Mental Illness is Not Contagious

I stared at her for a long time.

Her too blonde hair, pulled back in a pony tail, black yoga pants, and t-shirt wouldn’t have usually made her stand out, but it was the beginning of February and she wasn’t wearing a coat.

Maybe a friend had it?

She shuffled in circles around the table of cupcakes just inside the grocery store’s entrance, their colours drawing so many wandering eyes and hungry fingers, but not hers. She just shuffled around it, then back to the exit; out the in; in the out, around the table and back out the doors.

Over and over.

A cigarette; partially smoked, sat just barely in her finger tips, and her eyes hung heavy.

It was apparent she didn’t know where she was.

After watching her confused circles, and then her fall onto the floor with no one rushing to help her, I approached.

I asked her if she was okay.


Showing her a chair I asked if she wanted to sit down.

She was young.

She told me that she couldn’t sit down because the meds the hospital had given her made it impossible for her to be still.

“I’m going to stay with you because I want you to be safe. Is that okay with you?”

She nodded, and we walked in circles until a woman, wearing no shoes, approached.

Her sweetness overtook the space as she guided the pacing girl to a seat, removed the boots she was wearing, and placed a new pair on her feet.  She brushed the hair off of her face, handed her a drink, and explained, “She was wearing my boots.”

While the girl shuffled the woman told me that she had found her in the hospital parking lot, leaving without a coat, boots, or any sense of who she was.

She brought her to the store not knowing what to do.

The police were called and came shortly after and she told them that she suffered from schizophrenia and a drug overdose.  She didn’t know what meds she had been given or how she had left the mental health floor but she wanted to go back.

They reprimand the woman for removing the girl from the hospital and stated that she should have alerted staff or called police.

I believe she did what she thought was right at the time.

And she might have saved that girls life.


While I stood monitoring that young girl, before I even asked her how she was, a crowd had formed several feet back.

Not a single person asked her if she was okay.

No one approached her, offered her a drink, or directed her to a chair.

Mental illness is not contagious.

You can’t catch it by being kind.

mental illness not contagious

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12 Responses to Mental Illness is Not Contagious
  1. Alison
    March 12, 2013 | 3:21 am

    You were meant to be there for her.
    Bless your kind heart. And the other lady’s.

  2. Nic
    March 12, 2013 | 11:33 am

    I was with you and it was heart breaking to watch store employees avoid her and people walking by her. Many noticed her and others avoided her. It was wonderful what you did that night! Xoxo

  3. Rach (DonutsMama)
    March 12, 2013 | 3:49 pm

    Thank you for helping her. I think it’s easy for people to just look on, shake their heads and say “She’s crazy” b/c they don’t want to get involved and they don’t get it. They laugh and point fingers. And it makes me angry. Thank you for being kind.

    • multitaskingmumma
      March 19, 2013 | 8:47 am

      the fear of what she “might do” is so huge for many people. You’re right Rach.

  4. Shanon
    March 12, 2013 | 3:56 pm

    The saddest part? “No one approached her..”.
    The best part? There are still some people like you in this world. Thank you for that.

    • multitaskingmumma
      March 19, 2013 | 8:46 am

      thank you Shanon.

  5. Kimberly
    March 13, 2013 | 6:31 am

    You are the best person on this planet. Humanity is just going down the pooper.
    I know that you would have done it regardless of your experience with mental illness. Perhaps more people should walk in our shoes and see what the fuck they need to and should be doing to help people. Dicks

    • multitaskingmumma
      March 19, 2013 | 8:46 am

      Humanity IS going down the pooper!
      I’m going to make business cards that say that and keep them in my purse to hand out

  6. Lexie
    March 19, 2013 | 12:27 am

    Bless you! I have a Brother who suffers from the same illness. When he has trouble understanding things in public, people are so cruel, they ridicule him, point, laugh, roll their unintelligent eyes but refuse to help. it makes me sick to my stomach how mean society is today. I hate the human race. Part of my caretaking of him is to teach him how evil most people are and that no one cares when he has trouble,when he cannot understand something he has to call for help or call me, because few like yoruself would even step up to help. You are a GOOD person. Never doubt that about yourself. You have compassion and caring beyond what the normal evil of this society have. The general public is so unintelligent and backwards about mental illness that they can not even reach out to someone. That is a twisted society we live in.

    • multitaskingmumma
      March 19, 2013 | 8:43 am

      Thank you so much for your words.
      This comment means so very much! I’m so glad that your brother has you to speak out and be his voice and I’m thankful that you are advocating for mental health awareness.
      It only takes one person to change the world!

  7. amy
    January 22, 2014 | 8:18 pm

    Can I use your infographic for a presentation?


    • multitaskingmumma
      January 23, 2014 | 10:17 am

      absolutely, thank you for asking

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