I worked as a psychiatric social worker in Community Mental Health clinics, hospitals and day treatment programs for 10 years before starting law school in 1986, most of that time treating homeless and chronically ill San Francisco residents. One of the most upsetting groups are the Bipolar Disorders in their manic phases. They are very impulsive, have horrible judgement, and are very thought disordered, often psychotic. They move too fast, so pinning them down for an intervention is always a series of “hit and miss” events before they can be hospitalized and stabilized with meds. Many times the SFPD would show up quickly only to meet with frustrated clinicians, unable to physically contain these patients, and thus having had to watch them disappear back to the streets without intervention once again. People with Bipolar Disorders are the most upsetting as they are very smart, often quite educated, but unwilling to give up the euphoria and grandiosity (not to mention the heightened sexual drive) of the manic phase, and thus are often unwilling to stay on stabilizing medicines. People in their manic phase never stop talking, and are usually flamboyant in their manners and dress. Today, however, in a McDonald’s in San Francisco in the middle of the last shopping day before the start of Hanukkah and Christmas, I met my first fully NAKED manic patient. Snot smeared on the lower half of her face, bloated and weathered limbs, and…not a stitch of clothes or shoes on a very cold winter day. Fortunately, she responded to my request to sit down at my table and drink my untouched hot tea and eat my cookie. The guy at the next table who was initially hostile to her, did as I requested (with hand signals to him out of her sight)…and called 911 for assistance.
Then the true sweet spirit of San Francisco appeared in the form of a young Asian couple who handed her their recent purchases: a t-shirt, yoga pants, and a fleece blanket. Although she initially refused to wear them, she let me dress her with the t-shirt and wrap her lower body with the blanket. Most importantly, she stayed seated and drank her tea and ate her cookie. The police appeared and she became very agitated, but stayed seated, and the SFPD do what they do best; they backed off out of her sight but a few feet behind her and let her just sit with me until the ambulance showed up 15 minutes later. I left knowing she is safe and warm for the moment…until she is treated and released in 2-7 days, to begin the “revolving door” phenomena, of returning to the streets to abandon her medicines and begin the downward spiral into depression and mania once again.
On a more festive note, we have been living in San Francisco on my family’s houseboat on Mission Creek for the 10 days that my son is visiting from Seattle. Steven’s and my 250 sq.ft. tiny home just doesn’t work for the three of us. In San Francisco, Jacob can get his work done for Microsoft during an office renovation, while we enjoy “The City”. We visited the Disney Family Museum on Walt’s Birthday (free!), a fantastic experience.
On our first bicycle ride across the eastern span of the Bay Bridge, now open all the way to Treasure Island, we caught a local motorcycle group’s Toys for Tots Ride when they parked their Harleys for the lead photo. Treasure Island is in San Francisco, but halfway across the Bay, thus the City in the background, across the water). The future plan is for a bike and pedestrian ferry to travel between the Island and mainland San Francisco.
Of course, the wildlife viewing on the water is delightful, from the sea lions sunning themselves on our docks to the Night Herons (above) and the huge Grey Herons, usually wading, but in the photo below, up in a tree. Last spring, this same tree provided building supplies for red-tailed hawks making a nest on the cell tower, 100 yards from the boat. The growth of high rise developments (seen reflected in the water above) for biotech, hospitals and housing is dizzying along the Creek, but the wild fowl seems to take it in stride as they remain protected.
We wish all of you and all peaceful citizens of the world, warmth in the cold season, safety from harm, competent health care, and the exercise of free speech, association, and the religion of their choice. Just remember, change is made by small and persistently vocal groups of people who stand together against liars and manipulators, against those who would steal our freedom from us with fraud and arrogance, just because they can.
(Retraction: we published false news in the form of a funny but fraudulent quote from President elect Trump. We have removed it and apologize. At least we did it unintentionally, unlike Mr. Putin.