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Bad Behavior or Mental Illness? – August 4, 2016

I saw him walk in the door and I knew immediately he was having a bad day, so I just watched.

I watched him shift side to side in his seat, cursing under his breath as if arguing with himself and I knew he wanted to rage. He held it together though and I continued to watch to ensure guests around him were not getting unsettled.

A panicked family walked in the door and went straight to security pointing out the man who was just next door jumping up and down, swearing, and hitting himself. Fingers were pointed as soon as they spotted him in the dining room.

I assured them it is okay and I am watching.

Bad behavior or mental illness? Looking behind the behavior, there are countless dynamics. When stories unfold of frustrations, of course they are having a shattering day. Add hunger to raw frustration and emotions escalate. Add mental illness to this and you have a person who struggles painfully trapped in their own mind.

We all have bad days.

When I need to sit still, I can do so in the comfort of my home with all of life’s comforts and plenty of food. What if I didn’t have food? What if I didn’t have food, frustrations were consuming me and I am genuinely hungry. I know where to walk to for a meal, but it’s sweltering outside. The need is great right here in our community.

A battle is in his mind, everyone can read it on his face. What they don’t know is his struggle is real. He doesn’t talk and is always a keep-to-himself dinner guests that always says, “Thank you.”

Needing some sort of intervention, I walk over put my hand on his shoulder and talked low enough that others cannot hear, “Hey, I see you’re pretty aggravated today. Are you comfortable sitting here or would you rather sit over at this table so you don’t have to be around others?” He knows me and says, “You know I’m angry, it’s my mind.” I kindly remind him I know, but that I see he is having a bad day.

Calming immediately he assured me he was fine sitting among other guests. I pat his shoulder and told him to let me know if he changes his mind.

Maybe it was acknowledgement or perhaps it was someone to break his train of thought.

I know the behaviors of those I feed. A rescue mission isn’t full of all happy and grateful guests. We are a rescue mission, a men’s homeless shelter and a hot meal site filled with hurting individuals and families where hunger is a reality all around us. Many struggle with mental illness resulting in a lifestyle of poverty.

Inside our mission, we work hard to create a safe and comfortable environment to ensure that all guests feel welcomed. We are a place where an abundance of donations meets the needs of those who walk through our doors.

Treating others with love and respect is our mission.

 “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat,

I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,

I was a stranger and you invited me in,”

– Matthew 25:35