…because of 32 hours

it’s raining outside, and i am sitting here being happy because i just finished my first week of work at my new job.  my grown-up job.  the start of my career that i went to undergrad and graduate school for. when you start something new, everything is fun, appealing, and exciting; but the thing about doing something you absolutely love is that that never wears off.  social work is like that for me.


and in 32 hours, my life has changed.  that’s not even a full work week.


i am currently working with people who have been diagnosed with a mental illness.  to be in the program i am working for, the individuals must have a diagnosis of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, schizo-affective disorder, or major depression (with exceptions, of course).  the majority of them also have a co-occurring substance abuse diagnosis.  and to be in the program, the symptoms the people experience must be so severe that they have been hospitalized or placed in jail (as a result of their mental illness) multiple times within the last two years.  the majority of the people are homeless, live in low income housing, or houses that have been deemed ‘unlivable” by the state.

i know that everyone is different. but this week i really understood it. while all of the people are similar in the fact that they experience severe and persistent symptoms as a result of their mental illness, the severity of symptoms is different for each person. the specific symptoms one experiences differ, their ability to cope and manage other aspects of their lives is different too.  some have jobs and kids and pets, other’s are in trouble with the law, and other’s still, are trying to get their medication under control so that they can go back to school.  the people i have had the opportunity to meet, visit, and talk with this week are wonderful. and they are diverse. and they are caring.kind.funny.intelligent.talented. some are also homeless, have been convicted of felonies, or have no social support.



i do not know what it is like to hear voices or see things that are not really there.  i do not know what it is  like to live in a constant state of fear, unable to discern who are the “bad guys” and “good guys.” i do not know what it is like to have difficulty in making the decision to take your medication even when you are manic or hypo-manic. i do not know what it is like to take a handful of medication every morning and every night. i don’t know what it is like to be scared to leave my house. 


a lot of other people don’t know what that is like either.

a lot of people also don’t understand that some people are homeless not because they are lazy, but because they have a mental illness. a mental illness so severe that they might have difficulty performing activities of daily living–basic hygiene, maintaining an apartment, paying bills, answering a door. a lot of people don’t know what’s its like to lose your job because of actions that resulted from a mental illness. a lot of people do not know what it is like to have experienced multiple traumas while still coping with a mental illness and living in poverty.


 i don’t know what a lot of things are like. but i want to try to understand. and i want to do my best to help.



what i want you to know is that life can be hard in general.  and for some people, life is hard enough-without ostracizing, stigmatizing or casting broad generalizations about their circumstances without even knowing who they are, where they come from, or what makes them happiest.


i wish that people knew that homelessness and poverty are not synonymous with laziness. i wish that people knew that every day someone is struggling just to be able to remember to take their medication so they are not hospitalized. i wish that everyone could know that sometimes people have difficulty remembering to leave the house with their shoes on or go grocery shopping. i wish that people would educate themselves on the topics, and more importantly, take the time to meet the people they are so easily able to talk negatively about.


all people need help. and all people need love.







this week was meaningful because my life just won’t be the same.


5 thoughts on “…because of 32 hours”

  1. I have been reading some of your posts and they are very touching and I love your authenticity. I am 24, in grad school for school guidance counseling and have a heart for people who struggle because of mental illness… love your heart for people too. I am curious to know what you did received as a degree in undergrad and masters? Love the way you share, thank you!

  2. I watched over my mother in law for 20 years while she struggled with schizophrenia. I have always said I would rather have Cancer then Mental Illness because people who have Cancer are loved. People with Mental Illness are most often left to fend for themselves. It is very much a heartbreaking and lonely Illness. Most the time my mother in law did not trust me nor did she like me. other times we would just sit and laugh. she could be so funny. She was also a very smart women. I was sad when she passed away, because I loved her and I had always struggled with just how hard and lonely her life had been. I was also happy for her because her struggle was over. Funny…I use to dream of speaking at her Service. of letting people know what a funny and loving women she was. How I enjoyed my time with her. How she loved her sons more then life itself. But there was no service.

    Thank you for sharing your love and thoughts here on your blog! Thank you also for speaking out for those who can not speak for themselves. you are a blessing for so many!
    I also want to add that I mean no disrespect to those that are struggling with the awful illness called “Cancer”

  3. I’m twenty-two years old and have spent my whole life dealing with depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. Reading this was truly amazing. I’ve never heard someone who doesn’t suffer from this type of illness be able to talk about it like you. I’m not homeless, I’m not in trouble with the law.. But it’s still a difficult life to live. I fear those things because school isn’t an option for me while I feel like this and a job is the hardest thing in the world for me to hold, even though I desperately want to work. I hope that you continue to help people. The outlook you have on life is amazing and I’m sure you help tons of people with things like this. So thank you.

    1. Blessings to you Emily! My heart goes out to you and I will be praying for you that while you struggle with depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder that you will feel Gods love and comfort and at your most difficult times you will know that he is holding you in his loving arms!


  4. Thank you for this lovely post Jessica. I work with people living with mental illness too and somedays I find myself questioning my choice of work. This post serves as a reminder to how meaningful my role is and how fulfilling my job can be. You made me look forward to work tomorrow, something that I have recently started to dread.

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