Twogaa Sunday Post – 12.15.2019 (What It’s Like)

Submitted by Diana Roberts on December 15, 2019

“I have been homeless twice — once when I was twenty-three and again at thirty. Both times it was due to mental health problems.

The first time it happened I left my job because I wasn’t well. I went to stay with my parents, but it didn’t work out and my dad asked me to leave. Then I went to stay with friends.
I was still struggling and one night I had a panic attack. My friends said, “We love you but you are driving us mad.” So I left and wandered the streets.

I went to a local hostel but they turned me away, saying: “Men only, try a B&B.”  My thoughts had gone haywire and I felt tormented. I just didn’t know where to go.
I went to a male friend who turned me away — until he realized I was desperate. Then he made me a bed on his living room floor. He arranged for me to stay with some of his female friends but in my unbalanced state, I felt uncomfortable doing this.

I had been going to outpatient appointments at a local mental health hospital. At my next visit with the psychiatrist, I was so desperate I asked if they could take me in. I was admitted for six weeks and although it was tough, it did lead to a turnaround. They got me on medication. When I left, I got a rented room and rebuilt my life. I got a part-time job and later went on to study.

The same time I became homeless it followed a similar pattern. I had been working part-time in a shop but ending up leaving. So I had no job and rent to pay. I applied for benefits but the money got sent to the wrong account. Eventually, I got it sorted out but then I became ill. I withdrew from the benefits system because I found it too complicated to handle in my confused state. I soon couldn’t afford the rent and had to leave my property.

A few friends tried to help me, and one even tried to help me access benefits. I stayed at people’s houses for a few nights. My relationship with my family became strained and I was taken to a local mental health hospital. Thankfully, I never slept rough or on the streets but I was close to sleeping in a park.
The whole experience was terrifying, not knowing where I was going to spend the night. I felt abandoned and alone. At times I had no one to turn to. I would ask friends if I could sleep on their floor. They came through for me at first then the help ran out.

I have warned off hostels so I didn’t want to go there. You get so many knockbacks. I remember all my belongings being stuffed into a few bags I carried around with me. Eventually, things got better and I clawed my way back to sanity and got a good job.

Mental illness, poverty, and homelessness were intertwined in my case — I’m sure that’s the situation for a lot of people. Safety nets can fall apart and I went into a downward spiral. I would like to see the end of the stigma to homelessness. It can be a terrifying and devastating experience that no one should go through.”

Caroline Ryan’s Story

For each of us, it is important that for understanding and working with the homeless we do not set for them our standard of rationale. It can be very difficult, and it is easy to say why didn’t you do this or that, and you wouldn’t be in this situation. Being judgmental does not solve the problem. Generally, that person is dealing with what we might call a certain amount of brain damage and can’t grasp the rationale of a mentally healthy person. They may be drinking a lot, and we assign that as their core problem, but most studies have found that the core problem of mental illness began first and then out of fear, or to escape the mental pain, the drinking game as an escape.
According to the Census Bureau, 38 million people in the U.S. are living below the official poverty line thresholds (Currently. $20,231 for a family with two children). Taking into account economic needs beyond that absolute measure, the Institute for Policy Studies found that 140 million people are poor or low-income, living 200 percent of the Census’s supplemental measure of poverty. That’s almost half the U.S. population and certainly refutes the propaganda we receive.
This is where the mental spiral down begins.
Let’s do something about it, and most of all, let’s engage our homeless brothers and sisters, personally. Don’t be afraid. They won’t hurt you. They are afraid of you!Twogaa

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