By: SherryJo Crandall

Word on the Street Issue 44, June 2024

. . .

When I started going back to school in the summer of 2023, I did not have much going for   me. I was in my second round of homelessness and could not see a future without being  homeless. It took me sleeping in a tent at the old county courthouse to begin a  reorganization of my thoughts and perceptions about the homeless and the way they are  treated. It took having the state troopers stealing my stuff to set it in stone for me.  

I knew I would have to go back to school, but I did not know at the time how much stress it  would cause me in the end. I suffered through stress caused by the shelters, ending with  camping at the park. I took two classes that were required. I would spend my days at the  library doing the homework that required a computer and my evenings at the pavilion in  Julia Davis Park doing the homework that did not require a computer until the park closed  at midnight. I would move my stuff into the bathroom where I would sleep until 6 am. I was  doing well until my books got stolen and that is when I wigged out the first time. 

I notified my teacher and dean about the situation and told them that I would repeat the  class the next semester. I did that but by then the mental break was on its way to becoming a reality. I did not at the time realize that my time losses were a symptom of mental  issues. But after I sought counseling, I was diagnosed with PTSD, Schizo-Effective Disorder  with Psychotic features. 

Alas, I get ahead of myself. Once I moved into my friend’s car, I was able to find housing  through CATCH. When I went into a meeting with my case manager, I told her about getting  into school full time. She immediately got up and went to get the lady who handles the  referrals to New Path Community Housing. I had the paperwork done and was approved to  move in within a week. As soon as I moved in, I realized that I had forgotten how to do the  simplest things that must be done to live in an apartment. I started to feel overwhelmed  with all the new things I was now having to relearn. 

It all came to a head the week of December 16th, 2023. I was in a lot of pain from a shoulder  injury that felt like I was having a heart attack. My back was hurting as normal plus learning  how to take care of the apartment and take care of myself. My counselor described it this  way. She said that homeless people are in a state of fight or flight when they are on the  street. They focus on the things that they need for that day and never look to the future. I  was suddenly relieved of only focusing on day-to-day survival and not having the  emotions and energy that I was putting toward that had no place to go and my brain and  body did not know what to do next. That is the time I started to lose time. I had several  events where I lost minutes, even hours. Of course, I did not remember anything I did or said.

This all piled on me and overwhelmed me to the point I blacked out. Sometime during the  blackout, my body was determined to end the stress in the only way it thought it could.  During my blackout, I sliced and diced my left arm. I have no memory of doing it or how I  did it. I do not remember anything else. After a lot of battle with doctors, I was able to get  back with my counselor and get on meds. I view this as a suicide attempt and as such, I am  getting the help I need. All I need to do now is hold onto school and the positive things in my life.

Help is available. If you find yourself needing guidance, call the suicide and crisis lifeline at 988 to speak with someone today.