Ian, 28- Portland, OR

“Let me tell you, it’s a scary thing to lose your mind.”


Though the LGBT represents an estimated 7% of the general population, LGBT youth makes up 40% of the youth homeless population¹. Likely due to intolerance faced at home, this disparity represents a disturbing pattern of minors being forced to live on the streets in search of social acceptance.

In addition, mental stability plays a role in homelessness as up to 25% of the homeless population suffer from a severe mental illness.² Factors contributing to homelessness vary greatly and often overlap as many people are left without a home for reasons that coincide.

Ian’s story is no different. Some people face more internal and external obstacles in a decade than others will in a lifetime. Despite fighting battles everyday that many of us will never fight, Ian was soft-spoken, hopeful, and understanding. Using retrospection as a close ally, Ian addresses issues at their very core as he works regain footing on a slippery slope many fail to recover from.


DSC_0327“I had a home but I was worried because I was insecure with my own sexuality, I had an idea in my head that there was pressure on me to have a wife and kids. I realized I was homosexual when I was younger but I suppressed a lot of it.

In my Christian family, I was raised with this idea that I was bad, morally wrong, and that lead me to think I had something seriously wrong with me psychologically. What is so wrong me and why didn’t I think like the rest of my family? Why did my psychological nature push me to have desires that are supposed to be an abomination? What happened eventually was that I ‘solved’ my problem and these doubts with a lot of drugs, methamphetamine specifically.”


“I’ve been to jail a few times for drugs and shoplifting.I had to ask myself why I kept going back to jail. I’m bipolar, that’s why. I was in lockdown in Reno solitary for 40 days and that was terrible. I was there because I had been with cell mates before and it had ended badly. My cellmate was coming off of heroin and he was trying to start touching and feeling on me. This is literally right after they showed me the pamphlets for prison rape, I kid you not. I wanted to talk to the nurse about it, I could not believe it. When I go in there I have a lot of emotional baggage. I am happier now living on the streets than I was in solitary confinement.”


DSC_0337


“I had to ask myself why I kept going back to jail. I’m bipolar, that’s why. I was in lockdown in Reno solitary for 40 days and that was terrible. I was there because I had been with cell mates before and it had ended badly. My cellmate was coming off of heroin and he was trying to start touching and feeling on me. This is literally right after they showed me the pamphlets for prison rape, I kid you not. I wanted to talk to the nurse about it, I could not believe it. When I go in there I have a lot of emotional baggage. I am happier now living on the streets than I was in solitary confinement. “I had a parent die when I was a teenager. She had a lot on her plate and was just unable to take care of herself emotionally and I didn’t know how to take that and I think I mimicked that with my self-comfort and addiction process. That was taught. When you lose your mind, the first thing you want to do is jump to drugs and run away from reality, you know I thought well I’m crazy with either way, what does it matter? But I had to reaffirm with myself with what I know about psychology. So thank god for science.  I do have certain things about myself I need to watch out for. For a while I couldn’t recognize my bipolar disorder, especially when I was getting high on meth.

There are bouts of depression and bouts of mania. The depression wants to just isolate while the mania is very serious and very intense. But if I take a step back and am able see the difference between my mood and what’s going on with me psychologically, then I can handle it. Everyday and there are highs and lows to it. It’s a temporary crazy, I lived in an alternate reality for a while there.


When she (my mother) died, I wasn’t doing well psychologically at the time. I had just been diagnosed with my bipolar disorder. I was never given a death certificate so I had all these questions. I had a therapist who looked a lot like her and started thinking ‘Is that her? Did she fake her own death?’ Those are really scary questions to have.  Losing your mother is a horrible thing, but when you are in a horrible psychological state, dealing with severe and manic depression, to think she may be alive and well off with her son thinking she is dead…. It’s even scarier to realize that that was the type of person she was. She was the sort of person who would try to wipe her slate clean; she would just take off for months at a time and I wouldn’t know if I would see her again.

Let me tell you, it’s a scary thing to lose your mind Justin.”


  1. The True Colors Fund https://truecolorsfund.org/our-issue/
  2. National Coalition For The Homeless http://www.nationalhomeless.org/factsheets/why.html
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