A Baffled Look

The straight dope on mental health

Affordable Treatment

It’s hard to separate advice on how to cope from political realities such as lack of access to affordable treatment.
According to an Orlando Sentinel article, my county mental health provider no longer treats people without insurance because of budget cuts. There is a clinic run by the local chapter of Mental Health America that treats people without insurance, but these people have to have another health condition like diabetes and even then the clinic can only treat 200 people. There’s a long waiting list. The current austerity measures will only make things worse.
Drug companies are making things worse for the uninsured. The uninsured have to pay higher costs because they don’t have an insurance company or the state to negotiate lower prices for them. I could go on and on about the drug companies, but that’s for another post.
That said, at least you can get free medicine through drug company patient assistance programs. It really helped me stay sane when I was getting my BA, but I still had to pay the doctor. You can get free samples from your doctor too. There are a few psychiatrists in my community who don’t take insurance and have a sliding scale for payment. They’re few and far between, but it’s worth looking into. Call your local NAMI chapter or your local Mental Health America to find one.
State & federal politicians are too busy cutting taxes that fund mental health treatment and the insurance companies lobby against better treatment because it costs them more. So, if there’s less money to fund community mental providers then we need more efficiency for the funds provided for treatment, right? Community mental health providers, however, have been so underfunded that they’re stretched to the max. Peer support groups help some, but it’s no substitute for getting professional help.
There are some possibilities to get free treatment for uninsured people. Back when I was in college I was hospitalized and had a huge bill. I looked into getting the bill forgiven. I asked the billing department for an application. The woman I talked to referred me to her manager because she knew nothing about it. The manager sent me a form. I filled it out, sent it in & my bill was forgiven. So if you have a huge hospital bill and you’re indigent, appeal to the hospital billing department & speak to a manager.
Another option for free or low cost hospital or health care facilities is Hill Burton facilities. Back in 1946 congress passed a law giving funds to health facilities and in return these facilities had to offer free or low cost treatment. Here’s a link to find one of these facilities near you. When you go there, go to the business office and ask for an Individual Notice. This will tell you about income requirements and where to go next. Ask for a Hill Burton form and be sure to bring pay stubs or some other kind of proof of income. If you are asked to apply for Medicaid or Medicare, do so. Ask for a Determination of Eligibility and how long it will be to be notified whether you qualify or not.
Hopefully some of these problems will get resolved with the Affordable Care Act. I wish I had more advice, but I can’t think of anything else right now.

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No Greater Curse

“There is no greater curse than discontent.” I read this this morning in the Tao Te Ching. It applies to me now.
I’ve been scattered and have several projects going on at once. It’s not mania. It’s anxiety. I’m worried about my best friend. I can’t reveal why I’m worried, but I keep hoping things will improve. It’s not often for me to have a best friend because I’m usually quiet and reserved. It’s hard for me to trust people because I’ve been hurt in the past. A best friend is hard to find. We have so much in common it’s uncanny. I shouldn’t be posting about this, but I want to explain my absence. It’s hard to accept that I can’t control this situation. I’m distressed.
I hate to bring up personal stuff on this blog because it’s meant to inform and I usually disclose my experiences only to illustrate a point.
The whole problem is that my thoughts are disorganized and will be until I can settle down and accept that I can’t control a lot of things. I learned this when I first got clean and sober, but seem to have lost the ability to determine what I can control and accept what I can’t control. I have 20 years clean and sober and I don’t know when I strayed from the concept that I should do the next right thing in front of me and let go of trying to control the results. Another thing. I can only control how I react to and how I look at situations. In counseling this is called reframing. It’s my responsibility to control how I look at things. I sometimes have expectations that lead to disappointment and/or resentment. It’s the same thing as trying to control outcomes where I have no control. I can only do my best and let go of how things turn out. I learned this from AA. I’ve done what I can for my best friend, but I have no control over what happens. I can only hope.

A personal note

A member of my bipolar support group, Jim, died from cancer. Mercifully, his decline was quick. He fought it for five years and functioned very well until the last few weeks of his life. My support group is extremely close. All of us took it hard.
Jim had very little, but always tried to help others. He was a retired pastor who was also interested in the latest developments in theoretical physics. I’ve read lay books on Quantum Theory and regret that I didn’t discuss it with him after a meeting. He volunteered for his church’s food pantry. Just six months ago he was asked by MD Anderson to start a cancer support group. He planned to do it.
Less than a week before Jim died I went to visit him. His cancer had spread to his brain, but he was lucid. I spotted his bible on a table and asked him if he wanted me to read from it. He picked Luke. I asked him why he picked Luke after I read to him since I know very little about the bible. He was having trouble speaking. I couldn’t understand his answer. Five days later he died. I saw him in a nursing home. I’m glad my last memory of Jim was while he was in the nursing home and not when he was hooked up to a breathing machine in ICU.
There was no ceremony after he died. At least not here in Orlando. My bipolar group had our own celebration of his life.
I don’t deal with loss well and Jim died the same week as the anniversary of my friend Jerry’s suicide.

I have some other stressful things going on in my life. Half of my local drop-in center burned down. The main building has reopened so they can serve meals, but the part that burned down was what all of us called the “TV room.” The TV room was a cool, dark room with overstuffed couches where the homeless clients could rest during the day. They are afraid to sleep at night either in a shelter or on the street because they may get assaulted or have their possessions stolen.
Many of the drop-in center’s clients won’t go to other places offering a free meal because they are too paranoid to go. That leaves foraging through restaurant and grocery store dumpsters.
Now that the drop-in center has reopened, they can no longer provide showers for its homeless clients because the main building has only one bathroom. That’s the bathroom that has a shower. The TV room had a bathroom that clients could use while the main building’s shower could be used by the homeless clients for personal hygiene. Until the new TV room is rebuilt the drop-in center’s homeless clients have no place to rest or a means of attending to personal hygiene. It could take as long as a year to rebuild the TV room.

I’m giving a presentation about the healing power of art at the Orlando Museum of Art in November. I plan on discussing my recovery from PTSD and alcoholism. I’m also discussing my art workshop at the drop-in center so I can drum up some donations. It’s stressful for me to speak in public, but it’s too good an opportunity to pass up. I’ve been attending Toastmasters meetings to get used to public speaking. I haven’t attended since my first speech because I’ve been upset about the recent events I mentioned above. I cry almost every day and I hope I don’t cry during my presentation. I will try to attend a Toastmasters’ meeting this week.
So I’ve had to put some things aside for now and take it easy.

Let’s Hope

A demonstration program created in the Affordable Care Act will test if having more hospital beds available for psychiatric emergencies will save taxpayers and hospitals money. Currently Medicaid won’t pay for admission to psychiatric hospitals w/ more than 16 beds. Eleven states (Alabama, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Washington, West Virginia) plus the District of Columbia are participating in this three-year demonstration. The reason behind this demonstration is to see if allowing Medicaid to pay for care in institutions over 16 beds saves money in the long run. The program runs for 3 years.

The reasons behind this limitation, called Medicaid institution for mental diseases (IMD) exclusion, came about because of the wretched conditions of state mental hospitals in the middle of the 20th century. The history of how and why these state hospitals came about originally stemmed from good intentions (and you know what they say about good intentions). Before the state hospitals existed, poor mentally ill people were usually sent to squalid jails and almshouses. State hospitals were originally meant to be a humane alternative. States financed these hospitals, not the federal government. By the mid-20th century, these institutions became overcrowded and as squalid as the jails and almshouses had been. The media learned about the conditions in these state hospitals at around the same time the first antipsychotic, Thorazine (chlorpromazine), began use as a treatment that would allow some mentally ill people to live in the community. This led to the development of community mental health centers. Civil liberties organizations got involved and states drafted laws to ensure that mentally ill people were treated in the least restrictive setting. Lawmakers now viewed state hospitals as simply warehouses that provided little treatment. Legislatures deemed state hospitals as inappropriate for Medicaid. According to Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services’ Medicaid Emergency Psychiatric Demonstration Design and Solicitation, the Medicare Catastrophic Act of 1988 further defined an IMD as a facility primarily used for inpatient psychiatric treatment with more than 16 beds were excluded from reimbursement from Medicaid.

Community mental health services were never funded adequately from the beginning. Inadequate treatment leads to psychiatric emergencies. Lack of available beds for these emergencies results in what’s called “psychiatric boarding” in general hospital emergency departments which don’t have the resources to provide appropriate psychiatric care. The demonstration program starts in 2014. Let’s hope that it succeeds in saving money because implementing this program nationwide will save lives.

I’m not a professional. I’m an expert.

I joined Toastmasters because I have to give a presentation on the healing power of art show at the Orlando Museum of Art in November. The event organizer told me over 300 people might be there. I’ve never addressed a group of this size. I have to tell you a little about myself because it will explain why I was asked to do this show.
I’m a silversmith. I’ve worked in many other art mediums such as creative writing as well. I’m also mental health advocate. I would like to describe my path to advocacy for mentally ill people. I’ve had bipolar disorder since I was 14. Bipolar disorder is an illness characterized by extreme emotional highs and lows. It used to be called manic depression because of the shifts between mania and depression. During manic states a person will often feel euphoric, talk nonstop, take on many foolish risks, -like entering into dubious business ventures spending vast quantities of money they don’t have. They often sleep very little during mania. Bipolar depression is often punctuated with loss of interest in activities that you used to enjoy, isolation, suicidal thoughts and excessive guilt.
This topic may seem too personal to my fellow toastmasters here. I’m talking to you about it for the same reasons I’m open about my condition with others. If I keep silent about it, I’ll contribute to more misunderstanding and stigma towards mentally ill people. If I hide, I become invisible. To be invisible is to live without hope of acceptance and inclusion from others. Being invisible robs me of hope. I have to be hopeful to affect change.
Like many people with my condition, I was first misdiagnosed with depression and given an antidepressant which worked for my depression at first. It eventually led to mania. The reason antidepressants cause mania in people with bipolar disorder is because they’re supposed to elevate your mood. Mania can turn into psychosis, which is characterized by delusions – like believing you’re Jesus Christ, paranoia – the belief that others are out to get you – experiencing hallucinations such as hearing voices even when no one is around. It can be a very scary experience. Believe me, I know. This is what happened to me during my teens. I decided not to take the antidepressants because of this. I started to drink alcohol in order to control my mood. I became an alcoholic. Getting sober eight years later was one of the best things I did for my mental health. For the first seven years of my sobriety I saw a few therapists for depression. I did not see a psychiatrist because I was afraid of re-experiencing what happened to me as a teenager. I became manic during my seventh year of sobriety. I was hospitalized for it because I became psychotic. No one could understand what I was saying. I was incoherent. The psychiatrist in the hospital diagnosed me with Bipolar Disorder. This time the medication I was prescribed stabilized my mood. I felt much better.
Soon after I left the hospital I read an article in the Orlando Sentinel about a local drop-in center that serves poor mentally ill people, many of whom have coexisting substance abuse problems. This drop-in center, Pathways Drop-In Center, offered many services like a meal, shower, computers with internet access, an address for homeless people, cable TV, a washer and dryer. Although I wasn’t poor – I was pursuing a degree in digital media at UCF – I wanted to spend time with other mentally ill people. I fell in love with the place. Pathways offered a much needed service. Pathways provided activities too. I started a beading class. Helping them helped me. I felt grateful for what I had after seeing how difficult life was for Pathways’ clients. After I finished my degree, I decided to work for Pathways as general manager. I never, however, admitted to outsiders that I was mentally ill because I was afraid I’d be harshly judged. I worked there for two years. After working there I decided to go back to pursue a master’s degree in Social Work. I found a calling to advocate for others like me. Half way through my degree, I started having trouble with symptoms again. I didn’t want anyone in my graduate program to know I was mentally ill because it can be a nightmare getting licensed. I had to medically withdraw even though I had a 4.0 and belonged to two honor societies. It took a while to get my symptoms under control. By the time my symptoms improved, I realized I didn’t want to be a professional. I was already an expert after coping with mental illness for so many years. I could help other people already. I decided that I could help even more by admitting openly that I have a mental illness.
I started a blog called A Baffled Look that covers social justice issues about mental illness. I started writing stories about my time with Pathways. Mental illness became my muse. I joined Pathways’ board of directors. I realized that I wouldn’t have much to contribute to the board unless I spent more time there. I started an art workshop where Pathways’ clients can make collages, color, or just hang out. I started another blog about what happens during the weekly art workshop. Don’t worry. I don’t reveal their identities. They know I’m writing about them. I’m featuring some of their work along with mine at my November presentation. Most of the work featured in my presentation at the November show is collage. I like its ease and immediacy of expression. I call the blog Word Salad World because Pathways is a microcosm of larger issues facing mental illness. During one of my visits to Pathways, a woman put a picture of a Barbie doll in her collage. She told me that she lost her favorite doll when her family got evicted from their home when she was seven years old. I’m definitely putting her collage in my presentation.
Having two blogs where I acknowledge having a mental illness is as far out of the closet as you can get. I’m not hiding anymore. The more open I become about my illness, the more I can teach others about this issue.

Released

I went to the local drop-in center where I volunteer. I got there about 11:20 am. They open at 11:00 am the people there were still eating and everyone was very subdued. It was the end of the month and that’s the hardest time for them because by then their Social Security money runs out. A bald man of about 30 was talking on the client phone trying to arrange services for himself and a way he could get a buck to pay for one night at the Coalition for the Homeless’ shelter. He had just been released from prison and was trying to get food stamps and emergency assistance. I didn’t think to tell him that Catholic Charities might give him money. I wish I had thought of it. He was trying to get SSI too, I think, but that takes months. I wasn’t about to ask him questions just to satisfy my curiosity. He urgently needed help. Without emergency assistance he’ll probably roam the streets at night and have to crash at the drop-in center during the day in the TV room or try the labor pool to get the money to stay at the coalition.
In Florida, where I live, there are no services for mentally ill inmates released from jail or prison. They are often no shows at community mental health clinics. According to a Washington state study they are perceived as violent – even though very few of them are – many mental health practitioners consider them too much of a liability to take on as clients. Even if they do get services from community mental health they often run out of medication before they can get an appointment. There’s a report to a Florida state senator about how to improve access to services such as getting on Social Security, food stamps and Medicaid, but nothing came of it. The Florida Department of Corrections, Florida’s Department of Children and Families (DCF) and county mental health providers don’t communicate with one another about how to provide inmates services when they get out so they don’t reoffend or wind up in a hospital. That guy at the drop-in center that day had to arrange all of these services himself. This guy was lucid. I wonder how the sicker ones can do this for themselves. There’s a lot out there about jails and prisons being the new asylums but not about aftercare once they are released. In Florida they get a months’ worth of medication but at my county’s mental health provider it’s often 90 days before they can get in to get care. The Bazelon Center, which is an organization specializing in legal matters about mental illness, issued a brief about what’s needed for aftercare. They suggest screening for mental illness upon entry to jail or prison, suspending rather than terminating benefits while mentally ill inmates are incarcerated, providing specialized parole supervision and helping prisoners apply for benefits before their release. With all the states facing budget shortfalls it’s unlikely these offenders are going to get these services. Frontline made a documentary about the system in Ohio. The inmates there get 2 weeks’ worth of medication. At least the guy at the drop-in center was persistent. I should’ve suggested Catholic Charities for emergency financial aid, but he was on the phone the whole time and I didn’t want to interrupt him. I should have handed him a note about it while he was on hold. I haven’t seen him since.

Reefer Madness

Some studies suggest marijuana triggers psychosis in genetically vulnerable individuals. I’ve included a link to a Canadian documentary called The Downside of High that examines this, but overall the evidence is contradictory. In one study in Britain 600,000 people from 16 – 44 years old were evaluated. Even though pot use increased considerably rates for schizophrenia were stable or declined. Another NIH study found no link between marijuana use and schizophrenia. Correlation is not causation. People with psychotic disorders also smoke cigarettes and cigarettes don’t cause psychosis. They actually help schizophrenics think more clearly. And schizophrenics use more alcohol and illicit drugs than the general population. So this may be a case of reverse causation. If you began to worry about losing your mind pot might appeal to you to ward off anxiety.
Still, another NIH study reports, “What does appear to be consistent is that in individuals with a predisposition for schizophrenia, ingesting cannabis exacerbates symptoms and worsens the schizophrenic prognosis…” But it also points out that a number of animal and clinical studies suggest that the non-psychoactive constituent cannabidiol (CBD) has antipsychotic properties and that it may protect against some pro-psychotic effects of THC. and, according to a study published in Translational Psychiatry, CBD has few side effects. A big obstacle in using it for treatment is that CBD is a natural compound, so it can’t be patented. Without a patent, drug companies have no incentive to develop it because without a patent they can’t make money. Some researchers are trying to develop synthetic versions of the compound. Let’s hope they succeed.

I live out where the busses don’t run.

I understand why people diagnosed with a mental illness turn to antipsychiatry groups. No one likes to admit they may have a chronic, stigmatized condition and many of them were probably misdiagnosed. I have bipolar disorder and when I was a teenager I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. I was prescribed medications that are contraindicated for bipolar disorder, namely an antidepressant and a stimulant. It put me in a raging manic state so when I turned 18 I was also given an additional diagnosis of borderline personality disorder and given an antipsychotic called Haldol. I felt horrible so I quit seeing the psychiatrist as soon as I could and joined a 1980s antipsychiatry group called Phoenix Rising. I began drinking daily. About ten years later I started going to a nonprofit called Response that served survivors of sexual assault. They advised me to get sober. I did. About seven years later I developed extreme paranoia and became incoherent. I went to a hospital for an evaluation on my therapist’s advice. In the hospital I was diagnosed with a mixed episode of bipolar disorder (a mixed episode means both depression and mania are present at the same time). I felt so much better I decided to continue taking medication and my life improved dramatically. I have a very supportive psychiatrist and therapist, but I’m lucky; I have good insurance. A lot of people don’t and wind up getting substandard care.
There’s a big problem with poor people not getting the help they need because the local community mental health providers’ budgets are stretched so thin that people can’t go as often as they need to in order to get an accurate diagnosis and the right medication.
I understand why someone would want to avoid psychiatrists given psychiatry’s egregious history and the fact that some providers in psych wards are abusive. Believe me, I’ve learned the hard way which area hospitals to avoid when I have a bad episode. People who lament the lack of state hospital beds are not considering the terrible warehousing and abuse that occurred at state hospitals before deinstitutionalization. But is it really any better today? Is jail worse than the snake pit asylums of the 1940s? Maybe it would be better in state hospitals these days because of advances in psychiatric treatment, but given the lack of funds for mental health treatment in my state I’m not optimistic.
It also can be very frustrating trying to find a medication that works best. I can see how someone would give up. And the medications aren’t perfect. I’ve been feeling mildly depressed for the past few weeks, and frankly, I’m worried about it.
I’m also against forcing people to take medication unless they’re a danger to themselves or others and that usually happens when someone becomes an inpatient in a hospital. I understand why the parents of severely mentally ill adults would want their children to be forced to take medication. Many people with psychotic disorders have no idea that they’re ill and can end up homeless. But after the experiences I’ve had with some medications – particularly when I was misdiagnosed – makes me very reluctant to advocate for forced treatment.
My biggest beef with the antipsychiatry movement is that they want to eliminate the institution of psychiatry, which deprives me of my choice to seek treatment. If you don’t want treatment, fine, but don’t try to prevent me from getting help. Some of them also state that if someone breaks the law they should be jailed whether the offender is incapable of knowing right from wrong or not (source). MindFreedom International’s website advises trying unproven herbal remedies as an alternative to psychotropic medications. There are no standards in the alternative medicine industry so how is that any safer than taking psychotropic medications? I know some side effects of psychotropic medications are terrible, but isn’t it safer to talk to a doctor about it? Back in the 1980s when I wanted to get off psychiatric medications I sought help from my general practitioner.
I also don’t agree w/ the view that mental illness is a social construct. There’s this view that there’s no “proof” that psychiatric conditions exist. Brain science is in its infancy and it’s silly to think that the brain can’t be diseased like other organs in the body.
Each side seems to think this issue is black and white. It isn’t. I’ve lived it.

Affordable Treatment

It’s hard to separate advice on how to cope from political realities such as lack of access to affordable treatment.
According to an Orlando Sentinel article, my county mental health provider no longer treats people without insurance because of budget cuts. There is a clinic run by the local chapter of Mental Health America that treats people without insurance, but these people have to have another health condition like diabetes and even then the clinic can only treat 200 people. There’s a long waiting list. The current austerity measures will only make things worse.
Drug companies are making things worse for the uninsured. The uninsured have to pay higher costs because they don’t have an insurance company or the state to negotiate lower prices for them. I could go on and on about the drug companies, but that’s for another post.
That said, at least you can get free medicine through drug company patient assistance programs. It really helped me stay sane when I was getting my BA, but I still had to pay the doctor. You can get free samples from your doctor too. There are a few psychiatrists in my community who don’t take insurance and have a sliding scale for payment. They’re few and far between, but it’s worth looking into. Call your local NAMI chapter or your local Mental Health America to find one.
State & federal politicians are too busy cutting taxes that fund mental health treatment and the insurance companies lobby against better treatment because it costs them more. So, if there’s less money to fund community mental providers then we need more efficiency for the funds provided for treatment, right? Community mental health providers, however, have been so underfunded that they’re stretched to the max. Peer support groups help some, but it’s no substitute for getting professional help.
There are some possibilities to get free treatment for uninsured people. Back when I was in college I was hospitalized and had a huge bill. I looked into getting the bill forgiven. I asked the billing department for an application. The woman I talked to referred me to her manager because she knew nothing about it. The manager sent me a form. I filled it out, sent it in & my bill was forgiven. So if you have a huge hospital bill and you’re indigent, appeal to the hospital billing department & speak to a manager.
Another option for free or low cost hospital or health care facilities is Hill Burton facilities. Back in 1946 congress passed a law giving funds to health facilities and in return these facilities had to offer free or low cost treatment. When you go there, go to the business office and ask for an Individual Notice. This will tell you about income requirements and where to go next. Ask for a Hill Burton form and be sure to bring pay stubs or some other kind of proof of income. If you are asked to apply for Medicaid or Medicare, do so. Ask for a Determination of Eligibility and how long it will be to be notified whether you qualify or not.
I wish I could offer more advice, but I can’t think of anything else right now.

Sweat Dreams

They served ravioli again with green beans and white bread at the drop-in center where I run an art workshop. The meals there are nutritionally complete and the ravioli smelled enticing. It was so slow that day that I didn’t see anyone on the shower sign in sheet when I signed in. Maybe I looked at the wrong list because usually the list is full. Maybe most of the homeless members needed sleep that day more than a shower.
Dee, a woman who came to the drop-in center when I worked there 7 years ago, greeted me warmly. Dee has long grey hair that almost reaches her buttocks. I wondered if she had a hair brush because it looked tangled.
“Jody. You were manager here a long time ago. What happened to you?”
I was surprised she remembered my name.
“I left to go back to school,” I told her.
“College?”
“Graduate school.”
“What’d you major in?”
“Social work, but I left half-way through. It was just too much for me so I dropped out.”
“I went out west while you were gone. Orlando is the best place to be if you’re on the street. My husband and I used to sleep at a 24 hour MacDonald’s over on John Young [Parkway] but it’s better to sleep here. I get about five hours. While we were out west we were in a shelter with a bunch of sick people and my husband got pneumonia. He already has COPD. So we came back after he got out of the hospital.”
“At least it’s warm in Florida,” I said
“Yeah, but Orlando is better than Tampa because of this place. They don’t have a place like here. I sleep here during the day and drink coffee at night at MacDonald’s. Coffee’s cheap there. Not like Denny’s.”
“I know,” I said, “I usually order water when I go there.”
“Yeah. It’s like 2 bucks. That’s too much.” She wondered off towards the pool table. I wondered why she wasn’t sleeping. I wanted to ask her where her husband was, but I was afraid to. Something bad might have happened to him and I didn’t want to upset her. She only had a small black purse with her. I surmised her husband was still with her and was sleeping with their possessions in the TV room, where a lot of the homeless members crash. The TV room is cool and dark and the whole room has couches to sleep on while the TV drones at a low volume. But other members go in and out of the TV room to use the bathroom because the other bathroom has a shower that many members use to attend to personal hygiene.
Most people need about 8 or 9 hours of sleep a night. Sleeping only 5 hours a day, during the day while your circadian rhythm is telling you to stay awake must take a terrible toll on Dee and her husband’s mental and physical health. I have bipolar disorder and if I get less than 5 hours of sleep at night three nights in a row I become manic and when I become manic I lose even more sleep and end up getting sleep deprivation psychosis. I have a house and I get to sleep at night, not during the day like Dee and the other homeless people at the drop-in center who sleep in the TV room after they eat. It makes their mental health and behavioral problems much, much worse. They’re not sleeping at night outside, in shelters or in assisted living facilities because it’s too dangerous and it’s noisy. Section 8 housing has a long waiting list.
I found a YouTube video detailing the lack of sleep among the homeless. Even homeless people who don’t have a mental illness experience grave physical and mental consequences from lack of sufficient sleep. They may experience sleep deprivation psychosis. The homeless people in this video also stated they on average get only five hours of sleep and sleep during the day because it’s too dangerous to sleep at night.
According to a House the Homeless article interrogators of war captives’ use sleep deprivation as a form of torture. Rats deprived of sleep end up dying much sooner than rats that get sleep. Many studies have confirmed that the homeless – especially homeless mentally ill people – have a much lower life span.
A letter by a former homeless person to the editor to the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative details why homeless people hate shelters and would rather live on the street. Many members of the drop-in center have told me the same thing over the years. It’s noisy and dangerous.
Dee is absolutely right; the drop-in center is a safe haven even if members can only get about 5 hours of sleep. At least they can rest without having to be hypervigilant about being arrested, robbed or assaulted.