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.