Homeless Tour – Throwback

This Weeks Throwback is from December 19, 2013

HereBus2 in Los Angeles we have tours of the stars homes, celebrity death tours, tours of the artwork in subway stations, Hollywood Forever cemetery tours, Universal Studio Tours, and many, many more. I, however, would be happy to give you a free tour that is both interesting and practical. I can offer the Homeless tour.

On my tour you’ll learn:

*The best thrift store is the West Hollywood location of Out of the Closet

*Bus #3 is the best bus for getting a good night’s sleep. The entire route is from downtown Los Angeles to downtown Santa Monica which, via bus, is a 90 minute trip each way. Sure, they make you get off at each end, but you only have to wait 15 minutes before you’re allowed to get back on for another 90 minute snooze. Another option is to take Bus #2 which runs a nearly identical, but longer route. The problem with #2 is that it eventually veers off onto a winding road and your head will bang against the window too much.

*The best place to hide your duffle bag during the day are the bushes near the West Hollywood City Hall.

*The best food pantry is at the huge Catholic Church in Hollywood (I can’t remember the name.)

*You can’t sleep on the benches in downtown Santa Monica, but the police don’t bother you if you sleep on the benches on the Santa Monica Pier. The best bench in town, I found, is the one closest to the Ferris Wheel. Hell, it even comes with a beautiful ocean view.

There’s some useful information that I hope you’ll never have to use. I learned all this first hand.

Last week was my sobriety birthday. Thanks to Alcoholics Anonymous, and my higher power, I’ve been clean and sober for 10 years. Over those years I’ve shared at A.A. meetings the story of my homelessness and how my life was saved by getting sober. OOPS. Apparently I’ve been lying all this time. Well, maybe not lying, but I have been telling a falsehood. My mind was very foggy the first year or two after getting sober and only recently did I realize what a scrambled mess my memory was (still is.) So much of a mess that it’s taken ten years for the cobwebs to clear and I now remember that I was never homeless when I was drinking. As a matter of fact, it was about a year after I got sober when it all fell apart. I had not yet been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, so I could not understand why I seemed to struggle more than friends who had gotten sober about the same time.

It’s easy to look down on the homeless as being raging alcoholics, crack users, or just plain lazy. There’s some validity to that, but, from my experience, being on the streets is a fulltime job. It’s exhausting both physically and mentally. It’s difficult to find a job when you’re dragging your clothes around while you look for a place to hide them, or trying to figure out what and where you’re going to eat each day, or where you’re going to sleep each night. And then there’s the issue of clean clothes and hygiene. For whatever reason a person ends up living in the streets, it’s a horrible struggle to get back off so give them a break before you judge.

The saddest part was that I wanted help. The mental health center in Hollywood is huge, but, that is because it is so busy. I had already been diagnosed with depression and I believed all I needed was some Wellbutrin or some other anti-depressant. I tried twice there to get help at that clinic but each time they closed without helping me because they had run out of time.

My therapist told me that the memories I’ve lost may stay that way – lost. I hope that’s not true because I want to put the pieces together so I can understand. No, wait. I do understand. I was a person with undiagnosed bipolar disorder who was not on meds and who would get confused and disoriented easily. Eventually I was able to get a job and a place to live. I wish I could tell you how, but, I have no idea. I can’t remember how I got off the streets any more than I can remember how I got on them in the first place. I hope someday I will get enough memory to tell the rest of the story. Then again, maybe it’s best if I can’t. The rest of the story may be boring, or painful. Maybe it’s more best to fill in the holes with my imagination.

Don’t Forget About Caption This

Don’t forget that you need to get your “Caption This” entries by midnight tonight. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, here’s a link to yesterday’s post.

23 comments on Homeless Tour – Throwback

  1. Happy 10 years, Bradley. I enjoyed reading your journey from homelessness to diagnosis to sobriety. I can’t imagine how hard that must’ve been while being undiagnosed. I know you must be very proud of yourself. I am.

  2. If we’re to take 10 years off the original posting date for this, we got sober through AA in the same year – 2003 🙂
    Well done!

  3. Wow Bradley!
    I didn’t know this 🙂
    It’s so easy for people to judge sometimes! I can’t even begin to understand how difficult it must be to be homeless. I know that in this country and in a couple of others, if you are homeless it’s because you choose to be homeless. I have no idea why someone would choose something like that. It has to be exhausting not knowing what could happen the next minute.
    I’m SO glad you are doing well right now 🙂

    1. Thank you. It wasn’t easy and was a helluva struggle, but I’m glad I got out. Thank you for your empathy

  4. I can imagine what a struggle it was to be homeless. I don’t have to imagine what it feels like to be an untreated Bipolar individual. I always had decent insurance but was afraid that if I went to the doctor my boss would find out somehow.

  5. Bradley you have such a story to tell. It greatly upsets me that you were homeless and struggling as you were. The Lover Incident gave me some insight into homelessness as he had lived on the street and told me stories. I tried to imagine what living on the streets would entail. I imagine it to be massively difficult, dangerous, where do you wash, when next do you eat, where is it safe to close your eyes and sleep, who do you trust. But I can only imagine. You, however, know. And I have great respect and admiration for you.

    1. The funny thing is I don’t recall ever being dirty or hungry..well, hungry sometimes, but it was a struggle to say the least. Thank you

  6. Congrats Bradley
    You kept putting a foot in front of other even when you don’t remember. You are a strong person and your inner strength kept pushing you forward. In time when your mind wasn’t as foggy you took steps to put your life together the best you could. 10 years sober may not be the best ten years but for sure not your worst. I’m going on 9-10 I can’t recall. I didn’t go to AA. I stopped because if I could get a nano more from my Bipolar drugs, I wanted it. I started drinking at 9 yrs old and over 40 when I quite. No doubt my body and head feel better.
    Keep Trucking!

    1. Wow. Thank you for the link. I look forward to checking it out. Good to hear your mom was one of the lucky ones. It’s tough for so many of us.

  7. You never cease to amaze me, Bradley! I’m so, SO glad that you made it through those years so that you reached where you are today! Xo

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