July 16, 2013 at 8:10 pm
I was homeless at times during a seven year period I lived in San Francisco from age 18 to 25. I didn’t usually sleep outside, but slept in a multitude of places from crashing in places of people who I had just met that day and going to a different place every night or few nights, to staying in squat houses, to crashing in a friend’s truck and an office building. I did sleep in the outdoors a little bit, in the park a couple of times for week to two week periods, and on the actual streets just a few nights. One thing was that I was never physically alone (though mentally, I was). I always had fellow humans to stay with/crash with/ camp out with. One night, just one, I stayed on the beach dunes alone.
In the times when I wasn’t homeless I often lived at run down welfare hotels, called SRO’s (single room occupancy).
The whole time I lived there I think I may have only lived in regular apartments (rooms for rent with rotates) twice, for a month or two at a time on both occasions.
I indeed was mentally ill from when I was twenty one. I suffered recurring bad depression, severe anxiety, and some mild dissociation, oh, and my primary diagnosis, OCD.
I was helped by an organization started by a very compassionate woman, whose name was Mary Kate Connor, who was a survivor of clinical depression herself. The organization was called Caduceus Outreach Services. It was to help the homeless mentally ill and those who couldn’t get mental health services elsewhere. They had psychiatrists who volunteered their time. I was far from cured and still suffered but they were a degree of stability in a very unstable internal world.
I associated a lot of my time with people who were homeless, near homeless, mentally ill, drug addicted, etc. it was quite a world. I had numerous romantic relationships that never worked out.
When I was twenty five, in 1999, my time there was up, I felt it was time to move on, and I returned to New Jersey, from which I’d come, and where I had family. I’ve been there since, I have a stable living situation for more than a decade now. I still struggle with mental illness issues, but am a thousand times more stable than I was then.