Friday, April 15, 2011

Day 5: Meet The Homeless Voice Residents

Karen is a 43-year-old resident of The Homeless Voice Shelter. She has been a part of the shelter family for 6 months. Karen said that she is a licensed respiratory therapist and at one point owned a 5 bedroom home. She said that God spoke to her and told her that she would become a minister and in order to truly be a blessing, she needed to learn to trust Him.

Trusting Him led to her being homeless and sleeping on a patio for one night. Her family didn't understand her new life direction and she was called crazy on many occasions. After that night on the streets Karen found The Homeless Voice and has been living and volunteering in the shelter since.

Chris is a 37-year-old resident of The Homeless Voice Shelter. He introduced himself to me with an apology for his abrasive behavior. I sat down to speak with him and he explained to me that he used to have two sides to his personality. The female part of his personality was a demon that he had to allow in so that he could fight it.

As I listened to him sharing his story, I felt a special kinship to him. For those who have mental illnesses, many people do not believe that what they are experiencing is real but it is my belief that their reality is very real.

I was able to work with Chris using my skills as a counselor. I told him that he has the power to stop any demons who want to fight with him or take over his body. He seemed shocked but then agreed.

"You are no longer powerless," I told him. "From this day forward you can choose not to live in the pain of your past and try to move forward."

Although Chris does not believe he can maintain a job due to the two other personalities that live in his head, he still believes he deserves love and wants to be reunited with his long lost family. He spend the majority of his day talking to the other residents who are unable to work and sharing anything that he has. I was told that he often has fits of aggression and violent outbursts. I witnessed one such aggressive outburst as he told the guy sitting next to me to respect him and to not try to hurt him again.

Many in the shelter regard Chris as crazy and most are frustrated by his past behavior. Chris said he is trying to change in order to leave the past in the past but everyone still treats him as though he is a mean person.

"Chris. People are only interacting with you according to the behavior you have showed them. Give them some time. Introduce them to the real you. Introduce them to the YOU that is calm, reasonable and helpful. Allow them to get to know the new you and the old memories will fade away," I said.



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