Reliving desperation and admiration

I interviewed with a BBC Radio show today. (It won’t air until next week. I’ll let you know when.) The topic for the host started out as basically, people being almost addicted to their cell phones. Then by chance during an internet search she came across my story.

If you somehow aren’t aware yet, I first joined Twitter and social media in 2009 while I was homeless. What started out as me not knowing a thing about Twitter or how to even use it, quickly grew to experiences that I’d have never dreamed of ever having! I could use computers at the library during the day, but other than that, I mostly tweeted by SMS/text message from my phone. My phone was my life — my dire connection to the world in my times of need. I could call someone, text or email by SMS. I didn’t have a smartphone. Just a simple, basic phone. A dumb phone. In fact, that’s the type of phone I use now.

I had unlimited texting so I could post messages to Twitter as much as I wanted, anytime I wanted, all day and all night. Whenever I had a need to say something. Which, back then, was quite a lot! I posted about my activities, shared thoughts or information on jobs or things I heard about, and wrote volumes of tweets from my emotions.

Fear, anxiety, and prayers dominated many of my tweets. I shared a number of hopes and wishes, too. There were many nights I lied on the ground, afraid and paranoid that someone would come up to me in the night. Is someone watching? Is someone here? Who is here watching me? Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) affected me severely. There I was alone, but I couldn’t tell because my mind conjured up invisible people who might have been lurking.

I kept my “security blanket” tightly in hand all night. My phone was my connection to the world. Anytime I needed to say something, to vent, to express my fears, somebody was able to hear me. I couldn’t get their replies until I went to the computers at the library the next day, but they were there. Somebody cared. Another person suffered the same plight of PTSD once. I’m really not alone.

The tweets from my phone led to development of virtual and real-life relationships with people and businesses. Through my sincerity and openness of my life, stigma changed to acceptance, understanding, and kindness. I got to see God’s love in action, and emotion. These people — my social media followers — said that I changed them for the better. What I saw is how they changed me.

Sharing my story online and in real life at speaking engagements has helped me to open up. I am still shy and very socially awkward, but I am much more open with my emotions. Having constant access to my phone and being able to tweet by text has been extremely therapeutic.

I still tweet Clint Eastwood style — the good, the bad, and the ugly. Sometimes I feel that I share too much. But I need to get things out. Sometimes I need to vent. In a way, being able to tweet and vent my emotions is more than emotionally therapeutic. It can also be protective against bad thoughts so I don’t try to self-injure. I haven’t done any cutting in however many years. It doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes still have those thoughts about doing it. So I greatly appreciate the kindness and compassion from all of you, my followers. A small gift, a kind word, a hug. It means the world to me! God’s love in action, indeed.

I discussed all of these areas and more on the BBC Radio show. (Again, I will share the link to the broadcast after it airs.) Talking about these things have so much effect on me emotionally! Ever since then my thoughts have been on all of my followers and how you have affected me, the place you have in my heart. I am reliving the desperation of my past and the admiration and love for the compassion I have received. Thank you all so much!

PS: Side note to Joan of Real Time Paradigm, my blogging teacher at NextDoor:  I clicked “Publish”! 😜

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Missing you.

I have been neglecting this blog and all of my readers, and I am sorry for that. I really have been thinking of you! Actually, for quite some time I was locked out of my account due to a new phone and 2-Step Authentication. I had backup codes but couldn’t find them. Finally I emailed WordPress with the details and proof of my identity and got things fixed. So I’m back! You don’t know how good it feels to have access to this blog again! Besides sharing interesting things and tidbits about my life, my Klout and EmpireKred scores have been suffering. LOL.

A lot has obviously happened since the last I posted. I am tired and won’t go in to everything now. I would like to say, however, that I remember how it was to be homeless. My heart goes out to those facing that situation. I help how I can, when I can, but it is not enough. I sometimes stand out among people on the CTA because I will smile and interact with homeless people riding the transit with me. There are times when others might move to another section of the bus or actually unboard the bus to wait for the next one on the same route–simply because the homeless individual was social. That being even when the homeless person did NOT have a traumatic scent. Just because of…being nice. 😦

 

Watch “Everybody Should be Treated the Same” on YouTube

Backpack Envy

I still feel like a homeless person. I have no money and no income with an SSDI case pending. Once a person is forced to live on the streets and in shelters, you never forget that life. There is compassion and a comradery for others experiencing homelessness. And you never forget. Many times, when I could, I have given food and water, and pulled a homeless person in from the rain for a cup of coffee–this including while I was homeless myself.

I have been #NoLongerHomeless since April 7, 2011. I am now living at Marah’s, a permanent housing program of Deborah’s Place. This organization gives shelter and housing to homeless women. In my location there are thirty of us residing. Without this having been offered to me, I would be on the street not knowing where my life was headed. And I still don’t forget. My mind is now wired to think about homelessness issues. To this day not only do I offer to help and feed the homeless if I can, but I still think like a homeless person. I truly suffer “backpack envy” when I see a really awesome backpack that would have been a great for me when I was homeless. Believe me, I was known around town for my backpacks! I would pack whatever I could inside. My pack was actually weighed a few times. Its heaviest known weight was about 72 pounds. I walked everywhere from town to town carrying that thing on my back. Often times I would have an extra bag for any foods I could get. Sometimes I carried yet another bag–a sleeping bag or blankets. Without trying in my walk tonight I found several places where I might set up camp at night if I was still homeless. Some places were occupied. Its an automatic thought to think like i am still homeless–like backpack envy–because, I will never forget. My brain is too hard wired now on the subject of homelessness. I wish I could do more to help.
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Please help: Gift cards for the #homeless are needed!

Please help me and Paul Saini by donating a $5 gift card to compensate homeless individuals for a photo shoot that will benefit Journeys From Pads To Hope, a homeless services agency. Gift cards can be mailed to me at:

AnnMarie Walsh / Pads Chicago
1456 West Oakdale
Chicago, IL 60657.

Thank you so much for your faith in me! Paul and I also greatly appreciate your support to raise awareness of homelessness and so we can raise funds to benefit Journeys from PADS to Hope.

A purpose in life

When I was a little girl I dreamed of growing up, becoming a nurse, being successful, and marry a handsome, caring man and have a few children. I never imagined that I could one day be homeless. I never thought about divorce either. I have experienced multiple abuses, physically, emotionally, verbally, sexual assaults and rape. It all took its toll on me when I was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder several years ago. I have survived through a lot. To my surprise, it took chronic homelessness for me to realize my resilience and how successful I am. I have discovered a new purpose and a new, growing love for helping others. Oh, I have always enjoyed helping others, studied nursing, and loved volunteering at various organizations, including also being a blood donor. However, it has changed. The warmth in my heart in being able to help others reach their goals has expanded in ways that I used to dream! I love every moment when I can make a difference! Over time and with thanks to social media, I am coming out of my shell and becoming more social. I dare say that I feel successful now as my life is transforming. I still have a ways to grow, but I am getting there! I am so grateful for everything that I have been through. I have learned much more and my character has grown because of the negative experiences in my life. I am finally on the right track.

Payback!

I made it to Cross & Crown’s MOH yesterday and picked up some mail. *GOOD* mail–not bills! One was a prescription discount card. The other was a prepaid credit card that can be reloaded from a Green Dot Money Pak, purchasable at most stores! Having this card will allow me easier access the money donated to my Pay Pal account. (fyi: Pay Pal is not currently working but I hope to have it going again very soon–for now, money can be donated through the Green Dot Money Pak.) Easier access to money means I will be able to purchase things I need: phone service, bus passes, shoes or clothing. If I receive enough donations, I will be able to focus not just on myself, but also other homeless individuals and networking activities. In the future I would like to have separate cards for personal use and helping the homeless. When its raining, have you any idea how much I hate to not invite a homeless person in to McDonalds or a store for coffee? There is so much that could be done for the homeless population that isn’t being done!

I wonder if the homeless community could go on strike? Go on strike for better services or to give up being homeless for a day. If you need a job done, you could go up to one of them who are on strike and hire them on the spot, giving them opportunity to not be homeless for a day. It would take some thinking out and creativity, but couldn’t something similar be done? What are you thoughts on helping to improve the quality of life of those who are homeless?

Hurdle jumping

Life is like running a race. You run fast as you can, jumping hurdle after hurdle. I have endured many obstacles in my life. I have tried to run around them, but even if I reach the same finish line it is never successful. Nothing is learned or gained by avoiding. One must run head on toward any obstacle, plan for them and what to do about them, and leap over them.

I have considered giving up in situations many times. It seems so much “easier” when in reality, it is not. Stepping aside from the problem causes it to recur. By executing a plan of action, a person can leap over obstacles. If the leap is a bit short and the hurdle is hit, learn, plan and run again. I keep telling myself this when the barriers in life impede my way to the finish line.

I was recently discouraged by the disrespect of someone who rained on my parade, so to speak. I lost interest in being around others and had no motivation. I couldn’t live with myself and reminded myself that regardless, the outcome that I helped make a lot of people happy was the same. I looked at what happened from a different perspective and moved forward.

I joined Twitter and social media first out of curiosity. Then it became a tool to help me learn to socialize more and to improve upon my life by exchanging in conversation with others, and sharing information and resources. Social media became my connection to others. I vented my frustrations and emotions, I educated the world about homelessness and social issues, I shared information that others might have been able to use. My passion was to find hope and to be hope for someone else. I crave that influence, to know that I have made a difference in someone’s life. I have inspired thousands of people thus far, including myself. I have gone from sleeping homeless outside in a vacant, grassy lot in the suburbs to social media events to a supportive transitional housing program with a focus on developing a successful life! It IS happening NOW! I am richly blessed by the Lord for all that He has given me, and thank Him for all my social media friends and real life friends and family. I thank you for sharing your lives with me. I am grateful for every opportunity to discover and use my strengths and weaknesses and overcome the hurdles with you.

I hope all of this makes sense. I am really tired and rambling now. LOL! Good night!

Old friends never be forgot

I came across a caseworker from Journeys from PADS to Hope through an automated list of suggestions through my connections on Linked In. I am quite impressed by the fact that he is listed, but disappointed by his lack of effort in completing his profile and adding a photo, among other things. But enough about that; I am not writing this post to critique a kind, misdirected man’s social networking skills. Seeing his profile did, however, inspire thoughts of friends.

I haven’t stayed at the PADS (Public Action to Deliver Shelter) shelters yet this season. I could have used them several times when I had events to go to. Naturally, after being “in the system” there for so long I met many people. My thoughts are with them today as I remember the good times and bad, the meals we shared, the volunteers we loved. I want all of my PADS friends, including volunteers, to know that I am thinking of you. I actually miss staying at the PADS shelters because of all my friendships. I send each of you a hug and hope to see you at Cross & Crown on Saturdays, if not at the Arlington Heights Library or Metra station at any other time.

I nearly left the shelter I am currently staying at more than once. In fact, several times. In all cases, in one way or another, due to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) issues. Its a never ending struggle with that no matter where I stay; thus I am still here giving it a longer go and refusing to give up. My life is becoming more successful the harder I try. I am grateful for all the help I have received and that to come. Without people like you who believe me, it would be a lot harder to believe in myself.

Medical Update

I’ve had two doctor appointments this week: a new rheumatologist and my  primary care doctor. Both are very concerned about the swelling in my legs. I have really bad pitting edema as shown below.

Yes, I am on a “water pill” but so far it doesn’t seem to be doing much. I  go back to my primary doc this Wednesday, the 19th, and will see the rheumatologist on February 16th. The rheumatologist wasn’t much help when I saw her this week, and decreased one and took me off another pain medication due to my swelling issues. Pain management isn’t easy for me as I am allergic to most narcotics. In fact, there are no narcotics that I can even get as an outpatient. I can’t take acetaminophen (Tylenol) due to the potential for liver issues. So I am quite limited.

I’m not sure what else to mention at this moment so I will end this here. Hopefully it won’t be so long between blog posts. I will make extra effort to improve this in the future. Many thanks for following me. XOXOXO ❤