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After Years On the Street, College Is My Way Out

It began when I was nineteen years old, when my mother, Barbara, who is also bi-polar, threw me out of the house. With nowhere to go, I ended up on the streets of San Francisco, scared and alone. That first day, I met Michael who was into getting high, and he wanted some money so he got me my first "date." That was the start and I continued accepting dates more so that I could feed his habit and stay connected to him. Till the fateful day when Michael got me to try a hit of crack. It fed my loneliness and depression and very soon I was addicted. While living on the street, I had many near-death experiences. I had guns and knives pulled on me and I was kidnapped and raped many times. One day, I decided I’d had enough and so I called my grandparents Ken and Lynn in Idaho and, luckily, they sent for me. I rejoined my family, got clean, got a job and an apartment and I was doing well. I aspired to be a truck driver and soon realized my dream after moving to California. But I became depressed when I realized I wasn’t doing well at my job. I was in a relationship at the time with James, and I was always fighting with him, so my mom Barbara took me to a doctor and he diagnosed me as being bi-polar. My relationship with James soon ended because he couldn’t handle the stress of my ups and downs. One day, while I was driving cross country, I met Ray, another truck driver, and we hit it off and he started riding with me. I was still struggling with depression despite the medicines. Sadly, Ray got me started on getting high again, and very quickly I was back on a destructive path.

One day, I became suicidal behind the wheel and when I told my doctor, he took me off driving. During this time, I had two apartments and lost them both to my addiction.

At the moment, yes, I’m homeless, but I’m hoping the discipline of coming to school will help pull me up so I can get an apartment. I am not being treated by any psychiatrist and my doctor doesn’t want to give me medications, so every day I wake up depressed and experience the pain of my feelings till the moment I go to sleep. And what do I do to escape? I get high, I sell myself, and I take the forks on a road that a "normal" person would not. School provides me some solace. It gives me something to do with my day and that helps ease the depression a bit. But after I leave the campus, it hits me again and I go around town and I think and think, getting lost in my own head. I don’t have a magic answer or even know how my story is going to turn out. All I know is that if you are depressed, I sincerely hope you get help. Reach out to someone who can help you help yourself. Don’t follow in my footsteps — this is no life for anyone. As for me, I won’t quit trying. I will continue to come to school and I will find a psychiatrist or a doctor who will be able to help me, give me medications, and suggest coping techniques. I know I’m a fighter and a survivor. It never gets easier, but somehow, I will manage to deal.

I'm a 46-year-old community college student, struggling with bi-polar depression, drug addiction, prostitution and homelessness. This is my fourth attempt at attending college. This time I refuse to give up.

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