So I Seem To Have Voluntarily Become Homeless

In late 2007, more than two years after having a nervous breakdown and dropping out of college, I officially became disabled. What followed from that breakdown until now was a cycle of falling back on family members for help only to be abused by them so badly that I would have further breakdowns and try to escape to other, equally abusive family members… and so on ad nauseum.

Today, without any warning that managed to significantly differentiate itself from the usual background of perpetual crisis and heartbreak, I got up and walked out. I was not planning on not coming back, unfortunately, and didn’t even take any clothes other than what I was wearing. It was only after I’d been gone for a few hours that I realized that I couldn’t bring myself to return; somehow, someone finally crossed a line that I’m determined not to let be crossed again. I’m done. I’m not going back.

I’m 32, male, and diagnosed with a laundry list of psychiatric disorders, (Many of which are mutually exclusive mind you, but hey, you can’t blame a doctor for making wild-assed guesses, can you?) but otherwise of sound body. I have about $250 cash, $360 in checking, and $800 in a savings account which can be liquidated, but is not instantly accessible. I have an SSI payment of about $400 coming on the first. I have a 1998 Honda Accord (with most of a tank of gas), a 2007 Dell Laptop (with charger and mouse), and a 2008 Nokia XpressMusic Cellphone (with charger and headphones), all very well-used but basically functional. I have a single change of clothing, which I am wearing. I have a case of bottled water and some automotive tools in the trunk. And lastly- and I think this is going to turn out to be a lifesaver- I have a gym membership card. That’s everything I can think of. Very very posh for homeless, I know, but not much to try and bootstrap myself with. Honestly, I feel like I’m starting out in a video game.

Notable things I don’t have are my medication, working health insurance that I know how to use, the title to my vehicle, (which I do own), any toiletries, or a blanket.

I’m posting this via the free wifi at a 24-hour Tom Thumb. (A grocery store.) I’m in the DFW area at the moment, so I’m not in much danger of freezing to death, but it’s still January. While the money is very welcome, and I’m grateful for it, SSI is so low that it’s hopeless to try and pay for housing while being dependent on it alone. There is definitely not anyone in the entire state I could crash with, so don’t even bother suggesting it. I knew what I was getting into, unfortunately; I’ve tried this before years ago, unsuccessfully, but with a lot fewer resources and much less experience.

The chief thing that gives me hope is a caseworker from a Ticket-To-Work contractor (a Social Security program that theoretically helps the disabled find work) who called me just before Thanksgiving last year. Robocalls from Ticket-To-Work scams are a common occurrence on my voicemail, and I steer clear of them, but for the first time ever an actual human being called me- I hadn’t been able to find a human being back when I was searching for Ticket-To-Work contractors intentionally; I exclusively encountered recordings offering me the “Work Support Payments” scam, and I’d given up entirely on the program.

Unfortunately, the holidays summoned a family shitstorm that continues to this very moment, and after trying futilely to complete the paperwork during Thanksgiving I told my caseworker I’d call him back in a week or so when I had pulled myself together again. He sounded very understanding and told me he could wait until I had gotten myself ready; naturally, no opportunity was given for that to happen throughout the holidays. After walking out this morning, I called my caseworker, who hadn’t heard from me in six weeks, and he still sounded very understanding. I didn’t give him any details but I asked him if he could still help me find work even if I was in the middle of a crisis that wasn’t going away any time soon, and he said that if I was serious, he would do “everything humanly possible” to help me.

I don’t think I can emphasize enough that that is not the usual amount of commitment one gets from a government-funded caseworker. I had long ago completely given up on getting any kind of help that would actually help me get better, but this person sounds so earnest that I am genuinely hopeful.

The primary thing this caseworker claims to be able to help me with is lining me up with job interviews with employers looking to employ disabled persons in order to comply with new laws coming into effect. This is very good, as my employment history is very very bad, varying between damningly briefly held jobs and huge multi-year gaps; I was once told by an employment counselor that my work history makes me unemployable. There may be quite a lot of other help from the new contractor as well; I am dangerously hopeful at this point.

I have an important telephone interview with the caseworker tomorrow at 5 pm; after that, I have to wait until he gives me the interviews to show up at, and then show up at them and make the best impression that I can. Then I have to actually show up and do the job satisfactorily long enough to get paid, and then I have to find affordable housing. The last step terrifies me; I have had no success and three very bad failures in finding and choosing living space in the past.

But, that’s way off still- for now, my mission is simply to keep myself healthy, mentally together, conserve money as much as possible, and be able to answer the phone and show up clean and dressed for the interviews. It is wonderfully frightening to me that for the first time in many years I actually feel like I might be able to do this, and damn the circumstances.

The biggest danger, I think, is that my family will try and “help” me. They have my phone number, but I’ve turned the phone off for the time being; I’m scared of even letting myself talk to one of them. They have this way of going on about what a burden I am and how disgusted they are with my lack of function right up until it looks like I’m going to try and leave at which point they switch gears and tell me I’m not ready to be on my own yet and besides I won’t be able to support myself nearly as well alone as I can staying with them and they’re really soooo happy to be able to help me by sharing their nice home with me… and then I cave and lose my resolve and as soon as they see I’ve gotten complacent again, they turn around and resume laying into me. I know if I talk to them they’ll viciously mock me for leaving and tell me I haven’t got any chance to make it on my own and I’ll get eaten alive and I’m disgustingly immature for having such a weird desire to be independent of them… and yeah, that was a rant. Sorry. I’ve learned before when trying to accomplish anything around them, that if I don’t do it suddenly and without warning, they’ll talk me out of it. Hence my walking out without even a change of clothes; sometimes even warning myself is giving too much notice.

I can’t go back to the house for any of my things; I am certain that there will be a bad incident. One family member in particular is very crazy and very scary and very very mean-spirited and almost always home; I have been telling myself that I am never going to let myself be in her presence to receive her abuse ever again, but that may be a bit too unrealistic. But here’s hoping!

I’m sorry this post got so insanely long. I just wanted to be able to tell some people where I was and what I was doing. I definitely could use some advice with regards to eating very cheaply while staying in a car. I am not going to go to a homeless shelter; I’ve stayed in one before and it was a mausoleum of utter despair. I need my spirits lifted, not crushed into a fine powder. For clothes I’m afraid I’m going to have to just buy two changes of things from the thrift store; I have no idea where the laundromats are around here but I’ll find them somehow. Toiletries I think I’m just going to have to purchase new. If anyone has ideas for how I can productively kill time during the day waiting for calls without spending money, I’m all ears. Or eyes, I guess, because this is the internet.

If you actually read all of this, I am eternally grateful. Thank you.

Call Metro Social Services or your local Travelers Aid Society. There should be a strong network in the DFW area. Tell them your situation, and they can advise you on local emergency shelters and resources. They can provide you with a list of local churches and service agencies that offer free meals and temporary housing.

Call your case manager back and ask for help getting stabilized. As a SSDI recipient, you should be eligible for subsidized housing (Section 8) and food stamps. You will also be eligible for a bed in a group home for mentally ill people, if you want to live in a group setting.

Call your doctor/PCP and explain the situation and ask for refills of all your prescriptions. You do NOT need to be without your medication right now, you need to be able to function as well as possible.

If you can get all that done tomorrow, you will be well on your way to stabilization. Good luck!

I read it. I just wanted you to know that.

I read it too. Sorry, I have no advice for you, but I want to wish you very good luck.

Add me as a third. I was actually ready to type the exact same words as Silver Fire used. Hang in there, stay smart, and post here so we know how you’re doing.

ETA: I think LouLou7 has offered some excellent advice and prioritizing.

Do you have a doctor or PCP? It sounds like your poor - so it wouldn’t surprise me if your family was paying for that, but even if they were - LouLou7 is correct - you need your medication.

Don’t let paying the docs worry you. I’m pretty sure 95%+ of doctors will right you another script (as long as it isn’t stimulants or opiates) if you tell them you let home and are homeless and can’t go back for your prescription.

As far as money saving tips - can’t help you much, but leave your cell phone on if you are looking for work. I think LouLou7 gave good advice all around.

Thank you thank you thank you!

Thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you!

Thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you!

You have limited resources right now, and a right to go get what is yours. Perhaps you can call the police, explain the situation, and have them escort you into your old residence to collect your property without interference. They may not have time for it, but depending on what you have left behind it may be worth it. At any rate, there should be some way to facilitate the return of your property without confrontation.

My being reflexively vague about people’s identities because this is the internet and ANONYMITY was probably pointlessly confusing up above, and I apologize for that. I’ve been living with my Aunt & Uncle for the past two-and-one-half years. They have piles of money. However, my own long-divorced parents have both been poor most all of my life, and I, personally, have SSI as my only income, and am not allowed to hold more than $2000 in assets or that stops, so I periodically burn off some of it wastefully because I’ve had so few expenses living with my Aunt & Uncle.

All my medical bills have been being paid by PPO insurance I get through my Uncle’s company, even though I have medicaid, because my family felt (probably accurately) that it was much much better insurance. The problem is that the insurance has a huge, huge deductible that they’ve always paid on my behalf, and it just reset for the new year. I doubt I can go to any of my existing doctors with my medicaid; plus, I haven’t used it since moving to Texas, and have no idea how it works now. My Aunt & Uncle discourage doing things in ways that don’t go through them.

My medicine has lots of refills remaining, but I don’t have the Rx number, which is on the bottle… and I am just now realizing that I can neither spell nor pronounce the name of it, so I couldn’t even ask another doctor for it.

Again, the phone is off to avoid abusive texts and phone calls. I absolutely see why that’s a problem, but for the moment it’s the best way I can think to protect myself.

EDIT: Oh, and thank you thank you thank you for reading!

Are “Metro Social Services” and “Travelers Aid Society” names of organizations or just descriptions of them? The church meals thing sounds like a very good idea for getting food during the day; I’ll look into that. Food stamps are viable once I have an address again, but I can’t see how they’re going to mail me a card until then. All the housing suggestions you are giving are, in my experience, programs with multi-year waiting lists, which are often not even open to new names. Granted, I tried to get into those sorts of programs in Georgia, and Texas’s programs might be less defunct, but I really can’t imagine exhausting myself in another depressing snipe hunt for government housing. Furthermore, I’ve seen some of those places in person, and they are not places you want to live if you have any hope of not giving up all hope. I’ve assumed from the outset that I was going to have to find employment to have housing.

I’m sorry, I know that was really negative. I was just trying to show I read your thing like you read mine!

And thank you thank you thank you!

Just wanted to add that it sounds that your aunt and uncle do have your best interest as their intentions based on what I quoted. The execution of that looks like it may be a train wreck. Has the entire family considered counseling? It seems there may be some miscommunication or misunderstanding about your situation.

Yeeeeeah I feel like calling the police is pretty dang confrontational, actually. I wasn’t saying before that I thought that my Aunt & Uncle would try and physically prevent me from taking my stuff- quite the opposite, they’d passively aggressively try to get me to pack all of it into my car until there was no room for me in it. My point was that they would use my return as an opportunity to further verbally abuse me, and avoid that verbal abuse is the sole reason I walked out. If I go back for anything, I suspect they’ll say anything I leave is going straight into the trash, but if I don’t go back at all, they’ll ignore it and pretend it isn’t there for several weeks. Basically, I expect them to try and punish me for leaving so that they can reject me instead of me rejecting them, while simultaneously asserting that this is all an act on my part and I’m not serious. This is just SOP for my family. I feel like if I wait longer, I’ll have better chance of picking things up when A) I actually have somewhere to put the things; B) my Aunt, in particular, is not present; C) and they can see I’m really going and they’ll be more interested in using the opportunity to actually communicate with me rather than just getting their licks in.

EDIT: And thank you thank you thank you for reading all my crap seriously!

Strain, I lived in a similar chaos about 15 years ago. I am not American, so I can’t really give practical advice. but my trainwreck story kept cutting me down for about ten years… two steps forward, one slip back and all that. I am now employed full-time, no meds at all, things are improving every day for me…

My point is that I was so close to giving up, many times. But through sheer pigheaded determination, I prevailed. I’m thinking the constant grind and anxiety are among your nastiest foes now. Never, ever, ever let it beat you. However bad things get, keep going. I wish I could give real help. Good luck.

The situation is really, really, really complicated. And again, I didn’t help matters by trying to be vague about identities in the OP; I’m sorry I got overparanoid. My Aunt is completely bugfucknuts insane. This is an open and widely acknowledged family secret, and it’s not even all that remarkable, because most of the people I’m related to by blood are seriously crazy. My Uncle, who I am not related to by blood, is very stable but has historically never liked me, and I never liked him- which I didn’t realize until two years ago was entirely because my mother has always hated him, for no good damn reason, so we each just transferred the feelings between them on the two of us, and never got to know one another.

Trying to make a long story short, the only reason my Uncle let me move in is because my Aunt asked him to, after their last kid graduated from college and their house was empty. However, apparently my formerly good relationship with my Aunt was dependent on her not actually knowing me very well- and after two and a half bizarre years, my Aunt now hates me and I have huge respect for my Uncle. But I’m still not his blood relative; I’m my Aunt’s project. My Uncle sees me much more positively than he once did, but he absolutely refuses to get involved in the conflict between me and my Aunt. And increasingly, all my Aunt does is constantly verbally abuse me.

It’s become really apparent that the reason their kids aren’t all deeply screwed up is my Uncle’s positive influence, and he just isn’t interested in shedding blood for me- and I can’t really blame him. The idea when I moved in was that they were going to help me go back to school, but as you said, it’s been a trainwreck, and I’ve been left to fend for myself against my Aunt. No one else wants to have anything more to do with her than they have to, either; her only daughter has moved to Australia, and I’m increasingly convinced the primary appeal was distance from her mother.

I need to get away from her too, but no one in the family less dangerous than her is going to offer me help with that. Things have been getting progressively worse for a long time, and there’s not even a lull between the fights anymore. Now is a terrible time to walk out, but tomorrow would have been terribler, and the day after that even more so. I’m trying to break a cycle. It might not work, but staying in the cycle has become suicide.

Thank you for positive things said! Right now hearing that other people have gotten out of very bad long-term situations is very cheering. Later, if I fail again, it will go back to being depressing again, but for the moment I’m trying and suddenly good news sounds like it might apply to me too.

Thank you thank you thank you for reading my long rambling post!

I need to try and sleep, so I’m going to pack up for the night now. I will do more replies tomorrow.

See this forum for useful information on living in a car or van:

One of my coworkers would save the numbers from any unwanted publicity calls as caca. If a call or SMS from caca came, he didn’t take it. While labeling the whole family as “shit” seems to me way too negative, are you able to not take calls from certain relatives mentally labeled “do not answer”?

Adapting Nava’s idea… You could assign a silent ringtone to calls from certain numbers. That way you could leave your phone on for any job seeking purposes but calls from certain persons would not ring.

Me, too. Good luck and please check in. You’ve gotten some good suggestions here.

What Iggy said. Also, if your caseworker has no advice on the topic of how to receive mail and he may well, see about setting up a PO Box at the post office and have all of your mail forwarded there; you’ll need to submit a forwarding order to do so. (If you do it online, it costs a couple dollars, so I recommend doing this in person. The PO Box will have some kind of monthly fee as well, I’m sure, but a small one shouldn’t be too bad.)