found two quarters and more and gave it to her. [back to chilly dogs] out of nowhere she said, didn't you ask me if I wanted a Chilly Cheese dog, mmm yes you did...." I said yes I have a bag full. She held out her hand and I gave her one.
I asked her when she was younger, indicating that I am older too, were you a doctor or a lawyer, you seems very smart. "nooo I wasn't" Did you finish H.S. "no, umm, ??" "I went to a vocational school." What type of work did you do? "McDonald's, not sure if she like to eat there or what? " "I put together flashlights. I made "something I can not remember what Debbie said"
Then said well it getting late, you might eat then go over to the bench on the street side, "OK, yea....." IT WAS 10:45 PM.
Selah, I really think that she was waiting to see if I came today, she was standing up, verses sitting. DEBBIE, usually is over there by dark, say 9:30 PM at the latest.

WHAT DO YOU THINK --- IS SHE LIKELY TO BE EXPECTING ME?

I have done nothing to upset her world, I think as you say, it is her home, she is SAFE, but mostly alone, though I'm sure she sees & hears & talked to people in her mind.

You should write a book or offer seminars, you wisdom is not from men! I protect Debbie's world, enjoy talking to her and say so,
BUT pray maybe, just maybe, not pushing for or expecting, that one day, Debbie will have a better life, with flowers, birds, a bed and love ones, UNTIL THEN QUESTION:

What do you think Debbie would enjoy?
a cheap ipod that I could charge up for her with ear buds to listen to music.
A radio or small video screen like on cell phones, with music, a movie?

What about a cell phone with music on it.

I could add it to my service for $10 a month with my number only on it for emergencies, probably not good this last one.

PLEASE ADVISE Undecided

Dennis
Expert:  Selah R, M.S. LPC replied 3 years ago.
I'd see if you can find a wind-up or solar flashlight, and possible a wind-up or solar small radio (one with a speaker and headphones, so it still works if headphones get lost or broken). Many people with hallucinations like to have stimuli (the light or the radio noises) they can focus on instead of what their brain is doing. Ask her if she reads, would she like a Bible (maybe large print New Testament, compact so easy to cart around but easy on the eyes). Many adults with severe mental illness have a spiritual history, and have been exposed to the Bible. Some find great comfort in reading or owning one (mostly because they remember it from a healthier time in their lives?).

Yes, it does sound like she's waiting for you and enjoys your visits.

Selah (Yes, from the Psalms, nice catch!)
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
I wish every expert was as brilliant as you.

I wanted to say a few things then will accept with a bonus, may be tomorrow though.

What great "wisdom" sure your not Solomon reborn, as King Herod asked if Jesus was John reborn. No one has the practical wisdom like you, except Solomon and his proverbs, Of course, Jesus but he had an advantage He was God Wink.

I should have thought of a Bible, at least to offer, yes she seems to have had a normal younger life, I will do that.

Your idea of something to distract them away from the thoughts/voices in there mind is so caring and "THE TRUTH", are you an Angel??????

I'll search for some windup or similar type device as well.

I can't thank you enough, for helping me understand this "wonderful" person and if only for a while bring some things in her life to give some joy. I know I'll see her in Heaven, God takes those unable to understand, to be with Him, then Debbie and I will have a year long talk.

Yes, we have been back to Allen, it is grown up, but the Bethany road subdivision on the north side, near the park, is just like it has always been. One thing, when we left the trees were about 4 inches in diameter, not about 12-14 inches and BIG, but that is nice.

I will be back in touch in a couple of weeks, don't get your wings like "Clara" and leave XXXXX XXXXX" promise Smile

Dennis who will live on Monticello Circle, one house south of the one our daughter grew up in till 6 years old, we bought it from our 7.5 year neighbor who still lived in the how beside where we lived, BUT KNOW IT IS OURS. got all that? Smile
Expert:  Selah R, M.S. LPC replied 3 years ago.
Another expert, ERPetNurse, wanted to let you know:

"I live in Florida and they are in fact real places. They are both located in the vicinity of St Petersburg. Tyrone is actually a blvd but people who live in that area call it Tyrone and Madeira Beach is located about 20-25 minutes from there and there is hot dog and hamburger stands at this beach. I have lived in this area for 10 years."

Sincerely,
Selah

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