I Feel So Lost

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This isn’t a new feeling for me. Many times in my life I have felt various levels of being lost. Lately I feel lost inside my mind. My mental health has locked me inside this massive dark forest. It’s pitch black and there is nothing but silence. Imagine the upside down in Stranger Things but with no light at all. I’ve spent enough time in this scary place to have it warp my mind. You become this scared creature who is twitchy and doesn’t know where to turn. My mind has turned against me and it lies to me. It’s like being put into a gigantic dryer and then forced to walk for miles.

On top of all of this, I also feel lost in life. What is my purpose and all those other deep questions. I ask myself all the time, what in the world am I doing? Most days I don’t have a clue. I’m desperate for purpose and it gives me tunnel vision. When I start to think of the suffering without any purpose my mind starts to wonder to dangerous places. The deeper I find myself lost in that dark void the more I start to consider other options.

This brings me to the other type of lost, being alone in this world. It’s like floating into outer space with nothing to tether to. You’re a million miles from earth and it’s become this small glowing dot in your horizon. I’ve become one of the old people I live with. Whose family has forgotten them. Well not forgotten just got wrapped up in the chaotic world. They just don’t have time for them. People take loved ones for granted. I’m in a similar boat. I don’t have any close friends like most do. When things go wrong I have no one to reach out to. If something was to happen to me (in my apartment) no one would know for weeks and there isn’t anything more sad than that. That’s when you know that you are alone.

That’s what mental illness does, it pushes people away. I have no one that I see regularly, other than my therapist. This just adds to the feeling lost. I’m working on new friendships but that takes time. I don’t get to do fun things with people. I spend my days alone, in a stuffy apartment. Until I get approved for SSI disability I have very little to do with myself, at least in terms of person to person connection. Plus being poor and without a car I’m limited to what I can do in terms of socially. My social gatherings are sporadic at beast. Usually my monthly transgender meeting. You can’t thrive off one day a month.

I have yet been able to find a balance with my mental health. The medicine I’m on doesn’t seem to be helping with the depression at all. My doctor is trying new combinations but so far the only thing that has started to work made me gain a bunch of weight, like thirty pounds. On top of all this I have recently been diagnosed with atrial flutter. I doesn’t take a lot of exertion for me to feel like I’m going to pass out. So right now walking a few blocks to the bus stop (to do things) is out of the question.

Lately my depression has gotten so out of hand that it’s become unbearable, even for me. I don’t do anything but hide in my apartment. Doing simple tasks like making dinner becomes unmanageable, especially if it means washing dishes when I have none cleaned. I will live off very little food at times because I don’t feel like going to the grocery store. It also affects me physically. I become lethargic and my energy bottoms out. Everything is a chore. So not only am I alone (most of the time) I am surrounded by these demons.

So I’m lost spiritually, physically and mentally. I’m trapped in this prison of suffering and I’m not sure how to get out. I’m trapped without a key or map. It’s one thing to feel lost in one aspect of your live but to have every aspect be affected is unmanageable. I wish I had just one person I could attach myself to. The only person I had was my Mom and she died in 2012. Someone I could count on. I have no one and that’s not exaggerating. I have people who love me but I’m just not in their radar. They have their own lives and struggles to deal with. I don’t blame them. This world is a topsy turvy place. I’m just collateral damage. That’s not a fun place to be.

I see people on Facebook with full lives, sharing moments with their friends and family. Going out to the movies or on vacation. Laughing and enjoying life. I’m desperate for that kind of life. I know I deserve it but it feels like this life is just out of reach. I have a good year of this level of suffering, of not having many options in terms of meaningfully, long term connection. I have my comic book but that still means spending all my time alone in my apartment and these days the depression zaps every last ounce of creative juices I have left. So everything in my life is a struggle, which again just ads another complex level to being lost.

Then there is the whole being lost in my identity. I could write a whole post about how I view my body and my gender, I’m MTF trans. Like I said there isn’t one area that I don’t feel some level of lost in and because I’m aware (and dealing with it) that means it’s even more painful. I no longer can bury it. That’s probably why this time in my life is so difficult because the shit has hit the fan.

I just hope I find the key fast. I don’t know how much time I have. With having my health scare this week it’s brought my mortality right to the front of the line. Not to mention when I’m at my lowest I start to think of ending it all. I fear there will be a day in the future when I completely turn off the switch that’s keeping me alive. I know that mental illness can eventually be terminal and because I’m aware enough it scares me senseless when I start to slip and slide down the depressive slope. I don’t really want to die. I just don’t want to suffer anymore. I want to enjoy the time I have left on this earth and create a legacy for when I’m gone. I don’t want to die as the miserable depressed person, who didn’t make something of their life. My life has to have more meaning then my illness.

So I just gotta keep on walking, crawling if I must. Even if it’s at a snail’s pace I’m still moving. Just keeping a commitment to go to therapy each week is a huge sign that I’m moving forward. I have had many times where I didn’t want to go but I forced myself. I knew what it would lead to. It’s the one bright spot in my life. Something to be proud of. I have been in therapy consistently since 2013, something I have never done. I have been with my therapist for over two years. I’m so blessed to have her in my life. I just wish I had others like her in my life, who weren’t tied to my healing.

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Depression is a Thief

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Most days depression steals your energy. It brings you to a complete halt. One day you have spurts of energy and the next day you are dragging your feet. Simple tasks like brushing your teeth become like climbing Mount Everest. I’m not exaggerating either. Depression completely zaps you of your energy. Often times I feel like I’m cemented into the ground, unable to move. It’s a type of paralysation where I forget that I have the ability to move. In reality though depression steals more than your energy. It robs you of anything of value in your life.

Other than your energy, the main thing it steals is your enjoyment. It turns your life upside down and sucks the color out of the world around you. To others the world is full of life and color but to a depression mind everything is dull and grey. You stop enjoying the things that you used to love. Everything becomes a bore. I tend to watch the same sitcom over and over because I have very little attention span to watch a new show. I usually am doing something else while the tv is on as well. I’m unable to just sit there and only watch what is on the screen. You can imagine how difficult it might be to not have anything give you enjoyment. It’s a pretty miserable place. You hop from activity to activity, desperately trying to find something to catch your attention.

If depression zaps the life out of entertainment you can imagine what it does to activities that involve meaning, like my creativity. Anything related to my creativity becomes a chore and I hate doing chores. When I am at my worst I want nothing to do with my gifts. It becomes painful to look inward at the good parts of me. Depression has become the voice of all my naysayers. The ones who told me that I was worthless. Anytime I try to create I hear the voices. I’m usually only able to create for small periods of a time. This has been true with the comic book (about a drag queen superhero) that I’m working on. I have been working on this comic book for over five years. I have times where I can’t even look at my illustrations. I go months without making any progress. Without depression I most likely would have finished the first issue by now. I have waited so long that now others have released their own drag queen superheroes. If I had the energy to finish it in year one mine would have been the first and most original. Now the magic won’t be as fresh.

Which brings me to success. Depression is a dream killer. It sabotages any advancement that you might have, whether it be from a job or a personal project like my comic book. The best job I have ever had ended because of my depression. I was working for GE. I had great benefits and pay. I had the best manager I had ever had. When you are a hard worker oftentimes management will take advantage of you, especially in retail. Finally I was valued for my hard work, determination and loyalty. I was involved in LGBTQ networking group and was moving up on the ladder. I was on track to becoming a trainer but depression robbed me of that opportunity. I was hospitalized and put on short term disability. I never returned to that job. Instead I self destructed and moved back home.

I had aspirations in becoming an actor. I was in the theatre program at my local community college in my early twenties. My favorite type of theatre was musicals. I took voice lessons for years. The first year at school I had a bad depressive episode. I was just cast the lead in the main theatre production at school, which was a dream of mine. I was in bed for weeks and stopped going to class. The role had to be recast and I barely passed that semester. That was also my last semester in that program. I dreamed a dream and depression killed it.

Another aspect of my life depression has robbed me of are relationships. For example, today I was supposed to hang out with a new friend but I woke up feeling horrible and had to cancel. This happens all the time, which makes it difficult to maintain friendships. Nowadays I don’t have many friends nearby me so I really look forward to the opportunity to do something with a friend. The last two days were decent, when I had nothing planned. Now that I have cancelled I have a great sense of regret, which happens more time than not. On days like today I have little energy. My apartment is usually not kept up and if someone is coming over I feel a great amount of shame. If I have to leave my apartment just walking to the bus stop takes too much energy. Hanging out with someone means having to brush my teeth and shower. Then there is the anxiety if it’s a first time meeting, like today was. So you might can understand why this all is too much when you’re not feeling well.

Most people understand if you cancel a few invites to do something. After that they start to question the relationship. With a depression mind you live in slow motion and the rest of the world is on fast forward, though they only see themselves on regular time. There is still a lot of stigma towards mental illness and many people take it personal when you cancel on them. In reality it has nothing to do with them. Depression takes the fun out of everything. Not to mention that I have pushed people away out of fear and moved around from state to state. So now in my forties I have very few friends, outside of Facebook. The only person I see regularly is my therapist. If it weren’t for our appointments I would spend all my time alone.

Even just one aspect of depression is enough to drive a person mad but when you start to add all them up it makes life pretty miserable. Each day is a challenge. I have lived most of my life with depression and I’m tired of having my life stolen from me. I’m determined to stop this thief anyway I can. That means treating depression like the disease it is. Taking my medicine and making sure I keep my weekly therapy appointments. Pushing myself when I can and using mindfulness to get rid of the thieves when they are on my doorstep. It’s not easy but I have to try. Life can’t be this depressing.

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Am I a Negative Nancy?

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Someone recently said that I’m negative, well the last two months. It was a friendship that I decided to end due to the fact that it was toxic. I give people too many chances and I was pushed to my limit when the person lashed out at me calling me negative. I mean that wasn’t the only reason I ended our friendship but it was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

It did plant a seed in me, as much as I have tried to not let it. I’m strong enough to realize that this person lashing out at me had nothing to do with me but still it did open a wound in regards to the stigma related to depression. That those with depression are just negative and need to be more positive. I wish the cure to depression was only positive affirmations but that’s not the reality. Sure mindfulness is one part of the healing process but it’s this idea that it can be cured by a sunny disposition is harmful to those who suffer from depression.

Many don’t realize that I sometimes just wake up feeling depressed. Yes, sometimes it’s related to my environment and/or trigger but a lot of times it has to do with my brain chemistry. It affects more than just my mind. I get almost like flu symptoms. It feels like my skin is crawling and I have this heavy fog that clouds my brain.

I try to have a positive outlook on life and what I endure but sometimes it’s difficult. I have few people I can talk to about what I’m enduring. So my only outlet is to post on Facebook. Those who read my posts might think that I’m just being negative. If they had to live my life for one day I think they would be more empathetic towards me.

If you could only hear all the positive self talk that I must do when my demons are at my door. You just can’t hear them. To survive this long under so much pressure means that I’m a pro at surviving. That doesn’t mean my quality life is any better. The experience have given me the tricks of the trade to lesson the symptoms, though when I’m super depressed nothing helps.

When you see me posting on Facebook it means that I’m deep in turmoil. I don’t just automatically post when I feel something. When I do it means I have sit in misery for hours, if not days. If I shared what was in my head, then you’d really think I was negative. The demons in my head are loud, evil and up to no good. This is what I fight against daily. When my depression is at my worst I have this gigantic mob that take up space in my consciousness. They follow me everywhere I go and there is nowhere to run and hide. No relief to be seen. I can only just wait it out. Practice self care and hold onto dear life.

Some argue that I am sharing way too much information online. They’d rather me suffer in silence I guess. Like Shrek always says, better out than in. Oh wait, he was talking about something entirely different but it applies to this as well. Honestly I wish I didn’t have to share things so openly but my support system currently is my therapist. So it’s either release the tension openly or let it fester and eat me up inside.

Last weekend was a really difficult weekend for me. The last two months my psychiatrist has been trying different medicines to find a better fit for me. This latest attempt set my depression spiraling and I was struggling to keep afloat. Once again I was very close to be hospitalized. Whenever I have a bad episode like this I become very hopeless that the suffering will ever stop. Each time I dig myself out of that hole and start to feel better I get this sense that maybe this will be the day. The day when I get out of this bad place in my life. Where I will suffer less and live more. So when a few weeks later my depression takes a hit then I go back to being hopeless. I have cycled like this for the past twenty years.

I had a psychiatrist appointment this past Monday and he put me on a new med. By Wednesday, I was feeling dramatically better. I had two days where I felt like myself. That was until last night when I could feel the depression coming on and I dreaded it. I can hear the voices getting louder, the demons who haunt me. Today has been tough, not because of the depression but because what the depression comes from. Being aware gives you clarity but sometimes your helpless to stop the car crash.

I’m so extremely lonely. It’s unbearable most the time. I struggle just to get out of bed. I have very little energy and most my days are spent alone. I have no one. I’m like one of the old ladies I live with. No one comes to visit me. No one calls. I don’t talk to anyone regularly, other than my therapist. My days are spent watching tv and being on social media. It’s not to say that I haven’t tried to have a more fulfilling life but it’s not come by easy. You just don’t pull a support system out of thin air. I miss the days of having so many friends that I was doing something all the time. I miss going to the movies and laughing so hard you almost fall on the floor. I miss going to parties and eating good food. I miss my family. I miss my Mom.

I want so much out of life and often times I have no energy to reach for the stars. All the energy I have to just get through each day. I have to remind myself of what my favorite drag queens says. Rupaul says, what other people think of you is not your business! Some people might think I’m just being negative but those people don’t have to live my life. If you really cared about me then rather than judge me from the sidelines you’d reach out for support. It’s so much easier to pass judgment in silence. I don’t have time to worry about the naysayers. I have enough to deal with.

Yes, I’m Alone

A common phrase when someone is struggling and vocalizes such is… you’re not alone. I have been guilty of doing this myself. In theory it’s true. In the collective whole of our universe odds are that there is at least one person going through what you are. So in that sense it is correct that we’re aren’t alone. When it comes to someone suffering in silence that doesn’t matter. What good is someone across the country going to do in giving me support that I need, want and deserve. They become empty words with no meaning. That’s why I myself need to stop using this phrase as it’s not helpful, nor is it empathic. I’m learning that you show people things by action. In this case, rather than say they aren’t alone make an effort so that they aren’t alone like they use to be.

The last year has been extremely difficult for me. Most of the time in that year was spent alone. I’m not over exaggerating this either. For the first part of it the isolation was a choice because of how severe the symptoms of my PTSD were. Even then I didn’t have people coming knocking on my door to see how I was doing. I was suffering in silence, like so many with mental illness do. I had no friends near me and I had become estranged from my family. If it weren’t for my therapy and case management appoints I wouldn’t have seen anyone, other than the residents where I live.

After my almost suicide attempt in January this year, I have started to want to venture out into the world but am limited due to winter and costs, and the lack of friends. I’m working on making new friends, that just takes time. Maybe a better thing to say is, you won’t be alone forever. Well even that is problematic I guess. I think the issue is that many feel the need to give solutions to the person in need. Most the time when I’m struggling I just want to know that someone is there to listen to me. I have suffered most of my life from depression. I have learned that no one can fix my problems, let alone my mental illness. I just don’t want to suffer in silence anymore. Most the time we aren’t able to say I need support. This what we really mean when we say we are alone. Sadly most aren’t able to decipher the code.

Sadly you don’t just create new relationships that are long lasting overnight. It takes time to just create one friendship, let alone a support system. Again most the time I don’t want to talk about my problems, I just don’t want to be alone. I want to forget about the darkness by laughing and having fun. Sitting on the couch and watching a movie. Going for a walk with someone you care about. Basic human connection is something that is missing in my life. I both crave and fear it. I call it the scared rabbit syndrome. Those who with mental illness are like rabbits. There is potential danger all around us. So we stay in our rabbit holes most of the time but occasionally we have to venture out for food. Sometimes we must flee our rabbit hole if danger is brought into our homes. Most don’t lose support systems overnight either. So many don’t understand mental illness. Heck most of us with mental illness don’t either most the time. Stigma leads to a big ole pile of nothing. So we are forced into isolation.

I have tried since 2006 to venture out of the rabbit hole but I get spooked easily and every time I fled to the safety of my rabbit hole. This has led to a life of being alone. I have moved from city to city, state to state trying to run from my past and problems. It has led me into a dire state. I have pushed away everyone out of the fear of losing them. It was safer to be alone than to have my heartbroken. At least that’s what I thought. After twenty years of doing this I realize how wrong I was but it’s too late. I can’t change what has happened. I can only try to rebuild my world. I’m starting all over and that’s tough enough, let alone with a mental illness.

The fact of the matter is this. I have no one I see regularly. I don’t get to do fun things. I have a few friends that I’m trying to cultivate but nothing consistent. I’m what I call, under the radar. I’m not in anyone’s circle currently. So usually I’m an afterthought. I’m not saying that people don’t care about me because they do. I’m just saying that I’m not close enough to people to be in contact with them regularly. I thought I had found a friend like that to only have been mistaken majorly. I’m desperate to be in other’s circle. I see close friends out together and it drives me mad. I’m like an eager puppy willing to do anything I can to be apart of their world.

I haven’t been close to anyone in a long while. My Mom was the closest person I was close to and she passed away in 2012. I have friends but they all live far away in Facebook land. I just would like to meet one person who was consistent in wanting to be my friend. I get tired of always being the one trying so hard. When will my day come when someone sees my value to the point that they want to be apart of my world and not just be a passing thought. Someone who wants to regularly see me and makes efforts to hang out with me or at the very least check up on me regularly, not just when I’m in crisis mode.

When I was close to killing myself earlier this year I had people step forward for support but a week after I returned home that all stopped. I was alone again with very little support. You don’t just get to the point where you want to die then all of sudden after a few weeks of intense therapy are cured of that need to die. It takes a long while to heal from something that intense.

When you have anxiety, depression and especially PTSD going out into the world can be very problematic. On good days I struggle to be around people I know. I have times when I can’t leave my apartment. The other day I convinced myself that it was safe to go to the grocery store. I had to fight hard to stay present on the city bus. Then the grocery store was a madhouse. It took a lot of energy to get through those few hours. Mental illness robs you of so much. Stability, relationships, life, energy, health, etc. Being poor makes my situation even more difficult. I’m limited to where I can go and being alone in the world is very scary. If you think being alone with someone is scary, think what it’s like to be out in public with a lot of people. Each person is a potential threat. When I’m in PTSD danger mode I look for safe places to hide. The past few days I have had this uncontrollable urge to hide underneath my computer desk. If that doesn’t give you an idea of the severity of my symptoms, then nothing will.

I guess my point is that my situation is complex and being alone is just a symptom of a much larger problem. I have started to venture out into the world. I have been going to my transgender support groups and went to a pool party a few weeks ago. What I struggle with most lately is the consistently of these connections. I will have a huge connection one day and a bunch of isolation the next. It causes me to crash and burn. This was especially true the weekend of the pool party. The day before was my first meeting of the support group that I started. It was the best weekend I have had in over fifteen years. By Sunday night I was already starting to spiral out of control. I was desperate to keep that connection and the further I slipped away the more out of control my mental health became.

Two weeks later I’m struggling big time. I’m having a hard time staying present. I’m desperate to fill this void. I was supposed to hang out with a friend early this week but I had a bad day and had to cancel. See how that works. I finally have a date with a friend and I have a PTSD day. Fuck!!!

I hate being alone but I often get overstimulated by constant connection, like I did that weekend. I float away so high that I start to have an out of body experience when I start to drift off. I guess it’s balance is what I lack currently. Until I make some close friends I will continue to be alone and that sucks because I need support now. I have been alone for most of the last ten years and now I’m awake. I can’t do it anymore. Which is why I’m fighting so hard to get past the fears and insecurities. Fear and abandonment keep me from happiness. I have been making a lot of progress. I had a friendship recently that ended, not by my choice. I really cared for this person but my problems was too much for this person. I finally thought I found that one person but it wasn’t the case. That rejection and abandonment would have sent me spiralling into the sun last year. This time it hurt like hell but I stayed grounded. So that feels good. Still sucks majorly.

I just want people to give me a chance and stick it out with me. I fear I have this ticking clock attached to my back. I guess that’s why I feel so desperate. I know all it takes is one break for me to be successful in ending my life. That’s why I panic every time I have a depressive/ptsd episode. I can quickly spiral out of control. I’m talking about seconds and I lose all sense of reality. I no longer have a bright light to keep me on this earth and that frightens me senseless. I have so much to live for and so much left to do. I have wasted so many years and I just want to be happy. Everything is a chore. Nothing comes easy. Even breathing is difficult. I don’t really want to die, I just want the suffering to end.

So I just hope I have enough time to wait for the support system I deserve and need. In life that is not a guarantee. So while I’m alone now and in the foreseen future I probably will be. I hope that is not always the case. So if you are reading this and someone says to you that they are alone. Rather than say the obvious, just be there for them. Take them out to dinner, ask them over. Be there for them without any solutions or conditions. Show them that they aren’t alone and be persistent. That’s the only way we will believe you when when someone says we aren’t alone, when someone has the facts to back that up.

The Various Characters on the Street

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I’m trying to look at being homeless as a new adventure. Some days are easier to embrace that than others. It’s easy to judge a book by it’s cover but if you look deeper sometimes you will be surprised. This works in reverse too. When you’re homeless it’s natural to be cautious. It’s important in staying safe. There are all types living on the street. Lots of people are unpredictable and it’s tough to judge this in others. There are those who are nice one day and unkind the next. A good portion have some sort of mental illness. Sometimes you just have to sit back and wish them well. Engaging a lot of times causes you more trouble than good and doing so could put you in danger. There are some exceptions to the rule. Here are some of my observations of those living on the street.

My roommate is very low key and I’m so fortunate to have him share the room with me. Not everyone is so lucky. Many of the guys who live in the men’s shelter aren’t to be trusted or at the very least aren’t fun to share a room with. Quite a few drink as well so they come to the shelter drunk and often times that causes problems. It’s the only shelter in town that the homeless can drink. Most nights there is some sort of argument and often times leads to an altercation. Cops are also often called to the homeless shelter. One guy stunk up the room so bad that his roommate had to tell the staff. He also slept naked. Most the guys aren’t quiet either. Last night during the NBA finals you could hear them very loud and my room is all the way on the end of the dorm.

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My roommate is 70 years old. He’s very easy going and is pretty quiet. He was living in an apartment where the owner was a slumlord. The tenant below brought in cockroaches that infested the whole building and the owner wouldn’t do anything. The city ended up having to shut down the whole place. He had nowhere to go or no money so he had to live in a shelter. He just was in the hospital for ten days as his health isn’t the greatest. Thankfully he’s got approved for a house via section 8 and soon will be out of the shelter, hopefully within the next few weeks. We have talked many nights about the riff raff in the shelter. We are a lot of like in many ways. Some people who are homeless are so out of choice. For some there tired of the system, which is horrible and the resources out there are slim. Others like the lifestyle. Neither one of us is like that. My first roommate was similar but he didn’t talk at all. He was also an older guy with a big ole beard. He left first thing in the morning and usually didn’t get back to the dorms until the latest possible time being 8:30pm.

As I’ve stated, many of the homeless have some sort of mental illness. There is this one lady named sister Mary. She is a black lady who always wore some sort of hair wrap and a dress. Sister Mary was always pulling her suitcase everywhere she went. If she wasn’t in the day shelter she was hanging outside in front of the building. She’s a character putting it lightly. Mary was one of those homeless who had two sides, actually three. One side was kind hearted and funny. Another side was a little nonsensical like her blurting out stuff about the bible and patriotism. She would just burst out into song singing America the Beautiful. She was definitely a patriot. She talked a lot about the United States. She never mentioned Trump, so that was a good thing. Oh, as far as I know she was never a sister. Though you never know maybe she was. The last side was not always very friendly. When she’d get frustrated she’d become rude and non-responsive. I learned to keep my distance when I noticed this side of her.

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There were days that I could take Sister Mary and could see the loving person she was but there others where I had to put on my headsets to drown her out because of my mood. She talked a lot and was at times pestering. Many of the other homeless and even some of the staff didn’t care for her. She annoyed many people and rightfully so. At first she annoyed the heck out of me too. Eventually I was able to look past the bad to see the person she use to be. Occasionally she would get confused and ask for confirmation about something. I wondered if she didn’t have early onset Dementia or Alzheimer’s. She was always talking about leaving on a bus, either going to Flint or Pittsburg. I guess she had been talking about in non-stop for months. A few days ago she got a check, bought a bus ticket and left. Everyone was surprised. Now that she’s gone I do miss her. She could be pretty comical if you looked past the annoyances. I wish her well and hope she finds what she’s looking for, including getting out of homelessness.

People will just disappear and you never really know what happened to them. Recently a lot of people got their Section 8 vouchers. I think 120 people were pulled, which is unheard of supposedly. I try my hardest to not judge people I encounter and it’s something I struggle with. Separating the person from the behavior is tough especially if the person is out of touch or a rough character. There are times you judge their character rightfully so. Some are just downright despicable and I make sure to stay far away from them. Yesterday there was an old man in a wheelchair who was hard of hearing and struggling. He needed to call for a cab. The lady working the front desk gave him a number and he attempted to use the phone on the other side of the room. You have to dial 9 to get an outside line and he couldn’t figure it out. There were a group of people next to him and not one person would help him. One of the women told him that it wasn’t her job. Then he was trying to figure out how to get to the front of the building which is not a straight shot. Again people just stared at him. I proceeded to help him and then someone is like go out this door right next to the day shelter, which usually isn’t where cabs go to. They usually use the main entrance. I ended up calling the cab company to make sure they went to the right place, they still went to the wrong place but thankfully a few minutes the driver went to where the old man was.

Life either spits you out in a few ways. It will leave you bitter, jaded and hateful. The victims of circumstances go from getting everything taken from them to then taking anything they can, even if it’s from ruthless methods. People like this feel like the world owes them whatever they take. Usually these types of people hang out with a group like them. Some become desperate and fall into part of that category. The difference is that they’re not assholes usually. The system is set up to fail the poor and homeless so getting out of homelessness isn’t easy and there are many, many obstacles in the way preventing you from getting stability. I would expect that if you’ve lived on the streets long enough and become desperate enough that you would do whatever you had to in order to survive. Then there are some who are the complete opposite. They keep to themselves and rarely talk to others. They accept the fate the world has brought them too.

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There is another woman named Mary who is one of those people. She rarely talks and stays in the same corner each day. I see many homeless who are dealing with some sort of addiction. It’s really sad to watch their lives fall apart and living just for the next high. To see people spiraling out of control breaks my heart. There was one man who worked at the shelter doing janitorial and was doing very well. The staff loved him and had high praise from him for what he had overcome. Recently someone came to the shelter trying to cause trouble. Supposedly there was an altercation between the two days ago. It was clear what the man was doing and it totally spooked the worker. You could tell that he was afraid that he would lose his job. You could see the gears grinding overtime in his brain. The next day he didn’t show up to work. It was payday and he chose to drink again. That night he was so drunk that the guys had to help him up the stairs to the men’s dorm. He used all his money to buy liquor. By the next day he had lost his job, which meant losing his housing too. The police had to escort him out. He was a good guy but his addiction got the best of him and it overtook him again. The other shelters in the area don’t allow drinking at all so where will he go? How will he get his next drink? It leads to nothing good. So many are like him. There is a lot of stigma out there towards addicts. People don’t see it as a valid disease, it’s a choice again. It’s easier to judge than it is to feel empathy towards someone who is struggling. Sadly this man didn’t believe he deserved anything good and so he went back to the life he could count on. I hope that one day he will see his worth as bigger than his addiction. Support is key to recovery and so many don’t have that.

So how do you tell the difference. Sometimes you can’t, at least not right away. If you live in the shelter long enough you start to see the patterns. One part of survival is being always alert of your surroundings. You learn the behaviors of other people and begin to pick them out early on. I’m no expert by any means but I’m learning. One day I’m highly skeptical of others, while others I’m more open minded but I still stay really hesitant. I tend to gravitate towards other women. Though you got to be careful because there are quite a few to not be trusted either. I’ve also learned if you become more friendly the more likely someone is going to ask something from you like money. Each day at the day shelter they give out snacks at 10am. The other day they had a whole box of cookies and I snatched that up. One of the guys tried to con me out of it. He’s like I will give you $4 for it and the amount kept going down when I said no. He eventually gave up. My instincts told me that he would say I would get you the money later and he wouldn’t.

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One law of the land is to not let anyone borrow your stuff, like chargers, phone, etc., because it’s easily for someone to steal it. You turn around and they are gone. The elderly are easy targets. One older black man gave his phone to another person thinking he was going to charge it. Four days later and he still hadn’t returned it. When staff confronted the guy he denied having it. Again another despicable person. Losing your phone is one of the biggest violations there are when you are homeless because all your information is in it. If someone took my phone I would have no access to the outside world. So when someone asks to use it I tell them it doesn’t have cell service, which it doesn’t. I don’t tell them that I use google voice to make calls when there is wifi. I feel bad not helping people because some truly have the best interest at heart but it’s just something I can’t risk.

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For someone who is LGBTQ being homeless can be even more complicated and dangerous. You really have to be on guard. If you live in a big city and are a homeless youth then there are options for you. If don’t live in NYC, LA or Chicago then the resources just aren’t there, especially if you’re homeless and identify as LGBTQ. I don’t know of any organization dedicated to helping LGBTQ adults recover from homelessness and that includes mental illness. I wish there was a program out there but so far there isn’t, at least not that I’m aware of and I have searched. Even though Lansing isn’t that big there is a gay man that is staying in my dorm. He lives a lot more openly than I do. The other day he was talking about gay pride right in the day shelter with a lot of people in it. He didn’t care. I respected that about him. It’s easy to see the men who are uncomfortable with him. I see the glares and stares. He’s very flamboyant. I’ve thought about trying to talk to him but he’s a bit unpredictable too. I have heard that he’s gone off on people before. I have seen it in small doses when he doesn’t agree with someone. He’s got this my way or the highway attitude. I’m sure he doesn’t out of protection. It’s a defense mechanism. I also think he’s got some sort of mental illness.  So I just appreciate him from afar. I have heard there have been other trans people come through the shelter. So we are out there. I keep being transgender on the downlow because I’m not passable at all and I worry it would put me in danger. I still do little things where I don’t hide all of who I am, like my headband. I’m putting my time in realizing that this place I’m in today is only temporary. It’s how I keep sane and from losing myself. I know it’s not the final destination.

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I’m fortunate and so many aren’t. When you look back at the homeless population it’s so easy to be disheartened to see so many people at such a low point. Last night a woman was crying in the lobby because a staff member laughed at her because of her situation. It was tough to watch her. I just wanted to give her a hugg. She talked about the low point of being homeless and how it feels to be judged. That’s one of the most sad aspects of homeless is how society treat us. Many see us as lepers, unworthy of any care. That being homeless is a choice and we could have done things differently. People judge you based on their own life experiences. Well if I am able to go to work and own a house, then everyone has those skills. So many walk by the homeless on the street and some even make fun of them. If it was a dog I could guarantee most would stop to help. It’s fine if you don’t want to help but keep your judgments to yourself. Most homeless haven’t had a decent warm meal in a long while. If you don’t want to give them money, offer to buy them dinner. In my early 20’s, I was with my sister and we saw a homeless guy on the corner of the street as we were driving. We stopped at the convenience store right near him and bought him a big brown bag full of stuff. To someone who is poor and struggling receiving such a gift is priceless. It’s easy to feel like the world has forgotten you and in many cases it has, so whenever someone does something kind like that it restores part of your faith in humanity.

The kindness doesn’t even have to be monetary. When you see someone homeless smile at them and see them for who they are inside. Each one of the homeless came from somewhere. Another experience I had with the homeless was when I was living in Chicago in 2004. It was in the middle of winter and I saw a lady taking refuge in the area of the bank where you need a debit/credit card to enter the lobby of the ATM. She had somehow found her way in and was staying warm. She was at least in her 60’s and was weathered. You could tell that she lived a hard life. I wondered what her life was like before she was homeless. What did she do? What made her happy? Did she have loved ones? I didn’t have a lot of cash on me so I gave the $5 bill I had in my pocket. I gave her a smile and left her to stay warm. As I started walking down the street two younger black men were walking my way. As they passed they said God bless you. There was no way that they could have seen what I did. It was confirmation of the good that I was doing.

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People question me about why I air my dirty laundry so publically. Some people just don’t get it and it’s not a message meant for them. I know what it’s like to be down and out. Forgotten. Less than. Unworthy. I’m open about my struggles for two reasons. First it’s therapeutic for me and often times it’s the only outlet I have to release the tension. My mental illness has led to me isolating and living a life like a hermit. My support system has struggled because of that. I mainly do it in order to help others. I have had my blog for a very long time and I have people comment about how my words have impacted them for the better. On an average day I have at least ten people view my blog. There there is my Facebook where I post more frequently. At times I don’t think anyone is seeing my posts then I find out later on that’s not the case. Not everyone is a vocal as I am. I feel like I’m making a difference while I’m taking care of myself.

My goal once I get out of homelessness is to be an advocate for the homeless. So many people need to be educated. The resources are severely lacking and funding needs to be increased. This will only happen if people get involved. Sadly with this current administration things will get worse before they get better. That’s why it’s so important to vote always because it’s people like the homeless and the poor who are hurt the most when rich people control our government. Ben Carson wants to make drastic cuts to HUD and increase what people have to pay for low income housing. What little there is could be take away. I wish people would look past to themselves but sadly many aren’t able to empathize until it happens to them like with the hurricanes in Texas and Florida last year. Just look at how our country has treated Puerto Rico. They have been forgotten and very little is being down. People are still without power and are homeless. This speaks to what the attitudes towards the homeless, especially those who are black and brown.

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If people knew what it really was like then we wouldn’t have such a high homeless population. The other day someone asked me what could be done proactively to prevent homelessness. I struggled to answer that because the solution is complex and will include improving many things. There isn’t one answer. Definitely the funding needs to be increased both for homeless shelters and low income housing. The number of people needing low income housing are way out numbered for what is available. The homeless shelters need a lot more money and support. The services are really bare bones and their resources are usually stretched to the max.

I don’t have the answers but that’s not going to stop me from trying to make it easier for those who are homeless. I do know one solution and that’s kindness. Do good. If you see someone in need, help them to your best ability. You could be the one hand that lifts them out of their struggles. Good deeds are the saving grace for so many. If you can’t donate to a shelter or buy someone food then volunteer at your local homeless shelter. Get to know the people and you will realize that we’re like everyone else. We want happiness and to live in peace. We deserve love just like everyone else. While being homeless is extremely tough I am blessed and forever changed for the experience and those I have meant. It’s taken being homeless to get my lifeforce back. I can only hope the same for all the other homeless people. I am better because of knowing all the characters of the street.

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My Life as a Hermit

her·mit

/ˈhərmit/
Noun
  1. A person living in solitude as a religious discipline.
  2. Any person living in solitude or seeking to do so.

While I don’t live in solitude for religious discipline, I do live find myself being a hermit lately… not all entirely by choice. I say by choice because a part of why I isolate is due to my depression. The worse my depression is, the deeper I go into that dark cave. Most of my adulthood I have danced a fine line between the outside world and that solitude. Solitude can be healthy at times but for me it too much of it can be a very bad thing and the longer I go without interaction from the outside world the harder it is to escape.

Seclusion for me was a way to protect myself from the deep hurt that the world had inflicted upon me. It was a way to block myself from the pain of it all. I find myself feeling like I am a million miles away from everyone I love, when they live upstairs from me. The deeper I go into that depressive hermit mode, the more I try to hide from others… to the point where I will only go upstairs when everyone else is sleeping. In the past I have intentionally went hungry because I didn’t want to face anyone. (the kitchen is upstairs) That tells you how severe my isolation gets at times.

When my Mom died in September I went back into hiding and I wasn’t sure if I would ever come out… nor was I sure I wanted to. Living a life of a hermit is a miserable existence but at least I don’t get hurt. This is how my mind works. I don’t realize that living this way is hurting me as well. I’ve gone weeks without leaving the house and usually only leave the house when I have to go to appointments. Honestly if it wasn’t for therapy and occasionally getting groceries I am not sure if I would leave.

I have been seeking refuge in this cave for many years. Usually I hit a point where the isolation becomes so unbearable that I must make a run for it. Picture a crazy person running on the streets, that’s me!!! 🙂 I’m getting to that point now, where boredom starts to sink in. You can only get on the internet, play games on your phone and watch tv only so much before it drives you mad.

With isolations comes deep loneliness and sadness. It’s not as if I want to be myself, it’s that I feel I have no other choice. I have to wonder how my feelings of worthlessness affects my need to isolate, like I don’t deserve to be around anything good. Those voices tell me I deserve to be alone. I have learned when you give people chances, they only hurt you. When they hurt me (deeply) I usually go running back to my cave. I have done this time and time again, like a broken record. 

Part of me feels like running again. Starting all over like I have done so many times before but I am tired of running. Tired of starting all over again.

I have to find balance and disconnect myself from other people’s feelings and actions. It is when I connect myself to them, that my life crashes and burns. It’s like I am constantly putting out fires and running in emergency mode. Danger, Danger!!!

I’m scared of the world. Scared of being hurt again. Scared of people dying. Scared. I live my life in fear and that is no way to live. That fear puts me behind bars every single time.

I often wonder when did I start this cycle of being a hermit. Was it when I was sexually abused? Honestly it probably has something to do with that. I can remember hiding beneath my pillow and praying that it would stop… I also did that when my father would go into his tyrants. I guess I learned to be a hermit very early on in my childhood. It was safer to be alone, in the comforts of my bed. I could just close my eyes and pretend the bad away. I guess I am trying to do that today but it just ain’t working and I’m failing miserably.

I wish I could just go out into the world bravely, standing tall and strong. Drowning out these fearful voices is difficult when they are so deafening loud. I wish I was more like Superman, who I grew up loving, and be able to face anything that came my way. Even Clark Kent gets out into the world. I just want to rip my shirt off and show the world that I am the man of steel but lately I feel like the man of cellophane.

I’m not sure why I am so scared to venture back into the world. Is it failure? success? fear of getting hurt again? It’s probably all of those and then some. Part of me wishes I could live like hermit forever but I know that isn’t possible since I’m not rich, nor do I have my own place in the woods. Honestly I’m not really a hermit and it doesn’t bring me an ounce of solitude. I force myself to live this way and I am learning to rewire my brain to believe otherwise.

 

Learning To Live Alone

I am about to embark on a journey, one where I live on my own. One of the realizations of my episode a few weeks ago is that I have never really had a place where I felt I could be stable with. Most of the places I have lived in my adult life have usually ended up with me not knowing where I am going next. You can only run so many times before it gets old and I’m worn out from running.

Being on my own frightens the hell out of me but I don’t have a choice. I no longer have a safety net so it is sink or swim time… and I am choosing to swim because I am tired of drowning. It is time for me to put my roots in the earth and make a place for me in this world. Obviously I have a purpose in this world, so I have to make do with what I have been given and trust that the right opportunity will present itself.

Hiding in the basement will not bring me what I need out of life. I have hid all my life and it gets old. Quivering in the corner doesn’t suit me at all. Hiding in the dark only gets you more darkness and I am not meant to stay there. I am light and not meant to be caged. I deserve love and light in return as well.

I have tolerated the dark for way to long, believed that was the only thing I deserved. Misery and pain… Before I would just cower in fear but now I am learning to crawl and pick myself back up. Various situations in my life and my upbringing taught me some things about myself that were untrue. Seeing my mother stay in a marriage where she was treated poorly did a number on me. Children learn by example.

I am no longer that child. I am strong and can take myself out of bad situations. I might not have been able to so many years ago but I can today. My dear mother is free from all the pain and suffering this world can bring you… but I am stuck here. So I either chose to live in misery or I chose to walk in the light.

As scary as walking alone in the light is, it sure is much better than being surrounded in the dark.

Healing is a slow process. A journey I first started in my early twenties. You take one giant step forward and another giant leap backwards. You fall… You stumble… You get cut… and you cry… but I always get back up. The one thing all the bad things has taught me is how to survive.

Losing my Mother was my biggest and ultimate fear. I thought I would die… but I didn’t… Sure there were days it felt like I was dying but that only meant I was healing… I am alive and stronger than ever. Just like a giant redwood my roots are buried deep within the warm earth and my branches reach up into the heavens. Sure my bark is battered and scared, and some wounds are still raw but deep inside my spirit is on fire… ready to flow…

Ready to touch the world in many deep and wonderful ways. So I am going to push through the fear and the discomfort. I need to learn to tolerate the uncomfortable. Push myself to grow and go down roads early I might have avoided.

This is my time to shine. My turn to make my mark and show the world all I have got. Create the family I have always wanted and yearned for. It starts with just one seed at a time and before I know it I will have a garden full of bountiful fruit.

In the end, we are never alone even when we walk by ourselves. Each time we give our love to someone else we leave an imprint on their heart and they do on ours. The stronger the impact the bigger the imprint. So when we must walk a path alone, they are always with us. It would be nice to be able to have someone by yourself all the time but in reality that is never possible. There are some journeys that you must walk alone.

To live a life in codependency only stunts your growth. When you attach yourself to others you never really have the opportunity to mature. You become very much like a leech sucking all the energy out of everyone you touch and in return your life force is also extinguished.

Something just dawned on me… I am a survivor but that doesn’t mean I have lot live my life in survival mode. It has taken me over twenty years to realize that I am no longer in danger. I am free… to live my life as I please. I no longer have to live in fear or desperation. I don’t need to hold onto dear life to anything or anyone I can grab a hold of.

Now it is time to build the world around me that I want and just live… and grow…