“I’ve been down, believe me… I lost my possessions twice in my life.”
This story is from the Invisible Project, a collaboration between the Welcome Project and Porter County Coalition for Affordable Housing, Housing Opportunities, Gabriel’s Horn, Dayspring Women’s Center, and Porter County Museum.
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Transcript for It Got to Be Too Much
I depend on myself. And I take care of myself, and I took care of my girls, and I’ve taught my girls to take of themselves, and they know that. Not just to rely on someone else. I’ve always—I had relied on someone else for my happiness until my divorce.
When I moved back to Indiana, we lived in a trailer for about seven years. It was a sense of community. There was a real sense of community living in the trailer park even more than there is living in an apartment. That sense of community is tight-knit. I did like living in my trailer, but I was sick. And so, I spent about four weeks—the girls and I went to my mom—and which was only five miles away, but we stayed at my mom’s until I got better, and then when we went home, I had a plumbing issue, and my sink sprang a leak. And I ended up having mold from the carpet, all the way up the walls, to the ceilings. It was bad.
When I was just hoofing it after my trailer was now no longer livable, I looked everywhere up and down, high and low, for a place to live, and everything was way too expensive, and all their Section 8s were, you know, the waiting lists were for years, and it was very difficult to find a place to live, and that’s why I ended up living in LaPorte.
I am bipolar. I have a brother who’s bipolar, I have a great-uncle who’s bipolar. It does run in the family. My mother also had issues. And there was a point where I was working and taking care of my children, and it got to be too much. It was getting to be too difficult. I needed more help than I had. And I had a nervous breakdown. So, I was in the hospital, so my mother-in-law was watching the girls. And my mother-in-law and my ex-husband took advantage of that. And what they did was, my mother-in-law took the girls across state lines and kept them in a hotel for two weeks. So, I called the police, and the police were not willing to help because here’s this crazy woman in a hospital, and so the father has the kids. What’s wrong with that? You know? So, the Portage police would not help. And the police in Michigan said that it was a custody issue and they don’t get involved. So, my kids spent nine years away from me.
I tried to go back to work, but I was so preoccupied with my loss. It was as if my children died. I didn’t speak to them for eight weeks. I just wanted to die. I just wanted to die. And I couldn’t focus on work. All I could focus on was my loss, and my children, and just…yeah. I just couldn’t work at the time. My boss was great. They put in for my—all my vacation pay, you know, all my sick leave time, all of that they put in for. They were very nice, they were very understanding. Told me I could have my job back when I was ready. I just never got ready. I just—I never actually truly recovered from losing my kids.
It was difficult—I did not want to stay with family because they weren’t understanding what I was going through. So, I was living in LaPorte at the time, and the township was absolutely fantastic. They paid for my rent for three months. And before that, I still had money coming in from my job from my PTO time and, you know, all that kind of stuff, so I scrimped and I saved, and I was able to stay in my apartment for about five months. But then I just couldn’t anymore. So, I didn’t have my kids, I didn’t have my job, I didn’t have my possessions, and I was in a car. And not wanting to ask for any help whatsoever. But finally I had to stay at my parents’ house, and my parents were trying to take the discipline type of road with me because I was acting out. They didn’t understand mental illness at the time. So, I slept on the couch, and I had a laundry basket with just my possessions. That was it. And I did that for an entire year. Which was very difficult, because I was in a household that didn’t understand what was going on with me. And then Housing Opportunities saved my life. They were fantastic, but I was on a waiting list for about a year. But they were wonderful, they talked to me. They—the application process was painless. They were compassionate, they were helpful. It’s sad that I had to wait a year, but they actually checked on me, also, to see, you know, how my situation was going and everything. I mean, I can’t imagine what would’ve happened—I don’t know where I would be and what I would be doing if I would have to be on my parents’ couch, you know? I mean, I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know that I would get well as fast, or as well as I could get. I’m as well as I can be. I’ve been down, believe me. I’ve been suicidal. I’ve lost my kids, I’ve lost my possessions twice in my life—because when our trailer had all the mold. I lost my possessions twice in life. But, you know what? I still have my kids. I love them. They’re a part of my life, and I’m ok.