Reality hits home
I am scared. Not afraid of the dark scared but deep in my gut I have run out of options scared. My disability was denied twice but I kept plugging along. There is another option out there. I applied for a few jobs knowing in my heart I wouldn’t be able to handle much. But no one called. I got up and said, “that’s okay, there is something different out there for me”. I reapplied for grad school after a leave of absence. My financial aid was denied because I had tried and failed too many times meaning I would not be able to complete my degree in the designated frame. And that’s when I laid down and cried. When I finally said enough is enough. When I said I don’t care what happens to me because it won’t be anything good.
I don’t want to get back up because I don’t think that I can. I have been knocked on my ass a lot and I always get back up. Always. But this is different. I lay here as a bipolar woman with severe depression in her late thirties with no income, no opportunities and a real understanding that I could be out on the street. Am I being dramatic or realistic? Maybe a little of both. Approximately 25% of the homeless suffer from mental illness with those who suffer from bipolar disorder being more vulnerable than most. I made this leap, what may seem like quite a large leap to some, when I thought my last option, and perhaps my favorite was taken away. At 35 education would rescue me. It would put letters by name, lead to a job or at least to some validity in the world. I would be more. In my heart, wishing mightily that it would soothe some of the bipolar flare ups that find me in bed for days. But I was reminded once more that I messed up. I tried and failed too many times. In the past I would rise up like the phoenix from the ashes and find a new path. Well not really but I really would get up. Now I only see a life without options and for the first time in my life I don’t see another path. I am lucky though. I have a family that has tolerated me through these trying five years. They have supported me up one wall and down the next ensuring that indeed there were four and that I did not end up on street. And as much as I had hoped that a MSW added behind my name would fight off the evils of mental health I have to be honest that a B.A. did nothing to fight it stave it off either. My own intelligence or abilities are not the problem. Depression, sadness, anger and other emotions that battle in me are. I have coping mechanisms and medication and sometimes that means absolutely nothing. I cannot get out of bed. I cannot move. I seize up and cry. This uncertainty makes me a liability right now even at McDonalds. No one wants tears in their fries. They just want their fries. Now. This unreliability has placed a giant question mark where my future should be. And not my ten years from now future. My month from now future. That is why my thought of homelessness is seeming a little less dramatic and a lot more realistic.
According to a study prevented in Psychological Services in 2017, a growing number of women are becoming homeless. It has continued to be a major public health problem in which the behavioral health needs must be understood and met before any solution is found. I bring this up 1) because I think you should read this study or another like it and 2) because all of us are affected by mental illness in some way. We are diagnosed with, we have family with it, we drive by and see it on the streets every day. Many are living paycheck to paycheck and it can especially dangerous for those with a mental illness who may not even have that stability to depend on. So as a friend, family member or diagnosed person we can call for action on policy and legislation change. We can demand funding for research and as for services in our communities.
I still don’t know what I will do to pay my bills, and how I am going to stand up, but I am now on knees instead of on my back, so I guess that’s a step. And today that is all I ask for.