Life, Loss, Healing and Hope

Word on the Street Issue 13, August 2021

By Lucy

Life seemed to be where it needed to be. I had a dog, a boyfriend and loving parents, but underneath it all I was depressed and anxious all the time. I was longing to be happy and hold down a job, but I found myself lost and sad most of the time. Everyday was a constant struggle to keep my emotions from erupting and making everything worse.

One day, in a daze, I went to a gas station and began to eat everything in sight without paying for it. The cashier noticed, called the cops, and they came. First, they asked me if everything was okay. I told them I had taken a bunch of pills before heading there. They promptly put me in an ambulance and took me to the hospital. That was the longest night of my life. Finally, they sent me to the mental health unit of St. Alphonsus in the middle of the night. After I was checked in, they sent me to my room and I quickly fell asleep.

During my time there, I was becoming a nuisance to the other residents. They made me stay in my room the whole time and brought me meals and meds. I wasn’t able to interact with any of the other patients. One day, things got so bad that they had to tackle me to the ground and put me in an isolation room. That was the scariest day of my life. I remember screaming, “This has to be a dream! This has to be a dream!,” and begging my old roommates to wake me up. I was so delusional. I didn’t believe it was real.

They got the on the right medication and let me out of isolation. This was a week into my stay at St. Alphonsus. I finally made some friends inside the facility. Talking to my case manager, it seemed as though it was just another two week stay at the hospital, so I assumed I was only going to be in for another week. I then had to go to court to see if I had to go to state or not. They put shackles on me since I’d tried to escape a couple of times. It was one of the scariest moments of my life standing in front of the judge.

A while later, they took me back to the hospital. After two days, I got a letter saying they were transferring me to the state hospital. I cried for hours. I wanted to be done with my healing, but it was obvious that the doctors thought I wasn’t ready. About a week later they shipped me off to state. It was about a four hour drive and I slept the whole time. They had me in shackles at that point too, so it was hard to get comfortable. When we arrived, I didn’t feel as scared anymore. I knew I was going to get the help I needed and had support systems outside of the hospital.

After two weeks, my parents came to visit me in the hospital. They saw the drastic change in me and so did the doctor. It looked like I was going to be let out within a month. In the hospital, I made a couple of friends and things began to look up. The only thing I was worried about was where I was going to live, what I was going to do with my dog, etc. It turned out that my roommate kicked me out of my apartment after being in the hospital. My boyfriend had to move all my stuff into storage. There were talks of me going to City Lights when I got out. That scared me.

The day finally came. I was free. They drove me four hours from state back to Boise, where I got to see my boyfriend for the first time in a month. It was magical, but it was scary. My parents put me up in a hotel for a few nights so that I would get everything situated. But then, the day came when my boyfriend had to drive me to City Lights. I will forever remember the fear in my heart.

My first night of homelessness was spent at City Lights. I was so scared; everything was new to me. We got kicked out at 6 a.m. and I wandered the streets with all of my belongings wondering where I should go. I ended up being late for check-in the next night, so they kicked me out. That’s when a woman I didn’t know called Interfaith Sanctuary to see if there was a spot for me. I headed over there, and that was the day when my life changed for the better.

My social worker got me into Project Well-Being and I began to go to group every day. I got control of my medication and was doing really well despite the circumstances. I got a bed and made some really good friends — friends that I still have in my life. But, I made one friend that turned out to be not so much of a friend. He invited me to a hotel for the night to get away from the shelter and ended up taking advantage of me.

I remember stumbling back to the shelter in the morning asking for help. That’s when they took me to Faces of Hope and decided to put me in the hotel for my own safety. Time passed pretty quickly after that. I was still struggling with my depression, but it wasn’t as bad as it used to be. I had therapy every week and medication management every month. I was taking care of myself and I also landed myself a job (it didn’t last very long because of COVID). After we moved in to the hotel shelter, I began to go to group again and changed to a different medication that ended up changing my whole demeanor.

Working with a case manager, we found a place for me to live and I found another job to support myself. Finally, things were looking up. My boyfriend ended up breaking up with me, but that didn’t matter at the time, because I was bettering myself and getting myself to where I needed to be. I moved into my new place in November and it has been wonderful ever since.

Healing isn’t linear. There are ups and downs and I have been through it all. To see where I am today is incredible. I now work at the shelter and I get to help people just like me every single day. I’m beyond blessed for that opportunity. If I can do it, you can do it too.