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This Could Make All The Difference For Someone During a Psychotic Episode

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Once while I was at a museum with my husband, we spotted a little girl. She was 5 years old and wore a pink dress that flared out below the waist — perfect for twirling around the open spaces. She walked past us several times as we were watching a video in one of the makeshift rooms. I kept my eye on her because I didn’t see any adults around.

A man with a name tag walked by and the little girl said, “My brother and I don’t know where our family is. We’ve lost our family.”

I peeked around the corner and there was her brother, playing on a computer that was set up as part of the exhibit. The man told the girl to follow him to the front desk. I was going to follow them both to make sure they were reunited with their relatives, but a woman came around the corner and started talking to the girl. She took her hand. The boy ignored them and continued to play on the computer. I felt a sense of relief.

On our way home we saw a 3-year-old boy walking by himself through a crowd of people. My husband said, “Is that boy lost?”

“Let’s watch him for a few minutes,” I said. We stood in the park and watched the boy move farther and farther away. Just before we were about to go after him, a woman pushing a stroller started talking to him. It was clear he belonged with her.

We continued on our way home.

I thought about those two children, and how similar their situation is to someone who has a break with reality. When I’ve been psychotic, I’ve been completely vulnerable. When I’m psychotic, I don’t know how to perceive people or possible danger. I need someone to help me get to a safe place with safe people.

I’ve been fortunate nothing bad has happened to me during these times. People have stopped to help. Like a man who told me to get down from the handrail of a pier that I was walking on; one slip and I would’ve fallen into a too shallow spot in the ocean. Or the man who pulled me from the bridge. Or the other who got the paramedics when I took all of my pills. There are probably dozens of other ways people have helped keep me out of harm’s way as I walked for hours through the streets of Los Angeles, hallucinating.

Even though my credit card has been stolen five times in two years, in my life there have been more good people than bad. We can all help make those odds true for everyone. I know the Bible quote, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” In a better world, we are. Look out for the vulnerable and keep your eyes on them. If nothing else, ask them, “Are you OK? Do you need help?”

The goodness in our heart is needed all the time, wherever we go. Let’s wear it like a badge to present to people who are lost, hurting or scared. We can all be superheroes to someone. Ask me, I’ve seen at least three.

Follow this journey on A Journey With You

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Originally published: July 14, 2015
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