Category Archives: Mental Health

Recovery/Escape from homelessness is a tricky path.

I was at a housing meeting where the speaker asked people to take out their keys and look at their house key; to take a moment to think about what the key meant or represented to them.

I don’t know what the others around the table thought or saw in their key. I don’t know what the speaker sees when he looks at his own key.

I suspect it was not what I saw in looking at my door key – a burden.

Like rain on a mountain, poverty slowly wears away at you.

The stress of scrambling and pinching pennies until they scream, month after month after month, in order to pay the rent and cover the monthly bills wears away at one’s spirit and mental health.

The stress wears away at one’s ability to manage/deal with anxiety disorders and as anxiety creeps back into your life, over time the levels of anxiety increase becoming harder and harder to deal with.

As anxiety works its way back into one’s life it brings with it feelings of panic, then panic attacks. Increasing anxiety and panic open the door for depression, obsessive-compulsive behaviours and negative thinking.

The grinding of the spirit and mind by the constant threat of homelessness drags at you, seemingly seeking to drag you into a downward mental spiral and back into a head space where your mental illness more and more impairs your ability to function.

Your house key, your home, becomes an albatross around your neck dragging you back into mental illness. You look at the key and you see a burden that portends a return to the darkness of mental illness and inevitably once again to homelessness.

As the strain on your mental health increases so does the temptation to seek relief or to take the edge off through self medication.

The roots of addiction are buried in the soil of seeking relief or alleviation from one’s own mind and the darkness or pain or both that reside there.

The need to find a doctor to fill out the medical report to renew one’s status as ‘persons with persistent multiple barriers’ or have your monthly income halved and face dealing with the fallout that would result from having one’s income abruptly reduced by 50% = stress+++.

A voice mail message conveys the need to phone the Ministry about an issue with the stub. Of course when you phone the line is always busy, forcing you to go down to the Ministry office.

As a result of past dealings with the Ministry, even when mentally well, dealing with the Ministry is at best a challenge. When one’s mental health is under pressure dealing with the Ministry employees means struggling to hold anxiety and panic at bay.

Facing a need to chill out in order to be able to enter the Ministry’s den and deal with the Ministry without succumbing to either (or both) an anxiety or panic attack … well a toke or two or three of marijuana to take the edge off and mellow you out becomes somewhat of a seriously temptation.

And yes, there are some prescription medications that take the edge off but they also stuff one’s head with cotton to the point of nonfunctioning. Remember you need to have a doctor prescribe any medication and since one of the current obstacles is the need to find a doctor …

Understanding just how tempting and easy it is to end up using whatever substances you can find that offer a way to deal with, alleviate and/or escape from one’s own mind and pain has a profound effect on how you view addiction and addicts.

Good thing – I made it into the Ministry. Bad thing – I made it into the Ministry. Part time work contributes to my income but getting paid every two weeks means every six months three pay periods are claimed as income for the month, resulting in exceeding the income permitted. This will result in a reduction of the next Ministry cheque by $280.

Although I have been able to scrimp and scramble and survive this reduction in the past, my finances have been exhausted to the point that no amount of scrambling will enable me to be able to pay June’s rent with this reduction.

Standing in the Ministry office Monday afternoon amending the stub to include the extra pay period did not cause feelings of anxiety or panic. The feeling evoked was much closer to relief.

Yes I now need to find someplace to store belongings, reduce my belongings to fit into that storage space, get those belongings stored and dispose of the rest of my belongings. But facing the constant risk of homelessness I have been forced for months to think about what to keep and what to let go of.

Rather than living in fear and anxiety of the sword falling, now that it has (or will shortly) fall it is a matter of dealing with what needs to be done to transition to homelessness. Having been homeless and lived in my car before homelessness does not hold fear or high anxiety.

Indeed although I will lose the $375 rent portion from the Ministry I will be over $200 ahead as I no longer have to pay the difference between the $375 and my actual rent. Additional savings will be realized as expenses related to having housing cease.

There is regret for the need to step back from volunteering and other community involvements in order to be able to focus on the day to day needs to survive while homeless.

Still, this simplifying of life will hopefully permit and/or contribute to the pursuit of a return to mental wellness.

Recovery from homelessness is more difficult and complex than it appears.

The current Mental Health, Housing and Social Development systems/programs hinder more than help, If you are not fortunate enough to escape the system before your luck runs out …

Such are the Realities of Life.