By: Candace Elizabeth Brooks (a.k.a. Ariadne Phoenix Levinson), Uptown Dallas Art Collective Editor in Chief
4/1/2017, Denny’s Restaurant
As of my writing this installment of this article, I have not yet researched the statistics which indicate the co-prevalence of mental illness and homelessness among the people within the City Limits of Dallas, TX, who fall under this category.
The only empirical evidence I am relying on is the amount of time that I have myself been homeless in this city. My homeless status officially began on October 27, 2013. I officially started living on the street on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, 2014.
Throughout the course of my experience as a homeless person in Dallas, and its consequential stays and visits to various Domestic Violence and Homeless Shelters here (I stayed at Hope’s Door in Plano, TX, Mosaic House in Dallas, TX, Dallas Life Foundation, Austin Street Shelter; I visited the Bridge Shelter and the Salvation Army; I referred at least one person to the 24 Hour Club, even though I have never stayed there myself: I thought they were a good place to go because they only require valid identification and sobriety to stay there.
As far as Mental Health facilities, I have visited Green Oaks, Timberlawn, Homeward Bound, and Terrell State, Hospital in Terrell, TX. I believe Jamie Foxx is from Terrell, TX: I think he was mentioned on the news when I was there, coinciding with a terrible flood season that hit Dallas and its surrounding areas.
Of all the homeless alliance agencies in this city, on various occasions I have personally visited the Stewpot, the Church of Christ on Main Street, and Our Calling. I also went to the Church of Christ on Preston Road, and Attitude & Attire at the World Trade Center in Dallas, TX. Genesis Shelter Thrift Store has also been supportive in my transition into homeless life in Dallas, despite that I have been trying to save enough money for a room of my own for over 2 years now, to no avail (I probably have less than seventy five cents with me at the present time).
After my 1 month stay at Terrell State Hospital, I was transferred to a boarding house, where unfortunately I was unable to stay beyond one night because of the overwhelming number of bed bugs in the bed that was assigned to me.
When not in shelters or mental health facilities, I have slept in abandoned properties, public parks, the open warehouse space in the back of the Dallas Opera, and also the concrete patio section behind the Dallas Symphony Morton Meyerson building, designed by I.M. Pei.
So far, except for a property which was demolished, I have always been “found” by police officers or security guards wherever I have tried to sleep. I would estimate there to be only a few undeveloped spots of land in which this has not happened, including the train tracks behind the Dealey Plaza (where J.F.K. was assassinated on 11/22/1963).
Twice, I have had the experience that the land has been bulldozed (trees have been chopped down in the areas where I previously had found refuge from group stalkers), including the forest area behind the Dealey Plaza.
The first time this happened was in approximately December 2015. When I returned this December (2016) to visit/investigate the location, all the trees appear to have been replaced.
I am confident that a botanist or arborist could study/test the trees that are there now and determine for certain that indeed they were recently planted/re-planted.
The most recent removal of trees from a location where I was seeking shelter for sleep coincided with the event of my removal from the Feral Cat Sanctuary on Katy Trail in February of this year. Police were called on me because I was sleeping on the land in a tarp, and I had some personal effects that were stored in the cat shelter bins because I was given verbal permission to do so by the woman who put them there (I do not remember her name).
According to my own memory of the event, which is usually reliable, there was a privately commissioned tree-removal company present when the police officer appeared (I believe there was only one police officer present). I was woken up and told to gather my belongings and leave, which I did so.
Later on, I visited the location and saw that the entire space (probably/approximately 50 by 50 ft in length) where I had been sleeping on Katy Trail was cleared of forestation: in other words, several trees were removed and chopped down in a small quadrant of the land where the Katy Trail Feral Cats make their homes.
Recently (as of Mid March 2017) I returned and saw that more durable Feral Cat Shelters, made of wood, have been built and placed in the location near part of land that was de-forested without any prior notice, warning, or explanation posted to the public. I took a couple of the plastic cat shelter bins (which were not the new ones made of wood) for myself, so that I could protect my own belongings from rain damage.
One of these bins has a statement written on it in a sharpie marker urging people not to remove them from the Feral Cat area, but I reasoned to myself that there were so many of these types of bins and feral shelters out there now crowded together in such a way that might scare the cats from feeling safe about going in them, following the unexplained deforestation of trees at that site, that whoever put them there might not mind if I myself took a couple for myself (considering that if they were put there for the protection of wild cats, this spirit of protection might be extended to wild people, especially ones who fall into the social category of animal rights activists).
(It is the subject of another article entirely for me to describe the ways in which I believe I saw the Katy Trail Feral Cats attempt to communicate with or “warn” me of impending obstacles to my transcending my status of homelessness in the days leading up to my ejection from the place: I had been staying there off and on since right before Christmas.)
I also wonder whether part of the motivation of those who planned and executed the removal of the trees was to generate distrust amidst me and the woman who facilitates the Feral Cat Sanctuary area on Katy Trail: she seemed to be a considerate person who left some Christmas presents for me in the form of fresh new clothing that I was happy to find in one of the Cat Shelter bins after returning to the location in mid-January. I think on the day we met she gave me several books. She seemed to respect my space, and she never disturbed me when I was profoundly resting alone in my tarp after some traumatic personal experience and or/epiphany/revelation.
There appears to be a notable co-prevalence between homelessness and mental health issues among those members of the Dallas Population affected by housing shortage issues
Almost 100% of the time when I had no choice but to stay at the mental health facilities here which serve the greater Dallas area, I saw at least one person who I was able to positively identify as being part of the homeless population, or being a person who receives assistance that is intended for the homeless community.
I also remember that during my stays at the various shelters here, I heard clients discussing the fact that they were waiting for social security benefits (or that they were on their way to get their prescriptions filled, or going to doctor’s appointments). Or else, I have borne (regular) witness to frequent demonstrations of symptoms and behaviors of mental illness among the members of the homeless population in the City of Dallas (including irritability, substance abuse, lack of hygiene, mania, mood disorders, thought disorders, paranoia, eating disorders/food disorders, etc.).
I myself frequently experience symptoms/show behaviors of mental illness including paranoia, social phobia, feelings of persecution, I hear voices, I have conspiracy theories, I suffer from occasional hallucinations, mania, chronic fatigue syndrome, I fight against thoughts of self abuse.
I am lucky and happy that I am not addicted to any drugs or narcotics. At various times I have been diagnosed with Bi-Polar Disorder, Schizoaffective Disorder, Depression, Borderline Personality, Adaptive Disorder, Self-Diagonsed with O.C.D., I have been diagnosed with a Hemispherically Specialized Brain (the verbal and language side of my brain is two percentiles away from being in the top 98 percentile of the human population, while the other hemisphere was tested as being far less developed….although I also blame weaknesses in the structure of the test, in addition to my suffering from serious blood sugar problems at the time that I took the test, for the erratic results).
I have been free of bulimia since August 2011, in the past I have been diagnosed with body image and body dysmorphic disorders on different occasions.
It seems that recently I have not been diagnosed with a disorder where the diagnosis has remained consistent for a remarkable period of time.
I am lucky and happy that I am not addicted to any drugs or narcotics, I have with frequency smoked marijuana at a few isolated periods of my life, and on very few occasions, I have used mushrooms, opium, ecstasy. I smoked heroin once.
I have never used cocaine or taken L.S.D. because of my fear of brain damage, severe addiction, or heart attack. I guess the Reagan era anti-drug campaign and the D.A.R.E. program spoke to me in a positive and efficacious way. As of today I have been Nicotene free for a few days now.
Another thing I am grateful for is the fact that through access to self-help literature on the internet and published in books, and having the ability to read and write, I have so far always seemed able to self-diagnose myself accurately, and to work through my symptoms through a system of identifying what they are, and keeping a recorded written narrative in my journal about what helps me to improve/cope with whatever is bothering me. Many times, I believe my symptoms either fall into one of two explainable categories: they are either environmental, or dietary.
It also helps me enormously to contemplate the life of Beethoven and to remember his extraordinary achievements and innovations in art, philosophy, and spirituality, and to think about the testaments he left behind in music which evince his superhuman transcendence of his limitations, as well as the way he deliberately spoke to people (by way of posterity as well as contemporary correspondence) in his journals and letters about many issues, especially how he wanted to be looked at as a role model for his current and all future generations (and by implication all humanity).
There are a few areas of need which I could identify the homeless population of the City of Dallas, TX, as having:
#1) I think there ABSOLUTELY MUST be a shelter/lounge area that can accept people with no identification at all hours of the day, and provide them with at least a mat, and shower/bathroom/hygiene/clothing/food access.
Only if the Police are called because of physical violence episodes among the clients at such lounges should clients be asked to leave.
#2) I really believe that members of the Homeless population of the City of Dallas would benefit from demonstrations of understanding and compassion from fellow citizens:
- People should understand that if someone is not able to keep/have/get a job, it does not mean they are lazy or they purposefully want to seem like a burden to others. Much of the time unemployment might be a symptom of plain disinterest.
- A lot of the time, people need to have reasons explained/articulated/defined for them as to why they should have jobs or be gainfully employed, and much of that self-awareness is dependent upon sanity, happiness, and sobriety.
- One of the most heart-breaking experiences I have had is to see myself or someone else be treated as an unwelcome individual here in this city privy to discrimination and passive aggressive or overt shows/demonstrations/communications of disrespect or intending to purposefully elicit fear or feelings of personal unworth, just because of adaptive ideological conflicts/experiences of victimization.
(On my most recent visit to the Shrine of the Cathedral of the Virgin of Guadalupe I was asked to leave mass because I had my luggage with me. This was in approximately October 2016, and I have not returned since. I was asked to leave the same sanctuary on at least another occasion, but I cannot at the moment remember the reason I was given, or if I am just imagining that I was told by someone not to return to the premises…I swear in the name of Beethoven that I never caused anyone personal or intended harm, that I never harmed anyone’s property, or the property of the church, and that I was never inebriated on the premises. My suspicion is that if I was previously told/asked to leave, it was because my presence was unwanted there due to my status as a homeless person….my memory of my experience of the location is that I feel I was pushed away because it was starting to become apparent that I was in great need of a home (unlike all of the other members of the church congregation who appear to be housed and fed, despite the predominate immigrant percentage of the population), and possibly there were some Church members who intended to help me, but others there intended to harm me (due to their connections/possible bribes to/from my group stalkers from Oklahoma and Florida).
#3) Citizens of Dallas could be of great assistance to the members of the homeless population here if they became more apt to try to “adopt” any of the citizens here who they identify as being homeless.
This includes being more generous and less afraid of sharing housing at all with someone who has fallen into a transitory state. This is what the New Testament of the Bible calls on us to do. The Apostle Paul talks about being generous to those in need, and this is the message of the preachings of Jesus Christ. Jesus’ life’s purpose was to raise awareness about how we must all see ourselves as stewards of our world and children of God, which includes improving the earth in the areas which it shows the most need of compassion, benevolence, attention.
“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
What to put in a care package/storage bin/crate for homeless people:
1) Rain proof tarp
2) Change of socks, undergarments
3) Plenty of non-perishable foods + drinks with electrolytes
4) Durable shoes
5) Flashlight with batteries
7) Notebook with pens
8) Book bag
10) Baby wipes
11) Antibacterial solution
12) Hand sanitizer
13) First Aid Kit including Neosporin and bandages
14) Rain Jacket or winter coat plus shower curtain for protection from rain
15) Gloves, if the weather is cold
16) Contact information (secure phone number or email address)
17) A $10 roll of quarters (for laundry)
18) Laundry detergent
19) Hygiene supplies including razors, shaving cream, deodorant, tooth brushes
20) Doggy-poo bags/urine cups/trash bags
Where does the philanthropic money go that is donated by the Citizens of the City of Dallas who intend for it to go to the homeless?
Where do the taxes go that are intended for homeless people?
What are the reasons why people become homeless in the first place?
What is it like to live as a homeless person in the City of Dallas?
Why do we need jobs, anyway?