Longtime residents in the City of Merced are quick to comment on the rapid decay seen in some neighborhoods around town. The blight — often a result of drug use and related activities — is concentrated in South Merced, near Highway 99 where many of the city’s low-income and minority communities have historically lived.
“If you don’t know about 16th Street, that’s where all the prostitutes are, that’s where everything that you don’t ever want your children to see, happens,” Anna said.
He was always super fun to be around, one of the kindest and open-minded people I knew, but then he changed. I remember the last day I saw him he was a completely different person. He was unrecognizable. No longer happy. Always mad. I could not understand why he didn’t want to be himself anymore.
I’ve seen the effects of not getting help for mental illness first hand and it’s no joke. It’s very sad to see. One day a friend may be behaving normally and the next they can fall apart. What makes it worse is that sometimes you don’t even know what’s going on or how to help.
I also thought that the minimal anticipatory grief I had allowed myself to experience, when he was battling cancer, was sufficient. ‘I should be done. These tears are helping no one,’ I thought. But I simply wasn’t “done” and squelching my tears only allowed the depression to surface in more sinister ways. I couldn’t fall asleep, I would spend days eating only sweets, and, most damaging of all, I felt utterly alone.
“The worry is that Prop 47 funds will be used for mental health treatment that is run by law enforcement,” says Lizzie Buchen, the statewide advocacy coordinator for Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB). “Jails are not a place where people can heal. They can be very traumatic for people with mental health issues.”