While walking this morning, I found this message spray-painted on the sidewalk in front of Grace Episcopal Church on Madison Street: “Get Kate out the hutchings basement.” The “hutchings” refers to The Hutchings Psychiatric Center, a mental health center in Syracuse operated by New York State.
The missive was signed by a woman (name withheld), and the statement produced a flurry of images and questions in my mind. Who is Kate and what is her condition? I pictured an exhausted woman confined in a straitjacket in the basement of the facility at 620 Madison Street. I felt empathy not only for Kate, but also for the woman who wrote the message. What did she expect to achieve by spray-painting her note on the ground? Was she so desperate that she hoped God would look down from above and intervene on behalf of Kate?
I don’t know the fate of the two women, but the discovery of the message made me more aware of people struggling with mental health issues and how these conditions can affect anyone. And this blog post is an attempt to send some positive thoughts to Kate and her friend.