I sit in a small square room. In order to get here, I had to pass through a security checkpoint. The security guard was very nice, as he always is, and I made it through without incident. I am at Grady Outpatient Mental Health in Atlanta Georgia.
It is a very short walk into the building. I don’t own a power chair and I don’t use my wheelchair as much as I should, so I hobble in with my cane. I have a pronounced limp and my leg and back are screaming in pain as I barely make it. I am compensating by wearing a knee and back brace.
I have therapy every Friday, before which I often pick up my medications for the month. Inside this waiting room are a gaggle of familiar faces. We’ve gotten to know each other over the last year. Most of us are on the same schedule.
All of us are on Grady Hospital’s low-income program. Without this program, I would likely be dead or worse. I fear how much longer I will be able to get the medications that I need to keep the worst symptoms of my bipolar disorder in check.
In the next few months, changes to my living condition will occur. Afterward, I will be on my own with next to no income. I don’t yet know what I will be doing or where I will be going. What I do know is that I will lose access to the source of my medications.
Without my medications, my thoughts become erratic. My depression becomes out-of-control, and I become paranoid. I fight suicidal thoughts on a weekly basis and those intensify if I don’t take my nightly pills. I have gone off of my medications once due to bad scheduling of refills and within two days, I was already fraying at the edges.
To say that I suffer from feelings of fear is an understatement.
Many of us in this waiting room worry about homelessness and destitution. We have become a sort of a support group by this point. We thank God that Grady provides us with mental healthcare and medications at no cost because none of us could afford it otherwise. After a roof and a bed, medical care is all of our number one priority. The Republican politicians who rule Georgia don’t care about people like us.
“Did you hear what they’re saying about Bernie this morning?” Joe, a friend of mine, asks.
I nod in response, “Yeah. At this point it’s laughable. If Bernie Sanders cured cancer today I’m pretty sure they’d smear him by asking him why he didn’t do it sooner.”
Linda, a person who I know has two kids, one with autism, shakes her head, “What am I going to do if it’s someone like Bloomberg, or if Trump remains in office?”
This kind of conversation isn’t uncommon. We often talk about Medicare-for-All, low-income housing, and our inability to find or keep work. Two of us, myself included, have a GoFundMe to cover our medical conditions. Neither of us has found success with them.
“Obamacare didn’t do (expletive) for me,” Linda explains. “That son of a (expletive) in the statehouse didn’t expand Medicaid, it completely (expletive) me.”
The three of us nod. We have all heard this before. We have all said this before.
Jon and I both voted for Bernie in the 2016 primary, then Hillary in the General Election. Lucy voted for Trump because he said that he would give healthcare to her. She regrets her decision even though she doesn’t feel it would have changed anything for her. This year she’s going to vote for Bernie. She knows that she’s been lied to, she didn’t like what he had to say, but she didn’t trust Clinton.
“How’s your disability going?” Joe asks, mostly to break the silence.
I shake my head, “I’m in appeals. I’m probably not going to get it. Three doctors, an orthopedic surgeon, a physical therapist, my psychiatrist, and my therapist all said I need it, but the court disagrees.”
“Yeah, tell me about it.”
This is the way that life goes in the south. Forgotten people who live on the fringes. We are invisible and our voices don’t matter. All three of us know that Georgia is going for Trump and even though we’re all going to vote, we’re all too aware of the fact that our votes don’t count past the primary. We are all praying that Bernie wins, we believe that he will beat Trump if he becomes the nominee, if the Democratic Establishment doesn’t snatch it away from him.
There are very few stories about people like us in the news. We aren’t attractive to the media and we lack money to influence anything. None of us have faith that we will be okay when all is said and done in November. I may not even be around by then.
Stories about people like us are important to be told. People in blue states have better access to aid than we do. We are stuck behind a red curtain and we can’t escape. None of us have families that we can turn to. My parents are both gone and my sister helps as much as she can, but it isn’t enough if I am on my own. All-in-all, we feel the weight of the world is on the verge of collapsing on us.
Three people, sitting in a small waiting room to pick up medications, all with uncertain futures. We put out hopes and our dreams on one person. Bernie Sanders. We aren’t Bernie Bros, we aren’t toxic, we don’t insult people and scream at them on Twitter. We just try to make it day-to-day. We hope that someone will come along and help us.
If I could tell moderates and centrists one thing, it would be this: Your policies and approach don’t work. We don’t have three years for you to try to get your own version of Medicare-for-All passed, Elizabeth Warren. We aren’t in our sixties and don’t care how much it costs, Joe Biden. We don’t care about how many languages you speak or your orientation, Pete Buttigieg. We don’t trust you to do anything for us, Michael Bloomberg. We aren’t wine moms, Amy Klobuchar. The only candidate we trust to help us is Bernie Sanders.
Bernie earned our trust because of his record. He doesn’t change or shift with the political wind. He says what he feels is right even if it is not politically convenient. He’s not perfect and doesn’t claim to be. He truly wants to help people and, by word and deed, he has shown it time and time again. Consistency, honor, and commitment aren’t words that we see often today, but Bernie Sanders encompasses all three. He believes in us, so how can we not believe in him?