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.