The day after helping the homeless in Reading is always very hard for me to deal with. There are so many factors that bring me down from the amount of painkillers it takes me to do the volunteering on a Wednesday to the feelings of uselessness I feel.
The picture is a picture I took of where a gentleman called Carl sleeps. He shares the space with another gentleman. I took this picture because it reminded me of a doorway I slept in when I was homeless a very long time ago. It is not hard for me to remember that time, where I spent my first Christmas when I left home.
The problem with having a mental illness is sometimes you can not control how your going to feel but I can control the depth I go to, because of all the types of therapy I have had in my life.
I woke up several times last night struggling to sleep, when the time came to get out of bed I struggled with the pain so took some of my painkillers and drifted off to bed. I finally woke up and dragged my carcass out of the bedroom and took more painkillers. As I brushed my teeth the tears rolled down my face and my heart ached with a blackness. I limped over to the kitchen and forced a sliced of bread and butter and a cuppa down my throat, only because I had to take my morning pills.
I dragged myself to the lounge and put the laptop on and played mafia wars pretending to kills of the demons within me. The telly was on and I did try to listen but my head drifted to a time in my life where life for me was hopeless. Before I had my son my entire existence was based on a hatred I had, not just for my past but also I future that was taken away from me at a young age. Anyone who has suffered trauma and had something precious taken from them such as being abused in many forms can understand the loss of a future of happiness love laughter family success and all the things I desired for myself as a child. This may sound stupid but as a young child I wanted to be like Margaret Thatcher. By the age of 9 I wanted to be a dancer and in my teens I wanted to be a choreographer. I remember going to see Cats at it was amazing. I was lost in a world for a few hours, until I got home.
Now I struggle to walk until I take my pharmacy of tablets and as the day goes on the more I take the better I feel. On days where I have to go out I spend the day before taking it as easy as I can and on the actual day I will pump my body with more than I am suppose to. I know I should not take more than eight painkillers but 8 just touches the sides and I need to do something good. Give back to the world. Try to make this world a better place. Its not just an urgency in helping the homeless its so much more. It is hoping to help someone to have a life. Knowing the kinds of reasons why someone is on the streets and understanding their past to help them have a better future.
No one wakes up in the morning and says to themselves, I know lets be homeless it will be so much fun and we can have a laugh. I ended up on the streets because I was staying in a hostel and it was snowing and that day one of the residents got chucked out and I could not see him sleeping in the snow so I sneaked him in, anyway one of the other residents who had a grievance with me told the night duty officer and we both ended up out on our ears. That night we both slept in a doorway way of restaurant in Slough. We both departed our ways the next day and I was on my own with about six For the next few weeks I found myself stealing from Marks and Spencers in the Queenmere shopping centre. Stealing the goods in any pub I could and sleeping in the car park on the High Street. Going through the rubbish bins for scraps of food when I could not steal anything, picking up cigarette butts to smoke. Trudging through the snow cold and wearing as many layers as I could was hard but the worst part of being homeless was the looks from people. The look of disgust and loathing. I could image what their thoughts were because I had the same thoughts. My life was over my dreams and passions my wants and desires I had were gone, dust in the wind.
After a few weeks I was arrested and I was lucky that I had the same solicitor as my brother Mr Hobbs. I must admit I was terrified. Not of the thought of going to prison because it was my first offence and I knew I was just going to get a warning, but that this would be my life in and out of the courts ending up like my junkie brother. Mr Hobbs knew I didn’t want that so when the judge said I was just going to have a caution I actually screamed ” I AM GOING OUT RIGHT NOW AND GOING TO STEAL AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN UNLESS YOU HELP ME NOW!!!!!!!” It actually worked and he then gave me six moths probation with Conditional of Residence in Wellesley House in Windsor. That was the beginning of my way out to a better life and to leave the darkness behind me.
I know some of the reasons why people end up on the streets running from a life of sexual, physical or mental abuse or being beaten by a partner. Listening to Peter’s story of how he ended up being homeless six years ago. he lost his job then his wife wanted out of the marriage, so he left his house to his wife and three children. The council would not help him because he made himself intentionally homeless. Then he got an infection in his left leg and had to have it amputated. He has spent the last six years homeless living in a car park in Reading. He is now hoping to be housed. Most people on the streets are vulnerable and may have mental health issues just like me.
I did start a new life but the darkness that is within me is still there, waiting in the shadows for days like today. Even though I have tried to make peace with my past I still have questions unanswered and they will always be that way but it does not ease the pain and darkness. As the day draws to a close the darkness lifts and the physical pain eases and I remember who hard I had to fight to be where I am today and that the fight will always be in my life. It will never be an easy life and I just have to continue to be strong not just for me but for my son. For without him I know I would be in the ground decaying and a distant memory.