It has been now, six years since I was diagnosed with schizophrenia.  I had been psychotic at the time of my diagnosis for five years. Along with odd beliefs and hallucinations, schizophrenia brings with it a difficulty in engaging with society.  For me that meant I couldn’t have the work I wanted.  And couldn’t keep the work I got.

As a consequence of my occupational instability, housing was a major issue.  The idea of maintaining a rented residence was far beyond what I could see myself taking on.  And no one attempted to show me the steps that could be taken to help a person get affordable housing.

After being diagnosed I was shipped off to a group home.  There I began working and I actually kept my job for over two years.  At that group home I met with a psychiatrist and had the support of other community members.  This was however, a private group home and was as a result very costly.  I couldn’t stay there forever.

Had I known at the time I had been admitted to this former group home that I would have to find a place after leaving, I could have signed up for some sort of program.  I didn’t and as a result I left that home with no plan to obtain independence.

All the while that I was in the system people tried helping with my medical or psychiatric issues.  The underlying factor that whole time was that I couldn’t live like other people.  This was dismissed by professionals as a secondary issue.  One that I needed to resolve myself.

I did finally find a program that helped me to work towards my own goals.  Including independent living.  With this all the other shards of my life came into focus, I went to work.  And found I could make a pretty good life for myself.  Instead of working just any old job I got work as a columnist in a magazine.

Now, I am in the position to work for a housing first organization.  This is in a way the other end of the cycle of my own recovery.  I can now help my clients work towards their personal goals.  This is just as good for me as it could ever be for those whom I work with.

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