#SeeMe Q&A with Sarah

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My name is Sarah and I was homeless at one time -- today I'm not. More importantly, today I can see myself with value, with contribution, with effort, with drive, with initiative. I hope you can, too.

Q: What were some of those hurtful things that you felt people were thinking about you when they walked past you when you were experiencing homelessness?

A: There are so many hurtful things that happened. However, I think the biggest thing with mental health, homelessness and then you combine a history of drug and alcohol abuse is that you are a failure, you are a thug, or you are a not worth it. You just become invisible. You're looked at as a piece of trash on the street sometimes. That's the way I felt. I was so depressed. I was very confused and very scared.

Q: Who did you want people to see instead?

A: I just wanted to be seen as somebody that mattered, you know, that really mattered. I believe that God had led me to that specific case manager at the Day Center that took me by the hand and said, “I'm going to fight for you.” And she led me to Mental Health Association Oklahoma and to Family and Children's Services where I was able to get that kind of feeling that I do matter and I do have something to give out there. Since I've been housed by Mental Health Association Oklahoma,  and I'm no longer homeless, I feel like I'm beginning to see myself. Before somebody else can see me, I have to see me.

Today I just simply want to be seen as someone who matters. More importantly, I want to be called by my name, not by my diagnosis. I want to be referred to by my talents, not my deficits. I think too often we emphasize what's wrong with the system or person versus what's right with them.

Q: What would you challenge society to do to truly see people experiencing mental illness and homelessness?

A: I would challenge society just like this: Why don't we just do little experimentations with some visualization work? Close your eyes and visualize you not being in that warm bed. Visualize not being in a situation where you knew where your next meal was coming from or, or where you were going to go the next day in order to get warm or get food. I don't think most people understand. They don’t have any concept of being homeless.

Q: Tell us the Mobile Medical Intervention Team has helped you.

A: When I was homeless, I had two hips that were just so bad that I couldn't walk. I was able to get one hip done right before I was housed. I got into Mental Health housing and I thought everything was good. Then, over time, I realized that I needed a second hip surgery. They continued to push and find the resources that were out there to help me get a second hip surgery. So, now I have two strong hips where my foundation is from. That's a metaphor for the way I feel today. My foundation is firm once again and I'm ready to go and be a contributing part of society.