This post was originally written for my blog The Secret Diary of a Homeless Romantic as my journal entry for 16 September 2010. At the time I was rough sleeping in Melbourne and trying to hold onto what little shred of sanity I had left in spite of discrimination and the ever-present loneliness.
I’ve chosen this post as my voice from the past this Monday for two reasons. One, because it’s an entry I’ve always been quite happy with (a rarity for my writing) and two, the Time to Change research mentioned in the post is a disturbing reminder of the stigma attached to those with mental health problems and deserves to be remembered.
Note: This post was imported from the now-deceased aforementioned blog so all images, links and comments remain as a record of that moment in time and place.
My day began at about 5am when I dragged myself from the concrete, cleaned my blankets and secreted them away into their usual hiding place.
The bathroom called before my basic morning yoga routine (I stress basic) produced all sorts of odd looks. Seriously, a homeless man performing yoga in the park – I should charge! I had my shower, argued with myself and then found a two dollar coin nestled on the grey asphalt.
It’s not often I find money that’s gold in colour. Usually it’s silver, and the smallest denomination at that, but this find meant I could purchase some foodstuffs for breakfast. Aware a restaurant chain is currently offering $2 bacon and egg sandwiches before 11am I strolled into town in the hope I would be settled in front of ABC News 24 (at Federation Square) without a growling belly this morning.
Alas, it wasn’t to be. As soon as I entered I was asked to leave, apparently this particular chain doesn’t serve the homeless.
This am was refused $2 brekky & told to leave shop. I’ll quote: “You know yr homeless. We don’t want troublemakers like you in here,” Nice!
and fortunately was not alone in being pissed off! The greatest response came from Facebook, where I was told that:
You seem too intelligent to be a bum. Things happen tho. Your thoughts and writing are cool & you take awesome photos. :)
I’m fully aware the person who wrote it didn’t mean anything other than being nice, so I’m not angry with them in any way – but it does come across as a little, umm, yeah. What does intelligence have to do with homelessness?
Also, I don’t mind the term hobo (reminds me of the show The Littlest Hobo, yay!) but I HATE the word bum.
Bums are for sitting on, kissing, squeezing and spanking.
Do you see anyone sitting on, kissing, squeezing or spanking me? Sadly, no. Thus, I am not a bum. When someone does start doing these things I will happily refer to myself as a bum ;p Until then you may refer to me as either homeless, hobo, awesome, spankable or all of the above.
Anyway, as it turned out today seemed to be the day for discrimination as I also discovered that most people would rather date someone they weren’t attracted to than someone with a mental illness!
More people in England would turn down a date with someone who had a mental illness (57%) if they were single and looking for love online than someone they found unattractive (44%) or someone without the same interests (43%), a new survey as part of the Time to Change campaign addressing mental health prejudice has found.
Also, people with a mental health problem are more likely to be turned down for a second date if they reveal they have a mental illness (44%) than those who disclose they have been in prison (42%), have a physical health problem (19%) or are unemployed (18%).
So basically, I was refused food from a company whose sole purpose is to sell food to hungry people and then moments later found out it’s unlikely I’ll ever be in a relationship again. Cracking start to the day! As I continued reading the article I also discovered it’s unlikely I’ll ever get accommodation:
The survey also looked at flatsharing and revealed 60% of us would not want to rent a room to someone with a mental health problem, more than three times as many as who would say no to someone with a physical health problem (18%).
This is far more annoying than the comment posted to my Facebook account or being discriminated against by the restaurant chain.
I’m not trying to be arrogant when I say this, but I believe I’m a good guy. I’m caring, compassionate, generous and passionate. Granted I’m not a comedian (unless you appreciate extremely dry usually need carrots to see through it dark comedy) but I do have a very twisted, generous and imaginative mind. I’m also very much a downer than a downee, which should surely make up for some of the points lost on the mental illness, or am I clutching at straws there?
Yet purely because I suffer from mental health problems it’s unlikely anyone of the opposite sex would give me the time of day let alone prove this to them. In other words, in order to stand a chance of having an honest and loving relationship I would need to lie from the very start; bit of a contradiction, no?
So I spent the rest of the day listening to the same Foo Fighters album on repeat. I’d never heard a Foo Fighters album before but a Twitter-Friend recommended them and I’ve become addicted.
Especially this track:
Which just makes me think of two words: road trip!
She’s driving, I’m in the passenger seat. She’s in jeans and a tee, I’m in board shorts. I’m feeding her gummi-bears (or grapes, depending on her taste preference), she’s telling me they’re all hers and I’m not allowed any. The music’s blaring, the sun’s blazing, the road’s endless and we don’t care. It’s all just too damn fun :D
Sure it’s a dream, but given I learned today I’ll never have a relationship and won’t be allowed to eat in one of my favourite restaurant chains until I get a home from one of the 40% who won’t discriminate against me, am I not allowed to dream from time to time?
Related Articles (as chosen on 16 September 2010):
- Study: Mental illness stigma entrenched in American culture; new strategies needed (scienceblog.com)
- Study tries new approach to homeless (cbc.ca)
- We Are Visible: Mark Horvath Launches Website To Empower The Homeless With Social Media (huffingtonpost.com)
- “We Are Visible” Teaches the Homeless How to Log On (homelessness.change.org)
Related Articles (as chosen today, 24 September 2012):
- Neglect of the mentally ill is the great scandal of our times. Are we prepared to pay for the solution? (independent.co.uk)
- Mental Illness: Fighting the Stigma (psychologytoday.com)
- Ashadeep project to rehabilitate mentally ill (assamtribune.com)
- Top UK Mental Health Issues in 2012 (candidaabrahamson.wordpress.com)