As if Christmas is not stressful enough I found out just before Christmas that I had a little over a month to move – the end of January as the house was sold, the new owners took possession in February and would not be renting the suite to me.
I had no idea the owner was looking to sell much less that the that the house was up for sale and was caught totally off guard.
Mental Health challenges had consumed my life decades earlier when deep chronic depression and its friends left me unable to function. The inability to deal with day to day life resulted in me being homeless and living in my car.
It was a years long struggle to address my mental health and recovery and living in my car increased the difficulty of finding housing. As part of the journey out of mental illness and housing the first housing situation I found saw me end up returning to living in my car.
I was extremely fortunate that my metal health recovery had included a WRAP [Wellness Recovery Action Plan] plan. Having and following my Recovery Plan allowed me to keep the hopelessness and anxiety of finding myself back living in my car again from overwhelming me and causing me to give up.
The plan included journaling to focus and clear my thinking as well as serving to provide perspective.
As part of journaling I was writing letters to the editor at newspapers about social issues and writing articles and posting them to my website and other internet sites.
Someone I had never met who had been reading my writings offered me the use of the floor in his spare bedroom and – far more importantly – recommended me to his landlady when of a friend of his landlady had the basement suite I have been living in for close to two decades to rent.
Of course mental illness, health and wellness being the minefield it can be I almost talked myself out of taking the place.
In fact I wouldn’t have moved in if it had been for a member of my Alanon [I grew up with an alcoholic parent] group as I had talked myself out of taking the basement suite. The person hadn’t argued with me about the matter simply observed, after the meeting, that all us adult children were masters of self sabotage.
I went to the bank and paid the first months rent first thing the next day.
For quite some time it was a struggle to pay the rent and eat. In fact on two occasions if the rent bank had not loaned me the money for rent after unexpected expenses left me without the money to pay the rent I would have been homeless.
It has only been the past few years where I had managed to save enough money to have money in the bank to cover unexpected expenses and still be able to pay my rent.
Suddenly finding out I no longer had housing in a little over a month had me struggling not to succumb to panic.
The fact that the rental market is a tight and scarce as it is and that rents are as high as they are just ratcheted up the pressure to panic.The challenge of keeping the anxiety under control to avoid panic and doing something stupid or self sabotaging was not made any easier by the reality that I remain on medication for anxiety.
The fact my skills are not strong in networking and finding new housing, especially given the rental market, very short time frame, adds to the challenge of not succumb to anxiety and panic in order to maintain mental wellness to avoid self destructive panic.
I also does not help any that the pressure on anxiety triggers ADD [attention deficit disorder] behaviours that make dealing with the need to move and find housing more difficult.
Add in the fact that as an avid reader who has never parted with any of my science fiction and fantasy I have 6000 – 7000 books and between close to two decades in the same basement suite, the effect of a period of repeated flooding on organization and being a packrat has resulted in a great deal of stuff needing to be moved or disposed of.
I remember how hard it was to move in two decades ago with less stuff and the help of a good friend and his wife’s cousin. Two decades and now being a senior citizen [65+] makes the physical challenge of packing and moving or disposing of stuff a challenge that looks like climbing Mount Everest.
And while I can survive living in my car, closing in on 70 years of age makes homelessness, even with the advantage of living in my car daunting.
So the last weeks of the old year and first weeks of the new year have been a struggle to find housing, somehow move while avoiding a mental meltdown, self sabotage or self destructive behaviour.
This past weekend marked the middle of January leaving just two weeks to find housing and move or end up homeless.
My brain brain began a runaway meltdown, catastrophizing, pushing the panic button and promoting stupid and self defeating behaviour. The adrenalin flooding my body when my brain hammered the PANIC button had me sweating, trembling and tired.
The struggle to regain control was made decidedly more difficult by the inability to get restful sleep for two days.
As my brain attempted to drag me into the quagmire of panic and stinking thinking, I sought to distract and calm myself by reading the new Mercedes Lackey elemental masters novel and found I could not focus on the words well enough to put together and read.
When you have been able to manage your mental wellness you remember it was bad but how truly terrible, painful and debilitating it was had faded which served to make my brain switching into overdrive overwhelming.
The need to escape the frenzy and delirium inside my head made self medicating extremely tempting. Because the path of self medicating with drugs or alcohol leads you off a cliff to crash and burn my wellness plan includes not self medicating.
So when I found myself considering picking up take out at the Wok Box and popping into the BC liquor store I confined myself to home.
Still needing to break free of the maelstrom in my head had me moving to the computer to use putting these words down on the page to escape the cacophony in my head and avoid fatal stupidity.
The focus on writing did let me escape the maelstrom but with the trauma of the last two days and my brain being set on catastrophizing I found myself frozen, trapped in indecision; under attack from panic and anxiety; and struggling to avoid stupidity, bad thinking, bad decisions and self sabotage.
With my brain is flopping around like a fish out of water choosing a course of action and not flopping around was not happening.
So I decided to see if sharing my words would be able to aid me in dealing with my housing challenges as they did so many years ago.
For the remainder of today [Monday] and early tomorrow [Tuesday] I would1) focus on getting my words down and coherent 2) focus on wellness and remaining calm; 2) go to work Tuesday – the $$$ are needed to deal with housing and work requires a focus outside of myself 3) share these words [my website – www.jameswbreckenridge.ca – social media and via email] and see what information, ideas, plans or help my words generate vis-à-vis dealing with my housing conundrum.
The bottom line is that all I really need is clothes, laptop and other mobile electronics.
But abandoning my books, stereo and assorted other belongings stinks of defeat and dumping a big mess behind on someone else isn’t who I am [or at least not who I want to be].
But my brain has become a barrier to planning logistics [a container dropped here and loaded? Rent a van to haul stuff to storage? No longer young how much can I do physically? How do I deal with my age related physical limits? One of my medications requires refrigeration. Etcetera].
The clock is ticking towards 8 AM Tuesday morning and I need to proof read then share these words; sleep [hopefully dreamless and without the need for any less than wise aids to get to sleep]; rise, eat and work [12 hours overnight Tuesday into Wednesday].
Then…..hopefully my words will have generated whatever is necessary to decide, plan and execute the logistics of getting out of my abode of twenty years in a relatively orderly manner. Perhaps even find a new place or housing to tide me over until I can find a new location.