Yesterday I was reminded why I used to enjoy Twitter so much. Certainly, it provides a connection with the outside world that is sorely lacking for most homeless people, but beyond that, it provides hope.
Something that is surely lacking for most homeless people.
Whilst homeless my life was a series of parks all over Melbourne with nothing to hold on to or look forward to. The need for “something” became so overwhelming and I would often latch onto something – anything – to encourage myself to keep going.
Over the years these things ebbed and flowed. Some were fleeting, others constant. But without these things, I would certainly still be homeless, if not something much worse.
This is the constant.
My love of Doctor Who began when I was child; when my parents banned me from watching The Greatest Show in the Galaxy because it was scaring me too much.
In the early nineties, when my mental health problems were in their infancy, repeats on BBC2 enabled me to lose myself in the worlds ofand Tom Baker for the very first time.
Whentook on the role in 1996 my father drove me to Cardiff for a midnight opening of HMV so I could be one of the first to purchase the video. I went to school blurry eyed the next day after watching it twice through the night, ecstatic that I had done so.
In 2005, when the new series began, I was both elated and frustrated at what they had done to my show. Later that year, when David Tennant took over, I fell in love; I had found my Doctor!
I have spoken before of Tennant’s Doctor helping me in times of mental health crisis and it was my desire to see his farewell from the series that gave me the strength to keep going during those early months of homelessness. When my mind was being ravaged by the soul-destroying experience of homeless, the need to see him bid adieu is what kept me fighting.
I can still remember watching The Waters of Mars for the first time. I can still recall the tremendous connection I had with The Doctor in that episode; of the psychological impact his solitude and loneliness had manifested itself, and I knew I could keep going to The End of Time.
“But me? I could do so much more! So much more! But this is what I get. My reward. Well it’s not fair! (silence) I’ve lived too long.” The Doctor.
I spent far too much money downloading it on New Year’s Day in a small internet café in Preston, Melbourne. I can remember all the laughter, joy and the tears I shed whilst watching it. I can recall perfectly the parallels I made with my own life, given I had said something very similar to the above quote on a beach in Port Fairy in 2007.
Walking through a park, overwhelmed with emotion after watching this episode, I didn’t think I could go on. My Doctor was gone forever and a stranger was taking over.
Although never having the same power as it did in 2009, Doctor Who has remained a constant beacon of hope through the abyss of mental health and homelessness. The need to see if it will ever be as bad as The Beast Below/The Victory of the Daleks again; the desire to see my heroe’s continuing adventures; the fact I have a massive crush on fellow Invernessian Karen Gillan, but then what heterosexual male doesn’t?
Even now, knowing I hated 75% of the last series, my love of Doctor Who keeps me fighting. And because of this, and all that it has done for me, I will always – always – love this show more than any other.
Occasionally a movie provides me with the hope I need to keep going. Here are some of them:
In late 2010, after I became suicidal following a breakdown, it was Mark Schwahn’s opus One Tree Hill that saved me.
In a single week I watched the first four seasons back to back. I fell in love with Brooke (one of the best female characters in the history of television), Peyton (one of the other best female characters in the history of television) and developed an on-again/off-again bro-mance with Lucas’ hair.
More importantly this show reminded me of who I once was and wanted to become. As the episodes ticked away, I was reminded of my love of music, of television production, of story arcs and obsession with mind-blowing writing (e.g. S03E16 – With Tired Eyes, Tired Minds, Tired Souls, We Slept)
When I learnt of seasons five and six I broke a three-week period of not leaving my room to obtain them from the local library. When Schwahn had the guts to skip four years in time, introduce the remarkable Jackson Brundage, put together the greatest tribute to John Hughes ever and write depression incredibly well (i.e Hayley’s story arc, season 7) I knew I would love this show forever.
Now the show has ended and I refuse to watch Season Nine until it is released on DVD, because this way I will be able to keep going that little bit longer.
I didn’t wait for Chuck. I may be the most patient man alive but I couldn’t wait for this conclusion.
My introduction to Chuck came in a hotel in Glasgow, slightly drunk and with a woman lying next to me (long story!)
After a rather full on few hours she wanted to watch something, anything, she didn’t care. Earlier that week I’d downloaded the pilot for this show for free on iTunes so we watched it; and instantly I was smitten. When I finally watched season one a year later, I was in love.
Season Two is one of the most consistently brilliant seasons of TV ever.
Season Three, watched mid-homeless after great sacrifice in a motel near Flagstaff Gardens, is the single greatest season of television I have ever seen.
After eighteen months of avoiding every single spoiler I could, I was finally able to see Season Four. Nothing could be as good as season three, but this was still better than most other things on television.
I admire so much of this show; the writing, the risk taking, Scott Bakula, the music, the style, Zach Levi, the direction, the humour, Kristin Kreuk, the ensemble, the Morgan effect. And, obviously, Yvonne Strahovski (see Karen Gillan comment above!)
So when I moved into the unit I now occupy and was kindly given a computer by my counseling organization, I surreptitiously downloaded season five from internet sessions at the library. A personal treat to reward myself for all I’d been through since that emotion filled day in Glasgow.
Even now Chuck provides me hope to keep going. If I wish hard enough perhaps there will be a movie.
I know I’m not the greatest writer in the world. But ever since I was a young boy I’ve loved doing it. From the early years of Neighbours (The Movie) and Indiana Jones and the Sword of Excalibur though to the later years of I, Georgina and The Inverness Chronicles writing is something that has assisted in everything from self-worth and confidence through mental health and homelessness.
Even though I’ve barely been able to write since I, Georgina (Inverness, 2009) there have been times I’ve settled down under lamps in parks and written whatever I could. Most of it was terrible; some of it not too bad. On the occasions some of my homeless-era work was published online (not on my blogs) I was buoyed to continue onwards. To keep striving to achieve all I desired in this area of my life. As I still do today.
Of all of the above my nephew has provided me with more hope than anything else.
He was conceived whilst I was homeless, born whilst I was living in parks, has lived the first two years of his life with me being a Chuncle (Crazy Homeless Uncle) rather than an Uncle.
I’ve never met my nephew. I may never will. But he has kept me pushing onwards for two different reasons.
In much the same way as my need to prove to some of my old friends I’m not the worthless piece of human excrement they decided I am – I want to be a man my nephew can be proud of.
Someone he can look up to and say ‘that’s my Uncle!’ instead of ‘that’s my Uncle?’
But more than anything, I want him to grow up in a world where the homeless are treated with respect.
A world where the homeless are treated as the human beings they are instead of stereotyped, abused and forgotten as they are now.
We can but hope.
“If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps life moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you go on in spite of it all.”
Martin Luther King
Note: This post was edited on 21/5/12 after reading The Troll of Twitter Feeds (by Carey Fuller)
My original post quoted from the blogger discussed in the above piece and is someone whom I had not encountered before. From this, and other research conducted, I do not wish to associate with him and removed the links to his work from this piece.
I have long supported Mark Horvath and the amazing work he does in the field of homelessness. When I first used Twitter in 2010, his work and support of the homeless gave me exactly what this post is about: hope for a better life, and hope for the end of homelessness.