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How Homelessness Affects Mental Health

how homelessness affects mental health, sloth speed recovery, www.slothspeedrecovery.wordpress.com

Homelessness is a worldwide epidemic where thousands upon thousands of people don’t have a place to go, a bed to sleep in or a meal to eat. In Canada alone, 200 000 people experience homelessness every year, 150 000 access shelters and 30 000 Canadians are without a home every single night (source). It is a serious problem that needs to be addressed.

People discuss the topic of homelessness on a frequent basis, but the mental health of the homeless is often forgotten. Having experienced homelessness, shelter hopping and food-begging, one may find themselves completely isolated in this world and without a place to belong. These kinds of emotions often exude depression, anxiety and other serious mental health conditions. If the situation is severe, the individual may attempt suicide, with or without fail.

A large quantity of people who lose their homes develop mental illness, but some become homeless due to mental illness or their sexual identity, which is often seen in youth.

Being homeless or having a mental illness is a war on it’s own, but the combination is a whole other hell.

How does homelessness affect mental health?


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Constant Fear. Once homeless, there’s this constant fear that lingers. The majority of people residing in North America believe homelessness is the unthinkable if it has never happened in their family, and once they become homeless, it longer seems impossible. That separation between them and “the homeless” no longer exists as that line fades.

Homelessness is true fear; you don’t know what you’re going to eat (if you will), where you’re going to sleep (if you can find a bed) or who will be your neighbour. Everyday is a new unknown.

Shelters offer some safety in regards of keeping the homeless off the streets, out of the cold and away from nightly dangers, but they have dangers of their own. Youth shelters have more resources regarding counselors and mental health, along with available staff and smaller bedrooms. Whilst adult shelters can be one massive room, cluttered with beds side by side, and peoples’ things everywhere. It’s wonderful to have a bed to lay your head on but the fear of a fight breaking out can be too much. The in-shelter fears are what keeps some on the streets; unfed and in the cold.

They can get their own place but the fear will remain. Some days, they may not feel a differentiation between homelessness and them having a home in the fear of losing what they they worked so hard to gain.

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Lack of Self-Care. When someone has spent several months working a dead-end job, not spending a dime on themselves, they lose a healthy perspective on money. Money suddenly becomes something they need to hold on in case that “rainy day” comes again. Spoiling themselves no longer becomes an option because they don’t want to risk losing everything they worked so hard to get.

Do they really need that toothbrush? That sweater? How about that meal?

That obsessive need to keep every dime will decline their health, happiness and well-being as they no longer know when it’s okay to purchase food for themselves in case it’s “too much money”.

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Taking Any Employment. Having money and a job can be a desperate need, and thus, the individual will take any job that pops up. This can result in a decline of happiness if their work position is bringing them down or the coworkers they have do not respect them. They may have a poor paying job with excessive amounts of labour, but it won’t stop them.

They will let themselves be insulted and disrespected, all to get that apartment they so desperately need. They won’t get an option as to what they get to do because, they don’t exactly have a say if they want to get back on their feet.

This kind of environment will be the ultimate sacrifice of that person’s mental health as they lose sight of what they deserve, what is acceptable or unacceptable and how their voice matters.

There are a good number of people who cannot access employment due to mental illness or disabilities they may have, and do not have the help for, which leaves them trapped, unemployed and without money to feed themselves.

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Trouble Accessing Help. In youth shelters, there are more means of mental heath assistance, though not always plentiful or perfect. But, adult shelters aren’t always equipped with this, which leaves homeless adults without the proper care they need.

Luckily, in Canada, we are offered free Health Care, which covers some mental health services, but not all. Not to mention, all free mental health services have some form of wait list, which can leave someone in need of dire help in the back seat. If accessing a service is taking a lengthy period of time, there are drop-in counselling services hosted by different organisations that will help assess the issue and try to open doors to other services, if required.

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Influences. It would be naive to not acknowledge drugs and alcohol as those are behaviour changing substances that are taken for coping reasons, though it is important to remember that homelessness is not synonymous with drug addict or alcoholic.

When substances enter the picture, it can be hard to resist as drugs and alcohol are an accessible way of coping with this distressing time. They offer a form of escape that lets the one affected escape from their reality.

Using can affect someone’s cognitive ability, along with healthy decision making and a progressive outlook. If the individual isn’t careful, they could ingest a substance that causes a terrifying and dangerous psychosis phase that could be life threatening.

It’s important to talk about the matter instead of shunning every homeless person for the serious coping strategies of a few. We must encourage sobriety to encourage everyone to put their future’s first, and help get them into a safe and stable environment.


This is a serious problem occurring all around the world and we need hands to reach out and be of help to those who need it. Homeless, mentally ill, the combination of both… Try your best to be of help, to be understanding and not to shame either or.

If there’s something you can do, do it.

 

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Diagnosed With OCD

Diagnosed with OCD, obsessive compulsive disorder, sloth speed recovery, www.slothspeedrecovery.wordpress.com

How did the therapists and doctors completely miss the 7 year old obsessed with washing her hands to the point where she bled through cracked skin? How did the doctors miss the preteen too afraid to let her parents leave the room without the last thing being spoken to them from her was “I love you” because she was so god damn scared they’d die if they left the room? How did they miss her obsession with time, and her inability to sleep, leading her to be in bed at 7pm so she could eventually fall asleep and get a decent amount of sleep?

How is it that I’ve seen over a dozen psychologist/therapists over the years, 4 psychiatrists and so many other professionals and only NOW has a psychiatrist picked up on the fact that I have OCD.


 

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I have been recently diagnosed with OCD, and though it makes complete sense in some respects, it’s opened up a world of confusion in other areas of my life. I feel so disheveled by the diagnosis, and I’m stuck questioning every single aspect of my life and personality, trying to assess if it’s OCD or a true part of me.

I was going through a distressing period over the last few months where I was having violent and intrusive thoughts that I had no control over. The ones I loved most were wounded by my hands and I didn’t understand it. I genuinely thought I was experiencing psychosis or that I was inevitably going to become a murderer unless I found control. That symptom seemed to be what truly uncovered my OCD diagnosis.

When the psychiatrist looked at me and gave me this label, my chest sunk as I sensed a wave of relief I didn’t quite understand. Tears stung my eyes as my lungs seemed to sink in an ocean of water, struggling to breathe. It was wonderful to know that there was something I could do about it and that I wasn’t inherently bad, but I was puzzled by everything else this diagnosis could mean.

Nearly every second of my recent waking hours is spent in a frustrating questionnaire regarding myself. Is my disgust for wet skin a symptom? How about my fear of imperfection? My verbal compulsions? How about the way I ask for constant reassurance? What does my OCD look like?

I need someone to sit with me and explain every aspect of my own version of OCD so that I may find a split between what is truly me and what has been OCD all along. I’m not sure I see a difference or separation between the two, which is absolutely terrifying to me.

I feel completely engulfed and I just want to understand myself. I want to be in control.

I’m not sure what this means for my future…

 

I will be documenting my journey with OCD on this blog. An OCD section will be added to the Mental Illness drop box.

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How John Denver Affected My Life

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I was probably about 6 years old when my mom bought me The Whisper Of The Heart; a movie by Studio Ghibli about a middle-school aged girl who writes a novel to prove herself, which brought the song Take Me Home, Country Roads into my life. I fell in love with the story, which inspired me to be a writer when I grew up with the willingness to take risks to attain happiness. I was completely immersed in everything that had to do with this movie.

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Shizuku, the main character, writes a version of Country Roads for a school event, and the song is shown in different stages of development throughout the movie. Take Me Home, Country Roads became my anthem, and has been that way since it first entered my life.

One summer, at about age 8, I sang Take Me Home, Country Roads at a karaoke open mic at a family friend’s cottage; I was so happy. That December, I unwrapped my very own karaoke machine, and several karaoke CDs; including a country CD with Take Me Home, Country Roads. I remember trying to follow along with it, but the harmonies convinced me this wasn’t the true version of the song.

My mom drove us to the store to pick out a CD with the song and found an actual John Denver CD. I grabbed it with glee, and began listening to him.

Song after song, they all held such passion and meaning, and I found myself completely in love with this disk. Whenever I sang, it was Take Me Home, Country Roadsbut I hid it as well as I could. I kicked my legs happily on the school bus with it on repeat, which my bus driver wasn’t too fond of. I did school projects on his life, sang his tunes, made dances, rehearsed the lyrics and joyfully shared his music with people who showed interest.

I had found something that was uniquely my own, and that I felt only I could relate to. I felt this longing for a simple life, out in the country side, away from the city lights, honks and yelling. This life where I could write away in a log cabin, resting to the soft taps of rain drops.


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John Denver reminds us that we need to preserve the simple beauties of our planet; the mountain tops, the waters, the trees and the people we love. We must cherish having these things because, once they’re gone, we will be robbed of silent sunny afternoons, and future generations.

He reminds us that aging is not a curse, but a gift to appreciate the land and watching everything and everyone grow around us. We must gaze at the beauty in nature that surrounds us, and make it our duty to protect every ounce of it that is left. Money, material and offices will never truly make us happy, especially when nature is crumbling around us at such a rapid pace; they will never save us from destruction.

John Denver taught me to be true to myself, fight for what I believe in and put happiness above all else. If I am not happy, I will never enjoy anything, and if that means I have to cut things out that bring mediocre contentment to be truly happy, I will take those steps. There are no sacrifices that are too big when happiness is the result. He also made me realize that I won’t be happy following the paths chosen by my peers; I will only be happy writing and sharing those creations with humanity to hopefully share something beautiful.

He has inspired me to create the pieces of art that I can to influence the people I can reach; and the people I cannot will be reached by someone else. I have hope for us as a species, if we can turn it around and focus on the simplest of things that surround us and appreciate what they have given us.


Look up to someone who inspires you to be the best you that you can be, and continue to try and be that person you’ve always wanted to be. Don’t sacrifice your happiness.

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Too Afraid To Leave The House Because My Arms Are Too Fat?

A little over a year ago, a woman I was in the mental ward with sent me a message commenting on the weight I had apparently gained since we met each other instead of giving me a kind greeting (she had no knowledge of my eating habits, and was not trying to be nice). The picture she was making a statement about was one of my partner and I, his arm around my waist and my arm pressed against my body. I didn’t think I looked fat, which was a feat from the years of struggling with an eating disorder. I immediately associated her comment with the size of my arms, which began a whole new cycle. In a frenzy, I removed that picture and get overly frustrated whenever I see it.

I’ve been able to abstain from eating disorder behaviour for the majority of the past year, but that comment sits with me every single day.

I’ve planned to go to a local group in my new city for the first time since I moved, and I am too scared to go because… My arms are too fat.

I am so terrified of people seeing my body shape as of late that I’ve been hiding in pyjama pants and long sleeved sweaters for the majority of the past 5 years. I am so horrified of people gazing at my hideous arms made of jelly that, I can’t even conceal with good positioning in a short sleeved shirt because I’m covered in scars. My arms are literally the main attraction to the amusement park that is my body.

I never thought that my arms would be the main hindrance for me not wanting to leave the house. I am so humiliated with my body currently. And, it doesn’t help that I have another eating disorder appointment in less than 3 weeks.

I want to remain hopeful, and stay committed to that recovery path, but I’m losing my hope and faith. I can’t help but want to hide in a shell and stay concealed until I feel I am thin enough to come out of my cocoon.

I was on the right path, but I don’t know if I can continue that right now…

***I sincerely hope this didn’t trigger anyone; I just needed this off my chest.***

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Cured From BPD?

borderline personality disorder, cured from bpd, sloth speed recovery, www.slothspeedrecovery.wordpress.com

I got diagnosed at the mere age of 14, after a serious suicide attempt that landed me in the hospital. I was so confused with the diagnosis because, my psychiatrist at the time wasn’t someone I particularly liked, and that’s due to her never giving me the feeling that she was actually listening.

After a few years, and having been in an inpatient treatment center, I began to understand where this disorder came from and which behaviours were inhibited by the disorder, and which were under my control.

I have moved away from home now, and haven’t been homeless in a year. Things are looking up for me, but I’ve lost such a fundamental part of my identity, I thought.

I didn’t realize it but, I identified with Borderline for so many years and, now that I’m no longer overly symptomatic, I don’t understand myself anymore. It’s as if a piece of me was robbed and my identity is dwindling in the air, waiting for someone to stick a new label onto it.

The loss of BPD means the loss of my extreme anger which fueled extreme motivation for this blog. It has ceased any sight of improvement and has left me quite empty.

When I identified with my diagnosis, I felt more complete. Everyday, I had a goal to overcome this fight, which has now just disappeared. It feels as though I have nothing to look forward to, and my creative spark has died due to this.

I’m not sure if my BPD has morphed into something entirely different; a lot more dangerous, or if it’s disintegrating along with any sense of self I had left. And I desperately don’t want the saying “You just grow out of it” to ring true to me and my situation. Was it my efforts and hard work that took me out of the self-destructive cycle, or did I grow out of it?

I can’t talk about Borderline recovery when I am not experiencing it, and I don’t know if I’m happy about feeling free from it yet…

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10 Ways to Prepare for Eating Disorder Recovery

10 ways to prepare for eating disorder recovery, sloth speed recovery, www.slothspeedrecovery.wordpress.com

Eating Disorders are difficult to recover from because they’re characterized by disturbed eating habits and rituals, that are consistently repeated, resulting in habitual behaviour. Trying to break this pattern may be complicated due to food being apart of everyday life and a source of nutrition; being unavoidable. We are constantly exposed to foods that we may not be comfortable around or feel are safe to consume, and we may struggle with breaking habits and routine.

Everyday is a challenge, but with these steps forward, we may see an end to our eating disorder.


 

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Admit to the Problem. There will never be an end to the problem if we cannot admit it. It begins with ourselves, followed by our closest friends and family, and finally, the professionals. We should expect tears and hard times from this confession, but must remember that this is the start of something new. Be prepared for it to be an excruciating experience, with an outstandingly beautiful outcome.

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Seek Professional Help and Build a Support System. During this difficult time, you will need the encouragement and love of the people that mean the most to you, and the professionals that have been educated on your disorder along with the recovery methods. These people will able to aid the construction of  your safety plan, make lists of friends to communicate with and map out coping mechanisms to remain on the recovery path.

Professionals will be able to help with your next steps, whether that be group therapy, eating disorder clinics, meal plans, one-on-one therapy sessions or other options. Try to remain open-minded because, these people are only there to help you.

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Don’t Try to Physically Prove Your Eating Disorder. The recovery process can prove difficult when you feel your body mass does not reflect your eating disorder. It is important to recall that your body weight is not the sole evidence or validity of an eating disorder. They are mental illnesses, characterized by a perception of self and food, and not the gap between ones’ thighs.

Do not try to conform your disorder and recovery to that of someone else. Every person is unique, along with their respective disorder, and you should not be trying to emulate anyone else. The focus is you and your recovery; not that of a popular Instagram star.

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Be Uncomfortable. Put yourself in situations that you never wanted to face. Go out to that fast food joint with your friends like you’ve been wishing to visit for years; eat in public; let yourself eat “unsafe” foods. This process is about breaking rituals and routines, and to do so, you have to go places and do things out of routine or your comfort zone.

Be logical. Do not expect yourself to eat a burger, fries and drink non-diet soda in your first outing, as it may be overwhelming and throw off your recovery. Take baby steps whilst continuing to progress. Go at your pace.

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Don’t Hide Any Feelings from Your Supports. If you are struggling to eat a meal, and your friend confronts you, don’t pretend your refusal is from a tummy ache. Be upfront and tell them that this specific meal is very hard for you, and that you will need time and patience to conquer it.

When you feel upset about your body, or sense a relapse occurring, speak up. Voice your feelings of lack of control and be honest regarding the trigger. Keep open communication and always be honest.

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Be Strict with Your Boundaries. Do not let someone disturbed drag you back into your disordered eating habits. There are people who will want to discourage you, act as if you look healthy and don’t need recovery, but they are wrong (according to you, your loved ones and medical professionals). If they are a disturbance to your recovery, you need to cut them out and no longer give them the time of day.

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Don’t Let Yourself Skip Out on Important Appointments. It doesn’t matter if there’s a concert or a cool party, you cannot skip out on important therapy sessions and clinic dates. You will be diservicing yourself, and nobody wants you to do that.

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Relapse Is Practically Inevitable. Be rational and expect there to be difficult times, relapses and feelings of regret regarding confession, but you must remember that you do not want to live like this anymore. Your eating disorder was never a friend or a healthy process, and it wants to destroy you. The best thing you can do for yourself is fight it.

Ride the relapse thoughts and behaviours, challenging it at every chance you get. Do not let yourself spiral. Keep your recovery in control, and consistently remind yourself the reasons you chose recovery.

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Loving Your Body Will Not Be An Everyday Occurrence. Some days, you will look in the mirror, proud of the weight you’ve gained and the way it looks on your frame, and other days, it will be your biggest nightmare. Understand that those negative feelings regarding your body are fueled by the eating disorder, and not a healthy mind. Your body is beautiful, it’s healthy and it’s on its way to recovery.

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You Are Not in a Race; Pace Yourself. Do not let yourself be affected by the hoards of others in recovery. They are not you, their experiences and feelings are different, and their recovery will reflect this diversity. You cannot expect yourself to attain a goal made for someone else. This recovery is yours, and yours alone. It is not a competition, it is not a race; it is your life.


You cannot expect perfection in a process like this. Be reasonable, be understanding of your limitations and goals, and don’t give up for anybody or anything.

Remember; you will recover and this eating disorder will be history.

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Eating Disorder Clinic Anxiety

It has been very clear through my lack of posts that something is occupying me.

I can’t really get my thoughts down on any topic because, I have this constant presence in my mind telling me I’m not sick enough for this eating disorder program I signed up for 9 months ago.

Since then, I have put back on the weight that I lost, but it doesn’t change the mindset. I am so convinced that I will be turned away and, that I will spiral out of control for them to listen to me.

Since the age of 14, I’ve been struggling with an eating disorder, but my body weight didn’t always reflect this. I would be bedroom/bathroom/gym bound, refusing meal after meal, and struggling after every piece of food I ate. The summer going into 10th grade, I rollerbladed every day, sometimes several times a day, in the hot July sun, trying to reach a weight that I deemed beautiful for my new school. I was barely eating that whole summer, and making up for the food I refused in deep cuts all over my body.

I’ve been trying to fight this competitive voice in my head that keeps telling me to starve like crazy until my appointment, but I’ve tried not to, and have been successful thus far. But, with a week to spare until I sit in that appointment and finally confess years of self-destruction, I find myself more disappointed in my body than ever.

I can’t help but feel disappointed in my decision to fight the eating disorder until then. I’ve told myself repeatedly that they will only believe me if my body is proof. My boyfriend tried to discourage this thought process, and it’s worked. I don’t feel any better, though.

I am truly scared that they will look me up and down, and say “Go home!”

Living in a new home with a new group of people whom I’ve told my issues to, makes me feel I should starve more than I do. I’ve been doing well in keeping myself fed and healthy, though I’m a few pounds short of what my doctor wanted me to be. I get worked up by telling myself they think I’m faking it and that I should prove my disorder, somehow.

I’m conflicted in this instant. I am not having a good day. My thoughts are scattered and I don’t think I even got a portion of them down in this post.

I will try to be more present. If not here, on my social media (Facebooktwitter, Instagram).

I apologize for the hiatus.