Issue #1

When I am homeless, I am able to be to be more sociable than when I have a job and my own place.   When I have a job and a place of my own, I have a lot less time to meet people.  Actually, the last time I had a place, I became completely isolated. And that led to my eventual return to the streets.  I don’t get invited to many social events, and when I have been,  I’ve not done so well – anxieties getting the better of me.   And getting to social events is also difficult.   With child support to pay, even with a good paying job, I can’t afford a car.   And public transportation doesn’t go to many of the places I would want to go, and the busses run on limited times, especially in the evening and weekends, when I’d most likely want to go out.    Most of the city buses stop running after 6:30pm on Saturday nights.

So I continue to work to overcome my anxieties, and who knows?  maybe with a little more effort I’d be ok at gatherings.

The gist of Issue #1 is that my life is actually better in some important respects when I’m homeless, than when I’ve got my own place.

How can I overcome that?

How can I have a job, a place of my own, and a life?

About Kevin Barbieux

I have been diagnosed as being chronically homeless. I write about my experiences and opinions of being homeless

11 comments

  1. CK

    Anon had a good idea about joining a photography club. If there isn’t a club in your area, perhaps you can persuade someone to initiate one.

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  2. Moo

    Hello,
    First question, are you currently paying child support? How much is it, and how are you able to pay child support without a regular job?
    I don’t know Nashville, so maybe my suggestion here won’t help. Where I live, it is possible to rent a room in a house (usually with several other single people, one of whom is the home owner) for $200-$300 per month. A shopping center is within walking distance, and jobs are available there at the retail stores/grocery store.
    Is it possible for you to get a job (McDonald’s, whatever) during the day and save the money to get a rental room somewhere?
    I agree with the previous writer that lack of sleep from staying in the shelters probably increases your social anxiety. Everyone functions better with a good night’s sleep.
    If you are not paying child support, I agree with a previous poster that doing so would improve your relationship with ex and kids.
    The homeless in my town frequently have jobs during the day and save up to get off the streets. My church sponsors a week of winter relief, and I know some of our guests had to be woken up at a certain time so they could make it to their jobs on time. This may not seem fair to you, but I think people are more willing to help out someone that is working and seeming to make an effort to get off the streets. By that I mean that if one of the working homeless asked for donations of used furniture, clothes, dishes, many would feel compelled to help someone who is trying to help themselves. I hope you can do the same. I hope you can get the mental medical help you need.
    I work full time, and I absolutely hate my job. There are jobs I would rather do, but they don’t pay as well as my current job. I don’t like a few of the people I have to work with, one in particular is really abrasive. But, I need the money to support myself and my family. I would much rather put up with a miserable job than have no income.
    I have only best wishes for you. I hope this is the summer that you can get off the streets permanently.

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  3. Anon

    Try to find a club of some kind (photography, martial arts, writer’s group, etc) that meets regularly in a location you can reach without too much trouble (near the job? near a bus?). Attend regularly, and you will get to know people slowly. You don’t need an invite to someones house to do this, and there is always a conversation topic – the club topic.

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  4. MOTM

    Hello! Taking note on your great photos, how about Cafepress.com, make up your own greeting cards, etc. Plus they’ve a section to create and publish your own book. Might want to check it out. =) MOTM

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  5. I think that Nick has a lot of good advice, especially the counseling thing. Since that seems to be the root cause of your problems, getting the counseling is the only thing that will keep you off the streets long term. If that’s something that you’re ready to do (I know its hard to take the first step), then I would start looking for programs for lower income folks.

    The transportation thing is a non-issue if you get an apartment and job that are close. I know that Nashville is not the best for public transportation, but you can still get around. You should be able to meet people at work. In fact I found it easier to do so before I quit my job to stay home with the kids. And there’s nothing you can do to get out of the child support but it might help your relationship with your children and ex-wife if they see you taking some responsibility for them.

    And I second what Phil says. Your photography is good. Considering making money with that.

    What it really comes down to is asking yourself if you are ready to change things.

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  6. Phil B

    Hello my friend,

    It has been quite some time since I visited your blog.

    Your photography is absolutely stunning. As I have mentioned a few times before, you could make money doing this. With a little luck, you might be able then to escape the brutality of the streets.

    Take care!

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  7. Nick

    Oh, one other quick thing, have you considered setting up a google adwords account and getting paid for your traffic here (not much, of course, but it’s money, and once you set it up you never have to worry about it again)

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  8. Nick

    Kevin,

    Let me first say that I’ve just recently run across your blog and have been reading quite a few of your archived posts over the past few days. I’m fascinated with your distinct and illuminating perspective on the whole topic of homelessness, and your coping with it.

    From what I have read in your previous posts, you indicate that you believe that social anxiety / phobia is the primary reason you continue to fall back into homelesness. I know some people would probably not accept this as a significant enough reason, but as a recovering hardcore social phobic myself, I have seen how much the downward spiral of fearing other’s judgement can get completely out of an individual’s ability to manage.

    You may have mentioned this at some point, but I’ve not read all of your archives yet. A couple of questions about your social anxiety:

    – Were you formally diagnosed as socially anxious by a psychologist?
    – Were you / are you on anti-anxiety medication for it?
    – Have you ever had therapy for it? If so, what kind?

    I have no idea what, if any, heathcare options are available to the homeless in TN, but are any of the above services available to you through any of the various programs you’ve previously mentioned?

    As far as the transportation issues go, that is indeed a bit of a puzzler. Maybe a bicycle? Do the busses there have bike racks on the front? Bikes are also good excercise, which is a natural anti-depressant. A cheap scooter is also a possibility, around $100 or so used off craigslist.

    I’m assuming this issue assumes you’d have a place to stay where you can get some sleep while working? I’m fair sure that not sleeping a couple nights out of the week, and then getting really poor sleep at the churches due to surrounding noise isn’t helping with your anxiety in any form – you need regular sleep to function normally. This might be an utterly idiotic question, but is it possible to set up a small/cheap one man tent and camp somewhere not too far in the effort of getting some regular quality sleep?

    As far as the not getting invited to social functions thing, yeah, I hear you there. I am a mid thirties male with zero friends, and estranged from my parents – I’ve not been good with maintaining friendships because of the social anxiety thing. Any tips on how to meet people and ‘make friends’ would be heartially considered on my end.

    Lets see, as far as child support goes, man that is harsh! I wonder if filing bankruptcy in your completely destitute situation would allow them to wipe out the child support debt. I mean, if it’s interfering with your ability to get back up on your feet. Perhaps you could talk to your Ex-wife about taking action to temporarially suspend the payments until you get up and functional again.

    > How can I have a job, a place of my own, and a life?

    It is better to light a single candle rather than curse the darkness, is it not? In my opinion, in order to dig yourself out you have to start somewhere – the job makes the most sense. Would it be possible for you to live near your job so that the transportation was less of an issue?

    Well, I’m off, good luck to you!
    Nick

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  9. Jim

    Job =
    less time to meet people, isolation
    *few invites to social functions
    child support
    *no car
    *limitations on where and when bus runs

    Pretty one sided seesaw = reasons not to get a job.

    I think that the * marked items are true in your homeless situation as well and don’t belong in your list. Very likely the first item as well, but you are the judge of that, so I left it * marked.

    I met a lot of people every day in my jobs but I’ve always been a loner anyway.

    Most of our population takes some sort of hit while they are working. Having to set aside a big portion of the day for getting there, working, getting back takes a toll. Having someone else tell you what to do and how. Real drag. Many poeple pay child support, many people walk or take a bus and many people thrive on it, some don’t.

    But the eventual payoff is very rewarding. Relax at the end of the day, maybe go somewhere when vacation time comes around, eventually retire with a home or affordable apartment.

    Security – knowing you can go to a show, eat a nice meal, buy some sort of gadget, time of your own with no boss. Healthly living, decent food, your own space. Respect. It all adds up and if you look at the equation and put your shortened list on one side and the benefits on the other and rebalance your seesaw you can perhaps rationalize a way out rather than a rationalize reasons not to give it a wholehearted try.

    Good luck whatever you choose.

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  10. by wanting it bad enough… when you are truly ready to overcome those limitations you will, simple as that. you’ve come close and each attempt gets you closer. don’t give up.

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  11. Come to Fargo! 😉

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