Person First Project – Jerry “One of my biggest hurdles is not giving up.”

Person First Project is a photo blog that seeks to give those currently or formerly experiencing homelessness in D.C. the chance to share their stories. In doing this, we hope to reduce the barriers that separate people in D.C. and spark a dialogue. The Person First Project aims to connect us – and to make us all feel a bit more human.

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“There were days when I first became homeless, like on a Sunday, when there was literally nothing to do. I had an abscess in my tooth, couldn’t go to the dentist. It was November; it was cold. I went and slept on a park bench ‘cause I needed to sleep. I woke up and I’m like, ‘It’s not hurting as bad, I’m okay, I can yank it. What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.”

What’s your biggest challenge?

“Me, and my mind. One of my biggest hurdles is not giving up. Because it’s like, ‘What’s the use? Why breathe?’ and then you’re right at the door, and then you can’t give up. I’m thinking about all the people who have been displaced through wars. I’m like, ‘You got it good. You’re still walking.’”

“I was diagnosed with mania associated with bipolar once. I have bouts of depression. When I have a bout of bipolar, I become very lethargic, I’m like, ‘I don’t wanna do anything.’ I didn’t know I was bipolar at the time, and it took me like a year and a half just to get over Paula.”

How did you find out?

“I needed some cash. PIW, which is the Psychiatric Institute of Washington, was doing a drug study. I didn’t have any medical benefits. I said, ‘Well dude, let me go find out how my health is.’ I went in, and I got diagnosed, and I was like, ‘Now that makes a lot of sense. Wow, why I’ll be pumped and then I can become depressed, and then the depression will stay with me. And that depression can become anger.’”

– Jerry

Author’s Note: The Person First Project interviewed Jerry at the Father McKenna Center, located at North Capitol and K Street NW.

4 Comment

  • Reading these stories only furthers my resolve as to why we need universal healthcare – that includes comprehensive psychiatric treatments. With UHC, this guy would have been diagnosed decades ago and been on a medication and therapy regimen for that entire time. He might have even been able to lead a economically productive and personally fulfilling life, thus being a net gain to public tax coffers. Instead, he has to pull out his own tooth on a park bench and be a test case for medical experiments to get diagnosed.
    WTF, America. Big f#cking FAIL.

  • its so crazy to me how poorly this country treats mental illness
    im glad he was at the McKenna center though, i could tell from the photo he was standing in front of Gonzaga and was going to suggest he go to the McKenna center if he spends time in that specific area

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